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What living in South Puget Sound is really like

Has Living in South Puget Sound Sparked Your Interest? 🪵 | Explore the Cities in South Puget Sound

Last Updated on: 6th July 2024, 06:28 pm

The Puget Sound area is a haven for many reasons. Most properties feature unique architecture, and the region offers urban conveniences and proximity to many major Washington cities. People are moving to South Puget Sound with top Seattle movers because of its breathtaking views and wide range of attractions that cater to all interests. 

Region Overview

The term “Puget Sound” most commonly refers to the area’s estuarine system—a network of linked marine water bodies and basins. However, South Puget Sound describes the settlement surrounding the region’s south body of water. The South Puget Sound Region contains the Olympia-Tumwater Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Shelton Micropolitan Statistical Area, encompassing all the cities, towns, areas, and waters south of the Tacoma Narrow Bridge.

Counties & Cities in the Region

Here are cities near Tacoma WA, in the South Sound area. 

  • Olympia – The capital city of Washington
  • Tacoma – A major port city with a vibrant arts scene
  • Lakewood – Known for its lakes and parks
  • Lacey – A rapidly growing city with a focus on community and environment
  • Tumwater – One of the oldest communities in the area
  • Puyallup – Famous for its annual fair and agricultural roots
  • Gig Harbor – A picturesque harbor town known for its marinas
  • DuPont – A small, historical city with rich natural beauty
  • Yelm – Known for its rural charm and close-knit community
  • Thurston County – Home to Olympia, the state capital
  • Pierce County – Includes Tacoma, the second-largest city in the state
  • Mason County – Known for its natural beauty and small towns
  • Kitsap County – Includes Gig Harbor and other waterfront communities
  • Lewis County – Known for its rural areas and natural landscapes

History of the Region

Around 1792, Peter Puget (one of the settlement founders) decided the estuarine’s abundant resources made it the perfect location to build a city. South Puget Sound remains a very nice place to live, boasting vibrant communities and diverse demographics. 

Where Is South Puget Sound? 

South Puget Sound, Washington, is located on the northwestern coast of the United States in western Washington. The region runs from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and contains the Olympia-Tumwater Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Shelton Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Public Transit

Sound Transit provides a wide array of public transportation options for anyone living in South Puget Sound. Link light rail, Sounder train, and ST Express bus are great options for those trying to get around the cities within South Sound. You can use the Trip Planner to easily plan your day or look to Sound Transit routes and schedules for more information.

South Puget Sound Population & Demographics

The region has a population of around 363,000; the largest and most populated cities are Tacoma (221,776), Olympia (55,669), and Lakewood (63,619.) According to Census data, the South Puget Sound area ranks as the fifth youngest (based on the proportion of young adults aged 20 to 34) among the 20 largest metropolitan regions in the US. The median household income here is $74,755

90.4% of Tacoma residents have their high school diplomas, and 34.9% have their bachelor’s degrees or higher. 

Additional South Puget Sound Demographics

Central South Puget Sound region’s racial and ethnic makeup is 37% People of color, 63% White non-Hispanic/Latinx, 14% Asians, 5% Black or African American, 3% Hispanic/Latino, 1% Native American, and <1% other/2 or more races. The sex ratio in Tacoma is 50 females to 50 males, and the rest of the region tends to follow the same trend. 

Is South Puget Sound Safe? 

Tacoma is the core city of the region, so we will use its crime rate statistics to assess the safety of living in South Puget Sound. 

  • Tacoma crime rate per 100k people: 6,351
  • Washington crime rate per 100k people: 3,026
  • US crime rate per 100k people: 2,346
  • Tacoma violent crime rate per 100k people: 843
  • Washington violent crime rate per 100k people: 294
  • US violent crime rate per 100k people: 388
  • Tacoma property crime rate per 100k people: 5,507
  • Washington property crime rate per 100k people: 2,732
  • US property crime rate per 100k people: 1,958

Although crime rates in Tacoma are high, Tacoma has seen progress in crime reduction this past year. There are plenty of lower-crime options in the South Sound area. For example, Lacey, Washington, has a crime rate of 2,729 per 100 people, which is 9.8% lower than the state!

South Puget Sound Cost of Living 

We will use the Olympia-Tumwater Metropolitan Statistical area as our guide while analyzing the average cost of living in the South Puget Sound region. The Cost of Living Index (COLI) in Tacoma is 123, whereas Tumwaters’ COLI is only 84.80. There are affordable and expensive places to live in South Sound. 

According to the Pierce County Living Wage Calculator, a family of four (both adults working and two children) must earn an hourly wage of $29.87 to live comfortably in this area. This hourly rate works out to about $56,156 per year per adult (Holidays & vacation days adjusted).

Typical *South Puget Sound living expenses:

  • Inexpensive restaurant meal: $15.00
  • Gallon of milk: $4.17
  • Loaf of white bread: $3.51
  • Dozen eggs: $3.81
  • Pound of white rice: $2.94 
  • Average *South Puget Sound utilities per month: $236 (per Doxo)

Source: Numbeo

*The above figures are for Tacoma. Prices may differ depending on which part of the region you relocate to.

South Puget Sound Real Estate 

South Puget Sound real estate greatly depends on where you plan to buy. The median home price in Tacoma is $486,450, whereas Lacy, WA, has a median home price of $516,500. Any Puget Sound waterfront homes for sale will cost you more, and anything within a nice urban city or quiet suburb will likely be expensive.

Rent prices here follow the same trends. RentCafe says Tacoma has a monthly rent of $1,683 for an 825-square-foot rental, whereas the average rent in Lacey is $1,733 for a similar-sized unit.  

South Puget Sound Weather & Climate

The climate in South Puget Sound will depend on which area to reside. Cities near Seattle will likely have a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Csb). Csb is best described as dry, warm summers and long, cold, wet winters. Tacoma also has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb), meaning most South Puget Sound cities will have these climate characteristics. 

For example, Tacoma experiences an average annual rainfall of 41 inches and 4 inches of snowfall, whereas northern Marysville will have about 4 inches of snow per year and 45 inches of rainfall. The best time to visit Tacoma and the South Puget Sound region is the summertime (between May and September); you will experience optimal weather conditions for any outdoor adventures you plan to partake in. 

Things to Do in South Puget Sound

There are tons of things to do in South Puget Sound. The area provides ample aquatic activities alongside great shopping options. Here are the top things to do in South Sound.  

South Puget Sound Wildlife Area

South Puget Sound Wildlife Area spans Mason, Kitsap, Pierce, and Thurston counties, making it the ideal natural adventure to check out after moving to South Puget Sound. Major rivers and tributaries flow into Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and the Chehalis River, which leads to Grays Harbor. Wetlands in the area serve as crucial centers for biodiversity and water management.

Lakewood, WA 98498

Tumwater Historical Park

Tumwater Historical Park, nestled along the banks of the Deschutes River in Washington State, offers a beautiful activity for kids and adults. Visitors can explore the remnants of the region’s pioneer past, including the original Tumwater Falls Power Plant while enjoying picturesque walking trails and picnic areas.

802 Deschutes Way SW, Tumwater, WA 98501, (360) 754-4160

Percival Landing Park

Percival Landing Park beckons with its vibrant waterfront atmosphere and scenic views of Budd Bay. Boasting a busy marina, charming boardwalk, and an array of shops and restaurants, it’s a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike.

217 Thurston Ave NW, Olympia, WA 98501, (360) 753-8380

Additional Attractions In The Region

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) manages most state parks in the South Sound region, while city parks are maintained by their respective city governments. Community events are usually organized by local city or county governments, making it easy for residents to join in on the fun close to home.

South Puget Sound Restaurants

There are tons of great places to eat in South Puget Sound; here are the top eateries in the region.

Boathouse 19

Boathouse 19 is a beloved waterfront dining destination in the South Puget Sound city of Tacoma! Its mouthwatering menu includes steamed clams, oysters, mahi, calamari, and more. This is a must-try South Sound restaurant for any seafood lover. 

9001 S 19th St, Tacoma, WA 98466, (253) 565-1919

Katie Downs Waterfront Tavern

Another regional favorite is Katie Downs, which is located in Tacoma. If you’re craving fish & chips, clam chowder, tomato bruschetta, or anything else delicious, this is your South Puget Sound restaurant to check out. 

3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402, (253) 756-0771

Sharps RoastHouse

Sharps RoastHouse is SeaTac, WA, is home to some of the best American cuisine in the South Puget Sound area. Try unique combinations like brisket mac & cheese, salmon chowder, and pulled pork salad.

18427 International Blvd, SeaTac, WA 98188, (206) 241-5744

South Puget Sound Jobs

The South Puget Sound economy is diverse and robust, anchored by key industries such as government, military, technology, and manufacturing. Major economic drivers include the presence of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Port of Olympia, and a growing tech sector in nearby cities like Tacoma and Olympia. South Puget Sound sees over $300 billion in annual economic activity per year. Major employers in the region are Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, and PACCAR

The cities of the region offer competitive pay: 

Job growth in the region is driven by expansions in technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and logistics. The tech industry, particularly companies like Amazon and Microsoft, is a major contributor. Additionally, Joint Base Lewis-McChord boosts job availability in government and defense roles. 

South Puget Sound Schools 

The region has five counties, giving you ample districts from which to choose. The largest districts in the region are Tacoma Public Schools (Pierce County), Puyallup School District (Pierce County), Bethel School District (Pierce County), North Thurston Public Schools (Thurston County), and Central Kitsap School District (Kitsap County.) 

Despite which county you choose to live in, each district boasts great resources. Tacoma Public Schools is the third-largest school district in Washington state, serving over 30,000 students in more than 60 schools; Puyallup is recognized for its strong community support and high-quality education programs; schools in the Bethel School District offer a range of academic and extracurricular programs, including STEM education, arts programs, and athletics; Central Kitsap School District is one of the largest school districts in Kitsap County, serving over 11,000 students in 20 schools.

There are great colleges in the region as well! CityU of Seattle, Washington International Mission University, and Central Washington University- Pierce County are all great options. 

Move to Any South Puget City With All Ready Moving 

South Sound provides tons of great cities to call home; when you’re ready to relocate to a beloved South Puget Sound city, let All Ready Moving handle your relocation. We’re top South Puget Sound movers ready to serve you. Contact us today at (360) 507-2447 for a free estimate.

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