Report shows Tacoma rental housing prices soaring, outpacing Seattle

TACOMA, Wash. – A new report has numbers to back up what a lot of you already know -- it’s getting more and more expensive to live in the Puget Sound region.

But the surprising part is that the rental housing market in Tacoma and Pierce County is outpacing Seattle’s market.  A new report from rental website Tulia shows the median price of rent rose 8.8% in Tacoma, to a median of $1,785, from 2016 to 2017.

“I mean you’ll fall off your stool,” said Tacoma resident Sally Reiwald.

In her Tacoma living room, Reiwald scans through pictures that illustrate her lifetime.  She knows all too well, times are changing.

“I feel a great deal of pity for young couples who are trying to make a go of it and save money so they can buy a house and they can’t even save for a down-payment,” said Reiwald.

For Sally, Tacoma meant a quiet town where she could live, work, and raise a family, but that was then.  Now, she sees the rental prices in Tacoma going up faster than even in Seattle.

“I know people who have recently moved here and have shopped for apartments and I was astounded to hear the going rate for small one-bedroom, two-bedroom apartments,” said Reiwald.

But it wasn’t always that way.

“In 1958, we rented our first apartment for $68,” said Reiwald.

So with inflation, that would be $575.  But a new report shows the average rental price in Tacoma is $1,785 in 2017.

“In 1978, I paid $25,000 for the home,” said Reiwald.

Sally bought this condo in 2007 right before the market crashed.  She thought about selling it while spending 15 years living in Mexico, but her health declined and she wanted to move back to be closer to family.

“I was thrilled that I hadn’t sold it because I couldn’t rent a comparable apartment,” said Reiwald.

So she’s happy she’s in good shape but feels bad for her neighbors struggling to live a comfortable life.

“And if they have low-income jobs, there’s no hope they’ll ever be homeowners,” said Reiwald.

The Trulia report also shows Pierce County as a whole saw dramatic increases in rent, especially in parts of Tacoma, Gig Harbor and DuPont.