Greetings, future tenants of Tacoma! With a variety of affordable rental options, Tacoma is an attractive residential destination for budget-minded leasers, so we get the feeling it won’t take long to find your dream dwellings. So what do you say? Are you ready to fulfill your fate and find a place to call your own in the “City of Destiny?” Then stick with us, because your super sweet Tacoma digs may be just a few clicks away …
Why Tacoma (and not Seattle)?
Outsiders often mistake Tacoma as nothing but an overblown extension of Seattle, when in fact it’s a separate city (30 miles south) with a distinct vibe, culture, and commerce. In fact, roughly half of all Tacoma workers both live and work within city limits, so Tacoma isn’t nearly as dependent on Seattle as many think.
If you want a more cosmopolitan, big-city ambiance, Seattle remains your best bet, but Tacoma (especially the artsy, rejuvenated downtown area) has some chic, happening ‘hoods as well. Tacoma is also the more economic choice: apartments in “Grit City” average a mere $900 a month, while lucky leasers can often find quality rentals in the $600-$700 range.
Life in “T-Town”
Yes, we are officially out of nicknames for Tacoma now.
We aren’t, however, out of advice to help make your migration to the Pacific Northwest silky-smooth. Some things to consider before joining the ranks of Washington’s finest:
Pump it up. Especially if you live downtown, there’s a good chance you can rely on the Tacoma LINK trains or the Pierce Transit buses to bum around town. Anywhere else, though, you’ll likely need your own set of wheels to shop, bank, work, and socialize conveniently. Residents who commute to Seattle for work each morning, however, can take advantage of the Sound Transit commuter rail.
Raindrops keep falling on my head. Well, what did you expect when you moved to the Pacific Northwest? About half the time it’s raining in Tacoma, and especially from early fall through late spring, the skies are almost always overcast. On the bright side (bad pun intended), a steady dose of gray skies helps you appreciate those magically sunny summer afternoons even more.
Night and Day. Although the city’s nightlife pales in comparison to that of Seattle, Tacoma has a healthy smattering of after-hours hotspots, live music venues, lounges, nightclubs, beer dives, and upscale bistros. Point Defiance Park, meanwhile, is the city’s top outdoor destination and boasts numerous trails, gardens, museums, a zoo, aquarium, and playground. The park is also home to Owen Beach, a popular fair-weather hangout (our advice: catch some rays while you can before Mr. Rain rears his gloomy head again!)
Tips for Tenants
Because Tacoma, unlike Seattle and nearby capital city Olympia, isn’t exactly a hub for nomadic, temporary leasers, apartments don’t turn over all that often. However, new condos, lofts, and high rises continue to sprout up in areas like downtown, the Stadium District, and Old Town, and most rental properties aren’t at full capacity anyway. So you shouldn’t encounter many roadblocks on your search for the perfect pad.
A few other pieces of advice to turn over in your head before signing the dotted line:
Know the basics. Standards for renting aren’t much different in Tacoma than they are anywhere else. You’ll need proper identification (wow, aren’t we wise and helpful!), proof of income, and a reputable renting history to score a lease at most apartments. Also, more and more property managers in Tacoma are now doing full-scale credit and criminal background checks on prospective leasers (at your expense usually).
Beware the hard sell. The “hard sell” is usually a surefire sign that something is wrong with the apartment. There are plenty of reputable property managers, staff, and apartment complexes in Tacoma, so stick with them.
Inspect your new digs carefully. Chances are staff members will provide you with a checklist to fill out when you move in, which gives you the chance to inspect your new place carefully, note any blemishes (even the most minor ones), and request whatever fix-ups you deem necessary. Don’t blow this off, because it’s generally easiest to get maintenance on the scene before you’ve become an official resident. Make sure the water pressure and temperature is agreeable, the appliances function, the windows and doors lock and unlock properly, and the walls, paint, floors, and ceilings appear in good shape. And bring a friend to give your new place the white glove treatment.
The Lay of the Land
Different parts of Tacoma have drastically different perks and quirks, so spend some serious time in any neighborhood before deciding to call it your home. In general, the downtown area is home to the city’s most eclectic hotspots and also serves up a variety of lofts, condos, and high rise apartments. Similar to downtown, North Tacoma offers some of Tacoma’s most attractive (and pricey) units (usually in the $1200-plus range). The Stadium District and Old Town in North Tacoma are some of the city’s most walker-friendly neighborhoods, meanwhile, and boast some of Tacoma’s newest crash pads. West Tacoma is largely populated by property owners, but lucky leasers can sometimes find high quality waterfront digs and spacious single family homes for rent (usually for $1500 or more). East Tacoma, on the other hand, is dotted with cheap, available rental properties (often for $600 or less).
And now you’re all set to embark on your apartment finding escapades. So welcome to the City of Destiny, and happy hunting!