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Tacoma
  • $650   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $918   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1427   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  northwest US)

75% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
bridge traffic
commutable to more expensive city, temperate climate 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Tacoma roommate rundown:

Neko Case still sings that "life goes by slow" in the "dusty old jewel in the South Puget Sound" that's Taaaacoooooooomaa.

That song's lovely but not new. So is this still true? Tacoma has grown. It has more stuff. But it still moves slower than Seattle, and that's the most common comparison.

In fact, because they mostly share an airport, some feel Tacoma is properly considered Seattle's suburb. It's only 35 miles south along the interstate. That doesn't take long driving through zero traffic.

But while many Seattle employees live in Tacoma to save money, it's uncommon the other way round. The road to savings is working in Seattle (not overwhelmingly in person) while paying roommate rent in Tacoma - which will be at least half off.

At least!

The reason why this particular trek is not super popular is that if you had to go back and forth every single day, you'd be miserable. There are many urban bridges in the PNW. Other than the middle of the night, traffic jams are happening.

The happiest roommates who feel best placed are strategically managing their jam avoidance. If you move to Tacoma to save on rent just to end up jumping off a bridge rather than wait out even one more jam upon one, that was not your bargain.

Nope!

So don't do that. But if you work in Seattle, not overwhelmingly in person, and can return selectively, never during a rush, it just could. With a reliable car, of course. There are public transport options, like: expresses, shuttles, transits, trains, ferries, links and maybe one or two other Metros between the two. But all they take longer than driving yourself down the interstate.

Inside Tacoma, Pierce Transit offers buses, light rail, and many ferries, along with commuter rail to Seattle too. There's also the newer T Line, light rail serving stations through Tacoma Dome, Downtown, and Hilltop. So if you live and work downtown and/or around the campuses and rarely go anywhere else, you and your roommates could make car-free work.

Otherwise, most of the rest of Tacoma mostly drives. Mostly on a sensible grid of roads, with stunning views of Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains all over them!

And did you know Tacoma invented the Almond Roca back in 1923? Then Bob's Java Jive came along just a few years later. Bob's is a teapot-shaped dive bar just off Tacoma Way that once hosted go-go girls. Lately it's open mics and community hangout.

So are you interested in some down home native Tacoma candy? Or local coffee? Neighborhood beer?

Or are you immediately craving Starbucks? From a drive-thru?

Tacomans love their Starbucks too! Don't panic!

But if Bob's Java Jive doesn't intrigue you as well, you might not find passion for life in Taaaacoooooooomaa.

The rest of the Tacoma roommate lowdown:

  • medium-sized port city with about 225,000 residents - about 35 miles (south along the interstate) from Seattle, in west-central Washington at the south end of Puget Sound
  • 30 miles to Olympia, the state capital
  • 60 miles away from Mount Rainier National Park
  • climate is mild but cloudy most of the year (just like nearby Seattle's), severe weather is rare
  • major hub for glass art
  • previous home of a lot of shipping, paper, and lumber mill industries - now home to what's still going in those, plus how they've all been environmentally renewed
  • no state income tax
  • home to Pacific Lutheran University, University of Puget Sound, and the University of Washington (Tacoma Campus)



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Tacoma's:

  • Point Defiance Park: The Port Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Owen Beach, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and a whole bunch of hiking trails are all in this huge park on the north end. It's about 700 acres!
  • Tacoma Art Museum: > 5400 works focusing on art of the Northwest, including Tacoma native glass artist Dale Chihuly, Japanese woodblock prints, and Northwest fine art jewelry.
  • Tacoma Museum of Glass: If you and your roommates want even more glass after the Tacoma Art Museum, have I got an additional museum for you! It's also the largest and most active glass studio on the West Coast.
  • Dockyard Roller Derby: Tacoma's flat track roller derby league
  • Pacific Bonsai Museum: In nearby Federal Way, you and your roommates can take Bonsai Basics and leave with your own juniper bonsai along with how to take care of it. And/or you can also tour, listening to a tour on your own to going with a group with a docent to see their galleries of trees.


Here's the city of Tacoma's official .org for services for residents, from animal care to utilities rebates.





Notes

1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.


2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.


3.   From zumper.com.


4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.


5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.


6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.