Florida : Safety by City
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Brandon, Florida, is a dense suburban community with a little edge to it on the west side of the Tampa/St. Pete metropolitan area.
It’s loaded with all the amenities a dynamic, busy suburb should have.
This area is home to a lot of residential development and you won’t find the big tourist attractions like in the main part of the bay area, but you are conveniently located right along the major I-75 corridor to get anywhere you want.
One head’s up, however, beach lovers need to know this community is a good hour’s drive from the closest beach.
What you will find are all the chain restaurants and stores you can feast at, a thriving mall that’s the focal point of the city, and Tampa just 15 minutes away (in good traffic).
Warnings & Dangers in Brandon
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Brandon is one of those cities that doesn't have its police force and is overseen by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The county is huge and the available crime statistics wouldn't accurately reflect the true crime numbers of just Brandon. We do have some information to share from the 2020 Annual Report. That aside, Brandon has a medium risk and we'll dig into why.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) is a bus service that goes throughout the county with stops in Brandon. You can grab a taxi or rideshare here safely too. There's a low risk while riding transportation, but waiting at a bus stop might make you a little anxious, depending on the time of day and crowd size.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
One of the places to really watch your wallet or purse is at Brandon Mall. The nighttime can get a little bit of a sketchy crowd with young people gathering, yet not shopping. Loitering is a big problem at this mall. Keep your belongings close and because of this, I'm going to give it a medium risk. Avoid any area in Brandon if you see a group gathered.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Brandon doesn't get the brunt of hurricanes, but it can still get a solid punch from a storm moving inland. Severe storms in the summer can be dangerous with lightning, wind, and heavy rain. There's always a medium risk in Florida cities due to the intensity of weather when it does move through.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
In early 2022, a sting operation was underway outside the mall with an undercover officer trying to stop an alleged illegal gun seller. The suspect tried to rob the officer and pulled out a gun. It led to gunshots in the mall parking lot and, luckily, the arrest of a man with 26 felony convictions already. The annual report said in this district shoplifting, vehicle robberies, and business robberies were among the biggest concerns. As much as I loved visiting Brandon, I have to give this a medium risk.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Being part of a large metro area like Tampa/St. Pete is going to be a medium risk, especially when Tampa hosts the Super Bowl, which has happened several times over the years.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
You'll probably have better odds of someone asking you for money instead of trying to scam you out of it. There were more than 6,800 scams in the Tampa metro area in 2019, but the majority were targeted at residents, not travelers. There's a low risk of being scammed.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
I would tell women to be on their guard in certain parts of town. A good friend of mine lives in this area and said the biggest warning she would give a woman is don't be at the mall near closing time. Shop earlier in the day. A lot of people gather outside the mall at night and it can just be a recipe for trouble. There's a medium risk, just to keep you on your guard.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Tap water has a low risk as it meets all requirements and is tested tens of thousands of times a year. Brandon is a pretty health-conscious area, so a lot of people opt to use water filtration systems in their homes, but that doesn't mean the tap water is bad.
Safest Places to Visit in Brandon
Brandon is more of a resting place for tourists or a neighborhood close to a big city but far enough away to have a big pool in the backyard.
That leaves it with not a lot of options for fun within the city.
The Brandon Mall is a gathering place but definitely go in the daytime.
If you drive down Brandon Boulevard, you’re going to find just about every chain restaurant you can think of.
There isn’t a community to find locally owned eateries or a cute, historic downtown.
This is a middle to upper-class working community where people run errands, pick up dinner, and grocery shop.
Outside of that region, you’ll find some local parks, but no big areas where you can hike for miles.
Brandon isn’t a boring place, it’s just a place to live or get a good night’s rest to enjoy the bigger amenities of the Tampa/St. Pete area.
Places to Avoid in Brandon
As my friend who lived in Brandon said, “I would never let my kids go to the mall at night.”
There is just a lot of loitering in the area, and while it’s not an ongoing crime spree concern, it’s just not always the best crowd.
If you are driving or taking a rideshare/taxi, avoid the morning or evening rush hour.
This is a community of 114,000 people trying to get to and from work, usually outside of Brandon.
The traffic can be a nightmare in the Tampa area, but Brandon is particularly bad.
Get up early or wait until after 10:00 a.m. to head out.
Be back by 4:00 p.m. or wait until 7:00 p.m.
There were 1527 traffic crashes in this region in 2020, which is another issue to worry about — the aggressive drivers of Florida.
Other than that, there are no bad parts of the town or rundown micro-communities.
The average salary here is $61,000.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Brandon
- We talked a bit about traffic above, but be aware that U.S. 60, otherwise known as Brandon Boulevard, is always going to be congested from early morning until evening. It’s the main road of the town and there’s little way around it.
- All of the hotels available in Brandon are right along I-75. If you are visiting family who lives more inland, you are not going to be able to get a hotel close to them. It’s one of the biggest complaints from people who live here.
- The summers are hot and humid and the sea breeze doesn’t always make it this far inland. Pack extra clothes or find a place to do laundry, because you are going to sweat through them from spring through late fall. The first time I went to this area I had to buy some extra clothes at Target because all of mine got too sweaty. Florida humidity is no joke.
- On that note, bring extra bottled water with you wherever you go. It’s easy to get dehydrated in this area. Add in electrolytes at least once a day to replace lost nutrients. Water alone won’t give back all you sweated out.
- With the beaches so far away, it’s going to be tempting to take a lot of stuff with you, since you can’t run back to the hotel quickly. Only take what you need and try to downsize so you don’t end up getting your stuff stolen in another part of the area. Most of what you need will be available for sale or rent at the beach, anyway.
- If you are renting a car here, make sure the A/C works before you leave the rental lot. I lived in Florida for 5 years and I think I used the heat twice. I always had the A/C on. You don’t want to get stuck in Tampa traffic with the windows rolled down praying for a breeze.
- Panhandling is banned in Hillsborough county, whether it’s a county or state road. It was a big debate because residents felt it hurt charities children help with throughout the year selling candy bars and such. However, for public safety, the commission voted to ban it. That doesn’t mean you won’t see anyone panhandling, but it will be a lot less than you might expect. St. Pete has one of the biggest panhandling problems in the area.
- Storms can get severe in this area, especially during the summer, and Florida is the lightning capital of the United States. The saying goes “if thunder roads, get indoors.” Don’t take a risk during a storm. Go inside until 30 minutes after the last thunder.
- Alligators are a part of life in Brandon, and all of Florida. There are a lot of small lakes and ponds here, made from developments that forced the water up as construction crews dug down (this is a city nearly at sea level, you can’t go too far until you hit water). These are all freshwater lakes and you should always assume an alligator, or since this is Brandon, an alligator family lives there. Don’t go in the water or mess with any alligator you see. They aren’t aggressive, but they aren’t going to be passive if you get too close.
- If you’re going to be fishing while visiting Brandon, you need a fishing license from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Make sure you get the right one, as there’s a separate one for saltwater and freshwater. Some of the fishing charters provide this license as part of the deal, so check ahead of time.
So... How Safe Is Brandon Really?
Without having crime statistics specifically for Brandon, I’m going to explain why it’s a relatively safe area based on my experience visiting there, the annual report for the district which partially covers Brandon, and from my local friend.
Brandon is a mostly safe place, but it’s not Pleasantville.
It’s a dense suburb that keeps going at every corner it can.
Some people make good money enjoying their lives and there are a lot of children and young adults here.
Are there criminals?
Of course, every community has them, but as a tourist, you don’t have to worry about higher property crime concerns.
If you practice basic safety steps and avoid large groups of gathered young people, staying away from the mall near closing time, you’ll be fine.
As one reviewer said on Niche.com, “Brandon, Florida is not just a place on a map or quiet town, it is the heart of Hillsborough County and it has grown and it continues to grow into the future.
Without the town of Brandon, Tampa, FL would struggle to thrive as it does today, so please come visit Brandon and we will welcome you!”
How Does Brandon Compare?
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- Visas - You'll handle all the Visa requirements at the airport and no additional process is required to get to Brandon.
- Currency - You'll only use U.S. Dollar currency here. You really have little need for cash, as credit cards are widely accepted. If you need to exchange currency, there are plenty of locations in Brandon and nearby Tampa.
- Weather - I usually like to say "mild" about this time, but it's a little hotter inland year-round. I'm going to go with it's warm to hot throughout the year. Even in January the average high is 72°(F), but here's the kicker — the lows get down into the 40s, so pack a hoodie or jacket. May kicks off highs in the 90s, which doesn't stop until October. Lows the rest of the year are in the upper 60s or low 70s. Always bring rain gear when coming to Brandon. There is rarely a rainout day unless a tropical system is moving through, but it can rain heavily for a brief period before the sun pokes out again.
- Airports - You've got two options here. Tampa International Airport is 30 minutes west, but plan for traffic and give yourself an hour. St. Pete-Clearwater Airport is about 40 minutes away, just across Tampa Bay (which is a pretty cool sight to see), but again you have to plan for traffic and give yourself an hour or so to get there.
- Travel Insurance - Get travel insurance for this trip so an approaching tropical storm or sudden severe weather doesn't cause you to lose money on your trip to Brandon, Florida.
Brandon Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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