Tampa vs Orlando: Which Is Better To Live In?
If you’re considering moving to Central Florida, you may be debating where to live. There are two major cities within the region, which encompasses 13 counties (Brevard, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia). For people who want to live in a city, the choice usually comes down to either Tampa or Orlando.
Both cities offer a lot of advantages, from Tampa’s proximity to beaches and sporting events to Orlando’s theme parks. Tampa has the edge over Orlando in many key respects, including the cost of living, housing options, and the wider variety of things to do. While your house search may be influenced by many factors - such as where your job is located - if you have a choice, then Tampa might be the better option.
Based just outside of Tampa, Eaton Realty works with home buyers, sellers, renters, and landlords. We have vast experience in the Hillsborough County real estate market, which we put to work for our clients to help them achieve their real estate goals. Reach out today to talk to one of our Tampa real estate agents.
Pros & Cons of Living in Orlando
Orlando is a mid-sized city of just over 316,000 people. It has a lot to offer in terms of jobs and things to do.
Pros Of Living In Orlando
World-Renowned Theme Parks
Orlando is home to some of the largest theme parks in the world: Disney World, Universal Studios, Legoland, and Seaworld. These theme parks bring in millions of visitors a year, plus an astounding amount of revenue.
The theme parks themselves employ thousands upon thousands of people. The infrastructure required to support such massive tourist attractions also means many jobs in restaurants, hotels, and related industries. Orlando ranks as a top city for job opportunities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 10,411 employers in Orlando, with 70.9% of the population in the civilian labor force. Of course, these theme parks aren’t just a source of jobs and economic growth. They are also fun for residents!
Plenty To Do Outside Of Rollercoasters
In addition to theme park attractions, there are over 37 parks throughout the city and dozens of neighborhood parks. There are also lakes like Turkey Lake and Lake Eola Park for boating, hiking, and swan watching.
Beyond theme parks and outdoor recreation, Orlando has a vibrant nightlife. There are live music venues, rooftop bars, and open-air dance clubs. There are also great restaurants in Orlando.
Lower Severe Storm Risk
Being located further away from the coast, Orlando often doesn’t get hit as hard by severe weather like hurricanes. Orlando might be a good bet if you want to live in Florida but are worried about storms and hurricanes.
Cons Of Living In Orlando
Further Distance From The Beach
Of course, distance from the coast might be good for less severe weather - but it means that you will have a drive to get to the beach. It also means that Orlando is often hotter than Tampa without a cool ocean or bay breeze.
Long Commutes & Limited Public Transportation
Orlando has more suburban sprawl than Tampa and doesn’t have a robust public transportation system. Commutes can be lengthy in Orlando, particularly if you have to rely on its less-than-stellar public transit.
High Tourism Year-Round
The other big downside of living in Orlando is the tourists. While they bring big money to the region and can present many financial opportunities (such as buying investment properties for short-term rentals), they can also be annoying. Tourists who don’t know their way around the city can often create traffic jams, and congestion isn’t limited to typical rush hour times. These same tourists can make it annoying to get around the city in other ways, whether you want to fly out from the airport or even pick up groceries at the store.
High Cost Of Living
Of course, having so many tourists also means the cost of living in Orlando is higher. Stores and restaurants know they have a captive audience, so they can charge more for basic goods. Having a big market for rental properties also means housing is more expensive in Orlando.
Pros & Cons of Living in Tampa
Tampa is also a mid-sized city with a population of just over 398,000. It has much more of a city atmosphere than Orlando, due in part to its higher population and in part to its more densely populated neighborhoods.
Pros Of Living In Tampa
No Shortage Of Things To Do
There is a lot to do in Tampa, and importantly, there are many different things to do. Whether you’re into nightlife, fine dining, outdoor recreation, or live sports, there is always something to see or do. Beautiful Gulf Coast beaches are a short drive from Tampa, along with the gorgeous Tampa Bay itself. Tampa is also home to many natural attractions, making it a perfect spot if you love outdoor sports like kayaking, fishing, golfing, running, and hiking.
Tampa has a vibrant downtown area with many distinct neighborhoods (like Ybor City) that are charming and unique. You can watch professional football, hockey, or baseball in Tampa. You are also within an easy drive of both Tampa-area theme parks like Busch Gardens AND Orlando amusement parks.
Strong Local Economy
Tampa has a strong economy, with more than 65% of the civilian labor force employed. There are 12,425 employers in Tampa across various sectors, including health care, transportation, retail, and food service. MacDill Air Force Base is also in the Tampa region, which brings tons of jobs and people to the area.
Manageable Levels Of Tourism
Being Florida, there are tourists in Tampa - but not nearly as many as in Orlando. Tourists bring a lot of money to the economy, but they aren’t as big of a factor in daily life as in Orlando, and they don’t impact prices as much.
Lower Cost Of Living
The cost of living in Tampa is generally lower than in Orlando, including housing costs. While homes in Tampa are slightly more expensive than in Orlando, rentals are usually cheaper because there isn’t as much demand for short-term housing for tourists.
Cons Of Living In Tampa
Higher Risk Of Severe Storms
Proximity to the Gulf Coast brings sea breezes and cooler weather to Tampa. However, it also increases the risk of tropical storms and hurricanes. If you aren’t prepared to deal with this type of weather, then Tampa might not be a great choice for you.
Tampa also has its share of traffic and congestion, but it can be easier to navigate since most people on the roads are locals rather than tourists.
Should I Move to Tampa or Orlando?
When it comes to where you should live, a lot comes down to personal preference and factors that may be outside of your control - such as where your job is, where your family is, and what you can afford. There are advantages to living in both Tampa and Orlando - so these issues may be the deciding factors.
Tampa is a bigger city than Orlando and has more of a city feel with a better public transportation system and a more robust downtown area. It is also far less dependent on tourism and isn’t clogged with tourists in the same way that Orlando often is. Overall, the cost of living in Tampa is slightly lower than in Orlando.
Having multiple major amusement parks, Orlando is a great place to find a job. It also has plenty to do in addition to Disney and Universal and is within a reasonable drive of the beach. Being inland, Orlando is more sheltered from severe weather than Tampa is.
At Eaton Realty, we are particularly partial to the Tampa region. We adore its natural beauty, diverse neighborhoods, and proximity to the beach. Orlando is still within an easy drive - but you get all that Tampa has to offer. If you want a more suburban or rural community, you can get that - and still be close to all of Tampa's action. For us, the debate between Tampa and Orlando is easy - Tampa is a much better place to live!
Interested In Relocating To Tampa? Give Us a Call!
Both Tampa and Orlando have their advantages and disadvantages. When it comes down to it, however, we think that Tampa is a much better place to live and work. You are close to the beach and have easy access to live sports, great education, culture, and outdoor recreation. And when you want to spend time with Mickey Mouse, it’s a quick drive to Orlando. You can browse available homes for sale in Tampa on our site if you're interested in relocating to Tampa.
At Eaton Realty, we know that deciding where to live is an incredibly personal choice. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our clients to make that decision, using our extensive experience in the Hillsborough County real estate market. Our Tampa real estate agents can help you find the home of your dreams. If you’d like to learn more, fill out our online contact form or give us a call at 813-672-8022 to talk to a member of our real estate team.