Hello! Do you have jobs in the Tampa area that require you to be close to any particular quadrant of the city? North, East, South, West?
One thing you'll learn about Tampa is you'll be in a nice neighborhood on the block with 5 houses, pass the stop sign to the next block of 5 houses, and then you're in the ghetto. Next stop sign & you're back in nice houses!
My BEST suggestion is to look at AirBnB.com for a vacation rental so you can learn the areas, or stay in one of the extended stay hotels for a month or two.
I'm going to use Downtown as a center point for my locations... I'm also going to completely skip past a big artery called Hillsborough Avenue because it's bad news bears. So is the Nebraska area for that matter!
The best areas get quite expensive, of course.
North Tampa, The Tampa Palms area to be more exact, is close to USF yet relatively inexpensive due to the student population in the area. As long as you stay to the north-east side of that area, the student population goes down. If you take the major road (Bruce B Downs) east, you'll run into a nice shopping and restaurant area while completely avoiding the slummy areas to the south and west of USF. NEVER got to the University Mall! Go to Wiregrass! University mall has a lot of kidnappings & other crimes you really only hear about in the local newspapers. But the deals can't be beat! So go with a group. Preferably with men.
The VA is very close to this area. Depending on where you decide - IF you decide on the North Tampa area - You're looking at a 10-25 min drive up there for any appointments. It's also close to Busch Gardens & Adventure Island! There's a Yuingling brewery close by too which has tours & gives out free samples.
North of there it gets more rural, but very nice homes are popping up and rent will be less expensive out of city limits.
The Wiregrass area is made up mostly of new sub-divisions with are pretty pricey, but nice!
Hyde Park is in South Tampa. This used to be a young professionals area with relatively high rent, but has recently become over run with 22 year old's trying to land a business professional. If you go right to the center of Hyde Park and outside the bar district, you'll enjoy the area. It's one of the few remaining areas that still takes pride in it's appearance.
Just to the west of HP is Westshore. This is an area with $300,000 -$1,000,000+ homes. Some houses do go for rent around >$1100 or so if you're lucky. There are some apt communities in the area that are inexpensive, but are still very nice. Don't rule this area out! This will be a god 30-60 minute drive(North East) to the VA depending on traffic, or 20min drive South to the AFB. This area also has two main arteries that run E-W. I-275 or Kennedy. Both are gridlocked between 4pm and 7pm. 5 o'clock traffic is NO JOKE!
South of Hyde Park is the MacDill area, so you'll find a good amount of military families and easy access to the base IF you're close enough south. Again, one block down & you're back in the ghetto. There are also some decent mansions around there.
West of Hyde Park is Channelside and Davis Island. Don't expect to rent own on Davis Island without a VERY high ticket price. Channelside is a small area with not much going for it except a big circle building that has restaurants and a movie theater. It's right next to the Port where Carnival, NCL and one other cruise line come in.There's 2 high rise condo buildings that have 1br/1ba condos for $150k on the bottom levels. A little north in Channelside you'll find some contemporary apt/condo buildings which have bars and restaurants on the ground levels. Parking is pretty easy but it's not free.
Parts of Channelside boarders Ybor City. This is a great historic area to visit! Many bars and restaurants that have been around for 100yrs. 7th St is the bar/club street. This is a very bad area and I don't suggest living here. Murders, stabbings in clubs of just random club goers, fighting strangers on the sidewalk just because they looked at the person they walked past. My good friend was an EMT that regularly got called there (even during the day) for random acts of violence. Visit during the daytime only, if you go to 7th St!
North West you'll find Citrus Park and Carrollwood. These areas are also very good. Carrollwood is more family oriented. The Northdale area is right there (a little north on Dale Mabry, where we get the name). It gets a bit rural, but it's a great area.
On another note, the pit bull (while they have a complete misconception on behavioral tendencies) will be difficult to place. If the home owner doesn't have USAA insurance, then we can't assume the company they have will undergo the same policy updates. There's always the possibility of not telling the hme owner, but that's not very ethical. Also, if the insurance company n the home runs an audit, goes by the house & sees the pit, their insurance policy is subject to cancellation.