Living in Tampa vs Orlando: Which Florida City is Best in 2023

Orlando and Tampa are likely to pop up in your mind once you plan a trip to Florida. 

In one corner of the west of Florida peninsula, sits Tampa, the oldest center of business, bars, and endless entertainment options that vibes up every weekend.

Tampa vs Orlando

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In the other corner of the wetlands of the peninsula of Florida sits Orlando, a family destination to explore theme parks.

Tampa is famous for its history back in the 18th century whereas Orlando is a famous tourist destination on the continent. 

These two cities have so much to offer that it is really hard to say which is better than the other. Each has its devotees and detractors. 

So, in this blog, I’ll share true information regarding Orlando and Tampa for you to choose which one is better. 

Living in Tampa vs Orlando is a big decision and I hope you’re not deciding based on videos outcasted on the silver screen. So, let’s start.  

Living in Orlando vs Tampa

From sight, universities, jobs, affordability, environment, and nightlife, here you have to figure out which Florida city is best suited for you

Southern hospitality with sun-kissed beaches to kids’ dream amusement parks, the enchanted Sunshine State is the dream destination for youngsters and retirees. 

Not limited to high-tech savvy companies, laid-back vibe, and bohemian spirit, Florida embraces pros and cons and good and bad. 

Comparing two premier cities: Orlando and Tampa geographically, and intellectually has a lot of striking differences. 

You’ve to understand that both have unique sets of personalities that make them sensational among people to date. 

With that in mind, let’s know the pros and cons of Tampa vs Orlando.

Cost of living in Orlando vs Tampa

If you earn $60,000 per month, you can afford a quality standard of living in Tampa compared to Orlando. The cost of living of a place is influenced by the city’s cost of living score.

The main concern is the affordability and cost of living when people want to move to a place. The cost of living in Tampa is 2-3% less than the Florida average.

According to rentcafe.com, on average the cost of living in Tampa, FL is 4% lower than the national average and 5% lower than the state average. 

On the other hand, the median home value in Orlando is $388,557 whereas; in Tampa, it is $419,454. As per the research of Zilliow.com, Tampa’s housing cost is more compared to Orlando.

Orlando is home to a major amusement park with a cost of living index of 103.3 (US average of 100) whereas Tampa’s cost of living index is 103.7. 

The reason is residents of Tampa earn higher compared to Orlando and the demand for land in Tampa is more. For example, living in Orlando vs Tampa in terms of household income on average is $75,669 vs $87,818. 

Living in Tampa vs Orlando

Tampa vs Orlando: Job market

If you ask me to name one of the sizzling hot job markets in Florida then it has to be Orlando. As per Wallethub, Orlando has been ranked as 2nd best city in Florida. 

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report in 2018, the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan statistical area (MSA) continues as the fastest-growing job market.

As per bestplaces.net research, the Tampa market is expected to grow by 43% expansion. Tampa has been ranked 20th Best Place for Jobs in Florida by Wallethub.

On the other hand, Tampa is home to organizations like BayCare Health System, Publix, MacDill Air Force Base, the University of South Florida and a few hospitality sectors. 

But do you know who has been ranked No. 1 Best Place for Jobs in Florida by Wallethub? It’s Sarasota. It is a 1-hour drive from Tampa and 2 hours drive from Orlando.

As per a report from FloridaJobs, Orlando’s total non-agricultural employment rate has increased by 5.4% by August 2022. 

Orlando is home to major tech industries like Full Sail, Lockheed Martin and has a robust small tech community like FireSpring, VentureScaleUp, StarterStudio, and more.

Orlando vs Tampa: Population

Tampa in Hillsborough County is home to 394,809 people, making it the 3rd largest city in Florida and 51st largest city in the United States. 

On the other hand, Orlando in Brevard County is home to 321,427 people, making it 4th largest city in Florida and 61st largest city in the United States. 

Hence, this is the reason why the demand for land in Tampa is higher resulting in higher costs of median homes. 

Tampa holds 175 square miles of Florida land whereas Orlando is only 120 square miles. Tampa’s population is mostly old and retirees whereas Orlando’s is young and families. 

Comparative studybetweenTampa vs Orlandopopulation, Tampa wins. As its metro population is around 2.1 million and Tampa Bay’s population is 3.1 million. 

Tampa vs Orlando: Vacation

To all curiosities quenched Tampa vs Orlando is home to festival capitals, theme parks, and vibrant downtown. 

In terms of vacations with kids or families, Orlando wins the game because it is home to 12 theme parks offering thrilling entertainment options to enjoy. Also, it is home to many orange groves.

Whereas, for a relaxing beach vacation, welcome to Tampa. It welcomes adrenaline junkies, aficionados, bar hoppers, shopaholics, and beach lovers. 

You can check Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios. However, these places are very touristy. 

Whether you’re off for a romantic vacation, friendly trip, solo trip, or family trip, Orlando vacation plans are easy to make at cheap rates.

I would recommend visiting Cinderella’s Castle, Peter Pan, and Splash Mountain in Orlando. Whereas if you’re planning for day trips from Tampa, check out Fort DeSoto Park, Caladesi Island, and Honeymoon Island.

Apart from that, “The City Beautiful”(Orlando) and “The Big Guava ”(Tampa) has many outlets, malls, rooftop bars, museums and more. Both Orlando and Tampa are popular vacation destinations in Florida

If you’re planning for day trips from Orlando, come to Weeki Wachee which is just a 1.5 hour drive. Fort Lauderdale is one of the most colorful cities of Florida, just 3 hours away. 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Orlando vs Tampa
Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Tampa vs Orlando: Crime

Tampa is 25% safer than other US cities with 1 in 179 chances of you becoming a victim of violent crime and 1 in 61 chances of becoming a victim of property crime. 

Tampa is mostly a place for leisure and business with a record of a 21.92 crime rate per 1,000 residents. In total it has recorded 8,438 crimes in 2022.

Whereas, Orlando is 5% safer than other cities with 1 in 121 chances of you becoming a victim of violent crime and 1 in 27 chances of becoming a victim of property crime. 

Orlando is mostly a tourist place with a record 45.08 crime rate per 1,000 residents. In total it has recorded 13,866 crimes. 

Therefore, as per Crime Statistics sourced from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Orlando records 3x more crimes than Tampa. 

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You can choose to stay in Indian Shores, North Redington Beach, or Safety Harbour in Tampa whereas Winter Park, College Park, and Dr. Philips in Orlando are the best.

Tampa vs Orlando: Nightlife

Tampa and Orlando both offer a huge range of nightlife experiences and fantastic opportunities to hang out with friends and families. 

You can say both places wake up after the sun goes down. Sports bars, exhilarating concerts or warm pubs, Tampa and Orlando have it all.

If you want to stay with your family, CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort is a good place to reside. You can check out Disney Spring too!

Whereas, Tampa has perfect venues for fun and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere. You can also bring your younger kid to Busch Garden, or Ybor. 

The city breeze during the sunset in Tampa with whisky in one hand and properly fried chicken wings is an experience that you should experience. 

If you’re in Tampa, you can visit Gasper’s Grotto, The Hub, and The Attic. If you are a beer lover and looking for famous breweries in Tampa, Rock brother’s brewery shouldn’t be missed.

Gasper’s Grotto Tampa
Gasper’s Grotto

Orlando vs Tampa: Beach

Now one of the striking differences between Tampa and Orlando is the proximity to the beach. Orlando has some of the prettiest beaches. 

The secluded quiet beaches in Orlando have warm weather, clear water to swim, white sand to run around or build sandcastles and soak in the beautiful sunset view. 

Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, and New Smyrna Beaches are located just an hour from Orlando. In the west sits Clearwater Beach, Indian Shores and my favorite St. Pete Beach. 

Here, you can bring your dog and enjoy the beach air, and Boardwalk through the dunes, so peacefully.

Pros and Cons: Tampa vs Orlando Living

Every place has perks and drawbacks. Herein, Tampa vs Orlando comparison yields different as well as similar living and travel experiences. 

Tampa has a lot of forest areas for you to go wild on weekends. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Big Cat Rescue, and Busch Garden are some exotic locations. On the other hand, you can explore peaceful unexplored places in Orlando.

Unwind your frustrated mind with an airboat ride into the marshes and swamps spotting alligators, enjoying birds chirping, and spotting other animals.

Once in your life, come to Hillsborough River in Tampa for kayaking. 

Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach

Recommended Read: 11 Best Places to Live in Central Florida

Hanging Out with Locals

One of the benefits of living in Tampa and Orlando is you’re always surrounded by endless entertainment options as well as events to take part in. 

You’ll go crazy participating in a music festival, craft beer fest, farmer’s market and so on. Thousands of people come from all around the world. Such a blast!

In March, come to Gasparilla Music Festival, and in April rock out at Florida Music Festival in Orlando. 

Every Saturday morning, 8.00 am – 1.00 pm, Orlando’s Winter Park Farmers’ Market delights locals and visitors with their food collections all at affordable rates. Arrive hungry!

With 50+ local vendors come to the United Methodist Church in Seminole Heights Sunday Morning Market in Tampa with homemade food, fresh veggies, and free parking offering the best food you ever had. 

Featuring local makers, live music, and food trucks, every Sunday 10.00 am – 3 pm, October to May runs an open-air fresh market called Tampa Downtown Market, a unique way to have fun.

Running since 2000, every Saturday from 9 am till mid-afternoon, rain or shine, Ybor City Saturday Market is a popular spot to purchase unique items and gifts.

The regular season market runs from October till May, every Saturday, with a close-knit community or local business owners for St. Petersburg’s residents calling it St. Petersburg’s Saturday Market. Here you can buy remarkable accessories, great food, and watch quality art. 

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Free Things to Do in Orlando

  • Come to Green Springs, a free natural springs in Orlando
  • Stroll in Lake Eola Park
  • Browse with your friend at Art Galleries
  • Bring your camera to Shingle Creek Regional Park
  • Upload photos of vintage cars in Old Town in Kissimmee
  • Burn calories hiking in the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
  • Head to Cocoa Beach and soak in Vitamin D
  • Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a small visit to Kraft Azalea Garden
  • Attend Thursday night mark and other events

Recommended Read: Top 10 Fun & Free Things To Do In Orlando

Free Things to Do in Tampa

  • Come to Tampa Riverwalk which features a stellar foodie menu
  • Enjoy Cuban food at Ybor City
  • Taste seasonal fruits, vegetables, and flowers from Tampa Bay Farmers Market
  • Do not miss out Weeki Wachee Springs, my favorite natural springs near Tampa
  • Enjoy the sunset views from Ben T. Davis Beach
  • Come for a walk at Pinellas Trail
  • Enjoy lush green space at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
  • Try to attend Gasparilla Parade in late January
  • Bring our grandfather for an evening walk at Upper Tampa Bay Trail or Courtney Campbell Trail
  • Stroll through the Heights Night Market
  • Every 3rd Thursday, come to Grand Central at Kennedy. Remember, come empty stomach!

Related Post: 8 Best Tampa Breweries

Is Tampa better than Orlando? The Verdict

Both Tampa and Orlando hold a special position in my heart, however, it depends upon you, your areas of interest and the people you’re traveling with to which place to visit.  

Personally, if I had to choose I would come to Tampa because of its job opportunities and affordable cost of living. 

Also, Tampa has a rich culture with a lot of historical places like The Plant Museum and Ybor City. How can I forget Tampa’s Busch Garden? It has so many restaurants, nightclubs, and more to have fun!

On the other hand, Orlando loves kids and families. The 1950s Disney World’s EPCOT and 1936’s Harry P. Leu Gardens hold such important places in the pages of history.

If you have time, rather than limiting yourself to just one city I would suggest exploring more as I did. 

Conclusion

Just imagine, there is so much in Orlando and Tampa. The good news is that moving to these new cities might be scary to newcomers but they are very welcoming and filled with affordable homes to extravagant luxury rentals.

Moreover, I would advise you that if you find something “cheap for the area” , always investigate the place, apartment’s history, and neighborhood’s crime rate to ensure you’re residing in a good home.

If this blog on living in Orlando vs Tampa seems to be helpful, please show some love and share it with others and let me know in the comment section if you have any queries.

FAQ – Living in Orlando vs Tampa

1. Is Tampa more expensive than Orlando?

A: The cost of living in Tampa and Orlando are more or less equal but still, Tampa is 4.8% lower than Orlando. However, the cost of expenses changes from year to year.

2. Which city has better weather, Tampa or Orlando?

A: Tampa has moderate weather with 50.6 inches of rain on average annually. On the other hand, Orlando is prone to hurricanes, and flooding with 52.1 inches of rain annually. Tampa stays warmer in winter and cooler in summer without any harsh raise in temperature. 

3. Is living in Orlando affordable?

A: Orlando’s housing expense is 7% higher than the national average whereas utility price is 5% less than the national average. However, if you compare it with Miami it is less expensive.

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