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Old 03-07-2007, 09:17 AM
 
Location: Somewhere close to Heber, AR
388 posts, read 1,787,103 times
Reputation: 205

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I lived in Tacoma for 28 years. It was only by chance that I spent so much time there. It's where I was discharged from the Army and because my wife had a great job and the kids were established in the school system, We decided to stay.

I left there three months ago after taking an early retirement from a fantastic job; I could have stayed another few years, but I'm one of those people who gets depressed when I don't see the sun for days or weeks at a time, and it finally caught up with me.

Tacoma can be a great town, or it can be a miserable place to live, but like all places, it all depends on how you approach it.

I loved it (mostly) and I hated it (sometimes).

Tacoma always gets a bad rap from the people in Seattle and often the leading local news story on any of the TV stations (Seattle based) is something that happened in Tacoma, while a similar incident in the greater Seattle area is overlooked or does not get the same coverage.
The Seattle PI does the same thing; bad news from Tacoma is above the fold, bad news in Seattle is often buried inside. It's subtle, but it does exist.

The reporting is factual, but the presentation is suspect.

Tacoma was mostly a blue collar, lunch box town, but that has been changing over the years as the city has been attempting to re-invent itself. The downtown area has been cleaned up. Lower Pacific (Ave) used to be one of the worst examples of inner city decay, inhabited by the very people your mother warned you about.

Much cleaner and safer now. The revitalization of downtown has been key in changing the character of T-town. The placement of UW-Tacoma in the downtown corridor helped immensely...more diverse businesses moved in.

The Hilltop area is a lot cleaner and safer than it used to be and is undergoing a gentrification like I never would have imagined. It's still a little rough around the edges, but nothing like it was 20-25 years ago.

Tacoma is much more affordable than Seattle and is seeing a higher influx of people who can't afford to live where they work. Average cost of a home in Seattle is approaching 400K, while Tacoma is around 200K. The people in King county are heading south in numbers never before seen, and I don't blame them.

Tacoma is a multi-cultural city and even boasts an area known as Little Saigon along 38th Street in the vicinity of where Mrs Frisbees bakery used to be (I hated to see that bakery close, it was the best in town).

Great restaurants in town catering to every taste and there are still some "undiscovered" gems out there.

There is a very active music and club scene in the area; something for everyone.

Tacoma is close to any outdoor activity you could want whether it be winter or summer sports and the area is quite beautiful. Plenty of parks in town.

Good shopping.

It is expensive to live there, most families require two incomes to live comfortably, but that's not uncommon in any city in the Puget Sound Metroplex, as it has reputation as a desirable place to live.

Property taxes are outrageous (and going up every year), but that's a by-product of no state income tax. The infrastructure needs to be funded somehow.

We had a 1700 square foot house (perfect for the two of us) on 9000 square feet (considered a big lot (most lots in Tacoma are 6000 square ft)) and our property taxes were approaching $3000. Our home was under valued for tax purposes, but it would eventually catch up with us as property values rose, and they were going up every year. Now we have 2000 square feet on 3+ acres and the property taxes are less tha $400 a year.

One of the factors contributing to our decision to leave was "was it worthwhile to live there on a retirement income, or would we rather use our money for other things in life".

No brainer, AFAIC.

Sales tax is 8.9%

There are jobs there, but many are in the service industries and have a tendency to be lower paying, and may not be adequate to live comfortably if that is the only income.

There are jobs for skilled workers and professional people and pay very well.

Neighborhoods are diverse and you can find "good" and "bad" places to live regardless of general locations, FI, the north side has always been seen as the more desirable place to live, but there are neighborhoods on the north side I would avoid. The south side is seen as less desirable, but there are some great neighborhoods there. I personally would avoid the east side, but there are some good neighborhoods on the east side, just harder to find. The western slope is very desirable, but out of the price range of most inhabitants.

Homes on the north side are 30-50% higher in price than on the south side for a comparable home and have a resultant higher property tax.

We lived on the south end; more value for our money and in a pretty good neighborhood. I can't remember ever hearing of a violent crime there, until last year, and that was an anomaly.

If the neighborhood has a 90% or higher owner occupied homes, the chances are it's a pretty good neighborhood, but that's only an opinion.

You can compare crime rates by neighborhoods at: Pierce County Neighborhood Crime

and Tacoma crime rates vs. national rates or Tacoma crime rates vs. your current city at:
Moderator cut: linking to competitors sites is not allowed

Basically, Tacoma crime rates are higher than the national average, but comparable to the rates of cities of similar sizes.

The TPD is understaffed and overworked. Do not depend on them to prevent crime. Basically it's the same as in any large city.

In the 28 years I lived there, my detached garage was burglarized twice, my home once, and a car stolen once, but nothing in the last 20 years. The crimes were probably committed by teenagers (the items stolen indicate so), but as the neighborhood changed and grew older the crime rate went down; my neighborhood was changing again, younger families moving in and I saw indicators that the cycle would begin again. At my age and disposition, I didn't need it.

I was not satisfied with the education my children received in the public school system, so I supplemented their education with some home schooling, but it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure adequate preparation for life for their children.

I do not have an opinion on the current educational system as my youngest is 35, other than to say; if the job applications I have reviewed are any indicator, it is sorely lacking.

One final thing. The Pacific Northwest has a reputation of being a difficult place to make friends.

Somewhat true.

I was friendly with my neighbors and they with me, but not friends. The weather drives people indoors and keeps them there.

You have to find people with common interests and make an effort to bond.

Real friends made in the PNW are friends for life, and my home is always open to them.

I expect to see some of them when the gray skies get them down and they need a burst of sunshine to help them get through those long winter days.

The saying is that the PNW only has two seasons...cold rain and warm rain. I believe it.

Summers in the Puget Sound area are great; no place in the United States are better, it's just too bad that summer only lasts from July 5th until July 12th.

The best weather, IMO, was normally from the first of September until the end of October. Cool nights and mild warm days.

Almost made it worthwhile.

Almost.

Last edited by Yac; 01-09-2008 at 05:53 AM..
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Old 03-07-2007, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Waupun, Wisconsin
323 posts, read 1,970,891 times
Reputation: 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by magrack View Post
Real friends made in the PNW are friends for life, and my home is always open to them.

I expect to see some of them when the gray skies get them down and they need a burst of sunshine to help them get through those long winter days.

The saying is that the PNW only has two seasons...cold rain and warm rain. I believe it.
Aw, come on! The summers, particularly lately, have been bone dry

Quote:
The best weather, IMO, was normally from the first of September until the end of October. Cool nights and mild warm days.

Almost made it worthwhile.

Almost.
I'd put the end of the great weather as the middle of October but otherwise that sums up my feelings about our weather quite nicely! Of course as I look out the window right now we're getting "filtered sunshine" (i.e. just enough barely sunlight to cast shadows) and the last couple of weeks haven't been bad at all. Not that they made up for the almost continuously cloudy period from November 1st to mid-January, but it's a welcome break!
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Old 03-07-2007, 10:11 AM
 
Location: Somewhere close to Heber, AR
388 posts, read 1,787,103 times
Reputation: 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by escapetacoma View Post
Aw, come on! The summers, particularly lately, have been bone dry



I'd put the end of the great weather as the middle of October but otherwise that sums up my feelings about our weather quite nicely! Of course as I look out the window right now we're getting "filtered sunshine" (i.e. just enough barely sunlight to cast shadows) and the last couple of weeks haven't been bad at all. Not that they made up for the almost continuously cloudy period from November 1st to mid-January, but it's a welcome break!
LOL...bone dry?

It's relative. For the wet side, I guess it's been dry.

As I look out my window, I see unfiltered sunshine. As I said in my post, I'm one of those that is affected by the constant gray, and I couldn't be happier. The summers here will be hot and humid, but I like it. For right now it's early March and it's 62 and other than a little overcast yesterday I've seen the sun every day for the last two weeks.

It's been cool in the evening but nothing worse than the PNW, and it's SUNNY during the day.

I would trade all the amenities that the greater Puget Sound had to offer (and there are many) for this any day.

Other than the expense and the gray days, I really don't knock the PNW, but don't get me started on the traffic problems...that's a whole different issue.

The highway infrastructure sucks and that bottleneck at Seneca/James St./Convention Center in Seattle is worth a book.
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Old 03-07-2007, 10:30 AM
 
Location: Waupun, Wisconsin
323 posts, read 1,970,891 times
Reputation: 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by magrack View Post
LOL...bone dry?

It's relative. For the wet side, I guess it's been dry.
No, really dry. Last July they got 0.06" of rain at SeaTac in July and 0.02" in August. Since that's about all that there ever is for summer around here those are the only two months that I look at.

Quote:
As I look out my window, I see unfiltered sunshine. As I said in my post, I'm one of those that is affected by the constant gray, and I couldn't be happier.
Ditto, double ditto. We've already bought our new place and are planning to move to Wisonsin in May. Not as warm or sunny as Arkansas but much, much sunnier than Tacoma and not as warm as Arkansas in the summer (we almost bought in Missouri but the added heat would have made summers less comfortable for me.)

Quote:
The summers here will be hot and humid, but I like it. For right now it's early March and it's 62 and other than a little overcast yesterday I've seen the sun every day for the last two weeks.
That's right, rub it in

Quote:
Other than the expense and the gray days, I really don't knock the PNW, but don't get me started on the traffic problems...that's a whole different issue.

The highway infrastructure sucks and that bottleneck at Seneca/James St./Convention Center in Seattle is worth a book.
The entire freeway system here is lousy - no arguments there. Trying to take the the freeway north from Tacoma to SeaTac when I have to travel for work is a test of my patience - and that's at 5:00am
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Old 03-07-2007, 10:52 AM
 
Location: Somewhere close to Heber, AR
388 posts, read 1,787,103 times
Reputation: 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by escapetacoma View Post
......

Ditto, double ditto. We've already bought our new place and are planning to move to Wisonsin in May. Not as warm or sunny as Arkansas but much, much sunnier than Tacoma and not as warm as Arkansas in the summer (we almost bought in Missouri but the added heat would have made summers less comfortable for me.)

.....
I spent a few days camping in WI a couple of years ago (near Wassau) in Aug, and I thought the humidity was comparable to northern AR or southern MO...guess I'm used to it.

In any event, nothing I've ever seen is as bad as Iowa in August, and that includes Viet Nam, Korea, Panama and the Phillipines.

I couldn't do the winters in the upper Midwest.
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Old 03-07-2007, 11:20 AM
 
534 posts, read 3,115,461 times
Reputation: 240
I was in Tacoma yesterday and was reminded of the area when I drove by the mall on 38th. Someone painted an OAKLAND/MADRONA picture on a concrete wall in the area.

I'm guessing people who have moved from that area think Tacoma is similar.
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Old 03-07-2007, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Somewhere close to Heber, AR
388 posts, read 1,787,103 times
Reputation: 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris View Post
I was in Tacoma yesterday and was reminded of the area when I drove by the mall on 38th. Someone painted an OAKLAND/MADRONA picture on a concrete wall in the area.

I'm guessing people who have moved from that area think Tacoma is similar.
Tacoma has eight neighborhood councils.

The South Tacoma Council consists of the following historical residential neighborhoods:

Oakland/Madrona, South Tacoma, Lincoln Heights, Madison, Gray-Edison, Arlington, Manitou and Orchard.

Your guess was wrong.

Last edited by magrack; 03-07-2007 at 01:30 PM..
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Old 03-07-2007, 09:26 PM
 
534 posts, read 3,115,461 times
Reputation: 240
thanks for enlightening me!
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Old 03-08-2007, 07:05 AM
 
Location: Somewhere close to Heber, AR
388 posts, read 1,787,103 times
Reputation: 205
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris View Post
thanks for enlightening me!
LOL-after reading my response, I thought it was a little snarky without it meaning to be.

I was in a hurry and didn't preview it before posting, and the explanation of the sign/painting was incomplete.

Most of the historical neighborhoods are now identified by signs with the old name of the neighborhood, often only on the major thoroughfares. This is a fairly recent thing and is sometimes unnoticed by many residents.

The area around the Tacoma Mall was part of the Oakland/Madrona neighborhood.
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Old 03-08-2007, 07:27 AM
 
46 posts, read 380,371 times
Reputation: 26
i went to Oakland alternative
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