Author Topic: Washington State Mustachians, interested in Tacoma area to retire. Thoughts?  (Read 3037 times)


  • Handlebar Stache
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My bride and I have been thinking of retiring to the Tacoma/Kent area in a few years.

I know there are lots of Mustachians in the Seattle area.  Anyone in Tacoma and what do you think?  Looks like Northeast Tacoma is a nice area.  Looking for a nice house close to stuff and the water.

I will be retiring from the Navy and living off my pension, so I like Tacoma for the access to Lewis/McCord base.

Appreciate any feedback.


  • Pencil Stache
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The "Aroma of Tacoma"! The entire city used to smell rancid because of the nearby paper mill. The mill upgraded technology so it no longer stinks. But I think Tacoma still gets a bad rap from us elitist Seattleites.

I've only been down there a couple times, but my wife and I once went down there on a date (to see a band that wasn't playing Seattle on their tour). We found the downtown area very walkable and fun.

Sorry I can't be more help. I think you're gonna get biased advice from Seattleites ("Tacoma stinks!") and Tacoma-residents ("Move down here!") alike.


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Puget Sound is not the most affordable place to live, but you can get a relatively good deal in Tacoma, and the NE is improving a lot lately.  I've been to a few really nice houses down there.  I've ridden my bike along Vashon Island and taken the cute little ferry to Point Defiance, where the zoo is.  Cool place!

Regional Negatives: State sales tax, high housing prices, bad traffic (but you won't have a commute), very gray for six months of the year.

Regional Positives: Amazing summers, proximity to mountains, the sound, islands, great skiing, never very cold, never very hot.

Herr Handlebar

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I know there are lots of Mustachians in the Seattle area.  Anyone in Tacoma and what do you think?  Looks like Northeast Tacoma is a nice area.  Looking for a nice house close to stuff and the water.

The wife and I are very familiar with Tacoma. She grew up in the area and I lived there for a few years before moving north for a bit. We just bought a house in Tacoma and will be returning soon. We are very bullish on Tacoma.

First the positive; for western Washington State, Tacoma has excellent housing costs. We just purchased a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house in a nice neighborhood for $170,000. We could have done even better if our lives accommodated the short sale process but we had to make a move. This is 30% the cost of what we consider to be similar homes in similar neighborhoods in Seattle. There is a wide variety of housing and whether your dream is to restore an 1890s victorian, settle into a 1950s rambler or plop down in a brand new townhouse you can find it. McKinley is a "up an coming" neighborhood, rated highly by This Old House as a place for old houses, whose "up and coming" was put on pause by the recession. You can find a nice house over here for $90,000 if you are willing to be a pioneer. Seems especially mustachian where mustachian = harder core than me. The city of Tacoma has a lot of great culture including restaurants, museums, music and more. Being from out of state I found that new comers to Tacoma don't suffer the infamous "Seattle Freeze." (Google that term for more info) This might be a Seattle - Tacoma difference (Tacoma retains its more blue collar or working class roots for good or ill) or it might have to do with the number of people who cycle through because of Joint Base Lewis - McChord. Tacoma is reasonably bike friendly in that it is small and has mild traffic.

Now the negative; the job market in Tacoma stinks. If you are not already FI or able to work remotely I would discourage moving to Tacoma. The commute to Seattle stinks as well. There is solid commuter rail and express bus service but you are looking at a 60 to 90 minute commute. On the train you can utilize this time well as it has WiFi, power, tables and bathrooms. Still an extra long commute is an extra long commute. Rates of property crime seem higher in Tacoma than elsewhere but are probably similar to South Seattle and South King County. You must never leave your car on the street with stuff in it. Everyone I know has had their car broken into once or multiple times. Also if you are a major gardener being in Tacoma requires extra care. The Asarco Smelter located in Ruston dusted the region with arsenic and other heavy metals. If you garden you should test your soil or have your soil tested for free by the city. If necessary all food for human consumption should be grown in raised beds. Tacoma is kind of bike unfriendly in that there are very few bike lanes and drivers are less accustomed to cyclists, sometimes leading to negative interactions.

Some Tacoma tips; Northeast Tacoma is pretty lame. It is on the other side of Commencement Bay, separated from the city. Northeast Tacoma is more like Fife or Federal Way and is a car centric suburb as opposed to the old, established city of Tacoma. The things that make Tacoma awesome including Point Defiance Park, Ruston Way Waterfront, the Proctor District, Downtown, etc. will generally require a car from Northeast Tacoma. If I were recommending somewhere to live in Tacoma I would suggest the vague (and confusing) "North Tacoma" which I define as somewhere north of S. 12th St, west of the Stadium District (the western edge of downtown) and south of Commencement Bay / the Salish Sea. Notably being walking distance from the Proctor District is ideal as you have access to just about everything one might want (2 grocery stores, discount/art-house movie theater, bike store, bank, parks, farmers' market, etc., etc.). You can find some very good deals between 6th Ave and S. 12th St. as this area is not considered "the North End" but enjoys most of the features of the north end less the better school districts and proximity to Commencement Bay.

I've lived and worked in both Seattle and Tacoma. Hopefully this gives you a better sense of the place.