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Meeting their match, here and there

Census figures show several South Tampa communities rank among the top places to find eligible mates with education and income.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2002


Census figures show several South Tampa communities rank among the top places to find eligible mates with education and income.

Tiny Harbour Island offers the best odds. For sheer volume, there's Hyde Park and Bayshore Gardens.

Looking to meet someone who's single, rich and educated?

The U.S. Census might help.

The latest head count pinpoints the pickings. Countywide, several South Tampa communities rank among the top places to find eligible mates.

"Tampa's hot," declares Lauren Prager, a recent University of Tampa graduate who lives at the Madison at SoHo apartments, a yuppie magnet.

Want rich?

Millionaires roost in Sunset Park.

Want smart?

Doctors dwell on Davis Islands.

Want rich, smart and single?

It's a tall order. But for the determined at heart, there are glimmers of hope.

Proportionately, Harbour Island brims with educated singles sporting platinum credit cards. For proof, head to the Harbour Island Athletic Club on any weekday night.

The census found the Hyde Park/Bayshore Gardens tract had the largest concentration of never-been-hitched singles in South Tampa: nearly 2,000.

Men outnumbered women, 1,124 to 848. Factor in the divorced and widowed, and the field grows to 3,412.

Percentage-wise, that's just over half. Not enough? Try the University of South Florida, with its masses of solo students.

The figures offer hope to people like 30-year-old Ken Courtney. He lives in Riverview but goes to Bayshore a few times a week to Rollerblade and socialize.

"More girls per mile," he says with a boyish grin.

Meeting women isn't tough, he says, but cementing the first date takes talent.

His strategy: Ask for e-mail addresses. If things seem promising, ask for "digits," singles lingo for phone numbers.

And always carry a pen and paper.

He's better off on Bayshore than on the Tampa Bay side of the peninsula.

The Beach Park and Sunset Park area, including Culbreath Isles, boasts the highest percentage of married people in South Tampa. Nearly 3 out of 4 checked "married" on the census forms.

Nearby Belmar Shores and South Westshore tract came in second at 69 percent.

When it comes to big breadwinners, Harbour Island and Beach Park/Sunset Park have the edge. About one-third of the adults earn $75,000 or more a year.

In Bayshore Gardens and Hyde Park, the ratio slips to 1 in 5. Roughly translated: If 20 people are sipping coffee outside Starbucks on Howard Avenue, at least four can afford the venti.

Educationally, South Tampa neighborhoods win the brain bowl, leading the county in college degrees.

On Harbour Island, the census found 3 in 4 adults have at least a bachelor's degree. In Palma Ceia, Beach Park, Sunset Park, Bayshore Gardens and Hyde Park, the ratio was only slightly lower.

Conclusion: Mom was right. Schooling and wealth go hand in hand.

The numbers don't surprise Heather Curtiss, 27.

In her mind, South Tampa is the best part of the city. She lives in Palmetto Beach but jogs along Bayshore with her friend from New Zealand, Gina Bawden, several times a week.

They never tire of the area's people, amenities and atmosphere.

"The young, educated people think it's the fun, posh place to be," says Curtiss, dissing the 'burbs as boring and bland.

Her only beef is the high cost of houses.

Yet another reason to double up.

Those looking for partners might consider these bits of trivia:

Ballast Point has 337 never-married women.

Virginia Park logs 367 never-wed men.

One-fifth of Gandy/Interbay is divorced and waiting.

- Staff writers Bill Coats and Matthew Waite and computer-assisted reporting specialist Connie Humburg contributed to this report. Susan Thurston can be reached at 226-3394 or thurston@sptimes.com.

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