by Jessica LaVigne
As two of the fastest growing cities in Florida, Tampa and Orlando offer so much to its residents. There are a lot of similarities between the two, but which one is the right place for you to call home? Let’s travel down I-4 to discuss food, jobs, real estate and more!
Tampa definitely has more sports recognition and appeal than Orlando, with Tampa being home to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Orlando’s teams include the Orlando Magic and Orlando City. These are both popular teams, but Orlando doesn’t come close to Tampa when it comes to recognition and fan base.
Downtown Orlando has a lot of opportunity, with a lot of new buildings going up, and a new entertainment district in the works that will cost the city over half a billion dollars. From the nightlife and restaurants, to the entertainment venues and Doctor Phillips Center, there’s something for everyone at all times of the day.
Downtown Tampa, however, also has a lot of wonderful things available to those who reside in this area, including a massive outdoor space with restaurants and more called Riverwalk. What’s amazing about this area is that you can ride a bike or walk all the way down the Hillsborough River that leads to Hillsborough Bay. Channelside Drive in Downtown Tampa also includes the Tampa Convention Center, Florida Aquarium, and popular outdoor eating spot with multiple restaurants - Sparkman Wharf.
Although Orlando’s downtown area is slowly growing and improving, Tampa is the one that takes the win for this category with what it offers currently.
There has been a lot of growth within Tampa recently, with many entrepreneurs traveling to this area to start their own businesses. Tampa’s biggest industries include those in Medicine and Hospitality, with many jobs available for those looking to relocate or change careers. According to Indeed.com, there are currently 10% more jobs offered in Tampa, with the average salary about 5% higher than Orlando.This higher salary, however, accounts for the higher cost of living in this area versus the lower cost of living in Orlando.
Although Hospitality is also a major industry in Orlando, the diversification of industries that dominate the area is much wider. This includes aviation, accounting, health care, and (the most obvious) the theme park industry.
With this one, it really depends on what you’re looking for in a job, and what industry. Both cities offer a lot for job seekers and entrepreneurs, making this one a tie between the two.
In Downtown Tampa and along the Bay, there are numerous restaurants that Tampa natives have grown to know and love. These include Bern’s Steakhouse, Ulele, and venues where there are a wide variety of small restaurants, such as Armature Works and Sparkman Wharf. There also are little to no chain restaurants in the Downtown area, which makes it feel more unique.
Every individual’s palate and preference is going to be different, so the topic of food between two areas is quite subjective. If we look at fine dining and the Michelin Guide, however, we see that there are significantly more five star restaurants in Orlando than Tampa. This is largely due to the amount of high scale resorts and hotels that also include fine dining experiences.
Looking at overall experience, Orlando comes on top significantly. When it comes to affordability and restaurants you’d visit on a day-to-day basis, Tampa wins that one. This one really depends on what you’re after, but Orlando wins overall for the sheer amount of restaurant options, from quick bites to expensive experiences.
Within Tampa there is a lot of new construction, with many older homes being torn down to make way for newer ones. In the Downtown Tampa area, there are also many highrises that residents call home.
The average price for a home in Orlando is $395,000, with Tampa being a little higher at $430,000. Both include a mix of older and new homes, with a little bit of everything mixed in between. Tampa contains a lot of homes located off of the Bay, and although Orlando doesn’t have this, there are some beautiful waterfront homes on the Lake Butler chain and more.
Florida as a whole has a lot of good and bad weather, from sunshine one day to rain and storms the next. Although Tampa and Orlando get very similar weather, Orlando wins on this one just due to the fact that it’s more inland. Being on the coast, Tampa is more susceptible to weather damage, especially during hurricane season.
With Tampa right on the water, fishing, boating and proximity to beaches are some of the main attractions to this area. You can enjoy the sunshine year round, and cool off in the water around the Bay. In the area is also Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, and the Straz Center for Performing Arts.
Orlando, however, has a bit more to offer with the theme parks, nature trails, and more. Far more Tampa residents travel to Orlando than the other way around, mostly due to the fact that Orlando is a big vacation destination. There’s entertainment offerings everywhere you look including dinner shows, broadway plays, and unique hands-on experiences. There’s always something to do for residents and visitors alike, which is why Orlando wins when it comes to entertainment.
Both of these cities are wonderful in their own respects, but it really depends on the type of lifestyle you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an area with a younger scene and surrounded by beaches, Tampa is the way to go. If you want an area that’s more inland, the cost of living is a little lower, and where you’re close to the theme parks then Orlando is the place for you.
As someone who lived in the Tampa area for most of my life, it has a special place near and dear to my heart. However, after moving to Orlando in 2014, I don't see myself moving back just because there is so much to do and see in this area. The theme parks and my alma mater, University of Central Florida, is what makes Orlando so special to me.
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