To all of the friendly people who have decided they are moving to Tampa Bay in 2023, welcome! You are going to love this state from December to March. As you will quickly learn, one of our favorite pastimes is to taunt all of the people who stayed in the north with pictures of us playing golf, tennis, or running on the beach in January. When you send them these photos, they will hate you but it’s a right of passage. (Especially when you send it in the middle of a blizzard)
However, as you decide to move, there are some transportation challenges you really need to be aware of. First, Tampa Bay is not known for its effective public transportation. Bus routes are long, cumbersome and slow. Trains don’t exist. Finally, and especially due to inflation, we are seeing people move further and further from our main employment areas. Which is leading to longer commutes.
Here is my helpful guide to assist people moving to Tampa Bay to understand the reality of what your commute to work may look like. In our experience, the only roles we are seeing that are remote are from large national corporations. Roughly 99% of our clients today are back in the office working 100% of the time.
Driving Across Tampa Bay
One of the first items you will notice is that there are three bridges that connect Tampa Bay. You have the Gandy, the Howard Franklin, and the Courtney Campbell Causeway. These are fabulous bridges and we love them. But, when traffic gets heavy, let’s just say that I hope you brought a snack to enjoy the solitude of sitting in traffic going nowhere fast! While the bridges are effective, once you are on a bridge however, you cannot take any alternative routes if something goes wrong.
If you are moving from any large metropolitan city and comparing our transportation to what you left, you may be saying “What public transportation?” You would be right when you compare Tampa Bay to other larger cities. While our public transportation organizations mean well, they just aren’t efficient. Additionally, we have not yet worked out the political aspects of transportation. I don’t mean the normal Republican/Democrat political issues, I mean the County Government issues. If you live in New Port Richey for example and want to work in Westshore, you are likely going to need to cross three counties, Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough. As a community, we have not yet developed a regional transit system that makes sense. But even within a county, travel times between cities can take more time than you expect. This is just an aspect of living in the Tampa Bay area that has not been handled effectively yet.
When I first moved to Pinellas County, I could make it to St. Pete in 35-40 minutes. Today, I would say it’s a 45–50 minute commute under the same conditions. The reason is congestion. 275 is backed up far worse today than it was when I moved here in 2006. Many of our roadways are not designed for the volume of traffic we are seeing on them. If you have moved from a large metropolitan area, you will be used to the commutes times we are starting to see in Tampa Bay today, but a shorter commute time was previously an advantage to moving to Tampa Bay, but not any more. While there are projects in place that are allegedly supposed to help with some of this congestion, the unfortunate reality is that the migration of people to Florida is outpacing the transportation planning and funding.
So why am I seeing this on employment website?
Easy answer…We are seeing individuals moving to our area and only then realizing what their commute is like or what the distance may be for a job they are qualified for. While the current rage is working remotely, the reality is that LinkedIn recently published a study that shows that remote role job postings have dropped 6%. In their research only 14% of roles nationally are remote. Further, in our experience locally, we are seeing a dramatic downturn of remote or hybrid roles in our small to midsized business clients. The only roles that we see for remote opportunities are for the larger, national corporations. This means that over 75% of the roles open to people are going to require in person work, and your commute matters at that point.
Here are our estimates for your use: (These are non-rush hour estimates for general areas)
New Port Richey to Tampa: Roughly 55 minutes
New Port Richey to St. Pete: 1 hour
Dunedin to Tampa: 40 minutes
Riverview to Clearwater: 45 minutes with tolls
Riverview to Oldsmar: 50 minutes
Riverview to St. Pete: 45 minutes
Brandon to Clearwater: 55 minutes
Wesley Chapel to Tampa: 30 minutes
Wesley Chapel to Oldsmar: 50 minutes
Clearwater Beach to Downtown Tampa: 45 minutes