12 Best Places to Live in Washington State, According to Living Standards Index

by Jem
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Washington State is more than just a geographical location; it’s a lifestyle in itself. From its misty forests to its tech-savvy cities and tranquil islands, the Evergreen State offers a myriad of living options across diverse landscapes. Given its variety, picking the ideal place to settle down can seem overwhelming. That’s why I’ve crafted this guide to help you discover the best places to live in Washington State.

I’ve roamed Washington State from corner to corner, and I can vouch for its incredible diversity and allure. From the rugged beauty of the Olympic Peninsula to the lush vineyards of Walla Walla, and from the tech-centric atmosphere of Seattle to the relaxed vibes of the San Juan Islands, Washington’s range of experiences is second to none. Whether you’re captivated by outdoor adventures, vacation rentals, the charm of small towns, or the energetic pulse of cities like Seattle and Bellevue, there’s a slice of Washington that feels tailor-made for you.

So, where should you begin? The perfect spot varies depending on individual preferences. Some may prioritize proximity to nature, others may seek excellent educational facilities, and for many, the cost of living will be the ultimate deciding factor.

Join me as I delve into the best Washington State towns to live, based on what matters most to you. Having explored the state’s diverse offerings, I’m here to guide you through the best places in Washington State to live. I’ve analyzed research, crunched numbers, and engaged with locals to create a list that accommodates every lifestyle and budget. Let’s get started!

The top places to live in Washington right now

The Best Places to Live in Washington State         

Eager to explore the most enchanting places in Washington State to call home? Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, this state offers something for everyone. Continue reading to uncover what are the best places to live in Washington State.

Searching for your dream location in Washington State? No matter your plans, this Pacific Northwest gem has a spot that will meet your needs.

  • Best for suburban living: Bellevue
  • Best for college students: Bellingham
  • Best for small-town feel: Bothell
  • Best for community vibe: Issaquah
  • Best for waterfront living: Kirkland
  • Best for luxury: Mercer Island
  • Best for outdoor activities: Olympia
  • Best for tech jobs: Redmond
  • Best for families: Sammamish
  • Best for arts and culture: Seattle
  • Best for retirees: Spokane
  • Best for affordability: Tacoma

Here are all the must-know locations to consider when deciding where to live in Washington State.

1. Bellevue

Imagine living in a city where innovation meets natural beauty. Bellevue offers just that. This bustling city is a hub for tech enthusiasts, housing giants like Microsoft and T-Mobile. The downtown area is a maze of skyscrapers, luxury boutiques, and gourmet restaurants, making it one of the best places to live in Washington State.

The city isn’t all about work, though. Factoria Mall and the Bellevue Botanical Garden offer weekend respite, perfect for families and singles alike. Excellent schools like Bellevue High School make it a top choice for families.

Outdoor lovers will find the nearby Mercer Slough Nature Park a sanctuary for kayaking and bird-watching. The city’s well-planned bike lanes make commuting a breeze, not to mention the excellent public transport system.

In Bellevue, you get the best of both worlds: a thriving job market and a high quality of life. It’s not just a great place to work; it’s a great place to live in Washington State.

Consider residing in a city where innovation and scenic beauty coexist.
Consider residing in a city where innovation and scenic beauty coexist.

2. Bellingham

Craving a life where the mountains and ocean are your neighbors? Bellingham is your answer. Situated between the Cascade Mountains and the Salish Sea, this city is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. It’s one of the coolest places to live in Washington State, offering a range of activities from hiking to sailing.

The city is also a cultural hub, hosting annual events like the Bellingham Festival of Music and the Ski to Sea race. These events bring the community together and offer a vibrant local scene that’s hard to find elsewhere.

When it comes to education, Western Washington University adds a youthful energy to the city. The presence of the university means a variety of cafes, bookstores, and art galleries, enriching the city’s cultural fabric.

In Bellingham, you’re not just residing; you’re living an adventure. It’s a city that offers both natural beauty and a strong sense of community, making it a best place to live in Washington State.

This city is a nature lover's paradise.
This city is a nature lover’s paradise.

3. Bothell

Ever dreamt of a place that offers a cozy, small-town atmosphere while still being a stone’s throw away from a bustling metropolis? Welcome to Bothell, a hidden gem that offers the best of both worlds. Located just a short drive from Seattle, it’s one of the best areas to live in Washington State.

The city is renowned for its top-notch school system, making it a magnet for families. Bothell High School and the University of Washington Bothell campus contribute to the city’s educational landscape.

But education isn’t the only thing that shines here. The city hosts a variety of community events throughout the year, from the Bothell Block Party and BrewFest to the annual tree lighting ceremony. These events foster a strong sense of community, making residents feel more like neighbors than strangers.

In Bothell, you’ll find a harmonious blend of educational excellence and community spirit. It’s not just a place to live; it’s a community to be a part of, making it a good place to live in Washington State.

Discover the finest of both worlds in Bothell, a hidden gem.
Discover the finest of both worlds in Bothell, a hidden gem.

4. Issaquah

Picture yourself waking up to the sight of misty mountains and the sound of birds chirping. Issaquah offers this idyllic setting, surrounded by natural wonders like Cougar Mountain Zoo and Lake Sammamish. It’s the best place to live in Washington State for those who want to be close to nature without sacrificing urban amenities.

The city is more than just a pretty face; it’s a hub for outdoor activities. From hiking trails in the Issaquah Alps to paddleboarding on Lake Sammamish, adventure is always just around the corner. The city’s parks and recreation department offers various programs to get residents involved in outdoor activities, making it one of the best cities to live in Washington State for active lifestyles.

Issaquah is also home to a thriving arts scene. The Village Theatre and EAST Art Center offer a cultural respite, hosting plays, exhibitions, and workshops throughout the year.

Living in Issaquah means embracing a lifestyle where nature and culture coexist. It’s a city that offers a balanced life, making it the best Washington State town to live in for those who want it all.

Issaquah provides this perfect environment.
Issaquah provides this perfect environment.

5. Kirkland

Ever thought about living in a place where the arts and the outdoors seamlessly blend? Kirkland is that place. Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, the city offers a vibrant downtown area that’s a cultural hotspot. It’s one of the best towns to live in Washington State, especially if you appreciate the finer things in life.

Art galleries, fine dining, and boutique shopping define the downtown area. The Kirkland Performance Center is a hub for concerts and theater, offering a rich cultural experience. The city’s waterfront parks provide a scenic backdrop for these urban amenities, making it one of the top cities in Washington State to live in.

But Kirkland isn’t just about leisure; it’s practical too. The city offers excellent public schools and is home to the Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Job opportunities in tech and healthcare are abundant, thanks to its proximity to Seattle and Bellevue.

In Kirkland, you’ll find a harmonious blend of cultural richness and natural beauty. It’s a city that offers a high quality of life, making it the best city to live in Washington State.

The city has a thriving, culturally significant downtown area.
The city has a thriving, culturally significant downtown area.

6. Mercer Island

Yearning for an upscale lifestyle with a touch of tranquility? Mercer Island is your sanctuary. This island city in the middle of Lake Washington offers an unparalleled living experience. It’s one of Washington State’s best places to live if you’re looking for a peaceful retreat with quick access to urban life.

The island is a haven for outdoor activities. Luther Burbank Park is a popular spot for picnics, while Groveland Beach Park is perfect for a day of swimming and paddleboarding. These natural settings offer a serene backdrop to the island’s luxurious homes, making it a nice city to live in Washington State.

Mercer Island is also known for its excellent schools, including Mercer Island High School, which consistently ranks among the top in the state. The island is not just a residential area; it’s a community that values education and outdoor living.

Here, you’ll find a unique blend of luxury and nature, offering a lifestyle that’s hard to match. Mercer Island is not just an island; it’s a lifestyle, making it one of the best Washington State cities to call home.

Living on this island settlement in the center of Lake Washington is like no other.
Living on this island settlement in the center of Lake Washington is like no other.

7. Olympia

Ever wanted to be at the center of it all—politically, culturally, and naturally? Olympia, the state capital, offers just that. This city is a hub for activism and community involvement, making it ideal for those who want to be part of something bigger. It’s one of Washington State’s best cities to live if you’re into politics or social causes.

Olympia is not just about politics; it’s a city that celebrates its natural surroundings. The Olympia Farmers Market is a testament to the city’s commitment to sustainability, offering fresh, local produce. The city’s proximity to the Puget Sound provides ample opportunities for kayaking and sailing, making it a nice part of Washington State to live in.

Education is another strong suit of Olympia. The Evergreen State College offers a range of courses in liberal arts and sciences, adding a youthful vibe to the city.

In Olympia, you’ll find a unique blend of political buzz and natural beauty. It’s a city that offers a diverse range of living options, each with its unique lifestyle and opportunities, making it a where to live in WA.

For individuals who aspire to be a part of something greater, this city is a center for action and community connection.
For individuals who aspire to be a part of something greater, this city is a center for action and community connection.

8. Redmond

Dream of a life where you can cycle to work, the grocery store, and even to scenic parks? Redmond is the place for you. Known as the “Bicycle Capital of the Northwest,” this city is a cyclist’s paradise. It’s one of the best Washington State towns to live if you’re eco-conscious and love to stay active.

Redmond is also a tech hub, home to Microsoft’s main campus and various other tech companies. This offers a plethora of job opportunities in the IT sector, making it one of the most livable cities in Washington State.

But it’s not all work and no play. The city offers a range of recreational activities. Marymoor Park, the largest park in the city, hosts concerts, outdoor movies, and even a climbing rock. The Redmond Town Center offers a variety of shops and restaurants, perfect for a weekend outing.

In Redmond, you’ll find a balanced lifestyle that combines work, play, and a strong sense of community. It’s a city that values both technological advancement and outdoor living, making it a top city in Washington State to live in.

Living here is highly recommended for those who value the environment and enjoy being active in Washington State.
Living here is highly recommended for those who value the environment and enjoy being active in Washington State.

9. Sammamish

Looking for a suburban lifestyle with a dash of luxury? Sammamish is your go-to destination. This city, located on a plateau, is surrounded by stunning lakes and mountains. It’s one of the best areas to live in Washington State if you’re seeking a high standard of living.

Sammamish is a family-friendly city, boasting some of the best public schools in the state. The city’s commitment to education is evident in its well-maintained libraries and community centers, making it a good place to live in Washington State for families.

But the city isn’t just for families; it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The Sammamish River Trail offers a scenic route for joggers, cyclists, and nature lovers. Pine Lake Park, with its freshwater lake, is perfect for fishing and boating.

In Sammamish, you’ll find a harmonious blend of suburban comfort and natural beauty. It’s a city that offers a tranquil yet luxurious lifestyle, making it one of the best cities to live in Washington State.

This city is surrounded by breathtaking lakes and mountains and is situated on a plateau.
This city is surrounded by breathtaking lakes and mountains and is situated on a plateau.

10. Seattle

Ever thought about living in a city where innovation meets natural beauty? Seattle is that city. Known for its lush landscapes and tech-driven economy, it’s a great place to live in Washington State for those who want a dynamic lifestyle.

The city is a melting pot of cultures, offering a diverse range of culinary experiences, from food trucks to fine dining. Pike Place Market is a must-visit, where you can find everything from fresh produce to artisanal crafts. And for a vibrant view of the city, Seattle’s nightlife is truly next level. This diversity makes Seattle one of Washington State’s best places to live.

But Seattle isn’t just about the hustle and bustle; it offers a respite in the form of its many parks. The iconic Space Needle offers panoramic views of the city, while Discovery Park provides hiking trails and beaches. Explore the city from its sprawling tourist sites to its hidden gems, and you’ll see what makes it so desirable for travelers.

In the beautiful city of Seattle, you’ll find a unique blend of urban excitement and natural tranquility. It’s a city that offers a little bit of everything, making it a best place to live in Washington State for those who want variety in life.

Wondering where in Seattle to call home? Check out this guide on where to stay in Seattle right now.

For anyone looking for a busy lifestyle, Washington State is a terrific area to live.
For anyone looking for a busy lifestyle, Washington State is a terrific area to live.

11. Spokane

Imagine a city where you can hit the ski slopes in the morning and catch a Broadway show in the evening. Spokane offers this unique blend of urban and outdoor experiences. It’s one of the best Washington State cities for those who crave a mix of city life and nature.

The city is home to the stunning Spokane Falls, a natural wonder right in the heart of downtown. The Spokane River Centennial Trail offers 37 miles of scenic beauty for hikers and cyclists, making it the coolest place to live in Washington State for outdoor enthusiasts.

But Spokane isn’t just about natural beauty; it’s a city with a thriving arts scene. The historic Fox Theater and the Bing Crosby Theater offer a range of performances, from classical concerts to modern dance.

In Spokane, you’ll find a city that offers both the excitement of urban living and the tranquility of nature. It’s a city that caters to a variety of lifestyles, making it a best city to live in Washington State for those who want a balanced life.

This special fusion of city and country life is available in Spokane.
This special fusion of city and country life is available in Spokane.

12. Tacoma

Ever dreamt of a waterfront lifestyle with a dash of artistic flair? Tacoma is where you’ll find it. Known for its stunning harbor and vibrant arts scene, it’s one of the best towns to live in Washington State if you’re a creative soul.

Tacoma is home to the Museum of Glass, showcasing intricate glass art that reflects the city’s innovative spirit. This makes it a best place to live in Washington State for artists and art enthusiasts alike.

But Tacoma isn’t just for the artsy; it’s also a hub for outdoor activities. Point Defiance Park offers a zoo, an aquarium, and miles of hiking trails. The Ruston Way Waterfront is perfect for a scenic jog or a leisurely stroll.

In Tacoma, you’ll find a harmonious blend of natural beauty and artistic innovation. It’s a city that offers a waterfront lifestyle with a creative twist, making it one of the top cities in Washington State to live in.

Recognized for both its thriving arts community and gorgeous port.
Recognized for both its thriving arts community and gorgeous port.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Washington State                

Intrigued about where to plant your roots in Washington State? I frequently get asked about the top spots to live in this Pacific Northwest haven.

Where is the best place to live in Washington state?

The best place to live in Washington State varies depending on individual preferences and needs. Here are some tailored suggestions:

  • Seattle: Ideal for tech professionals and those who love a vibrant urban scene.
  • Bellevue: Perfect for families and individuals seeking a suburban lifestyle with excellent schools.
  • Sammamish: A top choice for those wanting a mix of suburban comfort and natural beauty.
  • Spokane: Great for outdoor enthusiasts who also want a taste of city life.
  • Olympia: Best for those who appreciate a smaller city with a focus on outdoor activities and culture.

What is the safest city in Washington?

When it comes to safety, Sammamish often ranks high on the list. The city is known for its family-friendly environment and boasts low crime rates compared to both the state and national averages. Community engagement is strong, with various neighborhood watch programs and active community policing. The city’s commitment to safety is reflected in its well-maintained public spaces and stringent building codes. All these factors contribute to making Sammamish one of the most livable cities in Washington State, particularly for families and individuals who place a high priority on safety.

What is the cheapest place to live in Washington State?

The cheapest places to live in Washington State are typically found in smaller towns and rural areas, especially those located away from the major metropolitan areas like Seattle and Bellevue. Here are a few areas in Washington State that are often considered more affordable:

  1. Spokane: Located in eastern Washington, Spokane offers a lower cost of living compared to the western part of the state. It has a mix of urban amenities and access to outdoor activities.
  2. Yakima: Known for its agriculture, particularly apple, wine, and hop production, Yakima has a lower cost of living with affordable housing options.
  3. Walla Walla: Famous for its wine industry, Walla Walla in southeastern Washington offers a relatively low cost of living with a small-town feel.
  4. Aberdeen: Located on the coast, Aberdeen has historically been more affordable, though it’s further from major job markets.
  5. Kennewick: Part of the Tri-Cities area in southeastern Washington, Kennewick offers a lower cost of living compared to the Puget Sound region.
  6. Bremerton: While closer to Seattle, Bremerton can be more affordable, especially when considering housing costs. It’s accessible to Seattle via ferry.
  7. Centralia: Situated between Seattle and Portland, Centralia offers affordable living with a small-town atmosphere.
  8. Longview: Located near the Oregon border, Longview provides affordable housing options and a lower overall cost of living.

Where is the best city to live in Washington?

When it comes to the best city to live in Washington State, Bellevue frequently stands out. The city is renowned for its top-tier public schools, making it a prime location for families. Additionally, Bellevue is a hub for tech companies, offering a robust job market for professionals in various fields. The city also boasts a plethora of recreational activities, from waterfront parks to hiking trails, catering to those who love the outdoors. Cultural events and a diverse culinary scene add to its appeal. All these factors make Bellevue a well-rounded choice and a best Washington State city for a wide range of people, from families to young professionals.

Both locals and visitors can enjoy a wide variety of attractions and activities at Washington State.
Both locals and visitors can enjoy a wide variety of attractions and activities at Washington State.

Why is Washington state the best place to live?

Here are some key reasons why Washington State often ranks as a great place to live in Washington State:

  • Natural Beauty: From the Cascades to the Puget Sound, the state offers diverse landscapes for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Job Opportunities: With companies like Microsoft and Amazon headquartered here, the job market is robust.
  • Quality of Life: Excellent healthcare and education systems contribute to a high standard of living.
  • Cultural Diversity: A melting pot of cultures, Washington offers a rich tapestry of food, festivals, and traditions.
  • Progressive Policies: Known for its eco-friendly initiatives and social policies, it’s a state that looks toward the future.

Is it cheaper to live in California or Washington?

When it comes to cost of living, Washington generally offers a more affordable option compared to California. While cities like Seattle can be pricey, they’re still less expensive than San Francisco or Los Angeles. Additionally, Washington State has no income tax, which can make a significant difference in your take-home pay. This makes it one of the good places to live in Washington State if you’re budget-conscious.

What city in Washington should I move to?

Choosing a city to move to in Washington State depends on your personal preferences, lifestyle, career goals, and what you’re looking for in a place to live. Here are some cities in Washington to help you decide:

  1. Seattle: Known for its vibrant tech industry, with companies like Amazon and Microsoft headquartered nearby. It offers a bustling urban environment, rich cultural scene, and easy access to outdoor activities. However, it’s also known for high living costs and frequent rain.
  2. Spokane: Offers a more affordable cost of living compared to Seattle. It has a smaller, more laid-back feel but still provides urban amenities, cultural attractions, and is close to outdoor recreational areas.
  3. Tacoma: Located near Seattle, Tacoma is more affordable and has a growing arts scene. It’s close to both urban amenities and natural beauty, including Puget Sound and Mount Rainier.
  4. Bellevue: Known for its affluent neighborhoods and high-quality living standards. It’s a hub for tech companies and offers excellent schools, but with a higher cost of living.
  5. Olympia: As the state capital, Olympia has a small-town feel with a strong sense of community. It offers a mix of government and private sector jobs and is known for its arts and culture.
  6. Bellingham: Offers a balance of city and outdoor life. It’s close to the Canadian border and is known for its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and a strong local food scene.
  7. Vancouver: Located just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, Vancouver offers a lower cost of living than Portland while still providing access to the amenities of a larger city.

Is Washington State a rich or poor state?

Washington State has a diverse economic landscape, making it neither strictly rich nor poor. It’s home to some of the wealthiest individuals and companies in the world, like Microsoft and Amazon. However, there are also areas facing economic challenges. Overall, the state has a higher-than-average median income and is considered one of the best areas to live in Washington State for economic opportunities.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Washington State

Washington State is a land of contrasts and opportunities, making it a compelling destination for a wide range of people. From the tech-savvy corridors of Seattle to the serene beauty of places like the Olympic Peninsula, the state offers a lifestyle that caters to diverse interests and needs. Whether you’re a young professional seeking career growth, a family prioritizing education and safety, or someone looking to enjoy their golden years in a peaceful setting, you’ll find places to move in Washington State that perfectly align with your life goals.

The state’s robust economy, spearheaded by global giants like Microsoft and Amazon, provides a plethora of job opportunities. Add to that a high standard of living, bolstered by excellent healthcare and educational systems, and you have a state that stands out in the country. Its cultural diversity and progressive policies further add to its allure, making it a welcoming place for everyone.

In summary, Washington State is not just a place to live; it’s a place to thrive. With its unique blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty, it offers the best of both worlds. It’s no wonder that so many people are choosing Washington as their dream destination, making it one of the best Washington State cities to call home.

The top places to live in Washington for all
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