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Ultimate Guide: Top Picks for Best Places to Live in Washington for Everyone

Thinking about moving to Washington? You're in for a treat! This state is a mix of bustling cities, quiet towns, and everything in between. Whether you're after the vibrant city life or craving the tranquility of nature, Washington's got you covered.

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

Finding the perfect spot in the Evergreen State can be a bit of a challenge, though, with so many great options. Don't worry, we've done some of the legwork for you. Keep reading to discover some of the best places to live in Washington that might just make you want to pack your bags right away.

Key Takeaways

  • Washington state boasts a diverse range of living environments, from vibrant cities to serene coastal towns and charming eastern communities, catering to various lifestyles and preferences.
  • Seattle neighborhoods offer distinct advantages for different demographics: Ballard is ideal for families, Capitol Hill buzzes for young adults, West Seattle suits retirees, and Magnolia provides a haven for those seeking tranquility.
  • Eastern Washington presents affordable living options with scenic views and a strong sense of community, making places like Walla Walla attractive for retirees and Spokane appealing to young adults.
  • Coastal areas like Sequim offer retirees sunny weather and a peaceful lifestyle, while Port Townsend is a cultural hub for young adults, and Gig Harbor is reputed for its family-friendly atmosphere.
  • The state also harbors hidden gems such as Anacortes for retirees seeking a mild climate and a close-knit community, Bellingham for young adults craving adventure and culture, and Snohomish for families desiring a blend of rural and urban living.
  • Overall, Washington's diverse locations accommodate different needs, whether one is seeking outdoor adventures, a vibrant cultural scene, quiet retirement, or a family-friendly environment, making it an appealing destination for various demographics.

Top Neighborhoods in Seattle

When you're eyeing Seattle as your next home base, you're looking at a city that's as vibrant and diverse as they come. Whether you're a retiree looking for a quiet corner, a young adult jumping into career mode, or a family in search of that perfect blend of schools and parks, Seattle's got a neighborhood that fits the bill. Let's dive into some top picks, tailored for every walk of life.

For Families: Ballard

  • Why Ballard? It's a gem for families, with its top-notch schools, bustling farmers markets, and plenty of parks. The Ballard Locks and Golden Gardens Park beachfront are perfect for weekend family outings.
  • Activities: From the Nordic Museum to the seasonal festivals, there's always something to explore.
  • Cost of Living: It's on the higher side, but many find the community and amenities worth it.

For Young Adults: Capitol Hill

  • Why Capitol Hill? It's the heartbeat of Seattle's nightlife and cultural scene, ideal for young professionals and creatives.
  • Festivals & Activities: Music, art events, and eclectic dining options are around every corner.
  • Cost of Living: Rent can be steep, but sharing a space makes the vibrant life here more attainable.

For Retirees: West Seattle

  • Why West Seattle? Relaxing yet full of life, it offers scenic beach walks at Alki Beach and a close-knit community vibe.
  • Things to do: Golf courses, gardening clubs, and art studios offer leisurely pursuits in a peaceful setting.
  • Best Weather: Enjoy milder temperatures and fewer rainy days, ideal for those looking to avoid the typical Seattle drizzle.

For Avoiding Crowds: Magnolia

  • Why Magnolia? Tucked away and serene, it's a breath of fresh air from the city's hustle. Think of it as your urban escape with access to Discovery Park.
  • Activities: Hiking, bird watching, and beach visits make it a nature lover's dream.
  • Cost of Living: It's pricey, largely due to its exclusivity and grand homes.
  • Why Fremont? Often sunny when the rest of Seattle isn't, thanks to its strategic location.
  • Festivals: The Fremont Solstice Parade showcases the quirky side of Seattle.
  • **

Charming Towns in Eastern Washington

When you're looking for the best places to live in Washington, don't overlook the eastern side. It's got charm, views, and communities that might just tick every box on your wishlist. Whether you're into quiet towns, outdoor adventures, or vibrant communities with a low cost of living, Eastern Washington has got it all. Let's dive into some top picks for different folks out there.

For Retirees: Walla Walla

  • Why You'll Love It: Famous for its sweet onions and even sweeter wine, Walla Walla is a retiree's paradise. It's laid-back, has a friendly community, and you're never far from a vineyard.
  • What's There to Do: Wine tasting tours, golfing, and beautiful parks. Plus, the weather's pretty great too.

For Young Adults: Spokane

  • Why It's Cool: Spokane mixes urban vibes with nature. It's affordable, has a bunch of colleges, and the job market's not bad either.
  • Things to Check Out: The Spokane Falls, Riverfront Park, and a pretty lively downtown area.

For Families: Richland

  • Perks: Part of the Tri-Cities, Richland offers a ton of family-friendly activities and strong schools. It's got lots of parks and is by the Columbia River, making it perfect for outdoor fun.
  • Bonus: It's affordable and has a solid community feel.

For Those Who Love the Outdoors: Leavenworth

  • What's Great: It looks like a Bavarian village, which is cool, but it's also a gateway to outdoor adventures like hiking, skiing, and river rafting.
  • Festivals: Don’t miss the Christmas Lighting Festival and Oktoberfest.

For the Best Weather: Wenatchee

  • Why It's Awesome: Sunshine abounds in Wenatchee. It's got a mild climate, making it ideal for those who love sunny days.
  • Go Explore: The Apple Capital Loop Trail and numerous state parks.

For Avoiding Crowds: Coulee Dam

  • Why It's a Hidden Gem: Small town means fewer people. It's nestled by the impressive Grand Coulee Dam and offers spectacular views without the tourist crowds.
  • What to Do: Visit the dam, explore the lake, and enjoy peaceful walks.

Coastal Gems: Best Places by the Water

When you're eyeing the best spots along Washington's coastline, you're in for a treat that spans more than just scenic views. From bustling harbors to quiet beach towns, each place offers something special. Here's your go-to guide for finding your perfect coastal haven.

For Retirees: Sequim

  • Best Weather: Known as the sunshine town, Sequim enjoys more sunny days than any other place in Western Washington.
  • Activities: From the Lavender Festival to serene beach walks, it's ideal for an active yet peaceful lifestyle.
  • Cost of Living: Slightly higher than national average, but the quality of life and access to health care make it worth it.

For Young Adults: Port Townsend

  • Vibrant Community: Arts, music, and a booming craft brewery scene, it's a social hub for young adults.
  • Festivals: The Film Festival and Wooden Boat Festival are just a couple of events that draw crowds and fun.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Kayaking, biking, and hiking opportunities are plentiful.

For Families: Gig Harbor

  • Family-Friendly Activities: From parks to paddleboarding, there's something for every member of the family.
  • Strong Schools: This area is known for its excellent education system, a big plus for families.
  • Cost of Living: Higher, but the safe, close-knit community vibe makes it a worthwhile investment for your family's future.

For Those Who Love Sunshine: Ocean Shores

  • Weather: While not as sunny as Sequim, it offers plenty of beautiful days to enjoy the beach.
  • Avoiding Crowds: It can get busy in summer, but it's easy to find your own quiet spot on the long stretches of sand.
  • Things to Do: Kite-flying, clam digging, and beachcombing are just the start.

For Avoiding Crowds: Long Beach Peninsula

  • Hidden Gem: It's the place to go if you're looking to escape the bustling tourist spots.
  • Happiness: The slow-paced life and tight-knit community contribute to a high level of contentment among residents.
  • Activities: Horseback riding on the beach, visiting lighthouses, and exploring local history offer diverse options.
  • Considerations for All: Whether you're retired, a young

Hidden Gems: Underrated Cities to Consider

When you're hunting for the best places to live in Washington, there's more to the story than Seattle and its famous Space Needle. This part of our guide is dedicated to those hidden gems, those underrated cities that might just be your next home sweet home. Each has its unique charm and caters to different folks—from retirees to young families, each with its own flavor of life.

For Retirees: Anacortes

First up, Anacortes might not ring a bell when you think of retirement havens, but it should. Nestled on Fidalgo Island, it boasts a mild climate that keeps you from shivering through your golden years. The cost of living might be a tad higher, but the peace, minimal crowds, and the sense that you're in a close-knit community make up for it. Plus, there's no shortage of things to do—with museums, parks, and a marina that calls for endless days of exploration.

Young Adults' Haven: Bellingham

If you're a young adult looking for a mix of adventure, culture, and opportunities, Bellingham hits the mark. It's a college town with a lively arts scene, craft breweries aplenty, and a backyard full of trails and waterways begging for outdoor pursuits. The vibe here is inclusive and dynamic, making it easy to mingle and make friends. And let's not forget about the festivals that light up the calendar, ensuring there's always something to look forward to.

For Families: Snohomish

Families, listen up! Snohomish offers a slice of country living with the advantages of a city. It's safe, the schools are great, and the community is welcoming. There are parks at every turn, and family-friendly activities—from pumpkin patches to historic train rides—ensure your weekends are always booked. The cost of living is reasonable, making your dream of a comfortable home for your bunch attainable.


So there you have it! Whether you're looking for the tranquility of retirement, the buzz of young adult life, or a wholesome family environment, Washington's got a spot for you. Anacortes, Bellingham, and Snohomish each offer unique advantages that cater to different stages and styles of living. It's all about finding the place that feels right for you. And who knows? Your perfect Washington home might just be in one of these underrated cities. Happy house hunting!

Frequently Asked Questions

What cities in Washington are best for retirees?

Anacortes is highly recommended for retirees due to its mild climate and strong sense of community. This city offers a peaceful atmosphere for a relaxed retirement lifestyle.

Which Washington city is suitable for young adults?

Bellingham is the go-to city for young adults in Washington. It stands out with its vibrant arts scene and abundant outdoor activities, making it a lively and engaging environment.

What makes Snohomish a good choice for families?

Snohomish is ideal for families, offering a perfect blend of country living and city amenities. It boasts great schools and family-friendly activities, making it a conducive environment for raising children.

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.
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