In pioneer days, Tacoma and Seattle vied with each other to be the dominant city on Puget Sound. Seattle won that contest long ago, but now Tacoma has found a new role for itself: Seattle’s bedroom community.

As Seattle housing prices have rocketed toward San Francisco-level absurdity, prices in Tacoma have stayed much closer to affordable for middle-class homebuyers. According to Zillow, the median home price in the Emerald City is currently $750,000 while the median in the City of Destiny is less than half that, just $337,940.

About 18,000 people moved south from King County to Pierce County in 2017, many, if not most, because of the cheaper price of a house. And Tacoma has plenty of nice houses, especially in the lovely and quiet north end of the city. Of course, now that this stock of attractive and affordable real estate has been discovered, prices are ballooning and so is the traffic.

It seems all those Seattle refugees driven out by expensive housing are commuting back to Seattle for work. That phenomenon has turned Interstate 5 into a slow-moving crush of cars, a cruel gantlet that is now part of the cost of a home.

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