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I live in Tacoma and generally concur with the views of the other posters. One additional red flag about Olympia: It is home to both the *insanely* liberal Evergreen University and state's government. I couldn't live there for those two reasons alone, neither do I want to be anywhere remotely near our socialist lying governor (Gregoire). Stick with University Place (an incorporated area of Tacoma), Steilacoom or Gig Harbor or the northern quarter of Tacoma. Fox Island is too far.
Hi there and welcome to the awesome Pacific Northwest! I felt compelled to chime in regarding Puyallup and the surrounding areas. My family moved here 5 years ago after living 10 years in Arlington VA and very briefly in SW Ohio. We currently live on South Hill in Puyallup. Our decision was dictated by the safety of the neighborhoods and, of course, cost. We were looking to stay in the $350K range for housing which would get you quite a bit more now that prices have dropped. At the time my husband commuted to downtown Tacoma and it took approx 30-45 minutes in peak rush hour traffic. Now that Canyon Road is widened it might even be quicker. Meridian is a beast, plain and simple. We know every trick to avoid it. I'm not a huge fan of the urban sprawl feel either but I wanted a suburban area with lots of kids for my only child to play with. Schools in Puyallup are high quality but they are crowded. However, my son attends private elementary school which was made affordable only after crossing Gig Harbor and University Place off our list. I wasn't keen on Narrows Bridge traffic at the time although I've heard its improved with the completion of the second bridge. It also felt a little "cut off" to me.
As far as Lake Tapps and Bonney Lake/Sumner are concerned . . . they are lovely communities in the Sumner School district. The neighborhoods are similar to Puyallup but in my experience slightly more expensive. Also closer to the freeways. Good Schools, nice quaint downtown area in Sumner. But also strip malls. Personally, I do not like the rush hour Traffic on 410 that I have experienced there. It can be as bad or worse than Meridian in Puyallup. Sumner is getting a brand new YMCA in the next year or two that will make it even better however most people in those towns go to Puyallup for mall-type shopping. Tacoma schools were not even considered because we could not afford Browns Point or much of the Proctor District that was suitable and in our price range.
If I had it to do over, I would probably still choose Puyallup but look more closely at neighborhoods in the city of Puyallup instead of unincorporated Pierce county. Something between the Fairgrounds and the South Hill Mall perhaps. Final suggest . . . when you narrow your search try driving the main drag in rush hour and see how that feels for you. Getting stuck for an hour on the Narrows Bridge between Tacoma and Gig Harbor really helped us decide. Best of luck to you.
I think you will probably want to stay close to work, Olympia would be a really long commute with the traffic we have around here. Also anywhere on the other side of the Narrows Bridge will take a while. It sounds to me the suburbs might be your best fit. I would suggest Puyallup, preferably away from Meridian , or Spanaway. Orting and Sumner are nice but farther and smaller. I think the Puyallup/Spanaway/Fredrickson areas are great for their amenities, safe neighborhoods and proximity to I5 and Tacoma.
Hi! My husband is in the Air Force and recently got relocated to McChord. We spent over a month searching for an apartment, and finally settled in Puyallup. Obviously, you should avoid Lakewood, Parkland and South Tacoma (everything around the McChord side of base is questionable). We love living in Puyallup (Federal Way and Sumner are also close). We can get to Tacoma in a short amount of time, and go walk along the water in a less than 20 minute drive. Puyallup is very clean, SAFE and nice...you can definitely take your kids to the nice parks and probably walk to the library from most places here! It has a lovely small town feel but still has everything you need close by. My husband commutes to base everyday, and it only takes about 22 minutes with moderate traffic. We can get on all three major highways in less than 5 minutes from where we live. I would definitely look in Puyallup! Bonney Lake is a a ways from Puyallup and kinda in the middle of nowhere and would definitely add some drive time to Tacoma.
As someone that has lived in Wa. State for all of my now 57 years, and , has lived in Bonney Lake (and on waterfront on Lake Tapps), for 28 years, and now lives in Puyallup and works in Tacoma, I'll make a few comments.
I wouldn't move back to Bonney Lake for anything. In 1978 when we moved there it was pretty nice, but over the years it has seemed to expand with little or no planning at all.There have even been some water shortages up there due to lack of planning. There is no nice downtown area where a family could go and have a nice walk. The main highway, Hwy 410, is a high speed highway and pretty unsafe to walk near. The 410 area is very traffic congested. There seems to be no leash law enforced in Bonney Lake and Lake tapps. Our Greyhounds (always on leashes) were contsatly attacked by dogs running loose.Our daughter was bitten by a loose dog while riding her bicycle.
We moved to "old town" Puyallup and never looked back. Puyallup's South Hill is extremely congested and farther away from Tacoma. If you don't give a look to the older area down on the flatlands of Puyallup and nearer to the fairgrounds, you will be missing a great neighborhood to raise a family in.And I'm just off Pioneer Ave and 16th St SW. I take Pioneer, which is like a country road with curves and farms and such, and will take you to Tacoma quickly.You hit the outskirts of Tacoma in maybe 6 miles and about 10 minutes. The houses in this area are a mix on old timers like ours (1919) to some newer houses. Our house was one of a couple of old farms that originally had lots of property. We do have a very large lot. We are within walking distance of two nice parks, and grade schools,junior highs, and Puyallup high school. Walking distance to the fairgrounds and to old town Puyallup.This area has lots of very cool old buildings with loads of character. And yet, if you have to go to a mall, you can get up to South Hill very quickly via back streets.
I ride motorcycles and scooters, and there are just great country roads around here to ride on.
This is the best neighborhood I have lived in in 57 years.I never see loose dogs running around here.
Much as we klike it here, we have a chance to move to the Big Island of Hawaii shortly and are going to sell our place before we move. I will miss Puyallup big time (at least this area) but am ready for 80 degree weather year round.
I woulds niot hesitste to buy in Tacoma either.You just need to do some research aboyt what areas.Tacoma wins my award for most improved city. It used to stink like heck and was a pretty rough place. No more. I go there often and wouldn't worry about the downtown area even at night.Again, lots of older buildings with character and many that have been restored.Housing is way cheaper than Seattle too.
It takes me 15 minutes to ride to work in Tacoma from my place in Puyallup. When my wife saw the yard here there was no talking her out of buying this place. It's my opinion that when someone dislikes Puyallup, it's the South Hill they are talking about.Old town Puyallup is perfect for families.You can talk walks all over on friendly low traffic streets.
Best of luck.
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