Starting Over In Tallahassee, Florida

by Lou Ross - Date: 2007-05-12 - Word Count: 796 Share This!

Rich in its antebellum roots and history, Tallahassee, Florida is a quaint southern community and the center of state politics. Folks relocating to Tallahassee will find a college town that is home to a major university.

Tallahassee is the capital of Florida and the county seat of Leon County. Located on the eastern edge of the Florida panhandle, the area is locally known as the "Big Bend". Tallahassee is a mid-sized city with a population of 158,500 people, according to U.S. Census estimates in 2005. The city's population has grown 5.2% since the 2000 census. A significant increase in the populous occurred in the 1990's with a 19.4% change. The racial profile of the city finds White Non-Hispanic residents making up 59% of the population, African-American 32.8%, and Hispanic 4.3%. Families made up 48% of households. The city's high student population keeps low the average age of residents at 28 years, over eight years younger than the U.S.

The number of young people relocating to Tallahassee for an education likely drives down the average earning potential of city inhabitants. The median income for Tallahassee households in 2005 was $35,765, over $10,000 below the rest of the country. Families emerged closer to the surface with a median family income of $51,688, about $4,000 behind the national figure. Public administration and educational services heads the list of industries for both men and women. Considered a regional center for trade and agriculture, Tallahassee supports a fast growing manufacturing and high tech economy. The biggest private employers are a General Dynamics, Talla-Comm, and Infinity Software Development. Yet, with so many young people with their noses in books, poverty and unemployment figures are bloated. The poverty level finds 22.3% of Tallahassee's population as poor. The percentage of unemployed is above the state average, at 11.1% in early 2005. It took an average of almost 18 minutes for city residents to get to work, about seven minutes less the U.S. average.

Housing is affordable for the most part in Tallahassee. The 2005 median house/condo value was $161,300, about $6,000 below the U.S. average. However, it is much higher than values that averaged $102,500 in 2000. Over 60% of Tallahassee's 76,000-plus housing units were either single-family or mobile homes. The city has plenty of new housing, with 28% of dwellings built since 1990. Renters occupied slightly more than half of city homes. The median monthly housing costs for mortgaged owners was $1,191, renters paid $719 for their living arrangements. Over half of renters reported spending 30% or more of household income on housing in 2005. Crime in Tallahassee is one and one-half times greater than the national average, based on statistics compiled by the FBI. The biggest reason for a high violent crime rate was forcible rape statistics that were more than 2.7 times greater than average between 2002 and 2004. The city's crime index was 563.7 in 2005, compared with a U.S. rate of 325.2.

Tallahassee is described as a quaint city with unique charm. The city's climate has the widest range of temperatures from summer to winter in all of Florida. This city is one of a few in the state to record temperatures above 100 degrees. The average summertime high is 92. However, the city is much cooler in the winter. In January, the average high is 63.8 degrees with a low that averages 39.7. Thanks to tropical forces, plenty of rainfall finds Tallahassee land. The average annual precipitation is 63.2 inches. During the U.S. Civil War, Tallahassee was not captured by Union forces. Unlike other towns that were set ablaze, the city remained in tact allowing it to keep its historic southern charm and antebellum appearance. Following the war, the community benefited from the relocation of some of Florida's industry. Tallahassee was considered a small southern town before World War II, with a majority of its population living near the city center. Because the city government was set apart from growing population centers, Tallahassee was nearly unseated as the state's capitol in the 1960s. Since then, the area has undergone revitalization of the capitol building and historic district. Downtown development includes a number of high-rise condominiums.

A well-educated city, Tallahassee finds nearly half of its residents 25 years and older with a bachelor's degree or higher. The city is home to two major universities, Florida State and Florida A&M, and one community college. These institutions combined have a student population upwards of 65,000. The college campuses are a source of community pride and play significant roles in the area. With a full-time enrollment near 30,000 students, FSU is one of Florida's oldest and largest universities. The campus is located about a mile from downtown. It is well known for its athletic excellence, as a perennial football power and among other sports.

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