The Real Cost of Living in Westchase


Photo L. Pustam and I. Hanewicz

South Tampa (above) compared to Westchase (below).

Leana Pustam, Perspectives Editor

I’ve lived in Westchase my entire life in a single family home, five feet away from both of my next door neighbors.

My childhood was fun: driving around the streets in my Barbie Jeep, walking down the street to Baybridge Park and going out to Burger 21 with our neighbors was a typical weekend.

Westchase is a great place to live as a kid, and I’m grateful that I was able to be brought up in such a family-friendly environment.

But now, I am 17 and in high school. There’s no longer anything for me to do in Westchase.

For a majority of the people that attend Robinson, South Tampa’s places and things to do are overlooked.

A normal weekend in South Tampa might consist of going for a run on Bayshore or eating lunch at Oxford Exchange. Running down Linebaugh Avenue and eating at Burger 21, one of Westchase’s few unique restaurants, just isn’t the same. And, if I wanted to hang out with a South Tampa friend, it would be nice to drive down there to hang out somewhere that’s vaguely interesting, but, unfortunately, it’s a 40-minute drive.

In terms of attending Robinson, you can’t fully understand how hard it is to live 40 minutes away from school unless you actually live 40 minutes away from school.

This is what a normal school day consists of for me:

  • Wake up at 5:45 a.m.
  • Leave the house at 6:10 a.m. to get to the bus stop at 6:20 a.m.
  • Arrive at school at 7 a.m.
  • Wait after school for an hour and a half until lacrosse practice starts at 4:15 p.m.
  • Leave school at 6:15 p.m.
  • Get home at 8 p.m., considering I carpool with another girl from lacrosse who lives 15 minutes away from me, and we get stuck in rush hour traffic on the Veterans Expressway.
  • Shower for 30 minutes and eat dinner for 30 minutes
  • Start homework at 9 p.m.

With this schedule, I spend two hours and 35 minutes in a car every day. In order to get the recommended eight hours of sleep, I would need to have 45 minutes of homework, which, as a junior, is unlikely.

Personally, I think students who live in South Tampa really have it good. I envy the people whose activities don’t revolve around shopping at Citrus Park Mall, eating frozen yogurt and going to your brother’s track meets (because he took the easy route and went to Sickles).

And, going to Robinson is definitely a lot harder when you live farther away, something that people who live close to school can’t fully understand unless they experience it themselves.

No, it’s not terrible or impossible – I’ve managed to make it almost three years without dropping out of IB.

But high school would definitely be easier and less tiring if I didn’t live 20 miles north of Gandy.