City Guide / Orlando

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

By Bri Hand | Nov 9, 2021
The architecture of the downtown area in the city of Tampa, Florida

Tampa and Orlando share the same palm-tree-lined streets, but these two major Florida cities both have plenty of unique attributes to offer residents. From their cost of living to the overall lifestyle of the city, there’s a lot to consider when deciding between Tampa vs. Orlando.

This blog post will discuss the similarities and differences between Orlando and Tampa, FL and how to determine which place is right for you by considering: 

  • Cost of living
  • Housing
  • Quality of life
  • Job market
  • Weather

Let’s get started! 

Tampa vs. Orlando: Cost of living

First and foremost, let’s discuss how expensive it is to live in each FL city. To make this easier, we’ll be looking at how each city ranks on the cost of living index. The cost of living index breaks down how much various expenses cost depending on where you live in the United States. The average score for the nation as a whole is 100, but most major cities will rank slightly higher than this average. 

Let’s take a look at how these two FL cities compare on the index:

FL CityOverall Cost of Living Index Score

While these numbers are fairly close, even the slightest change in a cost of living score can make a big difference. Of course, specific factors will contribute to a city’s cost of living score. Here’s how Orlando and Tampa compare in each expense category:

  • Groceries: In the category of groceries, Orlando earns a score of 100.7, while Tampa earns a score of 105.1. This means the cost of common food items will be significantly higher in Tampa. 
  • Utilities: Utility costs tend to be higher in Florida, particularly due to air conditioning and expensive Wi-Fi plans. That being said, Tampa actually earns a surprisingly low score of 96.3 in this category, while Orlando gets a higher score of 102.3.
  • Transportation: Transportation costs are a big part of living in Florida, since most residents rely on cars as their primary mode of transportation. Gas, registration, and insurance fees are some of the costs that contribute to this score. While Orlando earns a score of 110.1, Tampa ranks a bit higher at 112.1. This is partly due to the fact that Orlando offers more options in terms of public transportation, such as the commuter SunRail and the LYNX public bus system.  
  • Healthcare: Healthcare is another major expense that one should consider before moving to a new city. This includes the out-of-pocket costs for doctor and dental visits, emergency room trips, and health insurance. In this category, Orlando actually earns the higher score of 103.4, while Tampa ranks as the more affordable option with a score of 100.3.

Want to learn more about the affordability of Orlando? Check out our blog post, “What Is the Cost of Living in Orlando?”

Tampa vs. Orlando: Housing 

Speaking of the cost of living, the housing market is another crucial factor to consider before choosing one of these major Florida cities. While Tampa ranks No. 1 in terms of cost of living, the city actually has a more expensive housing market.

The median price of a home in Orlando is $294,400—only slightly higher than the national average of $269,039 (and a great deal for a major city!). Tampa, on the other hand, has a significantly higher median home price of $306,900

The Florida rental market offers a very different outlook. Below are the average rental costs for various types of apartments in Tampa vs. Orlando:

Apartment SizeTampaOrlando 

The cost of renting an apartment will also largely depend on which neighborhood you choose to live in, so be sure to do your research ahead of time on what you’re willing to spend to live in a particular neighborhood. 

Tampa vs. Orlando: Quality of life

Another factor to consider is the quality of life in each Florida spot. While this doesn’t mean that one area is better than the other, it means that the lifestyle each supports may be a little different. 

For example, Orlando’s public schools rank in the bottom 50% of the state of Florida, with reading and math proficiency rates below the statewide average. Tampa’s Hillsborough County public school system, on the other hand, ranks in the top 10 best school districts in Florida. So, for families with young children, Tampa may be a better option. 

While people moving to Orlando do think of it as a tourist destination for its theme parks and other family-friendly attractions, it’s also a great place for young professionals to live in Florida. This FL city’s thriving nightlife and restaurant scene is another draw for the younger crowd. The two main entertainment hubs include:

  • Pointe Orlando: Pointe Orlando offers a 4D IMAX theater, a variety of shops and boutiques, and a number of delicious restaurants on International Drive. 
  • ICON Park: ICON Park is a 20-acre, open-air entertainment hub. Locals can take a ride on the Ferris wheel, grab a bite to eat at The Wheelhouse food hall, or stroll down the brick promenade and check out the shops. 

Of course, we can’t mention Orlando without talking about the theme parks, including:

  • Walt Disney World
  • SeaWorld
  • Universal Studios 
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Crayola Experience Orlando
  • Madame Tussauds

However, there are also attractions in Tampa that are popular among tourists! Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a very popular theme park in the area, boasting roller coasters, over 200 species of animals, and family-friendly shows. You’ll find fun things to do in Tampa

Although both cities are located in central Florida, Tampa is much closer to the coast, surrounded by Tampa Bay. This makes it the better option for beach lovers, since Orlando is about an hour’s drive from the Atlantic Ocean—and a whopping 90 miles from the warmer Gulf of Mexico and Gulf beaches. This is worth considering if you equate FL living with beach life.

Tampa vs. Orlando: Job market

When it comes to a thriving job market, Orlando takes the cake. Not only is it ranked No. 2 on WalletHub’s “Best Places for Jobs in Florida,” but it also benefits from a number of thriving industries, including:

  • Tourism
  • Digital media
  • Aviation 
  • Aerospace
  • Software design
  • Film and television production
  • Engineering

Some of Orlando’s biggest employers include Lockheed Martin, Full Sail, Orlando Health, Disney, and Universal Studios. So, no matter what field you’re in, there’s a good chance the city’s bustling job market has something for you.

While the Tampa area does not rank as high in terms of jobs, the nearby city of Sarasota does. Sarasota actually claims the No. 1 spot on WalletHub’s list—but Tampa residents working in this city will need to get acquainted with the hour-long commute.

In terms of average annual salary, here’s how each city compares:

OrlandoTampaFlorida Average

It’s also important to take the city’s minimum wage into account when discussing their job market. Both FL spots offer the statewide minimum wage of 8.56 per hour—which is $1.31 more than the federal minimum wage. 

Tampa vs. Orlando: Weather

If you’re moving to Florida, you can expect two things in terms of weather: sunshine and rain. That being said, the coastal city of Tampa will offer a slightly different climate than the inland city of Orlando. 

In Tampa, coastal temperatures provide locals with a break from the heat. Moderate temperatures remain comfortable throughout the year, with warmer winters and cooler summers. Orlando, on the other hand, experiences high levels of humidity and hotter summers. In fact, the daily average humidity in Orlando is over 74%, and rarely dips below 50% even in the winter. 

However, heat and humidity aren’t the only things to consider when it comes to the weather. While Orlando has only experienced 77 hurricanes since 1930 (which is impressive for Florida), Tampa isn’t quite as lucky. In fact, it’s actually one of the top five most vulnerable cities in the U.S. for hurricanes and has an 11% chance of suffering damage from a hurricane in any given year. Hurricane season in Florida lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30, with the peak months being August to October. 

Whichever city is right for you, find your Florida Landing today

At the end of the day, choosing the right Florida city will ultimately depend on your personal preferences. Whether you’re thinking about moving to Tampa or discovering the sights of Orlando, Landing is here to help make your move worry-free. 

With flexible leasing options, pet-friendly homes, and fully furnished apartments in both Florida cities, Landing can help you easily find the right apartment to meet your needs. Get started on your next adventure today with Landing and browse our apartments for rent in Tampa and our apartments for rent in Orlando.

Thinking about expanding your home search to other Florida cities? Check out our blog post, “Looking to Fly South for the Winter? 7 Florida Cities to Consider.”

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.