What Is The Cost of Living in Tacoma, WA

Tacoma, Washington, has increasingly become a top choice for those desiring a dynamic yet economically viable living environment. With the picturesque backdrop of Mount Rainier, living in Tacoma offers a unique balance of urban excitement, historic significance, and breathtaking natural beauty. This distinct blend makes Tacoma more than just a city—it’s a haven for those seeking a well-rounded urban life.

The allure of living in Tacoma isn’t just about its vibrant atmosphere and scenic vistas. Its relatively close proximity to Seattle, combined with a considerably lower cost of living, has made it a favored alternative to the more expensive cities of the Pacific Northwest. The cost of living, paired with a plethora of benefits, has many falling in love with Tacoma’s charm, and they often make the move with the assistance of Tacoma’s trusted moving experts. For many, living in Tacoma represents the best of both worlds: affordability without sacrificing the richness of urban experiences.

Overview Of Tacoma, Wa

Tacoma, the “City of Destiny”, provides a blend of urban amenities and serene landscapes. From its burgeoning art scene to the picturesque waterfront, living in Tacoma has its share of allure. But beyond its appeal lies the practical matter of daily expenses, housing prices, and transportation costs. What does it truly cost to live in this city?

Historically, Tacoma was celebrated for its affordability. But the last decade has seen a shift. As its reputation grew and its proximity to Seattle became more valued, the cost of living in Tacoma experienced a noticeable change. Yet, how do these costs break down? Let’s delve into the specifics.

Housing Costs

The allure of living in Tacoma has significantly impacted its housing market. For instance, as of my last update in 2023, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment hovered around $1,500. This number reflects a steady climb from previous years, with housing prices indicating a growing demand for Tacoma real estate.

Renting might seem appealing, given the surge in housing prices. The average rent, especially in coveted neighborhoods like North Tacoma or near the Ruston waterfront, can lean towards the higher side. But with the diverse neighborhoods Tacoma offers, potential renters can still find pockets of affordability.

Buying a home? Last noted the median home value in Tacoma was rapidly approaching the $400,000 mark. Factors driving these housing prices include the city’s increasing popularity and the spillover effect from pricier Seattle. But with smart research and the right timing, homeownership in Tacoma is still within reach for many.

Transportation Expenses

Living in Tacoma means evaluating how you’ll navigate its streets. On average, owning a car could lead to monthly expenses upwards of $200, considering gas prices, maintenance, and insurance. The city’s gas prices, in particular, are often slightly above the national average.

However, for those looking to minimize transportation expenses, Tacoma offers a public transit system that’s both efficient and affordable. The Tacoma Link light rail extends its services to several parts of the city with fares that won’t break the bank. Combining public transit with occasional rideshares can be a cost-effective way to move around.

For those living in Tacoma without a vehicle, it’s worth noting the city’s efforts to be more pedestrian and bike-friendly. With designated bike lanes and pedestrian paths, Tacoma encourages greener modes of transportation, aiding in both health and savings.

Food and Dining

Eating in Tacoma is an experience in itself. On average, a household might spend $400-$600 monthly on groceries, depending on dietary preferences. The city is home to a mix of local markets and chain stores, making grocery shopping both convenient and varied.

But living in Tacoma also means being tempted by its vibrant dining scene. The average cost of a meal at a mid-range restaurant can range between $20 to $50. From waterfront seafood restaurants to cozy downtown cafes, Tacoma offers culinary delights for every palate and budget.

Yet, with the city’s increasing popularity, expect dining out expenses to be on par with other major cities. But worry not, for Tacoma’s culinary scene ensures every dollar spent is a treat to the taste buds.

Utility Costs

When discussing the cost of living in Tacoma, utility costs play a pivotal role. On average, a standard household can expect monthly utilities, including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, to range between $150-$200. 

While utility costs in Tacoma can be influenced by factors like house size and consumption habits, the city benefits from the abundant hydroelectric power of the state, which can sometimes result in lower electricity rates. However, like most urban centers, there’s a continuous ebb and flow to these costs.

Tacoma’s temperate climate, with mild summers and cool winters, also means heating and cooling expenses don’t swing dramatically. This stability in weather ensures that while utility costs exist, they remain relatively predictable.

Factors That Affect The Cost Of Living in Tacoma, WA

The cost of living in Tacoma, WA, is influenced by various factors that come together to determine how affordable or expensive it is to live in this vibrant city. For those considering a move to Tacoma or simply curious about the city’s economic dynamics, here’s a closer look at the significant components affecting the cost of living in Tacoma, WA:

Housing Prices

Housing often represents the most substantial portion of an individual’s monthly expenses. In recent years, Tacoma has seen a surge in housing prices due to an influx of residents and its proximity to Seattle. While the cost of living in Tacoma, WA, remains more affordable than its neighboring city, the housing market does reflect the broader trends of the Pacific Northwest. Factors like location, type of housing, and the current demand-supply balance all play roles in determining housing costs.

Utility Costs

Utilities encompass electricity, water, heating, and garbage collection. Tacoma’s temperate maritime climate means residents might not spend as much on heating during the winter as those in colder regions. However, utility costs can still vary widely depending on factors such as home size, efficiency of home appliances, and individual usage patterns.

Transportation Expenses

The efficiency and reach of a city’s transportation network can significantly impact the residents’ daily expenses. Tacoma offers a blend of public transport options and requires personal transportation for certain areas. While public transport might be more affordable, owning a vehicle comes with costs like fuel, maintenance, and insurance. The broader infrastructure and policies of the city also play a role in influencing transportation costs.

Food and Groceries

The price of essential goods and services in Tacoma can vary based on several factors, including global economic conditions, local policies, and transportation costs. While Tacoma boasts a range of markets, from budget-friendly stores to more upscale options, the overall cost of living in Tacoma, WA, for food largely depends on individual choices and consumption patterns.


Healthcare costs encompass insurance premiums, out-of-pocket expenses for medical services, and medication costs. Factors like local health policies, the presence of major healthcare providers, and general health trends can influence how much Tacoma residents spend on healthcare.

Recreation and Entertainment

Tacoma offers a plethora of recreational and entertainment options, from cultural festivals to waterfront activities. The frequency with which residents engage in such activities and the type of entertainment they choose can affect their monthly expenses and thus play a role in determining the overall cost of living in Tacoma, WA.


For families with children, education expenses can be a considerable component of the monthly budget. This includes tuition fees for private institutions, extracurricular activities, and school supplies. While public education is funded through taxes, additional costs might arise depending on the specific needs and choices of the family.


Local and state tax policies can significantly affect disposable income. Washington State doesn’t have an income tax, which can be favorable. However, Tacoma residents need to be aware of property taxes, sales taxes, and other local levies that could impact their overall financial situation.

Understanding these factors can provide a clearer picture for those evaluating the cost of living in Tacoma, WA, and help make informed decisions about relocating or making lifestyle changes within the city.


Tacoma, with its rich history and contemporary growth, offers a unique living experience. From housing prices to utility costs, understanding the nuances of its expenses is crucial. And while the cost of living in Tacoma has changed over the years, its essence as a city that combines urban charm with nature’s beauty remains constant.



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Faisal is the cofounder and automotive photographer at Unfinished Man. He provides insider perspectives on the latest rides through his acclaimed photography. Faisal also serves as the site's watch expert, staying on the pulse of emerging timepieces. His seasoned eye for men's lifestyle products makes him an authoritative voice.

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