The Cost of Living in Tampa

Tampa, FL is a vibrant, yet laid-back city that combines the best in urban living with a beach resort feel. If the water isn't your thing, that's OK, because there are plenty of things to do in Tampa that don't involve flip-flops and beach towels.

The greater area known as Tampa Bay encompasses the urban city of Tampa, as well as its sister beach cities Saint Petersburg and Clearwater and the suburbs of Brandon and Plant City.

Besides the tourist industry, Tampa is also a hub for agriculture, food processing, electronics and, of course, cigars, via the tradition of the famous Cuban neighborhood Ybor City located northeast of downtown Tampa.

Because Tampa is a bit farther north and on the west coast of Florida, it's less likely to get the brunt of hurricanes in the way Miami to the southeast is vulnerable. With easy access to Orlando via I-4 to the east and Bradenton plus Sarasota to the south via I-75, you'll also have plenty of places to visit if you want to explore beyond the bounds of Tampa Bay.

Tampa, FL is also a relatively affordable city, although that's changing somewhat as housing prices are rising due to the popularity of Florida as a haven for weather-weary northerners. That said, with the average rent in Tampa less than $2,000/month, Tampa is still competitive compared to many other major American cities.

Overall, the cost of living in Tampa is 5.9 percent less than the national average, with important costs like healthcare and goods and services being quite reasonable. If you're ready to find an apartment in Tampa, then you'll be pleased to see how affordable it can be.

We'll go over the cost of living in Tampa in-depth in this article.

Tampa, FL neighborhood

Housing costs in Tampa

The average rent in Tampa is not too bad, with a two-bedroom going for $1,927. Unfortunately, these prices are increasing and up 12.6 percent from the previous year.

If you're a college student at the University of South Florida (USF), University Square provides easy access to campus, as well as some great ethnic restaurants. University Square also offers the cheapest rents on average in Tampa, at around $1,002 for a two-bedroom.

The most expensive area for rent (at $2,840 for a two-bedroom) is Hyde Park North, bordering the west riverfront. You'll find tree-lined streets, older homes and lots of boutique shops and restaurants nearby.

Other popular neighborhoods in Tampa include South Seminole Heights ($1,074 for a two-bedroom), Heritage Isles ($1,528 for a two-bedroom), Harbour Island ($2,792 for a two-bedroom) and Uptown Tampa ($2,799 for a two-bedroom).

Average rent prices in cities near Tampa

The average rent in Tampa is less than $2,000 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, making the Bay Area city actually cheaper than inland cities like Orlando, which is accessible via Interstate 4 east of Tampa.

Tampa Bay's main beach strip, Clearwater, is more expensive than Tampa, not surprisingly, but Saint Petersburg is actually less expensive. Here are some average rent prices near Tampa:

Home prices in Tampa

With so many people moving to Florida, it's not surprising that Tampa's home prices jumped 23.7 percent in the past year. They now average $345,000, according to Redfin. You'll need to be quick and decisive if you want to find a new home in Tampa, as houses sell in just 8 days (versus 18 days last year). Fewer homes were sold in August of 2021 than in 2020 (1,190 compared to 1,281 last year), suggesting that Tampa residents may be slightly more inclined to hold onto their houses right now.

Crab cake sandwich from Tampa restaurant

Food costs in Tampa

With Tampa's location off of the Gulf of Mexico, you can be sure to find lots of great seafood restaurants here. Grouper is the fish of choice if you want some great seafood near the coast. When you get a chance, you should also visit Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood for an authentic Cuban sandwich, a.k.a. the Cubano.

The cost of living in Tampa for groceries is decent. Grocery costs are only slightly above the national average by 1.4 percent. Expect to pay $4.04 for a pound of ground beef, $1.77 for one dozen eggs, $3.24 for potatoes and $1.74 for lettuce.

Utility costs in Tampa

Tampa, like every Florida city, can get quite hot and steamy in the summer. For this reason, expect to have your air conditioning cranked up to the max on many days. Florida is humid and thus, can become a tad miserable without air conditioning.

Fortunately, the cold days and nights are few in Tampa, so the big utility expense will typically be your summer cooling needs. Winters will be typically mild if not warm, with a few evenings where the temperature might drop down to freezing.

For utilities, the cost of living in Tampa is reasonable at 2.1 percent less than the national average. You can expect your average energy bill to run $161.99.

Tampa tram from Ybor City

Transportation costs in Tampa

Tampa's traffic can get a bit hairy at times, especially during rush hour. You'll most likely need a car in Tampa because the city's Transit Score is 34. With a Walk Score of only 46, it's also not a particularly walkable city. Yet, renters do report that Tampa can be “bike-friendly," and the Bike Score is a little bit higher than the Walk Score at 55.

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) provides bus service in Tampa. One-way fares are $2 local and limited express lines and $3 for express lines. Discount local costs $1 and discount express costs $1.50. You can get a day pass for $4 (local and limited express) or $2 at the discount rate. Express line day passes are $6 or $3 for discount express.

Ybor City has a free streetcar, the TECO Line Streetcar System, which runs 2.7 miles and services the dining and entertainment districts.

Tampa is home to the Tampa International Airport, which can be accessed via public transportation. The airport offers many non-stop destinations, particularly in the northeast, such as Boston, Atlantic City, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Portland, Maine.

Healthcare costs in Tampa

Florida in general tends to attract an aging population, and you'd think that might make healthcare more expensive in Tampa. The good news is that Tampa's healthcare costs are actually less than the national average by 5.1 percent.

According to U.S. News & World Report, some of the top-ranked hospitals and medical centers in Tampa are the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa General Hospital, Morton Plant Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital-Tampa and AdventHealth Tampa.

Doctors in Tampa will cost $91.50 on average, and you would just pay one dollar more for a visit to the optometrist. Your Tampa-area dentist may be more expensive at $104.90. Need prescription drugs? At an average cost of $437.07, you might prefer to just run to the drugstore for some ibuprofen, costing $11.58 on average.

Individual healthcare needs will always differ, so your specific costs may vary from these estimates.

Paddleboarder in Tampa Bay

Goods and services costs in Tampa

Tampa has a lot of great things to see and do, so you'll want to look your best, whether you are planning a night out on the town or a day at the beach. If you're shopping, you can expect to pay approximately $22.35 for a men's shirt and $25.67 for women's pants. Need to take care of the dry cleaning? You're looking at an average cost of $13.05.

Getting a haircut in Tampa is super cheap at $15.70, and the full beauty salon experience will run you only $37.30. Now that you're ready for a night out, perhaps to take a stroll among the shops at International Plaza. If you're interested in checking out a movie later, the average ticket price in Tampa is $11.05.

Staying active in Tampa is easy, with yoga class prices averaging $16.00. A can of tennis balls will run on average $2.45, though pickleball has overtaken tennis as the favorite racket sport in Florida. You can cap off a nice, relaxing day with some wine for $8.65 or beer for $10.81.

Taxes in Tampa

Florida has a sales tax rate of 6 percent and no state income tax. In Tampa, you'll also be assessed a 1.5 percent sales tax for Hillsborough County, which brings your total Tampa sales tax rate to 7.5 percent. This means you'll be spending $75 in taxes for every $1,000 of products purchased.

How much do I need to earn to live in Tampa?

Rent should typically be no more than 30 percent of your income. With an average rent in Tampa of $1,927 for a two-bedroom, you would need to earn at least $6,423 per month or $77,076 per year. Fortunately, Florida's lack of an income tax may make it easier for you to rent a little more than the usual 30 percent recommended allowance.

Want a more precise calculation of what you can afford in Tampa, FL? Use our free online rent calculator to determine what you can pay to live in Tampa Bay.

Understanding the cost of living in Tampa

The cost of living in Tampa is surprisingly affordable, considering its proximity to beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. With many historic and interesting neighborhoods, Tampa has a lot to offer renters and wannabe homeowners of divergent tastes and lifestyles. With warm sunshine all year round and some of the best sunsets, Tampa is a relaxing and enjoyable place to experience life to the fullest.

Find apartments for rent in Tampa today.

Cost of living information comes from The Council for Community and Economic Research.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and's multifamily rental property inventory of two-bedroom apartments as of August 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
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Stephanie BrailStephanie Brail has a diverse background as a writer and holistic health expert with a previous incarnation as an internet consultant/web developer. Her writing has been published in numerous venues from computer magazines to life coaching websites to mindfulness publications such as Elephant Journal. She has lived in South Jersey, Michigan, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin (Texas), Florida and just outside of Annapolis, MD off the Chesapeake Bay in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. If she had to choose between gambling in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, she’d skip the gambling and see a show in Vegas and go to the beach in Atlantic City.

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