St. Petersburg (population 250,000) comprises one third of the Tampa Bay area, along with Tampa and Clearwater. This region was hit hard by the recession and housing market collapse of the late 2000s, and jobs have been slow to come back. On the bright side, that means more vacancies for you to home in on.
Prepare to lose neither an arm nor a leg when renting an apartment in St. Petersburg. 1 bedroom units average $800-$850 a month, with the average 2 BR unit costing about $1100. Kiplinger’s Cost of Living Index for St. Pete is 99 (100 is the national average), so that means you’ll be spending a tiny fraction less than Joe Six Pack. Hey Joe, maybe if you stopped buying six packs you’d have more money for a nice apartment! You ever think about that?
Being a peninsula (a piece of land surrounded by water but still connected to land—but you knew that, right?), St. Petersburg is a popular place for beach-lovers, and that means there are plenty of condos to be found, so include them in your search. St. Pete is also haven for those who’ve finally finished the rat race, so the odds are good you may have some older folks in your area.
St. Petersburg is comprised of more than 100 small neighborhoods, so picking one will require some research. When it comes to picking a good spot, a recommended rule of thumb is to stay on the north end of 4th St. and the south end of U.S. 19. Here are some of the most notable communities:
Brighton Bay: This pleasant neighborhood’s close proximity to the Gandy Bridge makes it especially appealing for those who work in South Tampa or Downtown St. Pete.
Downtown: The business center of the city, downtown is also starting to see more condos. Museums, art galleries, restaurants and Tropicana Field – home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays – add to the flavor.
Gateway: Lots of apartment complexes to be found in this far north section of St. Pete. You’ve got businesses, shopping, and continuing expansion here.
Jungle Prada: An upscale historic neighborhood on the Boca Ciega Bay waterfront.
Kenwood Historic District/Grand Central: Known for its open mindedness and cute Craftsman bungalows, Kenwood is within walking distance of the up and coming restaurant and shopping scene in Grand Central on Central Ave in between 22nd Street and 34st Street north. Living in these hoods puts you 3 minutes from downtown and 15 minutes from St. Pete Beach by car, or a leisurely walk to either.
Madeira Beach: Expensive condos can be found in this fishing-fueled community where tourism reigns supreme on weekends.
Midtown: Probably the area you most want to avoid.
Old Northeast: This is a mainly residential suburban neighborhood. Apartment prices here can vary from inexpensive to expensive.
Pinellas Point: The Greater Pinellas Point area is a popular place to live, with the northern end of it getting pricey. The Pink Streets area is a great spot to walk or ride a bike.
Snell Isle: An area that overlooks Old Tampa Bay. Some apartments can be found here, but it’ll cost you.
St. Pete Beach: A tourist draw with a great beach, you can also find some rentals here.
St. Petersburg was indeed named after its Russian counterpart, but are they similar in terms of weather? Nyet. With the bay on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, you’re always surrounded by water in St. Pete, a fact that meshes nicely with the city’s average temperature of 74 degrees. The last hurricane to directly hit St. Pete was in 1921, but this is Florida, so the threat of a major storm will be a concern every summer, and some streets do flood easily. Besides the weather, there are a few other things to keep in mind about living here.
One for the ages, not the ageist
For decades now, St. Pete has been a popular place for people to retire, so as you might expect, Matlock DVDs will be a little tougher to find here. The average age in St. Pete is 39.3, and it’s a very seasoned 43 years old overall in Pinellas County. On paper, this makes St. Pete a better option for couples or older renters, but St. Pete’s population has been trending younger, too. If you don’t need dozens of clubs and hot spots full of twenty-something, you’ll be fine.
St. Petersburg, like all Florida cities, is not full of mass transportation options. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority operates a bus system that travels 34 local routes, and that’s pretty much it. In 2010, Forbes magazine rated the Tampa Bay region the worst in the nation for commuting, but Pinellas County officials say the average commute time is just 20 minutes.