Every branch of the military has its own list of places where almost no one wants to be stationed – people aren’t usually lining up to go to Minot AFB, North Dakota, or Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, after all. Receiving PCS orders to an installation in the Tacoma area, however, is like winning the assignment lottery! If you’re inbound to this region, you’ve got a lot of reasons to celebrate. Here are a few things to look forward to as you plan for your new assignment.
Tacoma Area Highlights
The Tacoma area is a wonderful mix of big-city energy, urban sophistication mixed with small-town simplicity, and some of the most beautiful, unspoiled natural areas you’ll find anywhere in the United States. Tacoma is Seattle’s largest satellite city, with a population of about 215,000 and growing. It has been named as one of America’s “most walkable” cities, it has the highest number of art and history museums in Washington state, and has been revitalized by projects that have brought new life and energy to the waterfront district, the Thea Foss Waterway. Our climate is delightfully temperate (yes, it rains enough to keep everything green, but we don’t get the daily deluge that many people seem to think!) and summers here are usually warm and sunny while our winters are generally mild.
One of the great things about living here is that a vibrant urban life can be found very close to the great outdoors. The 700-acre Point Defiance Park is a wonderful location for beach outings, and the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is a favorite with families. Walking trails and bike routes abound here, both within the city and beyond. Ruston Way connects several parks and beach areas in Tacoma itself, and other long-distance trails link the rural communities of Yelm, Dupont, Lacey, and Bonney Lake. Outdoor recreation is available almost everywhere; if you enjoy hiking, kayaking, trail running, mountain biking, camping, you’ll probably never be bored. Excellent scuba diving is another great activity here, though you’ll probably want at least a 7 mil. wetsuit if you’re diving in Puget Sound. For sports fans, Tacoma has minor league teams in baseball, soccer, and football; Seattle is home to professional football, baseball, hockey, and basketball franchises. The incredible grandeur of Olympic National Park is within easy reach, and the Canadian border is just a short drive away.
Two factors that are always important to military families are employment opportunities for spouses and education options. Joint Base Lewis-McChord is the single largest employer in our area, providing nearly 70,000 jobs, and it is always worthwhile to check for job openings with the on-base Civilian Personnel Office (CPO) and the Spousal Employment Program. Tacoma itself is home to nine colleges and universities, with more in the Seattle and Bremerton areas. Tacoma School of the Arts is a nationally-renown arts high school, and we have nine colleges or universities here, with many more in the surrounding area.
Whether you decide that the big-city energy of Tacoma is what you want, or if you think that the laid-back community feel of one of the nearby towns will suit your family better, there are such a wide array of options here for living, working, and playing that you’re sure to find your assignment to this area will be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your military career.
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