5 min read

Ultimate Guide to Living in Washington: Top Picks for Everyone

Looking for the perfect spot to call home in Washington State? You're in luck. From bustling cities to quiet, cozy towns, Washington's got a little bit of everything. Whether you're after the techy vibes of Seattle or the serene beauty of the San Juan Islands, there's a place just waiting for you to unpack your bags and settle in.

Tobi Miles
April 5, 2024
Ultimate Guide to Living in Washington: Top Picks for Everyone

And let's not forget the coffee, the culture, and the unbeatable outdoor adventures. Washington isn't just a place to live; it's a place to thrive. So, grab a cup of your favorite brew, and let's dive into some of the best spots this rain-loving state has to offer.

Key Takeaways

  • Washington State offers a diverse range of living options catering to retirees, young adults, families, and those seeking gender inclusivity, with each area boasting its unique qualities and opportunities.
  • For retirees looking for sunny days and a strong community, Sequim and Bellingham are standout choices, while Spokane offers a four-season climate with manageable winters and an active senior community.
  • Young professionals will find booming job markets, vibrant nightlife, and affordable living costs in cities like Seattle, Spokane, and Bellingham, with Seattle being a tech hub but pricier.
  • Families prioritizing safety, top-rated schools, and community vibes should consider Bellevue and Bellingham, both offering excellent education and family-friendly activities in tight-knit neighborhoods.
  • Olympia and Bellingham are highlighted for their gender inclusivity, offering safe and welcoming environments for all gender identities, with strong support for LGBTQ+ communities.
  • For those seeking a blend of urban and outdoor lifestyles, Bellevue and Spokane provide mild climates, moderate crowd levels, and a range of festivals and activities without the extremes of larger metropolises.


Washington State is a mosaic of diverse places, each offering unique vibes and opportunities. Whether you're a retiree, young adult, or starting a family, there's a spot in Washington that's perfect for you. Let's dive into the ultimate guide to the best places to live in Washington, considering lifestyle preferences, activities, cost of living, and more.

For Retirees: Sequim

  • Best Weather: Sequim is famous for its "Blue Hole," giving it more sunny days than anywhere else in Western Washington. Perfect for those looking to escape the typical rain.
  • Activities: From lavender farms to the Olympic Discovery Trail, Sequim offers a laid-back pace with plenty of outdoor activities.
  • Community: A strong retiree community means making friends won't be a challenge.

For Young Adults: Seattle

  • Vibrant Nightlife and Tech Hub: As a bustling city, Seattle is great for young professionals looking for career opportunities in tech and a lively social scene.
  • Culture: Coffee shops, live music, and art galleries are everywhere, fueling creative minds and offering endless entertainment.
  • Cost of Living: It's pricier, so be prepared for higher rent, but the job market may balance it out.

For Families: Bellevue

  • Safety and Schools: Bellevue boasts some of the top schools in the state and low crime rates, making it ideal for families.
  • Parks and Recreation: With its numerous parks and outdoor spaces, families have plenty of options for weekend outings.
  • Community: A welcoming atmosphere and kid-friendly activities ensure your family will quickly feel at home.

For Gender Inclusivity: Olympia

  • Inclusive Community: Olympia's progressive attitude makes it a safe and welcoming place for all gender identities.
  • Arts and Culture: The city is known for its strong support of LGBTQ+ artists and events, providing a rich cultural experience.
  • Affordability: Compared to Seattle, Olympia is more affordable, allowing for a comfortable lifestyle.
  • Sunny Days: If you're after sunshine, Richland, in the Tri-Cities area, gets plenty of it, making it ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Recreational Activities: With its location near the Columbia and Yakima rivers, there's no shortage of water sports, hiking, and biking trails.
  • **


Moving on to Spokane, it's like the hidden gem of Washington State that's often overlooked. But hey, don't let that fool you. It's got a little something for everyone, whether you're retiring, kicking off your career, or looking for a great spot for the fam.

For Retirees

  • Climate: Spokane offers a four-season climate without the extreme ends of the spectrum. Summers are pleasant, and winters, while snowy, are more manageable than in many places.
  • Community: There are tons of active senior communities where you can join book clubs, go on group hikes, or enjoy wine-tasting tours.
  • Healthcare: With several top-notch hospitals, you're in good hands for any healthcare needs.

For Young Adults

  • Job Market: Booming! Especially if you're into health, education, or tech. Plus, the cost of living won't eat up your paycheck like in bigger cities.
  • Nightlife and Activities: Between downtown Spokane's bars and clubs and the annual events like the Lilac Blooming Festival, you won't run out of things to do.
  • Affordability: Renting or buying, you'll find that your money goes further in Spokane than in most West Coast cities.

For Families

  • Schools: Spokane shines with its commitment to quality education, hosting some of the best schools in the state.
  • Safety and Community: With its low crime rates and friendly neighborhoods, it’s a place where kids can still play outside.
  • Outdoors and Recreation: From Riverfront Park to countless trails and lakes, outdoor adventures await every weekend.

Considering Weather, Crowds, and Lifestyle

  • Best Weather: If you love experiencing all four seasons without the extremes, Spokane's got you covered.
  • Avoiding Crowds: Spokane offers that sweet spot of being a city without the overwhelming crowds of a metropolis. Perfect for social butterflies who need room to stretch their wings.
  • Festivals and Activities: From the Spokane International Film Festival to Hoopfest, the world's largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament, there's always something happening.
  • Living Expenses: Your dollar stretches further here. Housing, groceries, and entertainment costs are lower than the national average.
  • Dining and Shopping: Enjoy a vibrant food scene with everything from farmers' markets to fine dining without


When scouting for the best places to live in Washington State, Bellevue is a name that often pops up, and for good reason. Located just across Lake Washington from Seattle, Bellevue is a mix of upscale living, natural beauty, and bustling city vibes that cater to just about everyone.

For Retirees

If you're looking to enjoy your golden years in style, Bellevue has got you covered. This city is well-known for its:

  • Safe Neighborhoods: Giving you peace of mind day and night.
  • High-quality Healthcare: With top hospitals and clinics nearby, your health is in good hands.
  • Parks and Recreational Activities: Whether it's a stroll in the Bellevue Botanical Garden or attending a class at the community center, staying active is a breeze.

For Young Adults

For those fresh out of college or starting their careers, Bellevue offers:

  • Booming Job Market: With companies like Microsoft and Amazon nearby, opportunities are plenty.
  • Vibrant Nightlife and Dining: From cozy bars to international cuisine, your weekends are always booked.
  • Affordable Living: Compared to Seattle, you'll find a better deal for housing here, making it easier to balance your budget.

For Families

Bellevue is a dream city for families, thanks to its:

  • Top-rated Schools: Ensuring your kids get the best education right from the start.
  • Family-friendly Activities: Whether it’s the KidsQuest Children's Museum or outdoor parks, family time is always fun.
  • Community Feel: Neighborhoods here are tight-knit, making it easy to form lasting friendships.

Considering Gender

No matter your gender, Bellevue offers equal opportunities and a welcoming community for:

  • Career advancements: The tech industry here is booming, offering competitive salaries and growth opportunities.
  • Social Scene: Networking events, clubs, and social gatherings are abundant, ensuring you're never left out.

For Best Weather

Bellevue enjoys a mild climate year-round, perfect for those who prefer:

  • Moderate Summers: Never too hot, perfect for outdoor adventures.
  • Mild Winters: Rarely severe, allowing for year-round activities without the extreme cold.
  • Less Populated: Opt for neighborhoods like Somerset or Cougar Mountain for a more laid-back vibe


Bellingham, nestled between the San Juan Islands and the majestic Cascade Mountains, is a gem that often flies under the radar, but it's quickly gaining recognition for its unmatched lifestyle offerings. If you're considering a move, here's why Bellingham should be at the top of your list, regardless of your life stage or interests.

For Retirees

You've worked hard, and now it's time to enjoy the fruits of your labor in a place that's as laid back or as active as you want it to be. Bellingham is that place with its:

  • Low crime rate, making it a safe haven for peace of mind.
  • Healthcare facilities that are top-notch, ensuring you're always in good hands.
  • Community centers and clubs offering a plethora of activities, from arts and crafts to fitness classes tailored for seniors.
  • The scenic beauty of places like Whatcom Falls Park, perfect for leisurely strolls.

For Young Adults

Hoping to kickstart your career, or maybe looking for a vibrant community vibe? Bellingham's got you covered with:

  • A booming job market, especially in the tech and healthcare sectors.
  • Affordable living costs when compared to the likes of Seattle and Bellevue.
  • An enviable nightlife and cultural scene, with countless bars, restaurants, and galleries to explore.
  • Outdoor adventures galore, from mountain biking on Galbraith Mountain to kayaking in Bellingham Bay.

For Families

Raising a family in Bellingham means:

  • Access to top-ranked schools, both public and private.
  • A bounty of family-friendly activities, whether it's visiting the Whatcom Museum or picnicking at Larrabee State Park.
  • A strong sense of community where neighbors quickly become friends.
  • Safe, quiet neighborhoods like Silver Beach or Edgemoor, offering a serene environment for your family to grow.

Gender Equality and Opportunities

Bellingham stands out for its progressive values, particularly when it comes to equality and opportunities for all, including:

  • A commitment to equal job opportunities across industries.
  • Vibrant LGBTQ+ community with widespread support and advocacy groups.
  • Events and discussions aimed at promoting gender equality and social justice city-wide.
  • Mild summers that are ideal for enjoying the outdoors


Bellingham truly stands out as a gem in Washington State, offering something special for everyone. Whether you're a retiree looking for peace and community, a young adult chasing career opportunities and fun, or a family in search of a nurturing environment for your kids, this city has you covered. Its commitment to equality and progressive values adds to its charm, making it not just a place to live, but a place to thrive. So, if you're considering a move, Bellingham deserves a spot at the top of your list. Here's to finding your perfect home in this vibrant, welcoming community!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Bellingham considered a top living destination?

Bellingham is favored for its low crime rate, quality healthcare, and vibrant community activities catering to retirees. Young adults enjoy a booming job market, affordable living, exhilarating nightlife, and numerous outdoor activities, while families appreciate the excellent schools and neighborhood solidarity in areas like Silver Beach or Edgemoor.

What makes Bellingham attractive to retirees?

Retirees are drawn to Bellingham for its low crime rate, exceptional healthcare facilities, and a variety of community activities, ensuring a fulfilling and secure lifestyle.

How does Bellingham cater to young adults?

Young adults in Bellingham benefit from a thriving job market, affordable cost of living, vibrant nightlife, and a wealth of outdoor adventures, making it an exciting place to start and grow their careers.

What are the benefits for families living in Bellingham?

Families in Bellingham enjoy access to top-ranked schools, a multitude of family-friendly activities, and a strong community feel, especially in neighborhoods like Silver Beach and Edgemoor.

How does Bellingham support gender equality and the LGBTQ+ community?

Bellingham is known for its progressive stance on social issues, offering equal opportunities and fostering a supportive environment for the LGBTQ+ community, showcasing its commitment to gender equality and inclusiveness.

What makes Bellingham's climate appealing?

The mild summers in Bellingham are perfect for those who love to explore the outdoors, making it an ideal location for residents of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy a variety of recreational activities.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
April 5, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
Find me on Twitter

Win a $500 Flight!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
*Terms apply. To participate, enter your email to sign up for the newsletter . You must be 18+ and be a resident of the US. No purchase necessary. Begins January 1st  and ends February 28th, 2024. Winner announced on March 31st. For full rules and regulations, visit our Terms & Conditions page. Data  processed according to our Privacy Policy.
Enter Sweepstakes

You may also like...


Win a $500 Flight!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
*Terms apply. To participate, enter your email to sign up for the newsletter . You must be 18+ and be a resident of the US. No purchase necessary. Begins January 1st  and ends February 28th, 2024. Winner announced on March 31st. For full rules and regulations, visit our Terms & Conditions page. Data  processed according to our Privacy Policy.
Enter Sweepstakes