Wednesday, December 30

Moving to Tampa


I first visited Tampa six years ago. Two girls from school and I decided to go on a cruise together. Instead of flying we took a road trip, spent the night at a cheap motel and headed to the port the next morning to enjoy seven days at sea. It was fabulous, though I didn't get to see much in Tampa that time. Fortunately that wouldn't be my last visit to the Suncoast. My job required annual visits to Clearwater Beach for a conference, so I normally would spend an extra couple of days before or after the conference vacationing in the area.

I haven't decided yet whether I'll even move. I've been living in the same place my entire life. Until recently I always felt tied down to the city I'm in. But now I've been thinking about what it would take to uproot my flag and plant it somewhere new.

Things to Consider
  • Money magazine forecasts Tampa home prices will fall over 50% from peak to trough. Some people get scared by that. I see an opportunity to find a bargain.
  • Columbia restaurant. Their original location in Ybor City opened in 1905. I prefer the casual experience of eating on the patio overlooking Tampa Bay at their Clearwater Beach location. I could eat there every day.
  • Lots of sun = positive mental attitude. There's a reason they call it the Suncoast: there are 238 sunny days every year. Of course, the down side is that it's pretty damn humid in the summer. There's a lot of humidity where I am now, so not sure I'd notice much difference.
  • So much to do. Would I get bored eventually? It doesn't seem possible: beach, casino, botanical gardens, Orlando, Miami, beach, Ybor City, beach. Did I mention the beach?
My thinking is that I would basically start over with a much simpler life: sell some or all of my rental properties, use the cash to buy a foreclosure outright. Own a car outright. Those are my two biggest bills now. Without them, I think I could live comfortably even at a minimum wage income. I could find work in the tourism industry, something where I'm active and can lose weight. Something I can do during the day and not think about at night.

I still have to do more research:
  • Taxes and the overall cost of living. There's no income tax in Florida, not even on dividends or capital gains. Some things, like gas, cost more. Unlike where I live, there is no sales tax on groceries. I still need to look at property taxes. Property taxes will be about double what I pay now... all the more reason to find a modest house. I suspect insurance will also be higher... I'll be subsidizing the "Q-tips" drivers.
  • Unemployment is over 10% in Tampa. Will it be hard to find a job?
  • Assuming I don't sell all my rental properties, how much of a burden will it be to manage them remotely?
I get that giddy feeling like I used to as a kid on Christmas Eve whenever I think about moving to Florida. But I have to be sure I've considered all the pros and cons before doing something so drastic.

3 comments:

  1. What about your job? Your partner? Not naysaying, just wondering.

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  2. Dogfood - All my friends caution me to "be sure you find a job first". That's the smart thing to do but part of the excitement of starting over is getting there and then figuring it all out. Not saying I would do this, but just a thought. I would set aside enough to live on for several months if I went this route, plus would keep recurring expenses to the bare essentials.

    My partner is all for it. He's originally from Phoenix and is used to warmer environs.

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