6.4 out of 10

Kirkland

Ranked 12th best city in Washington
47.6827318284225 -122.186963653849
Great for
  • Safe & Sound
  • Clean & Green
  • Internet Access
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Pest Free
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping Options
  • Public Transport
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
Mar 24, 2016

"Pleasant place for a summer evening out"

My husband and I enjoy stopping in Kirkland for a treat after hiking sometimes in the summer. The downtown area is just lovely in the summer evenings. I particularly appreciate how many of the restaurants have outdoor patios, so that you may enjoy the breeze and the sunset. Fortunately, there are not too many mosquitoes in this area.

Some of my top restaurant choices are:

Santorini Greek Grill. They make excellent, simple Greek dishes, with a good amount of vegetarian options. The owner is delightful, often stopping by and saying hello. One caveat is that they only accept cash, so you must come prepared.

Ristorante Paradiso. This Italian restaurant only has 2 or 3 outdoor tables, which are very popular in the summer. It is a wonderful place if you are feeling like wine.

Vista Lago. As you might imagine, this Italian restaurant has a view of the lake. It has a good sized patio, however, so you may get lucky to get an outdoor seat. They have quite a few delicious vegetarian options, as well as seafood options. You can also bring your own wine, and they will only charge you a corkage fee. Additionally, f you buy the wine at the shop next door, they discount this fee.

After dinner, before you head home, you can take a stroll in one of the parks. The Marina Park is right next to all the restaurants, but it is quite small. Heritage Park is larger, and a loop takes about 15 minutes, with pleasant views of the water and Seattle across the lake.

In summary, although I would not live in Kirkland, due to the time-consuming commute to work in Seattle, I do very much enjoy visiting this lovely city on the lake.
Pros
  • Good restaurants
  • Waterfront downtown
Cons
  • Long commute to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
Feb 13, 2016

"Better for families than young professionals"

When I first moved to the area, I checked out Kirkland to maybe live there. It’s super close to Microsoft and Redmond, and nice being on the lake. The downtown is also nice, with some good restaurants. But after I asked around, I realized that it wasn’t the best place for a young single professional. Seems like more of a family or couples place. Also, there’s no good live music venues here. There are a few that have house bands, but nothing that amazing.

I do have one friend that lives in Kirkland who has a boat at the marina. It’s a sweet place to launch and spend a day on Lake Washington. Then when you come back, you’re within a half a block of bars and restaurants.

Recommendations:

Wilde Rover: it’s an Irish pub that has live music. The music is pretty standard (it’s a rotation of house bands), but good for a night out with a group of friends that cares more about hanging out and having a good time than the music.

The Central Club: Pretty much just a dive bar, but more variety in music than the Wilde Rover.

Milagro Cantina: I can only recommend happy hour, it’s overpriced otherwise. But they have decent tequilas. The orange-tequila carnitas tacos are good, but the rest of the menu is hit and miss.
Pros
  • Good restaurants
  • Waterfront downtown
Cons
  • Not great for young singles
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Jan 15, 2016

"Close to the city with a small town vibe"

I considered living in Kirkland when I was looking to buy, but decided against it due to the commute to Seattle.

Kirkland was appealing to me because it has the feel of a small town. As a skier, I was also attracted by its proximity to the Cascade Mountains. For example, it's only a 40 minute drive to Snoqualmie Pass. But when I asked around about traffic, I realized I would have had to spend an hour in rush hour commuting each way to get to South Lake Union. No thank you.

I did take a good look at the housing options in Kirkland. Single-family homes dominate much of the real estate market here, though there are also a good amount of condos (which I prefer) near downtown Kirkland. I did find one option that was perfect for me, right on the shores of Lake Washington, which I nearly bought. But I just couldn’t commit to the commute.

One thing I did like about Kirkland was the downtown area. Though I enjoy living in a city, I did grow up in a small Ohio town, and miss that small town culture sometimes. Kirkland fit the bill in that sense, because it was close to the cities, but still had a cute waterfront business district.
Pros
  • Close to nature
  • Good restaurants
  • Waterfront downtown
Cons
  • Long commute to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
Jan 13, 2016

"A growing Bellevue/Seattle suburb on Lake Washington"

Kirkland is a great little city on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, north of Bellevue.

At 85,000 residents, it’s definitely a city, but still much smaller than it’s neighbor to the south. But with the speed that both Seattle and Bellevue are growing, Kirkland might get swallowed up by the big cities in the next 20 or so years, and be nothing more than a Bellevue neighborhood. Like Ballard got swallowed by Seattle. (Just don’t say that out loud in Kirkland!) Although, Kirkland itself has been annexing nearby neighborhoods as it’s geographic boundaries slowly increase.

Amenities:
Kirkland has two clusters of shops and restaurants, both of which are centered around bays on Lake Washington.

The furthest north is Juanita Bay, which has a park surrounding it. There are handful of eateries here, on 98th ave, but this is the smaller of the two commercial areas and not really considered Kirkland’s downtown. Until a few years ago, Juanita was actually not part of Kirkland, but an unincorporated neighborhood.

The second bay, further south, is Moss Bay, which is what people refer to when they say “downtown Kirkland.” There’s a compact marina here, and in the summers, a wonderful farmer’s market sets up shop at the park on Wednesdays. It's a really cute waterfront downtown.

One thing I like about Kirkland is how walkable downtown is. It’s especially nice in the summer, when the patios are open, and restaurants roll up their garage-door style walls, letting the fresh Lake Washington air roll in. For a friend’s birthday last summer, we did a pub and grub crawl, and strolled around, getting appetizers and drinks at different venues.

There are also a few Washington winery tasting rooms here. I’d suggest the Waving Tree, where Sam will treat you like you’re family. (Pssst… they also have groupons sometimes). If you’re looking for a full wine tour though, head to neighboring Woodinville.

Housing:
Highway 405 divides Kirkland into an East and West side, which can be annoying if you have to get from one side of Kirkland to the other. But it also means that there’s plenty of housing near the highway, which is convenient for commuters.

Directly surrounding the retail cores I mentioned earlier is some multi-unit housing, though no huge skyscrapers like in Seattle or Bellevue. Many of these have been recently built, with a few older, more affordable ones here and there. The new ones are priced pretty high, but watch out for this common trick that I’ve seen: They get you in on a decent rent price, but only offer 6 or 10 month leases. Then, when you’re settled in and feeling like home, your lease expires, and they drastically increase the rent, because they know you don’t want to go through the hassle of moving. It’s unfortunately hard to avoid this in Washington, since we don’t have rent control, and this just happened to a friend of mine in Kirkland. She ended up grudgingly moving elsewhere. Check reviews online before you make your decision!

Further out, Kirkland has mostly low-density housing, with a lot of single-family homes. The average value is just over $500k, which has gone up 10% in the last year alone (according to Zillow). Expect prices to continue to rise for quite a few years to come, as Seattle and Bellevue grow.

Northwest University:
Kirkland is also host to one of three campuses of the small Northwest University (not to be confused with Northwestern University). This branch of the Christian school has just under 2,000 undergraduates, plus grad students. They’re a pretty good group, and it keeps the downtown young. I’m assuming they have plenty of student housing, because your average student couldn’t afford the rent around here.

Conclusion:
Overall, Kirkland is a pretty well-organized, low-crime, relatively privileged place. If you’re comfortable in that kind of environment, and especially if you have kids, Kirkland is a great place to buy. It’s especially good if you’re commuting to Bellevue or Renton, and like to stay close, but not too close, to the action. That said, quite a few families will be priced out and have to head elsewhere—the lakeside location and short commute definitely drive the prices up!
Pros
  • Waterfront downtown
  • Good restaurants
Cons
  • High cost of living
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Dec 28, 2015

"Lovely Lakeside Town"

Kirkland is a lovely town. It has a cute lakeside downtown area with lots of small shops, galleries, restaurants, and bars. There are also a lot of small parks, paths, and trails that make great places to jog, walk, and bike. In the winter months, it is a quaint and quiet suburb. It the summer, it is buzzing with visitors. It is a beautiful place to live.

Culture
Kirkland is growing, like many cities on the east side of Lake Washington. Large tech companies in Redmond and Bellevue are attracting talent from all over the world. Affluent immigrants from Asia and the Pacific Islands make up a large part of that growth. So, the city is becoming much more diverse and more expensive. Unlike many of Seattle’s eastside suburbs, which blur together, Kirkland has a lively downtown area—which historically served as a ferry hub across the lake to Seattle.

Cost of Living
It’s much cheaper to live in Kirkland than it is to live in Bellevue or in Seattle, but the cost of living in all Seattle metro areas is much higher (47.4% greater) than the national average. A middle-class family will struggle to make ends meet here. Most Kirkland households bring in over $60,000 and own their homes. Typical salaries are handsome, but your money won’t stretch as far as it will in most parts of the U.S. Unless you are moving from San Francisco or New York, it will seem expensive.

Weather
The weather in Kirkland is typical western Washington weather. It is rainy and wet in the winter with highs in the 40’s and lows in the 30’s and warm and mild in the summer with average daytime temperatures in the 70’s. The summer is beautiful, but it will seem short if you’re new to the area. I moved here from Denver and I miss the snow and the sun. It took several years for me to acclimate, but I eventually did. Now I find Denver weather to harsh. I like to travel to sunnier places in the winter to break up the gray a bit. Skiing is another great way to get out of the rain.

Traffic and Parking
Traffic and Parking in Settle are always a challenge, but the east side of Lake Washington is better than the west side. Many Seattle metro residents commute by bus or bike instead of driving everywhere so you will find it easy to get an express bus or hop on a bike trail. Most employers offer public transportation passes. Some even provide a free shuttle service from popular neighborhoods to their offices. Using these options instead of driving everywhere is faster, cheaper and better for the environment.

Commuting
Commuting to Seattle means taking the SR 520 bridge (tolled) or the I-90 bridge. The I-90 bridge is free, but to get on it, you have to travel a few miles south on I-405 with all the other cars trying to avoid the toll bridge. The SR 520 bridge has less traffic, but it’s tolled in both directions. A daily commute to Seattle across SR 520 will cost you between $4.00 and $8.00 depending on what time you are traveling. It doesn’t seem like a lot but it does add up. The bridge uses WSDOT’s Good To Go Pass so paying the toll is easy. You just get the pass and display it on your windshield. The pass links to a pre-paid account that you can add funds to from a credit, debit or checking account.

Commuting to Bellevue or Redmond from Kirkland is a little easier, but traffic can be bad. During rush hour, it will take about 25-30 minutes to get to Bellevue from Kirkland and it’s a quick ten-minute hop during off-peak times. Kirkland to Redmond is around 20 minutes down Redmond way. A lot of folks work flex schedules in Seattle so the congestion is spread out over 3-4 hours in the mornings and again in the afternoon. On the east side, morning traffic starts to build as early as 5 AM and lasts to around 10 AM and roads are congested from 2-8 PM in the afternoons--mostly with commuters trying to beat the traffic.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids

Best Neighborhoods in Kirkland

1

North Rose Hill

2.5/5
"A lot of land to be developed - what type of home do you want?"
47.6935065551316 -122.172200312812

Unranked Neighborhoods in Kirkland

Everest

2.5/5
"A great deal of room to expand"
47.6722834994378 -122.189468757413

Highlands

3.5/5
"Overall, just a nice place to live"
47.6871281208491 -122.187570096843

Lakeview

2.5/5
"How will this neighborhood end up?"
47.6509127580147 -122.205624207585

Norkirk

2.5/5
"A very average Kirkland neighborhood"
47.6869760829064 -122.202840679913
"Beautiful, safe, quiet neighborhood."
47.7152365236164 -122.202054326757
"Friendly Street"
47.7025970729255 -122.202178291472
"Riding horses is just minutes away"
47.6729863751299 -122.174616833165

Totem Lake

2.5/5
"An attractive urban village in the making"
47.710142714129 -122.18134501942

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