In My Neighborhood in 33596>Question Details

Caroline, Both Buyer and Seller in Tampa, FL

My husband is looking at a job in Tampa. I have a 15 yr. old girl who is a freshman in high school and a 13 yr old boy in 7th grade. They are both

Asked by Caroline, Tampa, FL Thu Oct 20, 2011

in catholic schools in NJ. What towns and private school/catholic schools would you recommend. My husband's commute is currently 40 minutes. the most important thing is finding the right schools/area to make the move easier on the kids.

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Carolyn,

Also we have the highly respected, all male, Jesuit High:

Clearwater Catholic:

Berkeley Preparatory is also highly acclaimed:

Also Admiral Farragut Academy is known worldwide

Additionally we have "free" International Baccalaureate High School Magnet programs but it may be too late for your daughter if she is not currently enrolled in an IB program. It's highly competitive and only the top students are accepted into the program in Tampa Bay. If your son is a high achiever in school it may be something to consider, he would need to apply in his 8th grade year.

We also have a great charter school for students with certain learning disabilities, too. It's free. Pepin Academy:

The traditional public schools that consistently test higher than others: Plant, Steinbrenner and SIckles Plant High is in very high demand and has one of the best athletic programs for highly qualified athletes.

You're welcome to "browse like a Realtor" by signing up for a free ListingBook account on my website:

All the best,

PS These are the zips you may want to browse: 33626, 33635, 33556, 33629, 33602, 33606 and Lutz and Odessa

Alma Rose Kee, PA
Future Home Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011
First...I'm a Jersey girl, too!
There are 2 catholic schools in Brandon and Riverview, FL which are about 20 miles away from downtown Tampa. Both have good reputations. These are in the suburbs and there are a lot of activities for children in both of these towns. There are also a number of charter schools in downtown Tampa and throughout the Tampa Bay area. As you get nearer to the downtown area of Tampa, and the historic districts (Hyde Park, Palma Ceia, for instance), you would expect to pay more for private schools. There is a Jesuit High School in Tampa, also.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 2, 2013
Brandon is a good location. Nativity Catholic school is good for your kids.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 17, 2013
Hi Caroline,

Once you're able to visit various communities in Tampa Bay you will discover the right fit for your family.

I always include a CDD addendum with my contracts but rarely do I see the "optional" addendum used by most Realtors in Tampa Bay.

And.. yes, clearly FishHawk is not a good fit for me and my family but I do have clients that have purchased in FishHawk Ranch and it is right neighborhood for their family.

Buying a home can be stressful nowadays with the uncertainties of Short Sales, Bank owned REOs and even regular sales so it's best to find a Realtor you will feel comfortable working with.

You can also find "Endorsed Local Providers" recommended by that will put your interests first.

Best wishes,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 24, 2011
I'm truly sorry Caroline. I'm sure the last thing you expected was an abundance of emails that weren't pertinent to your home search. However, I have let other responses go numerous times and I canl not continue to read as "Incorrect Information" is quoted in an effort to capitalize on the buyers lack of familiarity with the areas involved.

In terms of "Disclosure" which is a requirement for all home sales within Florida and of particular relevence with HOA/CDD's (so it cannot be brushed over) there is a fundamental requirement for that which is being "disclosed" is accurate. While conceding the fact that this is not her (as a realtor) area of expertise and she is not familiar with the CDD's here she still can't just leave it at that...she continues to try to justify herself and take "jabs" at the community. When in reality, the community she represents is set up the same way (CDD and HOA). It is Extremely unprofessional. FishHawk has a Stellar reputation that speaks for itself...between the award winning schools located within the community, to the top notch amenities and community feeling that keep FishHawk Residents coming back ( many of our new homes are built by residents "moving up").

Could I sit back and point out all of the "cons" to her area? Sure, I could also offer them from a buyers perspective from the buyers who looked there prior to selecting FishHawk just like I'm sure Alma could. But that is simply counterproductive and not how I choose do conduct my business. If one must resort to bashing other areas to gain business in their own area of expertise, then perhaps they should re-evaluate their business model.

I am not green by any stretch of the imagination, I have more QUALIFIED knowledge and experience in Real Estate, Marketing, Business Trending and Market Projections than most agents can even HOPE to achieve. There is no area in this entire state or any other for that matter, that is without pros and cons alike. It is simply a matter of finding the one area that offers the best fit for your family and your lifestyle.

Again, I hope that this can conclude this discussion and any further debates be conducted offline.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 23, 2011
Hi Caroline, (and Realtor Charlene),

I may be mistaken. The information I quoted is from our MLS system. These 272 properties show a CDD fee in excess of $1,250 (what Realtor Charlene quoted as the maximum CDD) and I believe they are all in FishHawk Ranch:…

If these 272 properties are not indeed within the FishHawk Ranch community then I stand corrected. I do not claim to be an expert in FishHawk Ranch.

The current CDD is easily verified by pulling up the property appraiser's website for a particular address. Also the CDD may increase if the cost of the "maintenance" portion increases. The CDD is comprised of a bond repayment portion and a "maintenance" portion.

Bottom line is there indeed is no reason to continue this discussion about CDDs. My intention is to alert buyers about this potentially costly fee since some areas of the US may not employ this method of passing on the developer's costs on to the backs of the homeowners buying into a "pretty" community with fabulous amenities out in the middle of nowhere, like FishHawk.

Also some Realtors are pure "salespeople" trying to make a sale and may not always look out for their client's best interests so they may actually try to "brush over" this very expensive cost. It's simply a matter of full disclosure.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 23, 2011
Alma, this is an issue of misinformation that you continue to quote potential buyers, this is not an issue raised by the buyer. If you would like to continue this discussion, please email me directly, it is a disservice to potential buyers to continue this conversation in this forum. There is a major difference between townhomes, villas and single family homes in terms of HOA, Monthly Maintenance and CDD's. It is unprofessional at best to try to justify an area by bashing another area and misrepresenting information.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 22, 2011
Hi Caroline,

Yes, Realtor Charlene is correct that the CDD amount listed in our Realtor MLS system is "manually" input by the listing agent so there will be some errors. Also some Realtors may not understand the two parts that comprise the CDD fee. The CDD fee will also need to be taken into consideration in qualifying to buy a home. With even an extra $100 per month (the minimum CDD in FishHawk) that would equate to about a $20k mortgage at the current interest rates.

Since January of this year, the active, pending and sold listings in FishHawk show the following CDD input by the agent:

6 --- over $2,000 CDD
10 -- $1,700 to $1,900
32 -- $1,400 to $1,700

Once you've identified the schools and are evaluating neighborhoods, your Realtor can help you find the "true" CDD and HOA costs of living in the community. Some communities, i.e. Waterchase (33626) have high CDD and High HOA fees so you must combine the two costs to get a genuine picture of what you are paying for your amenities. You can also get a "payoff" figure on the bonding portion of the CDD and can find out the maturity date and interest rate on the bond. Some (although not most) owners will pay the bonding portion in full if they intend to own the house for many years and the interest rate is higher than they are currently earning on their other investments.

Areas of Cheval in Lutz will soon have the bonding portion paid in full so you can live in a prestigious neighborhood with some of the most highly rated schools in Tampa Bay without having to pay significant extra fees. Cheval and Westchase are older communities with fewer "preforeclosure" properties occupied by tenants. That's another factor to consider because if there are many preforeclosure properties in a neighborhood, it may put downward price pressure because those owners don't care how low of a price a property sells for as long as they are forgiven the loss in a short sale.

Here's the community website for Westchase:

All the best,

Future Home Realty
Westchase Office
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 22, 2011
MLS data as any agent in Tampa should be aware, is only as good as the agent entering it....and as it is quite clear, there are several agents who have MISINFORMATION and do not take the time to get it right. To re-state if you see 93 listings and quote 2 as having unusually high numbers..this should give you an indication that there could be potentially incorrect data on those 2 listings.

Because FishHawk is highly desireable, many neighboring communities like to say they are FishHawk Ranch area/vicinity in their description. This accounts for confusion and incorrect data from agents who are unfamiliar with the area. There are 2 CDD's in FishHawk Ranch...depending on what Phase you live in, you pay EITHER CDD 1 or CDD2 (not both) they are under $1250. The CDD's are incorporated into the tax bill so when viewing the tax amount, keep in mind it already includes the CDD.

And unlike Westchase where he HOA is $320 annually FishHawk's HOA is $85 per year.

This is a perfect example of why it is so important to find an agent who is not only familar with the area, but has a good handle on neighboring communities so you can get as much accurate information as possible.

Charlene Weston
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 21, 2011
Hi Caroline,

There are currently 93 Active single family homes listed per the MLS in Fishhawk.

2 have a CDD tax of $2,014, 5 are $1,700 to $1,824

There are also many with about $1,200 - $1,300 extra CDD taxes.

I'm not familiar with the private/parochial schools near Fishhawk so there may be some closeby that will be a good fit for your children.

We also have dual enrollment for High School where a student actually attends classes at the local Community College and also attends her/his local assigned public school and can still participate in athletics, cheerleading, etc.

We have many options for public/private/Magnet/Charter Schools. Our middle school Charter Schools offer a private school atmosphere but are "publicly funded". There is a lottery to get accepted to most charter schools; however, so it's crucial to buy your house within the school boundaries of a desirable public school should you decide to go that route.

The other deciding factor is your price range. Westchase is probably more expensive than FishHawk because it has a significantly higher demand due to the more desirable location within Tampa Bay.

Hope this helps!

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 21, 2011
Caroline, If you would like to check out the community for yourself , I've attached the link is

From FishHawk Ranch:

30 minutes to downtown Tampa from the LeeRoy Selmon
45 minutes to Clearwater
1 hr to St. Pete (Via Skyway)

Let me know what you think. :-)

Have a great day.
Charlene Weston
Tampa Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011

I've noticed in other responses you have posted that you keep referencing CDD numbers please be advised that the numbers you continue to quote are COMPLETELY INCORRECT regarding FishHawk Ranch...Nobody living in a single familiy home in this community, regardless of home style or subdivision location is paying even close to $2000 per year, let alone more....

Westchase is a lovely community as is FishHawk, BOTH have pros and cons to offer potential homebuyers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011
Hi Caroline,

One thing you also need to be aware of with some of the newer communities is many owners are encumbered with "extra" Community Development District Tax on top of the property taxes. In FishHawk you may pay an extra $2k or more to live in a beautifully maintained community (at your expense) in a community that is quite distant from may of our cultural activities and nice beaches.

A slightly older community that you may also want to consider with lower (and some areas have fully paid CDDs) is Westchase 33626.

Westchase and New Tampa are my areas of expertise and I or one of my team members would be happy to help you find the right home.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011
Hello Caroline.

CONGRATULATIONS! I was in your shoes myself 6 years ago...not too far from husband was transferred to Tampa from Long Island. I was also concerned about towns and schools what options were available to give my kids a good education because I wanted to make sure the move was as easy as possible for them.. Although you will need to find the RIGHT mix for you and your family, I can tell you I personally researched many areas from New Tampa - Through Apollo Beach. That would be a great start for you as well.

In terms of my personal search, I wound up in FishHawk Ranch, the community atmosphere has a great hometown feel, activities for kids, adults and families (we just finished our PUMPKIN FESTIVAL last week) heck, we even have a pool that is more of a waterpark with a 32' waterslide and Lagoon Pool right here for your personal use as a resident, 365 days a and the high ranking public schools were all a huge draw. I have a 15 year old in Newsome High School and a 13 year old in Randall Middle School and my little guy in Bevis Elementary and I am very happy with the education Hillsborough County Schools have provided for my family. NATIVITY catholic school is very close by as well as St. Stephens...both possibilities for you as well. You can go to Hillsborough County Schools onlne website to research the rankings and different school options as well as directly review the different catholic schools on their sites.

If you would like to schedule a visit to come see these areas, please feel free to give me a call at your convenience. I would be happy to be your tour guide. Also, if you have any questions you can think of that are not necessarily Real Estate related, please consider me a resource for you and your family. I'd be happy to help you in any way that will make the move easier for you and your children.

I am always happy to help people purchase homes in FishHawk, but you may find a community more suitable to your families needs...No Problem, I want you to be happy with your decision, no matter where that may bring you...I sell homes from Brandon through Apollo Beach. If you would like a list of some communities that may interest you that you can review...please email me or give me a call. I'd be happy to help.

Thank you for your time....
All my best to you Caroline.

Charlene Weston
Smith and Associates
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011
Good afternoon Caroline! St. Stephen's School is located in Riverview (right on the border of Lithia and Brandon). You can visit the site for more information. Most kids that attend St. Stephen's transfer to Newsome High School following the graduation. Newsome's website Both schools are located near the very popular Fishhawk community that offers amenities for families. Let me know if you are interested in more information about the schools or communities.

Have you met a house you liked? That may sound funny to you. But the longer I'm in the business, the more I find that homes have personalities. To really get to know a home, you need some background. You need a proper introduction to the area, the neighborhood, the features, the amenities, and even some of the challenges. Visit my website at to get an early introduction to your new home.

In the meantime, as you search my website for homes, if there are homes on the market that you would like to 'meet', you can go ahead and "add to your list". I'll look forward to making an introduction. Call me if you need me (813-417-5428).

Thank you for the interest!

Kelly Cockerham
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011
Hi Caroline,

Here are a couple good Catholic schools in Tampa:
1) Academy of Holy Names Elementary thru 12th grade (co-ed)
2) St. Lawrence Catholic School goes thru 8th grade (co-ed)
3) Tampa Catholic High School (co-ed)

I would be happy to provide further information and help you with your home search.

Sally Null
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011
If you google tampa, Fl on Google and zero in on certain areas you will see what kind of schools are in the
areas, But your best good recommendation that I can give, not being an agent from the area, to connect with
an experienced area Realtor, who can guide you to all the schools in the area of interest and also find you the right home for you, and then put the location in relationship to the available schools, you can then check the
school reports on certain schools on the internet, and when in town to see homes, you can also visit the schools and discuss with them their programs and find out of what your children need is offered in a paticular school .....

Good Luck, if you do not know a local Realtor you are working with, I am sure this forum here can provide you with several recommendations if you ask for them.

Good Luck to you and your family!
Edith YourRealtor4Life! And Chicago / Northern Illinois & North Shore Expert
Working always in the very BEST interest of her clients....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 20, 2011
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