Tacoma Washington is the cool (and affordable) kid in the Pacific Northwest
People want to retire to Tacoma because it is only 30 min from Seattle’s International airport (ok- 30 min at 2 AM. Closer to an hour at peak commute time). Tacoma is an open secret for people looking for a more affordable alternative to Seattle. Listen in as my good pal Anne Jone, Owner/Broker at Abode shares the downlow on her neck of the woods.
Anne Jones has been an agent for 10 years and grew up in the area. Her dad is a semi-retired home builder. She has some experience in the construction side of the business.
Most of the homes are built from the 1920’2 to the 1950’s. Some of the “suburbs” like Gig Harbor are homes built in the 1970’s and 1980’s. These areas are 15 – 30 minutes away from the urban areas of Tacoma.
Why do people love to retire to Tacoma?
We are surrounded on three sides by water and we get to see the incredible Mt Ranier (when it’s out) we have great access to the outdoors, and access to the water. We have a mellow life and the work-life balance is pretty good.
Is Tacoma commutable to Seattle?
There those who do it! People who retire to Tacoma make a choice- it is where they can afford to live. The community might be 90 min up and three hours back. If there is light traffic it can only take 45 minutes.
If you reitre to Tacoma, what does a home look like?
That is going to be about $400,000 and that is a dramatic change for us. Not long ago a reasonable starter would be more like $200,000. But the Seattle transplants are driving the prices up. You can still get a 3 bedroom 1 bath home for around $250,000- but those homes will likely need upgrades to the wiring or heating systems, sewer lines or replacing the single paned windows.
Are there homebuyer assistance programs if you retire to Tacoma?
We use FHA and down payment assistance grants. (check out our post on home buyer tools for down payment grant information.) These are still viable loan programs, but it is a challenge. We also have a fairly competitive market, as well.
What are the people like in Tacoma?
The University is an amazing anchor for our downtown. This, combined with our affordability attracts a lot of young people, creatives and retirees. People retire to Tacoma because they are attracted to the open-mindedness- we are fairly liberal. It is easy to move here, set down roots and get involved and make connections fairly easily. Some people feel that the natives are not so friendly just “on the street” because most natives don’t use an umbrella, they have a hood pulled over their faces.
REI ads are a great reflection of the culture in Tacoma.
What do people who retire to Tacoma like to do?
We only get a couple days of snow in any given year. Puget Sound is very cold, but there is lots of water sports. We also have an amazing park system. Point Defiance is similar to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. People love that you are not far from anything, water, skiing, hiking- it is all less than an hour away.
There are a lot of telecommuters- office space is very affordable as well as many co-working spaces.
So- what is the truth about the weather in Tacoma?!
People who retire to Tacoma can be surprised – we can get down to freezing. By February most people are just DONE. But spring happens and the by-product of all that rain is beautiful, gorgeous green. People cope by taking weekend trips or just cuddle up by fires, read books.
It is cold and cloudy November – February, but the summer months are simply glorious. Our weather is mild, it is rarely too hot to eat outdoors
What is your hot tip for neighborhoods for someone wanting to retire to Tacoma?
There are two neighborhoods designated for significant growth. The first is along Sixth Ave where they will replace granny homes into multi-story buildings offering a walkable lifestyle to restaurants, entertainment, and shopping. There another district called Lincoln District has a similar development and growth plan. It is close to the historic Lincoln High School, the best Asian grocery and the best Vietnamese restaurant.
How about the cost of living for a retiree in Tacoma?
Property taxes are lower than our surrounding communities as we have already invested in our parks and schools. Milk is about three bucks and a gallon of gas is over three dollars.
Want to find out more?
You can find Anne Jones at TacomaJones.com