Located on the gulf coast the vibrant city of Tampa, Florida truly has something for everyone. It is a major center for business, and is also home to several museums and tourist attractions. The historic Ybor neighborhood is also located in Tampa, and it is still a popular destination for tourists and residents looking to enjoy Cuban inspired food. You might also notice that there are a large number of Buy Here Pay Here lots located throughout the city and before you decide to take advantage of the financing options offered at these car dealerships there are a few facts you should know. In this guide you will find all of the information you need to know about living and working in this city, along with why Tampa residents often find themselves purchasing a vehicle from a Buy Here Pay Here lot.
1 Demographics for Tampa
2 Income and Cost of Living
3 Bankruptcies and Causes
4 Unemployment and the Cost of Living in Tampa
5 Repossession Rate in Tampa
6 Unique Events That Helped Shape the City
7 Tampa Business Districts
8 Public Transportation
9 Walking Around in the City
10 Tampa School Ratings
11 Public Assistance Programs in Tampa
12 Free Health and Wellness Programs
13 Fun Activities in Tampa
Demographics for Tampa
While the city of Tampa has seen its population increase from 335,715 in 2010 to an estimated 358,699 in 2014 the same cannot be said for residents average FICO score. According to Experian the city has a “D” rating which can make it difficult for residents to be approved for a car loan through a standard financial institution. The average credit score for Tampa is 647.66 which is well below national averages.
The poor credit scores are not limited to one demographic or neighborhood. The city has a diverse population that is mainly comprised of Caucasians, Hispanics and African Americans and all are dealing with the same problems associated with bad credit. Over 49.6 percent of residents also own their homes, and while this might seem like it would help get them out of the subprime range it is actually making the situation worse.
Average monthly mortgage payments are around $1,513
and when this is multiple by 12 and compared to annual salaries it is not hard to see why the city has a low credit score and residents are forced to take advantage of the subprime care loans offered at the Buy Here Pay Here lots.
It might be pretty living on the gulf coast, but as residents are finding out it is also expensive. The average annual salary is $43,740 and monthly mortgages are estimated at $1,513, which leaves home owners with a third of their yearly pay going to housing costs alone. This does not factor in monthly utilities, groceries and other living expenses which quickly add up.
Even residents who rent are also finding it difficult to make ends meet. Depending on the neighborhood monthly rent can average between $914 up to $1,512 for a 900 square foot living space. When food, clothing and utilities are added in, renters are also finding it difficult to pay all of their bills on time.
Adding to the problem is the fact that even automobiles are priced higher in Tampa, and while some of this is due to insurance costs that cover the occasional storm damage, it is not making it easy for residents to repair, build or even maintain their credit. This is forcing many of the city’s residents to consider the subprime lending options offered at the Buy Here Pay Here lots. While purchasing a vehicle from one of these lots is not necessarily a “bad thing” the loans do come with significantly higher interest rates which also take a large chunk of residents’ annual salary.
Monthly cost of living in Tampa, FL
Average income in Tampa, FL
Bankruptcies and Causes
When Tampa’s bankruptcy rate is compared against other cities in the area, one can get an idea of how high it really is. According to data released by the US courts in Florida’s Middle District the city has a rate that is significantly higher. In January of 2016 there were 709 bankruptcy filings compared to Orlando with the second highest number at 650.
The district as a whole reported 1,148 Chapter 7 and 698 Chapter 13 filings just for the month of January. While some judges are starting to crack down on residents who repeatedly file for bankruptcy, which has helped lower the rate over previous years, on a whole Tampa residents have serious problems regarding their credit.
Many residents suffered severe losses when the housing bubble collapsed in 2008, especially those who had most of their equity tied up in property. In the last seven to eight years the housing market has started to rebound, but this still isn’t enough to noticeably raise residents’ FICO scores. Those who filed for bankruptcy over the housing market crash are still dealing with that mark on their credit records, and the high cost of living is not helping residents “get back on their feet”.
This has resulted in a growing number of Buy Here Pay Here lots appearing in the area since it is often the only option residents have of being approved for a car loan. Unfortunately these subprime auto loans also have high interest rates which often make it difficult for cash strapped residents to make their payments in full and on time. In some cases subprime borrowers are also forced into filing for bankruptcy, which in turn causes the city’s rate to rise.
Total Bankruptcies in Tampa, FL
Unemployment and the Cost of Living in Tampa
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics after peaking at almost 12 percent the unemployment rate in the city has fallen below 5 percent. This is welcome news for residents, businesses and financial institutions that were all affected by the housing market crash in 2008.
With more residents gainfully employed in 2016 more money is now trickling into the area’s economy. Even though the poverty rate is still at 22 percent, the quality of living is improving. Unfortunately the cost of living in the beachside city is still high, and many residents are still dependent on high interest credit cards to help make ends meet. With the average lunch priced at $12 and even a cup of coffee costing more than in other cities it is not hard to see how many residents find themselves in financial trouble.
Often times the only option left to residents is to declare bankruptcy, especially after missed payments have started to add up. Repossessions are also common in the city, and all of this will adversely affect credit scores. It will take more than a few years for residents who are starting over with new jobs to become financially stable. It will take even longer for them to rebuild their credit history. In the meantime residents who want to make it to work or even to the beach are often forced to look for alternative ways to get approval for a car loan. Even if you aren’t gainfully employed it is still important to have a car in Tampa. Public transportation isn’t always an option, and you definitely do not want to be on foot when the temperatures start to rise in the summer.
Repossession Rate in Tampa
In 2014 the state of Florida had the dubious distinction of having the 5th highest rate of vehicle repossessions in the country, and this includes the city of Tampa.
Since 2008 the number of vehicles that are repossessed annually has been rising at a rate that is alarming to consumers and financial institutions. The number of repossessed vehicles has become so high that one local credit union finally decided to open its own used car dealership. The “one man” operation resells the repossessed vehicles to consumers in an effort to recoup some of its losses on defaulted loans and help citizens begin to rebuild their credit.
While a car dealership dealing solely with repos and owned and managed by a local credit union is rare, it is a glaring example of how difficult it is for many residents to make their auto loan payments on time. Once a vehicle repossession shows up on a credit report it can be extremely difficult to be approved for another car loan, even with subprime interest rates. With Experian reporting that one out of every 86 vehicles sold in the Sunshine State will be repossessed it is clear that residents and the city are still recovering financially.
Repossession rate in Tampa, FL
Unemployment rate in Tampa, FL
Unique Events That Helped Shape the City
Tampa began to grow and prosper in the early 1900’s and while there were the normal problems that come with a community’s rapid expansion the city emerged as a modern hub for finance, commerce and trade. Unfortunately all that changed when the housing market collapsed in 2008.
The rapid and unchecked growth that had been occurring throughout Hillsborough County eventually lead to a large number of city residents being forced into foreclosure, which had an extremely negative effect on their credit. Many of those who lost their homes also saw their vehicles repossessed, and this also impacted their FICO scores.
While growth and expansion are usually positive, problems occur when people start living “beyond their means”. From 2000 to 2008 many financial institutions did not adequately check potential borrowers’ ability to repay their loans, and instead encouraged residents to take out mortgages with monthly payments to high to meet with their salaries. The “right” car also needed to be parked in the new driveways which only made the situation worse.
Since 2012 the city and its residents are slowly starting to recover, especially now that unemployment rates are beginning to improve. Even so the city has a long way to go before it has recovered from its past financial mistakes.
Tampa Business Districts
The city of Tampa is seeing growth and an effort to revitalize its business districts, which is a welcome sign after the financial hardships its faced over the past ten years. The central business district is located downtown and is home to many of the city’s main financial institutions, but it is the West Shore area that is suddenly experiencing the highest amount of growth in the past couple of years.
The West Shore District is near the city’s main airport and it is also less than 30 minutes away from Clearwater and St. Petersburg. With 37 hotels, 4,000 businesses, over 200 restaurants and a couple of shopping malls it is also one of the largest districts in the state. Apartments and condo units are springing up in the West Shore, which is enticing more residents to move to the area. The fact that many of the businesses located in the district are professional is also adding to the area’s appeal. This is giving Tampa residents a unique opportunity to live and work in the same neighborhood.
The same is also true in the central business district which is the city’s original downtown area, and it is still considered the “heart” of Tampa. Businesses are starting to rebound, which means more jobs are opening are opening up. Higher paying jobs means that residents are finding it easier to make their bill payments on time, and this is good news for their credit scores. While there are still a few issues with planning, mainly dealing with transportation the revitalization efforts that are still ongoing are already beginning to pay off.
If you are lucky enough to live and work in the West Shore or Central Business district not being able to afford a car or be approved for a low interest auto loan is rarely a problem. There are around 30 bus routes that service these areas, and residents can also take advantage of the inexpensive in-town trolleys. The historic Ybor neighborhood is serviced by streetcars that are air conditioned for riders comfort. There are also taxi services, and while the rates are costly it is an option for residents living and working outside of the business districts.
Residents living outside of the growing downtown areas do face a problem concerning transportation, especially if they do not own a dependable vehicle. Busy and dangerous freeways and long distances make commuting by bike or on foot next to impossible, especially if you need to make it to work on time. While city leaders are working on ways to help connect the outlying neighborhoods the recent financial crisis and slow recovering have put the majority of the plans temporarily on hold.
The city’s transportation services are basically limited to the business areas, with the exception of the popular Ybor neighborhood.
Walking Around in the City
Many residents and tourists are surprised at how difficult it is to get around Tampa safely and easily on foot, even in the up and coming West Shore area. The business district is comprised of 6 lane roads which are dangerous and almost impossible to cross on foot, even at the marked intersections.
Adding to the problem is the fact that when the sidewalks were finally laid down city planners forget about how the hot sun would affect walkers. While shade trees are set to be planted in the near future, walking around downtown is still uncomfortable, difficult and dangerous.
This is not to say that there aren’t plenty of parks and walking trails in Tampa, but the same problem still remains on how residents can get there without a dependable vehicle. There are public transportation options in the immediate business districts and even in Ybor, but once again it is limited to these specific areas.
Most residents agree that a reliable vehicle is not a luxury it is a necessity if you want to be able to safely and easily get around the city.
With a walking score of 49 out of 100, Tampa's 335,709 residents can find it difficult to get around without a car. Source
Tampa School Ratings
The immediate city of Tampa is in the Hillsborough School district, and while it is not rated the best it is also not the worst. There are 6 schools in the district with an estimated 13,243 students, and it has received a rating of 6 out of 10. Close to 60 percent of the registered students are on the reduced lunch program, which indicates how families are still struggling with the high cost of living in the area.
The districts of Pasco and Hernando are also nearby, and service the city’s suburbs. Pasco also has a rating of 6 with 50 percent of its students on the lunch program. Hernando is rated slightly lower at 5, with 64 percent of students taking advantage of the school’s reduced lunch program.
The large number of students who depend on the schools’ lunch programs is a startling reminder of how families are still having financial problems. The housing market crash has left many homes empty which means fewer tax dollars are going into the city’s school system. Unfortunately this has not only resulted in residents accumulating large amounts of debt or being forced to file for bankruptcy, it is also affecting the quality of education students are receiving. Without proper education it will be difficult for graduating students to find gainful employment, and the cycle will continue for another generation.
Public Assistance Programs in Tampa
Thankfully there are several public assistance programs in Tampa and surrounding Hillsborough County, in addition those managed by the federal government that are designed to help residents in need. This is especially good news for the thousands of residents who lost almost everything in the recent financial crisis.
Along with programs designed to help with utility bills, clothing, food, and even rent assistance, there are also some that will work with residents to avoid foreclosures and even evictions. There are also programs that will sit down and help residents work out a debt management plan, along with showing them how they can start to rebuild their credit. All of this is designed to help residents get back on their feet financially, and enjoy a better quality of life that could even include the approval for a relatively low interest auto loan.
Some of the phone numbers that can help residents start rebuilding their lives and credit history include,
Consumer Credit Counseling Services: (800) 251-2227
Tampa Housing: (813) 253-0551
Hillsborough County Health & Services: (813) 671-7647
Free Health and Wellness Programs
Families that are having problems paying their bills on time often do not have the luxury of being able to afford the health care they need, even if they are gainfully employed. The high cost of living in Tampa also extends to healthcare, but there is help available for residents that qualify.
To avoid defaulting on hospital and other medical bills that can adversely affect credit ratings the city has several programs available for residents to take advantage of. This includes everything from routine checkups, in house care and even prescription medications. There are also programs designed especially for the elderly and younger children.
While some people can feel embarrassed accepting help it is better than suffering “hits” to their credit score. It can take up to seven years for some black marks to disappear, and in the meantime the low FICO scores can result in the necessity of taking out a high interest loan simply to purchase a vehicle from a Buy Here Pay Here lot. Some phone numbers that will put residents in contact with the help they need include,
Florida Discount Drug Card: (866) 341-8894
Access Florida Program: (866) 762-2237
Fun Activities in Tampa
There is no denying that owning a vehicle makes it easier and safer to get around in Tampa, especially if you want to take advantage of all the great activities the city has to offer. It’s close proximity to the beach and warm, sunny weather is perfect for everything from snorkeling and scuba diving to parasailing, boating, fishing and even swimming with the dolphins.
There are sunset cruises that will relax and inspire you, and the Aerial Adventure Park will ensure that you get a good adrenaline rush. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is located less than 30 minutes away from the West Shore, in a vehicle, and you can even spend the day cruising the open waters on a pirate ship. Shopping, museums, great dining and hot nightclubs can also be found in Tampa and the Ybor neighborhood.
Even though the housing market collapse in 2008 almost ruined the city’s economy and the financial stability of a large number of residents, Tampa is slowly coming back better and stronger than ever. Job rates are increasing which means more residents are able to meet their financial obligations, including making timely payments on mortgages. Credit scores are slowing rising, and while most are still in the subprime range they are never the less improving. All this is good news for residents in a city that is designed for driving and not walking.
With improved credit and a stable income it is slowly getting easier for Tampa residents to be approved for a much needed car loan, even if it is from a Buy Here Pay Here lot.