5.6 out of 10


47.8624464171876 -121.971359161269
Great for
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Clean & Green
  • Parking
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Safe & Sound
Not great for
  • Shopping Options
  • Public Transport
  • Eating Out
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Neighborly Spirit
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers


3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Jan 19, 2016

"Anywhere, USA"

Ahhh, Monroe. My hometown.

When I describe where I grew up, I usually say that it’s “Anywhere, USA.” Monroe is the kind of place that once had a little personality, but it’s grown so quickly, that it soon became rows upon rows of box houses, chain restaurants, and mega stores. Growing up, I watched it transform from what could reasonably be called a farming town to a sprawling commuter town. Not to mention that it’s one of at least 28 American towns named after our fourth president James Monroe. Anywhere, USA, indeed.

Now, there are definitely still farms in the Snohomish Valley and surrounding areas, but there are so many residents that now commute, that the overall percentage of farmers is quite low. But I suppose that’s the fate of a quickly-growing region, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Lately, it looks like the growth has started to peter out, and the population has hovered around 17,000 for a few years.

But there are definitely some things that make Monroe unique. There’s the Evergreen State Fair (though I believe that the Puyallup fair just snatched the state fair title from Monroe). There’s also the state prison, perched just below the High School, and easily visible from the cafeteria. You can imagine the jokes.

And of course, there’s the proximity to the mountains. Growing up, there wasn’t always very much to do outside of school. We got a movie theater when I was in middle school, which was the event of the year. But even better? Being able to go snowboarding. Probably the best thing about Monroe is that you’re only 1 hour away from Steven’s Pass, one of the top ski resorts in the state. In the summer, for the past few years, they’ve been building and running a downhill mountain bike park as well, if you like going down mountains fast year-round.

And of course, though I didn’t appreciate it enough as a kid, there’s world-class hiking nearby too. The famous Pacific Crest Trail even crosses highway 2 near Steven’s Pass. Check www.wta.org for dozens of hiking options. Apparently there’s good rock climbing as well, though I don’t know this first-hand.

The culture in Monroe is much more conservative than cities closer to Seattle. Though it’s only 30 miles from the biggest city in the state, it’s a world away. Seattle was always The Big City to me as a kid, a far-away, exotic place with tall shiny buildings. As I grew up, I realized that it was very far away indeed---culturally. Though I don’t know how many from Monroe would vote conservatively, it would be a far greater number than residents in more westerly cities. Though likewise, it’s probably more liberal than the towns further east on highway 2, especially once you cross over the mountains into Eastern Washington.

I also should mention traffic. It’s not great. Monroe is at the intersection of highway 2 and highway 522, so there is significant congestion during rush hour. It was slightly improved with a new overpass, but with so many commuters and poor public transportation, it really can’t be avoided. I hope they invest in better public transit services one day.

As far as weather goes, Monroe is significantly cooler and rainier than Seattle. Being in the foothills of the Cascades, clouds pass over cities further west and get stuck on the mountains, raining on Monroe and nearby towns.

Overall, Monroe is an average bedroom community that suits those who like a vanilla ice cream kind of life. It’s too far to commute to Seattle, but reasonable to Everett. I personally wouldn’t live there again, but know plenty of people that are happily raising families in Monroe. There's definitely a kind of comfort with adopting the "Anywhere, USA" identity, buying a house, and quietly enjoying life.
  • Proximity to mountains
  • Quick access to skiing / outdoor activities
  • Lack of town personality
  • Lack of public transit
  • Long commute to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
Jan 13, 2016

"growing family suburb, but a long way from Seattle"

My dad lived in Monroe for several years when I was a kid, so spent lots of time in the area growing up. My close friend has a family cabin out past Steven's pass, so we stop in Monroe almost every time we drive from Sammamish to the Plain area.

Skiing at Steven's pass is a short car ride away, just about an hour east. Thus, if you're a skiing/boarding addict, Monroe wouldn't be a bad place to call home.

Eastside Paintball is nearby, and a cool spot to spend a day with family or friends. 21685 Lake Fontal Rd,
Monroe, WA 98272 --> http://eastsidepaintball.net/home.php

I definitely wouldn't look forward to commuting from Monroe to a downtown Seattle job - that would be beyond a brutal commute.
  • Quick access to skiing / outdoor activities
  • Long commute to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers

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