Nestled against Commencement Bay and the South Puget Sound with sweeping views of Mt. Rainier is Tacoma, Washington. Tacoma is located between two of America’s trendiest cities: Portland and Seattle, and many are surprised to learn that Tacoma is not only as equally-trendy and exciting of a destination to call home as its better-known neighbors, it also boasts affordable cost-of-living, beautiful year-round weather, and plenty of indoor and outdoor activities making it one of the best places to live.
Photo by Just2Guys
1. Incredible Cost of Living
Comparatively speaking, Tacoma is a very affordable area in which to live with some of the most recently compiled data showing that a condo in Tacoma averages around $197,800, while the average condo in Seattle is $436,600, which means that your money goes further in Tacoma. In fact, upscale condos situated along Commencement bay can be had for prices starting around the price of an average condo is Seattle.
Home prices factored in with utilities, transportation, entertainment, dining, and other variables led Forbes to rate Tacoma’s cost of living as being 5.2% above the national average. With a population of 205,159, Tacoma’s cost of living is similar to that of San Bernardino, CA, which is also 5.2% above the national average with a population of just over 215,000; however, dwellings in comparable San Bernardino are much costlier than Tacoma with the average condo price being around $230,000.
2. Temperate Climate & Average Rainfall
It’s no secret that Washington, specifically the Seattle area, has a reputation for rainfall; however, it’s not as wet in Tacoma as weather forecasts might lead us to believe. Tacoma averages just over 39 inches of rain per year, and the average high temperatures range from 48 degrees in January to 77 in July and August.
Meanwhile, cities less-known for rain like Chicago average a similar 33.2 inches per year; New York on the other hand exceeds Tacoma’s average with 46.23 inches of rain per year. The average highs in January for both Chicago and New York are in the mid-30s in January and the mid-80s in July, which means these cities are just as wet as Tacoma year round and average highs are colder in winter and warmer in summer.
3. Spectacular Outdoor Living Space: Point Defiance Park
Reasonable cost-of-living and temperate climate aside, Tacoma is also home to a wealth of celebrated outdoor living space. Drawing over 3.1 million visitors annually, Point Defiance Park is considered an “urban treasure” with 760-acres of:
- Hiking and biking trails
- Forests and gardens
- Waterfront exploration like fishing, swimming, and boating
- Other features like the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
In regard to size and things to do, Point Defiance Park is easily comparable to the nation’s most famous park, New York City’s 843-acre Central Park where popular activities include sunbathing, walking, riding, playing frisbee, and more. Of course, Point Defiance Park is nestled against Tacoma’s beautiful waterfront, which not only adds to the park’s aesthetic value but also to the wealth of things to do there.
4. Tacoma’s Teeming Waterfront
Even though many don’t think of Tacoma as a waterfront community, it actually boasts 46 miles of pristine aquatic landscape that’s well-integrated into Tacoma locals’ daily life between homes and properties, outdoor living space (like Ruston Way and Point Defiance Park), and dining opportunities. Many locals like to bike, jog, walk, paddle board, and do yoga along the Waterwalk at Point Ruston and other waterfront areas just as locals do in San Francisco, an area known for its 40-mile bay front community.
5. Vibrant Arts Culture & Walkable City
Though Tacoma is not as large as some of its culturally-savvy counterparts, Tacoma is distinguished by its vibrant and eclectic arts and culture scene. Not only is it a great place for traditional college students, working families, new families, and singles to live, work, and establish roots, Tacoma is also undeniably hip and fun.
The Tacoma waterfront boasts an array of public art pieces including Point Ruston’s own collection of public artwork, ART at Point Ruston, a year round exhibition of ever-changing and expanding displays of outdoor sculptures, including some limited indoor display areas for paintings, weather sensitive sculpture, and indoor wall art. Point Ruston’s stunning waterfront setting is the backdrop for Artists to exhibit their works for the public to enjoy, while also providing a venue to market their art for sale.
Antique shops and public art displays aside, nowhere is Tacoma’s unique cultural vibe more obvious than in Tacoma’s Museum Row located downtown. Here, locals have ready walking access to the following museums:
- The Museum of Glass (Tacoma happens to be home to world-famous glass arts master, Dale Chihuly)
- Tacoma Art Museum
- Washington State History Museum
- Children’s Museum of Tacoma
- LeMay America’s Car Museum
The city’s vibrant arts scene and walkability is, in fact, seemingly two of the key reasons Tacoma ranked number 42 on Livability.com’s top 100 places to live. Other advantages of Tacoma listed on Livability’s reasons for ranking include plenty of access to higher education as well as a steady job market. These variables as well as pristine outdoors space, a great cost of living for the area and location, lovely climate, and lots of coastal waterfront full of restaurants make Tacoma a fantastic place to be.