We’re growing faster than King County — and our rents prove it

The average apartment in Tacoma now rents for $1,117 per month, according to real estate data firm RentCafe.
The average apartment in Tacoma now rents for $1,117 per month, according to real estate data firm RentCafe. Getty Images

About 51 people moved to Pierce County every day in 2015, according to the latest Census figures.

The increase bumped Pierce County’s population growth above King County’s for the first time in more than a decade.

The last time that happened was in 2006, when King County grew by 1.4 percent and Pierce County’s population increased 1.66 percent.

Back then, King County residents numbered at more than 1.8 million and Pierce County had 774,050 residents, according to the state Office of Financial Management.

These days, people are fleeing Seattle’s sky-high rents, which averaged at $1,901 a month in May, according to real estate data firm RentCafe.

Many are landing in Tacoma — and rapidly rising rents are proof.

Rents here — now an average $1,117 a month — have landed the Tacoma once again among the top 10 cities in the country for year-over-year rent increases.

This time, Tacoma is tied for No. 6 in the nation for highest year-over-year rent increase, comparing last month to May 2016, according to real estate data firm RentCafe.

The city’s ranking in the ignoble list has slipped since March, where a double-digit, year-over-year rent increase propelled Tacoma rents to fourth-highest in the nation.

Why? Again, look north to Seattle and its burgeoning tech sector.

The Emerald City’s rent increase was 3.4 percent in May compared to the prior year, a rising cost that is pricing people out. In Tacoma, the rent is a relative bargain.

“This growing demand, coupled with limited inventory levels, is leaving its mark on Seattle’s surrounding areas, Tacoma included,” said Andra Hopulele, a spokeswoman for RentCafe.

Rents for Tacoma apartments, in buildings with 50 or more units, have been on a “clear upward trend” since the first quarter of 2015, Hopulele said.

The company uses data from Yardi Matrix, which covers data about apartment complexes with more than 50 units each across 124 rental markets in the country.

Tacoma first entered RentCafe’s top 10 list for fastest-growing apartment rents in August 2016 at No. 5, Hopulele said. It topped out at third-highest nationwide in January with a 12.6 percent year-over-year rent increase.

Spokane’s apartment rent increase compared to last year nabbed it a 10th-place spot for fastest-growing apartment rents, which grew by 7.5 percent, to $870 per month.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542, @KateReports