Are you considering a move to Washington State? With its stunning natural beauty, robust job market, and zero percent income tax, it's no wonder that more and more people are choosing to call this state home. Whether you're looking for a small waterfront town, a vibrant urban neighborhood, or a rural retreat, Washington State has something for everyone. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the best places to live in Washington, highlighting their unique features and attractions. So, let's dive in and discover your perfect place to call home in the Evergreen State.
The Best Places to Live in Washington State
Gig Harbor: A Small Waterfront Town with Breathtaking Views
Move here because: Gig Harbor is a picturesque waterfront town with stunning views of Mount Rainier, excellent schools, and a tight-knit community.
High School Ranking: 61st in Washington State (Gig Harbor High School)
Gig Harbor is a hidden gem nestled across the bridge from Tacoma. This small town offers a serene waterfront lifestyle with breathtaking views of Mount Rainier. The city's downtown area, located on the waterfront, is filled with charming shops, art boutiques, and delicious restaurants. You can rent boats or kayaks to explore the harbor or simply relax and enjoy the stunning views.
Aside from its natural beauty, Gig Harbor boasts excellent schools, making it an ideal place for families. The community is tight-knit and welcoming, with many neighborhood events and activities throughout the year. If you're craving a peaceful coastal lifestyle with access to urban amenities, Gig Harbor is the perfect place to call home.
Green Lake (Seattle): A Walkable Neighborhood with Easy Access to Downtown
Move here because: Green Lake offers a vibrant and walkable neighborhood with easy access to downtown Seattle and a beautiful lake for outdoor activities.
Population: 17,416 (Based on ~2.3 square miles around the lake)
High School Ranking: 13th in Washington State (Roosevelt High School)
Just 10 minutes north of downtown Seattle, Green Lake is a vibrant neighborhood known for its walkability and outdoor recreational opportunities. The neighborhood is centered around the picturesque Green Lake, a popular destination for walkers, joggers, and cyclists. The 2.8-mile-long path that encircles the lake is a favorite among locals, especially during the summer months.
Green Lake offers easy access to downtown Seattle via light rail and several bus lines. The neighborhood is also surrounded by other vibrant areas such as the University District and Wallingford, which provide additional dining and shopping options. With its proximity to downtown and a wealth of outdoor activities, Green Lake is an ideal choice for those seeking an active and convenient urban lifestyle.
Spokane: Affordable Living with Natural Beauty at Your Doorstep
Move here because: Spokane offers affordable living, stunning natural beauty, and a thriving job market in Eastern Washington.
High School Ranking: 64th in Washington State (Ferris High School)
Located about 280 miles east of Seattle, Spokane is a vibrant city in Eastern Washington that offers a lower cost of living compared to the western part of the state. Home prices in Spokane are significantly more affordable, making it an attractive option for those looking to stretch their budget.
Spokane is surrounded by natural beauty, with the Selkirk Mountains to the north and the Spokane River running through the downtown area. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, and water sports in the nearby mountains and rivers. The city itself has a thriving job market, particularly in sectors such as healthcare, education, and technology.
With its affordable cost of living, stunning natural surroundings, and a growing economy, Spokane is an excellent choice for those seeking a balanced lifestyle in Eastern Washington.
Wenatchee: A Sunny Retreat in the Cascade Foothills
Move here because: Wenatchee offers abundant sunshine, outdoor recreation, and a strong sense of community in the heart of the Cascade foothills.
High School Ranking: 195th in Washington State (Wenatchee High School)
Nestled on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains, Wenatchee enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine per year, making it a paradise for sun seekers. The region's dry climate and proximity to the mountains offer endless opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, and boating.
Wenatchee has a strong sense of community, with regular events and festivals that bring neighbors together. The city is also home to a growing arts scene, with local galleries and theaters showcasing the talents of local artists.
While home prices in Wenatchee have risen in recent years, they remain more affordable than in major urban areas like Seattle. The city's lower cost of living, combined with its natural beauty and community spirit, make Wenatchee an appealing choice for those looking to embrace an active and sunny lifestyle in the heart of Washington State.
Camano Island: A Rural Retreat with Accessible Beaches
Move here because: Camano Island offers a rural setting, stunning beaches, and a close-knit community without the need for a ferry ride.
High School Ranking: 144th in Washington State (Stanwood High School)
While many of Washington's islands require a ferry ride or a long drive to access, Camano Island is different. Connected to the mainland by a bridge, Camano Island offers a rural retreat without the hassle of ferry schedules. The island is known for its natural beauty, with 32 scenic beaches that are easily accessible to residents.
Despite its rural setting, Camano Island is home to a close-knit community. With a population of over 17,000, the island offers a sense of community and a slower pace of life. Residents can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and beachcombing.
Camano Island is particularly popular as a retirement destination, offering a peaceful and picturesque setting for those looking to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Bellingham: A Mid-Sized City with a Thriving Arts Scene
Move here because: Bellingham is a vibrant mid-sized city with a thriving arts scene, beautiful surroundings, and a strong sense of community.
High School Ranking: 30th in Washington State (Sehome High School)
Situated 90 miles north of Seattle, Bellingham offers the perfect balance between urban amenities and natural beauty. The city has a growing downtown area with a diverse range of restaurants, shops, and galleries. Bellingham is also home to Western Washington University, which contributes to the city's vibrant arts scene.
Surrounded by stunning landscapes, including the nearby San Juan Islands and Mount Baker, outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities for hiking, skiing, and kayaking. Bellingham's strong sense of community is evident in its numerous neighborhood events, farmers markets, and festivals that bring residents together.
With its lively arts scene, natural beauty, and welcoming community, Bellingham is an excellent choice for those seeking a mid-sized city with a vibrant and active lifestyle.
Kirkland: A Waterfront Oasis on the East Side of Lake Washington
Move here because: Kirkland offers a beautiful waterfront, excellent schools, and a vibrant downtown with a wide array of shops and restaurants.
High School Ranking: 20th in Washington State (Lake Washington High School)
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, Kirkland is a waterfront oasis known for its picturesque views and vibrant downtown area. The city offers a range of outdoor activities, including waterfront parks, marinas, and scenic walking trails.
Kirkland is home to highly-rated schools, making it an attractive choice for families. The city's downtown area is a hub of activity, with a plethora of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Whether you're strolling along the waterfront, enjoying the city's parks, or exploring the downtown area, Kirkland offers a welcoming and lively atmosphere.
While home prices in Kirkland are higher than the state average, the city's exceptional quality of life, excellent schools, and beautiful surroundings make it a highly sought-after place to live.
North End (Tacoma): An Urban Neighborhood with a Small-Town Feel
Move here because: Tacoma's North End offers an urban lifestyle with a small-town feel, excellent seafood restaurants, and easy access to downtown Tacoma.
Population: 27,109 (North End Neighborhood)
High School Ranking: 84th in Washington State (Stadium High School)
Tacoma's North End neighborhood combines the best of both worlds: an urban lifestyle with a small-town feel. This vibrant neighborhood is known for its walkable streets, beautiful historic homes, and excellent seafood restaurants. The North End is just a short distance from downtown Tacoma, where you can find even more dining and entertainment options.
The median listing price for homes in the North End is comparable to nearby Bellingham, making it an affordable choice for those seeking an urban character without the high prices of Seattle neighborhoods. With its welcoming community, charming streets, and proximity to downtown Tacoma, the North End is an excellent option for those looking for a close-knit neighborhood in an urban setting.
Leavenworth: A Bavarian-Inspired Town with Outdoor Recreation
Move here because: Leavenworth offers a charming Bavarian atmosphere, a thriving arts scene, and easy access to outdoor activities in the nearby mountains.
High School Ranking: 175th in Washington State (Cascade High School)
Leavenworth is a town like no other. Remodeled around a Bavarian aesthetic, it exudes charm and offers a unique cultural experience. The town is famous for its festivals, including Oktoberfest and its magical Christmas lights. But Leavenworth is not just a tourist destination; it's also an increasingly popular place to live.
Located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth offers easy access to a wide range of outdoor activities. From hiking and biking in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter, there's something for everyone to enjoy. The town also has a burgeoning restaurant scene, featuring everything from German bratwurst to tacos and Italian cuisine.
With its distinctive charm, thriving arts scene, and proximity to outdoor recreation, Leavenworth provides a unique and fulfilling lifestyle for its residents.
Snoqualmie: A Mountain Retreat Close to Urban Amenities
Move here because: Snoqualmie offers a mountain retreat with stunning waterfalls, a close-knit community, and easy access to Seattle and the Eastside.
High School Ranking: 21st in Washington State (Mount Si High School)
Snoqualmie is an enchanting mountain retreat located just a short drive from Seattle and the Eastside suburbs. The town is famous for its breathtaking Snoqualmie Falls, a majestic waterfall that attracts visitors from near and far. Residents of Snoqualmie can enjoy the beauty of the falls year-round and explore the surrounding trails and parks.
Despite its proximity to urban amenities, Snoqualmie maintains a close-knit community and a slower pace of life. The town's historical district adds charm and character to the area, making it a desirable place to live. While home prices have risen in recent years, Snoqualmie offers a more affordable option compared to some of the nearby neighborhoods in Seattle.
With its natural beauty, strong sense of community, and convenient access to Seattle and the Eastside, Snoqualmie provides a perfect balance between peaceful mountain living and urban convenience.
Queen Anne (Seattle): Stunning Views and Urban Convenience
Move here because: Queen Anne offers stunning views of downtown Seattle, a vibrant neighborhood, and easy access to urban amenities.
High School Ranking: 12th in Washington State (Ranking for Garfield High School as Lincoln High School is currently unranked)
Queen Anne is a neighborhood that boasts breathtaking views of downtown Seattle and a vibrant community. Perched atop a 520-foot high hill, Queen Anne offers stunning panoramic views of the city skyline, Puget Sound, and the surrounding mountains. The neighborhood itself is known for its charming residential streets, historic homes, and a wealth of amenities.
Queen Anne provides easy access to downtown Seattle, making it a convenient choice for those who work or enjoy the city's cultural offerings. The neighborhood has a thriving dining scene, with a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars to explore. The community is active and engaged, with numerous local events and festivals that bring neighbors together.
With its stunning views, vibrant neighborhood, and close proximity to downtown Seattle, Queen Anne offers an exceptional urban living experience.
Walla Walla: Washington Wine Country and a Growing Economy
Move here because: Walla Walla is the heart of Washington wine country, with a booming economy, and a more affordable cost of living.
High School Ranking: 124th in Washington State (Walla Walla High School)
Walla Walla is a vibrant city located in the heart of Washington wine country. With over 120 wineries in the surrounding area, it has become a destination for wine enthusiasts from around the world. The city itself boasts a charming downtown area filled with tasting rooms, restaurants, and boutique shops.
Beyond its reputation as a wine lover's paradise, Walla Walla is experiencing a growing economy and a lower cost of living compared to major urban areas like Seattle. The city offers a range of job opportunities in various sectors, including agriculture, healthcare, and education.
Walla Walla's sense of community is evident in its numerous local events, farmers markets, and cultural festivals. With its thriving wine industry, affordable cost of living, and strong community spirit, Walla Walla is an excellent choice for those seeking a vibrant and fulfilling lifestyle.
Washington State offers a diverse range of communities, each with its own unique charm and attractions. Whether you're drawn to the small waterfront town of Gig Harbor, the vibrant urban neighborhood of Green Lake in Seattle, or the rural retreat of Camano Island, there is a perfect place for you in Washington State.
From the stunning natural beauty of Wenatchee to the thriving arts scene of Bellingham, each city and neighborhood has something special to offer. With its robust job market, zero percent income tax, and breathtaking summers, Washington State is a place where you can truly thrive.
So, start exploring and find your perfect place to call home in the beautiful and diverse state of Washington.