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Can paychecks keep up with the rising cost of living?

Housing prices have been climbing at a rapid rate to an average price of $350,000 in the Tampa Bay area.

From gas to groceries, our daily essentials are digging deeper into our pockets, as is our largest investment. 

Housing prices have been climbing at a rapid rate to an average price of $350,000 in the Tampa Bay area. Compare that to Tampa's average annual salary of $66,000, according to Payscale.com. 

"Buyers are a little bit challenged with finding a property but there is still availability and affordability in the Tampa Bay market," explains Mary Beth Byrd, a real estate agent with the One Team at Smith and Associates. 

There's no question, Tampa's numbers are more affordable than its Florida neighbors. 

"The housing market is about 23 percent less, still, than other places and even compared to Orlando and Miami, they're still going to be able to fit into probably a much more reasonable housing market and living, than if they were going to one of those other locations in the Florida market," explains Katie Stukowski, managing director for Salary.com. 

Apartment Guide's Rent Report for June shows an average two-bedroom in St. Petersburg is $1,800, compared to $1,300 in Tampa. That same space sits at $2,400 in Miami. If you're wanting to live in Tampa Bay's urban cores, though, expect that Miami average.

"Your average rent on something like that is going to be $2,500-$2,600 across the marketplace," explains Bryd.

When it comes to home prices, Realtor.com's June Monthly Housing Market Trends Report has Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater's median listing price at $350,000, up nearly 20 percent year over year. In comparison, Miami's is $447,000, while Orlando's is $356,000. 

"You can really bank on starting at about $300,000 dollars for a condo in the urban core area, in downtown Tampa or even over in St. Pete," said Byrd.

If you're looking for a single-family home, your dollar will stretch far further in a different zip code.

"Moving out to areas like Wesley Chapel, which used to be, for some people working in the downtown area, a burden to drive that far there are some fantastic new construction communities out there," explains Ali St Cyr, Broker/Owner of Tomlin St Cyr Real Estate. 

That's a community around 20 miles outside of Tampa. If you don't want a commute, Leslie Minder of the One Team at Smith and Associates suggests Tampa Heights, "such an amazing growing area and there are certainly homes in that $300,000 dollar range."

If you want help breaking down your cost of living city by city, Salary.com offers some assistance. 

"On our website, you can look at areas down to the zip code and it would be in your best interest to really hone in on those particular areas to compare the housing differences," says Stukowski.

 That calculator includes food, entertainment, utilities and commute.

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