Moving to Clearwater

When you move to Clearwater, Florida, the beach and the fabulous beach weather will be part of your everyday life. Whether you’re moving for work, school, retirement, or for a change of pace, there will be no shortage of sunshine waiting for you. Voted one of the best beach towns in Florida, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy once you’re ready for a break from the sand and sun.

Once you’ve made your way south to join the other 115,513 Clearwater residents, get ready to bob your head and tap your feet. Clearwater is home to many annual festivals—from jazz to blues—and performance halls, where you can catch your favorite musical artists and Broadway plays. Take a walk along the beach path or through one of the many parks throughout town. Explore all that’s around your new home—moor out on the water, scuba with the Gulf’s sea life, and search for alligators in Florida’s Everglades. Clearwater’s good times are waiting.

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Living in Clearwater, FL: What to Know Before Moving to Clearwater

So, you’re thinking about moving to Clearwater. We’ve compiled some valuable information you’ll want to know before you make your move.

Pros and Cons of Living in Clearwater

Pros:

  • The Beach – USA Today voters rated Clearwater Beach the #1 Beach in the US, and #7 in the world.
  • The Food – You’ll find no shortage of great seafood. And, for those who prefer other types of cuisine, the city is full of choices.
  • Boating – Even if you don’t have your own boat, there are clubs and rentals available for a day on the water.
  • Weather – Clearwater sees temperatures ranging from 55° to 90° F for the bulk of the year.
  • Nightlife – If you’ve got your dancing shoes on, you won’t have to look far for a club playing good music on the weekends.
  • Sunsets – Being on the Gulf Coast, you’ll have the rare vantage point to watch a sunset over the water.

Cons:

  • Weather – OK, this makes both lists. While it’s not the worst location in the state, if you move here for the long-term, be prepared to face some nasty storms during hurricane season.
  • Overpopulation – Florida generally is a popular landing spot for retirees and snowbirds wanting to escape the cold, and Clearwater is no exception.
  • Critters – Warm weather breeds pests. Florida is home to large numbers of mosquitoes, as well as other small nuisances, like snakes, spiders, and scorpions.
  • Traffic – Public transportation is limited, which means residents have to drive most places. If it’s rush hour, you’ll most likely find yourself in traffic.
  • Lack of Seasons – No surprises here. Don’t expect to see snow or dramatic changes in temperature.

Tax Rates

  • Income Taxes: Florida doesn’t collect state income tax. Depending on where you currently live, you’ll likely pay a lot less in personal taxes once you move to Clearwater.
  • Property Taxes: You’ll see property taxes that are slightly lower than the national average. For example, if your property value is $250,000, you’ll pay 1.010% in tax, which comes out to $2,525 annually. A house of the same value would incur $3,028 in property tax based on the national average rate.
  • Sales Taxes: The state sales tax rate is 6%, and with an additional local rate of 1%, you’ll be paying a total of 7% sales tax in Clearwater.

Housing Market

Clearwater housing prices are close to the national average, both for homeowners and renters. According to bestplaces.net, just under 70% of residents are homeowners, while the rest rent their homes. The median home cost is $209,800, compared to the US average of $219,700, and the average monthly rent is $1,436, just over the US average of $1,391.

There are options for lower cost housing throughout the city as long as you stay away from Clearwater Beach and Island Estates. Neighborhoods like Greenbriar and other inland properties will yield more affordable housing options.

Cost of Living

In comparison to the state of Florida, Clearwater ranks slightly below in total cost of living, according to bestplaces.net. It does, however, come in slightly above the national average. Contributing factors to the higher cost of living are the high sales tax and transportation costs due to the lack of public transportation options. The median household income also comes in below the national average, at  $44,198. When looking at these numbers, it’s important to consider the number of retirees residing in Clearwater, whose annual income will most likely be lower than the average working resident.

Weather & Natural Disasters

When you think about Florida weather, warm sunny days probably come to mind. Summers can be long, hot, cloudy, and humid while winters are short, partly cloudy, and mild. You’ll enjoy average January highs of 71 degrees and lows of 52. July temperatures will be humid, with average 91-degree highs and 76-degree lows. Keep your poncho or umbrella handy because Clearwater will be wet year-round with about 55” of rain falling annually — most of the rain falls June through September.

Even though Clearwater often has beautiful weather, you’ll want to be vigilant about weather forecasts during hurricane season which typically runs from June through November. Florida’s west coast is notoriously susceptible to hurricanes, and because of the topography of the Gulf, storm surges pose a threat during severe weather.

Economy & Job Market

About half of the 115,513 residents who call Clearwater home are employed, according to datausa.io. The top industries are healthcare; social assistance; retail; food; accommodation; and professional, scientific, and technical services. With year-round tourism bringing many outsiders into town, you’ll find no shortage of tourism-related work.

The highest paying jobs in the area are in the computer science industry. Other high paying opportunities are in the architectural and engineering fields. Depending on your interests, you may want to check out Tech Data or Fischer Architects—two of the larger employers in town.

Traffic and Transportation

Public transportation is quite limited within Clearwater. The Jolley Trolley provides a local service, which can be a convenient way to save money when you’re traveling along Clearwater Beach and other coastal towns.

There’s easy access to major highways—like I-75 and I-275—that make getting around to surrounding areas a breeze. You’ll face traffic issues when you take to the road, especially with Clearwater’s influx of residents, snowbirds, and tourists.

According to the city’s walk score, the majority of errands will require a car. However, several neighborhoods are walkable, like those located near Clearwater Beach. Biking is also an option for those who prefer two wheels to four.

What to Do

If you’re thinking about moving to Clearwater, being near the ocean is no doubt among your top priorities. Whether you crave long days in the sun or breathing in the salty air, you’ve made the right choice to relocate here. Clearwater Beach has snagged the top spot for beaches in the US in years’ past—and even cracked the top ten in world rankings. Make sure to pack your swim gear—you’ll need it.

You’ll also have Spectrum Field right in your backyard. You can catch major leaguers on the diamond because the Philadelphia Phillies call this park home during Spring Training. The Clearwater Threshers of the Florida State League play here throughout the season, so you can watch a ballgame all summer long.

In addition to a variety of options for delicious fresh seafood and other cuisines, the area is also home to wineries and breweries. Check out Aspirations or Murielle for a glass of red or white, and Big Storm Brewing Company to enjoy a couple of pints.

Once you’ve soaked up enough sun, you’ll be able to head indoors to a local theatre. Ruth Eckerd Hall and Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre, to name a few, attract musical artists of all genres, plus Broadway and Off-Broadway plays.

Schools and Universities

According to wallethub.com, Florida comes in at the middle of the pack in terms of school ranking compared to other states. Pinellas County School District, which is the seventh largest school district in the state, serves Clearwater. There are 150 schools, including career academies, adult education centers, and a virtual school program.

Institutions of higher learning in the area are St. Petersburg College, Eckerd College, the University of Tampa, and the University of South Florida. Also, the state is home to several large universities that are within driving distance such as the University of Florida, Florida International University, Florida State University. A move to Clearwater puts you and your family in a prime location to seek higher education at in-state tuition rates.

Crime

Clearwater ranks substantially worse than the national average in property crime, and slightly worse in violent crime, according to bestplaces.net. The city encompasses a large area, though, so if you stick to the right neighborhoods, you’ll be able to feel safe in your new home.

Utility Providers

To make your relocation as smooth as possible, you’ll want to know who to contact to make sure your home has electric, water, and gas all at the ready. To prevent lapses in service, be sure to contact your preferred provider before your move-in date. Here’s a list of major providers in the area:

  • Electric: Duke Energy is a large provider in the state of Florida, as well as other southern states. You can check out rates and schedule start of service directly on their homepage.
  • Gas: Clearwater Gas System is a local natural gas provider, servicing the area since 1923. Check them out here where can conveniently schedule start of service right on their homepage.
  • Water: Public Utility services the Clearwater area, providing water, wastewater, and reclaimed water services. If you need to connect service to your new home, you’ll have to do so over the phone or in-person. You can find the Utility Customer Service information here, as well as the documentation required to start service.
  • Internet/Cable: You’ll have many options for internet and cable providers. Some of your choices are Frontier, Xfinity, Spectrum, Viasat, and WOW!. Check out their websites to learn which option is best for you.
  • Trash: The city of Clearwater provides each residence with a bin for waste and a second for recycling. To learn more about scheduling and how to dispose of certain materials, head here.

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Best Neighborhoods in Clearwater

Greenbriar

Greenbriar is a small neighborhood in the heart of Clearwater, located equidistant from the Gulf and the bay. A bit north and inland from Clearwater Beach, this quiet area sits near Main St. and Route 19—two local highways. But don’t worry—you’re still a short drive away from downtown. According to census data, Greenbriar is home just 2,500 residents. With a median home value of just $162,300, it’s one of the more affordable spots in the Clearwater area. No doubt you’ll have the option to spread out in a larger home here due to the distance from the beach. If you’re not interested in living in an apartment or a condo and don’t have a large budget, this area might be perfect for you.

North on Main Street, you’ll find restaurants just a short distance from the neighborhood. From sports bars to Chinese to diners, you’ll be sure to find your go-to spot right up the road. Just a short drive away you’ll find Lake Chautauqua, a city-owned park with an equestrian and nature preserve. If you’re looking to hit the links, you’re in prime position, located in the middle of Clearwater’s courses. Take your pick from Clearwater Country Club, Dunedin Golf Club, or Countryside Country Club.

The neighborhood has access to three schools in the Pinellas County School District: Garrison-Jones Elementary School, Safety Harbor Middle School, and Dunedin High School.

Island Estates

If you’re a boater and are looking for a self-contained community on the water, Island Estates is likely your dream location. Located just off the Memorial Causeway as you’re traveling to Clearwater Beach, you’ll have good access to the Gulf Coast and downtown — though you might never leave the neighborhood.

The community is exclusive and spans under two miles in length. While many of the houses are quite expensive, there are options at a lower price point. According to Redfin, the average of 11 homes sold in the last month was $420,000, or $254 per square foot. If you’re willing to sacrifice space for life near the water condos are available at a much lower price point than the average home.

Your new neighborhood has everything you need: a grocery store, gas station, banks, post office, restaurants, and shops. Simply put, all you’ll need is a pair of flip flops, your swimsuit, and you’ll be set to roam about or moor out on your boat. I

If you start to get cabin fever, you’ve got plenty of options. Island Estates is home to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium which serves as a refuge for injured animals. If you’re looking for a bite, the Island Way Grill, boasting the best brunch in the county, is just inside the entrance of the neighborhood. Be on the lookout while you’re eating — local celebs like Hulk Hogan and Morgan Freeman have been spotted here.

The neighborhood has access to three schools in the Pinellas County School District: Sandy Lane Elementary School, Dunedin Highland Middle School, and Clearwater High School.

Feather Sound

Located in North-East Clearwater, just off Old Tampa Bay, Feather Sound offers affordable housing options in a terrific location. You’ll find single-family homes, townhomes, and condos available in this neighborhood, as well as the centrally located Feather Sound Golf Course.

According to areavibes.com, Feather Sound is home to 3,472 of Clearwater’s residents. The small neighborhood is conveniently located near I-275, making travel in and out of town easily accessible. Property is also relatively affordable—Redfin reports that the average sale price for homes in the last month is $300,000, with the price per square foot at $156. Feather Sound is a great option if you’re willing to live further from Clearwater Beach. You’ll be able to find a home with more space for less cash. The median income is just over $70,000.

Feather Sound is just a short drive from the major hotspots in the area: Clearwater Beach, downtown St. Petersburg, and Tampa. It’s also conveniently located next door to the Clearwater airport, and just across the bridge from the Tampa airport. It’s also home to the previously mentioned Feather Sound Golf Course, run by the Feather Sound Country Club. Just a short walk from your new home, you could find yourself ready to tee-up practically year-round. If golf isn’t your thing, the neighborhood also has its own park, the Earl R. Maize Recreation Area. Whether you want to bring the kids for a day on the playground or relax underneath their gazebo, a low-key day outdoors is waiting.

The neighborhood has access to three schools in the Pinellas County School District: High Point Elementary School, Fitzgerald Middle School, and Pinellas Park High School.

Bayside Subdivision

Bayside Subdivision is a community located on the southern fingers of Clearwater Beach. Living here is exactly why you want to move to Clearwater—it’s vacation year-round. The neighborhood is quite exclusive, home to 150 single-family homes. It features contemporary properties, most with docks and boat slips.

With this prime location just off the harbor, it’s no surprise that property is expensive. According to mygulfcoastproperty.com, as of spring, 2019, the average list price for homes in Bayside Subdivision is a staggering $1.5M. While many of the homes here hover in the same price range, condos are available at a more affordable price. If a morning stroll down the stairs and out to your boat is what you’re looking for, and you’ve set aside cash to make that dream a reality, Bayside Subdivision is likely as good as it gets.

When you want to stretch your sea legs, there’re plenty of local options for you. Take a 10-minute walk across the barrier island to the beach, and then if you’re feeling a bit parched from your walk in the sun, unwind at Sandbar, a beachfront Tiki Bar with a perfect vantage of the sunset, or Jimmy’s Crow’s Nest, a rooftop bar located at the Pier House 60 Hotel.

Living in this secluded location means that schools will be a bit of a distance away. However, the neighborhood has access to three schools across the causeway: Sandy Lane Elementary, Dunedin Highland Middle School, and Clearwater High School.

Mandalay Subdivision

Mandalay Subdivision is the second largest single-family community located on the north side of Clearwater Beach. With over 500 homes, this neighborhood offers inland options plus waterfront properties on the Intracoastal and Gulf of Mexico.

No surprise, homes here will be pricey. The average price per square foot comes in at $454, and the median list price is $799,000 — homes in the community range from two-bedroom and two-bath, to four- and five bedrooms. If you’re willing to opt for a smaller residence, you’ll be sure to save some cash. Buying a house here isn’t only a portal into a daily vacation lifestyle —it’s also an investment. There’s no more land to develop on the island. So, when someone wants to build, they tear down a house and rebuild. That could mean big bucks down the road if you should choose to sell.

While you’re living it up in your new home, there’s plenty around to do. Head north to the Carlouel Beach & Yacht Club to socialize, meet some new friends, and grab a bite. For a more low-key vibe, there are plenty of local places to sit down and enjoy a bite and a brew. You’ll want to check out: Clear Sky Café for a beachside breakfast, The Brown Boxer to shoot some pool and grab a pint, and Frenchy’s, a local chain that serves up their famous super grouper sandwich.

Living on the barrier island puts you at a distance from schools. However, this neighborhood is in the district of three schools across the causeway: Sandy Lane Elementary, Dunedin Highland Middle School, and Clearwater High School.

Woodgate

Woodgate is a small neighborhood located in North Clearwater, near Main St. and Route 19. Because property here is just inland from the coast, there are much more affordable options, especially for single-family homes. If you want some space, this might be the neighborhood for you.

According to Redfin, the average sales price for a Woodgate home purchased in Spring, 2019, was $262,000, or $170 per square foot. That’s substantially lower than some of the other properties available in town. For a look into what the average neighborhood resident makes, the median household income was reported by city-data.com at just over $60,000. Similar to other inland properties available, Woodgate has relatively affordable options, especially for the space that you’ll be able to find.

You can take a short walk north to end up on Main Street, where you’ll find a host of restaurants. You’ll want to check out La Trattoria for family-style Italian fare, and Rizzoli’s for a fresh pizza pie. After your meal, you’ll be able to stroll over to Woodgate Park, walking distance from your new home. Woodgate is located next to two main Clearwater thoroughfares, giving you easy access to the Gulf, the bay, and everything Clearwater has to offer.

The neighborhood has access to three schools in the Pinellas County School District: Leila Davis Elementary School, Safety Harbor Middle School, and Countryside High School.

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