7.4 out of 10

Mercer Island

Ranked 5th best city in Washington
47.5670183272476 -122.228210845992
Great for
  • Childcare
  • Medical Facilities
  • Clean & Green
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Parks & Recreation
Not great for
  • Parking
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Singles
  •  

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Apr 03, 2016

"Quiet neighborhood"

I’ve driven past Mercer Islands so many times on my way between Seattle and Bellevue, I figured I’d stop once in a while to see what it was all about.

So sometimes if I have a few minutes on a weekend morning on the way to Seattle I’ll go to the Mercer Island Einstein Bros Bagels for a bagel and coffee. Nothing different about them than at their other locations, but it’s just a more chill vibe than the city locations and you don’t have to stress about parking. I’ve also tried The Islander, which is a pub. The beer is decent, but I can’t really recommend the food.

Honestly though I don’t know anyone who actually lives on Mercer Island. It seems to be just for families. Rich families. Haha. Not exactly the hottest place for young professional. But hey whatever works for you.

Oh yeah I’ve also played tennis at the courts at Luther Burbank Park. They keep them in good shape, especially in the summer. And you can run down to the beach and jump in afterwards if you want! There’s no lights at these courts though, so you can’t play at night. Also they get super crowded on nice weekends so arrive early or late.
Pros
  • Tennis courts
  • Great parks
4/5
Mar 11, 2016

"The BEST dog park!"

Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island has one of my favorite dog parks. It’s off leash, and divided into two sections. There’s the normal part (which is bigger) and a smaller part for small or shy dogs. Finally, somewhere that understands that not all dogs enjoy getting jumped on by strange dogs they don’t know. Just like not all people like being hugged by strangers. I only wish this section of the park was bigger.

Since the park is on Lake Washington, there is a doggie swim area, which is fun. It’s nice to have a dedicated area without people swimming so you can be certain that it’s acceptable for dogs to swim there and that they won’t bother the swimmers.

And after they are done playing and swimming, there are doggie showers to rinse the mud and sand off. Not bad! I especially appreciate the showers because the only thing I worry about at this park, and most Seattle dog parks, is the cleanliness. If it’s really muddy we won’t go. It’s a lot cleaner when it’s dry out and people can pick up after their dogs.

Other than the dog park, I like the amphitheater. In the summer, they do Shakespeare in the Park here! Sometimes parking can be a challenge during these events, however, so it’s important to arrive early and/or carpool.
Pros
  • Great off leash dog park
  • Great parks
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
Mar 04, 2016

"Big park with fun things to do"

Mercer Island is a place we visit 2 or 3 times per year. Though it is not far from Seattle the traffic can be very slow. This is because you can only get to the island on I-90. There can be lots of construction.

When we went there, we enjoyed Luther Burbank Park. We went there for Greenway Days. This is a time to learn about conservation, protecting nature, and also about fishing. Our daughter got to try using a fishing pole. Also as a family we were able to try kayaking. It was a good experience because we do not have fishing or kayaking equipment. And this way she still was able to learn and experience it. Also she begins to care about the environment more.

The park has a large jungle gym, which is very popular. There is also an amphitheater. We went to Shakespeare in the Park there and enjoyed the high quality performance. There is also swimming in Lake Washington. When we went they had a lifeguard. For boats they have a dock as well but it is only for small boats I think. If you are there in the summer there are also blackberries you can eat. But you have to be careful and watch out for dead grass or other dead weeds nearby. This means that they sprayed a chemical to kill the plants nearby and you don’t want to eat blackberries there.

The park has a Community and Events Center too, with an art gallery. We looked inside for only a few minutes but in the summer people want to enjoy the sunny park, not go inside.

Mercer Island for us is a place to only visit occasionally, not to live. It seems most people own their homes here because there are mostly houses and few apartments. It is a fancy looking neighborhood, very nice and clean.
Pros
  • Great parks
  • Good for families
Cons
  • Depends on I-90 for access
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
Feb 27, 2016

"Accessible to very few"

Mercer Island is a well-to-do community on Lake Washington, located on Interstate 90. I imagine it would be an ideal place for a family that has one person employed in Bellevue and the other in Seattle, because it’s placed right in between the two cities. It is a little too upper class for us personally, being full of large expensive homes, but is lovely nonetheless for people who like, and can afford, that lifestyle.

What puts most people (including us) off is the cost of living here. For the most part, it’s only accessible to the wealthy, two high-income earners of the area, unfortunately. It almost feels like a gated community in many senses, with many grandiose houses, manicured lawns, and high-end cars. But alas, you cannot fence off an entire island.

I’m of course being completely unfair here—not all the houses are mansions, though even the more modest ones draw a hefty sum, being on prime real estate. There are also condominiums available that are more accessible to some, but they tend to be high-end, and draw a price tag that matches or exceeds prime neighborhoods in Seattle. You can expect 2 bedroom condos to be over $2000 per month.

We rarely stop here, though do pass it often on our way up I-90 to go hiking. We’ve stopped 2 or 3 times for a bite to eat, or for a coffee. I do have to compliment their vegetarian pizza parlor, “Island Crust Café,” which does an excellent lasagna, and of course, pizza.
Pros
  • Great parks
Cons
  • Expensive rent
  • Expensive to buy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Jan 12, 2016

"Mercer Island or Mercedes Island"

Mercer Island sits right between Seattle and Bellevue and is home to some of the wealthiest residents in the Puget Sound.

There are about 24,000 folks that live on the 13 mile island. Over 75% of those residents are college graduates. The average home value is $1,126,800, and that rose 12.8% over 2015. Mercer Island’s most famous resident is Paul Allen, who just happens to be one of the riches people in the world, 51st to be exact. To summarize, Mercer Island is filled with very smart and very affluent residents.

The island itself is filled with mostly single family homes. It has a main retail center with just about everything you’d need to be self-contained, such as restaurants, grocery stores, and cafes. There are several apartment complexes of varying age and amenities on the island. The surprising fact is you can rent an apartment for less on Mercer Island than in Seattle and Bellevue.

If you’re a renter would you want to live there? I actually had a friend move to Mercer Island when he first arrived to the area. The apartment itself wasn’t bad; affordable rent, average amenities for the price. The real downside was that the entire Island shuts around 10pm. Chances are if you’re a renter, you’re younger and more social, and there just aren’t any options to grab a late bite or drink on the island.

Mercer Island is perfect for families. It's filled with beautiful, large, single family homes. It has some of the best schools in the area, and it even has a French school; how fancy is that? The island has several great parks and is very bicycle friendly. As an avid cyclist I can say riding around Mercer Island is one of the most popular routes around Seattle. The Island is very peaceful and quiet.

Great schools and even better views make Mercer Island so popular. The real estate market is fairly cool here, just because there is such little inventory. People who buy here tend to stay for a long time, lots of homeowners are retirees.

What are the downsides to Mercer Island living? There is only one: the cost of living. It is simply too expensive for most folks to buy here. Mercer Island is one of the most expensive zip codes in Washington State. If you want to live close to the city, but in the peace and quiet an island offers (without taking a ferry) Mercer Island has it all – just be ready to pay for it.
Pros
  • Good for families
  • Great parks
  • Peaceful
Cons
  • Expensive to buy
  • Depends on I-90 for access
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Dec 20, 2015

"Water, water, everywhere"

If you are the kind of person that always dreamed about a white picket fence life, but still want to be close to the city, Mercer Island might be your style. It’s a peaceful family community between Seattle and Bellevue, surrounded by the waters of Lake Washington, with gorgeous views all around, and an abundance of parks.

Transportation:
Since the island is mainly residential, and also it’s own incorporated city (not a Seattle neighborhood), traffic on the island isn’t bad. The slow neighborhood roads wind through houses with landscaped lawns, where smiling parents have 2.5 kids and a well-behaved dog named Rover.

But getting to and from the island is where it gets sticky. Mercer Island is connected to Seattle and Bellevue by I-90, which runs east/west. Though only a few short miles to either destination, the ride can be frustratingly slow with traffic, especially when there’s construction. There are also buses you can hop on if you prefer, with a park and ride right next to the freeway, on Mercer Way. Just keep in mind that it’s a very small lot, and gets full on weekdays by 8am. One upside is that Mercer Island residents can hop on the I-90 carpool express lanes, even if there is only one driver in the car, as long as they actually do exit at Mercer Island. That saves a bit of time.

Food:
Most of the restaurants are near I-90, in the north part of the island. My personal favorite is Bennett’s, an American bistro that does amazing brunch. Save room for one of their specialty drinks (hey! No judging. You’re supposed to drink at brunch). I also like how they use local ingredients, and try to stay away from the chemical food dyes, additives, and other icky stuff. Also, people must really love pizza on Mercer Island, because there are 5 pizza places within 4 blocks (compared to only 3 starbucks! Very unusual ratio for Seattle). I prefer Island Crust Café, which is kosher and vegetarian. There’s also a QFC here for groceries.

The other area with food is at the southern edge of the island (only a few minutes drive), where there’s also a QFC. The QFCs actually have decent prices, which is surprising, since many of the island residents are very well-off. But the one at the south end of the island has better service and is usually less crowded.

Parks:
Next to the south shopping center is Pioneer Park, which is full of trails. But the best park by far is Luther Burbank Park, in the northeast tip of the island. There is a swimming beach, a dog run (not in the same place!), and walking trails. There are also lots of community events here in the summer, where people come from Seattle and Bellevue to see outdoor concerts and theater. There are even tennis courts and a public boat launch.

If you want to go swimming with fewer crowds, you can jump in the water at the small Groveland Park, which is west-facing, and looks across the water to Seward Park in Seattle. This park has lifeguards in the summer, which can give peace of mind if you’re bringing the kiddos. There’s also swimming at Clarke Beach Park, on the southeast corner of Mercer Island. I think you get the idea—there’s a lot of water near an island.

Jewish Community:
It’s worth mentioning that there’s a vibrant Jewish community on Mercer Island. There’s the Jewish Community Center, Northwest Yeshiva High School, two congregations, and of course the aforementioned kosher pizza place.

Housing:
Words used to describe housing on Mercer Island tend to be ones like “luxury,” “upscale,” “designer,” and “granite.” This goes for apartments, condos, and single-family homes. It’s safe to say you won’t be able to afford living here unless you have a great job, and probably someone to split the rent with. Most of the multi-unit buildings are at the North end of the island, close to I-90, while the single-family homes dominate the center and south end of the island. There are also a good amount of retirement homes where elders relax in style.

So, if you’re looking for something upscale and homey but close to the cities, this might be a good bet for you. Not so much if you’re into more affordable housing and a fun nightlife.
Pros
  • Peaceful
  • Good for families
  • Great parks
Cons
  • Depends on I-90 for access
  • Expensive rent
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees

Best Neighborhoods to Live In

Best Cities to Live In

Tell everyone what you love about your neighborhood!

Leave a Review

Have a question?

How are schools? Is the area safe? What about public transit options?" Why not ask our community of locals!

Ask Now

Selling or Renting Your Home?

Maximize the selling price of your home by sharing what you love about your suburb to increase its appeal...

Leave a Review

Corporate Relocation Manager?

Enable your employees to share local knowledge in a private, trusted environment with those relocating... while building community.

Learn More