In the 1890s, a swarm of aphids decided to make short work of the hops growing up and down the West Coast. Sumner lost its major cash crop, forcing its farmers to turn to rhubarb. The city now accounts for over a quarter of the country's rhubarb acreage, making it the "Rhubarb Pie Capital of the World."
Located in northwestern Washington State, next to the Puyallup and White Rivers, Sumner says "no" to big city aspirations by encouraging its small-town atmosphere. The 2010 US Census counted 9,451 people living in the city's 7.2 square miles. While within commuting distance of the employment in larger cities nearby, Sumner itself offers enough jobs in education, health and social services, manufacturing, and retail.
Moving to Sumner
Weather is key when planning a move to Sumner. Like almost everywhere else, summer is the best time to come because the days go on forever under a pleasant sun. Winter isn't great because the constant drizzle will wet your moving boxes but it rarely gets cold enough to freeze, let alone snow.
Moving can be a do-it-yourself-affair because of the city's many land routes. State Route 167 eventually connects to Seattle, about 40 minutes north, as well as to Bellevue, Everett and Vancouver, British Columbia. Going south, State Route 512 turns into Interstate 5 for connections to Portland, Oregon. The eastbound 410 connects to Yakima and other points in Eastern Washington. If you're coming from further away, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is only half-an-hour by car and the Port of Tacoma is 20 minutes west.
Rental prices in town are lower the state average and almost half those in Seattle. If even those reasonable fees are too high, try a bit of old-fashioned dickering, but only if you can talk one-on-one with the owner of a house rental rather than a management company. Can't get your landlord to budge on the price? How about asking for concessions on the security deposit, move-in date, or even a different paint color.
Turning on your utilities is easy. If water and sewer aren't part of your rent, just call the city to open an account and start service. For electricity, get on the Puget Sound Energy website and fill out the online form. All these utilities allow payments online.
Neighborhoods in Sumner
Ditch the car because the Walk Score of 92 means you can do daily errands on foot. If you need to commute to Seattle, Tacoma, or Puyallup, catch a Sound Transit train from the in-town station. Here are your choices in neighborhoods:
Benroy: The pricier and far larger neighborhood is in the north and boasts the most housing for rent in Sumner. If you want to be close to work, stay in the northern half, which contains many of the industrial complexes and business parks. Most of the commercial and residential structures are in the southern part, along with the high school, a Fred Meyer, and a park. The White River meanders through the center of this neighborhood, although you won't be finding any homes overlooking its tree-lined shores.
Washington Court Apartments: This complex highlights its vintage-style architecture with siding and porches flanked by wooden railings. You can start with studio apartments at 460 square feet and move up to 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths in 1,274 square feet of townhome. Pets are welcome and some models have fireplaces to warm your buns.
City Center: Want to be where it's hip and trendy, and where many homes date before 1939? Then this more affordable neighborhood should tickle all your fancies by providing lots of shopping and restaurants in a compact area. The southern border is defined by the Puyallup River, with several homes near the water's edge. The middle school, a Montessori facility, a park, and commuter station are located here.
Orion at Mountain View Townhomes: This group of townhomes isn't for those who like one-bedroom apartments on one floor. The smallest units have 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths at 1,214 square foot and the biggest reach 1,770 with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. Depending on the model, you get a gas log fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and an attached 2-car garage. And pets are okay here as well.
Living in Sumner
You can try a bit of rhubarb all year long but the city truly fetes the veggie for several weeks in the summer during the Rhubarb Pie Festival. Among its many events are a Tour de Pierce Bicycle Ride that takes you through the rhubarb farms in Pierce County, Sumner Arts that frames visual beauties with jazz and wine, and the Front Yard Fair that goads neighbors into competing for the best curb appeal in the hood.
Agriculture of a different sort is on display at the annual Daffodil Festival, which is celebrated at many county locations. The yellow flowers prominently appear during the Daffodil Parade while elected royalty from local high schools keep their subjects in line. A Princess Tea and Epic Party round out the festivities. If you'd rather grow your own flowers instead of just admiring them, grab a plot at the community gardens.
Shoppers can take advantage of East Main Street, which houses its retailers and restaurants in modern structures. For a small town excursion, spend your money in the Historic Downtown where Victorian buildings and brick facade entice you into buying. You can help preserve the city's vintage structures by joining the Historical Society. It also runs the Ryan House Museum, a trip into the late 19th century.