Featuring a diverse landscape that stretches from the Puget Sound waterfront to Mt. Rainier National Park, Pierce County is the second largest county in Washington state. In the west of the county, you’ll find Joint Base Lewis-McChord right along Interstate-5, and several surrounding cities and communities where many in the military choose to call home. As you head east, you’ll find more rural properties and opportunities for outdoor adventure. Pierce County real estate includes everything from downtown condos and suburban neighborhoods to hobby farms and remote cabins.
Pierce County >> Tacoma
As the largest city in Pierce County, Tacoma has a rich history and diverse offerings. Explore waterfront parks with breathtaking views of Commencement Bay; head to Downtown Tacoma for nightlife, entertainment, and museums; and visit each of Tacoma’s unique neighborhoods to discover what makes each one special. Those commuting to Joint Base Lewis-McChord can expect anywhere from a 10 to 30 minute commute to the Main Gate from Tacoma, making this city a popular choice for many in the military. Real estate includes everything from downtown condos and convenient townhomes to single-family homes in residential communities and even larger lots in rural settings.
Pierce County >> Puyallup
Located to the east of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Puyallup is divided into two areas, South Hill and Downtown Puyallup to the north. South Hill is characterized by convenience and accessibility—you’ll find communities of single-family homes and lots of new construction. In historic Downtown Puyallup you’ll find more of a small-town vibe, and real estate includes everything from vintage single-family homes to newer condos. Commuting to JBLM’s East Gate from Puyallup can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, and many people choose this city for its excellent community amenities.
There are a long list of reasons why those in the military at JBLM choose to make Puyallup their home. While prized for its community atmosphere, Puyallup is also home to an excellent variety of city conveniences. If you work at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and are trying to figure out which nearby city to live in, here are a few of the top reasons why you may want to consider Puyallup:
It’s easy to get from Puyallup to JBLM.
Commute times are a big deal for most people, and Puyallup offers a great city to live in all while being close to JBLM. As Puyallup covers a large area though, your commute time will largely depend on where in Puyallup you live. If you live closer to Frederickson in South Hill (a part of Puyallup), depending on traffic times your commute time could be as short as 12-15 minutes. However, if you live in Downtown Puyallup (in northern Puyallup) closer to Sumner, your commute time could be closer to 20-30 minutes. I would recommend doing a real-life test of your potential commute at the time of day you’d normally be driving at to see if the timing suits you.
Puyallup is home to many in the military.
Due to its close proximity to JBLM, many people in the military choose to call Puyallup “home.” This has many advantages—for one, you could potentially set up a carpool with someone. There’s also people and families around with the same lifestyle, and it’s great to be able to call your fellow service members neighbors.
There are many opportunities for shopping.
Whether you need to go grocery shopping or head to a mall with tons of options all in one place, Puyallup has it all. Costco, WinCo, Tacoma Boys, multiple Fred Meyers and Safeways, and more all offer great grocery shopping options. Plus, a huge farmers market is at Pioneer Park from April through October each year, which is great for picking up fresh food directly from the farmers themselves! Puyallup also has 2 Walmarts, 2 Targets, the South Hill Mall, and tons of other shopping centers that makes running errands easy.
Puyallup is close to many outdoor opportunities.
Puyallup is home to several beautiful parks, and if you really want to feel like you’re out in nature or if you would like to head out for a long run, the Chapman Trail at South Hill Community Park, Bradley Lake Park, and Wildwood Park are a few excellent options. The Foothills Trail is another great option—this 25-mile trail is perfect for bicycling and running, and part of the trail is in Puyallup. You’re also close to Lake Tapps in Bonney Lake, and several lakes toward the south. Searching for an even bigger adventure? Mount Rainier National Park is about 1.5 hours away, depending on which part of the park you head to! Camping, hiking, boating, fishing, dirt biking, and much more are all within reach from Puyallup.
Pierce County >> Puyallup >> South Hill
South Hill is an area of the City of Puyallup known for its accessibility and many conveniences. You’ll find everything from expansive shopping centers with tons of variety to picturesque parks where people love to picnic and explore trails. There always seems to be new construction in this area, and you’ll find many established neighborhoods as well. Commuting to Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s East Gate can take anywhere from 18 to 30 minutes from South Hill.
Pierce County >> University Place
Located right along the Puget Sound and north of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, University Place offers an award-winning school district, excellent shopping, and incredible parks. Chambers Bay Golf Course (home to the 2015 U.S. Open) and its surrounding Chambers Bay Park are a scenic destination for the entire region, and those who appreciate getting out on the water will find several boating and fishing opportunities in neighboring Lakewood. University Place offers residents a 20 to 30 minutes commute to JBLM, and you’ll find single-family properties to be the most popular type of home in this Pierce County city.
Pierce County >> Lakewood
Just northwest of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Interstate-5, Lakewood offers one of the best commuting options for those in the military—you’re only 6 to 28 minutes to JBLM’s Main Gate. Find everything from dynamic shopping centers and convenient transit (you can hop on the Sounder Train at Lakewood Station and take it straight to Seattle) to outdoor getaways (which, as this city’s name suggests, includes several scenic lakes). Lakewood real estate mostly offers established neighborhoods with single-family housing.
The list of why someone might choose to call Lakewood "home sweet home" is a long one, but I’ve narrowed it down to 4 of the top reasons!
Lakewood is super close to JBLM.
For many people, working close to home is important. Lakewood is located right on the northern border of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, meaning if you're in the military, commuting to work could take anywhere from 1-18 minutes depending on where you live.
This city is home to several gorgeous lakes.
With the name "Lakewood", it's probably not a surprise that Lakewood is home to several beautiful lakes! American Lake, Lake Steilacoom, Gravelly Lake, Lake Louise, and Waughop lake are the largest of the lakes. Opportunities for boating, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and other water sports are all aplenty here! With several lakes just minutes from home, it’s easy to pack up for a day of fishing.
You’re right next door to Chambers Bay.
Bordering Lakewood to the north, Chambers Bay is a 930-acre park that includes a 250-acre internationally acclaimed golf course in addition to beautiful walking trails. Whether you love to golf or just want to go for a run, Chambers Bay offers plenty of space to explore all while providing breathtaking views of the Puget Sound to enjoy the whole time.
Conveniently close to Interstate-5 and Highway 512.
Not only is Lakewood next door to JBLM, but it also offers quick and easy access to Interstate-5 and Highway 512. I-5 makes it easy to head south toward Olympia or north toward Tacoma and Seattle, while HIghway 512 heads west toward Puyallup.
Pierce County >> Dupont
This small city is right on the border of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Interstate-5, offering one of the best commutes you’ll find to base—you’re only 5 to 15 minutes away from JBLM’s Main Gate! Easy access to I-5 also makes it easy to get around the region, whether you’re heading down to Olympia or up to Tacoma. Dupont offers residential communities to call home, and also features 2 golf courses, including The Home Course and Eagles Pride Golf Course.
Dupont is an excellent choice for those searching for a home that’s close to JBLM and in Pierce County, and I have a few favorite things about the city of DuPont to share:
DuPont is right next door to JBLM.
Nestled in between the Puget Sound and Interstate-5, DuPont is just southwest of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It’s a popular place for those who work at JBLM to call “home”—it’s close proximity ensures you can get home fast and start enjoying the beautiful outdoors you’re surrounded by! Which bring us to the next few reasons you’ll want to check out DuPont…
DuPont is right on the Puget Sound.
The shimmering Puget Sound is truly a sight to behold, and residents of DuPont are lucky to have this Pacific Northwest treasure practically in their backyards!
Nisqually National Wildlife Reserve is right next door, a dream for nature lovers.
Featuring over 4,500 acres to explore and observe, this incredible local reserve is the perfect retreat for when you just need to get away from it all. Grab your camera, pack a picnic, and head out for a day of adventure. 275 migrating species of birds, 24 species of fish, and a large variety of other animals like coyotes and small mammals can also be observed here. There are also some great programs and events to take advantage of—learn more about visiting here!
Eagles Pride Golf Course offers a convenient and beautiful option for golf enthusiasts.
Open to the public, the 27-hole championship Eagles Pride Golf Course provides golfers with a fantastic local golfing option! Stunning scenery provides a picturesque setting all in the shadow of Mount Rainier. There’s also a driving range and a pro shop for your convenience.
DuPont is next door to Lakewood, making it easy to take advantage of its many lakes.
As the name might suggest, Lakewood is home to several lakes. Especially of note is American Lake, which is the lake closest to DuPont. This dynamic amenity is home to a long list of fun activities to enjoy—American Lake North Park & Marina and Harry Todd Park are 2 excellent parks on the lake where you can enjoy some beach time or a picnic. You can also go fishing in American Lake—different types of trout, bass, perch, and salmon can all be found.
Pierce County >> Spanaway
Spanaway is an unincorporated area just south of Tacoma, and this dynamic community is a top choice for many in the military—enjoy a 10 to 24 minute commute to Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s East Gate. Pacific Ave is the main thoroughfare, and along here you’ll find everything you need—grocery stores, shopping, restaurants, and more are all accessible. Lake Spanaway Golf Course and Spanaway Lake Park are other major highlights—spend your weekends golfing, boating, and exploring nearby wooded trails.
Spanaway borders Joint Base Lewis-McChord, making it a highly desired location for those in the military.
Here are my 3 top reasons why Spanaway is an excellent choice for those in the military:
Here are my 3 top reasons why Spanaway is an excellent choice for those in the military:
Spanaway is super close to JBLM.
Like I already mentioned, Spanaway borders JBLM to the east. Depending on where you live in Spanaway, it can take anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes to get to JBLM, which makes commuting a breeze. Spanaway is also close to larger cities like Puyallup and Tacoma, opening up a wealth of options, whether you’re looking for shopping, restaurants, entertainment, services, etc. It’s also in close proximity to Highway 512 and Interstate-5, making it easy to head north toward Seattle or south toward Olympia. It is also filled with many new communities and various builders to choose from. Your dollar takes you further with new homes here than other areas.
Spanaway offers tons of amenities & conveniences.
Pacific Avenue turns into Mountain Highway (both also known as Highway 7) and runs through Spanaway. This main road takes you past a whole host of Spanaway conveniences, including tons of restaurants and fast food options, grocery stores, shops, and several other shopping centers, services, and much more. Thanks to this central area, running errands is efficient, and it’s also easy to stop somewhere to grab dinner on the way home from work!
Spanaway is the gateway to the outdoors.
Not only is Spanaway home to Spanaway Lake, Spanaway Lake Park, Lake Spanaway Golf Course, and other parks, but it’s also in close proximity to hiking, camping, fishing, and many other opportunities for enjoying the outdoors close to JBLM. It only takes 30 minutes to get to Lake Kapowsin for example, a haven of fishing, canoeing, and boating. Several other lakes surround the area as well, ensuring there’s plenty of space to find your special fishing spot. At just 30 minutes from Spanaway, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is another favorite destination, a fun place to head to for a day for kids and adults alike. Mt. Rainier National Park is less than an hour away from Spanaway as well, offering a myriad of opportunity for taking advantage of the Pacific Northwest’s beauty… all in JBLM's backyard!
Pierce County >> Spanaway >> Frederickson
Frederickson is an area nestled in between Puyallup, Spanaway, and Graham, and this quieter neighborhood is home to everything from newer suburban communities to homes on larger properties in more rural settings. Frederickson provides easy access to amenities and bordering cities, and you’re also no more than 25 minutes to camping, fishing, boating, hiking and other outdoor opportunities. Additionally, Frederickson is a popular neighborhood for those commuting to Joint Base Lewis-McChord; JBLM’s East Gate is only 14 to 26 minutes away.
Pierce County >> Roy
This small community is ideal for those who envision living in a rural setting with plenty of space to spread out. Nestled right along Joint Base Lewis-McChord to the south, Roy is no more than a 8 to 11 minute drive to the East Gate. A charming city center is home to a few eateries, the library, post office, and an elementary school, as well as the Roy Pioneer Rodeo, a decades-old tradition that attracts people from all around the region.
Pierce County >> Gig Harbor
Known especially for its iconic waterfront, Gig Harbor is surrounded by the Puget Sound and is connected to Tacoma via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Many choose Gig Harbor for its fantastic outdoor amenities, whether you love getting out on the water, exploring trails, or you dream of heading out on camping adventures every weekend. You’ll also find expansive shopping centers, a historic downtown, and a real sense of community. This picturesque Pierce County city offers a 20 to 40 commute to Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Main Gate, and Gig Harbor real estate includes everything from stunning waterfront homes and luxury properties, to residential communities and condos.
Pierce County >> Graham
For those who desire both city convenience and outdoor adventure, Graham offers the best of both worlds. Not only does Graham offer shopping, restaurants, and local services, but with Puyallup’s more populated South Hill area just to the north, you’re only minutes from even more variety. Many people who want to live on larger pieces of land choose to live in Graham’s rural countryside, but there are also suburban communities as well. Graham is just minutes to outdoor attractions like camping, boating, fishing, and hiking, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s East Gate is just 16 to 35 minutes away.
Home to Olympia, Washington state’s capitol, Thurston County is just south of the Puget Sound and is on the southwest border of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. You’ll find that most people in the county live along the Interstate-5 corridor in cities like Lacey and Olympia, and here you’ll also find all of the shopping, restaurants, and amenities that make life easier. Head south to find a more rural setting, and enjoy having destinations like the Pacific Ocean and Olympic National Park less than 2 hours from home. Thurston County real estate offers everything from single-family homes in convenient residential areas to sprawling equestrian properties and more.
Thurston County >> Olympia
Olympia is the capital of Washington state, and this city is east of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and only 15 to 35 minutes away to the Main Gate. Olympia is of course home to several government buildings as well a downtown historic district that offers plenty to do and see, and several shopping centers can be found along Interstate-5 which runs through the city. Several parks dot the landscape, and many single-family homes can be found in newer communities and in more established neighborhoods on larger properties.
Thurston County >> Yelm
Just south of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and 22 to 40 minutes from the East Gate, Yelm is a small, peaceful town that’s surrounded by countryside. Shopping, restaurants, local services, and entertainment can be found along Yelm Ave, and in addition to close-knit communities of single-family homes, you’ll find equestrian properties, hobby farms, and residences where you have plenty of land to call your own.
Thurston County >> Lacey
The City of Lacey is a suburb of Olympia, Washington state’s capital. Lacey provides eclectic amenities, with everything from dynamic shopping centers to gorgeous parks and natural areas in the mix. Interstate-5 runs right through Lacey offering an easy commuting option, and Joint-Base Lewis McChord’s Main Gate is only 10 to 30 minutes away. Those who decide to move to Lacey will find mostly single-family homes in established neighborhoods and plenty of newer homes to choose from as well.