In recent years, Gig Harbor has popped on a lot of people’s radar as a great town to potentially call home. Once a hidden jewel, the beautiful town with as much beach access as it has gorgeous mountain views, has become one of the more desired small towns in America. As a 25-year resident, and experienced real estate agent, I can confidently tell you what most locals would say the pros and cons of living here are.
The Pros of living in Gig Harbor are things like its safety, great schools, sense of community, and proximity to many things to do in the surrounding natural beauty.
Cons mostly center around housing cost and regional traffic. Read on for a more details explanation of the pros and cons of this town.
Pros of Living in Gig Harbor
The list of good reasons to choose Gig Harbor is long and diverse, offering everything from quality schools to convenient access and more. The list below includes some of the highlights that I feel are most valuable to people considering a move to the area.
1. Safe, Clean Community
As I’ve mentioned many times, Gig Harbor is well-known for having a safe community. There isn’t a lot of crime here. Compared to the U.S. average, the community has fewer violent crimes and property crimes. The city is also clean and well-kept, ensuring that the neighborhoods look good and are a comfortable place to call home.
2. Free Outdoor Activities Galore
When you move to the Sound, you’re moving to the edge of the great outdoors. You’ll find all kinds of hiking, biking, water sports and activities, and other outdoor adventures to enjoy. You can explore parks and trails in the area, visit Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains, or even just head to the local playground with the kids and have a great afternoon without spending a dime.
Personally, I like to visit some great hiking spots within a 30-minute drive, including Cliffside Nature Preserve and Trails, Kopachuck State Park Nature Loop, Cushman Trail, and McCormick Forest Park Loop.
3. Great Schools
Gig Harbor is home to some of the best schools in the area. As part of the Peninsula School District, there are eight elementary schools, four middle schools, and six high schools that cover Gig Harbor, Fox Island, Purdy, and other areas in the Key Peninsula and Puget Sound. There are also more than two dozen private schools in the area.
These schools are highly-rated and have more than 8,000 students in attendance across all grades. Plus, the locations of schools are convenient to many neighborhoods and planned communities.
4. Sense of Community
Gig Harbor is a city that takes pride in creating a sense of community and keeping that small-town feel. We have seasonal events like the Halloween Fest, Easter Egg Hunt, and Christmas Tree Lighting. There’s also an Outdoor Summer Concert Series and plenty of other outdoor events to enjoy and engage with others in the community.
When you visit your local favorites, you’ll find it’s normal for people to remember your name, your usual order, and other details. It’s just the kind of place where people take the time to know each other and connect, which is hard to find anymore.
5. Continuously Increasing Property Values
The Tacoma real estate market has been recognized as the hottest in the country for the last few years. Being essentially a high-end suburb of Tacoma, Gig Harbor continues to see ongoing increases.
That means that when you buy a home here, you’re making a good investment in your future. Whether you plan to stay forever or know that you’ll sell down the road, buying now ensures that you maximize taking advantage of this high-appreciation area.
Those who are looking for acreage are advised to make the move sooner than later. As demand continues to increase for housing, we’re still seeing some of the remaining property in the area bought up and built into communities with less land and more houses. If you can secure your home now or in the near future, you’ll have some of the best options on the market.
6. Comes with All the Amenities
Gig Harbor has everything. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, professional services, and even healthcare facilities. In most cases, you can find what you need without leaving town, which is ideal for people who like the idea of living in a small town but don’t want to risk going without the essentials. Given the median home prices, you can expect a higher quality of services and solutions for residents, too.
Whether it’s a local doctor, a good salon, or even a great grocery store, you’ll find them all in Gig Harbor, in several forms.
7. Easy Access to Everything
Not only are you driving distance from mountains, lakes, beaches, and plenty of other great outdoor spots, but you’ll be convenient to the rest of the region when you choose Gig Harbor. Seattle, although it’s a 45-minute drive up I-5 to get into Seattle, it’s still convenient because I-5 runs right to Highway 16, which brings you down from the Harbor.
I also love that we’re just across the Narrows Bridge from Tacoma, which has everything that you’d want from a larger city without the hustle and bustle (or further drive) of Seattle. And when you’re flying out of SeaTac, you’re only about 40 minutes away by car.
8. Less Expensive than Bellevue and Kirkland
Two other popular upscale communities in Washington are Bellevue and Kirkland, both of which have home prices and living costs that are much higher than Gig Harbor. Those who are looking for a sense of community and convenient access without a huge price tag will find that this is a good middle ground.
For reference, my current NWMLS data shows the average home price in Bellevue is $1,568,136, and Kirkland sees prices around $1-$1.25 million. Compared to Gig Harbor’s $825,731, that’s quite a steep hike.
Cons of Living in Gig Harbor
Gig Harbor certainly isn’t for everyone, and while I love it, I know that some people might not find it to fit their needs. Consider the following potential drawbacks that come with moving to Gig Harbor.
1. Higher Cost of Living, Comparatively
According to the Economic Research Institute, Gig Harbor has a cost of living 16% higher than the national average. As mentioned, the average home price is over $800K, which is much higher than, say, Tacoma’s $521,374, just across the Narrows.
You do get several benefits for this higher cost, of course. The planned communities, the beautiful setting, and the rest of the perks listed above are all reasons to consider Gig Harbor, even though it is going to be more expensive.
2. Increasing Traffic Issues and Bridge Tolls
As this becomes a more popular community, there is an increase in traffic throughout the region. This includes commuters and visitors, and will only continue to increase as time goes on. There’s also the issue of the bridge tolls, which can add up if you’re driving to and from Puget Sound on a regular basis.
You’ll have to take a look at the traffic for yourself when you visit and consider the cost of tolls in your transportation expenses if you’re going to call Gig Harbor home.
3. Long Commutes
Those who are daily drivers heading into Seattle might find that Gig Harbor is a bit far out for their liking. Although it’s convenient to get to the city, it takes about 80 minutes during rush hour. You also have to make that commute twice, so you’re potentially spending around 2.5 hours a day commuting.
Depending on the job that you have, it may be worth the commute. On the other hand, you can consider alternatives like remote working a few days a week(if that’s an option), or my personal favorite, taking the ferry. That reduces each trip to 56 minutes to Seattle and you get to relax on a boat for most of the journey!
So, what do you think? Is Gig Harbor a place you’d still like to call home? Perhaps you’re working remotely or locally and things like the commute, tolls, and traffic aren’t as big of a concern. Plus, since there’s so much on the “pro” list, it’s easy to see how they can outweigh any potential drawbacks. That being said, not everyone can afford the home costs
Ultimately, the choice is yours, but you can be sure that if you choose Gig Harbor, you’ll quickly fall in love with your new hometown.