Tampa, Florida

tampa by tripadvisor

If you read my last post, then you know that I traveled to Tampa, Florida on June 30th.  It was a trip that me and my family had planned since January.  It is a good thing too, because we really needed to get away after such a stressful first half of the year.  We rented a condo from July 1st to July 10th.  It was a lovely ground floor condo that had a gorgeous view of the grounds of the condo community from the lanai.  The condo had central air and washer and dryer so we did not return home with dirty clothes.  Besides me, there was my Mom, sister and brother with his twin daughters.

My brother fell in love with Tampa about 5 years ago, and plans to move there in about two years.  He is actively looking for a place in downtown Tampa by the water.  If my brother finds something that he loves, and the price is right, he will buy it and just rent it out until he is able to relocate there.  My brother wants me, our sister and Mom to relocate to Tampa too.  I am definitely leaving New York, but I had already ruled out Florida as a place to move to.  I have my eye on Arizona and New Mexico.   Besides, I wanted to try living on another coast.  I’ve been living on the east coast since I came to America.  How about a change?

I was very resistant at first, but I am finally coming around, however, I am still considering if I really want to relocate to Florida.  I did enjoy being in Tampa and the place is beautiful, but visiting a place for vacation is not the same as living there.  I had to do some due diligence.   I called everyone that I know who lives there to get their honest to goodness low down on living in Florida in general, and living in Tampa specifically.   My main concern is crime.  I  read that crime in Florida is worse than in New York.  Why would I leave NY to go and live in a place with higher crime?  I could understand why crime rates would be high because my family saw quite a bit of homeless people there.  Tampa jobs are low paying, unless you have a degree and a profession, and it depends on what profession at that.

The second thing that concerns me are sinkholes.  I know that sinkholes can happen anyplace, but they usually show up in Florida because it has limestone underneath.  The third concern is that Tampa is mostly for people who love the beach and other water oriented activities.  I have never liked the beach, and I am not into water activities.  As an example, my family got up very early one morning to meet a boat at 7:30am to go fishing.  I stayed in the condo.  I am more of a museum kind of gal.  I love museums and cultural events.  NYC and Washington DC fits the bill perfectly.  The only thing is that I am done with winter.  I want to move to a place that doesn’t get any snow.  Where are the museums and culture in Tampa.  I have a friend who lives in Lakeland, which is about 40 minutes from Tampa.  She moved to Florida twelve years ago from Virginia, and she also loves museums and cultural activities.  She said that Florida is not the place to live if you love museums.  It was an adjustment for her, but she found other things to do, such as becoming active in her  church and getting involved in activities there.  She does travel a lot with her husband to other states so that helps a lot.  I could join the local Unity Church in Tampa and get involved in their activities, but the question that I need to ask myself and be real honest about is,  will I become bored with living in Tampa?   I don’t want to move there just because it is beautiful.   On the other hand if my brother, sister and mother moves there, then I really would want to be there too.  Mom currently lives in Brooklyn.  My brother lives in Maryland and my sister lives on Staten Island.  My sister is eager to move to Tampa, but my Mom not so much.  Mom has always been resistant to change.

Anyway, getting back to my vacation, my Mom and I traveled by Amtrak train to Florida.  My sister, brother and his children flew in Friday night.  My Mom and I were already checked in to the condo, shopped for groceries, cooked and ate by the time the others arrived.   It felt so wonderful to be with my family under the same roof for  a week.  Even though I spent a lot of time working on school assignments, it was nice to just be with my family.

My Mom did all the cooking, which she loves to do, but for July 4th we went out to dinner at Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.  It is a Cuban restaurant that has been there since 1905.  The exterior and interior decor is stunning.

Columbia-Restaurant-view-on-7th-Ave-in-Ybor-City

The mosaic tile-work on the exterior of Columbia Restaurant is very beautiful.  The restaurant also takes up one entire block.

Columbia Restaurant

The Original Location
2117 East 7th Avenue
Tampa (Ybor City), FL 33605

Columbia-Restaurant-takes-up-full-full-block-on-7th-Ave-between-21st-and-22nd-St-in-Ybor-City

 

Columbia-Restaurant-with-painted-tiled-artwork-on-building-on-7th-Ave-in-Ybor-City

Columbia-Restaurant-reads-Since-1905-on-name-plate-on-sidewalk-in-Ybor-City

The appetizers were delicious. but quite honestly, my family and I were not really loving our main courses.  It wasn’t bad at all, but we expected it to blow us away considering that we know how delicious Cuban food really is.

I didn’t take any photos of Columbia restaurant myself.  These photos are courtesy of Photo News 247.

I am very thankful to have spent my vacation with my family this year.  Family is so important and we look forward to doing this again for Thanksgiving.

 

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6 comments

  1. Servetus says:

    I lived in Tampa for 4.5 years and just moved away. There were many reasons but my inability to handle the humidity was an important one. July-early September it’s very hard to be outside. Hard to breathe and made me feel lethargic, and around the beginning of August it rains every afternoon for an hour — for about six weeks.

    I think sinkholes in Florida are a relatively minor problem. Yes, they are horrible and unpredictable but serious, life threatening ones don’t happen all that often. I would probably be more concerned about insects and pests, myself. Florida bugs are so big. There’s a mosquito problem. And alligators, although they don’t seem to attack humans very often. I saw them a LOT.

    re: crime, I would readily believe Miami was more violent than NYC but not Tampa, and wikipedia statistics from 2014 bear me out. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_crime_rate_(2014)#Crime_rates_per_100.2C000_people_.282014.29 My impression with Tampa is that you need to stay out of the dangerous parts of town and keep your eyes open but on the whole it’s not that dangerous due to crime. That said, you really can’t get along in Tampa without a car, and the traffic is horrible. Very high accident rate and one of the most expensive car insurance markets in the US. Very dangerous for pedestrians. There are a lot of homeless people in FL, period, but this has been true for a long time, at least since the Depression. I assume it’s because it’s easier to survive outside. There is clear racial profiling there for traffic stops, etc., but I suppose that’s a problem everywhere.

    I agree re: museums. There aren’t that many per capita. There is a lot of culture, but you need to keep your eyes open (see what the university performing arts places are doing in the region). It’s also true that people really like to enjoy the water and the beach, but I never did much of that and I didn’t feel like it harmed me socially at all. It is, relatively speaking, a very alcohol-heavy place when it comes to socialization, I found. Esp. compared to Austin, although not compared to Wisconsin. I seem to remember you don’t drink, is that right? It’s a kind of emerging center of the craft beer scene. Professional sports are also really important.

    The apartment market was really tight when I left, above 95% occupancy. My feeling in general was that good housing was disproportionately expensive. But it’s nowhere near as bad as NYC. If you are considering a house make sure you look at the predictions of sea level rise. There are a lot of houses now that can’t get normal homeowner’s insurance any longer because they are considered too vulnerable to flooding. Tampa and St Pete both flood when it rains hard, several times a year for at least a few days each time.

    • Xenia says:

      Hi Servetus,

      Thank you for your input. I know what you mean about the humidity. It was an immediate turn off for me and my Mom the second we got off the Amtrak train. I do like heat, but high humidity soaks up your energy. It also makes me sleepy. I could live with it though since it is not most of the year. For the 8 days that I was there the humidity did decrease in the evenings. It is the daytime that got to me, but when I relocate I have no intentions on having to go out in it to work a job. I’m planning a very early retirement from that and earning money from home as I please. My sister has quite a bit of friends who live in Tampa. One couple relocated there 25 years ago and they raved about the weather during autumn, winter and spring. They said the weather is perfect during those seasons. You just have to get through the summer months is what I was told.

      You are correct, I don’t drink, so the last thing I am looking for is a place where drinking is becoming a sport.

      My family did not encountered any heavy traffic while we were there, but I am sure that is because we didn’t go out during morning or evening rush hours. Heavy traffic is something that I have been dealing with for years where I live now. When people are going to work in the morning, and then going back home in the evenings, traffic can come to a standstill most days. From about 4:45 – 6pm it is horrible. I would imagine that it is the same in any city during morning and evening rush hours. When I was unemployed I never went out during morning or evening rush hour, and I miss being able to avoid it.

      I was just talking with my Mom this morning on the phone, and she is encouraging me to check out New Mexico and Arizona. I have to at least go out there and take a look. Relocating is huge, and I have to know that I have a better than good chance of being happy where ever I end up.

      • Servetus says:

        re: humidity — it depends on your personal tolerance level, but I would say it is putting a positive spin on things to say “you just have to get through the summer.” For me, it started to become unpleasant around mid-March and started to be pleasant around mid-October, with July-Sept as “stay inside or i can’t breathe” territory. (But — I had lived in Austin for a long time, which is dry in comparison.)

        re: traffic — it’s true that traffic is bad in any big city; however, there are also degrees of bad. Austin was Los Angeles bad; Tampa isn’t *as* bad as LA but it’s still pretty horrible. There are lots of articles about the problems in the local paper if you’re curious to learn more. And if you’re calculating cost of living I would get a rate quote on your car insurance. Mine is a third now of what it was in Tampa. Public transportation is not very good and the city is hostile to creating a workable system.

        I think it’s a good idea to look at AZ / NM.

        • Xenia says:

          Yes, a trip to Arizona and New Mexico is a very good idea. I do like Florida, but my heart is not really into moving there as much as I enjoy visiting.

  2. Xenia says:

    Florida did not make my personal list of places to relocate to because of the reasons I mentioned in my post, and also because it is very flat. Like you, I also love the mountains, and it is one of the reasons that I moved to Upstate NY in 1991.

    It is my brother and sister’s choice to move to Tampa, and they desire for our mother and me to do the same. We lost one brother in 2010 and another brother in 2011. Now with the passing of our father earlier this year, we are deeply feeling how much we want to be geographically closer. Family is very important to all of us. I prefer to go West because I have lived on the east coast for so long, but my brother and sister are adamant about Florida, and do not seem willing to reconsider another location. So it seems that it is up to me to do the giving in because I do not see at least a compromise forthcoming. I prefer to move to Arizona or New Mexico, but I also greatly desire for the family to be closer to one another. I am still trying to figure this all out.

  3. Ann Marie says:

    Vacations are very important for all! And much nicer if you share it with someone.
    As for a place to live, Florida would not be my choice.
    Give me the Mountain’s any day. I lived in the Rockies Mts. In Colorado for five years and LOVED it! I also driven in New Mexico. Has cleaner air then Arizona. So if you want to pick one of those State’s. Pick NM. Not as crowd. Less people. Clear air.
    You should look at Colorado too! Believe it or not the weather there is better then east cost. It’s dyer. And great museums.

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