Tampa vs. Orlando (Which City is Right For You?)

Tampa vs. Orlando: Which City is Right For You?

Orlando may have won last year’s War on I-4, but does it defeat Tampa when it comes to where to live?

Answering the “Tampa vs. Orlando” question might seem easy to outsiders (“What’s the difference? They’re both in Central Florida, right?”) but the locals know that there’s a pretty big gulf in between the two cities.

And no, we’re not talking about the Gulf of Mexico.

If you’re considering moving to either of these Central Florida cities, read on to see which one is right for you.


Tampa skyline with cool sculpture

Work is one of the biggest things to consider before moving to any new city.

Orlando was #2 on WalletHub’s list of “Best Places for Jobs in Florida” and #13 on the national list. (Tampa was #20 and #16, respectively.)

However, it’s worth noting that the #1 spot on the Florida list—Sarasota—is only about an hour’s drive south of Tampa. So before you move, you might want to ask yourself how far you’re willing to commute.

Another question worth asking is what type of job industry are you in?

Both areas are big players in the tourism industry (with a bit more weight going towards Orlando), which means a plethora of hospitality jobs. But if you’re looking for something with a little more long-term potential, don’t fret.

Orlando has an up-and-coming tech industry, thanks to Full Sail and Lockheed Martin. It’s also a promising place to raise a startup, if you have more of the entrepreneurial spirit.

And Tampa? Well, let’s just say it’s come a long way from its cigar manufacturing days. “Cigar City” is now home to a thriving agribusiness industry (think food processing and manufacturing) and nearby St. Pete has one of the largest financial sectors in the country.

Who wins? Ultimately, the point goes to Orlando for its job growth rate.


Cost of Living

money folded in the shape of a dress hanging on a clothesline

Both Orlando and Tampa residents benefit from Florida’s lack of state income tax. But beyond that, there are some significant differences in cost of living.

The average salary in Tampa is higher than in Orlando ($51k vs. $49k, respectively), and the average home prices are lower ($213k vs. Orlando’s $232k).

Average rent in both cities is about the same ($1,200/month), but Orlando’s rent has gone up more year-over-year.

It’s not much of a difference, but a $50k salary in Orlando can decrease to $48k in Tampa and still retain the same lifestyle.

Who wins? Sorry, City Beautiful. Tampa’s got you beat here.


Family Friendliness

big brother and baby brother side by side on bed

Which city is best for raising a family?

Tampa’s Hillsborough County Public School system made Moveto.com’s list of “10 Best School Districts in Florida.” (The #2 spot went to Seminole County Public Schools, which is just north of Orlando.)

Both cities’ crime rates are higher than the national average, but Tampa has Orlando beat. Orlando has significantly more violent crime incidents than its bayside cousin. However, these statistics overlook the fact that there are very safe pockets in both areas.

The neighborhoods around Tampa’s perimeter are the safest, and the Bay Hill, Doctor Phillips, and Hunter’s Creek areas of Orlando are safe as well.

Who wins? Tampa, again. You just can’t beat a good school system and less crime.



gourmet soup and sandwich

Okay, so it might be difficult to explain to your friends that you’re moving to a certain city because of the food. But great restaurants are a perk, right?

Orlando was recently ranked #3 in the country for vegan/vegetarian options and #6 for Best Foodie Cities in America. It also tied for first place (with Miami and NYC, no less) for “most restaurants per capita.”

Orlando has lots of international options (no, we don’t mean Epcot) so put down the Bloomin’ Onion and Baby Back Ribs and go expand your palette.

Tampa has seen fast growth for fast casual restaurants, but it also has some of the best Cuban food you’ll ever find. Ybor City’s Columbia restaurant has been around since 1905 and is still an institution (with seven locations). And the city’s two food halls (think food court with no stores…just amazing independent eateries) have gained quite the buzz in the last few months.

Who wins? Orlando takes the cake here. With a diverse population of residents and visitors, the number and variety of restaurants is hard to beat.



Walt Disney and Mickey sculpture outside Magic Kingdom

Money Magazine listed Tampa as the best big city in the southeast in 2015, and it’s hard to argue with that.

Tampa is close to both the water and bustling city life (but without Miami’s price tag) and lots of entertainment options. Festivals are popular throughout the year and Busch Gardens and Lowry Park Zoo are popular weekend spots. Art lovers will appreciate the Dali and Chihuly museums.

Prefer sports? Tampa’s got you covered. Whether you like college football (USF Bulls), NFL (the Buccs), baseball (the Rays) or hockey (the Lightning), you’ll have plenty of games to hold your attention.

But Orlando has Disney. And Universal. And Sea World. Heck, even Gatorland.

Orlando has all the theme parks, but you can live a full, rich life with culture and entertainment without ever setting food on theme park property. More tourists means more opportunities for entertainment, shopping, and culture.

Who wins? Orlando, hands down. No matter what you’re into, you’ll find something to do just about every day in The City Beautiful.



When it really comes down to it, the Tampa vs. Orlando showdown is a draw.

Both cities have great weather, a diverse population, great eateries, a bustling job market, and the kind of amenities that draw thousands of new residents every year.

And hey, if you really can’t decide? Orlampa is right in the middle.

Whether you’re moving to Orlando, Tampa, or Portland, Cento Family Moving is here to help. Our team of professional, experienced movers can get you from coast to coast…across Florida or across the country. When you need to relocate, trust your family to our family.

We’ll get the job done right.


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