Tampa Explained- What’s the Deal with Unincorporated Areas?
What’s the difference between the city of Tampa and the surrounding areas that have Tampa addresses but aren’t actually in Tampa?
Wait what did you just say? Ya we understand it’s all confusing, so let’s address some of this confusion in order to give clarity if you are considering moving or living in the Tampa area.
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City of Tampa on the map
The strange shape on the left is the city of Tampa proper, the image on the right is the greater Tampa area. You may be thinking, wait what about the spaces that aren’t other cities but also are not in that strange shape? Those my friend, are unincorporated areas of Hillsborough county that have Tampa Addresses.
Let me explain what this means, by starting with some background info.
In the early 1800’s, the county of Hillsborough was founded. This Country was very large, stretching all the way to the gulf.
When it was founded, the area focused on was modern day South Tampa.
As boundaries began to be set for the city of Tampa, not everyone lived in those boundaries. Some people wanted to live outside of those boundaries, where there was more land and more potential for farming and ranching.
Now here we are many years later, trying to make sense of this metro area of three million people.
One of the really confusing parts about this is that areas outside of the city of Tampa, many of these unincorporated areas of Hillsborough county, often still have Tampa addresses.
Whenever I call these areas “part of Tampa” or “an area of Tampa”,people tend to chime in saying it’s not. Many locals refer to an area by the name of the neighborhood. For example, Carollwood, a neighborhood in Tampa, is not referred to as an area of Tampa but as Carrollwood Village.
It is confusing when you are considering moving to this area because the homes will still have Tampa addresses. These differences are seemingly obvious to those who have called this area their homes for years but for those of us that are new to the area, it may take some time to get used to the layout and names of these areas.
There are even maps that give a visual of all of the cities within Tampa (yellow) and all of the unincorporated areas around them (white). This really highlights the surprising amount of unincorporated areas, especially in Hillsborough county.
When you get into Pinellas county it gets a bit more incorporated as cities grabbed land, but there are still pockets of Pinellas county (palm harbor for example) that are not incorporated.
Many people ask, why not incorporate all of these unincorporated areas into the city?