Matt Brown

Get the details on living in Gig Harbor.

Setting: Tucked into the south end of Puget Sound, GigHarbor (population 6,500) claims unparalleled views of MountRainier. The town's just an hour from downtown Seattle and a fewminutes across the bridge from Tacoma.

Attractions: Year-round outdoor activities such as boating,skiing, sailing, tennis, golf; one of the best school systems inWashington; stunning natural beauty; special cultural events suchas the Maritime Gig Festival and Scandinavian Fest.

Drawbacks: Traffic on the bridge can back up for two tothree hours during rush hour or if there's an accident. A new tollbridge is planned to help with delays. Also, the weather may staygray or rainy for days on end.

Housing Options: Craftsman-style homes join condos,fixer-uppers, historic houses in the Millville District, and ruralhomes with acreage. "You might see a $3 million home next to a$150,000 home. There's so much variance," says local NancyAltman.

What It Costs: The average Gig Harbor home costs $350,000.Waterfront houses range from $249,000 to more than $3 million. InEast Gig Harbor, you can pay $500,000 to $800,000 just for theproperty. Historic homes go for $200,000 to $500,000. Newer condoswith Puget Sound vistas run $500,000 to $700,000. Condos withoutwaterfront views cost around $300,000. In Canterwood, a gatedgolfing community, upscale homes on half-acre lots start at$500,000.

Your Next-door Neighbors: Attorneys, fishermen, airlinepilots, former Microsoft software designers, actors Kevin Spaceyand Josh Lucas. "It's a great place to raise a family, but alsonice for retirees. You see the different groups mingling in awonderful way," says Laureen Lund of the chamber of commerce.

How You'd Spend Your Free Time: Strolling the harborfront,browsing colorful galleries or sifting through stacks of books atprivately owned stores, gossiping with local ladies at Salon Rouge,hiking in the nearby state park, meeting friends for a beer atTides Tavern, watching plays at the two local theaters.

published March 2005

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