Are you ready to PCS to Macdill? Moving to a new city is normally a stressful thing. Probably more so when you are PCS’ing to a new duty station.
If you are military or a military contractor and have been assigned to MacDill AFB in Tampa, congratulations! You are coming to one of the best bases in the Air Force, at least the people of Tampa think so.
You are going to love the weather, the miles of white sandy beaches, the gorgeous sunsets and we want to help get you acquainted with the area.
So, lets talk about your PCS to Macdill!
Most people who don’t live in Tampa have no idea how big the base really is. Macdill is located right in the middle of the Tampa Bay area on the southern tip of the Tampa peninsula.
Macdill is an Air Command Mobility Station, the headquarters for the United States Central Command and the United States Special Operations Command.
With all the activity at Macdill, there are a lot of military and civilian professionals who work at the base. I know that circumstances do not always allow you time to get to know the area before you have to report for work.
Where To Start?
So let’s get started, you are going to love living in Tampa. Macdill is one of those bases people want to come too. My guess is that the weather, beautiful white sandy beaches, relaxed lifestyle and the lower cost of living are a big draw. We get a lot of miliary who pcs here and wind up staying after retirement. It’s not that bad of a place to live, on or off base.
Please check out my video on general information about living in Tampa and why it is such a great place to live. Click Here
What About Traffic?
One of the first questions we get is about traffic. Like any major city in the country, we have traffic issues at normal commute times.
Like we talked about earlier, the base is located at the southern tip of the peninsula. That makes it close to the neighborhoods near South Tampa and downtown. That also puts it a distance from the major popular suburbs.
Let’s just go with the fact that you are going to become very familiar with Dale Mabry Hwy and the Selman Expressway. You will also come to know Sunpass!
Dale Mabry is the main north south road that runs from the base north to Pasco county where it merges with US41 and continues to Georgia.
The sSelmon heads east from the base to the Brandon area and is a toll road, so the cost of tolls needs to be added to your travel data.
Sunpass is the automated system where you pay the tolls. You’re going to need a sunpass account and get transponders. The website to setup the account is listed below. Click Here
What About the Schools
The other commonly asked question is about schools. Hillsborough county is in the top 10 largest school systems in the country. Which makes reviewing each of them in this format almost impossible. I have put a link in the notes below to a website the state has set up to give details about each school. There is a website published by the state were they answer those questions.
It can be found at this link, Department of Education.
There are several private schools located all over the area. From Academy of the Lakes in Land o Lakes to the Academy of the Holy Names, the choices are many. There is a list of the top private shools, click here.
Post high school and in Tampa you will find the Universty of Tampa and The University of South Florida. We are not far from several other private and publics colleges. The University of Florida and Universty of Central Florida are well within a 2 hour drive time.
Let’s start near the base with South Tampa. Obviously it is the closest to Macdill and is the more desirable location if you are commuting to the base. At less that 9 miles the commute is going to easy, maybe 5 or 6 minutes depending where you are in the area. Even during rush hour you are looking at 20 or so minutes at worst.
If you like the big city feel, this is your choice. You will be minutes from downtown, Bayshore Blouvard, shopping, the airport, dining and all the activities that happen in Tampa.
Near the base, housing is still affordable, but as you move north closer to downtown Tampa, housing prices begin to climb. The area in general is one of the most expensive in the bay area to live. If you get farther north the housing prices increase rather dramatically and can get into the 7 figures fairly quickly.
East of Tampa you will find Brandon. Brandon is an incorporated city which when Paula and i moved here in the early 80s, was a sleepy little bedroom community. Very rural, plenty cattle!
Over the years it has become one of the major cities in the area and is a very popular place to live. There is plenty of shopping, restaurants, entertainment and several established neighborhoods in the area. It has really become a self contained city of it’s own.
Brandon as been around for many years so there are several established neighborhoods in the area.
Just to the east of Brandon is the town of Lithia. Once again, you will want to take the selmon to get most of the way there, surface roads after that. Travel time is going to be 37 or so minutes non rush hour. During rush hour, travel times can be 55 minutes or better.
South of Brandon is Riverview which is about 22 miles from the base. In riverview you will have have easy access to shopping, dining and entertainment.
Riverview has become a very popular place to move, expect a lot of congestion.
Remember a minute ago I mentioned getting familiar with Dale Mabry Highway. Well, if you head north on Dale Mabry from the base you’re gonna run into the area known as Carrollwood. Like Brandon, years ago Carrollwood was a sleepy rural bedroom community.
Originally developed in the 50s, Carrollwood is known for mature neighborhoods with larger home lots, beautiful trees, landscaping and since the 1990s, a ton of businesses, restaurants, shopping and entertainment.
It has great access to downtown, the airport, the beaches and the major sports venues at buc stadium and yankee stadium.
The area has several parks, biking trails, a couple lakes and three golf courses. Two are private, Carrollwood Golf and Country Club and Avila Golf Club. The public course is Northdale Golf Club. all of them have tennis courts and community pools. Homes in those neighborhoods are little higher priced, moreso as you get nearer the courses.
West of Carrollwoodis one the north Hillsborough’s more popular areas, Westchase.
The neighborhood is divided into several smaller enclaves. Most are gated and the price depends on which one you decide to move into. Westchase is another nice neighborhood with plenty of amenities and has a beautiful golf course at Westchase Golf Club.
Let’s go farther north and east to Wesley Chapel. Wesley Chapel is one of those areas around tampa where construction and growth has gone berserk and we get a lot of questions about the area.
Over The Bridge!
The final place I want to bring up is over the bridge. If you want the city life, but have a burning desire to be near or on the beach, St Petersburg would be a good place to live.
Since we moved here, downtown st pete has gone from being God’s waiting room, to a vibrant metropolitan city.
Shopping, dining, businesses, professional services, entertainment, wineries and craft brewers are readily available. Not to mention, you are minutes away from the best beaches in the country.
So, I hope this brief summary has been helpful to you in your move to Tampa. The bay area is huge and there are a lot of neighborhoods that i just didn’t have time to go over without making this into a docuseries.
If you have questions about a specific area, please feel free to contact me. Phone or text me at 813-575-2124.
We have a brochure available, Moving to Tampa. To download it, https://rltr.co/movingtotampaguide.
Visit us on YouTube at https://rltr.co/lavoychannel.