If you are considering relocating to the Northwest, you’d want to know which area to move to. There are many factors and after living here for over 25 years and raising my family here, it’s clear to see I’m a fan. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Gig Harbor is the rare combination of an idyllic small town surrounded by unique natural beauty, all within a short drive from Seattle, offering: Breath-taking views, a gorgeous, historic downtown filled with shops and restaurants, tons of recreational activities, from golf to kayaking, and fun community events. Of course, like anywhere, it has its pros and cons and while I think it’s an amazing lifestyle, I realize it may not be for everyone so read on to learn if it’s a “good” place for you.
This is one of the area’s biggest draws for families. Education is highly valued in this community which means plenty of schools and a lot of parental involvement. They also offer alternative schools for kids that struggle in traditional settings.
That said there are more rural neighborhoods where the schools are not as highly rated so take a look at our ultimate guide for a breakdown of the individual schools.
In general, I have been very happy with the education that was offered to my kids and the feedback I get from other parents is the same. Gig Harbor was once thought of as mostly a retirement town, but I think it has blossomed over the years to be a family-friendly place. Many people who grew up here, return once they have kids because they see the benefits of raising a family here.
Aside from public schools, Gig Harbor also has several preschools, a Montessori School, and Catholic and Christian Schools, and for Higher education, the nearby Tacoma Community College has a satellite location in Gig Harbor
This is my favorite element of living here. There is no end of options for water sports and activities for boaters. I love the host of parks and golf courses for outdoor enthusiasts, along with some very nice walking trails.
If you aren’t into the outdoors, the walkable downtown offers cafes, restaurants, and interesting shopping. For the more mainstream shopper, the modern Uptown offers Chicos, Panera, and Ann Tayor Loft along with other big-box retailers.
For those into culture, there are arts groups, live music, and the beautiful Harbor History Museum which offers many community events. Annually you will find local community events for every interest group from art and car shows to Harbor Wildwatch marine life education activities.
As far as nightlife goes it’s a pretty chill place but there are a few wine bars and breweries for fun hangouts. This is a heads-up though that if you are into a big nightlife vibe, this may not be the place for you. Everything shuts down pretty early but that is part of the peace and charm of small-town living.
Gig Harbor’s location makes it accessible to all the best of the Northwest. Situated between the Olympic National Parkand Mount Rainier means mountain views and access to amazing camping and hiking. In just 2 hours you can also be at the scenic Pacific Coast.
All the amenities of the big city are available in Seattle and Bellevue, just an hour’s drive to the North, but, keep in mind, return traffic can double that time on certain days. Seattle is one of the most popular cities in the US to visit and you can even get there by ferry from Gig Harbor.
I would say this is the biggest downside of Gig Harbor; it can be difficult to find affordable housing, but that is due to it being such a livable and popular location. There is more waterfront and view property here than anywhere in WA state with many harbors, bays, and inlets, along with lakes inland.
This is what pushes the prices up in this area, but it also means there is a great inventory of very desirable housing here. With 77% of homes being occupied by homeowners, you find a culture of people who maintain their homes well and are vested in the community. You will also find a large number of single-family homes on large lots.
Another reason people so often return here after they decide to start a family, and one reason I chose to raise a family here, is it has always been a very safe community. With the turbulent times, we are in there has been a great increase in theft in the Gig Harbor statistics, but it still has one of the lowest violent crime rates in Washington state and is much safer than many places with the same livability. I think in nearly any neighborhood here, one can feel perfectly safe walking alone whether that’s on a street or walking trails.
Not long ago it was a place where we didn’t even worry about locking doors but as crime rates have increased elsewhere, it has become a target for theft from outside populations because it is known to be a place of middle-class influence where there are things worth stealing. A lot of the higher crime statistics relate to increased shoplifting more than personal crimes. I still consider it one of the safer areas in the greater Puget Sound region.
Transportation / Traffic
At one time Gig Harbor featured one of the biggest traffic bottlenecks in the region when it could only be accessed by one 4-lane bridge (aside from an hour-long drive around the Key Peninsula area), but since the construction of the 2nd Narrows Bridge, it has become a place that is easy to access.
The area is growing by leaps and bounds and that does mean more traffic than in the past but having a lot of side roads spreads out that growing volume. The one place that seems to regularly back up is the exit to Purdy due again to a bridge bottleneck as all of the Purdy/Key Peninsula area is accessed by a long two-lane bridge across the Purdy spit. This is likely to only get worse as development continues to grow in that area.
The side roads and rural areas make Gig Harbor a difficult place to use public transportation, though I love that they have added a free trolly bus in the summer months to access downtown where parking is limited.
While Gig Harbor is growing rapidly it still maintains the small-town vibe it is famous for. You will find a strong outdoors and sports culture here along with the arts. It’s mainly an upper-middle-class area with a lot of retirees but not many multi-cultural groups or communities – aside from the unique Lutefisk festival, Irish step-dancing groups, and some of the influence of the early settler groups from Croatia and Scandinavia.
While everyone has a different view of what makes a town or city a “good” place to live, you can see by the location, amenities, and other features, Gig Harbor is a very popular area. I love it and would love the opportunity to share it with you!