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Tampa Bay 101: A how-to for new residents

From how to register your car to where to put your recycle bin, this overview will give you everything you need to know to get established as a Tampa Bay resident.

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Welcome to town.

Table of Contents

Picture this: You just moved to Tampa Bay, Florida, and you need some help with the practicalities of life (we can’t just sit and watch the manatees flip around all day, unfortunately). That’s where we come in. Keep reading for Tampa Bay101, our guide to all things TBAY.

The Essentials

voting hillsborough

Register to vote after you’re all settled in.

Photo by @hillsboroughcountyfl

Voter registration

Make sure you’re eligible and registered to vote, find your polling location, and preview upcoming elections and sample ballots here: Hillsborough + Pinellas.

Driver’s licenses and vehicle registration

New residents in need of a Florida driver’s license will need to provide proof of legal status, a Social Security document, and two documents confirming their residential address.

To register your car in the state of Florida, you’ll need to bring proof of Florida car insurance, identity (in the form of a driver’s license, passport, or ID card), and a Vehicle Identification Number and Odometer Verification form to any Hillsborough County or Pinellas offices (such as a Tax Collector’s Office or even a Publix kiosk).


Establishing yourself with a primary care provider is one of those things you’ll be glad you did when you need one. Reach out to the professionals at the Professional Health Care of Pinellas or the Hillsborough Medical Associates, to name a couple. Pro tip: Websites like ZocDoc filter physicians by location, patient reviews, insurance, language, and more.

Educational Needs

Boca Ciega High School

Which school zone are you in?

School registration

Prepare your student for the school year by registering them with Pinellas County Schools or Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Here, you’ll find your school zone (based on your home address). The websites also lead to a list of registration, immunization, and student entry forms and requirements.

With your required documents in hand, you’ll then make an appointment at your student’s zoned school to complete the registration process.

For information on TBAY’s private schools, check out Guide to Greater Tampa Bay’s list.

Library card registration

If you think libraries are only for renting the occasional book, think again. Register for a Pinellas or Hillsborough County library card at your nearest branch, or apply for a temporary card online, to take advantage of the following:

  • Genealogy services
  • Events
  • eBooks, music, and movies
  • Online databases
  • Private meeting spaces for groups
  • Books-by-mail
  • State park passes

To get your card, you’ll need proof of identity and address.

Home Necessities

A luxurious white home with multiple floors. There is green in front, a garage, many windows, and blue skies above.

A home on Dickens Ave. in Sunset Park.

Photo by TBAYtoday


Moving is exciting, but no one wants to unpack by candlelight. Establish your services with TECO in Tampa or Duke Energy in St. Pete. Pro tip: You can complete a free virtual energy audit to learn how you can save money and energy every month with each company (TECO + Duke)

Internet providers

No connectivity issues here. Check out some of the internet providers around the area:

  • Spectrum | $49.99/month for 12 months of internet, advanced WiFi, and mobile.
  • Frontier | $44.99/month for the Fiber 500 plan.
  • WOW! | $9.99/month for their Internet 50 plan.
  • T-Mobile Home Internet | You can actually test drive T-Mobile Home Internet for 15 days to see if it works for you — or get a full refund.

The ultimate Tampanian initiation


A breathtaking sunset at Sunset Beach | Photo by Calan Ree

Having a Florida driver’s license and an 813/727 area code may qualify you on paper, but you’re not officially a Tampa Bay resident until you’ve taken part in some local fun that is only found in the Bay area.

  • Tired of lugging around boxes? Take a mental health day at Vinoy Park.
  • Hungry? Nourish your body by eating your way through TBAY’s newest restaurants.
  • If you’re looking to plop down on your couch after a stressful move-in (we’ve been there), turn on the TV, sink into your sheets, and watch one of the many movies filmed around town.

Is there something you’re still left wondering about to get you properly established in TBAY? Ask us your question, and we’ll do our best to answer it for you, like a good neighbor.

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