Intro to Community - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
Now Reading
Intro to Community

Intro to Community

The reflection of a twinkling skyline off Tampa Bay after sunset reminds residents of just one reason why they live in this gem on the Gulf Coast. The many unique cities encircling the bay and those that lay just beyond it comprise the vibrant community that is Greater Tampa Bay.  

Fine dining, luxury living and quick and easy commutes to workspaces have never been more accessible and available, and nights on the town are as energetic as ever. The increasingly popular live, work, play lifestyle caters to the modern professional looking for convenience and quality in each aspect of life, right there at home. The Tampa-Clearwater-St. Petersburg metropolitan area offers a growing list of these all-in-one neighborhoods, which provide the opportunity to live close to the city yet with a more neighborly, community feel. 

Zero lot line living, such as apartment complexes, townhomes and condominiums, allow for nearby access to city centers and often offer more affordable avenues of housing. GTB has seen many new luxury living apartments and condos crop up in recent years, offering high-end amenities and convenience. 

The GTB area hosts a diverse mix of residents. While it has long been popular among retirees and senior citizens, GTB continues to draw growing numbers of young professionals each year. Cliché as the saying sounds, there is truly something for everyone here — whether that is a picturesque beach or manicured golf course to spend those golden years enjoying, the top-ranked universities and thriving economy to find success in, or a quiet and peaceful home with safe neighborhoods and well-ranked school districts to raise a family.  

Festivals, concerts, outdoor activities, cultural events and countless other attractions abound around every corner. Professional sports teams, world-class museums, state parks and much more all contribute to the exceptional quality of life here, providing more than just a place to call home, but a place to live life to the fullest. 

Hillsborough County 

  • Population: 1.5+ million 
  • Area — 1,020 sq. mi. 

Hillsborough County — home to Tampa, Cuban sandwiches and Super Bowl champions, to name only a few — is the largest of the three major counties by both population and land area. Hillsborough County is home to the bulk of the area’s residents, as well as the largest city of Tampa, which happens to also be the county seat. 

A combination of Cuban history and modern amenities, urban centers and suburban as well as rural communities, natural scenery and famous attractions, successful sports teams and a strong arts presence are just a few standout qualities that make Hillsborough County a culturally rich place to live. A highly rated school district attracts families to the county, while the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Hillsborough Community College educate students from around the world. 

Planned neighborhoods make up a large portion of the suburban living in Hillsborough County. Apartment complexes, townhouses and condos are common in many places, especially in and around Tampa. Live, work, play communities such as Water Street near downtown and Midtown in the Westshore District have given rise to a redefined idea of urban living, revolutionizing developed areas through beautification projects and functional outdoor spaces. 

Pinellas County 

  • Population — 960,000+ 
  • Area — 608 sq. mi. 

Pinellas County has an outsized personality that packs a punch despite being the second-smallest county in Florida by land area. Pinellas County is home to two of the state’s most well-known cities, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. Distinct cities like Safety Harbor, Dunedin and Tarpon Springs make for excellent laid-back living or day trips for visitors, while natural wonders like Egmont Key, Honeymoon Island and Philippe Park showcase the area’s breathtaking beauty. 

This county, with nearly 1 million residents, is the most densely populated in the state. Popular for its world-class beaches, fine dining, nightlife and arts districts and attractions, Pinellas truly exemplifies the concept of living where others vacation. Companies in the financial technology and manufacturing industries have found a welcoming home in Pinellas County and thrive in this business-friendly area. 

The county has seen population growth decade after decade, making it a popular spot to settle. Most residents call either St. Petersburg or Clearwater home, the latter representing the county seat. While many new apartment complexes have developed around the major cities in recent years, houses are still the more dominant style of living. The community enjoys low crime rates, high-ranked schools and affordable housing. 

St. Petersburg has revitalized its downtown area in recent years, breathing fresh life into the city that many are calling a renaissance. Projects like the Grow Smarter Initiative, which helps to tear down roadblocks to equitable economic growth, are evidence of this progress. Developments such as revitalizing the St. Pete Pier and the additions to the Dalí Museum, just to name a few, have enhanced the city in recent years. With major residential projects like 400 Central, Orange Station, Domus Urbana and Reflection, St. Pete continues to welcome newcomers.  

Downtown Clearwater has seen quite the revitalization as well. Imagine Clearwater is an investment in the redevelopment of downtown Clearwater and its waterfront, including the construction of a 4,000-seat covered amphitheater in Coachman Park. This will also include 19 acres of park space.   

Right by the park, there are two major development projects in the works. The Bluffs will include two 27-story residential towers and retail space on the site of the former City Hall building. In addition, a 13-story hotel and a two-story retail building are coming to Osceola and Cleveland streets.  

Pasco County 

  • Population — 580,000+ 
  • Area — 868 sq. mi. 

Pasco County has seen exponential growth in recent years, although it remains the smallest of the three major counties population-wise. Featuring a unique mix of both rural and developed areas, Pasco County earns its county tagline: “Open Space. Vibrant Places.” 

Retirement homes and rural-leaning suburbs are commonplace, with much of the workforce commuting to either Tampa or St. Petersburg. Known for its good schools, friendly, community-focused atmosphere and nature preserves, Pasco County makes for an ideal spot for those looking for a taste of the small-town life without sacrificing big city access. This county is becoming a destination in its own right as well, with significant residential and economic growth occurring over the past several years. 

For the outdoorsy and active types, Pasco County is rich in opportunities for adventure, with bike trails, hiking and sports facilities galore. Lush wildlife preserves provide nature-lovers with the chance to spend the day in the sun. In the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, wildlife viewing is a given, with hawks, eagles, deer and various local critters thriving in their natural habitats.  

See Also

Waterfront relaxation and activities are always on the agenda, with boats out of Port Richey available for island-hopping adventures across spots like Durney Key. At Anclote River Park, experience one of Pasco County’s few true beaches, and learn why the area has earned its place as part of the Nature Coast. 

Bradenton, Lakeland and Spring Hill 

The GTB border is difficult to precisely define. Due to its rapid growth, the draw for business and entertainment and its status as a global tourism destination, the area is a magnet for commuters and visitors from beyond the immediate bay area. 

Several adjacent counties are home to cities that are closely connected to the region. Bradenton, in Manatee County; Lakeland, in Polk County; and Spring Hill, in Hernando County; They are among the largest cities in their respective counties, while smaller cities here certainly feel the pull into GTB as well. 

Bradenton has grown substantially in the last decade, this once small town transforming into a flourishing city. The Manatee County seat, Bradenton sits directly across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, connecting quite easily to St. Petersburg and even more easily by boat through the bay. Bradenton certainly holds its own, served by its own airport and transit line, beautiful beaches like Anna Maria Island and its rich arts and cultural communities. 

Due directly east from Tampa and Plant City, Lakeland offers a more easygoing feel within driving distance of the city. While oftentimes classified as an in-between spot for Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland, just off Interstate 4, solidly falls within the GTB influence. While it makes a home for commuters between both cities, Lakeland is also a very self-sustaining community. Publix is a major employer, with corporate headquarters located here, and students flock to Lakeland to attend Florida Southern College. There are plenty of restaurants, bars and nightlife establishments along with unique shops. 

Connected to Tampa by the Suncoast Parkway is Spring Hill, an unincorporated city in Hernando County. With a population of just over 100,000, Spring Hill has come a long way since 1980, when only about 6,000 people called it home. Many planned housing developments have sprung up to meet the steady influx of new residents. Much of its workforce is comprised of commuters, heading south on the Parkway to Tampa. Famous attractions like Weeki Wachee Springs give Spring Hill its unique identity, and its proximity to nearby Hernando Beach makes for a perfect spot to settle down near the water. 

*Populations are estimates as of 2022 

By Ryan Walsh.

Copyright © 2020 by Guide to Greater Tampabay | Powered by TheRipal

Scroll To Top