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Tampa vs Sarasota

Tampa vs Sarasota 🏖️ | Tampa or Sarasota to Live + Pros & Cons

Last Updated on: 18th May 2024, 12:15 pm

If you are considering a move to Florida’s Gulf Coast, then you may be curious about Tampa vs. Sarasota. Tampa, a vibrant metropolis with a bustling downtown area, a thriving arts scene, and several entertainment options, is a great choice for people of all ages. On the other hand, Sarasota offers a slower pace and is complete with gorgeous beaches, fine dining options, and a strong sense of community. Here’s what you need to know about deciding between Tampa or Sarasota to live.

Tampa to Sarasota Distance

How far away is Sarasota from Tampa? It is 59.9 miles from Downtown Tampa to Sarasota. This is about a 1 hour and 11-minute drive via I-75 S.

Pros and Cons of Living in Tampa vs. Sarasota

Let’s take a look at the Tampa pros and cons vs. the Sarasota pros and cons.

Living in Tampa Pros

Downtown Tampa at sunset

  • Diverse job market with opportunities in various industries
  • Bustling downtown area with museums, theaters, art galleries, and more
  • Thriving sports culture
  • More affordable home prices compared to Sarasota
  • Access to top-rated educational institutions, including the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa
  • Low crime rates compared to the national and state averages

Living in Tampa Cons

  • Traffic congestion during peak summer months
  • Beaches can get quite crowded
  • Risk of hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season
  • Competition for housing in desirable neighborhoods, leading to higher rent prices

Living in Sarasota Pros

Downtown Sarasota Florida with crystal clear blue water and boat marina

  • Beautiful beaches with white sands and clear blue waters
  • Relaxed coastal lifestyle
  • Several parks, nature preserves, and botanical gardens nearby
  • Wonderful healthcare facilities and medical services, including the top-rated Sarasota Memorial Hospital
  • A strong sense of community, with several events and festivals celebrating culture and local heritage throughout the year
  • Higher crime rate than the state, national, and Tampa averages

Living in Sarasota Cons

  • Limited public transportation options
  • Higher cost of living in certain areas, especially those close to the beach
  • Limited nightlife options compared to Tampa
  • Risk of hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season
  • Limited job market diversity compared to Tampa

Comparisons of Sarasota vs. Tampa

Although both of these cities are situated on the west coast of Florida, they are very different in many ways. Here are a few comparisons of Tampa vs. Sarasota.

Tampa vs. Sarasota Population


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Population is one of the most important categories to consider when comparing Tampa vs. Sarasota, Florida. Tampa has a population that is nearly six times larger than Sarasota. The Tampa population is 384,959, while the Sarasota population is 54,842. Therefore Tampa residents can expect a bigger city feel, while Sarasota is far less crowded, creating a smaller-town vibe.

Sarasota vs. Tampa Cost of Living

When pondering the Tampa vs. Sarasota pros and cons, you’ll want to take a look at the cost of living in each area. While both of these major cities are fairly affordable, Tampa is a more expensive place to live. The Cost of Living Index in Tampa is 104.2, meaning that it is 4.2% more expensive than the national average. The Sarasota Cost of Living Index is 102.9, making it 2.9% more expensive than the national average and 1.3% more affordable than the Tampa average. Here’s an overview of major expenses in Tampa vs. Sarasota, according to the Economic Policy Institute:

  • Housing: 1.1% more expensive in Tampa
  • Food: 9.7% more expensive in Sarasota
  • Child care: 22.8% more expensive in Sarasota
  • Transportation: 0.5% more expensive in Tampa
  • Health care: 2.3% more expensive in Tampa

It is important to remember that Florida does not have state income tax, so you can expect to save money in this category in both cities.

Housing in Tampa vs. Sarasota

When comparing the Sarasota vs. Tampa pros and cons, you’ll need to consider the cost of housing in both Sunshine State cities. According to Redfin, the median home price in Tampa is $424,000, which is just above the national average of $420,000. Alternatively, the median home price in Sarasota is $548,000. The housing prices in each area vary greatly on where you choose to settle down.

In Tampa, you’ll find more expensive real estate in areas near Tampa Bay, Clearwater Beach, and St. Pete Beach. The further you get away from the beach, the more affordable homes you will find. Similarly, the more expensive areas of Sarasota include Siesta Key Beach and Cherokee Park.

If you want to rent real estate in the Sarasota or Tampa metro area, then there are quite a few options for you to choose from. According to RentCafe, the median rent price in Tampa is $1,923, while the median rent price in Sarasota is $2,134. Tampa residents can expect to pay more in rent, especially living in places like Downtown Tampa, Tampa Bay, and St. Pete Beach.

Sarasota vs. Tampa Crime Rates

When comparing Tampa vs. Sarasota in terms of crime rate, Tampa comes out on top. The Tampa crime rate is 12.4% lower than the state average, 19.7% lower than the national average, and 77.2% lower than the Sarasota average. The Sarasota crime rate is 55.2% higher than the state average and 42.4% higher than the national average.

Although the Sarasota crime rate is on the higher end, it is important to note that there are still many safe places to live in the city. Most of the crime in both of these cities are committed in touristy areas where the nightlife scene is more prominent.

Things to Do in Tampa vs. Sarasota

When it comes to things to do in Tampa vs. Sarasota, the two cities boast a wide range of incredible local attractions. Tampa is widely considered a better option for urban amenities. From adrenaline-pumping adventures at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay to cultural experiences at the Tampa Museum of Art, there’s no shortage of excitement in this city. Tampa is also full of amazing shopping and dining opportunities, with amazing boutiques and restaurants situated on every street corner.

For nature enthusiasts, Sarasota may be a better choice. Outdoor lovers can explore the gorgeous landscapes of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens or embark on a kayaking adventure through the mangrove tunnels of Lido Key. Although not as big as Tampa’s downtown area, Downtown Sarasota is also a great place to be. You can check out performances at the Sarasota Opera House or take a trip to the unique museum The Ringling, which showcases circus memorabilia.


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Because both of these cities are situated on the west coast of Florida, you will find no shortage of beautiful beaches in both areas. The beaches in the Tampa Bay area will likely be a bit more crowded, however, as they are a tourist hotspot. Some of the best beaches in and around Tampa include St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, and Ben T Davis Beach. A few of the most beautiful beaches in Sarasota are Siesta Key Beach, Indian Beach Park, and Lido Key Beach.


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Sports in Tampa vs. Sarasota

For sports fans deciding between Tampa or Sarasota to live, Tampa is the clear winner. Tampa is home to professional sports teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Tampa Bay Lighting plays at the popular Amalie Arena, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers call Raymond James Stadium home.


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While Sarasota does not have any professional sports teams, it is only an hour’s drive from some of the best sports in the Sunshine State!

Transportation in Tampa vs. Sarasota

When comparing transportation in Tampa vs. Sarasota, Tampa is better for those without vehicles. The Tampa metro area is served by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), operating buses, streetcars, and a commuter rail service. HART can transport passengers to local attractions like Busch Gardens or to nearby areas around Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg.

In contrast, Sarasota’s public transportation is more limited, relying primarily on the Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) bus systems. However, Sarasota County has recently joined the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority to build a light rail and commuter rail in the city.

Weather in Tampa vs. Sarasota

When deciding on Tampa or Sarasota to live, you’ll want to consider the weather. The weather in both Florida cities is quite similar, with both cities experiencing a subtropical climate. However, Sarasota receives more annual rainfall than Tampa, averaging 56 inches compared to Tampa’s 50.6 inches. Sarasota also has more sunny days per year, averaging 251 compared to Tampa’s 246.

Both cities have average summer highs around 90ºF and mild winters, with Sarasota’s January low of 50.9ºF being a bit warmer than Tampa’s 51.6ºF. Overall, the weather in these two cities is quite pleasant year-round. It is important to note, however, that both cities are at risk for hurricanes, especially during the Atlantic hurricane season (running from June 1 to November 30).

Jobs in Sarasota vs. Tampa

The job market and economies of Tampa vs. Sarasota differ in several key ways. Tampa is more popular among young professionals, as the city has a larger and more diverse economy. Also, there are additional job opportunities available in nearby St. Pete. According to PayScale, the average salary in Tampa is $73,000, while the average salary in Sarasota is $67,000.

In terms of industries, Sarasota has a strong presence in the real estate, construction, healthcare, and technology sectors, with major employers including Bon Secours and Wells Fargo. Tampa is known for its finance, manufacturing, and infotech industries, with several corporate headquarters and innovative startups calling the city home, such as MetLife and Kforce.

Tampa vs. Sarasota: Which City Will You Call Home?

Now that you know all of the pros and cons of Tampa vs. Sarasota, which destination will you call home? Both of these cities on the west coast of Florida are wonderful places to settle down and start a new adventure. If the area around the shores of the Tampa Bay is calling your name, then get in touch with our Tampa movers. If Sarasota feels like a better choice, then give our Sarasota movers a call. Give 2 College Brothers a call today at 813-922-1528 to get started with a free estimate!


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