11 Best Places to Live in Washington State: Washington's Top Cities

Where to Live in Washington: Spokane

Searching for the best cities in Washington? From bustling metropolises to serene suburbs, Washington's top cities offer a unique blend of cultural experiences, employment opportunities, and scenic beauty. Whether living in Seattle, the state's cultural and economic hub, or residing in the state's southwest to take advantage of the benefits of living in Washington while working in Oregon, these coveted destinations have something for everyone. Let's find out which Washington cities lead the pack.

Highlights of Washington's Best Cities

  • Seattle boasts a thriving job market with tech leadership, a rich arts and music scene, and numerous outdoor recreational options that merge urban life with nature.
  • Cities in the southwest portion of the state, like Vancouver, offer easy access to Portland's amenities along with their own.
  • Bellevue, Olympia, and Bellingham offer a blend of education, vibrancy, affordable living, and access to natural beauty.
  • Smaller cities like Walla Walla, Redmond, and Bainbridge Island provide a unique balance of economic growth, tech industry presence, and commitment to environmentally friendly living, all while maintaining a small-town charm.

Seattle: The Evergreen City

Seattle is One of the Most Popular Places to Live in Washington

In the northwest corner of the Evergreen State, Seattle stands tall with its towering city skyline and vibrant downtown area. As a bustling metropolis that's constantly on the move, Seattle's job market offers opportunities for all. A common question for those moving to the Pacific Northwest: is Seattle or Portland, Oregon, better to live in? Both cities are wonderful choices. Seattle is one of the most expensive places to live in Washington, but you truly get what you pay for.

But it's not just about the work; immerse yourself in the rich history and thriving arts scene, or escape to the stunning natural surroundings that this big city uniquely offers.

Tech Hub and Job Opportunities

Seattle's robust job market is a beacon for tech aficionados and professionals across various industries. With Amazon and Microsoft at the forefront, the city's economic landscape is a testament to innovation and growth. The demand for tech expertise, alongside fields like healthcare and renewable energy, keeps the job market dynamic and ever-expanding.

Rich Arts and Music Scene

The soul of Seattle is its music and arts, rooted in history and pulsing with contemporary vibrancy. From the legendary grunge movement to the world-renowned Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the city's cultural offerings are as rich as its coffee. An array of theatres and art galleries in the Pioneer Square district further accentuates Seattle's artistic spirit.

Outdoor Recreation and Green Spaces

For outdoor enthusiasts, Seattle's stunning scenery is a playground of endless possibilities. Whether it's sailing on Puget Sound or hiking through Discovery Park, the city offers an exceptional blend of urban amenities and green spaces. 

Vancouver: The Best of Living In Washington & Oregon

Vancouver, Washington, is a hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest. Nestled on the north bank of the Columbia River, Vancouver offers a unique blend of natural beauty, a strong sense of community, and a vibrant local economy. Here are some compelling reasons why Vancouver is one of the best places to live in Washington State.

Live in Vancouver, Work in Portland

One of the unique advantages of living in Vancouver, Washington, is the ability to enjoy the best of both worlds: the serene, community-oriented lifestyle of Vancouver and the dynamic Portland economy.

One of the most notable financial benefits is the absence of a state income tax in Washington. While Oregon has a state income tax, Washington does not. This allows Vancouver residents who work remote jobs in Portland to save a substantial amount of money on state income taxes, providing a significant financial advantage.

Vancouver offers a significantly lower cost of living compared to Portland. Housing, utilities, and everyday expenses tend to be more affordable in Vancouver, allowing residents to save money while still enjoying a high quality of life.

Affordable Living and Housing Market

Compared to other cities in the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver offers more affordable living options. The cost of living in Vancouver is lower than in nearby Portland, making it an attractive option for those looking to enjoy the amenities of a larger city without the high expenses. The housing market in Vancouver is also more accessible, with a variety of housing options ranging from modern apartments to charming historic homes.

Homes are typically priced from the mid-$200s to $1 million, with a median listing price in the mid-$500s. Even Vancouver's luxury homes are relatively affordable, with prices ranging from the $700s to just over $4 million.

Natural Beauty and Outdoor Recreation

Vancouver is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes that offer a plethora of outdoor activities. The city's proximity to the Columbia River Gorge provides residents with easy access to hiking, biking, and water sports. Vancouver's best parks, including Esther Short Park and Vancouver Waterfront Park, offer beautiful green spaces within the city for relaxation and recreation. Additionally, the nearby Cascade Range provides opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and mountain climbing, making Vancouver a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Olympia: The State Capital with a Creative Vibe

Olympia is a Great Place to Live in Washington

Olympia, the capital of Washington State, exudes a creative vibe that resonates through its dynamic arts and culture scene. It offers an affordable lifestyle with close-knit communities that are within easy reach of natural attractions, making it an ideal place to live in Washington.

Dynamic Arts and Culture Scene

The city's heart is the unique businesses and lively downtown entertainment. Olympia's theatres, museums, and public art installations are central to its vibrant community, offering a rich blend of experiences that reflect the city's commitment to arts and heritage.

Proximity to Natural Attractions

Nature enthusiasts will find Olympia's location near the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge perfect for outdoor activities and wildlife observation. The city's waterfront walkways and vibrant Olympia Creative District provide breathtaking scenery and a taste of the great outdoors.

Affordable Housing Options

Olympia offers a range of affordable housing options that make it an attractive destination for those seeking a balance between quality of life and economic practicality. The average home value in Olympia is in the low $500s.

Bellevue: A Cosmopolitan Suburb with Scenic Beauty

Bellevue is where the charm of a mid-sized city meets the allure of a cosmopolitan suburb. Its variety of schools attracts families who seek a fantastic place to live, while its beautiful parks and trails appeal to those who cherish the Pacific Northwest's natural beauty.

Schools and Friendly Environment

Education takes center stage in Bellevue, with an array of schools that prioritize quality learning and a supportive environment. It's a tight-knit community where all thrive academically and socially.

Beautiful Parks and Trails

Bellevue's parks and trails are a testament to the city's commitment to outdoor recreation and stunning scenery. With over 2,700 acres of green spaces, including the Bellevue Botanical Garden, residents can enjoy everything from guided nature walks to environmental education.

Thriving Cultural Arts Scene

The cultural heart of Bellevue beats with a thriving arts scene that engages its community. Annually, over 35,000 people participate in recreation programs that range from interactive arts experiences to sports.

Bellingham: Coastal College Town with a Love for the Outdoors

Bellingham is a Great Coast City in Washington

Bellingham's coastal charm and college vibes are infused with a love for the outdoors. The city is located on Bellingham Bay, approximately 85 miles north of Seattle and just over 50 miles southeast of Vancouver, British Columbia. It's a community that celebrates its picturesque setting with a vibrant local food scene and a range of outdoor adventures that are sure to captivate any visitor.

Western Washington University and College Vibes

Western Washington University is the cornerstone of Bellingham's energy, contributing significantly to the town's cultural and economic fabric. Students and residents alike enjoy a town that's both an adventure and a haven, with its charming residential streets adding to the appeal.

Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Outdoor enthusiasts will find Bellingham's natural landscape irresistible. From kayaking in Bellingham Bay to skiing on Mount Baker, the city offers a wealth of scenic views and adventures.

Craft Breweries and Local Food Scene

Bellingham's craft brewery scene is a vibrant part of its cultural landscape. The city's breweries, often situated in the downtown area, add to the appeal of Bellingham's outdoor-friendly atmosphere.

Spokane: Eastern Washington's Urban Oasis

Spokane is an urban oasis in Eastern Washington. A city where economic vibrancy and affordable living meet the natural splendor of the Spokane River, Spokane is a gem in the Pacific Northwest.

Spokane River and Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park and the Spokane River, located near the Columbia River and the stunning Columbia River Gorge, are Spokane's crown jewels. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy a breathtaking urban waterfall and a myriad of recreational activities.

Booming Economy and Job Market

Spokane's economy is robust, with a job market that continues to offer opportunities in a variety of sectors. The city's strength is its ability to grow and innovate, making it a hub for both established companies and startups.

Affordable Living

Affordable living and a spectrum of neighborhoods make Spokane a magnet for new residents, with average home prices hovering around $400,000. The city's cost of living is a draw, particularly for those who want to enjoy urban amenities without the hefty price tag.

Walla Walla: Wine Country Charm and Economic Growth

Walla Walla is One of the Best Cities to Live in Washington

Walla Walla's charm is rich, with an economy that's growing as steadily as its vineyards. This Southeast Washington city offers a perfect blend of a small-town feel with the sophistication of big-city amenities.

Growing Wine Industry and Tourism

The thriving wine industry and tourism are the lifeblood of Walla Walla's economy. With its American Viticultural Area status and a range of wineries, this city is a haven for wine lovers and a catalyst for economic vitality.

Lower Cost of Living

The allure of Walla Walla extends to its affordability. With a cost of living that's below the national average and home prices averaging around $400,000, life here is accessible and enjoyable, letting residents indulge in the simple pleasures without financial strain.

Small-Town Feel with Big-City Amenities

Walla Walla strikes a unique balance, offering the warmth of a small town with the conveniences of a larger city. Its booming agricultural sector not only enriches the local economy but also adds to the city's charm with its vibrant produce like the sweet Walla Walla onions.

Redmond: Tech Town with a Green Heart

Redmond's identity is twofold: a tech town with a heart deeply rooted in environmental sustainability. From major industries to green spaces, Redmond is a place where innovation meets nature just 15 miles from Downtown Seattle. The distance between is comparable to that between Portland and Wilsonville, Oregon

Major Industries and Job Opportunities

The city's thriving job market is a reflection of its status as a tech hub, with major companies like Microsoft and Nintendo calling Redmond home. A diverse range of industries ensures a robust economy and ample job opportunities for its residents.

Environmentally Sustainable Transportation

Redmond's commitment to the environment is evident in its sustainable transportation initiatives. With ambitious goals for carbon neutrality, the city is a leader in green infrastructure, promoting eco-friendly practices throughout the community.

Access to Outdoor Activities and Green Spaces

The city's access to outdoor activities and green spaces like Marymoor Park and the Sammamish River Trail is a paradise for those who love to be outside. Redmond's dedication to environmental protection and recreational spaces makes it a haven for nature enthusiasts.

Tacoma: Affordable City Living with Rich History

Tacoma is One of the Best Cities in Washington

Tacoma is a large suburb of Seattle, located just 30 miles south of the larger city. It offers excellent access to Washington's great outdoors, less than 60 miles from Mount Rainier National Park. Tacoma is a city that offers:

  • Affordable living
  • A rich history
  • A thriving arts community
  • Cultural and recreational amenities

It marries a cost-effective lifestyle with the benefits of urban life.

Affordable Housing and Cost of Living

Affordable housing and a reasonable cost of living are hallmarks of Tacoma, making it a popular choice for those seeking economic practicality. With a cost of living that respects your budget, Tacoma stands out as an affordable destination with much to offer.

Job Opportunities and Growing Economy

Tacoma's growing economy is bolstered by a diverse job market, offering opportunities across a range of industries. The city's falling unemployment rate is a positive sign of its economic health and the dynamic environment it fosters.

Rich History and Cultural Attractions

Tacoma's rich history is reflected in its cultural attractions, from historical landmarks to vibrant arts venues. The city's heritage and creative spirit are sources of pride and joy for locals and visitors alike.

Kirkland: Lake Washington's Waterfront Gem

Kirkland is a gem on the shores of Lake Washington. It is known for its picturesque waterfront, educational options, and community that values quality of life. It's a place where the charm of a small town meets the sophistication of a vibrant downtown area.

Picturesque Waterfront and Parks

Kirkland's picturesque waterfront and parks are its pride. With Lake Washington as its backdrop and open spaces like Bridle Trails State Park, the community enjoys scenic beauty and second-to-none outdoor activities. 

Schools and Community

Kirkland's schools are a cornerstone of the community, reflecting a commitment to academic achievement and student success. The city's educational institutions are recognized for their innovation, contributing to a strong and supportive community.

Vibrant Downtown Area and Shopping

The vibrant downtown area of Kirkland offers a unique shopping experience that blends culture with leisure. From art to dining, the city's downtown is a bustling hub of activity that caters to all preferences.

Bainbridge Island: Waterfront Living with Small-Town Charm

Bainbridge Island is a Nice Place to Live in Washington

Bainbridge Island offers an idyllic escape with its waterfront living and small-town charm. A mere 10-mile ferry ride from downtown Seattle, it's a world apart, providing a tranquil lifestyle with all the benefits of city proximity.

Beautiful Waterfront and Nature Preserves

Bainbridge Island's luxurious waterfront properties and nature preserves offer stunning views and a peaceful retreat from the hustle of city life. Residents can connect with nature and enjoy the serene beauty that surrounds them.

Charming Local Shops and Restaurants

The island's charming local shops and restaurants are the heart of its small-town appeal. These independent businesses provide a personal touch and a taste of local culture that's distinct and delightful.

Washington's Vibrant Cities Await

As we've journeyed through Washington's top cities, it's clear each offers its own slice of the state's rich lifestyle and culture. From Seattle's sprawling green spaces and tech-driven economy to the best-of-both-worlds dynamic presented by the Vancouver community, these destinations provide a snapshot of the vibrant living experiences available in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you're drawn to the arts, education, nature, or innovation, Washington's cities invite you to explore and find your perfect place to call home.

Ready to live in Washington? Contact Matin Real Estate at (503) 622-9601 today to reach a local real estate agent who can help you find your dream home in Washington.

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