Do you love the Washingtonian lifestyle but don’t love the big city feel of living in Seattle or Bellevue? If so, then Gig Harbor may just be the place for you. As well as boasting a population of just over 10K, this small soundside city offers picturesque scenery, irresistible charm, and an eclectic palette of artistic styles and epicurean tastes.
If you’ve been considering living in Gig Harbor, WA but haven’t made a final decision, read on. In this article, we’re listing why locals love living in Gig Harbor plus some very important things to consider before moving here. We’re peeling back the curtain to give our honest perspective about the highs and lows of living in Gig Harbor.
Plethora of Outdoor Activities
Those who enjoy urban beauty will enjoy the man-made wonders in cities like Seattle. However, those who love Washington’s beautiful pine forests will certainly feel the absence of these majestic trees living in the city.
While it’s true that Gig Harbor boasts some modern urban development, these homes, shops, and other businesses do little to drown out the vast species of natural flora. You’ll still find plenty of those strong, towering pines and other greenery throughout the South Sound.
Plus, with access to numerous hiking tails, parks, and nature reserves you’ll find that you have plenty of options to escape into the woods. Here a few trails within a 30-minute drive of Gig Harbor:
- Kopachuck State Park Nature Loop
- Cliffside Nature Preserve and Trails
- McCormick Forest Park Loop
- Cushman Trail – this goes right through Gig Harbor!
You can find even more trails across the harbor near Tacoma. We suggest checking out this selection of hikes near Gig Harbor from AllTrails.com.
If the shores and water call you to Washington, you’ll be excited to find that Gig Harbor has plenty of access to the water as well.
Like Seattle, Gig Harbor isn’t located on the ocean. However, the actual ‘harbor’ portion of Gig Harbor connects to Puget Sound. From all over downtown, you’ll have a clear view of the water, docks, and the many boats going in and out.
In addition, there’s the view located just outside the main harbor’s mouth. Stand on the shore near the cute little lighthouse and lookout. You’ll see miles and miles of the Sound itself, surrounded by shores, homes, and hills full of pines.
Photographers convene throughout the South Sound capturing the breathtaking sunsets, picturesque waterways, and spectacular homes that are nestled along the shores.
Along the shores, Gig Harbor has several beaches to access for activities including swimming, kayaking, and boat launches.
Another side note that not many people know about, is that Gig Harbor has the most parks per capita in Pierce County. Including the popular paved Cushman Trail for walking, biking, rollerblading, and jogging.
The reminders of Gig Harbor’s nautical past are everywhere. If you love being surrounded by history and tradition, Gig Harbor has plenty to charm you. You’ll find remnants of our maritime history in the seventeen preserved netsheds sitting along the edge of the water; in the statues of fishermen in front of the museum and in the Skansie Brothers’ Park.
Those living in Gig Harbor, WA will still hear the fishing boats sounding their horns as they leave for the summer. However, the harbor has diversified its industries since its days as a fishing village. Still, you can tell that locals here are very proud of our harbor’s history.
The best place to go to learn about Gig Harbor’s rich history is to visit it’s own historical museum. This facility goes beyond merely offering an excellent chronological history of this small city. It also houses a preserved historical fishing boat, a replica school building, and much more.
Taking a step outside of the cities, you may think that moving to Gig Harbor means you’re limited to shopping and dining options. That couldn’t be far from the case.
Gig Harbor is rich in it’s offerings of both shopping and restaurant options, with many local businesses offering their unique and boutique style shops. Check out downtown harborside area to find independently owned boutiques and small businesses. If you adore the personal touch and quaint charm of similar places, you will get your fill here.
And of course, just a few minutes away, you’ll find the Uptown Gig Harbor shopping center. Here, you’ll find a blend of local restaurant favorites, like Fondi Pizzeria, Gertie’s, and Green.House plus a share of nationwide chains such as Marshalls and Home Goods.
Uptown Gig Harbor is staple shopping spot for many of the Gig Harbor residents for both home shopping and dining out, and it’s become quite the popular hangout spot for the young local crowd. Our family oriented and community focused events also bring Gig Harbor residents together to celebrate the holidays and our local school district.
Dining and Drinking
Much of the same rules apply to dining as shopping. Those living in Gig Harbor enjoy many excellent small restaurants along the edge of the marina. A shout out to Anthony’s at Gig Harbor, and The Tides Tavern, in particular, a bar and restaurant with its own dock, is a special local favorite and popular go-to spot for tourists.
Gig Harbor also boasts an array of breweries and distilleries such as the Heritage Distilling Company and the Seven Seas Taproom. One of the most popular local events is the Gig Harbor Beer Festival which is taking place this year on Saturday May 14th. This event brings award-winning local brews together at our shopping center to share and revel with our neighbors and tourists.
Newcomers to Gig Harbor will find plenty of local events to attend to get to know their new community. Holidays here are a big deal for us, so if you enjoy celebrating the seasons you’ll certainly stay busy between the Easter Egg Hunt, Summer Cider Swig, Halloween Fest, Christmas Tree Lightning and Menorah Lighting.
Gig Harbor also holds farmers’ markets and several outdoor concerts in the summer including our very own Outdoor Summer Concert Series. In addition, there are plenty of annual traditions unique to Gig Harbor including the popular Dragon Boat Race, Christmas Boat Parade, and Lighted Car Parade.
Movie buffs will also enjoy the annual Gig Harbor Film Festival. This three-day-long event is one of the top independent film destinations in the country. As mentioned on their website, the festival hosts over 80 filmmakers and screens over 100 films in a variety of genres.
Quiet and Sleepy Town
Here in Gig Harbor, businesses shut down early, so if you’re looking for an active night life, Gig Harbor wouldn’t be your #1 choice. However, with access into Seattle, and Tacoma, finding nightly activities are not hard to come by further out. You’ll just have to plan a little more and cross the bridge to get to more nightly activities.
However, for Gig Harbor this works wonderfully for our family oriented and retired residents.
Active School District and New School Construction
Because of the small town vibe, you’ll find a very engaged school district, with parents and the community as a whole active in the local schools.
On top of the grassroots collaboration from our community, a massive school bond was approved in 2019 to build 4 new elementary schools. The $198.5 million dollar bond was a huge win for the community and will help to elevate the public school system in Gig Harbor.
Demographics and Other Information
Of course, if you’re asking, “What is it like to live in Gig Harbor?”, you’re probably interested in more than just the scenery and activities. You want to make sure that, after moving to Gig Harbor, you and any family members will be safe, well-provided for, and so on.
Housing and Rent Costs
It won’t take long for you to find out that living in a place as scenic and less populated as Gig Harbor comes with a price. According to the data, the average 3 bedroom home price in Gig Harbor is $750k. For a two-bedroom, it’s $595k and for a one-bedroom, it’s $494.8K.
Rental prices aren’t much cheaper. The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in 2022 is $1,450.
While Gig Harbor does have the highest average home prices, you’ll save on property taxes as Gig Harbor boasts the lowest property taxes in Pierce County. Because of this, you’ll find that 50% of our residents are retired, with the rest comprising mostly of 2-income family households.
Cost of Living and Average Income
The overall cost of living for Gig Harbor is fairly above the U.S. average. Luckily, this statistic is based more on the housing cost than on groceries, health, and utilities. Transportation costs are somewhat higher, but not significantly so.
Luckily, Gig Harbor has a fairly healthy job market and decently high average income. The unemployment rate is currently sitting at 6.8%. Top earners are in the manufacturing, administration, transportation, and health sectors.
The average household income is $74,159. For individual earners, the average income is $43,349.
The average crime rate is about average when compared to other cities within the United States. However, violent crime rates in Gig Harbor are about 66% lower than the national average.
Unfortunately, Gig Harbor doesn’t have a particularly diverse community. Most of its citizens are white and married, with an average age of 44.8. The female and male population is nearly 50/50, with the female population being slightly higher. However, with more out of state visitors coming into our small town to vacation, we anticipate a more diverse community within the years to come.
As far as politics goes, the differences between Republican and Democratic voters are fairly even in Pierce County. Gig Harbor leans somewhat liberal, but not overly so.
After Moving to Gig Harbor, Come Visit Us
With so many fun things to do and lovely things to see, you’re sure to never get bored in Gig Harbor. If you are considering moving to Gig Harbor, we highly recommend for you to come visit our town and experience the small town vibes here for yourself. Though it might be pricey to live here, and doesn’t have the busy nightlife like a larger city, the tight knit community, outdoor activities, and scenic beauty makes it well worth it.
And whether you’re here just visiting or moving to Gig Harbor, we’d love to have you at Uptown Gig Harbor! Come visit, shop, stroll, dine and get to know our small harbor town by mingling with the residents themselves.