Apartment hunting in Tampa can be a challenge because of Tampa’s perennially appealing vacation-like living. Great apartments, particularly those close to the beach, can be well out of the price range of someone just starting out. At the same time, cheap and seemingly nice apartments might be located in some pretty unfriendly neighborhoods. The good news is that the cost of living in Tampa is 5% lower than the national average and a whopping 30% less than New York City so you can afford to splurge (a little) on a nicer apartment and your car.
Best Tampa Neighborhoods for Apartments: The best areas to start your apartment hunting are New Tampa/USF area, Downtown Tampa, Westshore area, and South Tampa. These areas are safe and hip and generally well reviewed. Look for buildings that are frequented by university students because they tend to have a lot of amenities such as a pool, a gym, parking garage, etc. Rates for these apartments vary from $600-1200 per month. Renting a house in the Tampa Bay area can also be a great option for 2-4 roommates or a couple.
Clearwater & St. Pete Apartments: Don’t ignore the areas outside of the city either. Living in Clearwater can be less expensive and is only about 20 minutes driving from Downtown Tampa. The Clearwater area is rather family oriented, so while it may feel a bit boring to a young adult, it is definitely safe and only 15 minutes away from the beautiful Clearwater Beach.
Downtown St. Petersburg offers affordable apartment accommodations that are in close proximity to the lively St. Pete Pier and Baywalk strip. Likewise, areas like Treasure Island, which are 5 minutes from St. Pete Beach, are affordable and close to the shore.
Priorities: The best way to approach the apartment hunt in Tampa is to start with one specific goal, like: I want to live near my work or I want to live near the nightlife or I want to live near the beach. This will help narrow your scope, and make this experience smooth sailing.
Keep in mind that housing near the USF generally lease in coordination with the academic calendar, so start the apartment hunting early in the summer before the best complexes are filled up with students.
Safety: Always remember to be cautious of apartments that seem to be too good to be true—they are probably not in a safe area! In Tampa, there are only a few unsafe areas and many only span a few blocks, but, in general, avoid Ybor City, East Tampa, Busch Gardens area, Pinellas Park, and South St. Pete.
Useful Websites: Besides open apartment rental Facebook groups for the Tampa Bay area, there are also a few useful apartment listing websites like Rent Jungle and Zillow that can facilitate your search.