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Old 02-19-2013, 10:41 PM   #1
El&Asmom
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Any Tampa DVCers?

Long story short, our family is considering a transfer to Tampa from Chicago

Besides the obvious of being a heck of a lot closer to WDW and an infinitely better climate, does anyone have any input on the area?

We have 3 kids 9, 7 and 4. We want to find a family friendly area with excellent schools.

It's such a huge decision for our family. I really hope it's the right one.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:17 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El&Asmom
Long story short, our family is considering a transfer to Tampa from Chicago

Besides the obvious of being a heck of a lot closer to WDW and an infinitely better climate, does anyone have any input on the area?

We have 3 kids 9, 7 and 4. We want to find a family friendly area with excellent schools.

It's such a huge decision for our family. I really hope it's the right one.
I used to live in central FL near Tampa, attended middle and high school there, and several years ago we looked into moving to the Tampa area to be closer to family and friends. We currently live in a suburb of Atlanta that is not too far from the city and has excellent public schools K-12. Our schools perform very well on national tests and rankings, I am not just going by comparing to other schools in Georgia, which as a whole do not perform all that great.

There were two reasons we decided not to move. First was that houses seemed so overpriced for the size and location. It turns out they were - this was before the housing bubble burst ands central FL was hit much harder than where we currently live. The other issue was schools. I could not find a K-12 district that came close to the performance of our current public schools in metro Atlanta. Not that test scores are everything, but almost 100% of seniors at our current high school take the SAT (and this is not a special magnet or IB high school, btw), and our high school's SAT average is 200+ points higher than the best public high school in Hillsborough County.

I'm not trying to tell you not to move to Tampa, just be sure to do your research. Will you have a chance to visit the area? Coming from Chicago area, if you are in the city or a closer in suburb, you will I'm sure find the cost of living to be better in Tampa. I think there are definitely some family friendly areas in Tampa. Two areas that I think have a lot of families with young children are Westchase and New Tampa. I'm sure there are others. And, of course, Tampa has lovely weather in the winter and is not far from Mickey!

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Old 02-23-2013, 06:48 PM   #3
El&Asmom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staceymay00 View Post
I used to live in central FL near Tampa, attended middle and high school there, and several years ago we looked into moving to the Tampa area to be closer to family and friends. We currently live in a suburb of Atlanta that is not too far from the city and has excellent public schools K-12. Our schools perform very well on national tests and rankings, I am not just going by comparing to other schools in Georgia, which as a whole do not perform all that great.

There were two reasons we decided not to move. First was that houses seemed so overpriced for the size and location. It turns out they were - this was before the housing bubble burst ands central FL was hit much harder than where we currently live. The other issue was schools. I could not find a K-12 district that came close to the performance of our current public schools in metro Atlanta. Not that test scores are everything, but almost 100% of seniors at our current high school take the SAT (and this is not a special magnet or IB high school, btw), and our high school's SAT average is 200+ points higher than the best public high school in Hillsborough County.

I'm not trying to tell you not to move to Tampa, just be sure to do your research. Will you have a chance to visit the area? Coming from Chicago area, if you are in the city or a closer in suburb, you will I'm sure find the cost of living to be better in Tampa. I think there are definitely some family friendly areas in Tampa. Two areas that I think have a lot of families with young children are Westchase and New Tampa. I'm sure there are others. And, of course, Tampa has lovely weather in the winter and is not far from Mickey!

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Thanks so much for your response. Of course our top priority is schools, so we are doing our homework and being very choosy about the location we pick. We want to rent for a year, but not change make the kids change schools twice so we have to choose wisely right from the beginning.

Westchase was the area recommended by a friend who lives down in Tampa now. I will be flying down on Monday to visit work and to also check out the area. If I take the job, my husband and I will go down again to visit schools and pick a place to rent initially.
The other area we are looking into is Fishhawk Ranch, but it may be a bit too far of a commute for my husband and I given I'll be working across the bridge near Clearwater.

We live in the burbs of Chicago, and even really nice houses of similarly sized houses are about half the price of what we'd pay in our area. Plus the taxes are about a third. We wouldn't move somewhere just because of cost of living, but that would be a huge savings.

Thanks again for your response. It's a lot to think about.
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Old 02-24-2013, 03:10 PM   #4
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I live 45 minutes south of Tampa. We love it here and Disney is a huge perk. Do your research, you have many different communities available and there are many commuters. You also have several bordering school districts there. So if you are not comfortable with Hillsborough you can live in another district and commute easily. I am in manatee county which we love. Fishhawk Ranch is a nice area, but would be a considerable commute to Clearwater. The other positive thing about the Bay Area is that you can live in a more rural tiny area and be anywhere in 20 to 45 minutes. So you have access to lots of different stores/schools/beaches/areas. Florida is great. People are very friendly as well.

As far as schooling, I am more familiar with Pinellas or manatee district schools and less with hillsborough. Pasco county is probably an option as well. I have heard good things about west chase, land o lakes, carrollwood. Do some research and come visit. We also have people living in the Parrish area who commute to Tampa. Good luck!
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Old 02-24-2013, 03:12 PM   #5
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One more thought....one positive thing about Florida compared to other states is that we have an abundance of charter and magnet schools. Rarely do you have only your zoned school as the only option. My girls go to fantastic schools, a charter middle and magnet elementary. We are really happy.
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:06 AM   #6
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Tampa DVCer

I live about 15 miles west of Tampa very close to Clearwater.

You may want to look into the following areas: Citrus Park & a little further north, Trinity. Both of these areas are a bit north of down town tampa but are close enough to commute to both CLW (a little further) and to Tampa proper.
Also check Palm Harbor and Oldsmar in Pinellas County.

Prices of homes have really leveled out here but there are still bargins to be had. Contact the Tampa Chamber of commerce and ask for a relocation package. They have great information for you there.

As far as schools go, I won't lie to you. They are horrible compared to other area. I am originally from north of Philly and was shocked at the schools here. (not for safety but they are behind northern schools by about a year or so). Private schools and home schooling is very popular here.

I will say that I do love it here (been here about 17 years) and can't imagine ever moving back. Maybe closer to WDW one day but not back up north.
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:40 AM   #7
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Our DS's family moved from Melrose MA to Lithia FL and the schools there are excellent! Fish Hawk Ranch is the development, it's huge and there is a wide variety of housing options.

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Old 02-25-2013, 06:18 PM   #8
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I had the opportunity to move to Tampa & work in Clearwater two years ago. After much back and forth, we decided not to take the move for two reasons. First, the position didn't have much growth potential for me. Secondly, due to the schools. The elementary schools I toured in Hillsborough County were concerning due to the classroom sizes. The overflow of children resulted in them attending school in trailers. Also it was possible that my children would be split up based on the way their system works. Families were allowed to choose their school and it may not be the closest in proximity to their home. If the school closest to us was full, we would have to go elsewhere. Or if DD's grade was not full and DS's grade was full, they could be in two different elementary schools. This zoning and freedom of choice did not make sense.

I don't think Florida as a whole is ranked well for good public schools. However, many send their children to private schools.
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El&Asmom

Westchase was the area recommended by a friend who lives down in Tampa now. I will be flying down on Monday to visit work and to also check out the area. If I take the job, my husband and I will go down again to visit schools and pick a place to rent initially.
The other area we are looking into is Fishhawk Ranch, but it may be a bit too far of a commute for my husband and I given I'll be working across the bridge near Clearwater.
I am not familiar with Fishhawk Ranch, but I googled it and I would not pick that location if you'll be working in Clearwater. It takes a while to drive from that area to the bridge that goes to Clearwater even without rush hour traffic, The Westchase area will be much better for your commute. I have been to Westchase several times visiting relatives. I think the elementary schools in that area perform well compared to other schools in FL, but performance seems to drop off in middle and high school. I did not get far enough into researching the schools to figure out why.

Good luck with your visits and decision!

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