Matt Brown

A look at life in this little-known Washington town

Setting: Steilacoom occupies only 2 square miles on PugetSound. It's a popular bedroom community for Tacoma, a revitalizedwaterfront city 20 minutes away by car, and for the state capitalof Olympia, 30 minutes to the south. Mountains tower all around:The Cascades, including Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, lie tothe east; the Olympic Mountains to the west.

Attractions: High volunteerism, friendliness, and civicspirit characterize life here. Breathtaking sunsets punctuate thewaterfront vista year-round. Steilacoom boasts 32 sites on theNational Register of Historic Places. Shopping and entertainment inoutlying areas are easy to access.

Drawbacks: To some, the winter months seem excessively damp.The railroad that runs between town and the Sound limits shoreaccess in many places and brings train whistles to the otherwisequiet town. Most shops and businesses are five miles away inLakewood and University Park.

Housing: An 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot home without a wateror mountain view averages about $350,000. A vista can push theprice up to $1 million. Newer subdivisions offer homes in the$600,000s. Condo prices run a little lower, but not by much.Monthly rentals range from $400 to $1,000 for a two-bedroomapartment, and $1,100 to $1,800 for single-family homes.

Your next-door neighbors: Active-duty military from FortLewis Army Base and McCord Air Force Base, both nearby. A formermember of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Teachers. Writers.Artists. Innkeepers. Airline employees. A gourmet supplier forHarry & David.

How you'd spend your free time: Kayaking in Puget Sound.Day-tripping by ferry to neighboring Anderson and Ketron islands.Participating in community events. As of May 2007, golfing atChambers Creek, a 27-hole Robert Trent Jones II course currentlyunder construction.

(published December 2006)

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