Kent, WA

The Heart of Puget Sound

Near the scenic, cedar clad shores of Washington's Puget Sound lies the bedroom community of Kent, a well-connected city of nearly 80,000. Conveniently located between Seattle and Tacoma, Kent is close- 18 miles- to both cities but far enough away that it still has an easygoing and friendly atmosphere.

Early settlers fell in love with the Kent valley region because of its rich soil, the towering forests of cedar, hemlock and fir, and above all its mild climate. First a farming community named after the hop-growing city of Kent, England, this small town eventually grew with the growth of various industries. The Union Pacific railroad runs right through Kent's historic downtown, evoking even today the town's railroading and commercial past. It is an old Washington saying that all roads lead to Kent, and today that fact is as true as ever. The Sea-Tac International Airport, just seven miles from downtown, makes this little city well connected with the world. With major corporations such as Microsoft and Boeing headquartered in the area, Kent is not only a good thoroughfare but also an excellent place to put down roots.

Almost everything is within easy reach of Kent residents. Natural attractions, including wilderness areas and majestic Mt. Ranier National Park, are just a few minutesÂ’ drive west of town. Golf courses, shoreline camping, boating, and other recreational opportunities lie directly to the east. Everything is at hand, it seems, including the urban attractions of Seattle, beckoning with its great business climate, cultural events, nightlife, and major league sports.

Kent has been gaining national attention recently for its commitment to the environment. Local organizations and government agencies have committed themselves to preserving the lush forests of this valley, making sure the high quality of life that locals enjoy will continue well into the next century.

Not only is Kent poised to become one of the most economically robust towns in the Puget Sound area, but it is also sure to remain the loveliest.

Kent, WA At-A-Glance

Population: 92,400

Avg. July high: 78

Avg. January low: 33

Avg. Annual Precipitation: 38

Avg. Annual Snowfall: 5

Closest Big City: 18 miles to Seattle

Health Care: 1 hospitals with 6 beds (Dozens in metro area)

Cost of Living: 22% above the national average

Housing Costs: 215,000

Climate

Benefiting from its location just two miles inland from the Puget Sound, Kent is blessed with a remarkably moderate coastal climate.

In spite of its its northerly latitude, the Japan Current keeps it mild.

Here, temperatures rarely dip below the 30s in the winter or rise above 90 in the summer.

In fact, a typical summer day in Kent sees the mercury rest at a balmy 75 degrees. While Kent summers stay cool, winters are rather warm. In January, the 40- degree days often call for no more than a sweater or light jacket. The annual rainfall, usually between 32 and 35 inches, is far more moderate than the legendary deluges of the Olympic Peninsula to the west. In fact, from April to September, less than three inches of rain fall per month on average. Winter months are the rainiest, and from November to January locals do get acquainted with their umbrellas. Kent's warm temperatures and adequate rainfall create ideal conditions for a long growing season, from April to October, which suits local gardeners as well as Kent valley farmers.

It is not unusual to see flowers blooming here year-round.

Art & Culture

With Sea-Tac Airport seven miles away, almost everything is within easy reach of Kent. Natural attractions, wilderness areas, and majestic Mt.

Ranier National Park lie just west of town.

At first glance, Kent may seem to be merely a scenic small town devoted to commerce, but the truth is many activities here center on families. Kent has been named in The 50 Best Places to Raise Your Family, thanks to its heavy involvement in community programs, education, and the arts.

Throughout the year celebrations and festivals entertain adults and children of all ages. During the spring there's Kent KidsÂ’ Arts Day, a festival of hands-on fun held at the Kent Commons.

Another family favorite is the collection of visual, literary, and performing arts at Canterbury Faire, a festival attended by more than 30,000 people annually. A unique medieval village takes locals back in time with children's activities, food, crafts, and entertainment for everyone.

Add the Kent International Balloon Classic and the Summer Concert Series to the long list of annual events.

Kent's award-winning parks and recreation department stages local performances such as the outdoor concert series in Earthworks Park. The Kent Arts Commission Gallery also showcases local visual artists, many of whom take part in the annual Citywide Art Exhibit that takes place in Kent's historic downtown.

The Seattle Center Opera House offers ballet, opera, and symphony performances throughout the year. The University of Washington hosts well-known, traveling artists, as does the Bagley Wright Theatre located in the Seattle Center. A host of museums and galleries are also to be found in Seattle, providing Kent residents easy access to the best cultural events the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

City Recreation

The City of Kent and the surrounding area offer a nearly infinite array of recreational possibilities. For nature lovers, the city takes pride in its mission to conserve the natural ecosystems and educate the community. The city's largest restoration project, the Green River Natural Resources Area has nature walks, wildlife viewing towers, bike paths, and volunteer opportunities to encourage hands-on citizen involvement in the management and maintenance of the facility.

Kent also has a number of parks, lakes, open spaces, and camping grounds that lie within easy reach of town. Lake Meridian for example, has swimming, outdoor sports and picnic facilities, while Panther Lake is known for its breathtaking scenic views and hiking trails. Add the scenic views of Mt. Rainier National Park to the mix, along with its forested nature trails and secluded campsites, and Kent residents have an unparalleled natural playground to enjoy.

For those who like their outdoors a bit more manicured, there are plenty of tennis courts and golf courses in and around Kent. The Riverbend Golf Complex is a typically beautiful example, with verdant grounds against the breathtaking backdrop of the Olympic Mountains. Other citysponsored facilities are the award-winning parks, ballfields, and swimming pools that always seem to be hosting a little league game or weekend picnic.

Kent residents make the most of their close proximity to Puget Sound, and many garages and backyards hold a sea kayak, motorboat, or sailboat. Deep-sea fishing and whale-watching charters leave daily from nearby marinas. Whether by boat or snorkel, it takes a lifetime to really explore the myriad islands in the Puget Sound.

Spectator sports also enjoy an enthusiastic following here. Racing buffs may want to try their luck at the modern Emerald Downs racetrack, where jockeys and horses come from around the world to compete.

The NFL's Seattle Seahawks play in the brand new Seahawks Stadium just a short drive from Kent, and the Seattle Supersonics, the local WNBA and NBA franchises hold court in the Key Arena.

Major-League Baseball is also represented with the local favorites, the Seattle Mariners. Not to be outdone, the college sports scene boasts the perennial football champs, the Washington Huskies.

Education

Mt. Ranier National Park and Lake Meridian are popular destinations for Kent locals. From Puget Sound shores to the Seattle Seahawks football team, it's all within reach of Kent.

During the great economic boom of the 1980's Kent spent significant amounts of money on its infrastructure in order to ensure its public schools would remain among the best in the state. There are more than two dozen elementary schools in the Kent public school system. The more than a half-dozen junior high schools, conveniently located throughout the city, are considered to be high achievement- oriented facilities. Each of the high schools has a unique feature beyond its traditionally high educational standards.

Kent Meridian is known for its modern and diverse athletic programs, while Kentwood offers an excellent drama program and facilities.

For the graduate seeking post-secondary education, there are a number of options.

The nearby Green River and Highline Community Colleges offer a wide array of academic and scholarly programs. Many of their students go on to four-year programs at universities around the country.

Kent is in an excellent position for student commuters. Students residing in Kent are within easy traveling distance of Seattle and Tacoma, and they have access to a large number of universities and institutes around the Puget Sound area. The University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, University of Puget Sound, and St. Martin's College are all nearby. Western Washington University at Bellingham is another excellent school.

Housing & Cost of Living

Boeing, the world's largest aircraft maker, employs over 100,000 people.

The cost of living in Kent is lower than that of other cities in the Puget Sound region, and is between 1% and 10% above the national average.

Child care costs reflect the slightly higher costs in the area. Parents will pay an annual fee of about $8,000 for a four-year-old child at an accredited center, and closer to $12,000 for an infant. Four government-subsidized Head Start programs operate in Kent, and dozens operate in nearby cities.

The housing market moves fast in Kent and surrounding areas, and the average home price here is approximately $308,000.

Condos are becoming a popular, more affordable housing option with average prices less than $175,000.

Kent is the most affordable area of King County. The median household income is also high in King County, averaging more than $80,000. This makes the higher-than-average housing prices more affordable.

Crime & Safety

As a small industrial city, Kent is busy yet relatively safe. The violent crime rate is less than the national average, and the vast majority of crimes committed in Kent are petty crimes committed against property. Residents report feeling quite safe on the streets and in their homes.

The Kent Police Department works closely with the community, maintaining an active and friendly presence. With a newly built Regional Justice Center in downtown Kent, combined with the continued community support and cooperation with local law enforcement, locals can rest assured that their city will remain a safe place to live.

Earning a Living

This family-friendly town is centrally located in the heart of the Puget Sound region...

Kent has long been known as a center for business and industry, and one-third of its residents are employed as professionals or in managerial positions. In this information age, farming and timber products have taken a back seat to the development of high-tech business. Boeing, the world's largest aircraft manufacturer, is an aerospace research and manufacturing corporation that employs tens of thousands of Washingtonians including engineers, machinists, management, and sales personnel.

This does not include support staff and people in the community who work closely with Boeing and its employees.

In addition, King County is home to a large number of companies on the leading edge of high technology. Everything from software and biotechnology companies to water laser manufacturers can be found here. Flow International and the coffee giant Starbuck's are a few of the major players that share the local spotlight with the computer software titan Microsoft Corporation.

Small businesses and start-ups also are finding a prosperous home in the Kent Valley. Many of these businesses are service and sales oriented, and so it's not surprising that more than one-third of residents are employed in these sectors.

Tourist services cater to the countless people who visit the Puget Sound, and other small businesses appreciate the central location of Kent. Located only seven miles away from the Sea-Tac International Airport, Kent is a great place to start a business. The airport's presence gives businesses access to the world and combines with the area's excellent port facilities to make this city into an even more impressive connector.

Health Care

Although Kent does not have a major hospital within its city limits, several world-class medical facilities are only minutes away in the large urban centers of Seattle and Tacoma. Among these is Valley Medical Center, an award-winning hospital that offers a comprehensive array of services.

Million-dollar renovations have added a new emergency treatment center, surgicenter, and children's wing to this facility and increased the hospital's overall patient capacity.

Just 13 miles from Kent, Tacoma General also offers a complete range of the most up-to-date health care facilities.

In addition, the Mary Bridge Children's Hospital provides the best in pediatric medicine.

A half-dozen assisted, congregate, and independent living care centers operate in Kent. The City of Kent's Senior Activity Center has a 21,000-square-foot facility that serves women and men age 50 and older. A variety of programs are provided, which according to the center, enhance the dignity of senior citizens, support their independence, and encourage their involvement in the community.