Should You Relocate to Tacoma, WA?

Relocating to Tacoma, WA, presents a unique opportunity to experience a blend of rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. This Pacific Northwest city, known for its vibrant community and scenic landscapes, offers a compelling mix of urban and natural environments. For those considering a move, Tacoma’s diverse offerings, from bustling urban centers to tranquil waterfronts provide a canvas for a fulfilling lifestyle. The decision to relocate to Tacoma, WA, involves weighing various factors such as the cost of living, Tacoma WA weather, and the availability of houses for sale in Tacoma WA.

Pros and Cons of Living in Tacoma

One of the major advantages of relocating to Tacoma is the city’s affordability. When compared to neighboring cities like Seattle, Tacoma emerges as a cost-effective option for both homeowners and renters. The real estate market in Tacoma, with its variety of houses for sale, offers more space and amenities at a lower cost. On the downside, potential residents should be aware of the higher crime rates in certain areas of Tacoma. However, choosing the right neighborhood can mitigate these concerns, and the city’s ongoing efforts to improve safety are showing positive results.

Crime and Safety

According to the Tacoma Police Department, they have launched a new online crime data dashboard tool that contains data spanning five years, which will continue to grow as new data is added to the dashboard at the end of each business day going forward. The dashboard can compare and contrast data sets by various time periods, by neighborhood, by crime category, and much more. The Tacoma Police Crime Dashboard reflects the Department’s commitment to public accountability and transparency, and represents the fulfillment of specific recommendations from the Department’s 21st Century Policing Solutions report.

According to NeighborhoodScout, Tacoma’s crime rate is higher than 87% of the cities and towns in the US of all population sizes. The chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in Tacoma is 1 in 83. Based on FBI crime data, Tacoma is not one of the safest communities in America. 

Relative to Washington, Tacoma has a crime rate that is higher than 92% of the state’s cities and towns of all sizes2. However, according to KOMO News, new numbers show that overall crime is actually trending down in Tacoma. The city’s revised approach to public safety and more officers may be helping reduce crime rates.

Housing Market and Real Estate

The housing market and real estate scenario in Tacoma, WA, as of late 2023, presents a dynamic and competitive environment. The average home value in Tacoma has seen a fluctuation, with a slight decline over the past year. As reported by Zillow, the typical home value in Tacoma is around $474,616, marking a 4.5% decrease from the previous year. Homes in Tacoma generally reach pending status within about 7 days, indicating a fast-moving market. This suggests that while there has been a decrease in home values, the demand in the housing market remains strong, likely due to the city’s growing population and its proximity to the Seattle metropolitan area.

The rental market in Tacoma is also experiencing changes. As of August 2023, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Tacoma is $1,413, representing a 5% decrease compared to the previous year. However, the rent for larger apartments has seen varying trends, with 2-bedroom apartments experiencing a slight increase in average rent, while 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom apartments have seen a decrease. 

These trends in the housing and rental market in Tacoma reflect a nuanced picture. Potential buyers and renters in Tacoma should consider these current market dynamics when making their housing decisions, as the city continues to be an attractive location for real estate investment and living due to its affordability relative to the Seattle area and strong demand driven by its growing population and employment opportunities.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Tacoma, Washington, as of late 2023, presents a mix of affordability and higher-than-average expenses in certain categories. Tacoma’s overall cost of living index is 122.7, indicating that it is 22.7% higher than the U.S. national average. This is slightly lower than the average for Washington state. 

Housing plays a significant role in this index, with the median home cost being $454,100, which is 34.3% more expensive than the national average but less expensive than the average Washington home. Renting a two-bedroom unit in Tacoma costs about $1,560 per month, slightly higher than the national average but cheaper than the state average. A minimum annual income of $87,120 for a family and $49,600 for a single person is recommended to live comfortably in Tacoma.

Grocery costs in Tacoma are slightly higher than the national average, with basic food items such as a loaf of bread, rice, and eggs costing around $2.95, $2.44, and $2.50 respectively. Transportation costs, including one-way local transport tickets and gasoline, are also factored into the cost of living, with a one-way ticket costing approximately $2.38 and gasoline at $4.61 per gallon. 

Utilities for a standard 915 sq ft apartment average around $247.83 per month. Additionally, Tacoma is known for having one of the highest sales tax rates in the country at 10.2%, though the state of Washington does not have an individual income tax, which can offset some of the higher living expenses in Tacoma.

Weather and Natural Disasters

The weather and natural disaster risks in Tacoma, WA, are shaped significantly by the impacts of climate change. The city experiences a temperate marine climate, characterized by mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. However, recent projections indicate a rise in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

One of the significant concerns for Tacoma is the increased risk of flooding. This is due to the city’s geographical location and changing weather patterns. The immediate health impacts of floods can include drowning, heart attacks, injuries, and other related issues. Moreover, the indirect effects like water-borne diseases and mental health problems also pose significant challenges. Tacoma’s flood risk is also compounded by policy issues like redlining, which have historically made marginalized communities more vulnerable to such disasters.

In addition to flooding, Tacoma faces a moderate risk from wildfires, with the likelihood of dangerous fire weather days expected to increase through 2050. This risk is particularly pronounced in areas adjacent to wildland where the proximity to vegetation increases the chances of fire spread. Climate change exacerbates these risks by creating hotter and drier conditions conducive to wildfires.

Another growing concern is the increased risk of heatwaves. In the past few decades, the number of extremely hot days in Tacoma has risen, and this trend is expected to continue. By 2050, Tacoma could experience an average of about 28 days per year with temperatures above 84.9ºF, a significant increase from the 7 days experienced annually between 1985 and 2005. This rise in temperature can have far-reaching impacts on public health and the environment.

Overall, while Tacoma’s climate is generally mild, the city is not immune to the effects of climate change. Residents and local authorities need to be prepared and take proactive measures to mitigate and adapt to these evolving risks. This includes flood preparation, wildfire risk management, and strategies to cope with increasing temperatures.

Economy and Job Market

The economy and job market in Tacoma, WA, have been showing varied trends in recent times. As of the latest data, the Tacoma-Lakewood area has seen some fluctuations in employment and unemployment rates. In November 2023, the civilian labor force in Tacoma stood at approximately 465.4 thousand, with employment at about 445.0 thousand. The unemployment rate in Tacoma was reported at 4.4%, which is a slight increase compared to earlier months in the year. 

The total nonfarm employment was around 349.3 thousand, indicating a year-over-year percentage increase of 3.5%. This data points to a dynamic job market, with sectors like construction and professional and business services showing growth, while others like manufacturing and information experienced changes in employment numbers​​​​.

Additionally, Tacoma’s overall job market has seen an increase by 1.8% over the last year, with future job growth predicted to be 39.9% over the next ten years. This rate of job growth is higher than the US average of 33.5%. The unemployment rate in Tacoma is slightly higher than the US average, standing at 7.3% compared to the national rate of 6.0%. 

In terms of income, the average income of a Tacoma resident is approximately $26,805 a year, with a median household income of about $69,956 a year. These figures provide an insight into the economic conditions and the job market dynamics in Tacoma, reflecting both the challenges and opportunities present in the city’s economy​​.

Education and Schools

Education in Tacoma, Washington, demonstrates a dynamic approach to student growth and a commitment to continuous improvement. Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) employs a data-driven strategy to enhance teaching and learning. This approach includes hosting “Data Days” four times a year, where each school develops plans based on current data, and teachers collaborate to analyze and use this data to inform instruction. The focus on data allows for real-time tracking of student progress and more tailored lesson planning. This approach has led to positive outcomes such as increased self-reflection and empowerment among students, who are more engaged with their own performance data.

Demographically, the Tacoma School District is diverse, with a student count of 30,877 including various ethnic backgrounds. The district places significant emphasis on ensuring all students, regardless of their background, receive the necessary support to excel. As of the most recent data, the district comprises 37 elementary schools, 9 middle schools, 5 comprehensive high schools, and 14 alternative learning sites. 

The district’s operating budget stands at $363,959,013, reflecting its commitment to providing quality education. It’s also worth noting the remarkable achievement in graduation rates, with the Class of 2015 reaching a graduation rate of 82.6%, marking the fifth consecutive year of increased graduation rates.

Community and Social Life

Community and social life in Tacoma, Washington, is characterized by a proactive approach to addressing diverse community needs and fostering a livable city environment. The city’s Community Needs Assessment focuses on various aspects including homelessness, household stability, workforce development, and human and social wellness. This broad range of topics reflects Tacoma’s commitment to addressing the multifaceted nature of community well-being and social determinants of health.

In recent years, Tacoma has undertaken significant efforts to reshape its urban landscape, particularly in the context of housing and neighborhood development. The Home in Tacoma project, for example, aims to increase housing availability by allowing the construction of duplexes, triplexes, and small multifamily buildings in areas previously restricted to single-family dwellings. 

This initiative, often referred to as “missing middle” housing, is designed to bridge the gap between detached homes and large multi-unit buildings. However, the plan has elicited mixed responses from the community, with some residents expressing concerns about maintaining the character of older neighborhoods and the potential impact on traffic and accessibility.

Moreover, Tacoma has made strides in improving neighborhood livability by developing indicators for social determinants of health. These indicators span various domains including health and social services, housing, education, income and employment, food access, parks and recreation, and arts and culture. By focusing on these areas, Tacoma aims to enhance the overall quality of life for its residents, acknowledging the interconnected nature of these factors in shaping community health and well-being.

Safety and Crime Rates

Safety and crime rates in Tacoma have been a significant focus of the local police department and the community. The Tacoma Police Department has launched a new online crime data dashboard to provide the public with detailed information about crime in the city. This tool reflects the department’s commitment to transparency and community engagement regarding public safety.

In terms of crime statistics, Tacoma has one of the higher crime rates in the United States, with a rate of 81 crimes per one thousand residents. This puts the city’s crime rate higher than 99% of other communities in Washington. The chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime in Tacoma is about one in 12. Specifically, the violent crime rate in Tacoma is notably high, with offenses such as rape, murder, armed robbery, and aggravated assault being tracked. The rate of violent crime is one of the highest in the nation, with a chance of becoming a victim of violent crime being one in 83.

However, there have been recent efforts to reduce crime in the city. According to recent reports, the Tacoma Police Department’s Violent Crime Reduction Plan has resulted in a decrease in violent crime in targeted areas. Between October and December, the average monthly violent crime in these areas dropped by 36% compared to the 12 months prior to the plan’s implementation. Despite this, some areas of Tacoma, particularly those that draw people for services, saw a slight increase in crime. The police department continues to work with consultants and stakeholders to address underlying issues in problematic areas and tailor policing tactics accordingly.


In conclusion, deciding whether to relocate to Tacoma, WA, is a significant choice that involves weighing various factors such as the city’s rich cultural scene, diverse community, and stunning natural surroundings. Tacoma offers a unique lifestyle that blends urban amenities with the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. For those considering this move, the assistance of trusted Tacoma movers can be invaluable. 

Not only will they help with the physical aspects of relocation, ensuring that everything from your precious belongings to bulky furniture is moved safely and efficiently, but they can also provide insights into life in Tacoma. Their knowledge of the city can help new residents familiarize themselves with local neighborhoods, community resources, and all that makes Tacoma a special place to call home.

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