Relocation to Tampa
I work with many clients relocating to Florida from other states and it often seems that many people have the same questions about living the Florida lifestyle. My clients often lean on me to be the local expert and as a native Floridian I feel qualified to help answer some of the more obscure questions about living in Florida and Tampa specifically. Check out some of my “Frequently Asked Questions” to answer some of your most burning questions about moving to Florida!
Questions about living in Tampa
What about all those alligators? It’s absolutely true that alligators live in Tampa. They have been spotted on golf courses, swimming pools, and small ponds behind neighborhoods. However, as long as you keep your distance you have nothing to fear. They are not as abundant as birds and squirrels and you won’t see them lurking on every corner. I have seen alligators in neighborhoods or small ponds only a few times in my lifetime as a Tampa native. If you live on a pond you should be cautious and keep kids and pets away from the water’s edge to be safe.
Will termites eat my home? Termites are everywhere in Florida and most homes will have live termite activity at some point without the property treatment or preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance is key to keeping the termites from damaging your home. For a minimal cost homeowners can have yearly treatments done by a pest control company that will guarantee and provide a warranty against future termite damage or activity. The most prevalent form of termite damage in Florida is caused by subterranean termites.
Is my house going to fall into a sinkhole? The entire state of Florida is sinkhole prone with some areas being more risky than others. When you perform your home inspection your inspector can look for structural damage and signs of settlement that could be an indicator of sinkhole activity which may warranty further testing and investigation by a professional. However, if your home shows no signs of sinkhole activity when you purchase it you can’t always be guaranteed that something won’t change later. It is an inherent risk of living in Florida much like hurricanes and lightning strikes. You can also talk to your insurance agent about adding sinkhole insurance for additional peace of mind.
What about hurricanes? Hurricanes are a potential threat living in Florida. Tampa is positioned pretty well in that we don’t usually take direct hits. The last devastating hurricane season in Florida was 2004 when multiple named hurricanes caused destruction all over various parts of the state. Tampa was affected this year only by a tropical storm which caused damage but nothing as destructive as the hurricanes that hit other parts of that state. The most positive thing about hurricanes compared to many other natural disasters (i.e. tornadoes or earthquakes) is that you typically have a few days lead time to prepare and evacuate if necessary. Hurricane shutters can be installed on your windows to help prevent against wind impact and you will also receive an insurance discount. Additionally, Florida building codes have been updated to include higher wind rated garage doors and windows in recent years as well as more stringent codes for roofing to assist with wind mitigation during storms.
How hot does it actually get? It may feel like 100 degrees in the summer due to high levels of humidity but we generally stay in the low to mid 90’s on our hottest days. And ladies be advised: the humidity will make your hair frizzy!
Can I swim all year round at the beach or in my pool? Depends on where your moving from! As a native Floridian I like to wait until the gulf feels like bathwater before swimming so I generally stick to the summer months. However, many of my relocation clients from up north think the water temps are just fine from swimming a majority of the year. If you don’t mind swimming at the beach in water that is 65-70 degrees, then you can probably swim all year round. Another option is to get a heated pool! Many homeowners use solar heating to heat their pools during the non-summer months.
Do I need flood insurance? Is it expensive? Not all of Tampa is located in a flood zone that requires flood insurance. However, some parts of town are in flood zones and will require you to purchase flood insurance in addition to your regular homeowner’s insurance. These premiums often range between $300-1500 per year depending on the elevation of your flood zone. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone it is recommended you still purchase flood insurance. This will offer you additional protection against storm surges from hurricanes. It is often only a few hundred dollars per year to purchase flood insurance if you are not in a flood zone.
Does Tampa have suburbs? Yes! This can be a confusing point for many people relocating. Many of Tampa’s suburbs are still a Tampa mailing address. The city limits of Tampa encompass most of south Tampa, downtown, and a few parts of north Tampa and northeast Tampa. However, there are many areas that have Tampa mailing addresses that are NOT within the technical city limits of Tampa and are suburbs of Tampa. Some examples of suburbs that have Tampa addresses would be Carrollwood, Westchase, Town N Country, Lake Magdalene, Northdale, Cheval, and Citrus Park.
Is Tampa a “walkable” city? What is downtown Tampa like? Not really. Many people from up north envision public transportation or walking to nearby stores and possibly even living downtown. None of these things are a reality in Tampa. Very few of the city’s residents live downtown and there are very few housing options downtown. Most people commute to downtown to work and go home each day. Tampa Bay is comprised of 6,515 square miles spread out over eight counties and almost everyone has a car. You may find a home close enough to walk to a grocery store but that will probably be about the extent of “walkability” in most parts of the Tampa.
Real Estate Purchase Questions
Do I need an attorney for my purchase? No. Florida is not an attorney state therefore your Realtor will handle writing the contract and managing the process from contract to close and a title company will conduct the title search, provide title insurance, and also close the transaction.
What is a CDD fee? A CDD fee or “Community Development District” fee is a fee imposed by the developer of a neighborhood used to finance the cost of amenities in the community. It is a repayment of a loan that the developer borrowed from the county at the time of the development to finance the amenities. This loan is often a 30 year term so homeowners can expect to pay the fee for 30 years. The CDD fee is incorporated into homeowner’s tax bills so it is not a separate fee and is already built into the cost of taxes on the home. Generally larger master planned communities built within the last 15 years are the communities where you will most often see a CDD fee imposed.
Will the seller do repairs after inspections? Generally no the seller will not complete any repairs on homes after inspections. Most real estate transactions in Tampa are “AS-IS” meaning no repairs are required to be completed by the Seller. The inspection is typically for the Buyers knowledge so they know what items they may need to address after closing. The Buyer does have an inspection period in which to perform inspections and then cancel the contract if major items are found that concern the Buyer.
How quickly can I close on my house? Since Florida is not an attorney state closings happen quickly. If the transaction is cash a closing it can take place in as little as a few days after negotiating your offer. Most financed transactions close 30-45 days after negotiating your offer.
How long does a roof last in Florida before it needs replacement? The average life span of a shingle roof in Florida is typically between 18-20 years (despite the manufacturers claims that they are 30 year shingles!). The Florida sun and rain will warrant the replacement of your roof sooner than other parts of the country.