The best Tacoma neighborhoods can depend on what you are looking for as a resident of this mid-sized city, but some areas are definitely safer and more aesthetically pleasing than others. While there are many factors in choosing parts of Tacoma in which to live, this article focuses on safety, cost of living, attractiveness, and nearby things to do.
Best Tacoma Neighborhoods For Safety
Tacoma’s crime rates are a bit higher than the average for Washington towns and cities overall, but this does not mean you will become a victim in the streets or even feel unsafe when you’re out and about. Despite a near constant slew of insults from Seattleites, Tacoma is a beautiful city with many safe areas.
Statistically, the safest areas of Tacoma to live in are situated largely in the north and west parts of town. North Tacoma neighborhoods such as Old Town, the Stadium District, and North Tacoma in general feel like a completely different city than many areas in South Tacoma or the East Side. University Place, Fircrest, and Northeast Tacoma (Brown’s Point area) are notably safer than the rest of Tacoma as well.
Tacoma Neighborhoods With Things to Do
If what you want are things to do nearby, then the more walkable parts of town (also often the safest) are good bets. All of North Tacoma puts you close to the lovely Waterfront if you enjoy picturesque strolls. Old Town, while small, has cute coffee shops and restaurants to duck into. Both of these areas don’t have major attractions, per se, but they do have lots of little restaurants and shops tucked into neighborhoods and feature ample bike lanes and sidewalks.
Perhaps the best neighborhood for attractions is downtown Tacoma, though. This area has the Tacoma Art Museum, Museum of Glass, Bridge of Glass, theaters, and many of the best restaurants in town all within a relatively small area. Unlike the rest of Tacoma, downtown doesn’t have many desirable houses, but there are an increasing number of condos (often luxury condos) here if you want to live close to all the action. Also, the Stadium District is very close to downtown.
Commutes from Tacoma Neighborhoods
If you seek a short commute to downtown Tacoma, living closer in to this area is best. North Tacoma, Stadium District, downtown itself, and East Tacoma are closest. But even from outlying areas, if you are close to Pacific Avenue especially, it can take just a half hour to get from Parkland or South Tacoma to downtown.
For the best I-5 access to Seattle, East Tacoma is best as the closest freeway exit to Seattle is located on Portland Avenue here. However, East Tacoma is still pulling itself up by its bootstraps and parts of it feel safe and cozy and other parts are still rougher. North Tacoma and downtown offer decently quick access to I-5 via 705.
If you need quick I-5 access and want to live in Tacoma without really being a part of Tacoma at all, Northeast Tacoma is perfect as it takes nearly a half hour from there to get to Tacoma proper.
Cheapest Places to Live in Tacoma
As you might guess, the best Tacoma neighborhoods don’t usually go hand in hand with the cheapest real estate values. North Tacoma, Old Town, and University Place all have more expensive home values in general than East and South Tacoma. The only real challenge to this pattern is that downtown Tacoma is one of the least safe places statistically (though, it’s perfectly fine if you’re here sightseeing during the day or staying in the main areas), but the condos here are quite pricey.
East and South Tacoma offer a good balance of affordability. Areas like Puyallup offer great deals on housing, but not in the Tacoma city limits.
Tacoma is surrounded by other communities worth checking out, especially if you seek affordable housing. Parkland and Spanaway are farther out from town and can feel a bit rough around the edges in places, but you will find great housing deals in these parts of town. If you want to be close to Puyallup, Lakewood, or Pacific Lutheran University, these areas are also fine bets. If you work in downtown Tacoma or need quick access to I-5, they aren’t as ideal.
Lakewood and Puyallup are two nearby towns at opposite ends of the small 512 freeway. Lakewood is ethnically diverse and puts you in close proximity to Tacoma’s Korea town on South Tacoma Way (grocery stores Pal-do and Boo Han are excellent if you enjoy Asian food). Puyallup is the proverbial suburbia that boomed during the housing peak in the mid-2000s. As a result, there is a plethora of houses for sale (many larger homes too) there and many are amazingly good deals. Puyallup will not put you too close to I-5 and has some traffic issues along its main drag of Meridian Avenue, but otherwise, it is a fine place to live with lots of stores very close by.