Looking for the best places to live in Washington state? This local has you covered!
This helpful list of the best cities in Washington was created using a handful of important factors. From median home prices and age to amenities and outdoor recreation. We’re not keen on small talk, so let’s dive right in!
Best Places to Live in Washington State
5 Best Large Cities in Washington
- Population: 733,919
- Median home price: $831,738
- Average age: 35.2
Renowned for its signature skyline, great coffee, and distinct quirkiness, there’s no denying that Seattle is one of the best cities in Washington State.
Situated between the Puget Sound and Cascade Mountains, this vibrant city offers unparalleled access to epic outdoor recreation that make the Pacific Northwest a hotspot with nature enthusiasts.
This is largely due to the city hosting several major corporations in a variety of sectors, namely tech, healthcare, and manufacturing. Heavy hitters like Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing all call Seattle home.
A nod to the surrounding lush greenery, Seattle’s nickname is the Emerald City. It’s beautiful, but it’s so green because Seattle is extremely rainy.
The city sees an average of nearly 150 rainy days per year, totaling just over 37 inches — both higher than the national average. For some, this is a plus, but many consider it a drawback, especially during the winter.
Fans of arts and culture, sports fans, and people who enjoy hustle and bustle will all love Seattle.
- Population: 229,071
- Median home price: $390,313
- Average age: 36.3
Located on the extreme eastern side of the state (20 miles from the Idaho state line), Spokane offers a winning combination of big city amenities, natural beauty, and the youthful energy of a college town, thanks to Gonzaga University.
Spokane residents enjoy one of the lowest costs of living in the state. The median home price is $390,313, and other essential costs including transportation, healthcare, and groceries are also lower than state averages. Couple that with plentiful job opportunities in aerospace, education, healthcare, and agriculture, and Spokane is one of the best cities in Washington State.
Living here offers vibrant nightlife, endless outdoor fun throughout Spokane Valley, and a fantastic farm-to-table food and wine scene. One thing to be aware of, particularly if you enjoy spending time outside, is that Spokane has some of the worst air quality in the country.
- Population: 219,205
- Median home price: $479,537
- Average age: 36
Fun fact: Tacoma is a much larger port than Seattle. While both cities sit on the Puget Sound, the Port of Tacoma covers about 2,400 acres — more than four times Seattle’s 500. As you might expect from this large portside city, Tacoma life largely revolves around the water.
The $479,537 median home price is lower than the state average, and a whopping 43% lower than in Seattle. With the Emerald City just 40 minutes north, Tacoma is a fantastic alternative, even if you commute to work.
People consider this one of the best places to live in Washington State for that convenient access, as well as the bustling waterfront, beautiful surroundings, and thriving cultural scene. There are dozens of museums in the city and it’s a major hub for glass art. Two museums are dedicated to glass, the Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum’s Chihuly section.
- Population: 192,169
- Median home price: $498,348
- Average age: 37.1
Just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, and less than 15 minutes by car, Vancouver is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor. However, don’t be so quick to dismiss Vancouver — it’s one of the best places to live in Washington for several reasons.
Vancouver’s $498,348 median home price is well below Portland’s $548,000, and living here means near-immediate access to everything the larger metro area has to offer. There’s a major international airport, the city has renowned craft beer and food truck cultures, and you can be to either the coast or mountains within two hours.
Living in Vancouver does have some downsides. The weather is gloomy most of the time and Portland’s growing homeless problem is not-so-slowly creeping across the river.
- Population: 149,440
- Median home price: $1,283,145
- Average age: 37.6
Just across Lake Washington from Seattle, Bellevue is coveted for its highly-rated schools, consistently strong economy, abundance of parks, and upscale feel.
The $1,283,145 average home value points to just how upscale it really is. Significantly more expensive than even Seattle, not many people can afford Bellevue. However, it’s one of the best cities in Washington State for affluent professionals, business owners, and families.
Nicknamed “City in a Park,” Bellevue has over 2,700 acres of parks and open green space, and 90+ miles of trails. Lake Washington is at your doorstep, with the backdrop of Seattle’s distinct skyline. The shopping is fantastic, and many major companies are based in Bellevue.
5 Best Mid-sized Cities in Washington
- Population: 110,812
- Median home price: $627,785
- Average age: 35.9
Less than 30 miles north of Seattle, Everett is a popular alternative to the bigger city. With its waterfront, strong job market, and $627,785 median home price — much lower than Seattle’s — it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best places to live in Washington State.
Like Seattle, many Everett residents work for Boeing. In fact, the company’s largest production facility is here. The healthcare sector is also booming, offering plentiful and diverse job opportunities.
While Everett has lots to offer, it’s important to note that the city’s crime rates are high in comparison to nationwide averages. Sites like CrimeGrade.org and AreaVibes rate Everett a D-, noting that vehicle theft, drug-related crime, and burglary are particularly high.
- Population: 92,289
- Median home price: $628,288
- Average age: 32.9
In Washington’s northwest corner, Bellingham sits nestled between the Cascades and the bay. The picturesque city is known for its proximity to the Canadian border (20 miles), outdoor recreation, and thriving arts scene. It’s also home to Western Washington University.
Bellingham’s small-town charm and easy access to major cities makes it one of the best places to live in Washington State all around. The $628,288 median home price is higher than many other areas, but considerably lower than Seattle and Vancouver.
Speaking of Vancouver, it’s just 1.5 hours from Bellingham. Also nearby is gorgeous, iconic Mount Baker, providing four-season recreation (and unbeatable scenery!). The city also has excellent nightlife, largely due to it being a college town. Unfortunately, jobs aren’t quite as easy to come by, with the main industries being forestry and agriculture.
- Population: 92,107
- Median home price: $1,088,159
- Average age: 37.4
Just north of Bellevue also on Lake Washington, Kirkland is best-known as the major brand in Costco. The company’s headquarters is nearby, and Kirkland Signature is indeed named after the city.
Unlike the store famous for great deals, Kirkland’s $1,088,159 average home price isn’t exactly affordable. The quality of life here is exceptional, though, and many residents work in tech or healthcare, or commute to Seattle, earning significantly higher-than-average salaries.
Kirkland residents spend a lot of time on the waterfront, in the city’s parks, or on the beaches, all factors contributing to it being one of the best places to live in Washington. Downtown is vibrant with great dining and entertainment, and it’s considered a very safe city. One drawback is traffic congestion, due to both the 405 and 520 running through town.
- Population: 76,354
- Median home price: $1,217,523
- Average age: 34.5
Adjacent to Kirkland but bordering Lake Sammamish rather than Lake Washington, Redmond is another beautiful, coveted place to live.
Second only to Bellevue with its $1.2 million average home value, Redmond is one of the most expensive cities in Washington State. However, major corporations including Facebook, Microsoft, and Nintendo keep the local economy thriving. The city is also a fantastic homebase for startups and innovative companies.
Local schools are highly rated and there’s an abundance of parks and trails, making it a solid choice for families and outdoor enthusiasts. Redmond is also exceptionally bicycle-friendly. If you’re looking for indoor entertainment, though, the city is somewhat lacking.
- Population: 55,919
- Median home price: $516,599
- Average age: 37.7
One of the country’s smaller capital cities, Olympia is a postcard-worthy destination with lots to offer. For starters, there’s the waterfront location and proximity to Seattle, just over an hour away.
Living in Olympia allows residents to savor The Great Outdoors and a slow pace of life, while still being close enough to enjoy everything the big city has to offer. You’ll be able to afford to do it, too, since Olympia’s median home price of $516,599 is significantly lower than Seattle’s.
Because Olympia is the state capital, it makes perfect sense that many residents work government jobs. That makes the job market fairly limited, although there are other opportunities in machinery, timber, and tourism.
5 Best Small Cities in Washington State
- Population: 35,405
- Median home price: $462,679
- Average age: 35.3
Everyone knows apples are synonymous with Washington. What you may not know is that Wenatchee is officially considered the “Apple Capital of the World” (yes, world!). Exact numbers vary, but there are thousands of apple orchards here!
Fruit-growing is just one of many reasons people flock to Wenatchee. The $462,679 median home price is more affordable than many cities statewide, and the small-town charm and gorgeous natural surroundings are just the proverbial icing on the cake.
No place, including Wenatchee, is perfect. The rural location in the center of the state means job prospects are limited outside of agriculture, and there isn’t much nightlife. On the other hand, foodies and wine lovers will find this one of the best places to live in Washington State!
12. Walla Walla
- Population: 33,927
- Median home price: $403,319
- Average age: 35.7
With 120-plus wineries and vineyards, Walla Walla is a charming small town in extreme southeastern Washington. It’s one of the best cities in Washington State for foodies and art connoisseurs, and is distinguished by endless gently rolling hills.
The low average age and median home price of $403,319 attracts all types of people, particularly those interested in the wine culture or agriculture. However, Walla Walla’s property crime rate is a little over 8% higher than the national average. On the plus side, violent crimes occur much less frequently here than nationwide.
Wine and food are just the tip of the iceberg in Walla Walla. Notably, the city has a strong reputation for being incredibly welcoming — you may have heard the local saying, “a town so nice, they named it twice.”
13. Port Angeles
- Population: 20,134
- Median home price: $428,160
- Average age: 41
As the largest city on the Olympic Peninsula and the main entry point to Olympic National Park, Port Angeles is a bustling town, especially in the summer. Despite being a “big” city, it oozes small-town charm, with mountain views in every direction and a quirky downtown.
When you consider the $428,160 median home price, it’s easy to see why Port Angeles is one of the most livable cities in Washington State. That’s significantly lower than the statewide median home price, and for a coastal town, to boot!
Locals love living in Port Angeles for the abundant outdoor recreation, easy access to the national park and Victoria, BC, and unique history. Modern-day Port Angeles was actually built on top of the former town of the same name! In 1914, the city’s streets were raised 10-14 feet using dirt, water, and elbow grease. You can still take underground tours!
14. Friday Harbor
- Population: 2,747
- Median home price: $791,845
- Average age: 42.3
Considered the “Gateway to San Juan Island,” Friday Harbor is a picturesque coastal town known for its unspoiled natural beauty, tranquil island life, and eclectic arts community.
With the median home price of $791,845, higher than average age, and small population, Friday Harbor isn’t for everyone. However, for folks who dream of living in a stunningly beautiful place or who want to retire by the sea, it’s one of the best places to live in Washington state.
Indeed, Friday Harbor is a true coastal getaway. There are endless outdoor activities including boating, fishing, and whale-watching. Orcas live in the San Juan Islands year-round, and this is widely considered one of the best places in the world to see them!
One important thing to be aware of is that getting to and from Friday Harbor requires a 1 to 1.5-hour ferry ride from Anacortes, two hours north of Seattle. It gets pricey going back and forth to the mainland, and the relative isolation drives up everyday costs like groceries.
- Population: 2,383
- Median home price: $671,957
- Average age: 40.4
Just 20 minutes from Wenatchee in the Cascades, Leavenworth is a small mountain town renowned for its characteristic Bavarian charm. The colorful German-style buildings give the town a unique festive vibe year-round.
Of course, people consider Leavenworth one of the best places to live in Washington for other reasons. The $671,957 average home price isn’t low by any means, but it’s on par with many other cities.
Leavenworth’s major draws are fantastic access to outdoor activities and Christmastown. Every November, the entire town transforms into a winter wonderland with several million lights!
On the downside, there aren’t many jobs here, which makes it especially popular for retirees.
List of the best places to live in Washington State (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick list of the best places to live in Washington.
- Walla Walla
- Port Angeles
- Friday Harbor
Map of the best cities to live in Washington