For anyone considering Gig Harbor. The good and ba - 12/22/2012
Having lived in Gig Harbor for almost 10 years, after leaving the coast of California, I'm happy to share my impressions and experience, for those hoping to get more info on Gig Harbor, as they decide to relocate.
First. When you read reviews from towns you're considering, know that there will always be a few reviews that are just plain negative. People often have a long list of complaints about where they live/d for various reasons. Don't dismiss everything they say, but don't accept it all, either. Look for common complaints. I say this because we ignored the numerous comments abou the horrible and depressing weather in the Puget Sound area, and thought the people were just being negative. We were wrong. But more on that below:
The Good. Clean. Gig Harbor is really clean. The landscaping is gorgeous, the streets are regularly swept. Much of the retail is new, so there aren't any decaying areas. Very little graffiti or blight. Polite. the people here are polite, and generally friendly on a surface level. Gig Harbor is lovely, with the backdrop of the harbor, and the bridge, and so much green! It's relatively safe. Though, the crime stats are higher than you'd realize, because there is no consistent crime-reporting here. The newspaper is only once a week and does not publish more than 1 crime story a week, if that (though there is crime here.) Schools are generally well-run with good graduation rates. There is a new Boys/girls club in town, that, unlike the idea you have that it's for kids in urban areas, this one is full of well-heeled kids of middle class to upper class backgrounds. It's not a diversionary type club, it's more of inexpensive after school care for the suburbs.
There is a beautiful new park, called Sehmel Park, in the area. It's got a playground, ballfields, and gorgeous open space. Unreal how gorgeous that park is! The other parks are lacking.. though. The homes are beautiful, and not exactly inexpensive, but definitely not as expensive as some other areas you're considering leaving. There is a great YMCA that is fairly new. But....
The bad: Yes, you can get a beautiful home cheaper here, than in most of the areas people flee. But you need to consider this. It is not an exaggeration to say that the weather is horrific. You may say to yourself, "Oh, I'm tired of sun, I loooove the rain!!" in that cute naive way that people do when they have no clue about the weather up in Washington. It's not the rain. It's really not. It's the (literally) 9 months of heavy gray drizzling cloud cover. The dark gray/rain usually moves in around late September, and stays until July 5th. This is not a lie. It rarely rains hard here, that's why no one uses umbrellas. We get 40" of rain, but it arrives drip by drip over a period of 9 months. Right now, in December, my lawn is filled with at least types of mushrooms. There is nothing you can do to get rid of them, just hope they go away soon and it doesn't poison your dog. There are hundreds of them, so you can't get them all out. There is a green/black slime on the porch, the windowsills, and anything left outside. There is moss growing in my sunroof of the car. There is simply not enough sun. I think it's like 80-90 days of a truly sunny day up here. So please, consider this carefully when you say "I love rain, I'll be fine!" It's not the same. You have to be good with dark gray and damp for months and months. We have just gone through a period of 9 weeks with not one sunny day (Oct/December.) And when the sun comes out, because of the angle here, you don't get the vitamin D, so plan to take a supplement the rest of your life, as there are health dangers from lack of it.
Most folks here tell me that the secret is to plan a vacation to a very sunny place at least twice a year during the wet times, so most of them have a timeshare in Hawaii or Arizona. This is also a great way to store up Vitamin D. I focused so much on the weather because it's a major force here. It's a constant topic of discussion on the radio and tv, and in stores.
Other than the weather. It's really hard to make friends here. The "Seattle Freeze" is real. People are very polite, and that's so pleasant as you go about your day. But I think it's a function of being stuck inside 3/4 of the year, that you don't really see new people a lot outside of work or church. We laugh with the neighbors in early september that we'll see them next summer, as none of us are out working in the yards again until it gets more moderate. So you'll need to plan on working hard to meet people through church or clubs, because you can't really form the easy and warm friendships you may be used to in the Midwest, South, or in California.
Crime. Yeah, the crime in the nearby areas is bad: Tacoma. you really have to be on guard when you shop, as there are many parking lot attacks at the malls where you'll be shopping in tacoma. Gig Harbor has a little bit of retail, but Tacoma is the closest retail center, and where you'll be going for arts and culture etc. Gig Harbor does not have a vibrant arts scene, unless you're 70 and watercolor. that's okay, because this is a place that is suited for that demographic. There is no live music to speak of. Town closes down at 6 pm and on Sunday. It's wonderful for young churchy families and seniors. And it's very cliquish with the churches here. The first thing they ask.. is "have you found a church?" Again, that could be a great thing if you're the church type. No dog park. Period. But sadly people here seem to think that it's okay to have their dogs off leash in every park or street. It's annoying and dangerous. But the weather is usually so awful that your poor dogs spend the majority of time indoors anyway. I'm so tired of drying off my dog's feet 20 times a day, lol. Not a great place to be a dog if your dog enjoys lying in the sun.
It's a bit homogenous, which some people find appealing. The demographic seems to be very white, moderately to very affluent, lots of big SUVs, and thin women in pony tails and running clothes, carrying expensive purses, as they ferry their kids to dance lessons. But unlike places in Orange County Calif or Upstate New York, it's more relaxed in general.
Bottom line. Cute town, great for postcards. Weather is horrid. People are polite, but you'll need to work if you want to build friends through joining a church or pilates class. Fairly safe. Very clean. If the demographics fit what you're looking for (great place for retirees!! if you don't have arthritis that would be made worse by the extreme damp most of the year,) then check it out. Consider renting for a year first, because you commit. Oh, and if you're thinking of moving here. Come to visit at least 4 times, throughout the year. Do not come here in July and say "oh, it's gorgeous!!" You need to visit in the summer (which is spectacular,) then in Late October (there is not really a fall here,) Probably March, and then in May. So you get a real feeling for the true weather.
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Gig Harbor Is a Great Place to Live - 8/23/2009
I have lived here for 3 years and have found the community to a great place to live.
There are many new amenities such as a new Costco, YMCA, Target,Hospital and Medical Center. We have a the new Uptown Shopping Center which has Galaxy Theaters, Coldwater Creek, Ann Taylor Loft, Chico's, Justice for Girls, Panera, and Fondi Restaurants. There are also other smaller restaurants, coffee shops, and speciality stores. A new Boys and Girls Club with a Senior Center is set to open this fall.
The downtown historic district has turn-of-the century homes, a museum, shops, parks and waterfront restaurants. It is a great place to take a walk or meet with friends.
The schools are well supported by the community with Booster Clubs for sports and a scholarship fundraiser each fall called Winterfest.
We have an extension of the Tacoma Community College that provides a place for high school students to participate in the State's Running Start program, as well as many continuing education and community recreation programs.
There are numerous festivals in the summer including the Maritime Festival and Blessing of the Fleet as well as many Art and Music Festivals and a Farmers Market.
If you are looking for a real community feel with a small town atmosphere, yet close to all the services of a large city, this is the place for you.
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A Great Place to Live - 1/22/2008
Gig Harbor is a scenic community situated in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. With backdrops of Mt. Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Mountains, tall evergreen trees, plus an abundance of charming bays and waterways, there are many "postcard" images to be seen, as well as recreatinal opportunities.
What I love about Gig Harbor is the small town feel. People are very friendly here and smile and make eye contact when you are walking down the street. It is a place where I feel safe walking my dog along the lighted waterfront in the dark. People take pride in this community and it is evident in the property values. We have great schools here, as well as many recreational opportunities for families and singles alike. There is a thriving arts & theater community and our annual art festival is always well attended. There are a number of restaurants to choose from, but for even more variety, the city of Tacoma is only a 15 minute drive, and Seattel is about 45 minutes.
Gig Harbor is growing and our elected officials strive to manage the growth and retain the small town charm that draw so many people here. It has been our policy to avoid "big box" stores and opt for architectural design that is more aesthetically pleasing and blended with nature.
There is a lot going on here, from a new hospital scheduled to be finished in 2009, to a new boys and girls club and huge recreational facility. We have a high number of parks per capita and it is evident that our community values these parks as we acquire even more land for parks.
I have lived in several different cities, including overseas in Australia, but I am content to call Gig Harbor home. It is a special place that I think is a treasure.
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