Tacoma's downtown has gone through a revival over the past few decades, with new museums, a light rail system and a branch of the University of Washington.
The metro area lies within striking distance of some of the most spectacular scenery in the Pacific Northwest, including Puget Sound, Mt Ranier and Olympia National Park.
Still, the local housing market lost more value -- 22% -- than did nearby Seattle in the past three years. It did, however, outperformed the nation as a whole, where prices fell 27.1% since September 2006.
Fiserv and Moody's Economy.com project the city to keep outperforming the nation, with an annualized gain of 4% through September 2011.
Helping to boost prices will be careful growth policies that the state has urged its cities to pursue. Development is limited to mostly a few core areas and density is encouraged while much of the area's exurbs are maintained as farmland and natural reserves.