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Finding the perfect home may mean leaving your comfort zone

Homes are generally more affordable outside of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

TAMPA, Fla. — The struggle to find your dream home could leave you settling on some things.  

But settling doesn't mean giving up everything you want, it means maybe going outside of your comfort zone a little, by at least a half-hour.

For many buyers, a short commute to work was usually top of the list in things they wanted in a home. That has changed since home prices are going up and affordable homes in Tampa and St. Petersburg are hard to find. 

I checked in with a couple of local realtors and their buyers. Buyers are now realizing that they have to broaden their home search to get what they want. 

Andrew and Carly are getting a sneak peek at a pocket listing in South Tampa. They are getting married in October and want to be settled in a home before then. 

"So we're really looking to expand our family and we have a Goldendoodle so we really want a fenced-in yard so she can run freely."

For them, South Tampa is the perfect location. But the house is older than they want and way out of their budget. 

"But the market's been a little tough. We're trying to get the market on our side so we can find what we love and make sure we make a smart investment choice."

Their realtor, John Morgan will keep looking. "So I always tell people to keep an open mind." 

He's encouraging them to look to communities outside Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. "You know there's Wesley Chapel, Land O Lakes, Zephyrhills. Those are very desirable areas and very family-friendly."

Morgan says Polk County also has a lot to offer. 

"Lakeland is maybe a 45-minute drive and there are some nice communities out there. I know some popular home builders are creating new communities that have a lot of great amenities and it's much much less expensive. So yeah I mean sometimes you don't really have a choice if you want to purchase a home sometimes you have no choice but to make the commute," he said.

Kaylee is getting a tour of New Port Richey from her realtor Kelly Mothershead

She moved here a few months ago from Ohio and has already narrowed down some locations. 

"We started out looking in Pinellas County. I'm in Tarpon Springs right now and I really like the area, but as I've looked more I've started to go up into Holiday and I really enjoy the area here too," she said.

Kelly says buyers are making their way to Pasco county for many reasons.

"Pasco County taxes are lower. Pasco County insurance is lower and we have a lot of the same communities that you're seeing now in Hillsborough and Pinellas, the same communities in Pasco.  So if you take the travel time out, there's not a lot that's different."

But no matter where you plan on buying — when you find a home you like, you need to act immediately.  

"So I have a lot of buyers who are looking and you have to drop what you're doing and go right then as soon as a house comes on the market because there might be 12 offers."

It's important to know that realtors cannot tell you about crime rates or school grades in certain areas. So if safety and good schools are important to you, you're going to have to do your homework. 

City-Data is an online tool you can use that will give you a ton of information about the zip code you are looking at moving to.

The Florida Department of Education issues grades for all schools in the state.

These can be very helpful tools to arm you with the information you need when you are buying a home.

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