NewsPrice of Paradise


Price of Paradise: Renters, retirees moving away from Tampa Bay

Florida ranked "least-affordable" by
Posted at 9:53 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 05:23:45-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Those who are not in Tampa Bay want to be here.

A March study by real estate company Redfin, ranks Tampa third among the list of nationwide cities home buyers are looking to move to, even if houses in the Bay grow more expensive by the day.

"While the costs have definitely risen for some households, there are other households that are going to continue to move into Tampa that see Tampa still as a bargain," CoStar Group real estate analyst Jay Lybik said.

It is historical growth Lybik sees is starting to slow yet remains strong so far in 2022.

Redfin shows renters and homeowners in Washington D.C. and nearby Orlando are relocating to Tampa Bay to save on housing.

"For them it’s like, ‘Wow, it’s on sale,’” Lybik said.

For many others in Tampa, the price of a house or an apartment looks like an overcharge, and Lybik said it is starting to drive some away from the Bay.

"There definitely is a movement in a number of Sun Belt markets that historically were thought of as a low-cost place to live with Tampa being one of them," Lybik said.

Lybik told ABC Action News that residents in expensive metro areas are ditching the city for smaller surrounding areas. In Central Florida and Southwest Florida, it's Lakeland where homeowners from Tampa and Orlando are flocking for a lower cost of living. In fact, Polk County is the fastest-growing county in the state, and it ranks seventh among all growing U.S. counties.

"Smaller markets that are like within two hours of a larger metro are definitely seeing good activity," Lybik said.

But those looking to settle down for good are searching even further away.

"We’re seeing more and more individuals that are just saying, ‘I can’t afford to live in Florida anymore, I need to go a little further north or out west," financial advisor Celine Pastore said.

Retirement in Florida is not as appealing as it once was. Pastore said retirees are looking for ways to downsize, a lot of the time, outside of the Sunshine State.

"They’re really looking for any way that they can to help put some more dollars in their pocket at the end of the month, and if that means moving to another state, they’re going to definitely consider it," Pastore said.

Unbeatable weather, no state income tax, and affordability have, historically, all been reasons to retire to Florida but that last one is now an issue driving some families away.

"It's not that inexpensive place that retirees go to like it used to be," Pastore said.

According to the data, it is actually the opposite.

A study from February ranked Florida the least-affordable state in the country with Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville all recording in the Top 10 for housing cost increases. Not to mention, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, inflation in Tampa outpaces national average and nears the top of rates among all U.S. cities so far this year.

"When you’re living on a fixed income in retirement, you learn really quick how difficult that can be and how challenging inflation can be," Pastore said.

Pastore warns retirees not to jump state lines, just yet.

If you're considering moving away to retire, she advises you find temporary housing in another state, first, to see how you like it. She also says it is not a bad idea to pick up part-time work to keep extra cash on hand.

Lastly, Pastore said it is always best not to panic. She says economic uncertainty is the only thing that is certain and she expects inflation levels to return to normal in the near future.

As Tampa Bay continues to attract new residents and businesses, the impact of living in paradise comes at a cost for all of us— from the increasing cost of housing and infrastructure to utilities and insurance. ABC Action News is committed to helping you and your family make the most of your money and navigate through the Price of Paradise.