Exit133 is about Tacoma

Advice on Moving to Tacoma

Once upon a time in the early days of Exit133 (waaaayy back in 2006), we asked the question of "Where should I live in Tacoma?" based on an email from a reader.

We were reminded of that conversation when we came across a question thread on Reddit the other day that made us wonder if public sentiment had changed at all since 2006...

My husband and I will be moving [to Tacoma] soon, and we were wondering what neighborhoods would be the safest/nicest to live in? I've been reading through a lot of "Moving to Tacoma" posts on this subreddit, and I'm getting mixed reviews on a lot of neighborhoods. We currently live in one of the most dangerous cities in America. Is there any neighborhood to completely avoid? Any advice?

While we're hesitant to assign an unqualified superlative "best" to any neighborhood over all others, when we asked the question six years ago, it sparked some interesting debate. Looking back, we mentioned changes going on in downtown and the Hilltop. The comments on that article, as we remember them, were incredibly insightful, and helpful, but they have been lost to the sands of time and technology in one of our site upgrades. So we'll rely on your collective memory of the last decade.

In the Reddit thread we're seeing votes for the Stadium District, North Slope, Downtown, and Proctor (as well as Fircrest, Ruston, and University Place...), but what's your advice for someone moving to Tacoma for the first time? How would you recommend they experience the city? And does your 2014 advice differ at all from what you would have advised in 2006?

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The simple advice I always give to people moving to Tacoma is, Stay away from hilltop/downtown Tacoma, and east side, if your address has a South in it and your outside of hilltop your in a OK neighborhood kinda middle of the road. If it has a North in it your are in a nicer part of town, the higher your North number is the better off you will be, as in if you are off or N. 7th your still in a nicer part of tacoma, but if you are off of N 37 you are gold.

March 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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No offense, but this is terrible advice. It is because of this prejudice that Tacoma is not the truly vibrant city it could be. I see people coming to shows at the Pantages and then escaping as quickly as possible because they also seem to believe you should stay away from downtown Tacoma. I see people cringe when I tell them I live on the South Side. But, you know what? If you are afraid of everything that doesn’t have a North in it, you are missing out. And you are also not helping make Tacoma safer and more beautiful.

March 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I live in what is considered South Tacoma and I have never had any issues or problems.  Everyone is friendly and have not seen or had any sort of criminal acts done to me in the four years that I’ve lived here.

May 28, 2014 at 8:56 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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July 29, 2018 at 4:10 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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There are many vibrant, safe neighborhoods in Tacoma. Rather than take biased perspective at face value, come see our city for yourself and make your own judgment. We’re a great, urban city with many of the same amenities/infrastructure as other major cities in our region (i.e. Seattle and Bellevue) with much more affordable housing. This is a great place to live if you are a young family, small business owner, entrepreneur or commuter.

March 25, 2014 at 4:47 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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P Clark

Hilltop is continually changing and evolving.  Look at UW Tacoma and what they have done to the area.  And Pac Ave retail that was once dead less than 10 years ago is vibrant and alive….There are many great micro-neighborhoods to live and it depends on what you are looking for.  So go and explore and you will find one that is a fit….then become part of your neighborhood and get involved.  Tacoma is a changing place - for the better with a diverse and creative side.

March 25, 2014 at 5:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Exactly, the entire Tacoma area is changing and evolving and getting better one business or house at a time.  This city is beautiful and wonderful and somehow these past reputations that are stuck in people’s minds need to be forgotten somehow.  Downtown is becoming more vibrant everyday and very clean!  The light rail is there with new downtown condos looking out over the bay.  I think it truly is the ‘City of Destiny’ and one day the world will recognize it.

May 28, 2014 at 9:00 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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July 11, 2018 at 6:24 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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We moved from the suburbs to a downtown Tacoma condo two years ago. Have not regretted it for one minute. We walk to work, we walk to museums, we walk to the theaters, we walk to our favorite restaurants, bars and coffee shops. We walk to Wright Park. We watch the ice skaters at Tollefson Plaza in December and the Daffodil Parade in April. We LOVE living downtown. No, wait, there was one bad thing: when Tacoma City Grocery closed. Now we actually have to get in the car to go grocery shopping. Grrrr.

March 25, 2014 at 7:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Roy J.

North Tacoma is where it is at….I have to agree with Will.  Just take a short drive in the East or Deep South and you’ll understand what he’s talking about.

March 25, 2014 at 8:42 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Stadium District. This places you within walking or bicycling distance of everything that’s truly great about Tacoma.

March 25, 2014 at 10:30 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Perhaps a good idea would be to rent a couple of houses by the month (in succession, not all at once) and live in a few different areas of the city to really experience them. Have a PO box for mail while doing this. A quick look on VRBO shows 8 Tacoma by-the-week rentals in houses or apartments. Of those, 3 are North End, 1 is West Slope, 2 are Downtown and 1 is on Hilltop. There are also numerous rentals of the same sort all over UP, Northeast Tacoma.

March 26, 2014 at 8:23 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Morgan Blackmore

I live in Hilltop. Some observations since moving here 3 years ago- there is a very high level of community involvement. I know more of my neighbors better than anywhere I’ve ever lived. I love the ethnic diversity. I bike everywhere easily. My 4 and 6 year old kids and I can walk to Dorkys or the LINK light rail and get anywhere downtown. Statistically, Hilltop has one of the lowest crime rates in the city. The only real downside is that there are some run down houses and you occasionally see a homeless person on some streets.
To me it’s great. Far worse would be to live in some homogenous white neighborhood where nobody knows anybody. Where the guy next door could be some image-driven prick who needs an “N” in front of his street name so he can look down on others.
Also worth consideration would be Lincoln district with its cool old residential areas and its near S 38th and the plethora of stores there. McKinley has character though not as much commercial. And Salishan is a great community. The most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Tacoma with new community-oriented development and more playgrounds than you can count.

March 26, 2014 at 8:44 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I would also recommend Hilltop for many of the reasons Morgan describes.  I don’t quite get the part about North Tacoma though—seems like a strawman argument based on sweeping and mostly faulty assumptions.  My neighborhood includes an “N” and is quite economically and ethnically diverse, progressive, and full of neighbors who know and like each other.

March 26, 2014 at 11:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Morgan Blackmore

talus, it was in response to the first comment on the thread by Will.

March 26, 2014 at 7:43 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ah, that’s understandable!

March 27, 2014 at 9:19 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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My neighborhood includes an “N” and is quite economically and ethnically diverse, progressive, and full of neighbors who know and like each other.

Anybody in the federal prison system could say that.

March 28, 2014 at 12:04 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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The Ruston police arrive before you hang up the phone and often before you call.  As in, “Ms., did you know you left your garage door open?”  I love you guys!  We have The Antique Sandwich Company,  Ruston Deli, Tatanka, TYC, Pt. Defiance, Waterwalk/Ruston Way waterfront all in walking distance.  And soon a grocery store and state of the art movie theater. Ruston is surrounded by Tacoma & the waterfront & my new happy place.

March 26, 2014 at 9:53 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Darla's mom

It depends what you are looking for in addition to safety. You should visit Tacoma for a few days, including a weekend. Rent a car and drive around different neighborhoods at different times of the day. Visit open houses. Park in a neighborhood you think you like and walk around. People walking dogs are always good sources of information on a neighborhood. Use Google Maps Street View to explore neighborhoods. Also, use Zillow to determine prices in various neighborhoods. One final piece of advice: Pay no attention to people who do not know the difference between “your” and “you’re.”

March 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jim C

This a pretty silly piece of rhetorical clickbait… live where you want, where your family and friends are, not where random internet commenters say you should.  Gah.

March 26, 2014 at 2:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Just south of 6th Avenue is a great combination of affordability (if you want to own), walkability, and proximity to job centers.  Plus bus service is pretty good, if a bit crowded.  Stadium District is nice too.  While many tout the North End, don’t go too far north unless you want to drive a bit to get to a grocery store.  Proctor is a nice medium in that regard.

March 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Great topic and discussion!  It is interesting to see people’s comments about Tacoma.  I have been selling real estate in ALL areas of T-Town now for over 10 years and there really is no “right” answer.  As professionals, we cannot steer our clients towards one area….and no…my clients are not cattle…but they can, however, graze the inventory!!  I bought a house about 12 years ago in the North end historic district and it is really pretty cool.  Fact:  most houses are beautiful.  Fact:  most neighbors are pretty cool.  Fact:  we have reported crime at least once or twice a week in the neighborhood—not cool.  No neighborhood is free of crime but usually neighbors are on board to watch out for each other and our properties.  Guess what?  The same is true for north, south and east!!!  So many cool and eclectic places to live, work and play!!  I have many clients who want the North end but cannot afford the prices of housing—-the first thing I do is introduce other neighborhoods that have the same quality, character and are more affordable—-most people are really amazed what is outside of their “desired” area.  Did I mention that the walkability to the neighborhood bar or pub is usually a selling point!!  I seem to know many of these so if you need to talk to someone….a lot of my contracts usually have a water ring on them…hint, hint…  Bottom line…if you are looking at moving to Tacoma, do some research on crime, schools and TALK to potential neighbors!!  The best way to find out about an area is to chat it up with the people that actually live there!  Cheers All and come discover Tacoma!

March 26, 2014 at 6:23 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Go to the local grocery store and look around.  Look at the people, the store, what they’re putting into their carts, and what type of personalities they might have.  Those people will be your neighbors.

This theory saved me from a move to Port Orchard when I first moved to the area.  Whew!

March 28, 2014 at 7:51 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Eric P.

Hilltop’s not great but it’s better than its Safeway.  That place is gross.

March 30, 2014 at 7:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Thank you so much for creating this post!  My husband and I are moving our family to Tacoma in March 2015.  I know this is probably going to be a really stupid request, but can someone draw a map of all of these neighborhoods?  LOL!  I have no clue where the start and end, etc.  We are looking to rent a 3BR with a basement (he is a potter) and I have a home based business.  I have been hitting it heavy on Trulia…lots of affordable cute places.  We currently live in the 10th most dangerous city in the US, so I think we are good on crime…lol.  But, I would love to live in a very diverse neighborhood.  We want our kids exposed to every culture they can be.

Thanks!  ~Amanda

September 19, 2014 at 11:15 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Just found this old post and wanted to comment. You will get what you pay for in Tacoma. The North End and Stadium/North Slope are nice if you can afford the good spots, but I’ve had my car broken into and vandalized in the North Slope, so it’s hard to pin anywhere as defiantly better or worse. The further north you get, the generally better off you’ll be. Just make sure to keep your comprehensive deductible at $0 so your window repairs are free and don’t leave anything in your car.

December 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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July 26, 2016 at 4:50 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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July 31, 2016 at 1:08 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Your New Neighbor

Hello Tacoma! My wife, you g daughter and I have lived in Tacoma for nearly 2 years. We have rented 2 apartments in the stadium district in this time and love the culture of the place. This said, we are now in contract on a house on 7th and S. M Street. The house seems to be a good value though I can see the neighborhood is not the stadium district I have come to know and Iove (or afford to buy a house in). What are your thoughts, am I putting my family at risk with this decision or should I just take the reasonable precautions and enjoy my new at-the-edge-of-hilltop home?

January 29, 2017 at 9:35 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Hello!  My girlfriend and I are planning on moving to the Tacoma area from Boise, Idaho in the Spring or Summer of 2018, and was curious about neighborhoods and such.  I’m from Los Angeles and she from Minneapolis originally, so we’re not unfamiliar with city life. 

After a Google search brought this page up, I read all the comments.  It seems that there are a few who posted that feel the North End is the be all, end all place to be while the vast majority of commenters feel that each area has their pluses and minuses.  ...like every other city.

I’m excited for the new adventure of being in Tacoma.  I hope people comment on this again and give updates.  I look forward to being your neighbor!

Have a fantastic day!

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