If you need to commute to Joint Base Lewis-McChord for work, there are several surrounding cities and neighborhoods to choose from. There are pros and cons to each community, and it’s important to work with a real estate agent who is also a local expert if you’re planning to buy a home. 

We chose to include the following cities on our list due to their close proximity to JBLM and excellent commuting options. Keep in mind that most of these places will mostly require that you commute via car (although sometimes the bus is an option). Traffic during rush hour in this area can get intense, so it’s never a bad idea to try out your commute during different times a day to see what will be best and sustainable for you. 

Also, your commute to JBLM will of course depend on which gate you’re trying to access. Joint Base Lewis-McChord is huge, and as the name suggests, it includes Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base. There are several different gates throughout JBLM that provide access. 

Pierce County Cities to Live in That Are Great for Commuting to JBLM

South Tacoma 

South Tacoma refers to a large area of Tacoma that’s filled with smaller “micro” neighborhoods. The South Tacoma area is just north of JBLM, and one of its big perks is that it’s absolutely surrounded by convenience (especially shopping and restaurants), and also is right along Interstate-5 for quick and easy access. Depending where you live in South Tacoma, you can generally expect to drive 8-15 minutes to McChord’s Main Gate. 

South End

Tacoma’s South End is different from what is generally considered “South Tacoma.” Tacoma’s South End includes neighborhoods like Lincoln District, McKinley, and Fern Hill, for example. It can take anywhere from 9-17 minutes to get to McChord’s Main Gate from the South End in Tacoma. 


Midland is a popular place to live especially for those who like to live on more land. Another major perk of living in Midland is how close it is to Highway 512, giving you quick access to McChord’s Main Gate. Depending on where you live in Midland, you can generally drive about 12-17 minutes to McChord’s Main Gate.  


Parkland is located immediately to the east of JBLM. Parkland is about 3-10 minutes to McChord’s Main Gate and 17-26 minutes to East Gate. 


Located right to the east of JBLM, Spanaway is a popular area for people who are in the military to live in. Spanaway is only about 11-20 minutes to East Gate. 


Frederickson is an area that’s basically in between Puyallup and Spanaway. Frederickson is known for having opportunities to buy new construction and also for having properties with a bit more land. It’s about 15-25 minutes to drive from Frederickson to JBLM’s East Gate. 

Downtown Puyallup

Puyallup is one of the furthest neighborhoods from JBLM that we’re including on this list. It’s anywhere from 23-40 minutes to get from Puyallup to Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s East Gate, but still, Puyallup is another very popular city for people with a commute to JBLM. 

South Hill 

South Hill is part of Puyallup, and people refer to the same area as either/or. (Yes it’s kind of confusing at first). You can expect to drive 26-35 minutes from South Hill to the East Gate at JBLM.


Many Graham residents live here because they enjoy having more space, quick access to the outdoors, and easy access to the huge variety of convenience that awaits in next door Puyallup/South Hill. You can expect to spend 20-30 minutes driving from Graham to JBLM. 


Lakewood offers the potential for an incredible quick commute to JBLM. You can expect to drive 5-24 minutes from Lakewood to the Main Gate. 


Nestled on the shores of the Puget Sound, Steilacoom is a small city that offers a 14-20 minute commute to JBLM’s Main Gate.


DuPont is a very popular choice for those in the military, and it’s right along Interstate-5 which makes it easy to get around the rest of the region as well. You can expect to drive 7-14 minutes to JBLM’s Main Gate.  

Thurston County Cities to Live in That Are Great for Commuting to JBLM


Located in Thurston County, Lacey provides lots of commuting potential due to the fact that Interstate-5 runs right through it. People love all of the new construction, the great community, and all of the suburban amenities. You can expect to spend 13-22 minutes commuting from Lacey to JBLM’s Main Gate. 


Olympia is 21-41 minutes to JBLM’s Main Gate, but as you can see Olympia is pretty big and the commute can vary wildly based on where you live. Olympia is Washington States capitol, and is also right on I-5 for easy access. 

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