What Are The 8 Best Neighborhoods In Tacoma, Washington?

Kirbee Anderson
by Kirbee Anderson

Tacoma is often overlooked for the bigger cities of Seattle and Portland on either side. By disregarding it, you are missing out on a great waterfront city with a cost of living that is surprisingly affordable for the Seattle area. On top of this is amazing outdoor access at Point Defiance and a strong jobs market.

Tacoma offers amazing views throughout the city. Some neighborhoods like the West Slope have better outdoor access while others like Hilltop give better transportation options. Regardless of your preferences, if you enjoy the views of the Pacific Northwest, Tacoma has something for you.

Read on to learn about some of the highlights of Tacoma that you should consider when moving and the best neighborhoods for a variety of budgets and lifestyles.

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Why Move to Tacoma

While Seattle and Portland usually receive the rave reviews, Tacoma is a bit of a sleeper city. It offers many of the same perks that draw people to Seattle or Portland.

Tacoma has its own arts scene. Outdoor art bedecks the city year-round in rotating outdoor exhibits. Master glass artist Dale Chihuly calls Tacoma home, and the city’s Museum of Glass celebrates his work as well as other artists.

Tacoma embraces the new world of micro-entrepreneurship and celebrates its designation as an Etsy ‘Maker City.’ Makers will find a level of infrastructure and support in Tacoma not available in other cities thanks to Tacoma’s Spaceworks.

Outdoors lovers will find all the beauty and opportunities that they expect of the northwest. Some of the best parts of nature surround the city. Views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and of Commencement Bay will make the outdoors feel close even when you are stuck in an office building.

8 Best Neighborhoods in Tacoma, Washington

1. Stadium District

Don’t let the name fool you; this neighborhood is not some concrete-jungle with a sports stadium. It is so named after a local high school. Naming a neighborhood after a high school may be strange, but Stadium High School is one gorgeous school. The Stadium District is the best neighborhood in Tacoma for being in the middle of it all.

If having shops and restaurants and a business district around you are all important when choosing a neighborhood, this one should be a good fit. It is also easy on the eyes; the homes in the Stadium District are beautiful, and you can get stunning views of Puget Sound.

Its proximity to downtown makes this a great neighborhood for people who need to be downtown for work or want to take advantage of the downtown restaurant or arts scene.

The Stadium District is a waterfront neighborhood, and you’ll also have quick access to Wright Park which features a stunning botanical conservatory. There are also plenty of dining and shopping options nearby, including an independent brewery.

Unfortunately, all this does come at a steep price in the Stadium District. The median home price here is $760,000. To be fair, you do get a hefty house for that money on really lovely lots. The Stadium neighborhood is frequently ranked as the most expensive neighborhood in Tacoma.

  • Walk Score: 82
  • Bike Score: 51

2. Northeast Tacoma

If you are a household with one foot in Tacoma and the other in Seattle, Tacoma’s Northeast neighborhood will be a good fit for you. Northeast Tacoma is the best neighborhood with a suburban feel.

Northeast Tacoma is separated from the rest of the city by Commencement Bay. A drive to downtown from the neighborhood will take around 20 minutes. Although it is the most northern neighborhood in Tacoma, it may not have the fastest commute to Seattle. This is due to a lack of direct access to Interstate 5.

Both Dash Point State Park and North Shore Public Golf Course are nearby. These options give quick outdoor access whether you prefer some man-made greens or the real thing. Dash Point has many boating and hiking opportunities.

This area of town has the greatest number of planned divisions in the city, so it has a more suburban feel than the craftsman and bungalows in other parts of Tacoma.

Median home prices are $540,000, but there are opportunities to get into the neighborhood for less. Older homes with the spectacular views that the neighborhood is known for go for much less than the newer homes with views.

  • Walk Score: 22
  • Bike Score: 25

3. Ruston

Although Ruston is technically its own municipality, it very much deserves to be on this list. Ruston is the best neighborhood for outdoor living. Tacoma surrounds Ruston on three sides, and Point Defiance Park bounds it to the north.

Ruston, also called Point Ruston, was originally the company town for the W.R. Ruston smelting and refining company.

Now the area is a dream for any outdoor enthusiast who also wants the amenities of city living. Point Defiance is a 700-acre old-growth forest that makes for an adult playground for anyone who likes jogging or hiking. The park already has plenty to make it an ideal destination, and there is also a zoo as well.

A 4-mile path called Ruston Way lines the waterfront. Whether you jog, walk, or rollerblade, you can take advantage of great views and safety from automobiles while you get outside.

Even when you aren’t being active, you can find gorgeous views of Commencement Bay, Vashon Point, and Browns Island. Take your kayak or paddleboard out on the water to get a break from the city and enjoy even better views.

The median sales price in Ruston is about $475,000. Given the small size of the neighborhood, be prepared to strike fast when you see a house you like come up on the market. Most homes in this area are single-family houses.

  • Walk Score: 40
  • Bike Score: 69

4. Hilltop

Hilltop is the best neighborhood in Tacoma for affordable housing. This is in part thanks to its diverse housing options; in addition to bungalows and craftsman-style homes, it has the highest concentrations of townhomes in the city.

Hilltop is a great up-and-coming neighborhood in Tacoma. This city has funneled some major redevelopment dollars into the area, and it is expected to get the next expansion of the light rail. The neighborhood is home to two hospitals, giving lots of nearby employment opportunities.

Hilltop’s freeway access gives it some of the best transportation options in Tacoma.

Over the last few years, the neighborhood has made a name for itself with its eclectic restaurant options. Whether you want Vegan or Vietnamese, you will have plenty of choices in Hilltop.

Although the city is not on the water, it does have some good neighborhood park options. Residents can hop on the Scott Pierson Trail and walk or ride all the way to Narrows Bridge and Gig Harbor.

The median home price in Hilltop is $337,000. Depending on your budget, you can choose between historic four square homes or new-build townhomes.

  • Walk Score: 83
  • Bike Score: 66

5. West Slope

Many of the neighborhoods on this list have some fabulous views. Much of Tacoma does, in fact. But, one particular neighborhood tops the list for best views: West Slope.

West Slope encompasses the western side of Tacoma facing the Olympic Mountains, Fox Island, Puget Sound, and the Narrows Bridge. This neighborhood is probably your best bet if you are set on a water view.

You will find many mid-century-style homes in West Slope that fit right in with a peaceful sunset over the water. The median home price is $578,000.

This area has all the grocery and essentials shopping that you need, but its freeway access makes it possible to reach other areas quite easily.

When you are tired of looking at the water and want to take on some outdoor activities, you can use the Scott Pierson Trail to cross the water and head to Gig Harbor. Point Defiance abuts the neighborhood to the northeast, putting plenty of land-based outdoor time at your disposal. After a hard day on the trail, relax with some outstanding waterfront dining.

This is considered one of the safer areas of Tacoma.

  • Walk Score: 44
  • Bike Score:46

6. New Tacoma

New Tacoma is a walker’s paradise and the best neighborhood for leaving the car in the garage. This area encompasses a few smaller areas of Tacoma, including the downtown area and Wright Park.

Because there is so much variety in the neighborhood, it is accessible to many regardless of price point. Given the wide range of housing, the median price point is not especially helpful here. In New Tacoma, you’ll find rental apartments and houses, condos, townhomes, and single-family homes.

Regardless of which you choose, what the area has in common in great walkability. Between employment opportunities, restaurants, shopping, and parks, you can live and work and play all within a few minutes of each other.

  • Walk Score: 96
  • Bike Score: 45

7. Lakewood

Lakewood is a small suburb of Tacoma. Despite being a relatively new community, the young neighborhood has quickly become one of the most enjoyable and visibly stunning places around the Puget Sound. It was founded in 1996 and has since grown to a population of nearly 60,000 residents.

Appropriately named, Lakewood’s defining feature is its beautiful lakes, which have inspired the area’s private clubs, gardens, first-class golf course, tons of opportunities for outdoor adventure, and massive lakefront homes. In addition to Lakewood’s abundant natural beauty, the community has a well-established local economy. The more urban areas of Lakewood are hubs for business, shopping, and recreation.

With a median home price of $298,500 and a median rent price of $1,675, this small neighborhood is an affordable place to live. The overall cost of living in Lakewood is lower than the Washington State average, which makes it one of the most affordable options for those looking to settle in Tacoma. This also makes Lakewood ideal for first-time home buyers, or young professionals looking to settle in a suburb.

  • Walk Score: 65
  • Bike Score: 21

8. Old Town

Old Town is positioned right next to the downtown district, stadium, and waterfront. Though, the neighborhood is still very bikeable and walkable. Old Town features a number of historic amenities, including the cabin owned by Job Carr, the first settler of Tacoma. It is also home to a wide array of family-friendly activities, like the Old Town Rhythm and Blues Festival in the summer, as well as a local supply of numerous diverse dining opportunities.

With a median home price of $542,000, this neighborhood is considered one of the more expensive options in Tacoma. Though, the numerous amenities and family-friendly lifestyle make Old Town a wonderful place to call home for families and professionals alike.

  • Walk Score: 70
  • Bike Score: 34

Tacoma Crime and Safety

Tacoma’s crime rates are higher than both the national and state averages for both violent and non-violent crimes. The city does offer an interactive map to help you evaluate crime in any neighborhood that you are considering.

Remember, though, that living in an area with a low reported crime can instill a false sense of safety. There are no guarantees regardless of which neighborhood you choose.

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Takeaways When Choosing a Tacoma Neighborhood

For anyone interested in a move to the Pacific Northwest, Tacoma is worth a closer look. Its commitment to the arts, access to the outdoors, and housing options help it rival the more popular Seattle and Portland. While other areas, especially Seattle, are experiencing sky-rocketing real estate prices, Tacoma gives more modest earners a chance to purchase a home. With all the outdoor options at your fingertips, you may even find that you are less concerned about the size of your home.

Kirbee Anderson
Kirbee Anderson

Kirbee is a licensed attorney and real estate broker, but DIY projects of all kinds call to her. Kirbee loves being at home with her husband, daughter, and dog and investing her time and energy into projects to make their home a unique and comfortable place for all of them. Her favorite projects include gardening, building new items, and creating solutions to manage clutter.

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