AKA Because living in paradise takes some getting used to 😉
We know, we know. We live where other people vacation. It doesn't snow, rarely freezes, and it's surrounded by water, beaches, and palm trees. Sounds like a quality problem right? But even paradise takes some adjusting to! Here are five things you need to know/do to survive in "paradise!"
1. Throw out your winter coat - This could also be titled "Resign yourself to using your A/C year-round." The average high in Tampa is 81.7°F, and with the low being a balmy 65°F winter coats are the last thing you’ll need. The last time we actually hit freezing? January 2011 when the temperature reached 31°F. For even more of a throwback, the last time it snowed? 1977. Though you can always tell the locals, for us any high under 65°F is winter.
2. Get used to your new ‘seasons’ - Without a real winter, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of what season it is. Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Locals tend to divide the year into the following seasons: Hurricane, Love Bug, Snow Bird. Here is what you need to know about these magical times of the year!
Hurricane Season: June-November. Not only do we occasionally get to practice the adult version of a fire drill, but this is our rainy season. Expect downpours EVERY afternoon (3-4pm usually), the most lightning in the nation, and more humidity than is physically possible. The last time Tampa was hit by a major hurricane? 1921. Local wisdom about hurricanes: If there is no water on the shelf in Publix, check the news…there is probably at least a tropical storm on the way. Or they’re just restocking. Hurricane days from school & work are generally the nicest weather days of the year. And category 1 and below = perfect hurricane party time.
Love Bug Season: April-May & August-September. Not sure what the heck a Love Bug is? Consider yourself lucky! These little black and red bugs spend the majority of their adult lives mating… meaning these passionate pests fly around literally attached to one another. Expect to spend at least a month or two each year scrapping off these guys off your windshield and bumper.
Snow Bird Season: October-April. Like traditional bird migration, senior citizens flock to our tropical climates to avoid the snow. They come pulling their RVs, congesting the interstates, flooding the beaches, and forcing us locals to *gasp* make reservations at our favorite spots. While Tampa isn’t prime snowbird country on the west coast (we’re happy to let Sarasota & Clearwater win that one), we still get to see the rainbow of out of state license plates while sitting in worse than normal traffic. Local wisdom about snowbird season: Even if they don’t have a turn signal on, they WILL turn.
3. Get over your aquaphobia - It would be sad if you moved to Tampa and hated the water. Really sad, because water is literally EVERYWHERE. Of the 170 square miles that make up Tampa, 34% of that is water. First off, we’re situated on not one but TWO bays (Hillsborough & Old Tampa Bay). They combine to form Tampa Bay, which then flows into the Gulf of Mexico. We have Hillsborough River, Palm River, & the Alafia and the area is spotted with lakes. Even our port is bigger, the Port of Tampa is actually the largest port in Florida. One of our favorite ways to enjoy all this eye candy? Strolling along the 2.5mile Riverwalk through downtown.
4. Brush off your demolition derby skills - Tampa has always gotten a hard time for our driving record, and it only takes one rush hour trip through the I-275 & I-4 interchange to see why. Our common joke is that with so many transplants, we’ve inherited all the country’s worst habits when it comes to driving. According to Allstate, in 2016 Tampanians were 11.2% more likely to file an auto claim the national average. But guess what? That’s a good thing! The year before that number was 23%. In the last 4 years, Tampa has gone from the 176th safest driving city in the nation to 108th. Not perfect, but it’s definitely an improvement! Local wisdom when it comes to driving around town? When it’s raining please DON’T put your hazards on, it’s kind of against the law. And remember trying to brake in the rain is the closest you’ll get to ice-skating in Florida.
5. Break in your flip flops - Here in Tampa, like most of the state, we tend to be a bit more relaxed when it comes to the dress code. I mean have you tried wearing a blazer in August around here? Unless it’s a special occasion flip flops are almost our uniform. Unfortunately, neither Tampa nor Florida can take credit for these snazzy footwear items. The original flip flop can be traced back to ancient Egypt (yeah, we weren’t even close), but they only became popular in the USA after WWII. Local wisdom about flip flops: it will never be too cold to wear them. Seriously, we aren’t kidding.
Hopefully you enjoyed our lighthearted take on living in Tampa. Check back soon for another installment!