Tall buildings lit up next water at sunset in Downtown Tacoma

12 Things to Know About Living in Tacoma

Thinking about moving to Tacoma? With its thriving job market, abundant natural beauty, and forward-thinking culture, the aptly-nicknamed City of Destiny is the place to plant roots. Here are 12 things to know about living in Tacoma!

Experience the Tacoma Lifestyle

Skyline of buildings with mountain in the horizon. Photo by Instagram user @maronelatrips
Photo via @maronelatrips

Locals often compare Tacoma to its metro-area neighbor Seattle, but there are plenty of unique things about this Pacific Northwest city. One big thing Tacoma has going for it is that its cost of living is 12.2% lower than Seattle. And thanks to the city’s long-standing position as an international shipping hub, as well as its myriad tax incentives and city development programs, living in Tacoma makes good economic sense for people in all stages of life. In addition, Tacomans enjoy a high quality of life with low health care costs, an innovative public school system, plentiful green space, and some of the best outdoor recreation in the country!

Seek Higher Education at Top-Rated Colleges

Red brick buildings by green lawn at University of Puget Sound. Photo by Instagram user @ekelly80
Photo via @ekelly80

Tacoma isn’t just a smart choice for young professionals, families, and retirees who want affordable living. It’s also a great place for students pursuing college degrees! Attend the University of Puget Sound, where a student-first philosophy and unparalleled academic resources have earned the institution its rank as the 89th best liberal arts college in the nation. Get your degree at University of Washington Tacoma, a widely acclaimed four-year institution that encourages students to apply their educations toward improving the economic and social integrity of Tacoma’s diverse population. Looking to become an educator? Enroll at Pacific Lutheran University, which has been named the country’s 9th best college for undergraduate teaching degrees.

Enjoy Mild Weather All Year

Guy running on trail through trees. Photo by Instagram user @driftingdentalduo
Photo via @driftingdentalduo

The Pacific Northwest gets a bad rap for being rainy, but you’ll be surprised to learn that Tacoma receives less annual rainfall than cities like Houston, Boston, and New York. Tacomans are certainly familiar with cloudy days, but the city’s temperate summers and mild winters bring fewer downpours than outsiders assume. Moving from somewhere with more extreme seasonal shifts? You’ll still experience distinct differences between spring, summer, fall, and winter, but these seasonal changes are much milder than elsewhere in the country. Coming from somewhere with a one-note climate? Tacoma’s moderate weather will be a nice change of pace!

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See What’s Good in the Great Outdoors

Snowy mountain next to water and trees. Photo by Instagram user @spirithiker
Photo via @spirithiker

Though perhaps best known for its close proximity to Mount Rainier, there are ton of things to do in Tacoma that give residents a chance to experience natural wonders beyond mountain views! Of course, the hype about Mount Rainier is well-deserved. Take a drive up to Sunrise—the mountain’s highest drivable point—for a breathtaking, 360-degree view and see for yourself why this stunning stratovolcano has become an icon of the Pacific Northwest. Head to Tacoma Nature Center and hike the trails through wetlands and forests for an entirely different perspective on the area’s natural beauty. Or camp out at Point Defiance State Park, where you can get up close and personal with local wildlife in their natural habitat or observe other species at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. And don’t miss out on Owen Beach, where you can go for a walk or have a picnic along Tacoma’s rocky coast!

Take Advantage of Convenient Public Transit

Blue and black bus driving by trees. Photo by Instagram user @piercetransit
Photo via @piercetransit

Many people living in Tacoma choose to drive themselves around, but there are public transit options available for Tacomans who need a safe, convenient way to get around the metro. See Downtown Tacoma without breaking the bank using the Link Light Rail, a fast and free transportation option that runs 365 days a year. Or hop on a Pierce Transit bus and get anywhere in Tacoma with a $5 day pass. Commuting to Seattle? Catch a ride on the Sounder Commuter Rail any weekday during rush hour, or climb aboard a regional express bus for convenient travel in and around the SeaTac metro.

Check Out the 6th Avenue District

Dog sitting in front of blue wall with love written on it. Photo by Instagram user @knail3dit
Photo via @knail3dit

There are plenty of sights to see and things to do in 6th Avenue District! This Tacoma hot spot is home to several local businesses and events. Head down to the district on the third Thursday of every month for Tacoma Art Walk, an intimate street festival featuring the latest works from local artists. Attend a workshop at Dazed and Reused Art Studio to create an art  masterpiece of your own. Swing by Hi-Voltage Records and shop vinyl, movies, clothing, and more. Or get a psychic reading at Crescent Moon Gifts—even if you don’t believe in the supernatural, the experience is worth it!

Explore the Thriving Art Scene

Glass building with colorful glass sculptures on ceiling. Photo by Instagram user @yk5545
Photo via @yk5545

Living in Tacoma means you have easy access to excellent museums, galleries, and public art! Marvel at the work of legendary painters at the Tacoma Art Museum. See works by talented local artists or become a resident artist yourself at 235 Collective Art Gallery. Watch hip-hop and ballet performances from T.U.P.A.C., an organization that supports Tacoma’s youth through education and creativity. Get tickets to an opera or symphony performance through Tacoma Arts Live. Or walk among colorful, larger-than-life works by renowned artist Dale Chihuly or partake in a glassblowing demonstration at the Museum of Glass.

Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

Baseball player on Tacoma Rainiers swinging bat. Photo by Instagram user @tacomarainiers
Photo via @tacomarainiers

Sports fans in Tacoma should put Cheney Stadium high on their list of things to see. The stadium occasionally hosts other sports, like soccer, but it’s most famous for being home to the Tacoma Rainiers—T-Town’s favorite Minor League Baseball sluggers. While the city may not have any major teams to speak of, anyone living in Tacoma will tell you their devotion to the Rainiers is no minor matter. Just put on some navy blue, red, and white, and grab tickets to a Rainiers home game to see why! For one thing, ballpark food is a big deal here, thanks to delicious treats like Veganwurst Sausages and Salsa Verde Hot Dogs. (Don’t worry, though, Cheney Stadium still offers all your traditional favorites, too.) As far as the action on the diamond goes, every Rainiers game guarantees spectacular plays, hilarious antics from Rhubarb the Baseball Reindeer, and more. Keep an eye on the team’s promotional calendar for family-friendly events throughout the year!

Attend T-Town’s Unique Festivals

Two guys sitting on stage at Tacoma Film Festival. Photo by Instagram user @tacomafilmfest
Photo via @tacomafilmfest

No matter the occasion, people living in Tacoma know how to have a good time! Experience a day full of food, live music, and family activities at America’s third-largest Independence Day celebration—the Tacoma Freedom Fair. Dig into street fare and fine bites alike at Taste of Tacoma, another local summer tradition. Connect with the city’s diverse heritage with two days of art, food, music, and dancing at Ethnic Fest, one of the best Tacoma festivals. Celebrate Tacoma’s LGBTQ+ community through parades, interfaith festivities, and more during Tacoma Pride. Or see stories from around the world play out on the screen at the Tacoma Film Festival.

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Treat Yourself to Tacoma’s Best Restaurants

Silver trays full of tacos. Photo by Instagram use @lostapatiostaqueria
Photo via @lostapatiostaqueria

Foodies rejoice! There are endless places to eat in Tacoma and amazing restaurants for every palate. Indulge in farm-to-table Mediterranean fare at Primo—make sure to ask about their fresh fish special! Grab a table at Quickie Too for mouthwatering vegan dishes like the must-try Mac and Yease. Or skip dining in entirely and order a Bison Burger or Tofu Taco on-the-go from Tatanka Take-Out. Make sure to give some of T-Town’s many food trucks a try as well! Track down Burger Seoul for unforgettable American-Korean fusion fare like the signature Seoul Burger. Or discover why locals are raving about the Spicy Pork from Ricos Tacos!

Try Some of the Best Coffee in Washington

Coffee cup with heart latte art by blue wall. Photo by Instagram user @cosmonautcoffee
Photo via @cosmonautcoffee

Like many cities in the Pacific Northwest, Grit City takes its java seriously! Get your caffeine fix at Bluebeard Coffee Roasters, a local staple that roasts its beans on site, then transforms them into speciality drinks like La Pistola Mexican Mocha. Visit Valhalla Coffee and buy some Viking Blend beans to roast at home. See kitsch in full force at Bob’s Java Jive, a weird and wonderful dive that’s known for being shaped like a giant coffee pot and serving as a film set for Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything. Or order some cold brew at Cosmonaut Coffee, a quirky, dog-friendly cafe.

Hit Up Nightlife Hot Spots

Crowd of people watching a concert. Photo by Instagram user @trulybogus
Photo via @trulybogus

Not sure what do in Tacoma at night? Check out all of the Tacoma clubs, dive bars, and music venues! Enjoy a quiet evening sipping on hand-crafted cocktails like the White Dandelion or sharing a plate of fried deviled eggs with friends at 1022 South J. Amp up your weekend with live jazz, punk shows, high-energy DJ sets, and more at Jazzbones. Catch the recurring comedy series “Laughing Mater,” listen to local musicians, or see any number of other great live acts at Alma Mater (formerly Fawcett Hall). Not in the mood for a performance? Show off your gaming skills with a craft beer in hand at Dorky’s, a bar-arcade combo that you’re sure to love.

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Moving to Tacoma? Extra Space Storage has self storage facilities throughout the SeaTac metro, so we can help your move go smoothly. Find a storage unit near you!

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Considering living in Tacoma? T-Town has incredible outdoor recreation, top-rated education, and so much more. Check out these 12 things to know before you move! via @extraspace