Tacoma realtor and MovetoTacoma.com creator Marguerite Martin was interviewed for a story this week written by Katherine Anne Long called, “As Seattleites and their money flow south, Tacoma residents grapple with changing neighborhoods.” Katherine uses interviews with homeowners, renters, and real estate agents across Tacoma to tell the story of Tacoma’s waning affordability.
Katherine interviewed Marguerite about why she created MovetoTacoma.com. MovetoTacoma.com is a website featuring a neighborhood guide and podcast that help people moving to Tacoma learn about the city.
“In 2013, as the Tacoma housing market recovered from the financial crisis, “it was so obvious to me,” Martin said. “If you can’t buy a house in Seattle … then you should hashtag-move-to-Tacoma. It was a no-brainer.”
She built a website, MoveToTacoma.com, and launched a podcast with a peppy jingle: “Move to Tacoma! Move to Tacoma! You’ll like it!”
Her goal was to show Seattleites the Tacoma they thought of as a pungent, violent backwater was actually the City of Destiny: a quirky place with a small-town feel, light traffic, expanding transit, stunning harbor views and — most importantly, for people priced out of Seattle, where the median home value currently hovers around $750,000 — less-expensive homes, many of them quintessential Craftsmans. The median home price in Tacoma is $337,940, according to Zillow.
To learn more about when MovetoTacoma.com began, check out this news story from KIRO 7 in 2015, “New Housing Trend Has Seattleites Moving to Tacoma.”
Community Impact & Displacement
She also interviews community members about what drew them to Tacoma. About 18,000 King County residents moved to Pierce County in 2017. That is 25% higher than two years earlier. The flow of people from Seattle and across the US is fueling the city’s already hot housing market and changing the composition of neighborhoods. As Tacoma has been able to build housing to keep pace with the increase in population, people are being displaced.
Hilltop has lost nearly one-third of its Black residents, and many Black-owned businesses in Hilltop have disappeared, replaced by establishments like the Zodiac Supper Club, where eaters grill their own steaks, and the nationally recognized craft cocktail bar 1022 South J.
“There needs to be a lot more attention paid to being respectful of neighborhoods,” said Jasmyn Jefferson, a Windermere branch manager and broker. Jefferson, who is Black, grew up in Hilltop. “There’s history to our neighborhoods that needs to be preserved.”
Check out Marguerite’s interview with Jasmyn Jefferson, “Race, Real Estate, and Friendship” on the Move to Tacoma Podcast.
New to Tacoma
Katherine also interviews Seattleites after they move to Tacoma, including Rachel Collins from the Central District.
“…for many veterans of Seattle’s affordability crisis, Tacoma is a new chance to establish community. Rachel Collins grew up in the Central District, but bought a home in Hilltop after realizing she couldn’t afford to buy in her childhood neighborhood.
“I simply see more Black people in Tacoma” than Seattle, said Collins, who is Black. “It’s not like they’re visiting. They live here. It makes me feel like I’m at home.”
For the full story from Katherine Anne Long about Seattleites moving to Tacoma, visit this link “As Seattleites and their money flow south, Tacoma residents grapple with changing neighborhoods.”
Marguerite says she regrets naming the website MovetoTacoma.com. The market in Tacoma in 2015 when the site created was still a buyers market, and prices were soft. Knowing what she knows today, she would focus the website on serving Tacomans.
But taking in how Tacoma has changed since she began advocating Seattleites flock south, Martin said that if she had a chance to do it over, she’d orient her website and podcast toward people already living there. These days, her podcast features segments about high rents and interviews with local anti-racist groups.
“I refuse to take all the credit or all the blame. I believe this was market forces and I just had some fortunate timing,” she said. “But as long as people hold their wealth in property, there are going to be people who win and people who lose.”
Can Tacoma Homeowners do anything to fight displacement?
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