Report: Tacoma had the highest year-over-year rent growth of any Puget Sound city

Written by MLHA Team

October 6, 2021

Beautiful day in Tacoma Washington. The Tacoma Dome is at right, the Chihuli Museum of Glass at center and the rest of downtown is in the background.

Steam rises from a factory near the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington.

Tacoma, Wash. 

Renting a place in Tacoma has become exponentially more expensive over the past year, according to a new report from Apartment List.

Rental prices in the city are up 18.9% from this time last year, the report said. Prices jumped 1.7% over the past month alone, marking the 15th straight month of cost increases for Tacoma rentals. The last time prices decreased was in June of 2020.

This chart shows how rent prices in the Seattle metro area fluctuated by city over the last year. The horizontal yellow bar represents rent increases/decreases by city. The vertical purple bars show the median price of a two-bedroom apartment by city. 

The report said that Tacoma’s 18.9% year-over-year growth in rental prices dwarfs the state and national average of 14.2% and 15.1%, respectively.  

Despite Tacoma seeing the biggest growth in rental prices over the last year, the report said the city’s rent prices are actually the lowest of the 11 largest cities in the Seattle metro area. Currently, median rents in Tacoma stand at $1,280 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,680 for a two-bedroom.

Rents are most expensive in Redmond, the report found, where the median price for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,280 and $2,560 for a two-bedroom. The second-cheapest rentals can be found in Lynwood. The median price for a one-bedroom apartment there is $1,380, and the median price for a two-bedroom is $1,710.

This chart shows the median price of one-and two-bedroom apartments, as well as the year-over-year and month-over-month growth growth in rent prices, in the 11 largest cities in the Seattle metro area. 

As Tacoma rent price increased sharply over the past year, nationwide rent prices increased as well, although at a more modest rate.

“Compared to most large cities across the country, Tacoma is less affordable for renters,” the report said. “Renters will generally find more expensive prices in Tacoma than most large cities.”

The report did not offer any explanation as to why rent prices in Tacoma are on the rise. Though experts have speculated in the past that workers in the Seattle area are choosing to move to less-expensive Tacoma and commute to their job from there, which decreases unit availability and drives up prices.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s county-to-county migration numbers add some credence to that theory. Between 2011 and 2019, some 150,000 people moved from King to Pierce County. Additionally, The Seattle Times reported that in 2016, Pierce County had the “largest net increase of people moving in” out of any county in the U.S.

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