6.7 out of 10


Ranked 9th best city in Washington
48.7589793941004 -122.465803547207
Great for
  • Childcare
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Pest Free
  • Schools
Not great for
  • No ratings yet
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists


4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
Dec 02, 2015

"Simple and Sweet"

I’ve been back in Bellingham for a little over a year now. After earning my M.A. at Western Washington University, I took a job in my field in Seattle. I lived there for the past ten years or so before coming back to Bellingham. I don’t regret moving back, but I do occasionally second-guess the decision. It essentially amounted to abandoning my career in favor of a happier life. Do I miss my career? Maybe, but so far the awesomeness of the city has more than filled the gap.

So far, Bellingham has delivered. I’m rediscovering a place that is rich in many ways. Bellingham has great restaurants, excellent beer, cool museums, and amazing local and organic produce. I am surrounded by water and forests, and close to the mountains. The people I've met are engaged in their community and take part in local events and civic matters.

The cost of living in Bellingham is much lower than Seattle, but I wouldn’t call it a cheap city. If you’re on a budget (or would rather spend your cash on lift tickets), there are plenty of low-cost restaurants, consignment shops, discount outlets, and thrift stores. You can get pretty much anything you need second-hand or at deep discounts. Housing costs are higher in trendy neighborhoods such as Sunnyland, Fairhaven, and Letter Streets. But cheaper housing is available within a short drive of Bellingham.

So far, there has been only one major drawback for me in Bellingham. The job market is challenging, at best. There aren't a lot of industries here, so most of the good jobs are at the hospital, the university, or the school district. There are also a lot of service and retail jobs, but a ton of students who are looking for service and retail jobs. Students also gobble up most of the entry-level career positions. While I don’t regret my decision to reboot my life in Bellingham. Career-wise, it’s a poor choice, and my mid-career change plan is not working out as I had planned.

I am pleasantly surprised with the city. The Bellingham I knew as a student is different from the city I now know. I’m sure a few things have changed over the years, but I also realize I spent all my time in Bellingham on campus (or decompressing from thesis research and writing at the local watering hole). I’ve discovered a side of the city that few students ever experience.

There is a wider variety of things to do than I expected and I had no idea most of the amazing parks and trails even existed. I am still discovering them and have only explored a few, including the Railroad Trail, Whatcom Falls Park, Cornwall Park, Boulevard Park, Sehome Hill Arboretum and Fragrance Lake Trail.

Whether you’re into hiking, running, walking, biking, kayaking or skiing, there are plenty of places to go. Most everyone I’ve met since I’ve moved back spends most their time outdoors. Even in the winter. Which I suppose is why I didn’t meet many locals while I was working on my degree.

If you've been offered a position here and are deciding if you want to relocate. Take it! Bellingham is a great city. If you are relocating and still job hunting, you might need to get creative about earning a living rather than expecting to find a full-time position in a specific field. There just aren’t a lot of jobs here. It helps if you can work remotely, don’t need a high income to maintain your lifestyle, or don't need to rely on working to pay the bills.

I have met people who have carved out a living here by selling handmade items at the farmer’s market, launching vending carts, and freelancing. I know a handful of people who have landed good jobs and are raising their family on a modest income.

For me, the key to living in Bellingham has been to think outside the box. I am building a comfortable life here as a freelance writer. My clients are in Seattle and overseas. I spend my free time enjoying the great outdoors instead of dining out. My new friends love getting together to play tabletop games over a bag of chips and a take-n-bake pizza instead of hitting the bars. Life in Bellingham is simple and sweet.
  • Outdoor Recreation
  • Environmentally Conscious
  • Sluggish Job Market
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students

"Spacious and a respect for nature"

The South neighborhood of Bellingham is characterized by space. Located between Edgemoor and Samish, South Bellingham shares the respect for nature and convenience to Fairhaven with each.

One of the most notable features in South Bellingham is Fairhaven Park. Located just below the Old Fairhaven District, it brings visitors from throughout the area to play tennis, walk the gravel trails (appropriate for wheelchairs), watch salmon spawning in Padden Creek, or have a crazy afternoon in the kiddie pool. The covered picnic areas and large, open fields make it an ideal destination for group outings.

South Bellingham shares some of the Chuckanut tideland coastal beaches with the Edgemoor neighborhood. This area offers incredible views of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands, as well as direct contact with the tideland wildlife. As with much of the South neighborhood, this area is largely protected or undeveloped.

Just far enough from Western Washington University to not yet attract students, the South neighborhood is one of the quietest and most spacious areas in Bellingham. Builders have yet to discover the room for single-family house neighborhoods or the multi-family housing zones. As a result, buyers have options for historic homes near Happy Valley, fairly recent developments off Old Fairhaven Parkway, and plenty of available land.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees

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Unranked Neighborhoods in Bellingham

Alabama Hill

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"Quiet, classy, and convenient"
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"A community among a park"
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"Safe environment mixed with gourmet food"
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"Features the best middle school in the district"
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"Fast moving and fast growing community"
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Happy Valley

"Popular neighborhood among the locals"
48.7230822783133 -122.483714893121
"Convenience and charm floods this neighborhood"
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"Plenty of commercial buzz in this community"
48.788213122644 -122.485289319316

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