While military families are accustomed to starting over, moving to a new area is overwhelming. PCS challenges aside, settling in and finding your place at a new duty station is an entirely different obstacle. But a lot of those hurdles are overcome by getting to know the area before you go.
When you're searching for a home in your new city, you have many things to consider. Learn where people live, what traffic looks like, and figure out what you want.
For instance, how close or far from base do you want to be? Do you want to stay within your BAH or is it okay to expand the budget a bit? Do you want to live in the bustling city or a spacious suburb where you can stretch your legs? Chances are, you’ve asked yourself these questions already. But because each military move and duty station are different, your needs and your answers will change.
But not to fear! If you're due to PCS to MacDill AFB, we’re here to help you get to know the neighborhoods. Keep reading to learn what area might be the right fit for you as you get you started on your house hunt.
City or Suburbs: Where Should You Live Near MacDill AFB?
Get to Know Tampa
Nestled on the Gulf Coast of the Sunshine State, Tampa is a vibrant city with easy water access and something for everyone in the family: outdoor lovers, families looking to entertain the kids, foodies, history buffs, and more.
You’ll find a million ways to keep cool during the summer. Gas up the boat and head out for a day on the water, bait your hook and see what you can catch for dinner, or dig your toes in the sand and relax at the beach.
If beach life isn’t your idea of a good time, don’t worry! This cultural city offers more than sand and sunshine. Clothe yourself in local spirit and head to the stadiums to cheer on the Tampa Bay Rays and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And let’s not forget about the yummy food here. The sheer number of Cuban eateries in the area will likely please and enlighten your palate.
If you’re a history buff, then you’ll feel right at home in historic Ybor City. Full of Old World charm and museums, restaurants, and local merchants, this area is worth a visit even if you’re not in search of a history lesson.
Want to know something truly unique about Tampa? The annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest. This event brings hundreds of ships through Tampa Bay to downtown. People come to enjoy a pirate-themed day around the invasion of legendary pirate Jose Gaspar. It’s fun, it’s family-friendly, and you don’t want to miss it!
Note: All that said, if you’re looking for a weekend getaway, the kids will be happy to learn that Disney World is a mere hour and a half away.
Eager to learn more about the area? Be sure to download our free Military Guide to MacDill AFB.
About MacDill Air Force Base
Tampa’s greatest military presence is located in South Tampa at MacDill Air Force Base. MacDill is home to the 6th Air Mobility Wing and includes the 6th Operations Group, the 6th Maintenance Group, the 6th Mission Support Group, and the 6th Medical Group.
In addition to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill is also home to 28 mission partners, including U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.
According to the MacDill AFB site, "The presence of these two unified commands and other mission partners creates a unique multi-service community at MacDill, with all branches of the armed forces represented.” For this reason, the MacDill community is referred to as Team MacDill.
There are a few great neighborhood options for military families stationed at MacDill AFB. Whether you’re looking for the bustling city life, or a more remote lifestyle, Tampa has it.
If you’re looking for close proximity to base and a short commute, then south Tampa is for you. Adjacent to MacDill AFB, this area will be the ultimate in convenience to base.
With playgrounds, kid gyms, a swim school, and more, this area is great for families with children of any age.
Photo Credit: Ebyabe
Things to do in South Tampa:
- Hyde Park Village. This charming gathering place is the perfect way to get involved with the local community. Packed full of events, eateries, and charming shops, it’s an outing that appeals to all members of the family.
- Tampa Bay Fun Boat. See the bay from a new perspective and head out on the water! Book a tour or rent it out and host your own private party.
- Bayshore Boulevard. Put on your walking shoes and hit the world’s longest sidewalk. With views of the bay and a cup of coffee in hand, you’ll likely find this trip out of the house rejuvenating.
Apollo Beach is one of the best places to live in the area. It’s popular among families because of the above average school ratings, large number of parks and playgrounds, and things to do nearby.
There are so many outings with the community that you won’t have to run around the city to find entertainment.
Photo Credit: Ssriram mt
Things to do in Apollo Beach:
- Apollo Beach Nature Preserve. Get some sun at the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve and enjoy a quieter, less crowded stretch of beach.
- MiraBay Market. Spend your Sunday evening checking out local vendors and filling up on yummy food at the MiraBay Market.
- Fishing charters. And if you’re looking for an adventure, book an inshore charter!
Perhaps you're looking for a nice, more affordable family-friendly suburb outside Tampa? Look for a home in Brandon! Though the commute to base is a bit longer (approximately 30 minutes), you may find it a fair trade for Brandon’s quieter atmosphere.
Photo Credit: Jec8992
Things to do in Brandon:
- Hillsborough County Fair. With all kinds of events, livestock, and food, this festive outing is sure to be a family favorite.
- Westfield Brandon. What’s not to love about this famous shopping mall? Whether you’re looking for a solo trip out of the house, gathering up the family, or planning a date night, Westfield is a a great destination for food, shopping, and entertainment.
- Bertha and Tony Saladino Park. Get some fresh air at the Bertha and Tony Saladino Park where you can hit the basketball court, let the dog play for hours at the 2.6 acre dog park, and run the kids wild at the playground.
If separation between work and home is sacred to you and you’re up for a longer commute (about 45 minutes), then Lithia might be the perfect fit for you. The fresh air and space in the suburbs could be a welcome contrast to the busy work environment and bustle of Tampa city life.
But it’s quiet for a reason. There aren’t a whole lot of attractions to go see. Instead, there’s a ton of space to run free and breathe fresh air.
Photo Credit: Mwanner
Things to do in Lithia:
Alafia River State Park. Set your inner outdoor adventurer free at Alafia River State Park. With everything from mountain biking to hiking, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, and more, this plot of land will keep you coming back.
Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park. If you’re looking for more grassy area to explore, then head to Alderman’s Ford. Enjoy the same outdoor activities that you love, then take a walk on the boardwalk to the gigantic cypress and oaks trees.
There are a lot of areas to explore in the Tampa area, each one a little different from the next so be sure to take your time researching, exploring, and getting to know the area so you find the right fit for you.
And when you’re ready to look at specific properties for sale or for rent, start your search with MilitaryByOwner!