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Living in Fort Lewis Washington - EVERYTHING You Need to Know

What is Living in Fort Lewis Washington Like?

Fort Lewis, Washington, located in Pierce County, is home to approximately 25,000 people. The military base offers its residents a unique lifestyle with access to on-base amenities and small-town charm, making it an attractive location for military personnel and their families. Located south of Seattle, Fort Lewis offers good access to outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and skiing. The base is near Interstate 5, which runs along the West Coast, providing easy access to other towns and attractions. Fort Lewis personifies the Pacific Northwest lifestyle with its lush greenery, mountain views, and proximity to the Puget Sound. Fort Lewis residents and visitors enjoy recreational activities such as kayaking, hiking, and exploring the nearby Mount Rainier National Park. The Best of Fort Lewis includes a historic military presence, modern shopping centers, and residential neighborhoods with stunning views of the Cascade Mountains.    

One of the main attractions in Fort Lewis, Washington is the Fort Lewis Military Museum, which showcases the history of the military base and its role in various conflicts throughout the years. It is a popular spot for military personnel and history enthusiasts to gather and learn about the area's rich military history. Another attraction in the area is the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, which offers hiking trails, wildlife viewing opportunities, and a visitor center that provides education and information about the unique geological formations found in the area. Fort Lewis has several other parks, including Rainier Vista Community Park and Shoreline Park. These parks offer amenities such as playgrounds, sports fields, picnic areas, and walking paths, providing plenty of opportunities for residents to enjoy the outdoors.    


There are several significant employers in and around Fort Lewis, Washington, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which is one of the largest military installations in the country. Additionally, there are several other military-related businesses and contractors in the area.      
The cost of living around Fort Lewis, Washington is slightly higher than the national average but still relatively affordable compared to other cities in the region. Housing costs are the main factor contributing to this higher cost of living, as the demand for housing in the area has increased in recent years due to its proximity to Seattle and its natural beauty. There are a variety of housing options available, including single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses in the area. 

If you're searching for a town that offers easy access to larger cities, a large military community, and a plethora of outdoor activities, Fort Lewis, Washington, may be the ideal location for you! Continue reading to discover more about what it's like to reside in Fort Lewis, including information about surrounding towns, schools, cost of living, and some pros and cons of living in Fort Lewis, Washington. The information can help assist you in determining whether living in the Fort Lewis, Washington, area is ta good decision for you.      

The Moving to Fort Lewis Washington Team

Let our team of trusted professionals help you buy or/and sell a home in Fort Lewis, Washington. To connect with a local expert/real estate professional in Fort Lewis, Washington, CLICK HERETo start receiving emails with homes that match your criteria anywhere in Washington, CLICK HERE and sign up for Listing Alert. With a little info on what, where, and how much, you'll get newly listed homes matching your criteria sent to your inbox as they hit the market. This can give you a big leg up in your home search.

The first step in the home-buying process is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Todd Davidson is an experienced mortgage broker and can help you get the best financing option for your home purchase. Not quite ready yet? Todd can help you put together a plan to get you there. Whether you're thinking a few months or a year or more if you want to buy a home, reach out to Todd and he can help. CLICK HERE to email Todd and set up a call to get the process started or just call him at 971-275-2465. 

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Todd Davidson

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Being Transferred to Fort Lewis. Where Should I Live?

People at Fort Lewis, or Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), live in a variety of areas surrounding the base. The choice of where to live depends on factors such as personal preferences, proximity to amenities, commute time, and housing availability. Here are some common areas where people at Fort Lewis/JBLM choose to live:

  1. Lakewood: Lakewood is the closest city to the base and is a popular choice for military personnel and their families. It offers a range of housing options, including apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes. Lakewood has amenities such as shopping centers, restaurants, and parks.

  2. Tacoma: Tacoma is another popular choice for those stationed at Fort Lewis. It is a larger city with a wide range of housing options and neighborhoods to suit different preferences. Tacoma has a thriving arts and cultural scene, as well as amenities like shopping malls, restaurants, and waterfront activities.

  3. Spanaway: Spanaway is located east of Fort Lewis and is known for its more affordable housing options compared to other nearby areas. It offers a mix of suburban and rural neighborhoods, and it may appeal to those looking for a quieter and more budget-friendly living environment.

  4. Puyallup: Puyallup is northeast of Fort Lewis and is often favored by military families. It has a friendly community atmosphere, good schools, and a range of housing options. Puyallup hosts the annual Puyallup Fair, which is a popular event in the region.

  5. Olympia: Olympia is the capital city of Washington State and is located south of Fort Lewis. While the commute from Olympia to Fort Lewis can be longer, some people choose to live there for its small-town charm, scenic beauty, and recreational opportunities. Olympia offers a range of housing options and has a vibrant downtown area.

Can I live in Fort Lewis on the base?

Yes, as a military service member being transferred to Fort Lewis (Joint Base Lewis-McChord), you have the option to live on the base in military housing. Fort Lewis does provide housing for military personnel and their families through the installation's housing office. The housing options on base vary and can include single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments.

To explore your housing options and apply for on-base housing, you should contact the Fort Lewis Housing Office or visit the base's housing website. They can provide you with information about availability, application procedures, and eligibility requirements. CLICK HERE for more information.

Living on the base can offer convenience, proximity to work, and access to various base amenities and services. However, it's essential to consider your personal preferences, such as housing preferences, commute considerations, and lifestyle factors, when deciding whether to live on-base or explore off-base options.

Living in Fort Lewis Washington Tips/Info/Blog Posts

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Pros and Cons of Living in Fort Lewis Washington

Living in Fort Lewis Washington Pros

  1. Military support services: Fort Lewis provides comprehensive support services for military personnel and their families, including healthcare, education, housing, and employment assistance.

  2. Commissary and Exchange facilities: The base features commissaries and exchanges that offer discounted shopping options for groceries, household items, and other goods.

  3. Access to on-base amenities: Residents of Fort Lewis have access to various on-base amenities such as fitness centers, libraries, swimming pools, parks, and recreational facilities.

  4. Strong sense of community: Fort Lewis fosters a close-knit community, providing opportunities for socializing, camaraderie, and support among military families.

  5. Security and safety: Being a military installation, Fort Lewis offers enhanced security measures and a safe living environment for its residents.

  6. Convenient location: Fort Lewis is strategically located near major cities like Tacoma and Seattle, providing easy access to urban amenities, cultural attractions, and employment opportunities.

  7. Proximity to natural beauty: Fort Lewis is surrounded by the scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest, with opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and skiing.

  8. Educational opportunities: The Clover Park School District, which serves the Fort Lewis area, offers quality education with a range of programs and resources for students.

  9. Job opportunities: Fort Lewis and the surrounding area provide employment opportunities both within the military installation and in various civilian sectors, including government, healthcare, and education.

  10. Supportive military community: Fort Lewis offers a supportive environment for military families, with resources and services specifically tailored to the unique needs of military personnel.

  11. Cultural diversity: Fort Lewis embraces a diverse population, allowing residents to experience and appreciate different cultures and backgrounds.

  12. Healthcare facilities: The base provides access to quality healthcare services, including hospitals, clinics, and specialized medical care for military personnel and their families.

  13. Recreation and leisure activities: Fort Lewis offers a wide range of recreational activities for residents, including sports fields, gyms, parks, and organized events.

  14. Family-friendly environment: The base is designed with families in mind, providing amenities such as playgrounds, childcare services, and family-oriented events.

  15. Military history and heritage: Fort Lewis has a rich military history, and residents have the opportunity to explore and learn about the contributions of the base and its personnel over the years.

Living in Fort Lewis Washington Cons

  1. Transient population: Being a military installation, Fort Lewis has a transient population, with residents frequently moving due to deployments or reassignments, which can impact the stability of friendships and community connections.

  2. Noise and activity level: Living on or near a military base can result in increased noise levels, especially during training exercises and military operations.

  3. Traffic congestion: Commuting during peak hours can be challenging, particularly on and off the base, as the roads may experience congestion due to high volumes of military and civilian traffic.

  4. Limited off-base amenities: While there are nearby towns and cities, the immediate area surrounding Fort Lewis may have limited amenities, such as shopping centers, restaurants, and entertainment options.

  5. Weather conditions: The Pacific Northwest is known for its rainy weather, and residents of Fort Lewis may need to adapt to the region's climate, which can be damp and cloudy for extended periods.

  6. Limited employment options: The job market outside the military base may be limited, and military spouses may face challenges finding suitable employment opportunities.

  7. Limited housing availability: Due to the demand for military housing, there may be limited availability, leading to possible wait times or restrictions on housing options.

  8. Restricted privacy: Living on a military base typically means living in close proximity to neighbors, resulting in less privacy compared to living in a traditional civilian community.

FAQs About Living in Fort Lewis Washington

What is Fort Lewis known for?

Fort Lewis, Washington, is most known for its military base, which is home to various units and commands of the United States Army. The base attracts soldiers and their families from all over the world and features multiple facilities and activities such as training grounds, barracks, dining halls, and a commissary. The military presence at Fort Lewis is a significant part of the region's identity and has become an iconic symbol of the area's commitment to national defense.      

What cities are nearby Fort Lewis?

Fort Lewis, Washington, is located in Pierce County, part of the Puget Sound region in the northwestern part of the state. The military base is approximately 50 miles south of Seattle and 10 miles south of Tacoma. Fort Lewis is close to several other cities in the area, including Olympia, about 20 miles to the southwest, Puyallup, about 15 miles to the north, and Lakewood about 4 miles to the Northwest. The base is also within easy driving distance of other popular destinations in the region, such as Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Forest, and the Pacific coast. Fort Lewis' central location in Pierce County makes it an excellent starting point for exploring the surrounding natural beauty and nearby cities.      

What is the weather like in Fort Lewis Washington?

Living in Fort Lewis, Washington, you can expect mild weather throughout the year. In the winter months, the average high temperatures range from 45°F to 50°F, and the average low temperatures range from 32°F to 35°F. The area occasionally experiences light snowfall during the winter, with an average of 7 inches of snowfall annually. Summers in Fort Lewis are mild, with average high temperatures ranging from 70°F to 75°F and occasional hot spells in the 80s and 90s. The area receives around 33 inches of rain yearly, with most precipitation occurring in the fall and winter months.      


Does Fort Lewis Washington have good public schools?

Students in Fort Lewis, Washington, attend public school in the Clover Park School District, which serves the city of Lakewood and some surrounding areas. For the 2022-23 school year, ranks the Clover Park School District #127 out of the 252 school districts in Washington they rank, giving it an overall B- rating. The district is committed to providing a well-rounded education, including arts and athletics, and offers a variety of programs for students with different interests and needs. The district has a diverse student body and strong partnerships with local organizations and businesses. If your kids attend school in Fort Lewis, Washington, they'll get a good education. There's certainly better school districts throughout the state but there are worse too.

Is Fort Lewis Washington safe?

Living in Fort Lewis, Washington, you'll find it a pretty safe place. Property crime rates in Fort Lewis are lower than the national average, and violent crime rates are significantly lower than the national average. states Fort Lewis has a crime rate lower than 70% of all US cities. Fort Lewis, Washington, residents should feel relatively safe in their daily lives.      

What is there to do living in Fort Lewis, Washington?

Living near Fort Lewis, Washington, you will always have things to do. The area is surrounded by natural beauty, including the Nisqually River and the Olympic Mountains, offering ample opportunities for hiking, biking, and fishing. Fort Lewis boasts several parks, including Eagle Park and Memorial Park, which feature playgrounds, picnic areas, and scenic walking trails. The city hosts several annual events, including the Washington State Fair, which attracts visitors from around the state, and the Tacoma Film Festival, offering screenings of independent films. If you're looking for a day trip, Fort Lewis is located near attractions like Mount Rainier National Park and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities or cultural experiences, there is always something to do in Fort Lewis, Washington.     

Who are large employers in Fort Lewis, Washington?

If living in Fort Lewis, Washington, some of the top employers include the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which employs over 56,000 military and civilian personnel, the Madigan Army Medical Center, which employs over 5,000 people, and the Clover Park School District, which employs over 2,000 people. Other notable employers in Fort Lewis include the Washington State Department of Corrections, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, and various defense contractors. With a diverse range of employers, residents of Fort Lewis can find opportunities in the military, healthcare, education, law enforcement, and more.      

I want to relocate to Fort Lewis.  How do I make it happen?

You've come to the right spot if you're looking to move to Fort Lewis, Washington.  There’s a lot of information on this website to help including some helpful links below. If you want to ask questions, try our Facebook Group > Moving to Washington  where we have broad group of locals to answer any question you might have. If you’re looking to buy a home in the Fort Lewis area, getting pre-approved for a mortgage should be your first step. For Mortgage Info, reach out to me. I would love to tell you more about what living in Fort Lewis, Washington, is like as well as help with your mortgage if you decide to purchase a home.

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