Lived there for 6 years (moved south to Sarasota recently). Anyway, I would suggest checking out Metro West. They have a very nice mix of homes, condos, and apartments as well as shopping. They are pretty close to Universal Studios and they have a pretty nice golf course.
looking out of my window into the murky grey sky of Tyneside were we have just gone through a few days of total ice over, I remember the days when I watched the dolphins just off StPetes Beach and walked past a flock of Ibis birds on the way to the beach bar........oh the joy.
I used to live in Sarasota (Bradenton), FL. Yes, the housing is less expensive, but the incomes are also lower.
You may want to take that into consideration when looking at prices for housing. You may want to consider a short-term rental until you deside on an specific area you like and that's close to where you'll be working/recreating/etc.
The land is flat and the buildings aren't too much different in much of the state. It can take a long time to drive around all those waterways! ;-)