Much like how Clark Kent steps into a phone booth and emerges as Superman, the city of Kent in Washington state is rapidly transforming into one of the premier cities in the Pacific Northwest. The growing city has a population now over 125,000, a strong manufacturing sector, great parks, and a growing number of cultural activities. Kent is on the rise, but is it somewhere you want to live? Here are 15 things to consider before buying a home in Kent...
During the 1880s hops farmers in Kent saved Europe's beer production after an aphid invasion wrecked the continent's own hops crop. The city supplied Europe with so much hops they went right ahead and named the town for Kent County in England, a major hops producing region at the time. Kent's hops boom was followed by a hops bust in 1891 when the area's crop was decimated by its own aphid invasion.
There was a time when Kent was lampooned by the local sketch comedy show Almost Live (see the video above). While many residents still drive pickups and enjoy a cold beer at the end of the day (Kent is part of America), the reputation of being a hillbilly outpost doesn't really fit. Also, neighboring Seattle had to stop making fun of Kent after the city stole Seattle's hockey team.
Kent is known by some as "Fist City," since it's home to the area's only professional hockey team. The Seattle Thunderbirds play in the ShoWare Center in Kent. This Western Hockey League team has been a training ground for dozens of future NHL players, including current San Jose Sharks player Patrick Marleau.
Kent is home to some of the most passionate Seattle Seahawks fans, but the city still finds room in its heart for one other football team. Kent is home to the Seattle Mist, an all-women's indoor football team that plays in the Legends Football League. Ticket are much cheaper and easier to come by than Seahawks games.
The average sale price for a home in Kent is around $260,000, which is considerably cheaper than nearby Seattle or Bellevue.
Kent is a fine name for a city, but that hasn't stopped it from taking on a variety of nicknames, including Titusville, Gateway to Auburn, Lettuce Capital of the World, Hopsville, Fist City, Beef Jerky Capital of America.
Oberto started as a small salami and sausage shop, but has turned into a major meat snack brand with an extensive jerky portfolio. Headquartered in Kent, the company sponsors some pretty awesome hydroplane race teams, supports the local Seattle Seahawks, and has a number of job openings for those looking to break into the jerky biz.
What's the funniest rap/comedy duo to come out of Kent? The Fung Brothers. Who coined the term "Linsanity" during the height of NBA player Jeremy Lin's popularity? The Fung Brothers. Who moved away to California after getting a little taste success? Well, The Fung Brothers. Still, Kent's proud of two local boys who made good.
The average commute for Kent residents 29.5 minutes, a total of 4.4 more minutes per trip than Seattle residents endure. Over the course of the year this adds up to nearly 40 hours, practically an additional work week. Perhaps all this extra time in traffic is why Kent residents are more up to date on sports talk radio topics, as well as Katy Perry lyrics.
Boeing is the number one employer in Kent. It's also the number two employer (Boeing Systems Integration). In addition to all the usual airplane related work, the Kent plant built the Apollo Moon Buggie back in 1970. The only downside of the city's dependence on Boeing is it will be world of financial pain if people suddenly start traveling by jetpack instead of airplane.
Due to its location, Kent is at the doorstep of plenty of outdoor recreation—57 miles from the nearest ski resort and 45 miles to Mt. Rainier National Park. Proximity to the outdoors comes in handy for REI, a Kent-based company that creates great clothing and gear to enjoy the outdoors. The company started as cooperative for climbing buddies to share gear, but now is a global company.
Kent isn't the birthplace of many celebrities, but it does produce a lot of really funny people, including SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne and comedian/pitbull advocate Rebecca Corry. Actress Josie Bissett ( Melrose Place ), WNBA guard Courtney Vandersloot, and NFL kicker Jeff Jaeger also grew up in Kent.
Kent was once renowned for its farms, but all that flat land also appealed to people looking for a place to put warehouses near major freeways. Still, if society suddenly returns to being the agrarian society as Thomas Jefferson envisioned, Kent will make a fine place to start planting. The whole city is sitting on fantastic farm land.
Unlike neighboring cities like Seattle that have few children, Kent has the fifth largest child population of the 20 largest cities in the state. The city has a large number of parks and ballfields, as well as area businesses that cater to kids and families.
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