South Pasadena is probably a little safer area but is also an older population with a ton of condos and an ALF or two. But it is close to the beach!
Gulfport is a little more of a "mixed" area in terms of culture, lifestyle, home values, you name it. Not necessarily an unsafe place but one that has a little more opportunity for problems. Gulfport will definitely be a much more affordable area, assuming you are looking for a house and not a condo.
There are a bunch of affordable areas in St Petersburg and surrounding cities. You'll have to determine how far you want to commute to work to figure out what your outer radius is for a home.
and for South Pasadena, FL is htt;://www.idcide.com/citydata/fl/south-pasadena.htm.
These sites give you lots of background statistics, but to get a good feel for the area, it is best to talk with an agent that lives or works the areas extensively. We relocated from out of state first to a part-time condo on Treasure Island and enjoyed the beach life while on extended vacations. We later moved to the Seminole area - but our last move to the Gulfport (nearby is South Pasadena) area was our paradise found. The small community is surrounded by St. Petersburg and maintains a small community beach (shh! don't let the tourists know!!!) on Boca Ciega Bay with a community rec center, and the Gulfport casino (no gambling, just the name) where Wed. eve. dancing takes place and is used for area functions. The main street has small shops, restaurants, a public library, senior center, community theatre.
Come for a visit, we'll be happy to give you a tour. Our real estate office is located on the main street of Gulfport. Call us and we'll meet you there. Gulfport - The Secret is out! once it was Florida's Best Kept Secret - decide for yourself....