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Living in Rainier WA | What to Know Before Moving to the City of Rainier Washington

Living in Rainier WA 🗻 | What to Know Before Moving to the City of Rainier Washington

Last Updated on: 16th August 2023, 06:35 am

Are you considering moving to Rainer? This unique Washington city is named after Mount Rainier and is known for having a great view of this breathtaking Washington mountain! It’s a Thurston County city and is part of the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Metro Area. In the early 1800s, the area was a Northern Pacific Railroad stop between Kalama and Tacoma and was eventually settled by Albert and Maria Gehrkein in 1890. In 1906, the Bob White Lumber Company opened its doors, bringing a prosperous logging industry to the area. The city was officially incorporated on October 23, 1947, and has seen much development since. Thanks to its prime location, prosperous economy, and relatively affordable cost of living, Rainier is a great place to live!

If you’re considering moving here, take a look at our comprehensive guide on what to know about living in Rainier—we cover crime rates, top restaurants, the best things to do, and more!

Where Is Rainier?

Rainier Washington is located southwest of Tacoma and north of Portland and is part of the Olympia-Tumwater Metro Area; it’s not far from Olympia and is bordered by Vail, Four Corners, Yelm, and McIntosh. Seattle is 67 miles from Rainier, and Rainier is considered a rural place to live. Despite the city’s small size, residents enjoy its suburban, small-mountain town ambiance. 

Rural Transit, or RT, provides free public transportation between the following cities: Rochester, Tenino, Bucoda, Rainier, and Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. However, if you need to go further, RT connects to Tumwater, Intercity Transit, Centralia, and Twin Transit. You can plan your trip by browsing the route maps and the Rural Transit schedule.

Rainier WA Population & Demographics

Before moving to Rainier, look closely at its population and demographics. Rainer has a population of 2,772 and a median household income of $88,036 (10% higher than the state and the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA Metro Area.) It’s the 2nd smallest city in its county, and its population has only increased by 974 residents since 2010. There are 900 households with 3.1 people per home. 51% of people are married, and 49% are not.

Additional Rainier demographics:

  • Educational attainment: 91.6% have high school diplomas, 16% have bachelor’s degrees or higher
  • Sex ratio: 51% male, 48% female
  • Foreign-born population: 2.4%
  • Racial and ethnic composition: 84% White (non-Hispanic), 7.2% multiracial (non-Hispanic), 3.3% White (Hispanic), 2% American Indian and Alaskan Native, 1.58% Asian, 0.73% multiracial (Hispanic), 0.54% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, 0.31% other.
  • Veteran population: 15.4%

Famous people from Rainier

Boasting a low crime rate, Rainier is considered a safe place to live! Rainier has a crime rate of 1,579 per 100k people, compared to Washington’s 3,026 per 100k people and the nation’s 2,346 per 100k people.

  • Rainier violent crime rate per 100k people: 153
  • Washington’s violent crime rate per 100k people: 294
  • US violent crime rate per 100k people: 388
  • Rainier property crime rate per 100k people: 1,425
  • Washington property crime rate per 100k people: 2,732
  • US property crime rate per 100k people: 1,958

The Rainier Police Department works hard to keep the city safe. With a lower violent and property crime rate than the state and nation, living in Rainier is exceptionally safe!

Cost of Living in Rainier

Rainier has a more affordable housing market when compared to other areas in the Seattle-Tacoma area. The same applies to its cost of groceries, taxes, and utilities. The overall Cost of Living Index (COLI) of Rainier is 115, compared to the national average of 100; the city is 15% more expensive to live in than the average US city. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four should earn $87,477 annually to afford to live in Thurston County.

The cost of housing index is 146.5, which is considered a very competitive housing market compared to the US. Despite being down 0.94% since 2022, the median Rainier home price is $530,000, and the median price per square foot is $251. Most homes in the Seattle-Tacoma area are around the same price, so while $530,000 may seem high, it’s normal for that area. There are many beautiful Rainier, WA homes for sale; most homes sell within 53 days, so we suggest beginning your search as soon as possible!

According to RentCafe, the average rent in Rainier is $2,233. Before moving to Rainier, note that most rentals are housing units, and there aren’t many rental options in the city limits. Most apartment complexes or rental homes are in nearby cities like Lacy, Olympia, and Seattle.

Typical Rainier living expenses: 

  • Inexpensive restaurant meal: $25.00
  • Pint of domestic beer: $8.00
  • Gallon of milk: $4.42
  • Dozen eggs: $4.35
  • Pound of local cheese: $7.73
  • Average Rainier utilities per month: $406 (per Doxo)

Source: Numbeo—-these figures are for Seattle, which has a cost of living index of 167.8, 52.8% higher than Rainier. While you can use these as a gauge, expect lower prices in Rainier.

Rainier Weather & Climate

Rainier has a Koppen classification climate-type of Csb, commonly described as a cool-summer Mediterranean climate. The summers are warm (not hot), with an average temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit; the winters are cold, rainy, and cloudy; the average temperature in the cold season is 51 degrees Fahrenheit.

The annual Rainier rainfall is 37 inches, and the annual snowfall is 6 inches. November sees the most rain at 9.1 inches, and January sees the most snow at 2.5 inches. Overall, the weather in Rainier, WA, is pleasant most of the year but can get wet and rainy in the winter months. The best time to visit Rainier is mid-July to late August as the weather is pleasant and sunny, ideal for warm-weather activities like hiking.

Things to Do in Rainier

Looking for Rainier things to do? While small, the city of Rainier still boasts a handful of fun activities to partake in. You can shop at Rainier Market or pick up the essentials at the city’s Dollar General. Here’s what we suggest checking out in and near Rainier!

Black Dawg Farm and Sanctuary

Black Dawg Farm and Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that helps rehabilitate injured or neglected animals and livestock. You can tour the grounds and even feed the animals! This is a great activity for young children and even adults. 

12020 123rd Ave SE, Rainier, WA 98576, (360) 446-0294

Gehrke Park

Gehrke Park is a great Rainier activity, especially if you have young children or dogs. You can let your little ones get their energy out on the playground or utilize the large field for fetch and other activities.

801 Tipsoo Loop S, Rainier, WA 98576, (360) 446-2265

Monarch Sculpture Park and Art Center

Located 4.5 miles from the city, Monarch Sculpture Park and Art Center is an eclectic space for all to enjoy. Various artwork is donated to the art center, and with an inside and outside exhibit, there is plenty to see!

8431 Waldrick Rd SE, Tenino, WA 98589, (360) 264-2408

Additional attractions near Rainier

The Rainier Park and Recreation Department maintains four parks in the city and hosts events often; keep up with what’s happening in the city with their special events calendar.

Rainier Restaurants

Although small, the city boasts many flavorful and well-rated eateries. Here are the top restaurants in Rainier. 


Glenda’s is a local’s favorite and has a 4.9-star rating with nearly 100 reviews. Customers love the friendly demeanor of the baristas and the tasty beverage options. Local favorites are the americano, iced doppio, and caramel macchiato.

901 Binghampton St, Rainier, WA 98576, (360) 446-1600

Rainier Pizza & Espresso

Have you ever paired a slice of pizza and a shot of espresso? This small-town eatery has been doing it for years! They offer a robust menu, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Customers rave about their chicken fingers, but their pizza and unique coffee blends often steal the show.

207 Binghampton St, Rainier, WA 98576, (360) 446-1900

Tahoma Valley Bar & Grill

Located just outside of Rainier in Yelm, WA, is Tahoma Valley Bar & Grill. They offer American favorites and top-tier service. Their craft burgers and steak dinners are highly-reviewed, but items like the French dip and Philly are just as delicious!

15425 Mosman Ave SW, Yelm, WA 98597, (360) 960-8180

Rainier Jobs

When deciding to relocate, a huge factor is whether the economy, job opportunities, and cost of living will work for you; here’s what to expect when living in Rainier.

The city has an unemployment rate of 5.9%, which is below the national average, and has seen a 1.4% jobs market increase since 2022, with a projected job market increase of 42.7% by 2033. Rainier has no income tax, which can make a major impact on the overall cost of living. The average salary in Rainier is $25,534, with an average hourly wage of $27.40. The minimum wage is $13.69, which is $6.24 more than the Federal minimum wage. Residents in the 90th percentile make $105,000, and residents in the 10th percentile make $31,000. The highest paying jobs are Speech Pathologist ($73,569) and Conservation worker ($31,431).

Since Rainier is smaller, most of its workforce commutes to Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and other nearby cities. The average travel time is 35.4 minutes, with 74.3% driving alone and 8.74% carpooling. 5.12% of Rainier’s workforce have a “super commute,” meaning it’s over 1.5 hours. 15.6% of people work from home.

The main industries in Rainier are construction, public administration, educational services, and healthcare. Thurston County, Providence Health & Services, Albertsons/Safeway, Walmart, and Lucky Eagle Casino are the main employers for Thurston County.

While there are countless Rainier job opportunities, city and county jobs are always great options as they provide optional benefits and room to promote. You can also take a look at Rainier city job opportunities.

Rainier Schools

Before moving to Rainier, knowing your children will have the proper resources and opportunities is crucial.

Rainier School District has an elementary, middle, and high school; each has unique services and resources that set it apart from nearby districts. For example, Rainier high school provides around-the-clock student counseling and countless clubs and activities. Whether your child takes an interest in robotics, Hispanic culture, or drama, RHS has the correct resources to facilitate their interest.

According to US.News, Rainier High School is ranked the 8th high school in Washington and 3rd when compared to other Olympia, WA Metro Area High Schools. Rainier Middle also provides unique resources such as Individual counseling and support, crisis intervention, and support groups for concerns like grief, divorce, and peer relationships.

If you, a recently graduated adolescent, or a loved one would like to further their education, Centralia College, Evergreen State College, and Oregon State University are all within 150 miles of the city.

Living in Rainier also comes with access to handy resources like having a top public library nearby. The Rainier branch is part of the Seattle Public Libraries library system, where cardholders have unique benefits like free admission to participating Washington museums.

Rainier Statistics and Information

  • County: Thurston
  • Rainier area: 1.737 mi²
  • Rainier zip code: 98576
  • Rainier area code: 360
  • Rainier elevation: 433’
  • Rainier time zone: Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-8)
  • The closest airport to Rainier: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, is 60 miles from Rainier

Map of Rainier

Explore more things to do with this map of Rainier, Washington.

The city of Rainier is a terrific place to live; it boasts an affordable cost of living, many beautiful homes, great restaurants, and proximity to huge attractions like Mount Rainier. Rainier is not far from Seattle or Tacoma and is safer than many Washington cities. If you decide moving to Rainier is the right choice for you, contact All Ready Moving at 360-507-2447; we have top-rated Rainier movers to help make your transition smooth, efficient, and stress free!

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