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Tampa vs Sarasota

Moving to Florida's west coast? Learn how the Tampa and Sarasota areas compare.

Tampa and Sarasota are both ranked as top destinations on Florida's west coast, but what exactly does each metro area offer its residents, and why are people choosing to move to them? If you’ve been thinking about moving to Florida and considering Florida's Gulf Coast, this page will help to give you a top-level overview of what Tampa and Sarasota offer as we compare and contrast them.

Size & Geography

When comparing the size of Tampa Bay to the Sarasota region, it’s much larger in scale as Tampa Bay, which includes the primary cities of Tampa, St Petersburg and Clearwater, is the 2nd largest metro area in the sunshine state (largest on the west coast) and is home to nearly 3.2 million people. By comparison, Sarasota, which is part of the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton MSA region, comprises roughly 840,000 persons. The geography of these two regions are considerably different as the residents of Tampa Bay are essentially spread out around a large body of water and are all connected via large-scale bridges which measure from 3 miles to over 5 miles in length and are commonly traveled for work or other fun activities. The greater Sarasota area, conversely, is mostly concentrated along the coastline and I-75 but has been quickly expanding east of the Interstate as many are relocating to the region.

In looking at the demographics of Tampa Bay vs the Sarasota region, Tampa Bay has a younger demographic in general as there are more colleges and universities attracting students, more large financial, insurance and technology employers attracting young professionals as well as the appeal of an urban, walkable metropolitan setting to the younger demographic. In comparison, the greater Sarasota area has an older demographic as the region has long been a popular retirement destination with its overall high-quality of life via maintenance-free residential communities, an active arts and cultural scene as well as the availability of healthcare services catering towards the older demographic.

Home Prices & Cost of Living

While home prices can vary greatly based upon location and specific views such as water and/or golf course, median home prices in the greater Sarasota area tend to be higher than the Tampa Bay region. This difference is roughly $100K more. Recent median home prices for Tampa Bay and Sarasota are listed further down this page. In terms of the cost of living in Tampa Bay and Sarasota, which includes one’s monthly expenses such as utilities, food, transportation, healthcare and taxes, they are very comparable with minimal variances. As compared to other states, Florida’s overall cost of living comes in at 3.1% above the nation’s average for the 1st quarter of 2024.

Activities & Things to Do

While Tampa Bay and Sarasota both offer top-rated beaches, a wide variety of attractions and fun activities for residents to enjoy, Tampa additionally offers many popular attractions typically associated with a larger metropolitan area. Specifically, Tampa Bay has popular theme parks including Busch Gardens, Adventure Island as well as professional sports teams including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Tampa Bay Rays (MLB), and Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL). Tampa also has a large zoo featuring more than 1,100 animals representing more than 200 species. Both regions also offer a wide variety of year-round festivities which include music festivals, film festivals, outdoor car shows, food and wine festivals, sand-sculpting contests and county fairs just to name a few.

Now that we have overviewed some of the main differences between these two metropolitan areas, be sure to check out our Tampa Bay and Sarasota area pages to view more photos, interactive maps and helpful relocation information for each respective region.

Map of the Tampa Bay and Sarasota Areas

Circles on map represent population size of each metro area.

Tampa Bay

Florida's Tampa Bay region is home to Clearwater Beach, professional sports teams, a strong business climate, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and an expanding real estate market. Featuring over 400 miles of shoreline along the Gulf coast, the barrier islands and around the bay, the Tampa Bay region spans three counties including Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco and has a population of nearly 3.2 million people. At an average temperature of 73’ year-round, residents enjoy endless outdoor activities, local theme parks, open-air eateries and trendy craft breweries.

Top area beaches:
Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach

Top master-planned community:
Epperson (Wesley Chapel)

City Median Home Price Average Age
Tampa $385,865 35.9
St. Petersburg $384,176 43.1
Clearwater $375,466 45.2
  Home Prices as of July 1, 2024

Discover Tampa Bay

Scenes of Tampa Bay

Sarasota Area

The greater Sarasota area is home to Siesta Key Beach, the famous circus-performing Ringling family, an active scene of arts and cultural performances as well as top-selling master-planned communities. Spanning over 50 miles of shoreline along the Suncoast and the Cultural Coast, the largest cities in the two county region (Manatee and Sarasota) include Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Venice. While the region attracts many tourists year-round, it remains a top-ranked Florida retirement destination for many with its overall high-quality of life.

Top area beach:
Siesta Key Beach

Top master-planned communities:
Lakewood Ranch, Palmer Ranch

City Median Home Price Average Age
Sarasota $460,633 48.9
Lakewood Ranch $664,729 51.2
Venice $441,043 68.7
  Home Prices as of July 1, 2024

Discover Sarasota

Scenes of Sarasota