MarthaB1

  • Local Expert 2,880 points
  • Reviews 74
  • Question 1
  • Answers 4
  • Discussions 0

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Mormon City"

Salt Lake City is the capitol and biggest city in Utah, and is also home to the largest Mormon (aka Latter Day Saints) community in the country, which has had a big impact on the city.

Unsurprisingly, the focal point of the city is the Mormon Temple, which looms large downtown and is surrounded by a guarded wall. Since Im not Mormon, I wasnt allowed inside, so all I can say is that the building is impressive and the security guards dont have a sense of humor.

The rest of downtown Salt Lake City is very clean and well maintained. There are some great restaurants, though the selection is limited. After all, even being the largest city in Utah, there are fewer than 200,000 people who call this city home.

I can personally recommend the Beehive Pub, where I went while visiting a friend who attends the University of Utah. The Beehive Pub has a great selection of craft beerswhich is rare in this city. We were there the day that Obama won reelection against the Mormon Republican Mitt Romney. Basically I was in the most disappointed city in America. We were 2 of about 12 people celebrating in the whole city. LOL.

Part of the reason my friend suggested this place is because it is one of a limited number of restaurants that serve normal-strength beer. This is again due to the Mormon influence, whose members are not allowed to drink alcohol, coffee, or tea, among other strict dietary and lifestyle restrictions. In fact, in the entire state of Utah, beer is limited to 3.2% alcohol when its sold in grocery stores and anyplace that has a beer only liquor license. For stronger beer, wine, and any other alcohol, you have to go to the state liquor stores and places with full liquor licenses.

So if you are looking for a city with great nightlife, this is definitely not it. There is a *little* bit of nightlife in the form of laid-back pubs and restaurants, but nothing like the bar and club scenes in comparably sized cities.

My friend attends the University of Utah, which has over 30,000 students and is very close to downtown. It has the only medical school in the state, and overall has a good reputation, regularly winning substantial research grants. The LDS influence is very strong at U of U as well. It was founded in part by Brigham Young, a famous Mormon (and polygamist), who also founded Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, as well as Salt Lake City itself. Young is best known for the exodus he sparked with his followers from Illinois to where he founded Salt Lake City. Unsurprisingly, this is not a city that is very welcoming to LGBTQ folks.

As for cost of living, there is a variety of prices with apartments, which is nice because it accommodates everyone from Ramen-eating students to professionals who want luxury. You can easily find a modest 1 bedroom for $700 close to downtown. Now, keep in mind that this is also due to the fact that wages can be pretty low in Utah. The minimum wage usually is the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25/hr).

A big reason people love this city is because its close to great skiing. Since the city itself is at 4,226 elevation, snow is not uncommon. The skiing is famous for having super dry powder and being close to the city. Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, Park City, Snowbasin and Solitude are some of the most famous, but there are NINE ski resorts within an hours drive. NINE!

Hiking is also epic here. Being on the western foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it doesnt take long to get into some beautiful wilderness. There are way too many hikes to even begin listing, so Ill just leave it at that.

One last random facta majority of people in SLC drive white cars! This is mostly due to the hot summers, but is also just a style preference here.
Pros
  • Close to 9 ski resorts
  • Excellent hiking
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not much nightlife
  • Not LGBTQ friendly
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"Vibrant and Diverse"

Minor (Central District) is a super interesting and vibrant community. It lies right where South Seattle culture meets North Seattle culture. Nobody likes to talk about it, but Seattle was once legally segregated by race, and the Central District is right at that transition point.

The perfect example of this is the fact that the mostly white middle/upper class, private, Jesuit Seattle University is less than 2 blocks from Seattles youth jail, which is mainly full of youth of color. Awkwardand a clear indicator of the social justice work Seattle still has to do. This jail has understandably been a point of contention in Seattle lately, with many protests around spend several millions on a new youth jail rather than other community services. The current youth jail is in an old high schoolliterally a school to prison pipeline.

Sorry if that got a little heavy there, but these are real conversations and happenings in this neighborhood. But that tension is actually part of what makes this part of town so awesome. Because people are actually talking about it. You cant ignore it, and so even reserved, polite Seattleites will chime in on occasion.

The further east you get in this neighborhood, the more residential it becomes. This part of town has a lively and welcoming community, from all backgrounds. Youll mainly find single family homes, with some apartment buildings scattered along the arterials. Another tough conversation that Seattles been having recently is how the neighborhoods that were once filled with people of color are now being white-washed, as housing prices rise throughout the city.

Also along those main streets is where the amenities are. There are restaurants, cafes, bars, and a few small shops dotting the streets of 12th, 23rd, Cherry, union, and Madison.

In the south and east parts of the neighborhood, along Cherry, 23rd, and Union, the restaurants reflect the vibrant diversity in the neighborhood. Youve got a great selection of Ethiopian food (Ras Dashen, Meskels, Assimba, and Caf Selam, to name a few within 2 blocks of each other), Ezells Famous Fried chicken, Fats Chicken and Waffles, and Durdur East African Caf. Its pretty awesome.

Then even further south, as you get closer to the International District, you start too see more Chinese, Vietnamese, and other Asian restaurants.

The restaurants along 12th cater to the relatively well-off, if still young, student population of the private Jesuit Seattle University. The current restaurant du jour is Ba Bar, an upscale Vietnamese place that is notoriously hard to get in to (at the moment). Also along 12th is the college haunt Rhein House, which has games and a good beer selection. There are plenty of other decent places, just expect a lot of students during the school year.

Head northeast on Madison and there are some more college-friendly options, like the friendly Elysian Brewpub (welcoming to everyone from retirees to biker gangs), Thudsuan Thai, and the low key El Gallito.

Overall, I love this neighborhood and the dynamic energy that is there through its mix of residents, its real conversations, and, of course, the food.
Pros
  • Diversity
  • Good cost of living compared to other neighborhoods
  • Great medical facilities
Cons
  • Gentrification
  • Heavy traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Outdoor destination and Washington's "Bavarian Alps""

Leavenworth is a mountain town ruled by two things: the tourists and the seasons.

Just on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, on highway 2, a few decades ago it was transformed into a German/Swiss-style mountain town, complete with sausage restaurants, an accordion festival, latticed siding, and Octoberfest.

The Tourists:
Tourism is what makes this town run. People come from all over the country to enjoy the outdoor activities in a more comfortable setting than a tent (thought theres plenty of camping too). The busy seasons are around the holidays, during their multiple festivals, and all summer. Spring and fall are a bit quieter.

The Winter:
Winter in Leavenworth can be a magical place. Christmas lights cover the buildings, and the snow collects on rooftops and trees. There are Christmas festivals and plenty of activities like sledding and music shows.

But one of the main reasons people come here is not just to enjoy the townits to ski or snowboard. Leavenworth has 3 ski resorts within an hours drive (in good conditions) Stevens Pass, Leavenworth Ski Hill, and Mission Ridge. Employees from those resorts often live in Leavenworth, as well as all the local hospitality staff that serve the tourists.

The not so magical part? Getting here in the winter. Highway 2 is a two lane, winding mountain pass that causes more than a few serious accidents each year. Of course, the best time to visit Leavenworth and the ski resorts is also the worst time for the roads. Make sure you are carrying chains, check that they fit ahead of time, and know how to use them. Ideally, have snow tires as well.

The Summer:
During the hotter months, Leavenworth is a destination for hiking, backpacking, rafting, climbing, and basically any other sports you can do in the mountains or on a river. Icicle Creek Road leads to the most popular area, and all the campgrounds are usually full by Friday morning. The backpacking is so popular that for the highly popular area called The Enchantments, you have to enter a very competitive lottery system in order to secure a permit to stay overnight during the summer. Day hikers do not need a permit.

Surprisingly, Leavenworth is also a destination town for bachelor/ette parties. Perhaps its because the downtown is so small you can easily do a pub crawl, and there is usually more than one live music show on the busy weekends.

There is also a weekend craft fair in the summers, which is well known for having stunning, affordable photography for sale, among other art trades.

As a Washington native, its not somewhere I visit regularly, but I usually find myself there a couple of times a year or so, especially in the summer. The last two summers though, weve had the worst wildfire seasons in state history, and one fire got dangerously close to town. You can see the singed trees on one side of the highway now on your way there. Lets hope it doesnt happen again!
Pros
  • Great outdoor recreation
  • Close to ski resorts
  • Fun events
Cons
  • Dangerous winter driving conditions
  • Limited amenities for locals
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"A city in the great outdoors"

I once read a funny article that described cities as though they were people. Denver was a fit couple dressed head to toe in REI outdoor gear while talking about their latest backpacking trip and drinking a craft beer. Obviously this is a stereotype, but you will see lots of people that fit this description in Denver!

Denver is Colorado’s capitol, largest city, and business center. Because it is one of the biggest cities in this part of the country, there is a lot of commerce and travel that comes through.

Denver has a thriving and growing Hispanic population, with 25% of residents speaking Spanish at home. The city overall is relatively white (both Hispanic and non-Hispanic), though it has slowly been diversifying with time.

THE CITY
People who haven’t been to Denver imagine it being tucked away deep in the mountains. But in reality, it’s next to the Rockies, on the east side of the range, on relatively flat land. But don’t be fooled—that doesn’t mean it’s low elevation. It’s still one mile above sea level.

When people ask you where you live in town, you’ll often simply hear north, south, east, or west. Though of course Denver does have specific neighborhoods like Cheery Creek, Stapleton, and Capitol Hill, each of which has it’s own vibe.

Downtown Denver has changed a lot in the past decade. Parts of it used to be filled with old abandoned buildings and dilapidated streets. The city has really invested in renovating it, and now downtown is quite pleasant, with a decent nightlife and shopping scene. I especially like how they’ve refurbished some of the older buildings with classic architecture.

Traffic is as worse than you'd imagine for a city Denver's size, unfortunately. Even getting to the nearby ski resorts and campgrounds on weekends can be super frustrating in recent years, often taking twice as long as it should.

NEIGHBORS
Nearby Boulder, just northwest of the city, is sometimes considered Denver’s younger, hipper cousin, home to the very large University of Colorado Boulder, which has more than 30,000 students. Comparatively, University of Colorado Denver has 18,000 students. Aurora, just east of Denver, is where the tragic movie theater shooting occurred in 2012, killing 12 and injuring 70.

SKIING & SNOWBOARDING
Unsurprisingly, winter sports is something that Denver, and Colorado overall, is most famous for. There are 21 ski resorts in the state, with quite a few close enough for a day trip from Denver. Being in the Rockies, weather can change quickly, and in the winter it often comes with LOTS of snow.

Echo Mountain is the local Denver mountain, about 30-45 minutes away. Loveland is another locals mountain, about an hour away. The next farthest are Winter Park, Granby Ranch, and Eldora. After these, you’ll probably want to spend the night and make a weekend out of it, because the drive will be pretty long.

Keep in mind that Colorado ski resorts are *very* high elevation. So most people coming from sea level will need time to acclimate. But this also means that you can often ski from October through May! The other thing to keep in mind is that some of the big ones (Vail, Aspen) cater to the wealthy, almost exclusively. Hotels, restaurants, and ski tickets all have a premium here. If you want something more affordable, but still with excellent skiing and nice dry snow, try the smaller ones closer to Denver or head south to southwest Colorado.

OTHER OUTDOOR RECREATION
Being right next to the Rockies, there is so much to do outside. This is definitely one of the main reasons that people move to Denver. Besides your typical city parks, right at the edge of town you have the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, which has some beautiful hiking. Within an hour or two drive you can be in a huge variety of protected land, including Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Pike National forest, Arapaho National Forest, Roosevelt National Forest, Rocky Mountain National Park, to name a few. The farther out you get, the less and less tourists you’ll see, especially if you stay away from the ones right off I-70.

Overall, Denver is the one of the best places in the country for people who prioritize city life but still value access to the outdoors. But for those who are looking first and foremost for access to nature, there are dozens of better places to live in Colorado where you are closer to less crowded outdoor rec areas.

SUBSTANCES
Denver, and Colorado in general, is known for having a great craft beer scene. There are dozens of brewpubs producing creative and delicious microbrews all over the city. My favorites are Vine Street Pub and Brewery, and the riverside Denver Beer Co (the best porter!).

Colorado, alongside Washington State, is a living social experiment with the recent legalization of mar*juana. Though medical mar*juana had been legal for quite awhile, recreational use was only legalized about 2 or 3 years ago. So far it’s been a tourist draw for Denver, and lots of pot shops have opened up throughout the city. Locals have mixed feelings about it—some love it, others are annoyed with all the shops, and with people getting high and endangering others by driving or skiing.

ECONOMY
There are a few big players in the economy here. Transportation, in particular air travel, is a big one. The Denver airport is extremely busy, being a regional hub, and there is also an Air Force base south of the city. The economy also depends on heavy industry, particularly in oil and minerals. Tourism is of course vital to the economy, and the city is also a minor tech hub for the region—though nothing like San Francisco or Seattle. The biggest employers are the government and the aforementioned University of Colorado

SEASONS
Denver has four very distinct seasons. The most beautiful though, just may be autumn, because of the Aspen trees. Winters are cold and snowy yet sunny, and summers are hot and dry.
Pros
  • Close to the mountains
  • Good sports
Cons
  • Traffic in and around the city for miles/hours
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Established, powerful, and wealthy city"

Boston is the heart of New England, both geographically and culturally. It’s an old (by American standards), wealthy city with an established personality. Even though it’s full of green spaces, it manages to be one of the most densely populated cities in the country. Downtown Boston is gorgeous and walkable, though neighborhoods are also pleasant, with each having a unique community.

ECONOMY
Boston has a powerful economy. It is the 6th largest economy in the country, even though it’s only the 24th largest in terms of population. This tells you a lot. It’s a port city, which means by default a lot of money goes through here. But some of the wealth also flows from the “old money” which still flourishes in the city. You’ll find some of these families in a few select suburbs and neighborhoods, like in the classic brick homes of Back Bay. According to the Boston Globe, the city had almost 1700 resident millionaires in 2012. Much of the money is invested in healthcare and education, which are two of the biggest employment sectors in Boston, alongside finance and insurance.

EDUCATION
One effect of being one of America’s oldest and wealthiest cities is that there are a plethora of higher education institutions. Harvard, Boston University, Bradeis, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are some of the most highly ranked. But there are dozens of other higher education institutions in the city (and in neighboring Cambridge).

MEDICAL
It’s worth mentioning that Boston is also a medical hub of the region, in part due to all the universities. In fact, the #1 biggest employer of the city, with about 15,000 employees is Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

HISTORY
I can’t write a review about Boston without mentioning that it has historically been a very important city, particularly in the American Revolution. That’s all I’ll say here, but there is plenty to explore for history buffs and tourists.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
The public transit system in Boston is pretty good, with plenty of trains to get around the city and the suburbs. A high percentage of locals use both the trains and the buses. One downside is that the T line (unless it’s changed since I was there) only runs until 12:30am, while bars are open until 2. Not cool.
Also, everyone walks everywhere downtown. Officially, it’s the 3rd most walkable city in the U.S. This is partly because the city is small and dense enough to cover a good distance on foot, and also because the city is relatively flat, due to the hills literally being cut down, and the marshes and ponds filled in over the past couple of centuries. Most recently, the ‘Big Dig’ was (finally!) completed in 2007. This was an epic, decades-long project to put Interstate 93 underground, making downtown even more walkable. However, be warned that if you DO drive, the streets are pretty crazy here. If you’ve been to an old European city you know what I mean. There are very few parts of the city that have a nice grid design. Usually, they twist and turn all over the place, sometimes confusing even the locals.

WEATHER
When a winter storm comes through Boston, people don’t wonder *if* it will snow, they wonder ‘how much?’ Last year, Boston along with most of the East Coast had record-breaking snowfalls. This year has been milder, but still very wintry. Summers get pretty hot, generally in 80s or so. Thunderstorms are not uncommon.

DIVERSITY
The Massachusett American Indians, who are still not a federally recognized tribe, originally inhabited the Boston area. When European settlers arrived in the early 17th century, Irish and Italians were the biggest ethnic groups that settled in Boston, though of course they were not alone. The city was very white until the past 50 years, when it has diversified considerably. Now you’ll find Bostonians of many different backgrounds throughout the city. Like many American cities, Boston is definitely not there yet with racial equality, even though it’s politically liberal.

HOUSING
Housing is not cheap if you want to live close to downtown. But once you get past the South End, it’s much more affordable. And honestly, if you can manage to get a place not far from one of the trains, you’ll do great. A lot of the neighborhoods have their own downtowns too, with a group of shops and restaurants (like River Street in Hyde park). People are fiercely loyal to their neighborhoods. The good thing about housing is that there is a lot of availability. So unlike Manhattan, San Francisco, or Seattle, you will probably have more than 20 minutes after viewing an apartment to decide if you want to rent it.

POLITICS
Like with higher education and wealth, Boston is also a powerful place for politics. It’s a strongly democratic city, with such lawmakers as John Kerry, and my personal favorite, Elizabeth Warren, calling it their home.

SPORTS
I guess I have to mention that sports are huge here. If you’re not a sports fan it can be annoying (don’t throw your dunkin donuts coffee at me for saying that!), but if you like getting riled up watching people throw balls around, you’ll love the super enthusiastic sports community here.
Pros
  • Strong communities
  • Great public transportation
  • Beautiful downtown
Cons
  • High rent in downtown
  • Parts of Boston are too exclusive and classist
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"A uniquely urban/rural city in the mountains"

Missoula, aka Zootown, may be a small city by American standards, but it is a big city by Montana standards—second biggest in the state, actually. This part of the west has a lot of open land, and the next biggest cities in the region are Spokane, Washington a couple hundred miles west, Billings, Montana 350 miles east, and Idaho Falls about 300 miles south. There are some smaller cities in between those big ones, but Montana’s nickname “Big Sky” definitely makes sense out here--there's a lot of open space.

People move to Missoula for the gorgeous Rocky Mountain surroundings, the lifestyle and culture, and the University of Montana.

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Missoula has a very unique culture that’s quite different from most western cities. It is a blend of some of the more reserved values of the rural west with the more liberal ideology that the university brings. Rancher meets student. Rural meets urban. It’s a pretty cool blend that’s found hardly anywhere else in the country.

THE CITY

Much of the downtown area is pleasantly walkable, because even though it’s in the Rockies, it’s situated in a relatively flat valley, with the mountains springing up dramatically all around. This means it’s also conveniently, a bike-able city, which is especially great for students or those who prefer not to drive. There is some traffic, but it’s really not bad.

The rivers are a big part of the Missoula’s geography, with the Clark Fork River winding it’s way through downtown, and the Bitterroot River creating the western boundary of the city. There are a few popular spots to jump in and cool off in the summer—just watch out for people fishing and floating!

One fun and unexpected thing about the city is that a lot of people have urban gardens. Much of the housing is small, single-family homes that are either occupied by families or by several students sharing one house. And each has a small yard, many of which are filled with small veggie and flower gardens.

WEATHER

This part of the country has 4 very distinct seasons, with hot yet pleasant summers in the 70s and 80s, and snowy winters below freezing. If you’re thinking of moving here, it’s worth investing in some snow tires and maybe even all wheel drive (or at least front wheel drive) if you're a skier or snowboarder.

Wildfires are a common sight nearby in the summer, with some even threatening Glacier National Park last year.

UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA

Missoula was the first of 4 University of Montana schools, and it is also the largest. It brings in about 13,000 students, both for undergrad and graduate programs, which keeps the city young. The school is also part of why Missoula has such an interesting culture for this part of the world. Mixing together ranchers and farmers with students and university faculty definitely means this is not a dull town!

Recently, however, the school was the subject of John Krakauer’s 2015 book Missoula: R*pe and the Justice System in a College Town, which was extremely critical of the way the university handled several sexual assault cases.

OUTDOOR RECREATION

Playing outdoors is a BIG part of the culture here. Here are some of the most popular ways to have fun:

Skiing and snowboarding: Being in the Rockies, this one is a given. Missoula has it’s own little local mountain right in town called Snow Bowl, to begin with. Then you have Discovery Ski Basin, Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Lookout Pass, and Blacktail, which are all within about 2 hours (depending on road conditions).

When it comes to hiking and camping, there are endless options. I’m not even going to try to make a list. But it is worth mentioning that Missoula is about 2.5 hours south of the famous Glacier National Park (which won’t have any glaciers anymore after the next 7-10 years, so go see them while you can). On the way, you pass the large Flathead lake which brings a whole other variety of outdoor fun.

Whitewater rafting and kayaking is popular in the many nearby rivers, especially Clark Fork River, Blackfoot River, and Bitterroot River. Whitewater races are also popular, as if the sport wasn’t already extreme enough!

Fishing is one of the favorite pastimes of many Montanans. Fly fishing is especially popular in the rivers and lakes, for trout, bass, pike, salmon, and other fish.

Hunting is an interesting one. All types of people take part in it, from the ranchers that you’d expect to those that are most interested in sustainable eating. Deer and Elk are the staples, but people also hunt fowl.

Overall, Missoula is a gorgeous city and one of my favorite places. It's a great base for people who love outdoor recreation but don't want to give up the perks of being in a city.
Pros
  • Great outdoor recreation
  • Unique culture
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Some of the biggest and best in the country"

Chicago, located on the southern end of Lake Michigan, is the 3rd largest city in the country and the biggest by far in the Midwest. A lot of Chicago is BIG—some of the country’s biggest buildings, on one of the biggest lakes, home to some of the biggest names in music and sports.

GEOGRAPHY
The focal point of the city, aka the Loop, is centered near where the Chicago River meets the Lake, and is buffered on the east side by the enormous Millennium Park. It’s definitely a city for people who like beaches, because there are dozens of public beaches on the Lake within city limits. Jarvis Beach is my personal fave (used to be called Marion Mahoney Griffin Beach Park)—climb over the rock pile to find a second hidden beach!

ARCHITECTURE
Chicago is famous for its skyline and it’s many interesting buildings, as part of the legacy of its history of innovation and industry. It’s full of skyscrapers, including some of the country’s tallest, and the most unusual. Some odd ones are the Corncob Towers (use your imagination) and the wavy-walled Aqua Tower. Due to a boom of construction before the Great Depression, you’ll see a lot of 1920s art deco style buildings, including the beautiful and colorful Carbide and Carbon Building. Tastefully designed bungalows and classic red brick apartment buildings are not an unusual sight in the residential areas.

WEATHER
There are big seasonal weather changes here. Winters tend to stay below freezing for weeks or even months at a time, with big storms and snowfalls being common. But it warms up to the 70s and 80s in the summer, perfect for exploring the beaches. It will usually be in the 90s at least a good handful of days each summer too.

ENTERTAINMENT
Chicago is famous for sports and music. Watching a Chicago baseball, hockey, football, soccer, or basketball game is a big part of the culture here. If you like baseball, you’ll definitely be asked to choose a side: Cubs or White Sox. You've probably heard of their other teams as well: Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Fire, and Sky. You could almost write a song about that lol.

If you haven’t been to Chicago, you might not know that the House music scene is HUGE here. In fact, Chicago musicians were integral in the creation and evolution of house music itself, starting in the 1980’s, and slowly changing into the very different creature it is today. The city is also known for incredible Jazz, R&B, Rock, Gospel, Soul, and Blues. You’ve probably heard of Lollapalooza, which is held in Grant Park each year as a world-famous 4 day music festival. You're also likely familiar with a few musicians that have come out of the windy city: Nat King Cole, Neko Case, Muddy Waters, Felix da Housecat, Ella Fitzgerald, Fallout Boy, and OK Go to name a few!

CULTURE
Speaking of music, it’s worth noting that much of the city’s outstanding arts scene is due to the large black population in the city. Like most cities, Chicago has a long and complicated sociological history, which I won’t get into here. But I will mention one recent outcome of Chicago’s culture—just last week the city essentially kicked out Donald Trump during one of his presidential campaign rallies! Based on Trump’s many, many racist comments, I’m not surprised this happened, but am inspired by the bravery of those that said “not in our city.”
Pros
  • Great music scene
  • 4 distinct seasons
  • Architecture
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"City of Angels"

The city of angels has so much energy, so much happening, that it is almost like a living, breathing creature unto itself. Whether it chews you up and spits you out, or whether it’s a friend, well, that depends on you.

CLIMATE
In summer, it’s very dry, with temperatures in the 80s, occasionally in the 90s. There really isn’t a winter, but a moderate, wetter season, with temps in the 60s and 70s. Definitely bring extra water when hiking in the summer though!

TRAFFIC
It’s bad. It’s beastly. It’s the worst in the nation. Because it can take so long to get from place to place, you might want to consider living near your work, if at all possible, or at least close to a subway that can get you there while avoiding the worst of it.

OUTDOOR RECREATION
If you do manage to get out of the traffic snarl and leave the city for some outdoor recreation, there is definitely some gorgeous hiking. You don’t have to go far—there are some great hikes right in the Santa Monica Mountains, just west of the city. Being close to the ocean, many hikes here have beautiful water views. If you want a challenge, head over to the San Gabriel Range for the classic Mt. Baldy (real name: Mt. San Antonio) summit, a 10,064 peak and the highest point in the mountain range. This mountain range towers just north of town, to the east of highway 14 and has a treasure trove of trails, some with special sights like waterfalls, bridges, and historical points. Check out http://www.modernhiker.com/la-hiking/ for more ideas.

COST OF LIVING
It’s impossible to pin down one average cost of living in the city, because it varies so wildly depending on the neighborhood. You can find neighborhoods for every income level imaginable, ranging from ridiculously wealthy to extremely low income. Rents fluctuate similarly. According to the LA Times neighborhood map, median incomes range from the highest in Bel Air and Hidden Hills at over $200k, to the lowest in downtown and University Park at $15,000. http://maps.latimes.com/neighborhoods/income/median/neighborhood/list/

NEIGHBORHOODS
With 272 neighborhoods, there’s a lot of variety to choose from. Neighborhoods differ not just by geography and income, but they have their own unique cultures and sometimes even a different variety of languages, depending on who lives there.

I should mention that neighborhood segregation is a real thing. After all, this is the city that invented judging people based on their zip code. The rich and famous like to keep to themselves in some of the neighborhoods you’ve probably heard of (like Bel Air) as well as in Beverly Hills, which is technically it’s own city even though it’s right in LA.

The aforementioned Santa Monica Mountains separate downtown, east LA, and other neighborhoods from “The Valley” which is north of the mountains. The other defining geographical factor of the city is how its southern limits are squeezed in by other cities that aren’t technically in city limits. This leaves a narrow strip of LA (in city limits) that bubbles out in the south when it hits the ocean at Terminal Island. So places like Long Beach, Torrance, Carson, Compton, and Inglewood, are their own cities---not LA neighborhoods.

I don’t have space to list all the neighborhoods here, but definitely check out the reviews of places you’re considering to get a feel for them.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
EmmanuelleAlva
EmmanuelleAlva Los Angeles neighborhoods represent the palpable realities of segregation.The middle class find itself between moving in a nice neighborhood and living paycheck to paycheck. The other option is to move in a poor neighborhood and making ends meet.

I live in Orange County and love it, however I see the new housing constructions start at nearly 1 million dollars. Irvine has great schools ratings (http://www.school-ratings.com/schoolRatings.php?zipOrCity=Irvine).

I used to live in Bellflower and was looking for a great school . Wow! What a surprise when I realized that I had to look for the wealthy areas if I wanted my daughter to enroll in a school that doesn't require lottery. The education substandard level in some areas force schools to operate on a lottery to choose students from a waiting list. Not for my daughter!
Apr 13, 2016
Add a comment...
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"An adobe oasis"

This adobe city is known for art, tourism, American Indian culture, outdoor recreation, and having a large retirement community. Even though it’s only an hour away, the state capitol of Santa Fe is very, very different from Albuquerque, the largest city in NM.

HIKING
The Santa Fe area has stunning scenery, being in the Sangre de Cristo, or ‘Blood of Christ,’ range of the Rocky Mountains. Sunsets around here are unbelievable. The desert offers hiking all around, with Santa Fe National Forest to the east, and Bandalier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve to the west. But watch out—the beauty of the natural landscape can also be dangerous. There’s very little to sustain you out here if you get lost, so bring extra water and supplies, and always tell someone where you’re going and when you should be back.

MOUNTAIN BIKING
The mountain biking around here is world class. I personally recommend the Dale Ball trails northeast of town, which are fun and challenging single track. A couple tips: though crashing on your mountain bike is painful anywhere, you might want to be extra cautious here because there are bountiful cacti and lots of rough exposed rock. Secondly, get the self-healing goo-filled tires, for all those cactus thorns you’re likely to encounter so you don’t have to constantly stop to fix a flat.

SKIING
To the surprise of out of towners, Santa Fe is surrounded by great skiing. After all, it’s in the Rockies! Ski Santa Fe is only 16 miles from town center, and is a small, family-style resort. Taos is probably the most well-known, about 2 hours from town. Angel Fire is also about two hours, Sipapu is 90 minutes, and Pajarito is only an hour away. Plenty of options!

ART & ARCHITECTURE
There are dozens of art festivals here each year. People travel from all over the country and world for them, such as the Indigenous Fine Art Market, Objects of Art Santa Fe, and Contemporary Hispanic Market. Also, there are the regular art markets that are held every weekend for most of the year.

I won’t even try to describe or name all the galleries and art exhibits, because there are simply so many to explore.

The streets are so gorgeous, just walking around downtown is like enjoying artwork. Most buildings are the beautiful and practical adobe style that insulate against the temperature. The style is in part due to the ingenuity of the Pueblo American Indians that have lived in the southwest since long before the Spanish and other European immigrants arrived.

MUSEUMS
Santa Fe is rich in museums. There are quite a few downtown, and a second cluster southeast of downtown called “Museum Hill.” My favorite is the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian on Museum Hill. It is housed in a small and beautiful adobe building with a vista of the town and surrounding desert.

RESTAURANTS & BARS
When eating out it’s fun to get a seat in one of the upstairs bars near the central plaza while you people watch. The Thunderbird Bar & Grill is a good one, which also has microbrews for beer lovers like me. I also can recommend the Beestro Bistro, a cute little sidewalk café that does healthy small meals and drinks.

Much of the nightlife is catered to the tourist and older crowd, with a relaxed ‘wine and soft music’ atmosphere. But there is a younger scene if you look for it. Cowgirl was definitely the most fun venue I found. When I was there it was a raucous karaoke night with all the toppings. Super fun. I couldn’t describe it as classy, but then again, they weren’t trying to be.

COST OF LIVING
The cost of living is high for New Mexico and the southwest, but low for the country overall. You could probably find a decent 2 bedroom for about $1000/month, and really nice one with a view for about $1200 or a bit more. There is quite a bit on the market if you’re looking to buy, ranging from modest 1 story 2 bedrooms to luxurious retirement penthouses.

WHO LIVES HERE?
I’ve mentioned retirees a few times, because this is a very popular place to relax in style and comfort. Yet it is not the only big community here. Santa Fe has large and unique Hispanic community, from the long history the area has with Spanish settlers. Some families can trace their heritage in the area back hundreds of years. The American Indian community, however, has a MUCH longer history here. They are a vibrant and important part of the culture and population, and drive much of the arts scene.

SPIRITUALITY
The desert is a place of such beauty and serenity that it naturally attracts those interested in spirituality. People travel to the area to see the beautiful old Spanish churches, go on a vision quest, enjoy a retreat, try a sweat lodge, or to simply meditate in the wilderness. Overall, there certainly is a slower and perhaps more grounded atmosphere here than in nearby cities.
Pros
  • Art festivals
  • World class outdoor recreation
  • great restaurants
Cons
  • High cost of living for NM
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"More than just nightlife"

NIGHTLIFE
Obviously, this is the main reason people go to Las Vegas—for the party and gambling scene, as well as the anonymity that the huge crowds afford. I don’t think I need to say too much about this, as everyone is already familiar with Vegas’ most famous attractions. My only suggestions are:

--Definitely get a hotel on or close to the strip, or you’ll have to taxi everywhere and that will cost just as much as the extra expense of a hotel right in the middle of all the action.

--The blocks are HUGE so if something looks close on a map (only 4 blocks away!) it’s MUCH farther than you think

--If you have a lot of women in your group, walk around during the day and look for promoters (young men in nice suits handing out flyers). They will put you on their guest list, which means free entrance and/or a shorter line. Then, show up EARLY. Otherwise your guest passes are useless.

--Traffic at night is totally stop and go. Rush hour has a completely different meaning here. So if you’re catching a cab to the other end of the strip, give yourself a lot more time than you think you’ll need to get there.

SPORTS & CONVENTIONS
Besides the gambling, shows, and nightlife, Vegas is known as a big sports competition destination. The NCAA WCC (West coast conference) Basketball competition is usually held here. When I was there most recently there was a huge soccer tournament with hundreds of teams, all ages, from all over the country. There was also a gymnastics convention.

Vegas is popular for conventions overall, not just sports. This is probably due to the large amount of venue space to rent and the availability of accommodations.

LIVING HERE:
One word: cheap. Depending on the neighborhood, you can rent an entire 1 bedroom house for $600/month, or a 2 or 3 bedroom house for $750/month. Since the biggest industry in Vegas is obviously tourism, low rent is important because most of those service jobs aren’t high paying. The catch? A lot of the homes are in mobile home parks.

This is a little insight into the reality that is Vegas—as soon as you step off the strip, the range of incomes, particularly low-income households, is very apparent. The glitzy streets are replaced with cracked pavement, empty lots, and broken sidewalks. The fountains and valet parking make way for mobile home parks. There are very few locals that actually get rich in Vegas, most people are just working service jobs trying to get by like the rest of us.

That being said, the friends I do have that live in Vegas say one reason they stay is they love the tight community of locals.

Another reason people love living here is the beauty of the natural surroundings:

OUTDOOR RECREATION:
If you’re sick of the strip and want the complete opposite, Vegas has some beautiful outdoor rec sites within an hour’s drive.

If you get your timing right, there are some great day hiking options. In the winter the trails can be snow covered (but still possible with the right gear, and stunningly gorgeous), and in the summer, you have to REALLY be able to handle your heat because there’s very little shade in a lot of areas. Rock climbing is also big here. Carry over a gallon of water for a day hike. The two closest areas are Red Rock Canyon (30 min drive, busy, accessible) and Sloan Canyon (45-60 min, rough road, not busy) National Conservation areas. Sloan Canyon also has a pretty cool petroglyph site (ancient rock art).

Besides those two, there is lots of recreation on the Colorado River and Lake Mead to the east, on the border with Arizona. The bottom of Lake Mead is where the famous Hoover Dam is, another popular tourist destination. Plenty to enjoy in nature here, outside of the smoke-filled casinos!
Pros
  • Close to nature
  • Nightlife
  • Low Priced Homes
Cons
  • Run down neighborhoods
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"Books, beer, and beards"

CULTURE
Portland has a very casual, organic feel to it. There are few dress codes at clubs and music venues. Books, beer, and beards are all highly valued. Natural food is everywhere. And yes, tiny houses are a real thing. Not many people actually LIVE in tiny houses, but Portland is a national favorite place for this tiny new movement. Read on for some more hints into the culture here.

BOOKS
As a shameless bookworm, one of my very favorite things about Portland is, of course, Powell’s bookstore. It is the largest independent bookstore in the WORLD and a very, very dangerous place for a book lover. You will find every book you ever dreamed of, and a thousand more. It’s the kind of place that will never be replaced by Amazon, because it’s just so damn fun to go to your favorite category and explore their new choices, check out the staff favorites, and chat it up with other people that are interested in (insert niche subject here).

THRIFTING
My other favorite place in town is Crossroads Trading Co. This is a chain used clothing store, but for some reason the one in Portland is better than the others I’ve seen. It’s fun to find a trendy new outfit that doesn’t break the bank. Actually, Portland is a great place for thrifting overall. You can get some really good finds. Maybe this is why the hipsters are so stylish. Hmmmm.

FOOD
Portland has a great food and beer scene. There are dozens upon dozens of local specialty restaurants, many of which use organic/local/fair trade ingredients. I like JoLa Restaurant in John’s Landing neighborhood. Amazing soup, sandwiches, salads, and gourmet toast. Stormbreaker Brewery is another favorite for food, and of course beer. I also like Sizzle Pie, a pizza place with a fun atmosphere and a bar that’s open late.

BEER & NIGHTLIFE
The city has tons of brewpubs downtown, and also more than one beer festival throughout the year where you can shamelessly get drunk with your friends in the name of “learning about the brewing process.” Other than downtown, Mississippi Street is the new hip place to go out. It didn’t used to be so hip, but it’s been developed/gentrified a lot in the past 2 years. Portland also has a great music scene, with a wide variety ranking from folk to opera to metal. For the most part, the nightlife is very laid back and unpretentious here.

RUNNING
Running culture is big in Portland, unsurprisingly. Athletic companies such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour have headquarters here, drawing in sports enthusiasts as employees. There are also quite a few professional runners who call Portland home. Galin Rupp, one of the U.S.’ top distance runners, is a homegrown hero, and another one of the running world’s biggest heroes, Steve Prefontaine, is from Coos Bay, about an hour from Portland. Runners really like the soft trails in Forest Park, a huge urban park stretching along the Wilammete from downtown about 5 miles north, almost to the town of Burlington.

PUBLIC TRANSIT
The city really has public transportation figured out. There’s the MAX light rail, which goes all the way to the airport, plus all the way to Beaverton, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, Clackamas, Gresham, and the Expo Center. Not bad, not bad at all. Besides the MAX, there’s also the streetcars. There are two routes, the north/south line, and a loop that goes from downtown to the east side of the Willamette, and back. Oh, and there’s free public transit on New Year’s Eve! Not sure why all cities don’t do this, because it’s brilliant.

DOWNSIDES
There are two main bruises on Portland’s reputation. One is its struggle to support the homeless population. It’s unfortunate that there are so many people without a home, and Portland doesn’t seem to be able to adequately house and help them, sadly. Downtown can get pretty crowded. The second downside, oddly, is the over-abundance of strip clubs. When you picture Portland, you probably don’t think “bachelor party destination,” but it is for some. I’m not sure why this strange phenomenon has happened, but there are far too many seedy strip clubs for this small city.

COST OF LIVING
Part of the reason some Portlanders are building tiny houses is for the affordability. Depending on what part of town you’re in, rent can definitely put a big dent in your paycheck. Studios start at about $900/month, one bedrooms starting at about $1200. Luckily, prices aren’t quite as high as Seattle or San Francisco…. Yet.
Pros
  • Great food and nightlife scene
  • HUGE bookstore
  • Fun thrifting
Cons
  • Large homeless population
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"The beautiful, crazy, nonstop city"

How to describe the colorful, ever-changing, noisy, gorgeous city that is New York? It really differs based on which neighborhood you’re in, but I’ll give it my best shot to describe it overall.

THE GOOD:

NYC has such an amazing diversity of people. You can meet people from everywhere in the world, with every skill set imaginable, from so many cultures and languages… and that’s just on the subway on your way into the city. The city is so dense that you’re automatically going to meet people from other industries and backgrounds by default, which is amazing.

Part of why you’ll meet so many interesting people is because of all the events. There is just SO MUCH to do in this city. You can find a hundred different things to do each night, many of which are low cost or free (which kind of makes up for the unaffordable rent, a tiny bit). Museums, theater, music in the park, dancing, happy hours, parties, artwork, brunch, sports, it never ends. ……

But the culture here isn’t just about a huge roster of events, it’s also that people tend to be very open to going out, being socially active, and making new friends. As a Seattleite, this isn’t something to take for granted and definitely isn’t part of the culture of every city. If New York was a person, it would be the social butterfly, always interested in meeting new people, going to events all the time, and never having a dull moment.

The food is so good. You can find some of the best in the world for whatever type of food you like. The best ramen, the best pizza, the best sushi. For sure the best brunch, which is a vital weekend meal here, and probably the only time New Yorkers actually slow down. The only trouble is eating out can get very expensive. But at the same time, depending on where you live, it can be tough to cook all your meals at home because the grocery stores are also expensive and sometimes hard to come by.

THE BAD:

NYC is always humming with life—which is good. But this means that you have to get used to sleeping with noise, or get earplugs. The noise just never stops in this city. You get used to it after a while, but it can still be draining to not have a quiet space. Especially if you’re in an older building where you can also hear everything your neighbors are up to, whether you want to or not.

The lack of access to nature isn’t great either. Sure you can go to a park, but to get out into the mountains to go for a hike, you really need a car and a lot of time—both things most New Yorkers don’t typically have. So that’s a trade off, because you definitely can feel like you need some fresh air once in a while.

The last detriment to NYC is the cost. Rent is obscenely high. It can be stressful, even for the mid to high wage earners, because apartments are simply so scarce, and so expensive. Sure, you might be earning a higher wage in NYC than your job in another city, but your standard of living isn’t going to change because renting your tiny studio is going to eat up most of your income. And right now there’s really no way to avoid that without a super long commute. I honestly have no idea how minimum or low wage earners live here.

THE GOOD/BAD:

Lastly I’ll mention the fast pace. It’s a cliché, but it’s true that this is a city that never sleeps. There is a whole other standard of work and social activity that I’ve never seen anywhere else. People work ridiculous hours, go out after work, sleep for a few hours, then do it all again. This can be both exhilarating and exhausting. But it’s really hard to NOT do it, because everyone else is doing it. So the excitement and fun of a non-stop life have to be worth the weariness that it can cause if you want to live in this beautiful crazy city.
Pros
  • Diverse
  • Great social scene
  • Amazing food
Cons
  • Noisy all the time
  • Very expensive
  • Lack of access to nature
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"Sports, sports, sports"

Northwest is the Spokane neighborhood to live in if you like doing sports. Golf, Frisbee, bmx, swimming, softball, baseball, soccer, skating. It’s all here.

Here are your options:

--Downriver Golf Course
--Downriver Disc Golf Course (for the rest of us, who’d rather invest in a Frisbee than in a set of clubs and a golf course membership)
--Downriver Park: with river access, picnicking, and walking trails
--Dwight Merkel Sports Complex: This place is huge! They have 5 softball/baseball fields, 6 natural turf soccer fields, 2 artificial turf soccer fields, a bmx course, a skate park, a wading pool, and picnic area. Not bad. I love that the city invested in this, because it’s so great for the community to have all these options.

Other benefits of living here is that housing is very affordable. You’re also pretty close to the Northtown shopping center on Division, and all the commercial options on Francis. Overall, this neighborhood has a reputation of being relatively safe, with a solid middle-class communities settled down in small, single-family homes.

Probably the only downside is the distance from downtown, though the commute isn’t that bad. There’s also not much of a community downtown here with shops and restaurants. They tend to be scattered on Francis, Northwest Blvd, and Wellesley.

A couple of recommendations:

--Maple Street Bistro: super cute neighborhood place with delish coffee and breakfast sandwiches. The smoothies are also great in the summer.
--Wall Street Diner: Deliciously greasy American breakfasts. Perfect hangover cure.
--The Flying Goat: A fun pizza spot with good beer.
--Rancho Chico: a down-home Mexican place with great service.
Pros
  • Large sports facilities
  • Park and river access
Cons
  • No downtown neighborhood
  • Commute to downtown Spokane
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"West coast hub for tech, finance, and LGBTQ culture"

People come to San Francisco from all over the country and the world for the tech, finance, and business communities, the LGBTQ scene, and that Cali vibe.

The city itself makes up the end of the San Francisco Peninsula, connected to the north by the famous Golden Gate Bridge. To the west is the Pacific Ocean, and to the east is the Bay, protected by the peninsula.

COST OF LIVING
It can’t be avoided, we’ve got to start with the fact that SF is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. It all starts with the cost of rent. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Everyone in San Fran knows it, but puts up with it because they love the city so much. Small studios start at $1800/month and it only goes up from there. Minimum wage workers don’t really stand a chance at having their own place.

Part of the reason it’s so expensive is because SF is the second most densely populated city in the country, second only to Manhattan in NYC. That means that much of the city is made of multi-unit apartment and condo buildings, with very few able to afford single-family homes.

PARKS
Despite the density, San Fran has some huge parks. There’s the 1,000 acre Golden Gate Park that is full of walking paths and even a lake. It’s has tons of activities like exercise classes, canoeing, archery, Frisbee golf, and of course lots of bikers and runners. It leads you all the way to Ocean Beach, one of the city’s iconic sandy beaches where you can swim.

Baker Beach is another good swimming option. It’s a clothing-optional beach though, so you can’t say no one warned you! A (clothing not-optional) alternative is China Beach aka East Beach. It has plenty of shallows for wading, and picnic and bbq equipment. It’s a bit warmer than the other two because it’s on the Bay side, rather than the ocean side. Both Baker and China Beach are part of the Presidio, another huge park that sits at the north edge of the city where the Bay spills in to the Pacific Ocean underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

WEATHER
Before you book your beach vacation though, you should know that it doesn’t actually get that hot in SF. You’ll get a few sweaty days, but for the most part it’s very mild. The summers tend to be dry, but rarely get over 80 degrees. The rest of the year is wetter and cooler, with about 73 days of rain per year, compared to 260 clear days and just over 100 days with clouds. The city is also well-known for it’s fog, which can sock the city in a cold mist that brings a chill even in summer.

ECONOMY
This city runs on tech and finance, with a big dash of tourism to keep the coffers full. This means that the population overall is very highly educated. It also means that income levels are above average, which is part of what keeps rent extremely high (alongside the density).

TRANSPORTATION
For the US, San Francisco has excellent public transportation. Between buses, street cars, light rail, and subway, including an underwater tube that takes people in and out of the city from the east side of the bay, a lot of people get around without driving. It also has two nearby airports.

CULTURE:
This is one of the big draws to the city, and why so many people stay. SF has a really unique culture that is constantly evolving. It manages to combine the innovation and flash of the wealthy tech world with the laid back nature of a west coast town, with political liberalism and an internationally-known, thriving LGBTQ community. With all of this, and the fact that it has over 850,0000 residents, many residential parts of the city maintain a down to earth neighborhood feel.
Pros
  • Big parks
  • Great mix of cultures
  • Great restaurants
Cons
  • Extremely high rent
  • Overpriced
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Still recovering yet vibrant"

NOLA is a beautiful, colorful city full of life. In the extremely conservative state of Louisiana, it is a more liberal hub with a very unique culture and history unlike anything else in the US. Compared to many other cities in the south, there’s a thriving LGBTQ community here as well. Tourism is the main industry in New Orleans, and is definitely what keeps this city running.

Much of the city is flat and walkable, thought it’s so hot and muggy in the summer that you’ll probably want to get a street car or a bus to get around. Otherwise people drive or ride bikes. Because it’s so flat you’ll see a lot of heavy cruiser bikes, some even with classic back-pedal brakes.

Water is a big part of the identity here. New Orleans is bordered in the south by the Mississippi River, in the north by Lake Pontchartrain as well as Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, and in the east by Lake Borgne and more Bbayous, which spill into the Atlantic Ocean.

Water, of course, is also what destroyed much of the city in 2005’s Hurricane Katrina when the levees broke.

HURRICANE
Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath brought out a lot of racial tension and legacy that had been underlying but had not been solved. One big issue that came out was the racialization of poverty—when the hurricane was on its way, the city had warnings to evacuate. Thousands of people left for their own safety. Those who didn’t? The people who couldn’t afford it, didn’t have a car, or didn’t have a place to stay elsewhere. And a disproportionate majority of them were black. So when the levees broke, that meant that a disproportionate amount of the people who died or were injured were also black. Now I definitely can’t do justice to this highly complex and charged issue here, but I wanted to note that for all of NOLA’s amazing characteristics, it is still struggling with how to best and most fairly support all of it’s residents. But it’s definitely not alone in that regard, it’s something than many American cities struggle with, though not on the same dramatic scale as seen with the hurricane.

As for the physical damage of Katrina, though a lot of progress has been made, the city still hasn’t recovered fully. You’ll see a lot of construction and boarded up, abandoned buildings dotting the city, even a few in the downtown core, though most are in surrounding neighborhoods. This means that construction has become the other main industry here, alongside tourism.

NEIGHBORHOODS
Speaking of neighborhoods, cost of living varies wildly depending on where you live in the city. The French Quarter is out of reach for most, as the hottest place in town. The Garden District also has a high price tag, because it’s full of gorgeous old mansions and pristine gardens. But other nearby neighborhoods begin to reach a more reasonable cost. I really like Marigny, just east of the French Quarter, which is full of colorful houses of different sizes, and is close to the famous Frenchman’s street, which boasts dozens of music venues squeezed one next to the other. Bayou St John is also a fun neighborhood, and it’s got the benefit of being close to the HUGE city park. The neighborhoods near Tulane University are also nice, and full of students.

Neighborhoods that were damaged more by Katrina, of course, are the most affordable, because in many cases they haven’t received the resources they need to properly rebuild. The most famous of which is the 9th ward, which was almost completely destroyed.

NIGHTLIFE & CULTURE
On a lighter note, this is definitely a city that knows how to party and have fun, and not just on Mardi Gras. Themed parties are a strong tradition here, so you’ll get the chance to bust out your costumes and dance more than once a year.

And do I need to say how great the music is here? Any night of the week, you can find outstanding musicians playing at dozens of venues around the city. The nightlife and party scene is how the city got the nickname the Big Easy. One of the best things about NOLA’s party culture though, is that it’s not just for college students, like in many other cities. Many of the festivals, parades, and music events here are meant to be for all types of people, all ages, all backgrounds.

This inclusive culture is also reflected in the southern hospitality that comes out in full force. It really is a special place to be a visitor, because many of the locals will go out of their way to make you feel welcome.

FOOD
I can’t finish the review without mentioning the food. The food is, of course, amazing. The city is probably best well known for seafood, and Cajun style flavors. Gumbo, Jambalaya, po-boy sandwiches, Beignets, Crawfish Étouffée…. There are so many delicious things to try. I don’t want to do the city an injustice by recommending restaurants because there are SO MANY places that have excellent food.
Pros
  • Vibrant culture
  • Lots of fun event and festivals
  • Amazing music scene
Cons
  • Still recovering from Hurricane Katrina
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
Just now

"Music and culture haven"

If you’re traveling and you ask someone from Austin where they’re from, they often won’t just say they’re from Texas—they’ll make sure you know they’re from Austin. I’ve heard two reasons for this: One, because everyone’s heard of Austin and it’s great reputation, and two, because it’s so different from the rest of Texas.

The state capitol of Texas, the city is centered around the Colorado River which goes straight through town. It’s known for being much more liberal than most of Texas, with a pretty different culture from other big Texas cities like Houston or Dallas.

First order of business: MUSIC. Austin is obviously known for good music (though coming from Seattle, I’m not 100% sure I can say that it’s the live music capitol of the world… let’s call it a tie.)

The Texas Music Museum is decent, but it won’t take you a whole day—leaving you plenty of time to explore elsewhere. Like maybe a lazy stroll around Zilker Park, which often has live music, or sometimes theater. The park is also the host of Austin City Limits (ACL), the world-famous music festival at the end of September.

6th street is the main drag for nightlife, including live music, though from what I hear it’s been slowly changing to be less live music and more clubs. In my (limited) experience, there were still some great venues though it did seem a bit touristy with a lot of college students.

6th gets a lot quieter on the east side of hwy 35, where it has more of a locals/neighborhood vibe. The venues are less touristy and more cozy. Probably in part because to get there from the busiest part of 6th you have to walk under the freeway, which was a bit sketchy.

Besides music, Austin’s great for museums. There's the Mexican American Cultural Center, the Mexic-Arte Museum, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum, among others. I LOVED the state history museum. I spent more than half a day there and didn’t want to leave yet.

I can definitely see the appeal of living in Austin. Great music, food and culture, decent public transit, big parks. The only part that doesn’t cut it for me is the heat and no mountains or ocean in sight. Though to be fair, the hill country is gorgeous in the spring, with bright wildflowers covering the country hills north of town.

Some recommendations:

--Parish on 6th: A live music venue small enough to get up close and personal with the bands. The managers curate the music well, and the acoustics are great (not always a given). I saw an excellent jazz band here.

--Eureka! A burger bar with great micro brews (coming from WA, I realized how spoiled for choice we are in Seattle where at any given bar you can find at least 5 micro brews on offer. Not so in other cities. But this place is great in Austin.

--Historic Scoot Inn on 4th—just off 6th, on the quieter east side of hwy 35. The staff can be hit and miss, but the bands they choose are great, and overall it’s an awesome venue. In an old red barn with a huge outdoor concert area, it's so fun when the whole crowd's dancing on a summer night.
Pros
  • Amazing music
  • Austin City Limits music festival
  • Liberal
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Standard North Seattle neighborhood"

Phinney Ridge and Greenwood both sit just west of Highway 99/Aurora. They’re pretty typical for north Seattle neighborhoods, full of single family homes, a few condos and apartments, cute downtown areas, and middle/upper-class residents.

Being just far enough away from the city center, there are lots of families that enjoy settling down here. Not everyone who lives here is in a family though. There are plenty of couples, and a smattering of singles who prefer the quiet life.

When I was apartment hunting I looked at a few places nearby, and one thing that I liked about both neighborhoods is that they each had a small-town vibe to them. They have neighborhood associations with events, and it doesn’t feel as impersonal as a city. But that also made me feel a bit young for the area.

The neighborhood center for Greenwood (at 85th and Greenwood) is quite small, only about 2 blocks, but it’s enough to cover the bases of some good food, good bars, and good coffee. For groceries, there’s a big Fred Meyer, which is super convenient.

Phinney Ridge’s downtown runs down Greenwood ave all the way until you get to Woodland Park Zoo (personally not a fan), and also along 65th, between Green Lake and 8th ave. It’s a cozy neighborhood stroll to walk around the business district, getting occasional glimpses of Green Lake.

When it comes to housing, both are popular, but Phinney Ridge is probably in higher demand, because it’s just a bit closer to Green Lake, and to downtown. It’s easy to grab a bus (E line) down Aurora, which takes you straight to downtown Seattle, most of the way in a bus lane so you don’t have to wait in traffic. But getting east to west is a challenge on public transit.

The PhinneyWood art walk is definitely worth checking out-- it’s the 2nd Fridays from 6-9 and includes food! (The motto is ‘art up and chow down’). One cool thing is they make an effort to have most artists on site. Since it’s north Seattle, you’ll always find something funky too like on-site Reiki sessions and aromatherapy. Plus there are discounts on the art.

In the end, I didn’t end up getting a place here because even though the E-line runs right downtown, it still would add a 30-35 minute commute to get downtown, and that wasn’t worth it for me. Plus I felt I'd get a bit restless with how quiet it is, though I can see the appeal for others.
Pros
  • Choice of restaurants and cafes
  • Relatively quiet
Cons
  • A bit too quiet
  • Expensive to buy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"An oasis in the city"

Seward Park is a well-off Seattle community, just east of Columbia City. It is bordered to the east by Lake Washington, with a long shoreline road and walking path. The focal point is the enormous Seward Park, a 300 acre forested park with peaceful walking trails and swimming.

The Park:

One of the best things about Seattle is that early in it’s development, it set aside prime land for parks, and since then has invested in making them beautiful and maintaining them. Seward Park is the perfect example.

The park makes up the entirety of a small peninsula that juts out into Lake Washington. It actually almost feels like an island, because it is only connected to the mainland by a small piece of land, and is full of trees and ringed with beaches. This makes Seward Park feel miles away from the city, even though it's right next door.

There is a paved walking trail all the way around, and a few trails through the middle. It’s a perfect place for a weekend stroll or summer swim. For boats, you can hand launch at Martha Washington Park just south of Seward park, likewise at Adams Street launch just north. For motorized boats, you’ll want to head to Atlantic City Launch a couple miles south.

The Neighborhood:

The neighborhood of Seward Park is full of single-family homes, and people hold on tight to them, because it is such valuable property with the proximity to the lake and the park. You won’t find much for rent or for sale here, especially as Columbia City is quickly becoming one of the most popular neighborhoods in Seattle.

The closest areas you’ll find more rental availability are in Columbia City, particularly along Rainier Ave. Even though it’s only about a half mile away, the housing is also much more affordable. Those single-family homes with a water view in Seward Park are out of reach for most.

I’d say the only downside to this neighborhood is that isn’t really anything to it besides housing. The only amenities are a Caffe Ladro and a pizza restaurant. There used to be a PCC natural market, but it moved to Columbia City down the road

That being said, even as Columbia City is booming, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more shops or restaurants pop up along Wilson Ave.
Pros
  • Great parks
  • Waterfront activities
Cons
  • High cost of living
  • Lack of shopping amenities
  • Longer commute to downtown
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"A cut above"

Five Mile Prairie is an unusual neighborhood. It is a plateau, rimmed by cliffs, raised above the rest of Spokane by about 450 feet.

Why such an odd geological formation?

During the last ice age, natural dams full of glacial meltwater broke in Montana, causing violent floods to rush eastward across Washington. When the water reached Spokane, it was up to 500 feet deep at times. Only the areas with harder rock, such as basalt, could withstand it—everything else got scraped away. File Mile Prairie, along with the nearby Orchard Prairie, are made of basalt, from more ancient volcanic activity, and so survived.

Luckily, Spokane’s not expecting any Noah’s Ark-style floods again anytime soon. If they were, I'd head to Five Mile Prairie, because it still sticks up above the rest of Spokane, like a pedestal.

And it’s not just the elevation that’s higher here--the income levels of residents here are also much higher than the rest of Spokane, on average.

Homes here are newer and larger. They tend to have a 2 or 3 car garage, and 4-6 bedrooms. Whereas much of the rest of Spokane, with a few exceptions, is filled with modest, though comfortable, single-level homes, most homes on Five Mile Prairie are 2 or 3 stories.

No doubt this is a great neighborhood for those who can afford it, and it’s certainly more affordable than anything similar on the west side of the Cascade Mountains.

File Mile Prairie is right on the border of Spokane city limits, and the northern half is not incorporated. Students, even those that are in the incorporated part of Five Mile Prairie, will be part of the Mead School District, which is not part of the Spokane School District, and serves communities just north of the city limits.
Pros
  • Great views
Cons
  • More expensive than other parts of town
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
Just now

"Sprawling Spokane suburb"

Spokane Valley (aka ‘the valley’) is Spokane’s smaller next-door neighbor. Just east of the big city, if you’re driving on I-90, you really can’t tell where Spokane ends and the valley begins—it’s all sprawl.

A lot of people who live here commute to Spokane, or to the Business and Industrial Park, in northeast Spokane Valley, on highway 290. A good amount are also employed at the Fairchild Air Force Base, west of Spokane.

The valley doesn’t have nearly as much of a downtown area as Spokane, with restaurants instead being strewn down the main roads—Sprague, South Pines/27, and Sullivan. There’s also the mall, just off exit 291A, which is probably the closest thing to a city center.

If you’re looking for a community with a walkable downtown, and community areas, this isn’t it. The valley instead caters to those who prefer owning their own home and being comfortable staying in their neighborhood, and driving to everything they need.

A bonus of living here though is that you’re very close to fantastic outdoor recreation. Dishman Hills park is right in town, with views. On the east side of town is Saltese Uplands, which has a mountain biking loop with sweet singletrack (but there’s NO shade—watch out!). And a few more miles east on I-90 is Liberty Lake, which has camping, swimming, and a gorgeous 8 mile hike through the hills. I’ve seen moose here enjoying the marsh, so stay aware. And you’re less than an hour away from the Coeur d’Alene National Forest, which is a hiking wonderland.
Pros
  • Close to nature
Cons
  • No city center
  • All sprawl
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Spokane’s growing downtown"

Riverside is what everyone just calls “downtown.” It mainly includes the commercial area on the south side of the Spokane River, as well as Riverfront Park. Riverfront park is huge, with land on the riverbanks, as well as two islands, both connected by walkways. In the summers, there are quite a few events and festivals in the park.

Most of downtown is located between Monroe street to the west, Division to the east, I-90 freeway to the south, and the Spokane River to the north. For such a large city, it’s a relatively small downtown, though it is slowly creeping southward.

River Park Square Mall is the shopping focal point, located just off the riverbank. Outside of the mall, as Spokane has been slowly rejuvenated over the past decade or so, new restaurants, coffee shops, and stores have been opening all around. There’s plenty to entertain you for a day of shopping and eating.

Food/drink recommendations:

--Europa Restaurant: Delicious gnocchi, and a wonderful setting. Love coming here with friends and family.
--Soulful Soups and Spirits: my favorite lunch spot. Their food specialties are soups and salads, and they are REALLY good at them.
--Atticus Coffee: this super cute coffee shop has a gorgeous selection of gifts as well.
--Bistango Martini Lounge: a fun spot to start a girls night out with delicious, over-the-top drinks. The chocolate martini doubles as a dessert!

Other recommendations:

--The Knitting Factory: THE place for concerts in Spokane. There are some great bands that come through (mainly on their way to or from Seattle). I’ve seen some incredible shows here.
--Boo Radley’s: a Spokane classic toy store that’s fun for grown ups too.
--The Ridler Piano Bar: this dueling piano bar is a good change of pace from the usual bar scene. They take requests from the audience.
--Riverfront Park Ice Skating: the park has tons of activities (ferris wheel, merry go round, IMAX, etc), but the best is the ice skating in the winter.
Pros
  • Lots of restaurants
  • Nightlife
Cons
  • Some growing pains
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"Affordable student neighborhood"

I lived in Logan neighborhood while going to Gonzaga University. Understandably, it’s full of college students, with a few professionals and families scattered here and there.

The neighborhood is a mix of small single-family homes (with 3 or 4 students living in each one) and some low-rise apartments. It’s a very affordable neighborhood overall. This is in part because of the students, and also because there have been some safety concerns living here. I personally felt safe living here, but I would usually avoid walking home alone late at night. Over the 3 years I lived here, I had a small handful of friends mugged, but I don’t think that’s a much worse ratio than most cities.

Even though there are lots of students living here, they are generally pretty quiet and respectful. Just don’t live next to one of the men’s sports team’s houses (like the rugby house). It’s the closest thing Gonzaga has to fraternities and they frequently have loud, rowdy parties.

The best thing about the neighborhood is being close to the university. You can also cross campus to access the riverfront trail, which will take you downtown. It’s a very pleasant ½ hour walk (or 10 min bike ride) in the summer, which I took countless times, since I worked downtown. I wouldn’t recommend walking home at night on the trail though.

It’s also convenient being close to Division, and Ruby street, which are arterials that quickly take you to Northtown, the second main retail part of town.

Gonzaga University has been growing quite a bit, and expanding their campus slowly into the neighborhood, which is a trend that you can expect to continue over the years. Overall this has made the neighborhood better, with nice new buildings and a few new eateries. But that also means it's becoming a neighborhood almost exclusively for students.

A few places I’d recommend:

--The Star Bar: THE go-to place for karaoke. There are two types of people here: 1. Groups of friends being ridiculous and singing horribly at the top of their lungs. 2. Very serious karaoke regulars who practice their routines and have their own back up singers. Either way, it’s fun.
--The Clover: they serve food that’s in-season, and often local.
--Riverwalk Coffee House: a hidden little café in the southeast corner of the neighborhood, on the river, just off Springfield.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Close to arterials
Cons
  • Minor safety concerns at night
  • Non-students may not feel at home
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
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 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Good amenities and a price point to match"

Redmond is an upper-class Seattle suburb that has good amenities, and a price point to match. It’s located east of Kirkland and north of Bellevue, just northeast of where highway 405 and 520 meet.

Transportation:
Being a relatively young city, the streets and downtown were designed to be pleasant for walkers, bikers, drivers, and those taking public transit. For bikers, you can get almost anywhere in town on a designated bike lane, or on a path totally separate from the road, which is much safer than most cities. Plus, drivers seem to be relatively aware of bikers, and are courteous. As a bike commuter, that’s not something to take lightly!

The town also caters to the environmentally friendly crowd here by providing elective car charging stations all over town.

For those working in Seattle, Redmond is right at the end of the 520 bridge, which is convenient for getting downtown, but you have to pay a toll to get across Lake Washington. To avoid the toll, you’ll need to drive a couple of miles south to the I-90 bridge. Both options are very slow stop-and-go during rush hour.

One thing Redmond could improve is the park and ride. It’s much too small for the population, which means it’s full by 7:30 am most mornings. Even if more people wanted to take the bus, they’d have a hard time doing that with the full park and ride. However, once you do make it on a bus, the transit system is decent and you can get around quite easily.

Employment
A large percentage of the population works here in town, either at Microsoft (which dwarfs all the other employers) at another tech company or startup, or in the local shops, restaurants, health care centers, and schools. A good percentage of people also commute to Seattle or Bellevue.

Housing:
Surprisingly, most housing in Redmond is just as expensive as prime Seattle neighborhoods. Granted, the housing tends to be newer and in slightly better shape, on average, but still. It could work if you are sharing housing costs with a partner, family, or roommate, but for singles, be prepared for a uncomfortably large chunk of your paycheck to go towards rent. This is exacerbated by the fact that there aren’t many studios.

If you’re looking to buy, many of your options in Redmond currently are condos. Though there are a few single-family homes, these are in very high demand, and hard to come by.

Amenities:
Redmond has plenty of delicious restaurants. You really have every variety you could think of. Prices tend to run on the higher side (are you seeing a trend?).
Unrelated to income, the library is great here. I especially love that they are open late on weekends.

As for shopping, Redmond Town Center has a mix of clothing stores, restaurants, and services like salons and dentists. This is also where you’ll find the iPic theater, which has squishy red recliners, food, and drinks. Of course, it’s more expensive than your typical theater, but it’s fun for a splurge with friends once in awhile. It’s also the only iPic in Washington, though other brands do similar styles. This is the only one that gives you blankets and pillows though! Pretty luxurious. But it can be chilly inside, so bring an extra blanket or sweater if you tend to run cold.

Finally, I’ll mention Marymoor Park. This huge park is a popular concert venue in the summer, with great shows visiting. Just watch out for the traffic before and after the show that slows down hwy 520. When there aren’t shows, it’s a nice place to walk or jog that is close to home, especially if you have dogs!
Pros
  • Quiet
  • Clean
Cons
  • High cost of living
  • Not much nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Retail center and cheap housing"

Whitman includes the second main retail part of town. It centers around the Northtown mall, which is bigger than the downtown mall with a better variety of stores.

There’s also a big retail strip here along Francis, with some of the big retailers like Lowe’s, some grocery stores, and plenty of fast food.

The rest of the neighborhood is just housing, mainly single-family homes, like much of north Spokane. The houses here tend to be on the smaller, more affordable side—you can find a 3 bedroom house with yard and driveway for about $700 a month.

There are a few new apartment buildings with slightly higher rents, but overall the neighborhood could probably use a bit of a face lift in the future. It’s really not bad though, for how affordable it is.

The streets are arranged in very neat grids of north/south and east/west streets.

Franklin Park is a draw to the area, though technically in Northtown neighborhood east of Division. There’s a big baseball field, as well as picnic areas. But the best part is the playground and the interactive fountain. It gets HOT in Spokane in the summer, so kids (and grown ups!) love splashing around here.

A few suggestions:

--Allies Vegan Pizzeria and Café: A vegan place in Spokane!!! And it is super delicious too. A great option for lactose-intolerant people who still want to eat pizza. Or cheese sticks. Or ranch dressing. Or nachos. Or cheese cake. And miraculously, they make everything in-house, and they do it all well.
--Phontip Style Thai Restaurant. Surprisingly good food for such a little place! I can recommend the Pad Thai and the dumplings. Super affordable too.
Pros
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Far from downtown
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Victorian homes for the lucky few"

Browne’s Addition is a well-known neighborhood in Spokane, full of classic, very large victorian-style homes. It was built in the early 20th century to be a neighborhood for Spokane’s elite, and it remains that way today, more or less. Now though, it also includes a good amount of condos, making this part of town slightly more accessible to more people.

Rent in this neighborhood is definitely more expensive, compared to other neighborhoods. The low-rise condos tend to be newer, with luxury appliances and views. Many of the large victorian homes are owned by families, and will likely stay that way. You can occasionally find one for rent, or more commonly, a room or floor for rent. Even though it’s expensive for Spokane, compared to the west side of the state, you can buy a mansion here for what you would pay for a very small home or condo in a Seattle suburb.

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is located here, which is definitely worth a visit. It showcases a lot of the local Native American History, and you can get an inside look to one of the mansions.

One thing I love about Browne’s Addition, and in fact about much of Spokane overall, is that there is lots of green space, and trees lining many of the roads. It’s great in the summer when temperatures regularly are in the 90s or higher, and makes the neighborhood beautiful.

You can also cross the river on a walking/biking bridge to get to the Centennial trail, which runs for 37 miles past downtown all the way to Northern Idaho. It’s a pleasant way to get to Riverfront Part and downtown.
Pros
  • Beautiful homes
  • Close to the river
Cons
  • Higher cost of living
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Diamond in the rough"

Spokane is a city that is still developing, but has so much potential. To be cliché, it’s a diamond in the rough.

HISTORY
Let’s start with a little history to help understand where Spokane’s at.

The land was always home to the Spokane Native American people, from whom it gets its name. And when white settlers began setting up shop in the mid 19th century, there were conflicts. Like in most of Washington, they didn't treat the original inhabitants well. However, the city continued to grow, due to its location on the Spokane River as a trading post. The city boomed by the end of the century when the railroad reached Spokane. Then, it firmly grew into an industrial city, with stakes in mining, logging, forestry, and the railroad, as well as agriculture. But several decades later, the city began to decline as industry stagnated. Warehouses emptied, the population stopped increasing. After a brief boom in the 60s and 70s, it declined again in the 80s and 90s.

The reason I say all this is because this history is very evident when you get to know Spokane. For example, the downtown area holds empty warehouses that were once part of the industrial boom. There is definitely a lot of room for renovation. However, beginning in the early 21st century, downtown has been undergoing a recovery, albeit very slow. I lived in Spokane from 2006-2010 and viewed first-hand some of that revitalization.

DOWNTOWN
Downtown Spokane is centered around a shopping mall, the river (and riverfront park), and the convention center. There are also several dozen other shops and restaurants that have slowly but surely been opening in formerly empty buildings, which gives the city more life.

NATURE
One big draw to the city is Spokane’s proximity to nature. At 30 minutes from the northern Idaho border, it is very close to the Northern Rockies. This means lots of hiking, biking, camping, and skiing. I frequented Schweitzer Mountain resort, about a 2 hour drive away, which was a fantastic place to snowboard, with dry fluffy powder and a huge amount of terrain.

LIVING HERE
So why doesn’t everyone move to Spokane?

A few reasons. One, there is a good amount of poverty here. Like with any city trying to get back on its feet, you’ll find neighborhood pockets of different income levels. If you’re moving here, I’d suggest spending a lot of time in the neighborhood you’re considering and asking around about what it’s like living there. On the flip side, living costs overall are great. You can find a lovely home in a nice neighborhood for a fraction of the cost of Seattle.

JOBS
Another sticking point is the job market. Though there are certainly jobs here, even though Spokane is the second largest city in the state, it can still relatively limited when it comes to certain fields. Yet because of that, some of the jobs will pay well because the employers also find it hard to attract people to the city.

I worked in the nonprofit industry, and was really inspired by what I saw. There is an amazing community of movers and shakers who are making a huge difference and pushing to improve the community and city.

TOURISM
One way in which Spokane is developing is its growth into a tourist destination. It has a few big events each year that draw in thousands of people. The Bloomsday Run brings in over 50,000 runners, and Hoopfest (basketball) brings in nearly half that. Other biggies are Musicfest, Volume, and Octoberfest. Then there’s of course the Universities, Gonzaga and Whitworth, which attract students and sports fans.

CONCERTS
One thing I loved about living in Spokane was the concert scene. Being the midway point when driving between Montana and Seattle, it draws in a lot of great bands, and tickets are affordable. Most good shows were at the Knitting Factory, though there are a few good smaller venues too.

CONCLUSION
Overall, there is a sense in Spokane that there is a lot of potential for growth and creation. I would love to live there again one day and be a part of that. I’m excited to see how Spokane develops in the next few decades, because I have a feeling it is going to be great.
Pros
  • Close to nature
  • Affordable cost of living
  • Lots of potential
Cons
  • Limited job market
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
Just now

"Retirement community known for sunny weather and lavender"

Sequim is located on the Northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula just off Highway 101. Well, the town itself isn’t actually ON the coast, but near it. It’s mainly known as a quiet retirement community, though there is a strong working class community here as well.

First of all, it’s not pronounced like “sequin” the sparkles that you attach to your clothing. It’s one syllable, pronounced like skwim. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of all these native American words once you’ve lived here for awhile.

Weather: Even though Sequim is not very far from one of the rainiest places in the continental US (Forks—where the Twilight vampire series is set), Sequim itself is actually quite dry. Being in the rain shadow of the Olympics, it has many more sunny days than your average Western Washington town.

Because of the dry weather, lavender grows exceedingly well here, and it has become a major tourism draw and a big driver of the economy. There are 2 lavender festivals each summer, and lots of craft fairs and farmers markets throughout most of the year.

Sequim has a lovely downtown area that is full of gift shops and eateries. There are also all your standard stores that cater more to locals. In fact, Sequim has one of the largest retail areas around, drawing locals from smaller nearby towns in to shop at the clothing and hardware stores here.

Besides the Olympic Mountains standing tall just south of town, Dungeness Spit on Puget Sound is the other main geographical feature near Sequim. A 5 mile long spit of sand jutting into the sound, you can walk as far as you like, even all the way to the end, along the sandy and rocky beach. If you’re planning on doing the whole 10 mile round trip, make sure you check the tide tables. You’ll never get completely stranded, because the spit always stays above water (except maybe in a storm), but you should avoid walking on the east side, as it’s a protected wildlife zone. Bring snacks.

Because the spit creates a relatively protected bay, it attracts certain types of wildlife. To be specific, there are just So. Many. Ducks.

If you’re planning just to visit Sequim for a weekend, skip the hotel. Instead, rent a beach house from Air Bnb or Vrbo. If you plan ahead of time, and especially if you go on the off season, it’s just as affordable as a hotel room, but you get an entire house! And many of them are on the beach, which is lovely. Look for ones on 3 Crabs Road, which have waterfront property.

Eating out: There are plenty of options in Sequim. Here are the ones I recommend:

Baja Cantina—great Mexican food
Oak Table Café—a cozy bistro great for lunch
Hurricane Coffee Co—my favorite café in town. They train their staff well in making great lattes, and there’s tons of seating for a catch up with friends.
Pros
  • Great views
  • Nice downtown
Cons
  • Lack of public transportation
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
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 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
Just now

"Destination waterfront town for tourists and retirees"

Port Townsend, on the northeast point of the Olympic Peninsula, is a Victorian-style tourist and retirement destination town known for art, festivals, shopping, and beaches.

Port Townsend is made up of 3 main parts: downtown, uptown, and Fort Worden.

Downtown is a collection of art galleries, clothing stores, and other retail. Dispersed in between these are plenty of small restaurants to break up your shopping. Once a month, there’s a gallery walk, where the galleries are open late, and pass out champagne and treats while you meander around drooling over the art. And I have to mention the marina, where the annual Wooden Boats Show is held. People come from all over the country for this.

The town’s economy is mainly based around tourism, which is why so many (but not all) art galleries and gift stores can survive.

Uptown is a smaller collection of the same thing, just higher on the hill.

Fort Worden, north of downtown, and making up the tip of the peninsula, is an old military fort that has been turned into a casual resort. The main feature is hosting events--it’s a popular place for weddings, especially in the old blimp hanger. They also do a really tasty Sunday brunch, which is the only time the restaurant is open to the public outside of events. If you like exploring, bring a flashlight to find your way through the old batteries. It can be pretty spooky. And of course there’s the lighthouse, and the beach that wraps around the northeast point, with a view of the Cascades. There’s a small campground near the beach too, as well as officer’s houses you can rent out.

Every summer, Fort Worden has a week-long Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, which is one of the best violin events in the country. Outstanding violinists come from all over the world to teach workshops and give concerts.

There are lots of other events and festivals in this artsy town, too many to list. This town is seriously in love with community get-togethers. One fun one that I’ve been to a couple times is the annual Rhody festival and parade. The costumes are ridiculous, in a good way.

Who lives in Port Townsend?
Port Townsend is well-known as a retirement community, particularly for retired professionals. It is also a draw for artists and musicians. Overall, the atmosphere here trends towards very liberal, when compared with the cultures of nearby rural towns on the peninsula.

Of course, this is over-generalizing, and there’s also a wide mix of middle class people who are here making it all run. The paper mill south of town employs quite a few people. You can often see it’s milky clouds of steam gushing into the air, spreading the sulfurous smell around the area.

Cost of living:
There’s not much available for rent here (check the local paper’s classified section), but what is available is very affordable. For example, most 2-bedroom apartments (most are condos) run around $850. About half the price of Seattle. Not bad.

There is abundant land for sale, as well as a few houses on the market. And with the geography of the Port Townsend area, being on a hilly peninsula, much of the land has a view, either of Puget Sound, or of one or two (or both!) of the mountain ranges.

Transportation:
Transportation is always hard in rural areas, but there is one public and one private bus that connects the Olympic Peninsula, and Port Townsend, to Seattle. I once took public transit all the way here from Spokane, so it can be done, but it’s not pleasant. And then of course there’s the ferry to Whidbey Island. Make sure to reserve your ticket ahead of time for summer weekends, because it will be sold out.

A few recommendations:
--The Starlight room in the Rose Theater: This is the upstairs screen at the Rose Theater, and it’s filled with big fancy armchairs and chandeliers. You can order food from the restaurant and they’ll bring it in for you.
--The aforementioned brunch at Fort Worden
--Bayview restaurant: This is definitely an all-American style diner, with hearty, greasy food. The clam chowder is the best.
--The Boiler Room: This is a café made mainly for teens, though everyone is welcome. They do coffee, tea, snacks, and free soup once a week. Pretty awesome to have a place like this for teens, because most of the rest of town is not at all designed for them.
Pros
  • Lots of events
  • Low cost of living
  • Great views
Cons
  • Lack of public transportation
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach 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
Just now

"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.
Pros
  • Proximity to mountains
  • Quick access to skiing / outdoor activities
Cons
  • Lack of town personality
  • Lack of public transit
  • Long commute to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Small ferry terminus town on the Olympic Peninsula"

Kingston is a little town that sits across Puget Sound from Edmonds. In fact, being the other end of the Edmonds ferry is the main feature of this community. The town has a cute main street with a few shops and restaurants, mainly catering to tourists on their way to or from the Olympic Peninsula.

Seasonality:
Kingston is very much affected by the tourist seasons. During summer weekends and holidays, the town gets busy, and the wait for the ferry can be 2 hours or more, so it’s usually better to arrive early! On days with particularly heavy ferry traffic, there’s often a police officer handing out entry tickets to cars in line, so that people can’t take a side road and cut in line after you’ve been waiting for hours. I’ve heard rumors that there will be a reservation system set up in the future to help ease the situation, but so far it’s all talk and no action.

In the winter, Kingston becomes relatively empty, however, with the exception of holidays. I’m not sure how some of the smaller places stay in business, but most of them are open during the off-season. Even the ice cream shop!

Housing:
One benefit of living in Kingston is that rent is much more affordable than across the water. So for people working in downtown Edmonds who would like to live somewhere less expensive and more rural, it would not be a bad commute to walk on the ferry in the mornings and sail over to work. Although, since Kingston is so small, your options are limited, so you may have a bit of a wait until something that suits you becomes available.

Art:
The Olympic Peninsula overall is known as a bit of an artist’s haven, especially for retired folks who have more time to dedicate to their creativity. Kingston does an occasional self-guided art tour, where you can walk and drive around to different artist’s studios and view their creations. The art comes in many different mediums, from your traditional oil paintings to felted yarn to silk scarves to jewelry and sculptures.

Kingston has also been putting on its own summer art festival in July, one of many on the Olympic Peninsula.

Food:
There are a handful of decent restaurants and cafes here, both near the ferry terminal, and further up the road. Here are the ones I’d recommend:

J’aime Les Crepes: This is where I usually get a snack when I’m parked in the lot waiting for the ferry. They have both sweet and savory crepes. My favorite is the Mediterranean!

Mirracole Morseles: On the second floor of an old-fashioned victorian building, this one is easy to miss. Though they’re not open as often as I’d like, they do delicious baked goods, including gluten free.

Mystic Mountain Coffee: Once in a while I like to have a lazy day, take the ferry with a friend, and cozy up in this café for a long catch-up session.

CBs Nuts: A couple of miles out of town, this little peanut roaster has been steadily growing over the past several years. Their specialty is all-natural, organic peanut butter ground daily from nuts they roast themselves. It’s a little pricey, but so delicious. Recently, they’ve added pumpkin seeds to the product list, which I can say first-hand are very tasty.
Pros
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Ferry traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
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 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
Just now

"Rural Olympic Peninsula outpost on the way to Port Townsend"

Port Hadlock-Irondale is a small community where highway 19 and highway 116 meet, on the Olympic Peninsula. Though by no means a city, Port Hadlock dwarfs tiny neighboring Chimacum, which is truly a “one stop sign” town.

Unlike well-known Port Townsend 16 miles to the north, Port Hadlock has a rural Washington culture. While Port Townsend is a tourist destination full of well-off retired professionals and artists, Port Hadlock is more of a blue collar working community.

Cost of Living:
Housing costs around here are about 30-40% less than living in Seattle. It goes up when you get into Port Townsend, but the rural areas are still very affordable.

If you’re looking to buy, there is a LOT of land for sale out here. In fact, it’s tougher to find land with a house on it, so it’s ideal for people looking to build their own dream home.

Amenities:
Port Headlock has a nice library, as well as a large post office. Many rural residents choose to get their mail delivered here, because USPS doesn’t deliver to all addresses in the area.

Food:
“Zoogs Caveman Cooking” is a bittersweet local story. It was once a dingy place, desperately in need of a remodel. Then, it was accepted to be on the show Restaurant: Impossible on the food network, and got a complete remodel. The host of the show was quoted saying it was “the worst he’d ever seen” before the remodel. But unfortunately, after the buzz of the brand re-opening wore down, there just wasn’t enough business in little Port Hadlock, and it wasn’t long until it was out of business. It’s now for sale and boarded up.

Fiesta Jalisco is pretty good for Americanized Mexican comfort food. Your standard enormous plates of burritos with a side of rice and beans smothered in cheese.

But my favorite is Scampi & Halibuts seafood grill. It’s nothing fancy, housed in a long building that feels like a manufactured home, but the greasy fish and chips are SO yummy. You can choose cod or halibut.

Parks:
If you’re looking for a park, you could head to Anderson Lake, but it’s lost it’s appeal for many people when it got an algae bloom a couple years ago, making it temporarily off-limits to people and dogs alike.

There’s also HJ Carrol Park, which is on Rhody Drive/hwy 19, across from the intersection with Anderson Lake Road. There are local sports games here, and if you’re a runner, there’s a great path around the perimeter. It features quite a few amenities here for events, like large pavilions and concessions.

There is one very nice, little-known trail on neighboring Indian Island. Indian Island is a Naval base with very limited access. But one part of the island that is open to the public is a short trail that runs along the shore and in the trees. I’ve been here many times for a leisurely stroll. And though I personally have never done it, I’ve seen people digging for seafood (I think clams or geoduck) on the beach here occasionally. But if you do, check the conditions carefully, because there has been toxic shellfish here, which is extremely dangerous.

My favorite park around here is a few miles north—Fort Townsend State Park. A former military fort, it has miles of wooded trails, mostly flat, that you can meander through. There are signs up saying to hike with a buddy because of cougars, but I’ve never actually heard of a cougar sighting. There’s also beach access and camping here. The only downside is that sometimes the eggy smell of the paper mill across the water in Port Townsend wafts to the beach….
Pros
  • Beautiful location
Cons
  • Limited housing available
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
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 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Affordable Seattle suburb growing into its own destination"

Burien is a south Seattle suburb just east of the Seattle Tacoma International Airport, and south of White Center. It’s not the ritziest place you’ve ever seen, but it’s a comfortable middle-class commuter town that is slowly growing into it’s own.

*Commuting*
Traffic to and from Burien is definitely better than the other Seattle suburbs. When all the main Seattle highways are painted that horrible dark red in Google maps during rush hour, highway 509 to Burien usually still has some green, or at least yellow.

If you don’t want to deal with Seattle parking, you can take a bus (#121) from the Burien transit center direct to downtown. It takes about 40 minutes, which isn’t bad considering it takes almost as long to get downtown from some of the neighborhoods right in Seattle.

*Employment*
Proud of its early-2000s renovation, downtown Burien is made up mostly of small businesses—there are no biggies like Microsoft dominating the business district, which is another reason that traffic hasn’t gotten too crazy yet. In fact, the biggest employers within city limits are the schools and the medical centers.

Just outside of Burien though, you’ll find some of those giant employers, inclusing SeaTac airport (the first place in the country to have a $15 minimum wage!), Boeing South Park, Group Health, and Southcenter mall. Starbucks, in south Seattle, is also a straight shot from Burien. It would only take about 25 minutes to get home, even during rush hour, which is significantly faster than commuting to a suburb to the north or east.

*Parks*
The main park in town is Seahurst, on the waterfront. It’s got some pleasant walking paths, beach access, a jungle gym, and parking. Stop by the snack shack in the summer! A warning: the beach, like most Washington beaches, is rocky. No strolling barefoot here.

Some lucky people even own houses right in the park, as a few of the nearby neighborhoods have winding roads that dip into the trees.

Connected to Seahurst, there’s also the ‘secret’ Salmon Creek Ravine Park. There are a few trails zig zagging through, but make sure you keep track of your turns, as it’s mostly unmarked. It’s a shady and quiet locals place if you need a break from the crowds.

*Schools*
Burien has an interesting mix of traditional public schools and alternative schools, especially when it comes to high schools. One option, for those with a little extra cash to burn, is the John F Kennedy Catholic High School. For public high schools, there’s the large Highline High Schools, which is very diverse. It’s part of Highline Public School District, a group of schools that have over 19,000 students total. They provide some of the alternative options as well, such as Waskowitz outdoor education center or Big Picture school, both also nearby.

*Housing*
Housing costs are lower in Burien than in most other Seattle suburbs. Of course, you’ll find expensive lots and houses on the waterfront, but the majority is refreshingly affordable.

If you’re looking to rent an apartment, you’ll probably be limited to the ones close to the downtown area, and you can easily find a one bedroom for around (or under) $1000 per month. If you’re buying or renting a single-family house, you’ll have more options spread out north and east of downtown Burien.

*Conclusion*
Burien is a good option for those working in nearby Tacoma, Seatac, Renton, or Tukwila who want live somewhere not too far from work, but also not too far from Seattle. I’d venture to guess that Burien will continue to grow, and it would be a good investment to buy here. It doesn't have the most appealing downtown I've ever seen, but it's not bad, and is slowly developing and adding more amenities.
Pros
  • Affordable cost of living
  • Quick commute to Seattle
Cons
  • Still-developing business district
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
Just now

"An imperfect mountain town in a beautiful setting"

Located on highway 2, about 8 miles east of Monroe, Sultan is nestled in the Cascade Mountains. It has a long history of mining and logging, as well as agriculture. The town sits on the north side of highway 2; south of the highway is the railway line (BNSF and the occasional Amtrak) and the Skykomish river, both of which are integral parts of the town’s identity.

To sum it up, Sultan is a bittersweet place. Though surrounded by gorgeous scenery with tons of outdoors activities, it’s also struggled with poverty and drug use.

*The bitter*

Like much of rural Washington, Sultan is relatively low income, though plenty of middle class families have also set up shop here. It has struggled at times to support those living in poverty, with no homeless shelters or drug treatment centers nearby.

The town has also struggled with drug use. In the early 2000’s meth use exploded in Snohomish county, which became one of the worst places in the country for it. Unfortunately, Sultan has had more than it’s fair share of the problem. Now, Heroin use is also causing issues. Not what you’d typically expect for a small mountain town.

The other downer is the traffic. Highway 2 is a narrow, twisting, 2 lane road. It’s also the second largest east/south highway in the state. On weekends, especially in the summer or during ski season, traffic through Sultan is horrendous. As an avid snowboarder, if I don’t leave Steven’s Pass by 2pm, I know I’ll probably add at least 45 minutes to my drive time back to Seattle because of Sultan traffic. I’m sure it’s extremely frustrating for residents.

*The sweet*

Luckily, there are lots of fantastic things about Sultan to balance out the downsides! And most of them have to do with being in the stunning Cascade Mountains. Here are a few perks:
--30 minutes from skiing at Steven’s Pass, one of the best ski resorts in the northwest.
--Fishing on the Skykomish river (locals know all the best spots…though they may guard their favorite spots and not tell you haha).
--Kayaking or floating the Skykomish River (I’ve done this to Monroe, good for a hot summer day)
--ATV riding and off-roading if you like to get muddy
--Outdoor rock climbing

And of course lots and lots of hiking. Though there aren’t any trailheads right in sultan (much of this land is private, and still used for logging), if you drive a few miles east, further into the mountains, the real fun begins. The closest hike is Wallace Falls in Goldbar, which is very popular. Lake Serene is another popular one that I do every summer. You can jump in a glacier-fed lake at the top! Ice cold, but so refreshing. There are many more hikes, as well as lots of camping around here. Check out Washington Trails Association (www.wta.org) for more.

Another perk is being able to buy land or a house for a good price. There are almost no houses or apartments for rent here officially, although I’m sure people casually rent to friends or family. But overall, the prices are much better than anything closer to the big cities. Just make sure to ask around about the neighborhood before you buy, to make sure that you choose a safe one.

Lastly, a few recommendations for eating:
--Sultan bakery: This place is packed every day. It’s just that good. They do breakfast and lunch, as well as to-go coffee and breakfast sandwiches for people heading up to Steven’s Pass. It’s my go-to spot for breakfast.
--Ixtapa: This family-run place dishes up steaming hot, enormouse plates of very Americanized Mexican food--- comfort food heavy on the cheese. Mmmmm. Just don’t touch the plate! They heat them in the oven so your food stays hot. They know it’s going to take you awhile to eat a dish of food bigger than your head.
--The Windmill: If you’re looking for a cheap Latte for the road, this is your jam. The coffee isn’t world-class, but it’s not bad. You’ll find little coffee shacks like this all over Washington State, but this is the only one shaped like a windmill! (This is actually where I had one of my first jobs, so I’m slightly biased.)
Pros
  • Gorgeous scenery
  • Lots of outdoor activities
  • Close to Steven's Pass
Cons
  • Some poverty
  • Drug use
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
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
Just now

"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
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"Historic farming town with great downtown"

Snohomish is a small town between Everett and Monroe on highway 2. Just shy of the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, there are two defining features of Snohomish: the Snohomish Valley farmland, and the historic downtown.

Farmland:
South of town, past the Snohomish River, the Snohomish Valley has been a center of agriculture and livestock for many decades. It’s one of the few areas nearby that is flat, which makes it prime area for farmland. Being low-lying, it does flood occasionally, which shuts down highway 2 between Snohomish and Monroe and makes the local farmers lose a lot of sleep about once or twice a year.

From a non-farmer point of view, the valley is known for pumpkin patches and corn mazes in the fall. This is the go-to place for miles around to slap on your rain boots and slosh around a muddy field each October picking out the perfect pumpkin. Stocker Farms, Craven Farm, and Bob’s Corn Maze (which has more than a corn maze) are the best known, though there are a few smaller ones as well. Each year it seems they add more attractions, from a giant sling shot where you can fling tiny pumpkins towards a target, to hot cider, to petting zoos. A couple of them do U-cut Christmas trees as well later in the year.

Historic downtown:
Unlike neighboring Monroe, where the historic downtown has been crowded out by new development, Snohomish has invested significantly in keeping it’s quaint, historic downtown area vibrant. It’s best known for antiques, being a destination town for those who love perusing old furniture and knick knacks.

Food:
There are also a few delicious restaurants downtown. My favorites are:
-Grilla Bites: This is almost a deli, where you order at the counter, but don’t be fooled—the food is the best in town. They do sandwiches, soups, and salads, and have veggie and gluten free options. Plus, they cater to diabetics, and much of their food is organic. Pretty cool to see an affordable, delicious place that is so dedicated to healthy food.
-Snohomish Pie Co: Once you’ve had your healthy lunch, head to Snohomish Pie Co to make up all the calories. The inside is decorated nicely, making it a cozy place to sit and catch up with a friend.
-Pilchuck Drive-In: This is a classic Snohomish local’s fave. Get the BLT for a treat.

North of 2nd street, you’ll find the newer downtown Snohomish. This is where a few big chain stores have set up shop, such as Kohl’s. It’s also where the large High School is, and where the residential part of town begins.

Commuting:
Though I’m sure some people do it, Snohomish is really too far away to commute to Seattle. More people either work nearby, or commute to Everett or Lynwood. In particular, there are quite a few Boeing employees who chose Snohomish as their home.

Since Snohomish is caught between Everett and Monroe on highway 2, traffic in both directions is slow during rush hour. This 2-lane highway is also notorious for car crashes, so stay alert and be careful. They even installed an electronic sign that tracks the number of days since the last serious accident, to remind people of the risk. You can also travel north or south on highway 9, another 2 lane highway, which is slower and has more lights.

Who lives here?
Snohomish is very much a family town, with single-family homes being basically the only option. Most homes come on at least a small piece of land, and some are on a hefty amount of acreage. Like much of western Washington, home values have steadily been on the increase.

I will say that the culture in Snohomish, like much of Washington as you begin to get into the rural areas, is more conservative than you would expect for the state. There are plenty of liberals here as well, but just a heads up if you’re moving from out of state!
Pros
  • Great historic downtown
  • Good food
Cons
  • Limited public transit
  • Congested highways
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"Rural family community between towns"

Maltby is a community located along highway 522 between Monroe and Woodinville. Not officially an incorporated town, it’s closer in culture to Monroe, which is more rural, rather than Woodinville, which is more urban.

Almost half the population here is made up of families with kids in school, because it’s a great place to buy a house on a piece of land and settle down. Kids first head to one of two local elementary schools: Maltby Elementary or Cathcart. Then they’re off to Hidden River Middle School, before they make the longer bus ride to Monroe High School, about 10 miles away.

Because of the distance, many high school students drive their own cars to Monroe each day, so paired with rush hour, traffic becomes notoriously slow on 522. And on weekends, it’s also busy with Seattle skiers and snowboarders heading to Steven’s Pass. To ease the traffic, in the past several years, there’ve been some big road improvements, including 2 new overpasses, but it’s still pretty slow.

If you’re looking for a house with some land, this is a good spot to check out, as most houses come with at least an acre or two. A decent amount families also have lifestyle farms where they’ll have some chickens, a horse with a small stable, maybe a cow or two. A few even have their own horseback riding arenas. There are also a several riding academies if you want to learn. It’s definitely a big part of the culture out here.

Besides homes, small farms, and lots of wooded, green, land, there’s not too much else in Maltby. The other focal points are:

--Maltby Café: This place has been around since my childhood, and probably even longer. It’s a classic American breakfast and lunch dive, packed on the weekends, where the food is served in ridiculously large sizes. It’s nothing too spectacular, but it’s nice to have comfort food and bottomless coffee with some friends on a Saturday morning after a long week.
--Maltby pizza and pasta: though not as much of a local icon as the Maltby Café, the food’s decent and will do in a pinch if you don’t want to drive to Monroe or Woodinville.
--Flowerworld: this is a HUGE nursery, and people come from all over to buy their plants here. They also have chickens with farm fresh eggs, produce brought in from other local farms for sale, and Christmas trees in the winter.
--Echo Falls Golf Course: Simply known locally as Echo Falls, this is the most popular place in Maltby and Monroe to have weddings. Oh, and golf, of course. It’s also the lucky host to all of Monroe High School’s prom pre-parties and photo shoots, so if you’re planning a day on the green during spring weekends, call ahead to make sure you won’t be swamped by giddy high school students teetering around in high heels or posing for photos in their rented suit.

There is a mix of income levels that live in this area. You’ll find everything from small manufactured homes to million dollar mansions (especially near the golf course), and everything in between. The newer construction seems to be mostly large 4 and 5 bedroom houses over the $500k range. But people tend to hold on to their land and houses here for a long time, so there’s not a huge amount of turnover. If you’re in a hurry, you may have to look to nearby towns.
Pros
  • Beautiful wooded lots
Cons
  • Traffic on 522
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Seattle’s wealthier cousin across the lake"

If Seattle is known as a laid-back city where people wear jeans and a Northface to work, Bellevue is its cousin across the lake that’s a bit more concerned with suits and status. Rent is higher, roads are wider, and cars are shinier. The reason? Many of the residents here are higher-income than Seattle, and definitely higher-income than Washington overall.

As a rather extreme example, Medina, widely known as the millionaires (and billionaires) neighborhood, is right next to Bellevue’s downtown hub, on the shores of Lake Washington. This is where Bill and Melinda Gates live. The neighborhood has it’s own golf course and country club.

Housing:
Expect prices to be high, as one of the most expensive places to rent and buy in the state. Apartments tend to run about 5-10% higher than in Seattle, in general.

Employment:
Examples of big employers nearby are Microsoft, Expedia, Nordstrom, and T-mobile, among others. Bellevue Community College employs a large amount of staff as well, and has been growing very quickly. There are also quite a few smaller tech startups and businesses, and of course the mall, restaurants, and hospitals.

Commuting:
You will have to change your definition of what traffic is if you move here. Anything where your car is moving at least 20 mph, even if it’s on the freeway and you should be going 70? Pshaaaw. That’s not traffic, amateur.

About a month ago, commuting to or from Bellevue just got a whole less attractive, because tolls were introduced into the carpool lanes in both directions on highway 405, which is the main north/south highway through Bellevue. Though the carpool lanes are still free if you have two or more people in your car, you have to register as a carpool car in advance. But people *not* sharing a car can now essentially buy their way into the carpool lane by paying a toll. The prices change depending on traffic, starting at $0.75 for no traffic, to $10 (!!) for extremely heavy traffic. It’s all controlled by cameras in the carpool lane that snap a photo of your license plate as you drive by, and send you a bill. Very few people are happy about this, as you can imagine.

If you’re headed to Seattle, you’ll have to take one of the bridges over Lake Washington, 520 and I-90. 520 also has tolls, and though I-90 doesn’t, it’s really not a good option either, because traffic is notoriously bad. So ideally, if you live in Bellevue, you also work in Bellevue.

However, plenty of people who work in Bellevue live either in Seattle or in the suburbs to the north, east, or south, because the cost of living is so high here. I guess the hassle of the commute is still worth it for some, to save on rent and other expenses.

Nightlife:
The bar and club scene is pretty different from in Seattle. Bellevue’s nightlife is centered around the Bellevue Mall, which is nice in some ways, because it’s easy to walk from one place to another, but awkward in other ways, like when everything starts closing down at the end of the night and you have to take the escalator to get out, blinking under the fluorescent lights. Overall, a very different feel from Seattle’s neighborhood-centric scene.

Perks:
Living in a well-off, relatively young city, there are perks as well: excellent schools, plenty of medical centers, nice parks, and low crime. Plus, being close to Lake Washington is great, especially in the summer. Make some friends in Medina who have yachts, and you’re all set.
Pros
  • Clean
  • New
Cons
  • Traffic and tolls
  • Cost of living
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
Just now

"Low-key, low-cost bedroom community"

Mountlake Terrace is a community north of Shoreline, about 10 miles north of Seattle. Though 20,000 people call it home, it doesn’t quite have the feel of a town like next-door Edmonds or Lynnwood does. It's probably the best fit for those who prefer affordability over community.

I-5 divides Mountlake Terrace into two pieces, the east and the west side.

West side:
The west side is squeezed between I-5 and highway 99, and is more commercialized than the east side. Highway 99 and the side streets are scattered with a few restaurants and shops, but nothing walkable that feels like a downtotwn. But there are lots of delicious Asian restaurants! I worked in an office here that was close to lots of options. My favorites are Pho Tran on 220th, and Hosoonyi Korean Restaurant on highway 99, which does an amazing tofu soup hot pot.

Also on the west side is Lake Ballinger, where I spent many lunch hours in the summer. It’s a small lake with a public beach on the east shore, and a grassy area to the north. The grassy area used to be a golf course, but is slowly being converted back into the marshland it once was, so there’s lots of birdlife. A very peaceful place to eat your sandwich and catch a little sun.

I would also often walk on the paved urban trail that runs north/south just east of highway 99. A popular place for joggers and bike commuters, it actually goes all the way north to Lynnwood, and south towards Seattle, though it’s not always easy to follow, because it merges into neighborhood roads at times.

Besides that, there’s a good amount of protected land and green spaces that aren’t always shown on the map. For example, where I worked on 220th, my office looked out into a lush forest, which is a gorgeous view when you’re inside staring at a computer screen all day.

There are also some nice neighborhoods on the west side, very quiet, single-family home types, especially near Lake Ballinger.

East side:
In comparison, the east side of Mountlake Terrace is almost all residential, though it does have the large Terrace Creek Park, with walking paths near the stream. Most housing is made up of large, single-family homes, with a few multi-family units along 212th. Most residents are commuters to Seattle, Bellevue, or Lynwood.

Cost of living:
Rent is significantly lower here than communities to the south. If you’re buying, you could find an older 4-bedroom house starting at around $300,000. Newer ones start at about $400k. Currently, renting an apartment will set you back about $1100 for a 1 bedroom. On average, it’s about $350/mo cheaper than Seattle. But it’s a pretty hot market right now, because lots of newcomers to Seattle are realizing the cost of living is more affordable here.

Part of the reason rent is lower here is because Mountlake Terrace doesn’t have a town or neighborhood feel that surrounding towns have. There’s no real city center, and non-residents don’t even know it’s a town. It’s definitely more of a bedroom community, where people tend to keep to themselves. This can be great for families who appreciate that type of living, but for singles or those who like socializing more, it can be a bit isolating. There’s nothing in the way of nightlife either--you’d have to drive to Lynnwood, Bellevue, or Seattle.

Amenities:
There are some perks though. For one, you’re close to a group of large medical facilities just west, in Edmonds. Also, crime is pretty low in the area, though at my workplace we did have a car vandalized once, for apparently no reason. There is probably more petty crime closer to highway 99, and very little in the residential areas.

One last quirk about Mountlake Terrace: When you’re getting to know the neighborhood, you’ll notice that the east/west street numbers are slightly confusing around here. Starting in Seattle, the numbers increase as they go north through Shoreline, topping out at 205th. But right when you hit Mountlake Terrace, they start going down again. So you’ll go up through the 100’s until you hit 205th, then suddenly you jump to 243rd and start dropping to 242nd, 241st, etc. It can definitely be confusing for visitors!
Pros
  • Lower cost of living
  • Lake Ballinger
Cons
  • No city center
  • No nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Urban meets country meets wine"

Woodinville is a small city just on the edge of urban and rural, both geographically and culturally.

It’s located just where highway 405, which takes you to Bellevue, Seattle, or Lynnwood, meets highway 522. 522 is the main connection to towns northeast of here, which are more rural, in land and in lifestyle. As soon as you start heading down 522, the trucks get bigger, the landscape gets wilder, and the voting ballots get redder.

So if you can’t decide if you’re a city mouse or a country mouse, or if you’re a city mouse married to a country mouse (or vice versa), you might like Woodinville.
Especially….if you’re a mouse that likes wine.

Wine is what Woodinville has slowly but steadily been gaining a reputation for over the past few decades. It’s become a very popular place to do tasting room tours, for both tourists and locals alike. “I’m a big kid now” birthday parties for 20-somethings from Seattle are a common occurrence here, and the number of tourists has been creeping up as word spreads about the world-class wine. The well-known Chateau Ste. Michelle has their tasting room in Woodinville, along with *many* dozens of other wineries, so make sure to have a designated driver if you’re doing the rounds! They quote that there are over 90 wineries here, but that seems to be pushing it a bit. A lot of the wineries have live music on the weekends, which makes for a livelier town than most suburbs.

Housing & amenities:
Woodinville is definitely a suburb. The lots are larger, the houses roomier, and land is a bit more affordable. It’s a solid place for a middle class family to settle down, purchase a home, and send the kids to school.

Downtown Woodinville is right next to 522, and what used to be a sleepy little town is quickly growing, with new stores (and wineries!) popping up regularly. Big box stores are quickly getting settled in. This is also where you’ll find pretty much the only multi-family units, if you’re looking for an apartment. The rest of Woodinville, which sprawls east from here, is exclusively single-family homes. If your dream is to buy some land and build your own customized house, it’s not hard to find land here. But keep in mind that prices are increasing rapidly as Seattle grows.

Commuting:
Commuting can definitely be a drag, as you’ll have to sit in stop and go freeway traffic every day if you’re going to Seattle or Bellevue. But it's a bit quicker if you work in Everett or Lynnwood, as you’ll go against the traffic, or in Redmond or Bothell, because you can take the backroads. There is a park and ride just south of 522 as well.

Final thoughts:
Since Seattle and Bellevue are expected to continue to grow, you can expect nearby suburbs like Woodinville to also grow. It can be a great place to set up shop if you’re looking to be out of the rush of the city, and maybe get a little piece of land. Just keep in mind that it’s a package deal that comes with a hefty commute if you work in the city!
Pros
  • Close to nature
  • Dozens of wineries
  • Decent cost of living
Cons
  • Slow commute to Seattle or Bellevue
  • Few apartments and condos
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Right next door, but a world away"

It’s surprising how close Vashon Island is to Seattle, because when you’re there, it feels hundreds of miles away from any city. It’s probably most suitable for Seattle workers looking for a more secluded and quiet lifestyle. Retirees and families also find the island’s slower pace appealing.

The largest island in Puget Sound, Vashon Island is just off the coast of West Seattle neighborhood, and northwest of Tacoma. In fact, ferries connect Vashon to both of those places, with one terminal at the north end of the island (to West Seattle or Southworth, on the Olympic Peninsula) and another at the south end (to Tacoma). During weekdays, there’s also a water taxi that goes straight to downtown Seattle so that commuters can bypass the bus ride through West Seattle.

The main road is Vashon highway / 99th, which runs north to south. East/west roads branch off regularly to access the rest of the island. In the summer, people like to bicycle on these roads, but you have to really love a good workout, because the hills are tough.

A big reason people live here is because of the proximity to nature and recreation.

Most of the island is wooded and green, with a smattering of large lawns and small farms in the central part of the island. Fisher Pond, just off Bank road, has a maze of public trails surrounding it and the nearby land. If you’re looking for a break from the city, wandering through the forest here is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. In late summer, there are tons of blackberries growing wild here, so bring a bucket!

Another reason to come here for recreation is sea kayaking. In particular, nighttime sea kayaking. Now, normally kayaking in the ocean at night is not advisable. Quite dangerous. Frowned upon. But on Vashon, you have the luxury to dip your paddle in the Maury Island Aquatic Reserve (Vashon Island is also called Vashon-Maury Island), which at first glimpse seems like a lake, but is actually a deep inlet of Puget Sound. Being so protected, the waters are perfectly calm, there’s practically no current, and on a clear night you can see the stars. Try to go on a night that doesn’t have a bright, full moon though, because you won’t be able to see the most amazing thing--the bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is when tiny organisms in the water light up when your paddle brushes against them. So each time you paddle, miniscule underwater fireworks gently follow the wake of each stroke. It’s magical.

If you’re not interested in kayaking, it’s always a fun day trip to drive around the island enjoying the occasional beach, and stopping in the downtown area.

Vashon is also the name of the main town on the island, which is located on 99th and SW Bank Road. There are a few blocks of shops and eateries that you could easily walk around and visit in under an hour. I recommend May Kitchen and bar, which has a-May-zing Thai food. (har har).

The last thing I’ll mention is that there’s no bridge connecting Vashon to any other land. Theoretically, there could be, because it’s a very short distance to Southworth on the Olympic Peninsula. But there’s not, which is part of the reason why Vashon is so special.
Pros
  • Close to nature
  • Quiet and secluded
  • Water taxi to downtown Seattle
Cons
  • Minimal amenities
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
Just now

"Capitol Hill’s secret neighborhood"

How can I best explain what Stevens feels like?
Hmmm. Ok, go with me on this one. A few years ago, I went to the Grand Canyon. When we got to the South Rim, there were *hundreds* of tourists snapping pictures at the canyon’s edge next to the gift store. The number of selfies happening was slightly appalling. But our destination was not the gift store. It was a hike, and the trailhead began just about 100 feet away from the milling crowd. We started down the trail, and the canyon began to unfold before us. Literally within two minutes, we were nearly alone. It was gorgeous. All the tourists were still at the top, none bothering to take a walk down the trail right under their noses. All the better for us!

This is what Stevens is like, as compared to the main Capitol Hill area on Broadway. Full of amenities, yet refreshingly absent of selfie-snapping crowds, even though it’s only a few blocks from the (fun) madness that is the Pike/Pine corridor.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love downtown Capitol Hill. But when you want something a bit quieter, head to Steven’s. It somehow maintains a smidge of the small town vibe, despite being in the heart of the city.

Stevens is Bounded in the south by Madison Street, which has quite a few buses going through. Very convenient. To the north and east is the Arboretum, a gem of a park. And the western boundary of Stevens is simply the top of Capitol Hill, at 15th ave, which includes the large Volunteer Park.

It’s important to note that this is the top of the hill for two reasons. 1. You are more likely to successfully survive a tsunami (everyone’s been talking about this since the New Yorker article came out this year). So you’re on the safe side of the hill! Good work. And 2. The streets running east/west suddenly get very, very steep, as you head back down the hill. In fact, you can take a trip to Seattle’s steepest paved street here! It’s Roy Street, between 25th and 26th ave, at 26% grade. I dare you to try to sprint up it.

Most of Stevens is residential, with a blend of lowrise apartments, condos, and single-family homes. Because of this, you’ll find quite a few families, who like the quieter side of the hill. Most elementary kids attend Stevens Elementary School, though some on the eastern boundary are in McGilvra Elementary’s territory. Next, they’ll go to Washington Middle School, and finally, the large Garfield High School.

What about those amenities? Most restaurants and shops are on either 15th or Madison. There are dozens of options, and it’s fun getting to know them.

Some of my favorite places are:

--Ada’s Technical Bookstore and Café: This is nerd heaven. They have a fun and informative selection of technical books, with topics ranging from physics to coding to psychology, to fantasy, to comics. Just my style. I love working from here as well, while sipping one of their coffees.
--Canterbury Ale House: A cozy, unpretentious pub that draws you in on dreary days. Plus, it’s castle-themed! You get to combine your inner kid by being in a castle with your outer grown-up by drinking beer.
--Araya’s Place: As a vegetarian, I love this Thai place. Great value for lunch too.
--Volunteer Park Café: This one’s a bit out on it’s own, away from the other restaurants, next to (of course) Volunteer Park. I’d recommend a lazy weekend brunch and a stroll in the park afterwards.
Pros
  • Less crowded
  • Great restaurants
Cons
  • High cost of living
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Affluent Lake Washington neighborhood full of single-family homes"

Laurelhurst, Windermere and Sandpoint neighborhoods are three upscale, single-family home neighborhoods on Lake Washington.

Laurelhurst, the most southerly community, makes up the little peninsula and surrounding neighborhood just east of the University of Washington. Follow the shore north, and you’ll hit Windermere next, followed by Sandpoint, which is really just Magnuson Park. All three neighborhoods are bounded by Lake Washington and Sandpoint Way NE.

Most land here is zoned strictly for single-family homes, except for a small strip of low-rise zoning near Sandpoint Way, which is the main thoroughfare through this part of town. One other exception is the highly acclaimed Seattle Children’s Hospital, in Laurelhurst. It never hurts to be down the road from one of the country’s best children’s hospitals.

The other main non-residential feature is Magnuson Park. Seattle really did well with setting aside prime land to serve as public parks, and Magnuson is a great one. It has a few distinct features. There’s the beach, where you can launch a boat or a kite board, or walk along the shore. There’s the marsh, with trails winding through the trees (a prime meditation spot). If you have a dog, they’ll love the off-leash park. And then there’s the sports fields. In the summer, there are outdoor movies screened here, with food trucks lined up in the back. Several thousand people usually attend, if last summer’s “The Princess Bride” showing that I went to is any indication.

At the northern edge of the park is the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) center, where a good amount of scientists and support teams are employed. Next door you’ll find the Seattle Mountaineers Club headquarters. They have a huge lodge, with event space and a bookstore.

If you live elsewhere in Seattle and wanted to bike to Magnuson Park, you could take the Burke-Gilman trail from Lake Union all the way here. It’s paved, and protected from roads. A classic summer day trip. If you’re especially keen, you could even bike all the way to Bothell at the top of Lake Washington, and beyond.

But like I said, most of the neighborhood is dominated by single-family homes. Each usually has a small lawn and garage, and they are all priced very high. Housing near Sandpoint Way tends to be more affordable, while the closer you go to the lakefront, the higher the price tags get. Larger houses easily run in the millions, particularly those with a good view. So there’s only a certain type of family that can afford to live here.

To go with the deep-pocketed families, there are schools to match. For young kids, there’s Villa Academy, (aka “The Villa”) a private, Catholic, uniforms-only p-8 school with waterfront property. For high school students, some families write significant checks to the Waldorf School, north of Magnuson Park. This is the third campus of the Seattle Waldorf Schools, and it just opened in 2014. They also have a nearby elementary school. Many students enter the Waldorf system in preschool, and continue through their entire education through 12th grade.

For those more interested in public school, there’s Laurelhurst Elementary and Sandpoint Elementary. Windermere is split in the middle and send kids to both schools. All middle schoolers will attend Eckstein Middle, in the Ravenna neighborhood a mile or two northwest. The highly-ranked Roosevelt High School is where high schoolers will attend. In fact, all public schools around here are ranked pretty highly. You can’t really go wrong.
Pros
  • Bicycle-friendly
  • Great Parks
  • Quiet environment
Cons
  • Lack of diversity
  • Expensive housing
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"A diverse, historic neighborhood with delicious food"

The first thing I think of when I think of the International District is tasty, tasty food. This neighborhood, just southwest of downtown, is packed full of delicious restaurants, most of them Asian food. Pho soup? Got it. Japanese sushi? Yup. Dumplings? Plenty. What I especially love is that many of them are small, family-run places with great prices. If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, take a walk around the heart of the neighborhood, just south of Main Street and to the west of I-5, and you’ll have dozens of mouth-watering choices.

History:
Why so much Asian food in one place? This has to do with a bit of Seattle’s history that we’re still coming to terms with. I’m talking about segregation. Like many American cities, we segregated our neighborhoods by race for the 19th, and even into the 20th century. International District was originally called China Town, and was where Chinese workers lived. They were often hired to do heavy labor, such as on the railroads. Japan Town also sprung up, just north of China Town. After World War II, when Seattle forcibly removed all people of Japanese heritage and placed them into internment camps, other people, often immigrants, moved into what was Japan Town. Eventually, the neighborhood simply became known as the International District. But depending on who you ask, part of the International District is still called China Town today.

Museums:
Speaking of history, I highly recommend checking out the Wing Luke Museum, which does a great job of covering some of the Asian-American history of Seattle that is distinctly missing from other museums. I recently went and saw their excellent exhibit on Bruce Lee, one of Seattle’s hometown heroes. There’s also the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington, just on the east side of I-5, which has a museum, classes, and community events.

Housing:
Much of the neighborhood is protected as an historic district, which means that it has unique zoning laws. You’ll find some older brick buildings, mixed in with a few newer ones with higher rent. If you head east, past I-5, you start getting into single-family homes. Many of them were built in the early 20th century, and have high ceilings, and gorgeous bay windows, which lets in a lot of light. What they often don’t have, though, is closet space. I guess people just didn’t own as much stuff back then. Having said that, housing is pretty scarce here, and you'll have to head a bit further east and south to find more options.

Transportation:
The city just installed a tram that will run straight past the International District to Capital Hill. They’re currently testing the tram cars, and will hopefully begin running soon. Better two years late than never. There are also two major transportation hubs here, King Street Station, and Sound Transit. So, it’s a convenient location for getting around. The bike lanes have slowly been appearing as well. In the summer, I often ride my bike from Pioneer Square through the International District to Capitol Hill.

Safety:
I should mention one concern about the International District, which is safety. For the most part, it’s a safe neighborhood. But I would be cautious at night, particularly on Jackson, which goes under I-5, when most of the shops are closed up for the evening. It’s a place where there is still some poverty and homelessness, so people are trying to survive.

Groceries:
I love stocking up on groceries at the Asian grocery stores here, which have very good prices, fresh produce, and specialty ingredients, like rice noodles and kimchi. I recommend the family-run places on the side streets, rather than the giant Uwajimaya. Don’t get me wrong, Uwajimaya has a large selection of food, and their gift shop is fun, but it’s twice the price of neighboring shops.

Community Garden:
There’s also the enormous Danny Woo Community Garden, just east of 6th. I’m not sure how you get a plot, but I often see people tending their veggies here. It seems particularly popular with elderly folks. Some of the food is also communal, like the fruit trees that have so much fruit in early autumn that they start dropping on the ground. Take a basket and collect some! Just don’t take from plots that aren’t marked as communal while you’re urban foraging. The garden also does kids activities in the summer.
Pros
  • Large community garden
  • Excellent museum
  • Ethnically diverse
  • Unique dining options
Cons
  • Minor safety concerns at night
  • Heavy traffic on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
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 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"New neighborhood in the foothills of the Cascades"

The Issaquah Highlands neighborhood is the newest development in Issaquah. Located north of I-90, off exit 18, it’s mainly filled with numerous, recently-built apartments and condos, and a few large single-family homes. But because most of the buildings were constructed in the last 3-8 years, the prices are high. The price per square foot is pretty similar to Seattle neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill, but the buildings tend to be nicer. But overall, the neighborhood is not affordable for everyone. Two-income households are definitely required if you plan to get a place with multiple rooms or if you have kids.

It’s clear that time was spent on city planning in this neighborhood. The streets are designed to reduce congestion, and all the shops are clustered in one walkable area. There’s nothing too exciting here, but plenty to get by on. A couple of sandwich places, pizza, Asian, Mexican, and an upscale wine bar. Plus, fondue. Can’t forget the fondue. There’s also a big movie theater that draws in crowds from all over Issaquah, plus a home goods and sporting goods store. And your typical grocerty store and gas station. Everything is so new though, it’ll be interesting to see how these restaurants and stores change over the years.

The city planners also protected quite a few little parks in the neighborhood, perfect size to take your dog on a short walk. Of course, for longer walks, you’re only a few minutes drive from outstanding hiking. This is a big reason that people live in Issaquah. It’s simply amazing to be so close to the mountains.

The schools are also new, with appealing architecture. Definitely fancier than the schools I went to! There’s an elementary school right in the neighborhood, and a middle school just north. High schoolers attend Issaquah High School, south of I-90. It’s a pretty large high school, at about 2,000 students, grades 9-12. Despite being large, the ratio of teachers to students is still at a solid 25:1, and it’s well above state average in test scores. Overall, schools are ranked pretty highly around here. You really can’t go wrong.

One bonus of living here is that it’s really a family place that feels like home. Any tourists tend to head over to the downtown Issaquah area or Lake Sammamish, and the Highlands neighborhood is usually just filled with locals. It’s a very quiet and peaceful neighborhood, with very little nightlife—which is good or bad depending on what you like. You’ll probably want to head to Bellevue for a night out, though some of the local restaurants serve drinks if you just want something chill that you can walk home from.

There’s also a campus of Swedish Medical Center just off I-5 here, so you’re never too far from a doctor.

I should mention that there’s a reason that this part of town is called the Highlands. To get there, you head up a moderate hill, and the neighborhood sits higher up than other parts of Issaquah, literally in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. You’re just high enough in elevation that you’ll get a few more days each winter that have a light dusting of snow than Seattle, so be prepared for that and think about investing in some all-weather tires. But when it does snow, you’re treated to gorgeous views of the frosty hills all around.

Expect this part of town to keep growing year by year, because it’s really the only direction Issaquah can grow right now. To the South and East most of the land is protected for hiking, biking, and wildlife, and to the West is Lake Sammamish. So get used to seeing more condos and apartments pop up each year!
Pros
  • Walkable
  • Close to the mountains and activities
  • Great schools
Cons
  • High rent
  • Commute to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"Overpriced apartments, but stunning views"

Westlake is the neighborhood on the western shore of Lake Union. Just east of Queen Anne Hill and highway 99, it’s south of Fremont, and north of South Lake Union. The Seattle Center is also close by, southwest of the neighborhood.

Housing:
A large percentage of the housing in the neighborhood is found in the string of huge apartment buildings along highway 99. Some are new, and some are older and remodeled. But they all have one thing in common: they are unabashedly overpriced.

In part due to the proximity of the Amazon campus, which has been growing rapidly, and in part because Washington State has no rent control and weak landlord-tenant law enforcement, the companies that own these buildings have gotten away with unbelievable rent increases and poor treatment of their tenants. I know this because I lived in one of these mega-buildings. Luckily, it was only for 6 months, at which point my lease was due for renewal, and they bumped the rent up $400. $400 increase After 6 months! I won’t even get in to the unethical behavior they had of hidden fees, unannounced water shutoffs (!!) and a 70-page lease. To sum it up, everyone I knew had moved out by the time I also left the building.

After searching for other housing in buildings nearby, I quickly realized this was a trend for most (but not all) of the largest apartment structures. So, please, do your due diligence before renting. Ask the hard questions. And if they have lots of bad reviews, or no reviews online, avoid them. It's just not worth it.

Fortunately, I don’t believe this is the case with the smattering of smaller apartment buildings and condos that run along Dexter, because those tend to be owned privately. There are also a few single-family homes left, though not many. Then, of course, there are the iconic houseboats. But they’re really their own little community, tucked away on the lake.

View:
There’s got to be a reason people move here, though, right? Well, of course it’s super convenient for Amazon employees. And I think a lot of people like the neighborhood because of the status—most apartments are new or remodeled, it’s close to downtown, etc.

But there’s also the view. As much as I despised how our building was run, I LOVED the view. We had a little patio facing east (which they all do, if you face west, you just stare at Queen Anne Hill and Highway 99). It had a stunning vista of Lake Union and the Cascade Mountains rising behind the lake. The best part? On clear days, we could see the sun rise, which filled our apartment with pink light. *Sigh*. I miss it. If you do move here, definitely look for a building with patios. Ours also had a community patio with a couple of BBQs and a firepit, and we had a few get-togethers with friends, watching dusk settle around the lake. Gotta give them a few points for that.

Commuting:
One perk to the neighborhood is the bike lane that goes straight downtown. In the summers, there’s a line of bike commuters coming from north Seattle. There’s also a walking path near Lake Union, but in most of Westlake, it’s next to storefronts, rather than directly next to the water, since the shore is dominated by marinas, shops, and houseboats. If you’re not a bike commuter or walker, you can catch several bus lines that all run straight downtown, either on Aurora or on Dexter.

Amenities:
To be honest, there isn’t too much in the way of food or grocery stores. A few upscale restaurants dot the waterfront, but nothing you’d want to go to regularly. You’re better off heading north to Fremont or South to South Lake Union. There also aren’t any convenient gyms. Again, you’ll have to head to other neighborhoods.

In conclusion, I think the only real benefits of living here are the convenience of being near South Lake Union, and the stunning east-facing view. For me, it didn’t make up for the overpriced housing and the lack of amenities. Probably not a fit for families, especially since there are no schools in Westlake. But hey, if the convenience is worth it for you, best of luck!
Pros
  • Beautiful city and water vistas
  • Close proximity to downtown
Cons
  • Overpriced housing
  • Short supply of single family homes
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
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 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"This is why families move to North Seattle"

Sunset Hill is a residential sub-neighborhood of Ballard, a Seattle community northwest of downtown. Specifically, it’s the western slice of Ballard, encompassing the Puget Sound coastline, and the hill that rises just east from the coast.

Let’s take a little tour.

We’ll start at the Ballard Locks, at the south end of the neighborhood, where the ships move in and out from Puget Sound to Lake Union. Let’s drive north, up Seaview Avenue--the main road in this neighborhood, running along Puget Sound. Though, if you prefer to walk or bike, you could take the paved Burke-Gilman trail parallel to the road.

Since we’re not that close to the main downtown area of Ballard, where most of the restaurants are, if we want to eat, we’ll have a few options on the coast. There’s Ray’s Café (casual lunch) and Ray’s boathouse (upscale dinner), which share a building on the water. There’s also Anthony’s, a seafood place that you’ll find in prime locations around Seattle and other Washington cities. The prices are high, but they serve in-season fresh fish, and it really is beautiful eating on the water. To grab some fries or ice cream for a snack, go to little Coney up the road.

After we eat, we’ll head north again on Seaview Ave, passing the marina, which is usually chock-full of privately owned sailboats.

At the north end of the road we arrive at Golden Gardens park! This is definitely my favorite summer hangout. Though it gets crowded (with locals, tourists don’t usually make it this far from the city center), it’s still worth it if we can find a little patch of sand to lay out our towels. The sand isn’t the most pure, because it has some ash mixed in from the campfire rings scattered around the beach. These campfire rings are #superpopular in the summer, and if you want to get one, you’ll have to arrive in the morning to stake your claim. But it’s worth it; there aren’t many places in a city where you can enjoy a campfire on the beach as you watch the sun set across the water! And on the other side of Puget Sound, you can see the Olympic Peninsula, with the Olympic Mountains jutting upwards. They make a gorgeous silhouette at dusk.

The only downside about the park is that there are train tracks that run right through it, a few hundred feet from the beach, which can be loud and less-than-peaceful.

Though the main feature of Golden Gardens is the beach, there’s also a steep, seemingly endless set up stairs that takes us up, up, up, the hill rising sharply from the beach. But when we get to the top, a reward! No, not a view, unfortunately. Coffee! There’s a little coffee shop called Caffe Fiore that’s all-organic. The perfect energy boost to head back down the stairs.

Let’s hop back in the car and drive around the neighborhood some more. As we cruise around some of the side streets, you’ll notice that besides the park and a few eating places, Sunset Hill is really just residential. The majority are single-family homes complete with garage and garden. It makes for a pleasant and walkable neighborhood where you imagine neighbors actually do know each other. It can be a comfortable part of town if you’re seeking a single-family home, but being on a hill, quite a few places have views of the water, which keeps the prices very high. So though many families would love to live here, the high costs means that only those who are relatively well-off can afford it. If you’re just seeking an apartment, you won’t find many here.

On 67th street, we’ll pass the Nordic Heritage Center, a museum about the cultures of the Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic people. Why Nordic? When white people arrived in Seattle, a Nordic community decided to settle in the Ballard area, though it was originally used by the Duwamish for fishing. I recommend the Heritage Center’s annual Yulefest, a weekend-long arts and crafts fair held at the museum, with food and music to boot.

Well, that ends our tour. For more info about the neighborhood, check out the reviews on Ballard!
Pros
  • Golden Gardens Park
  • Beautiful mountain and water vistas
  • Quiet residential area
Cons
  • High home prices
  • lack of apartments
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"The quiet side of the hill"

You might be a little surprised that Queen Anne Hill, just north of Seattle, is divided into four mini-neighborhoods. And each of these has its own unique feel. North Queen Anne, on the far side of the hill from downtown Seattle, is probably the quietest and the most affordable of the four. In the north, it’s bounded by the Fremont Cut--the slice of water that pours from Lake Union towards Puget Sound. The east is bounded by highway 99, and the west by 15th ave.

Like other parts of Queen Anne, this neighborhood is also extremely steep, especially the east side.

Because of that steepness, as well as the Fremont Cut waterway, the neighborhood is pretty isolated when it comes to transportation, compared to other downtown neighborhoods. Many of the streets are too high of a grade for buses to crawl up. It can also be hard on your car. Lesson learned: don’t try to drive a full car of people with your Civic Hybrid up some of the steepest hills. It will be very, very slow going. Also, on the rare occasion that Seattle gets snow flurries that manage to stick to the ground, plan to stay home or walk, because those north-facing hills get slick, and most non-skiers don’t own winter tires.

Likewise, as you’d guess, the north side of Queen Anne Hill gets much less sun in the winter than the other sides of the hill. Since we can have pretty grey, dark winters at times, it’s definitely something to keep in mind when viewing potential places to live.

For eating out, you have two options, and both involve hills: 1. Go to the top of the hill to the downtown Queen Anne area. Lots of mid to high-priced places here, plenty of options. 2. Go down the hill to Nickerson Street, which runs parallel to the Fremont Cut--the waterway from Lake Union to Puget Sound. On Nickerson, there are a couple of Thai Places, and a Zeeks Pizza. Heading east on Nickerson, before you get to the Fremont Bridge, you’ll find the Nickerson Street Saloon (typical pub food, good vibe) and Ponti Seafood Grill, a classy place with views of the sailboats cruising past. And of course, once you cross the bridge into Fremont, you have dozens of options. Fremont is probably the best bet for a night out within walking distance.

Seattle Pacific Univeristy is based in North Queen Anne as well. It’s a small Christian school, with about 4,000 students. From my experience, the campus (a few blocks around Nickerson and 3rd) is pretty quiet, and the students are polite. It doesn’t really feel like a college part of town, compared to Seattle University or the University of Washington, which are both many times larger.

Speaking of schools, if you have little ones, there are two public elementary schools in the neighborhood--Coe Elementary and Queen Anne Elementary. There’s also the private Seattle Country Day School, with upscale buildings, and tuition fees to pay for it all. For Middle School, all students in Queen Anne, Ballard, Downtown, and Magnolia head to McClure Middle School, located near the top of Queen Anne Hill. But then for high school, the kids will head north to Ballard High School. So if you have kids going from middle to high school, they may have friends who end up at different high schools due to the Seattle’s school zones.

Parks: At first glance, it seems like North Queen Anne is lacking in easy access to great parks. Besides the cemetery, the only green space within boundaries is David Rodgers Park, which is ok, but not nearly as inspiring as some of the Seattle biggies like Discovery Park or Golden Gardens (both about a 10 minute drive, without traffic). However, there is a paved walking/biking lane along both sides of the Fremont Cut. I’ve spent many summer evenings strolling along this gorgeous, tree-lined path to get a break from the heat.

This is also where you’ll find some houseboats! Occasionally you’ll see one for rent, though the price, of course, is steep for the amount of space you get. For some, the novelty is worth the price.

Other than the houseboats, much of North Queen Anne is comprised of single-family homes and small apartments. Because it takes a little longer to get places, there’s less sunlight in winter, and there aren’t quite as many amenities as the other Queen Anne neighborhoods, the rent is just a *bit* more affordable here. But it's still in high demand, so don't expect any amazing deals. There are also some very expensive places for rent—often the ones with the best views.
Pros
  • Peace and Quiet
  • Access to Fremont Cut Waterway
  • Close to downtown
Cons
  • Lack of public transportation
  • Very steep hills
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"Downtown living with the benefits of the ‘burbs"

West Queen Anne is a very popular place to live. It occupies that hard-to-achieve point where city perks like nightlife, lots of people, and nearby amenities, gently transitions into a quiet, residential neighborhood that feels like home. Toss in some good views, and you’ve got West Queen Anne.

You might think it’s odd that Queen Anne Hill, which isn’t that big to begin with, is separated into four neighborhoods. But once you’ve lived there for a while, you get it. Because each side of the hill has a very different feel, all joining up at the top of the hill, where many restaurants and shops are clustered.

West Queen Anne runs from the top of the hill down it’s southwest side, towards Interbay, and just north of Lower Queen Anne, where the Seattle Center is. In fact, some of the neighborhood is far enough away from the crowds at the Seattle Center that you might even find street parking! What you won’t find is hotels, which is great, because it keeps most of the tourists visiting the Space Needle away, which makes the neighborhood feel more like home.

Part of the reason West Queen Anne is so lovely is that as soon as you are a few blocks away from all the shops on the top of the hill, and the rush of visitors to the Seattle Center, it becomes very quiet. The noise dies down, there are fewer cars, and the air seems fresher.

About half of the land is zoned for single-family homes, and the other half, around Gilman Drive, also has lowrise apartments. You won’t find any skyscrapers here. Of course, being on a hill, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a view. Most places have at least a snippet of one—which also keeps rent high. But not all views are created equal. The best ones are facing south or southwest, towards the water and downtown. The ones facing directly west stare straight at Magnolia, another residential hill, which isn’t quite as inspiring of a vista, but still decent.

To eat out, you’ll probably have to make the trek to the top of the hill, where you’ll find plenty of options. There are also a few little places a bit closer, on McGraw Street, such as Macrina Bakery.

The hill gets very steep in places, and so a strip of land on the western slope has been made into a green belt. There are a couple of trails where you can walk through to get down to Interbay, or just to go on a walk in the woods. There’s more walking, though, in Kinnear Park, which attaches to the greenbelts eastern edge. This is a great place to take your dog, because you can let them off the leash in the dog park. There’s also, oddly, a tennis court in the middle of the woods, which is often empty.

One other perk to West Queen Anne is that it’s a very short drive to Interbay, the neighborhood that fills the valley between Queen Anne Hill and Magnolia. Now, there’s not really anything to do in Interbay, but because the real estate is less desirable, there are large grocery stores, including a QFC and a Whole Foods, each with a big parking lot. Great for a weekly trip when you want to stock up the fridge.
Pros
  • Beautiful city and water vistas
  • Close proximity to downtown
Cons
  • High cost of living
  • Limited parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Full of houses, BIG and small"

Portage Bay is a tiny Seattle neighborhood squeezed on a triangle of land bounded by highways I-5 and 520, and Portage Bay, a small body of water between Lake Union and Lake Washington. The two highways dominate this part of town, with much of the western edge of the neighborhood in the shadow of I-5, which towers overhead.

A mainly residential neighborhood, most streets here are lined with housing. The only place you’ll find restaurants are along Eastlake Avenue, just next to the University Bridge (a draw bridge that can get backed up during the summer as it opens frequently to let yachts and sailboats through). Sebi’s Bistro, in a quaint brick castle building on the corner does delicious polish food, and Le Fournil has gorgeous baked goods that are works of art. It’s not the best spot for working though, since it’s very popular for lunch with lots of people chatting loudly and shuffling in and out of the small café. And that’s pretty much it for restaurants. Counter-intuitively, this is not where any of the four locations of Portage Bay Café, the well-known Seattle brunch destination, are located.

But luckily you’re only a short walk from the U-district, due north, for many more food options, as well as a few in Eastlake if you head west. You’re also only a couple blocks from one of my favorite pubs, Roanoke, which is officially in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s an unpretentious, cozy brick pub often buzzing with conversation and filled with people of all ages and backgrounds. On Wednesdays, they have $1 tacos and cans of beer! It’s a very low-key place to meet with good group of friends who just want to relax and enjoy each other’s company. They also screen most Seahawks games if you’re into that kind of thing.

As for housing, this neighborhood, like most of Seattle, is pretty pricey, and not much becomes available often. Though you'll mostly find single family houses, there are also a few condos and apartments near I-5. Just find out how much light you'll actually get, as some of the apartments are directly under I-5, literally in it's shadow. For college students, even though the location is great being close to the University of Washington, the price will be out of reach for most.

Speaking of students, no doubt one of the reasons this neighborhood is in high demand is the proximity of Seattle Preparatory School, a high-performing Jesuit high school that regularly sends students to Ivy League universities. Though also officially part of Capitol Hill, it’s only a few blocks from Portage Bay. No surprise then, that alongside the small houses in the neighborhood, there are also some very large ones that are owned by some of Seattle’s wealthier residents. If you’re looking to buy, you could easily be spending in the millions.
Pros
  • Close to Seattle Prepartory High School
  • Close to major university
Cons
  • Limited housing
  • Limited shopping and other amenities
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Houseboats, city views, and I-5 overhead"

Let’s start by clarifying: Eastlake is a neighborhood along the Eastern shore of *Lake Union*, not Lake Washington. There’s so much water around Seattle that it takes quite awhile to learn the geography, and this one confuses people.

So, Eastlake neighborhood is a narrow strip of land that is squeezed between Lake Union, to the west, and I-5, which is overhead and to the east. If you kept going South, you’d hit South Lake Union neighborhood (aka Amazon territory) in about half a mile. To the north is the straight of water where Lake Washington spills into lake Union. And across the water is the University of Washington.

Why do people live here? Three main reasons: location, view, and water.

Location:
Eastlake is only about a mile and a half from downtown, and about a half mile from Amazon. So, easy commute if you work there.

View:
If you get the right angle and are high enough up the hill, you can get a stunning view of downtown, sparkling across the lake. You might even get a peek of the Olympic mountains, though for most locations, Queen Anne Hill is in the way.

Water:
Houseboats are a unique subculture in Seattle that is a whole other world to the rest of us, and Eastlake has a whole host of them bobbing along the shore. Most Seattleites have never even been on a houseboat, but from friends that have rented them, it sounds magical, if a bit cramped. If you get a chance to visit or rent one on East Lake Union, I’d take it.

For us normal folk who can’t afford a floating home, unfortunately, most of the lakefront here is private and not accessible. There are a few snippets of public access here and there, but nothing like gasworks park across the lake where you can lounge around in the summer and go to festivals.

Bonus: the Cheshiahud loop:
A perk to living here that’s not immediately obvious is the Lake Union loop (aka Cheshiahud loop). This is a 6 mile paved trail around the whole lake for runners, walkers, and bikers. Though there are a few little spots that are a bit confusing, and you do have to cross some streets, for the most part it’s easy to follow. One thing on my bucket list is to do the whole loop one day in the summer and see if I can find all 35 parks along the way (most of them are teeny “pocket parks”). Also, once you can pronounce local Native American words like Cheshiahud, you are officially a local. Psst… in case you were wondering, the Chesiahud Loop is named after this guy: http://www.duwamishtribe.org/lakejohn.html

Why doesn’t everyone want to live here? There are a few main reasons:

Housing prices will make your bank account cry.
Prices used to be more affordable, but with the growth of Amazon headquarters, which is only a 15 or 20 minute walk away, plus the aforementioned water, view, and location, prices have been on the steady increase. The newer buildings are the most expensive by far. One good thing is they have been including rooftop patios and gardens, which is perfect for those warm Seattle summers. Too bad this trend is relatively new and the older, more affordable buildings don’t usually have them. And I’m not sure they’re really worth the $400 extra you’ll be paying every month to live here, as compared to Capitol Hill or other nearby neighborhoods.

I-5 can be noisy.
You have to get used to I-5 constantly humming overhead. Luckily, it can quickly become white noise as you get used to it. I have to say though, it can be satisfying to see all the traffic and think to yourself “I’m so glad I’m at home relaxing and not in that cluster!”

Cobblestone.
Yup, real cobblestone. Some of the steep east/west side roads here are still made of the 100 year old Seattle cobblestone, which makes it feel like you’re off-roading when you drive over them. Not particularly pleasant. Especially if you try to ride a street bike on them—those wheels’ll be toast.

Overall, Eastlake is not where I personally would choose to live, but it could be a good fit if you value being able to walk to work in South Lake Union, or being super close to the lake.
Pros
  • Views of downtown
  • Houseboats
  • Proximity to downtown
Cons
  • Expensive rent
  • Rough cobblestone
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Shop, eat, sightsee, play"

Pike Place Market is not really considered a neighborhood per se, but is Seattle’s most famous sightseeing destination, a funky, odd market full of quirky little stores, vendors, and eateries.

If you’re planning a visit, make sure to book a good half-day to wander around the maze of different levels, not just the street level. As a local, I like to come here to check out the vendors about once or twice a year, usually when someone is visiting from out of town.

Pike Place is so much more than the fish market, which you see on every brochure, picturing a smiling young man wearing an apron while tossing a salmon to a co-worker. There’s also the flower market, where you can get huge, stunning bunches of arranged flowers for $10. What many visitors don’t know is that the flower vendors are mostly Hmong people, originally from Laos and Thailand, many of whom arrived in the US as refugees during the Vietnam war. They grow all their flowers here in Washington, and arrange them daily by hand. They are such wonderful people, and you really can’t beat the price. A bouquet that large would easily cost $30 at the grocery store. Also, when you’re at the main entrance to Pike Place, look up, and you’ll see some murals painted on the beams about the Japanese farmers of the area, who used to be a large percentage of vendors at Pike Place until we forcibly shipped them off to internment camps in Eastern Washington during World War II. Not something we’re particularly proud of.

On a lighter note, a few other favorite places are:

-Pike Brewing: This is a huge brewpub underground (enter on 1st Ave), where you can try a wide variety of beers, as well as get a meal.
-Market Spice: A spice and tea store that has the locally-famous, orange spice “market tea,” that is sweet and tangy. They’ve been open for more than 100 years! That’s a long time for Seattle, which is a relatively young city.
-Hands of the World: This one’s downstairs, and a little tricky to find, but has beautiful fair trade gifts.
-Artwork vendors: There are rotating artist vendors on the street level of pike place with creative pieces. Skip buying the generic fridge magnets and pick up a local artist's screen print tee, yard art, or a hand made toy instead.

Food:
Just wandering the alleys around Pike Place, you’ll find little gems tucked away here and there. Can you find the Perogi place? That one’s amazing. A few other, easier-to-find recommendations:

-Biscuit Bitch: You guessed it, they make biscuits and gravy. Lots of different kinds, all delicious.
-Kells: So-so as far as food goes, but this is the place to be in Seattle on Saint Patrick’s Day. Expect multiple live Irish bands, lots of rowdy dancing, and unseemly amounts of beer.
-Zig-Zag café: Located on the steps from the back of Pike Place down towards the water, Zig-Zag is a classy, dimly-lit joint that does good happy hour cocktails.
-The Alibi Room: if you want to escape the tourists, duck inside the door directly across from the gum wall into the Alibi Room. I don’t know the story behind the name, but it’s a chill place to have a beer with a friend. Inside, it’s dark wood and brick with a European or speakeasy feel to it. The apples and brie are a-ma-zing.

The last thing I’ll mention is the waterfront, just west and down the hill from Pike Place. Now, to get down to the waterfont isn’t as easy as you would think, because Highway 99 (also called Aurora) goes through downtown via an overhead roadway. This is called the Alaskan Way Viaduct (it hovers over Alaskan Way, the street that runs along the waterfront). This is great for people driving on Hwy 99. But for those who have to go under it, it’s not very pleasant. You come out the back of Pike Place Market and walk down a very long flight of stairs. Then, you cross under the Hwy 99, and through some parking lots. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but at night, it’s pretty empty and doesn’t feel very safe. Finally, you cross Alaskan Way, and you’re at the waterfront.

The closest things to see at the waterfront are the Seattle Aquarium, waterfront park, the big ferris wheel, and Pier 62, which is open to the public. Right now, though, you may see a lot of construction, because the Seattle Waterfront has been undergoing renovations for more than a year.

The main reason for this waterfront renovation, in fact, is the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The plan is to replace it with a tunnel. But, “Bertha,” the giant tunnel-digger machine, has been out of order, underground, for more than a year now. Ruh-roh. It’s up for debate in Seattle whether this project will ever be completed. Stay tuned!
Pros
  • Plenty of shopping options
  • Waterfront
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Limited parking
Recommended for
  • Tourists
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
Just now

"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
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
Just now

"Park-filled neighborhood away from industry, crowds, and nightlife"

Magnolia is a tranquil neighborhood northwest of downtown Seattle. Though only a few miles from the city’s hub, it feels much farther because it’s almost like an island. Surrounded by water on three sides (north, west, and south), the east side is the only way to enter or exit the neighborhood, which is all done on three bridges that take you over the railroad in Interbay. Emerson, Dravus, and Magnolia bridges to be exact.

Hands-down, the main draw to this family-friendly neighborhood is the enormous Discovery Park, which is the largest in the city. Dominating the Northwest corner of Magnolia, there are miles of wooded trails, about a half-mile of sandy/pebbly beach access, and a lighthouse at the point. The amazing thing is that even on weekends, this park never gets very crowded. You can always find a peaceful, mossy trail to walk on, passing other hikers every few minutes. The lack of crowds is probably in part because the park is simply so big, and also because it’s not a tourist destination, but rather a local’s natural haven. I highly recommend doing the Discovery Park Loop trail, which is a 2.8 mile trail that takes you around the edge of the park. It’s great for trail runners as well, who enjoy the challenge of some of the hills. You can pick up a map at the main parking lots, though the loop trail is pretty well marked.

There’s also the smaller Magnolia Park, which is south of Discovery Park on the West coast of the neighborhood. Though not ideal for hiking, there are gorgeous views from this seaside bluff. Additionally, there are a few other small parks to explore in the neighborhood, especially on the south face of the hill, facing the city center.

Besides the parks, Magnolia is mostly just housing. There are plenty of single-family homes here, and the occasional small apartment or condominium building. Rent is similar to other Seattle neighborhoods, which means it’s expensive.

Despite how much housing is here, eating out is relatively limited, compared to other neighborhoods. You’re mostly limited to a few restaurants on McGraw, just south of the Catharine Blaine Elementary School, and a couple of classy (and expensive) places on the water. As for nightlife, there isn’t really anywhere to go out in the evening with friends; for that you’ll have to head to downtown, Queen Anne, or Ballard. Magnolia is more of a family neighborhood.

Remember how the neighborhood almost seems like an island? Well, that means that public transportation can be limited as well. Expect the bus ride to downtown to take at least 45 minutes, often more than an hour when there’s traffic. But bike commuters have a treat, with a paved trail that is only 4 miles to downtown.

To sum it up, Magnolia is a beautiful place for families, those who like peace and quiet away from the busy city center, and who value having a natural retreat nearby. If you’re more interested in nightlife, a super quick commute to downtown, or eating out a lot, it may not be for you.
Pros
  • Bicycle friendly
  • Family friendly
  • Good parks
Cons
  • Expensive housing
  • Limited access
  • Not good for singles
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • 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 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Trendy residential nook surrounded by green spaces and water"

Montlake is a pretty cool little neighborhood. Located north of Capitol Hill, South of the University of Washington (UW) which is across the water, and northeast of downtown, it’s almost surrounded by parks and water, yet simultaneously close to the freeways.

Parks, parks, parks:
The eastern boundary of the neighborhood is the Washington Park Arboretum, which is a long park full of beautiful landscaping and walking paths. It includes the botanic gardens, and beach access at Foster Island. In the summer, UW students will bring their kayaks and floaties and splash around the lily pads and floating docks of Marsh Island, which is also part of the Arboretum.

But that’s not the only green space in the neighborhood. To the southwest is the Interlaken greenbelt, and to the north are a few more small parks that make up much of the waterfont. Also to the north is the “Montlake Cut,” which is a small strip of water that connects Lake Union to lake Washington. Directly across the cut is the University of Washington Husky Stadium, and on game days you’ll see hundreds of boats floating over to the game. During the summer, people like to show off their yachts and parade through the cut with their music blasting.

Housing:
If parks are the main feature in Montlake, the only other main feature is housing. It’s a good mix of families, single professionals, and University of Washington students (but not too many). Many of the housing are big, turn of the century homes with elaborate gardens. You’ll also find some small apartment buildings and condos, but expect prices to be relatively high.

Food:
In short, there aren’t many restaurants in Montlake. While it abounds in green spaces, it lacks in eating places. There is Café Lago (pasta), and also Traveler Montlake (beer and munchies), but that's about it. Those two places also sum up the nightlife of Montlake. So in reality, if you want to enjoy a nice meal and beverage, Capitol Hill or the University District are your closest destinations with good options.

Transportation:
Let’s talk traffic. One of the main reasons to live in Montlake is that it’s got two on-ramps to the 520 bridge to Bellevue. Super convenient for people who work across the lake. But that convenience means that a lot of people want to use that option, and it gets clogged up during rush hour. You win some, you lose some. It’s a quick bike ride, or even walk, across the Montlake bridge to the University, though. As for getting to downtown Seattle, expect a 30-45 minute bus ride.
Pros
  • Beautiful parks and historic landmarks
  • Close to major university
  • Easy access to Interstate and major highway
Cons
  • Expensive housing
  • Heavy traffic on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now
Editors Choice

"Low-lying, industrial valley with not much happening"

Interbay is an odd little neighborhood. Squeezed between Queen Anne hill on the east, and Magnolia on the west, it’s main features are the BNSF railroad lines that run through the middle of it, and the port, Smith Cove Waterway, to the south, where the big cruise lines dock.

In sum, Interbay is *between* the excitement and appeal of Queen Anne and Magnolia, not in it. True, there's a Whole Foods Market, a QFC, and a few restaurants scattered around 15th Ave (Mulleady’s Irish pub is good), but to have a night out you’ll definitely have to head elsewhere, and unfortunately none of it’s really close enough to walk to. Good thing there are so many buses going straight up to Ballard or down to downtown!

In fact, that’s probably the most appealing thing about Interbay. It’s got express buses going north-south quite frequently, since 15th is the main thoroughfare in this part of town.

As for parks, there’s the large Interbay golf course, and a few soccer fields, but that's about it. However, the Magnolia parks aren’t that far away, and Discovery Park is amazing, but if you don’t love long walks up steep hills, you’ll have to drive.

Housing has similar prices to the surrounding neighborhoods, even without the amenities, so I personally wouldn’t choose to live here. But there are some new buildings going in that offer good discounts for the first year. I looked at one that gave you one month free, plus a $500 signing bonus when you signed a year lease.

Remember that New Yorker article called "The Really Big One" that came out earlier this year about the potential for a tsunami to wash over Seattle? Get your emergency kit ready if you’re planning to move to Interbay, because it’s in the valley between two hills, much lower elevation than the surrounding neighborhoods. But hey, you only live once!
Pros
  • Large golf recreation center
Cons
  • Lacking amenities
  • Limited residential area
Recommended for
  • Professionals
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
Just now

"Sandy beaches, peace and quiet, and oodles of tourists"

Alki is a destination for Seattleites who want to live close to the water and get out of the bustle of downtown. But, you have to be able to handle hordes of tourists and the lack of direct public transportation.

This neighborhood wraps around the coastline of West Seattle, which is a wide peninsula jutting out across a bit of Puget Sound to the south/west of downtown Seattle. It’s separated from downtown by the West Seattle Bridge that crosses over the delta of the Duwamish river, and the human-made Harbor Island, where the Seattle Port is based.

*The good*

Sandy beaches!
the long, sandy Alki beach is pretty special for being so close to downtown seattle. The City did well when they protected the 2.5 miles between the two points of land in West Seattle for public access. This is the sandy part. Then, continuing around the more easterly point, there’s another park, Seacrest Park, which faces Seattle across the water. Though not as sandy, this smaller beach is a launch point for paddleboarders, sea kayakers, and scuba divers, which you’ll see plenty of. Watch for the small red and white flag attached to a floating buoy, which indicates that divers are currently under the water in that area, and could come up at any moment.

The walking path
There is a wide, paved walking and biking path that runs through the aforementioned parks, all the way to downtown Seattle. It’s fun to bike it in the summer, and some people use it to commute to downtown. On summer weekends, watch out for giggling tourist families on 4-person bike buggies that are rented out at Seacrest Park.

The restaurants
Since there are so many tourists, there are lots of places dishing up food for them. And I suppose they’ll allow the odd local in as well. Walking along Alki Ave, you’ll find dozens of options, like Alki Spud Fish & Chips, which I’d recommend. Salty’s, which faces Seattle next to Seacrest Park, is a classic place for a fancy dinner. During late spring you’ll see lots of high schoolers having dinner here in their formal attire before prom. For something further from the tourists, head to California Ave, which is in the middle of the West Seattle peninsula, running north/south.

Decent rent
Though I wouldn’t say rent is ‘good’ near Alki Beach, the prices are similar to other Seattle neighborhoods, even if you get a place pretty close to the water, which is cool. Why is it not more expensive for housing close to the water? Read on.

*The not-so-good*

Public transit to Seattle
Though there is the water taxi ($4.75 for adults), which leaves from the Seacrest Ferry dock, buses to downtown Seattle can be a pain, unless you’re right on one of the routes. So living in West Seattle near Alki can mean you may feel a little isolated from downtown. For some, that’s exactly what they want. Families love it. But for others, like young single professionals, it’s tough to be away from where most others live, and is a bit of a slog to get to work.

Tourists
We already mentioned the tourists, but it's worth repeating: there are a lot of them. It’s good for business for the shops and restaurants, but for those who live there, you’ll want to try to get a weekday off to enjoy the sand and sun, because weekends are packed. Plus, there are the volleyball competitions that occasionally take over the entire beach.

Parking
All the tourists (and visiting locals) means that street parking gets very crowded on the weekends, so if you’re within 5 blocks of the beach, try to find housing that includes parking.
Pros
  • Walking and Biking path
  • Beach-front recreation
  • Beautiful mountain and water panorama
Cons
  • Limited public transit
  • Difficult parking during Summer months
  • Heavy traffic during Summer months
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Beach Lovers
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Quintessentially Northwest Seattle 'burb"

Issaquah is a gorgeous, rapidly-growing suburb about 15 miles east of Seattle, straddling I-90, the main east/west freeway in the state. Nestled in the foothills of the Cascades, it is quintessentially Northwest, with hiking trails leaving straight from some of the neighborhoods, and only 10 miles until you’re deep in the Cascade mountains.

Issaquah’s nearest neighboring city is actually Bellevue on the east side of Lake Washington, where many people commute to for work. Those that commute to Seattle have to cross one of the bridges over Lake Washington, which means the trip is usually pretty slow during rush hour, especially since the bridges seem to always be under construction. But since Issaquah is growing so quickly, they are investing wisely in big park-and-rides, with express buses downtown.

There are *four* main groups of shops and restaurants in Issaquah. One is along Gilman Blvd, which runs parallel to the I-90 freeway between exits 15 and 18. On the south side of this road is the little “Gilman Village,” with a cluster of walkable shops. This is where you’ll find my very favorite spot, Issaquah Coffee Company. I often stop here when I’m on my to a hike, or on my way back. It's super cozy inside, with frequently-changing art on the walls, a kids area, and really good coffee. From here, turning south on Front Street, you’ll come to the old downtown, with a community theater and a few more stores and restaurants. If you continue down this road, it leads you to Squak mountain with lots of hiking trails, and on into some of the farmland. There’s a fun little pumpkin patch there in the fall too.

Speaking of hiking, besides Squak Mountain, there are two other nearby “mountains” (really hills by Washington standards) with protected land for recreation. Cougar mountain is farthest west, and has a maze of hiking trails that start from nearby neighborhoods. Grab a map at one of the trailheads or you'll get lost. Then Squak Mountain is next, again with hiking. Finally, Tiger mountain, farther east, has not only hiking, but also a high-quality mountain biking trail system, and paragliding. On calm days you’ll see paragliders peacefully circling in the sky. My favorite thing is the mountain biking trails, where I have spent many summer days beating up my trusty Gary Fisher full suspension bike. There are easy, intermediate, and expert trails, and they’ve been building about one new trail a year. The only downside is that the trails are currently two-direction. I hope they upgrade to one-direction soon.

For hiking enthusiasts, if you head east on I-90, you go straight into the heart of the Cascades. Mt. Si is the first big hike you’ll hit, followed by one after another after another. You could do a different hike every weekend and not run out of options for years. One of the most popular is the gorgeous Snow Lake Hike, at Snoqualmie Pass. Snoqualmie Pass is the lowest-elevation option in Washington to cross the Cascades, and has a small, often muddy ski resort that unfortunately hasn’t been open much as our winters are warming.

So, all of that protected land to the south and east of Issaquah means that much of the new housing is popping up in the north. There is an all-new development off exit 18, Highlands Drive, with hundreds of new apartment buildings, new grocery stores, new restaurants, new gas stations. You get the idea. The fourth and final “downtown” area is also North of I-5, along Lake Sammamish Parkway.

Besides the mountains, Lake Sammamish is the other main outdoor draw nearby. Open to boats, water skiers, swimming, and floating, this large lake with a State Park is a good place to spend a hot summer day (which have been getting hotter around here!).

I suppose I should mention the one downside to Issaquah, which is the rent. You’d think that being 15 miles outside of Seattle would bring the rent down. But the proximity to nature and the good amenities brings those prices right back up. At time of writing, you’re probably looking at $1600 per month for a 1-bedroom. At least parking’s not a problem. If I were looking to buy though, I’d consider investing here, because it’s only going to keep growing. The other downside may be that the nightlife is definitely limited. For a night out, most people head to Seattle or Bellevue. Just make sure you have a designated driver, because a taxi or Uber home is going to set you back a good $50 or more.

Can you tell I’m in love with Issaquah? I live on Capitol Hill currently, but if I ever feel like moving out to the ‘burbs, this would be my first choice. It’s ideal for families and professionals, as well as people who love the outdoors or are looking for a quieter scene.
Pros
  • Close to outdoor activities
  • Peaceful
Cons
  • cost of living
  • Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Quiet, sprawling Seattle suburb lacking a true urban center"

Shoreline is Seattle’s neighboring city to the North. At about 9 miles from downtown Seattle, it’s hard to tell where the Seattle neighborhoods end and Shoreline begins, because it’s all one gentle transition from urban sprawl into the suburbs. It encompasses both Aurora/99 and I-5, which run north/south, and it’s eastern edge reaches Puget Sound.

Amenities:
There are plenty of shops spread out down Aurora/99, but it’s not really an urban center. It’s more where you go to do grocery shopping (Costco), stop by Home Depot, or get car repairs. There is a very small group of shops on 185th towards the water, with a couple of restaurants, but virtually no nightlife. This is part of the Richmond Beach neighborhood. Houses are big here, as it’s a favorite place for well-off Seattleites to settle outside of the rush of the city. However, there are several different neighborhoods within Shoreline that have totally different types of housing and residents, so it pays to spend an afternoon driving around to see which area you feel most comfortable in.

There is another are east of I-5 that could be considered an urban center, where you can find a cluster of restaurants along 15th Ave. But being separated from the rest of Shoreline by I-5 and Aurora, this almost feels like another town.

Parks & Recreation:
Shoreline has an outstanding YMCA on Aurora, with new facilities including a full pool. The building is huge, and they have lots of classes as well as the full gym amenities. The Crest Movie Theater shows movies that have just left theaters but aren’t out online or on DVD yet for $4.

For parks, Richmond Beach is a gorgeous stretch of walkable beach that’s dog-friendly. Boeing Creek Park is also nearby, and has a good trail system for walkers or runners.

Who:
I’d say most people who live here are professionals who work downtown, both single and with families. There are also lots of retirees. Though not quite at Seattle-level prices, the rent is still relatively high compared to elsewhere in Washington, due to the proximity to Seattle.

Commute:
To reach Seattle, you can either take the E-line down Aurora, which many people do, or if you’re on the East side of Shoreline, you can take the express buses from the park and ride. It’s not as quick as you would hope, but Seattle is planning to install a light rail station that could speed the commute up significantly.

Finally, Shoreline has invested in sprucing up Aurora/99. They widened the road, added a bus lane, built sidewalks, and updated the landscaping. The only downsides are that this also comes with a lot of construction. At around 200th and Aurora (where the Costco is) there has been roadwork for well over a year. Maybe next year they’ll finally finish!
Pros
  • Beach
  • Amenities
Cons
  • No nightlife
  • lacks community focal point
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Wonderful location and views"

Lower Queen Anne is a very popular place to live. Located in the southern, lower, part of Queen Anne Hill, just north of downtown, you’re right next to all the action at the Seattle Center. Plus, your apartment will likely have a view, and there are a lot of restaurants and bars nearby. You’ll pay for those perks with high rent, but for many, it’s worth the expense.

Housing:
Even though most of the buildings are on the older side in Lower Queen Anne, rent is still on the pricey side. If you have a decent job you can probably afford to live here, if you’re willing to pay a big chunk of your income towards rent and don’t expect a lot of square footage. The buildings tend to be small apartment buildings or single-family homes, and you’ll even find a few old mansions that have been converted into luxurious penthouse apartments, complete with chandeliers and squishy red carpet.

If you have a car, you *must* find an apartment that includes parking. I cannot stress that enough. If you don’t, you will spend many hours of your life driving in circles around the neighborhood cursing out loud and desperately trying to parallel park in too-small spots. And if there’s an event at the Seattle Center (which is always) forget about street parking altogether. Sure, you can buy a permit for the zoned areas, but it’s not much better. And people going to events routinely ignore the zoned areas and park there anyways.

Food:
Though Queen Anne Hill as a whole has many shops and restaurants perched right at the top of the hill, Lower Queen Anne has it’s own hangouts just at the bottom of the Hill, along Mercer Street and Queen Anne Ave. It’s a fun place to go out with friends. Somehow you always end up at Ozzies, which is a huge dive bar with two stories, complete with karaoke upstairs. There’s usually a big college crowd there. My favorite place, though, is “Citizen,” on the other side of the Seattle Center, which does one of the best brunches in the city. Don't miss their Mexican mochas. In the summer, get there early and grab one of their outdoor tables.

Activities:
Part of the reason there are so many eating places nearby is because of the Seattle Center. This is where you’ll find the iconic Space needle, plus Key Arena, which is home to the Seattle Storm basketball team and also has concerts, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Children’s Theater, the Experience Music Project, the Pacific Science Center, and more. These are all arranged around a big circular fountain (that you can play in in the summer!) and large grassy areas, where outdoor events such as the Folklife Festival are hosted in the summer. There’s just so much happening here. One lesser-known event is the “Seattle’s Best Damn Happy Hour,” the third Thursday of the month at the Seattle Center Armory. Hundreds of people show up for drink specials, music, and games.

Up the hill a few blocks, you'll find Kerry Park, which has one of the best views of the city. It’s not a secret though, so you’ll find hordes of tourists there snapping pictures every day.

Transportation:
Besides the high rent and impossible parking, probably the only main downside is public transportation, which is just as frustrating as in many Seattle neighborhoods. In some ways, Queen Anne Hill is like an island, because the hills are so steep and the streets so narrow that buses are limited in where they can go. In Lower Queen Anne, if you’re willing to walk a few blocks to the bottom of the hill, you can catch a bus to downtown or to Capitol Hill pretty easily, but to get to Fremont, U-district, or neighborhoods further north or south, it requires tedious, lengthy transfers.

So if being close to all the action of the Seattle Center, having a view, and being a short commute to downtown is worth a lot for you, then Queen Anne might be a good fit. Just don’t forget what I said about the parking!
Pros
  • Close to the Seattle Center
  • Easy commute downtown
  • Many entertainment options
  • Unique dining choices
Cons
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
  • Difficult parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
Just now

"Affordable, industrial seaside city"

I lived in Everett for a few months in 2013 before I moved permanently to Seattle. Compared to Seattle, Everett is WAY more affordable. For example, in Seattle $1300 gets you a decent studio, or a shabby 1-bedroom apartment. In Everett, it gets you a two-bedroom house with a garage and yard. This is a main draw for many who live in this industrial port town.

But there are reasons why rent is so much cheaper. First, the commute to Seattle is a slog. At the time, I was commuting to Capitol Hill in Seattle, and to be at work at 8am, I usually had to leave home at 6:15am or earlier. I would leave my car at the park and ride, and catch a bus to downtown, then transfer to another bus to get up the Hill. Both directions, it could add up to 4 hours to my workday. Not ideal. To be fair, on some good days it would only take 45 minutes! But those days were rare. I really don’t know how people do it. Driving isn’t much faster and then you have to worry about parking. There’s also the more relaxing commuter train, but it’s not quick, and more expensive.

Of course, not everyone who lives in Everett works in Seattle. There’s a big population that is employed by Boeing, which has a factory a couple miles south of downtown. In fact, Everett has a long history of being a port town based around heavy industry, with railroads, mines, and lumber mills all playing a large role in the city throughout history. The international port is very active, where quite a few people are employed. Other big employers are Everett Community College, BNSF railroad, Swedish medical center, and the US Navy, which has a large base in Everett. Speaking of boats, Everett also has one of the largest marinas on the West Coast.

Another reason rent is cheap in Everett is that the city has a lot of low-income residents. For the most part, this is fine. In fact, it’s a great community. But unfortunately, with poverty often comes crime, and homelessness, which you’ll find in Everett. I don’t know exactly how the crime compares to other similarly-size cities, but in my personal experience, I usually avoided walking by myself at night. But most of the time, I felt safe and enjoyed living there.

There are some really wonderful things about Everett as well. The large public library has a cozy coffee shop downstairs, and two high ceilinged stories full of bookshelves and desks. There’s also the Everett Children’s Museum and toy store. And you can’t miss the incredible summer farmers market. Located right next to the docks, there are dozens and dozens of food and craft stands. The place gets packed every weekend in the summer, rain or shine. My other favorite place is the tiny little fair trade shop, Ethical Choices, which is run by Leo and Laurie. Leo will talk your ear off if you don’t watch out.

There are some parks scattered around town, but by far the coolest place is Jetty Island. In the summer you take a little ferry out to this narrow strip of land and enjoy the beach. Also, in town, there’s a gorgeous strip of houses along the bluff on Grand Avenue. They have a stunning view of Puget Sound, and there’s a public, paved walking path just along the edge of the bluff. I remember walking this path just before Christmas at dusk and seeing all the houses light up with Christmas lights.

For how many people live in Everett, it’s surprising how small the city center is. There are a handful of restaurants and cafes, but I hope that more get developed in the future. I have a feeling they will. There are still some good options though, like the Irishmen pub. And the best place for a coffee is the Firewheel Coffeehouse, which is like a community living room. There’s also the Everett Mall south of downtown, but it’s not as good as the nearby Alderwood mall, located in Lynwood, so most people head there for shopping.

For entertainment, Everett has three performing arts center. There’s also the huge Xfinity arena, which hosts the Everett Silvertips hockey team in the winter, as well as concerts.

Conclusion:
Overall, Everett has the sense to it that it’s got a bit of a rough and tumble past, but has good jobs and is slowly growing and maturing. It’s affordable and has some decent entertainment. I’m looking forward to seeing how it changes!
Pros
  • Affordable rent
  • Entertainment
Cons
  • Some crime
  • Long commute to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"A quiet waterfront suburb of Seattle"

Edmonds is a large town on Puget Sound about 17 miles North of Seattle. The focal point of the community is the ferry that takes you on a 30 minutes trip across the Sound to Kingston, on the Olympic Peninsula. Most of the shops and restaurants in Edmonds are gathered in a few blocks near the ferry dock, which makes for a very pleasant, walkable city center.

Who lives here:
Edmonds is most popular for families and retirees. Families love this area because of the highly ranked schools, the safety, the many churches, and Edmonds Community College. You won’t find as many singles or young professionals here, who tend to live closer to the city. Understandably, much of the housing in the area is single-family homes, complete with a garage and a yard, though there are some apartments and condos as well, especially near the town center. If you are looking for a place near the water, be warned that the train comes through many times a day and blasts its whistle extremely loudly!

Tourists:
There are plenty of tourists going through on their way to the peninsula. During holidays and weekends, the ferry traffic can be backed up way down the road. Once I had to wait in line for three hours on Thanksgiving! In the summers, it’s not uncommon to see people on leisurely bike rides through Edmonds and onto the ferry, on their way to bike around the Olympic Peninsula.

Jobs and commute:
Though there are some jobs in Edmonds, such as at the Swedish Medical Center, the Community College, or the shops downtown, most non-retired folks commute to Seattle for work. Some drive, but taking the bus is usually more convenient. There are two main bus options: take the E-line down Aurora/99, or park at the park and ride and catch a bus down I-5. The latter is generally quicker, as the E-line has quite a few stops on Aurora. A third option is the train, which goes straight to Pioneer Square in Seattle. It’s a relaxing ride with views of the water, and you don’t have to worry about traffic, but leave yourself enough time to transfer to a bus if you are headed elsewhere in Seattle.

The commute is probably the main downside to living in Edmonds. Even though the distance isn’t that far, from leaving your house to arriving at work, during rush hour it takes at least 45 minutes to get to downtown, 60 minutes if you have to transfer to get to Capitol Hill or another neighborhood. If the weather is bad or there’s construction or an event, it will be longer. I suppose that’s what to expect when living in a suburb, but it adds a significant amount of time to your workday.

Medical care:
Edmonds has an excellent selection of health care providers. There are quite a few specialists right off Aurora/99, near 112th Street, including a large Swedish Medical Center, a University of Washington Medical center, and lots of private practice offices. Notably, there are quite a few naturopathic doctors.

Shops, restaurants, activities:
I love perusing the downtown shops occasionally, or getting a meal at one of the restaurants. My #1 favorite spot is Girardi’s Italian Restaurant where you can get delicious small plates for *very* affordable prices, especially at lunch which is always ‘happy hour’ for food and drinks. Another good one is the Colonial Pantry, which is slightly south of downtown. With typical American diner fare, it’s the kind of place where you see the regulars every time, and the wait staff remembers your name. For coffee, I recommend Walnut Street Coffee. So delicious.

In the summer, there’s a farmer’s market, which has food and crafts every Saturday next to the train station. Also in summers is “Sea Jazz” on the waterfront on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons, where you bring your own chair and food and listen to live jazz for free. Just remember to tip the band! Last time I went, there was a band of high schoolers and I was impressed by how good they were.

Edmonds is also unique in that it has a 27-acre underwater park for scuba divers just north of the ferry dock in Puget Sound. It’s full of features and trails, and is well known in the scuba community as a fun destination. There are amenities on shore for prepping and rinsing off afterwards.

Wrap up:
Overall, Edmonds is a very safe, clean, quiet suburb of Seattle that’s great for families and retirees. There’s definitely not as much happening as in Seattle, and it’s not very diverse, but the downtown area with local shops and access to the ferry is a wonderful place to spend some time.
Pros
  • Ferry Terminal
  • Underwater scuba diving park
  • Very safe and quiet
Cons
  • Long commute for how close it is to Seattle
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"A city of students"

The U-District is fiercely part of Seattle’s identity. At the same time though, with the enormous University of Washington (UW) campus and surrounding student housing, the neighborhood is almost it’s own city, with nearly 45,000 students.

Located in North Seattle, it rests on the east side of I-5, north of both Lake Union and Lake Washington. To the North is the quieter Ravenna neighborhood, and to the east are a few more residential neighborhoods.

The campus:
A lot can be said for the campus itself, which is open to the public. The best spot is probably the steps leading from Red Square to Rainier Vista, which on a clear day showcase Mt. Rainier, always snow-covered and towering above the surrounding Cascade Mountains. The main library is also open to the public, and the second floor reading room is absolutely stunning, with sky-high arched ceilings. Some say it looks like the Great Hall in Harry Potter.

In fact, much of the University of Washington’s campus was designed and built during Seattle’s “forgotten” 1909 World’s Fair. Everyone remembers the 1962 World’s Fair, when the Space Needle was built. But the 1909 “Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition,” hosted at the UW campus itself, also had a significant impact on the design of our city.

Football:
You can’t live in Seattle for long without hearing about UW football games. They’re held in the Husky Stadium, the largest structure at UW, which is on the Eastern edge of campus, next to Lake Washington. You’ll know there’s a game when everyone’s dressed in purple, and traffic (including boat traffic!) is backed up for miles.

Housing:
As you’d expect, housing is filled almost exclusively by students. Though there are plenty of apartments that aren’t *technically* only for students, you may be the only non-student in the building. That’s why lots of grad students and UW employees live in Ravenna or other nearby neighborhoods, for a quieter scene.

Medical Care:
One of the best-known features of the University of Washington is the medical school. With hundreds of doctors graduating from the highly ranked school, many of them end up working at the UW Medical Center itself, which includes every kind of specialty you can imagine.

Food & Activities
All the students means that there is tasty, affordable food! You can walk down University Way and find dozens of options. The Neptune also has fun shows for smaller, lesser-known artists. I recently saw ZZ Ward there, and the sound was great (not always a given in smaller venues).

It’s college, so there’s no shortage of bars. There’s always one within stumbling distance, with the majority being on University Way. But one thing for all ages is the annual summer street fair. Spanning almost a mile, this big event has hundreds of food, art, clothing, and music vendors.

Also, technically just outside of the U-District boundaries, but still considered part of the neighborhood, is the University Village Shopping Center. This mostly-outdoors mall is surprisingly upscale for being next to a University, and has a few trendy restaurants as well.

Conclusion:
The University District is the obvious place to live if you’re a UW student. But for everyone else, be prepared to be surrounded by thousands upon thousands of students!
Pros
  • A plethora of diverse restaurants
  • Active nightlife
  • Diversity
Cons
  • Not great for non-students
  • Limited parking
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Two distinct neighborhoods: on the hill, or on the lake"

East Queen Anne is really two neighborhoods just north of downtown, divided by Aurora/Highway 99. West of Aurora is truly “on the hill,” and there are lots of single-family homes and small apartment buildings, which is popular for young people, professionals, and families. East of Aurora, you’re closer to Lake Union, and it feels like another neighborhood altogether, rather than part of Queen Anne. Here you’ll find bigger apartment buildings, a few single-family homes, and some houseboats on the lake. There are fewer families here, and more professionals. Like all of Seattle, rent is climbing steadily, and this is a very popular neighborhood at the moment. Amazon employees especially like the housing east of Aurora, because it’s a straight shot to the Amazon “campus” in South Lake Union, and more affordable than living directly in South Lake Union neighborhood itself.

Food:
If you’re on the west side of Aurora, you’ll find lots of shops and restaurants lining Queen Anne Avenue. It’s very quaint, especially when they put the Christmas lights up. But if you find yourself further East, there’s not too much close by. I lived just South-East of the Aurora bridge, and the closest eating places were in Fremont, where there’s plenty of great options. However, there is one place on Dexter worth mentioning. The Swedish Cultural Center does an amazing pancake breakfast the first Sunday of every month. For $9 flat (including tax and tip) you get all-you-can-eat homemade pancakes with lingonberry jam and whipped cream, plus ham, coffee, and juice. All served by smiling Swedish-American volunteers with a live Swedish band playing on a stage in the background. It’s extremely popular for all ages, especially families, and you’ll likely have to wait in line to find a seat at one of the communal tables.

The view:
The wonderful thing about being on a hill is that most residences have a view. In this case, the view is looking East, and you can see the Cascade Mountains and Lake Union. Not bad at all. This is a big draw for many people.

Transportation:
Parking is ok--I managed to find street parking for free regularly, though sometimes I'd have to walk for 10 minutes to get home. There’s a great bike lane down Dexter that heads downtown, where you can join the crowds of people biking from North Seattle during the sunny months. If you prefer to take a bus, there are plenty of them that head downtown via Aurora until quite late. The only downside can be getting to bus stop, as Aurora has limited access points. And walking down the east side of Aurora at night can be slightly nerve-wracking, as there are some shoddy hotels, and more than once I’ve come across people doing drugs under the overpasses, where you have to walk to cross Aurora (don't try to run across all the lanes!). But overall, I felt very safe living in this neighborhood and never had any problems. Lastly, Fremont is within walking distance if you don’t mind a steep hill. This can be a good option for a casual night out with friends, as there’s not too much happening on Queen Anne hill itself.
Pros
  • Swedish Pancake Breakfast
  • Proximity to downtown
Cons
  • More expensive housing
  • Nonexistent Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
2/5
Just now

"Welcome to the jungle (aka Amazon)"

Simply put, most people who live in South Lake Union work at Amazon. I mean, who wouldn’t want a five-minute walk as your commute to work? And since Amazon is growing quickly, so are the buildings. A couple months ago I counted the cranes, and there were 31! So it’s a good time to be a construction company in South Lake Union (SLU). At the moment, the cranes are decorated in blue and green for the Seahawks and for the holidays.

Besides the construction, what else do you get when you add well-paid Amazon employees + new apartment buildings? You guessed it—very expensive rent. A good friend of mine has an “open one-bedroom” (halfway between a studio and a 1 bedroom) and it is $2500 a month, with no parking. Granted, it’s upscale and on the 10th floor with a small patio. But still, it’s small, and doesn’t have a view—it just stares into another apartment building. In her building, the ones that do have a view are close to $5,000 a month for a 1 bedroom. I kid you not.

Seattle has generally done a pretty good job with neighborhoods, making sure that each one has a downtown area where all the stores and restaurants are clustered. SLU is lacking this, probably because it’s so new or growing so quickly. There’s a Whole Foods on Denny, and a few restaurants on Westlake, but it’s not as well-planned as you’ll find elsewhere. My favorite spots are Re:Public, which has a great happy hour, and Kakao, which does luxurious sipping chocolates and coffee. Kakao is a good space to work from, and they rent out their space for events. There are also a few upscale restaurants on the Lake Union waterfront if you’re looking for something fancy. However, to find a good nightlife scene you'll have to head elsewhere.

Parking isn’t great in SLU, though you can sometimes find street parking in the evenings. But, since the location is so good, you can easily walk to Downtown, Belltown, Queen Anne, and Capitol Hill. And unlike most of Seattle, there’s a good east/west bus line that goes down Denny right next to SLU. There’s also the SLU tram, which isn’t very popular, as it’s quite slow and doesn’t even go all the way downtown. It’s the first of 4 planned tram lines in the Seattle Street Car project, which so far looks quite dubious to most Seattleites.

Finally, there’s the South Lake Union Park. The biggest feature is the Museum of History and Industry, which is one of my all-time favorite spots in the city. Don’t miss the exhibit on the great Seattle fire of 1889. It’s not what you expect, and you won’t be disappointed. Plus, the museum is free on the first Thursday of every month. SLU park also has a grassy area, which is nice in the summer, as well as the Center for Wooden Boats. One other Lake Union activity most people don’t know about is dragon boating. It’s a sport from South East Asia where a few dozen people sit in a very long, narrow boat and paddle together. Anyone can join the “Seattle Flying Dragons” and paddle with them, no experience required.

Overall, South Lake Union is very clean, quiet at night, and has lots of new skyscrapers popping up. But unless you work at Amazon and think that being able to walk to work is worth quite a lot of money, you may prefer to live elsewhere where the rent is much more affordable, and there are more amenities nearby.
Pros
  • Great park and museum
  • Close to downtown and tourist attractions
Cons
  • No nightlife
  • Expensive rent
  • Limited parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
DrewM
DrewM Rent in SLU is ridiculous... and there are so, so, so many new apartment buildings going up. All filled up by Amazonians.
Dec 10, 2015
Add a comment...
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Diverse and trendy South Seattle neighborhood"

The most common words locals use when talking about Columbia City are “trendy,” “up and coming” and “gentrification.” Like so many places in Seattle, there’s tension as the city is growing. South Seattle, including Columbia City, has historically been very diverse. But as the city’s population and rent prices rapidly increase, that’s changing. So we’re seeing things like new, expensive apartments being built in what were traditionally low or middle-income areas, and a pricey PCC Natural Foods market opening where before there was only a Safeway.

One of the reasons that Columbia City is becoming so popular is due to the light rail, which opened a few years ago, with a stop just at the northern tip of the neighborhood. It’s not the quickest train you’ll ever take, but it is nice to just be able to relax and know you’re not on a bus that’s going to change routes (which has been happening a lot lately). However, some people find it a bit nerve-wracking to be in a train car with no conductor late at night when it’s mostly empty.

The light rail is important because Columbia City is about 5-6 miles out of the city center. The bus takes at least 40 minutes to get to downtown, 60 if there’s traffic. Rainier and Martin Luther King Junior Way are the two main North-South arterials, and they can get clogged during rush hour.

One of the best things about Columbia City is being close to Seward Park. It’s not technically in the neighborhood, but it’s not far, and it’s full of trails and has beach access to Lake Washington. It’s a great place for trail runners—you feel like you’re not in a city because of all the trees. You’ll notice though, as you get closer to Seward Park and Lake Washington, that the houses grow bigger and bigger, in contrast to the smaller apartments and homes that are closer to Rainier Ave.

Rent is (for now) relatively affordable in the neighborhood. To find out what's available, the best way is to drive or walk around the neighbhorhood on a weekend and look for signs, because a lot of the vacancies aren't posted online. It's a good way to get to know the neighborhood too!

For coffee, you’ll find your usual Starbucks on Edmunds Street, and across the street is Empire Espresso, which is much more expensive, and does latte art. Empire is a little too crowded and noisy if you have to get some work done. For restaurants, the downtown area is fun to walk around and try new places. Columbia City Bakery is amazing, and Kezira café is good for Ethiopian food.

And of course we can’t forget the Royal Room. This is a concert venue that had more than 700 bands play there this year. 700!!! A friend of mine just had her band's album release party here. It's safe to say that you always have a live music option in the neighborhood.

I’m a bike commuter. So one of my favorite shops is Bike Works, which is a nonprofit community bike shop that sells bikes, does repairs, and has classes. When you walk in, there are buckets of parts that you can dig through to find what you need for cheap, and then repair your bike yourself or hire them to do it for you.

Speaking of bikes, bike commuting is not ideal from Columbia City. The main thoroughfares don’t have bike lanes, so you have to find your own route through the neighborhoods. Though there is bike storage on the light rail, people often use it for luggage (the light rail goes to the airport), so then you just have to hold your bike on the train, which is awkward.

One more thing before I go. I've heard white folks from Seattle say that they feel unsafe in Columbia City. Now, I would never want to discount how someone is feeling, because that's real for them. But I also want to tell you a story about the opposite. Two weeks ago on Thanksgiving, my very close friend was walking down Rainier on his way home. He was approached by a man with a big, friendly smile who held open his arms and asked “would you like some food?” My friend was confused for a moment because it didn’t look like this person had any food. But the man gestured to a little store across the street, where he had set up a huge buffet thanksgiving dinner, a real feast, and he was offering free meals to anyone and everyone. He welcomed my friend into the store and packed up a big meal for him in a to-go box, even including a piece of pumpkin pie and a drink. “Why are you doing this?” asked my friend. “Because,” the man answered, with his African accent, “America has given so much to me, I want to give back and share my love with America.” He then smiled again and sent my (white) friend on his way with his meal.

How amazing is that?
Pros
  • Great music venue
  • Ethnically diverse
Cons
  • No bike lanes
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"A cozy neighborhood outside of the Seattle and UW rush"

Ravenna is a cute little neighborhood wedged between the University District in the South, I-5 in the West, and Northgate in the north. To the east are a few other small neighborhoods before you get to Lake Washington.

Walkable, neighborhood feel:
One of the best things about Ravenna is it’s neighborhood vibe. A lot of the residential areas are within walking distance to the two clusters of shops and restaurants on Roosevelt and on 65th. You can also walk to Ravenna Park, which is a focal point of the neighborhood. The only other close parks are the giant Magnuson Park to the east, and Green Lake to the west. But these are in other neighborhoods and it’s not really walking distance to either.

Food:
There are quite a few little restaurants; my favorite is Pies and Pints, which has a fun (and tough!) trivia night every week. For grocery stores, you have a few options. Whole Foods on Roosevelt (pricey), Safeway, a bit further north (slightly less pricey), or two PCCs, one on 65th or the one in Greenlake (both pricey). For vegans, there’s vegan haven, a boutique grocery store with those hard-to-find vegan specialties. And finally there’s my favorite, the Rising Sun produce stand. This open-air market has great prices and tons of fresh produce when it’s in season. There’s parking across the street. For non-produce groceries, doing a trip to Costco or Fred Meyer every few weeks is probably the most affordable option.

Housing:
Most of the housing is small apartments and condos, as well as single-family homes. You won’t find as many of the huge apartment buildings like in the University District. The prices, though, are still pretty high for how far out of the city you are. This results in the neighborhood being relatively privileged, especially as you get closer to Lake Washington, where the houses get larger.

People:
Ravenna is an excellent location for grad students going to the University of Washington. It’s an easy bus ride to get to class, but you aren’t surrounded by the thousands of undergrad students that mostly live on or near campus. It’s also a good place for couples (to split the rather expensive rent) and families.

Transportation:
Like I mentioned, it’s easy to get to U-district from Ravenna. However, it can be tricky to get to other neighborhoods, since Seattle isn’t great with east-west transportation. You’ll be fine heading to Capitol Hill or downtown, but you’ll have to transfer buses (which is a pain in Seattle) to get to Fremont, Wallingford, Pioneer Square, South Seattle, or other neighborhoods. Parking in Ravenna is ok, but can be hard to find if you’re further south towards U-district.

Safety:
Speaking of cars, car break-ins are a problem in Ravenna. Like much of the crime in Seattle, it’s petty theft, and people are trying to survive by breaking into cars to steal a jacket, some money, etc, rather than stealing the car itself (though a friend’s license plate was stolen, twice). So don’t keep anything valuable in your car, and put the registration in the trunk and lock it.

Wrap-up:
Ravenna is a great place for people looking for something a bit quieter but still close to the University of Washington. It has a quaint downtown area, and a nice park. But keep in mind the relatively expensive rent, as well as the risk of car break-ins.
Pros
  • Walkable
  • Neighborly spirit
  • Close to major university
  • Good bicycle trails
Cons
  • Car break ins
  • Expensive housing
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"Affordable mish-mash of residential & retail"

Northgate is a neighborhood about 7 or 8 miles north of Seattle’s downtown, which straddles Interstate 5, and is bounded on the west by Aurora/Highway 99. The northern border is the arterial street 145th, and to the south are the Greenlake and Ravenna neighborhoods.

The mall:
The neighborhood’s main feature is the Northgate Mall. This is one of the largest malls in Seattle, with all your usual stores, as well as a few across the street including Target, Ross, and TJ Max. At the South edge of the mall is a large, multi-story Regal movie theater which is considerably less crowded than the downtown theaters. For example, I just saw the most recent Hunger Games movie on opening weekend, and there were still open seats in the theater, while the downtown theaters were packed.

Housing:
Probably the next biggest perk to living in this neighborhood is the affordable rent. The heart of Northgate is only 1.5 miles north of Greenlake neighborhood, but the rent is *significantly* cheaper. You’ll find a good range of types of living spaces in this area, with a mix of low and middle-income housing throughout the neighborhood, and higher-rent places down south closer to the city center.

Transportation:
Another benefit of Northgate is the easy access to I-5 and Aurora/99. To get to downtown Seattle, you can take the E-line express bus down Aurora/99, which gets you there in about 30-40 minutes, depending on traffic. The bus has its own lane for much of the trip, which is helpful during heavy traffic. Though it can get super crowded, with standing room only. Still, it’s much quicker than driving during rush hour.

As for the Aurora/99 itself, the Northgate section of the road is…interesting. Just north in Shoreline, the road was recently revamped to be several lanes wide, with pleasant landscaping and walking bridges overhead. Just south, the road curves around greenlake and heads straight for Fremont and downtown Seattle. But the section that is in the Northgate neighborhood feels a bit forgotten. It hasn’t yet been renovated, and is bordered by a smattering of shabby auto shops, retail stores, fast food, hotels, and apartments. But hey, it’s part of the reason that rents stay low!

Safety:
Why else is it so much cheaper to live in Northgate? Well, being close to I-5 and Aurora/99 is convenient, but it also means the neighborhood experiences higher levels of crime than elsewhere in the city. Much of the residential area of Northgate is along that same shabby section of Aurora, which is unfortunately known in Seattle for petty crime. It’s mostly insignificant theft, because there is some poverty nearby and people are trying to survive. I’ve occasionally felt unsafe at night here, walking to a friend’s place from the bus stop, with very little street lighting and some people hanging around. Something to consider.

Parks:
One thing that’s not ideal is there aren’t as many parks in Northgate as in other neighborhoods. There’s Jackson Park, but it’s a golf course. Then there’s a very large cemetery, not exactly where you’d want to have a picnic. To be fair, there’s the small Northacres park which has a baseball field, and the Maple Leaf Reservoir Park which has some athletic fields. There’s also Haller Lake, but almost all of the lakefront is private property, except a tiny sliver of public access at the end of 125th street. I guess living in other park-filled neighborhoods in Seattle has set high standards! Most people living in Northgate would head to Greenlake park for a stroll, or to the huge Magnusun park to the east, which rests on the shores of Lake Washington.

Students:
I should mention the North Seattle Community College Campus, which is in the South-West corner of Northgate. So of course, the neighborhood is a great location for students. Northgate also has the large Ingraham High School, which is an international Baccalaureate school, and also has a highly gifted student program.

Conclusion:
The Northgate neighborhood is great if you’re looking for something affordable outside the city center with access to retail stores. But it’s not as walkable, green or as safe as nearby neighborhoods, which is what brings the rent down.
Pros
  • Inexpensive housing
  • Large mall
Cons
  • Lack of large parks
  • Minor safety concerns
  • High traffic on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
DrewM
DrewM Yup, fairly affordable - but commuting downtown is a bit of a trek..
Dec 08, 2015
Add a comment...
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
Just now

"Imperfect, but worth it."

Somehow, Seattle is simultaneously exactly what you’d expect, and the opposite of what you’d expect.

For example, what you’d expect: there’s a booming tech market. Microsoft, Amazon, Nintendo, Zillow, etc.

Not what you’d expect: That boom, though great for those who hold those jobs, is causing the cost of living to quickly become unaffordable for a lot of people. Rent is skyrocketing. My rent increased by $400 after the first 6 months lease, then by another $250 after the second 6 months. This is not uncommon right now, especially since rent control is illegal in Washington State.

There’s no denying that the natural landscape is absolutely stunning. With two mountain ranges framing the East and West horizons, Puget Sound glistening right next to the city, and Mt. Rainier towering above everything, you really can’t beat it. You could grab your backpack and be hiking or skiing (if there’s snow) in the mountains within an hour. What you might not know, though, is that the climate is changing here, and quickly. We’ve been hitting record temperatures in summer, and the dwindling snowpack means that skiing is less reliable, and wildfires are getting worse each summer.

The geography right around the city itself is very unique. Between Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Lake Union, and the Duwamish River, there’s a lot of water nearby, which is gorgeous. But that also means that we depend on bridges, which bottleneck traffic, and are often under construction. For example, all the traffic coming from I-90 (the main east-west freeway) has to condense into one lane to get onto I-5 north (the main north-west freeway). ONE lane, in the middle of the city, where the two biggest freeways in the state merge!! And this is a permanent feature, not due to construction.

Public transportation also needs a *lot* of work. Currently, buses, trams, light rail, and commuter train are all relatively disconnected, and the entire system is convoluted and confusing, even for locals. Hence Uber becoming very popular.

But Seattle’s still a relatively small city, so hopefully that Uber ride won’t be too expensive. You can walk the entire length of downtown from where the skyscrapers start in Pioneer Square to where they end in South Lake Union in about 45 minutes. From there, to the North, East, and South, residential neighborhoods sprawl out across the hills.

The makeup of the neighborhoods is also something you wouldn’t expect in Seattle. In many ways, we are a very progressive place. We passed the $15 minimum wage. We’re pretty LGBTQ-friendly. But we also have a little-talked-about history of racial division. Seattle used to have “red lines” drawn through the city neighborhoods to divide where people of color could and could not live. The legacy of those red lines lives on today, with North Seattle and West Seattle being mostly white, and the neighborhoods South of Downtown being more diverse. And, true to color, the tech companies are setting up shop mainly in North Seattle, as well as Redmond and Bellevue, two mostly-white suburbs.

But you wouldn’t know that unless you lived here for a while. Because Seattle’s culture is one that is very polite and laid back. This is great in a lot of ways. But it also means that we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that we’re more progressive than we actually are, and we really, really, don’t like to talk about it. That’s uncomfortable and we’d rather just talk about the Seahawks, thank you very much. Hence surprising things like one of the nation’s worst gender wage gaps. And the silent neighborhood segregation.

That being said, there are some amazing things about those same neighborhoods. One is that the city did a great job creating a ‘downtown’ area in each one, with shops, restaurants and services, which makes the city very walkable at the neighborhood level. There are also an abundance of parks (my favorites are Green Lake and Discovery Park), and sandy beaches right in the city.

Finally, there are plenty of amazing people in Seattle. True, it can take awhile to build up a community if you’re new. But it’s totally worth the effort, because there are so many caring, creative, thoughtful people here.

So Seattle is a place that’s gorgeous, casual, confused, polite, messy, colorful, and imperfect. For me, I’ll take it. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. I just hope I can continue to afford to live here.
Pros
  • Gorgeous scenery
  • LGBTQ-friendly
  • Beautiful city
  • Outdoor activities
Cons
  • Traffic
  • High cost of living
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
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 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"Just far enough away from the city center to be peaceful and quiet."

The main draw of Green Lake neighborhood is Green Lake. It’s as simple as it sounds. The lake has a 2.8 mile paved path that runs around the perimeter, and it’s always busy. In the summer you practically have to merge into the single-direction line of walkers because it gets so crowded. You can also rent a paddleboat or a kayak from the community center on the Eastern edge of the lake. I’ve seen people swim in the lake but I personally wouldn’t recommend it (it is in the middle of a city…). It’s also fun to watch the local crew teams row across the lake.

The other feature worth mentioning is Woodland Park, which is attached to the South end of Green Lake and is a wooded network of trails. Most people on the trails are walkers or joggers, but you’ll occasionally see a mountain biker. In fact, there was a mountain bike race there in November, with a small course. Though not officially part of Green Lake neighborhood, if you cross one of the walking bridges over Aurora/99, you can go to the Woodland Park Zoo to see exotic animals. It’s not on my list of to-do’s though, because they’ve been under fire for keeping elephants who are not accustomed to our Northwest climate in too-small enclosures, when they should be in a sanctuary.

But I digress. Green Lake, the neighborhood, is on the smaller side, being squeezed between I-5 on the East and Highway 99/Aurora on the West. This is what makes it so appealing to a lot of people—being close to the two main arterials is very convenient.

The culture is similar to other north Seattle neighborhoods. Very quiet and low-key, with relatively affluent residents, some families, and quite a few young professionals. In the next neighborhood north, you’ll find North Seattle Community College, and to the south-east is the University of Washington, so there’s a small college community living in Green Lake as well. Rent is on the higher side, especially in the new apartment buildings popping up, with new studios running for $1500/month at the time of writing (Dec 2015). There are still some more-affordable, older apartments, but I would count on rents continuing to rise as Seattle grows. Much of the neighborhood, however, is full of large, single-family houses for well-off Seattleite families. The ones bordering the lake are gorgeous, and they are all in high demand.

There’s a group of stores and restaurants on the north-east corner of the lake, including a PCC Natural Market, some yoga places, and sports stores. And of course you’ll always find local coffee shops nearby in Seattle. Aurora/99 also has a cluster of stores, with *another* PCC Market. Green Lake isn't the best place for nightlife, though, which is part of what makes it so quiet and family-friendly.

One thing I like about Green Lake is the neighborhood feel to it. There are little community events like the Pathway of Lights where they light up the whole path around the lake and have music, theater, and food from the community one evening in December. Year-round, there are plays at the Seattle Public Theater in “the bathhouse” which is a little building on the Western edge of Green Lake. There’s also a nice public courtyard area with a fountain and tables right outside PCC, in case you want to avoid the crowds at the lake.

In my opinion, this neighborhood appeals most to professionals and families who don’t want the city rush, but still desire the convenience of being a few minutes drive from downtown. Just factor in the relatively pricey rent, and the crowds at Green Lake!
Pros
  • Neighborhood spirit
  • Water recreation
  • Best park in Seattle
Cons
  • Expensive
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
  • Limited accommodations
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"Colorful, young, energetic neighborhood to live and play in."

Capitol Hill is my home sweet home. Having lived in north Seattle neighborhoods previously, I was looking for something a little more diverse, a little livelier. And I definitely like what I found.

Cap Hill is a very dense neighborhood based around Broadway Ave, East of downtown. Most people live in apartments, and the population is pretty young, with a lot of singles and couples, but not many kids. However, in the northern area you’ll find some big houses and even mansions, with families and kids, but to me that feels almost like another neighborhood.

The Hill has always been a very LGBTQ-friendly place, especially for men. We even have new rainbow crosswalks! There are quite a few gay bars, but only one lesbian bar (the Wild Rose), which isn’t that great. However, for Seattleites looking for a night out, regardless of whether you’re LGBTQ or not, Capitol Hill is THE place to go. What’s known as the Pike and Pine corridor (two streets that run east-west across Broadway) are lined with back-to-back dance and concert venues, bars, and restaurants. This is where everyone heads for birthdays, bachelorette parties, New Years, or just a night out with friends.

Because of the lively nightlife, when you’re looking for an apartment, you’ll probably want to avoid Pine and Pike, since it gets LOUD. But as soon as you’re a few blocks away, it’s much quieter and quite pleasant. Also do the due diligence on your potential landlords. Since there are so many apartments, a lot them are run by big management companies that have notoriously bad customer service (almost as bad as Comcast) and aren’t above lying to you to get you to sign the lease. Of course, it’s illegal, but they know you’re probably not going to pick a legal fight with them and their in-house lawyers. That being said, there are some awesome little buildings too. One place I know has an event for their tenants every month, like a BBQ, pumpkin carving, or cookie frosting.

Transportation. It’s got to be said. Seattle has a problem connecting Capitol Hill to other parts of the City. Getting downtown or to the University District is ok, but if you want to go to any of the other North Seattle neighborhoods, Pioneer Square, or Queen Anne, it’s not going to be easy. Which is frustrating because it’s not that far away, but it takes so long. City planning did try to improve it, but they messed that up too when they put a tramline, buses, cars, and bike lanes ALL on Broadway. You can imagine what a cluster that is. And the tram still isn’t running yet—over a year behind schedule. Can you tell I’m over it?

Ok on to more positive things like food! There’s just so much of it. And a lot of places that are pretty affordable, like many of the Thai and Vietnamese places (Than Brothers, a pho soup chain, is the perfect hangover cure). My secret spot is Joe Bar Café, which does coffee, and also crepes cooked in butter. Which means the place always smells like lattes and melted butter. Mmmm.

It’s worth noting that Capitol Hill is just north of the big Seattle hospitals, including Harborview. That’s convenient, and the medical care is high-quality. Though you do have to keep in mind that many of them are Christian-based, so some don’t offer a full range of women’s or LGBTQ care. But you’ll find that care if you shop around.

The neighborhood is also very walkable (if you don’t mind, er, hills). Within 3 blocks of my apartment, there’s a large grocery store, my bank, the library, restaurants, coffee shops, and the gym. Pretty much everything I need on a daily basis.

For parks, you’ve got two biggies. Cal Anderson Park is right next to all the action on Pine and Pike, and it’s often got club sports games going on (Seattle Central Community College is right next door). Volunteer Park, further north, is very large, and has the Asian Art Museum. You can also walk up the old water tower for a limited view of the surrounding area. There’s a large stage in the park that has lots of summer events like outdoor movies and concerts, and it’s also where the annual family-friendly Pride Picnic (part of Pride Month) takes place. Plus, when your un-insulated Seattle apartment that doesn’t have air conditioning gets unbearably hot in the summer, the park is a good place to sit under a tree with a book or some work.

The last thing I’ll mention is the events. There’s just so much happening all the time in Capitol Hill. From up-and-coming comedians, to block parties and DJs, to theater and art, to academic lectures, I never seem to have enough time to go to everything I’m interested in.
Pros
  • Nightlife
  • LGBTQ-friendly
  • Energetic
Cons
  • Crowded
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
Just now

"Scandinavians, craft beer, and cozy homes."

If you imagined Seattle to be full of white people wearing flannel and stylishly-overlarge glasses while enjoying a craft beer and a side of locally-grown kale salad, this is where you’ll find them.

Ballard, the heart of which is near the Shilshole Bay, about two miles north of downtown Seattle, was traditionally a salmon fishing ground for the Shilshole, a local Native American people. When Europeans arrived, a Nordic seafairing community settled in Ballard, attracted by the fishing. The Scandinavians also invested in industrialism, especially the railroad and mills, and eventually the Hiram M Chittenden Locks were built, in order to control the water flow from Lake Union. As Seattle grew, Ballard slowly became more residential and less industrial.

I mention all this because that history is still very evident in Ballard today, with a very euro-centric community. It’s bordered to the West and South by water. To the East are Fremont, Greenlake, and Phinney Ridge, with Hwy Aurora/99 running north to south, and to the North is Crown Hill.

Today, Ballard is a cozy neighborhood where many would love to buy a home and settle down, if the prices weren’t so high.

Housing:
You could call Ballard affordable for those with a well-paying job, but for many, they’ll have to look elsewhere. This is partly because it’s still full of single-family homes, and has a strong neighborhood vibe to it. The exceptions are along Market St, the main downtown area, and along 15th Ave. These arterials have new apartment buildings, but they’re still pricey.

Food:
Along Market Street, and also Leary and Ballard Ave, you’ll find a cluster of restaurants and bars. They’re all in the moderate to high price range, catering to the well-off locals. A few notable ones are the Tractor Tavern, which is known for live music, Portage Bay Café, with a killer brunch, and the Kangaroo and Kiwi, that used to be a big old library and is now an Australian-style sports bar.

Aside from two grocery stores, there’s also a farmer’s market that runs year-round, which is full of fresh produce, pastries, kombucha, the usual. It’s a great place for hipster-spotting.

Beer:
Craft beer is a growing trend in Seattle, and if you’re into that kind of thing, head to Ballard. Ballard Beer Company, Hilliard’s, Stoup Brewing, and Populuxe are just a few. You could probably try a new beer every day and not run out of options for months.

Activities:
Remember how Ballard has a Nordic heritage? Well, two of the biggest events are the Ballard Seafood Festival in the summer (YUM!), and Yulefest in the winter, which is at the Nordic Heritage Museum. It’s also fun to visit the Ballard Locks, and if it’s the right time of year, you can walk down into a little viewing room and look right into the water to see the salmon. They have been a bit scarce lately though, because of too-hot summers, and the resident seals, who love salmon even more than the Scandinavians.

Medical Center:
One of the perks of Ballard is the huge Swedish Medical Center. There’s an ER, general practitioners, and quite a few specialists. There’s also a ‘learning center’ where new doctors do their residency, which means it’s more affordable.

Parks:
Like most neighborhoods north of downtown, Ballard is full of parks. The best one by a country mile is Golden Gardens. I consider it one of Seattle’s secrets, because it’s just far enough from downtown that you won’t find too many tourists, and it has a big sandy beach right in the city! In the summer it gets crowded, but it’s still worth it. You can swim in the salt-water or play volleyball, and if you get there early enough, you can snag one of the fire pits and have an evening campfire. It’s also the terminus of the paved Burke-Gilman trail, which you can bike or walk all the way to Redmond if you’re so inclined.

Transportation:
Like a lot of Seattle, north-south travel is decent in Ballard (there’s an express line to downtown Seattle), but east-west is difficult. Street parking in downtown Ballard can be tricky, but it’s not so bad once you get farther out in the neighborhood.
Pros
  • Golden Gardens Park
  • Unique dining choices
  • Great medical facilities
Cons
  • Lack of ethnic diversity
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"A fun, social neighborhood with great nightlife and the famous Crocodile"

In Seattle’s core city center, Belltown is probably the best hub for food and living. It's certainly much better than what's considered Seattle's official "downtown," which is just South of Belltown. To the West is Puget Sound, and to the North is Queen Anne neighborhood, South Lake Union, and the Seattle Center. To the East, Belltown just touches Capitol Hill. So even geographically, it's a hub.

Housing:
Belltown is juuuuust on the edge of affordability with rent. It’s still out of most people’s price range, but far better than downtown. I can see the appeal for those who work right downtown, because your commute would be a very pleasant, short morning walk. No hassle with cars or buses. But if you do have a car, keep in mind that rent prices usually won’t include garage parking, which can easily run $200+ a month, so factor that in, because garages are your only option here. Speaking of, you’ll only find apartments and condos in Belltown. For single-family homes you’ll have to get further from the city center.

Food and Nightlife:
There’s no doubt that Belltown is a great place to go out, especially for 20- and 30-somethings. “Downtown” Belltown runs along Bell Street, which has been converted into a mostly-walking street, though you’ll still have to cross busy streets. If you’re in the mood for eating out but not sure what, you can walk around this area and find some tasty options. I like Mama’s Mexican Kitchen—the food’s not anything mind-blowing, but the atmosphere is fun and the service is quick. Biscuit Bitch is always a good option for comfort food, and there are new little places popping up regularly. There are also quite a few decent restaurants along first and second.

And after dinner, you’ll find plenty of bars and several nightclubs nearby. You have to make it at least once to The Crocodile, which is famous for having great live music. And that's saying something in Seattle. Some of the bands they’ve hosted are The Beastie Boys, The Head and the Heart, and Minus the Bear, to name a few.

Safety:
The one downside is that Belltown has a reputation for not being the safest place to walk around after the bars close. But hey, it’s a city. And I personally think that’s more of a misguided reputation that has stuck long after this neighborhood has evolved. Part of this is simply Seattle’s layout—there are highway overpasses that you have to walk under. In Belltown, that means going under highway 99. But unless you’re going to Foundation Nightclub, there’s really no reason to walk that far, as most restaurants and bars are North-East of there.

Parks:
In my opinion, the best part about Belltown is the Sculpture Park. Nestled along the waterfront, this large green space is full of sculptures, as you’d expect, and it also has paved walking and biking paths. There are even a few small, natural sand beaches that are open to the public, right in the city. In the summer, there are *free* community exercise classes that are actually pretty good. Free yoga overlooking Puget Sound? Yes please.
Pros
  • Waterfront park
  • Proximity to downtown
  • Great nightlife
Cons
  • Difficult parking
  • Loud environment
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Good for working and sightseeing, but not for living"

Downtown Seattle is where you go to work, see a show, or take your mom. Unless you have a large disposable income, it’s not where you go to live.

To work:
What’s nice about downtown is that a large percentage of workplaces are located here in the high-rises. That means they’re contained in one place, and you can ‘leave work at work,’ when you go home.

Food & nightlife
Having so many work buildings means that there are quite a few ‘dead zones’ where nothing is open at night. If you want to find a place to eat, it’s better to do your research ahead of time, or you could end up wandering around for a while. There are a few little places in Pike Place (ex: Alibi Room), and along third, but it’s not ideal for bar hopping. I usually prefer Capitol Hill. That being said, if you’re going fancy, there are some great spots on the water, namely, Anthony’s seafood restaurant where you can pick which bay your local crab came from.
However, downtown is also where some of the big venues are. You can see a concert at the Showbox, the symphony at Benaroya Hall, or theater at ACT or the Paramount (I saw Broadway's Wicked there recently). But as for going out more casually with your friends, most Seattleites opt for something in one of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Transportation:
To get to work, it’s easy if you’re headed to 3rd avenue, because this is the bus corridor, and it’s closed to cars during peak hours. But if you have to transfer, it can be a bit of a hassle and I often just end up walking the rest of the way.

Locals love:
I never get tired of the enormous downtown library. Everyone should check it out at least once. The architecture is pretty impressive, and the bookshelves are one giant spiral that book-lovers can easily get sucked into for hours. I also have a Seattle Art Museum (SAM) membership, which has excellent rotating exhibits. There's also your typical shopping at the Westlake Center and Pacific Place, nothing too outstanding.

Places to take your family and visitors:
If you’ve heard that locals never go to Pike Place, it’s not true. We go there when we have visitors, and secretly enjoy it sometimes too. There’s the fish market of course, and also the flower bouquets and crafts, the gum wall (slightly gross), and Pike Brewing. But my favorite is to get a coffee and sit at a table at the park just north of the market that overlooks the ferries and Puget Sound. Speaking of, I love how the ferry terminal is right in downtown and you can walk on the boat to go to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton. Also a good mom activity, and only $8 round trip for walk-on passengers. You really can't beat the view of the city and Mt. Rainier from the ferry.

Views from up high:
If you want to see the city view, you *could* go to the Space Needle. But there are other spots that are more fun. One of the Seattle secrets is the 40th-floor Starbucks in the Columbia Tower. It’s free to enter, and anyone can go up, get a coffee, and read a book next to the window. Skip the “first Starbucks” at Pike Place and go here instead.

Living:
Like I said, very few people actually live downtown. I don’t know anyone who does because the prices are so high, and Seattle’s neighborhoods are more walkable and fun.

Parks:
There aren’t too many green spaces in downtown. Westlake Center Park is cement, but it has some outdoor games like a jungle gym and checkers. There are often political demonstrations here, so if you’re involved in activism, you’ll get to know the space well. Recent visitors have been sHell No, Black Lives Matter, and Bernie Sanders. The closest grassy park is the Sculpture park, just north of downtown on the waterfront.

Overall, downtown Seattle is fun to visit occasionally, but you won’t see too many locals living there or spending their free time there.
Pros
  • Entertainment
  • Tourist attractions
  • Proximity to downtown
Cons
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
  • More expensive housing
  • Limited parking
Recommended for
  • Tourists
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"History, diversity, and constant change"

Pioneer Square is probably the best representation of Seattle in a few blocks. It’s a jumble of the past and present, mixed wealth and poverty, and a living history of immigration and race relations.

Location:

Located just south of downtown, to the west is the (still industrial) waterfront, and to the East is I-5 freeway and the International District. It’s southern edge abruptly ends at the sports stadiums and rail/bus stations.

History:

Officially the “oldest” part of the City of Seattle, it’s got an intriguing history. The area was originally a mud flat, under control of the Duwamish people. But when white settlers arrived and began building European-style buildings, they soon encountered an unpleasant problem. When the tide came in, it would push the sewers back up the drains and make things….er….unpleasant. So the city built holding walls bordering each street, filled it in, and declared a new ground level for the city. The original street level is now known as the underground.

Underground:

There are still several places in the underground that are accessible, like the Kraken Congee Asian restaurant. The architecture is fun, and don’t worry, they fixed the plumbing problem.

The basements of many buildings are the underground as well, such as in the Seattle Impact Hub, a co-working space I’ve worked from for about a year. The Impact Hub is a good example of where Pioneer is heading now. The neighborhood was formerly filled with warehouses and empty buildings, but now chefs, galleries, and businesses are snapping up anything available in what’s becoming Seattle’s hippest neighborhood.

Food:

Being just north of the sports stadiums, it’s a popular place for upscale restaurants, like the London Plane and Radici. If you’re into older, more historical spots, you can visit two of Seattle’s oldest pubs, the Central Saloon and the J & M café. Both are low-key, dark, Euro-style pubs, in contrast to the minimalist, airy, new places. I personally like La Bodega, which is a hole-in-the-wall place with Dominican food. There are a few seats, and a summer patio, but it’s mostly take-out.
Just East of the neighborhood is the International District, where a lot of people go for lunch, because they have so many amazing, affordable restaurants.

Culture & Current Events:

All the newcomers mean that the people who were already living here are getting displaced. Which is a very sensitive topic in the neighborhood right now. Host to several homeless shelters, Pioneer Square is a place that has historically been welcoming to all sorts of people, from every background and income level. But that’s changing. This is a condensed version of what’s going on in Seattle overall. In Pioneer Square it’s just more visible, where, for example, you may see a tent pitched in front of a restaurant with $40 dishes.

Transportation:

Just to the south-east of the neighborhood, you’ll find two transportation hubs. One is the bus station for Bolt Bus and some local buses. The other is the light rail station and Amtrak, which brings in commuters from outside of Seattle. Pretty convenient if you work in Pioneer Square, but if you don’t, it can take a bit of effort to transfer to another type of transportation. The Greyhound station is also a 10 minute walk away.

If you’re driving, finding parking can be tough, but there are a few garages. Street parking in the evening is usually decent, just DO NOT try to drive to Pioneer Square on a game day.

Activities:

Besides the Century Link Field, where the Seahawks and Sounders play, there are a few fun little spots nearby. As a local, I like the underground tour, and the (free) Klondike Gold Rush National Historic “park,” which is actually a museum. For parks, you can enjoy your lunch at the waterfall garden park on 2nd & main. In the summer, Occidental Square is fun—they just added lots of activities like ping pong, a giant chess board, and a kids mini-library. You’ll see all sorts of people there, which, in my opinion, is the best thing about Pioneer Square. I hope it stays as diverse as it is now!
Pros
  • Diversity
  • History
Cons
  • Limited parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
Just now

"Quirky, all-in-one neighborhood."

Fremont is one of those places that locals call “quirky,” and in this case, “The center of the universe.” I’m serious, they actually call it that. It’s a joke from when a giant rocket was attached to a downtown building as artwork. Fremont is full of odd things like that. There’s the statue of Lenin. The giant troll under the bridge. A dinosaur-shaped bush. And the Fremont Solstice Parade, which is kicked off each summer by the naked bicycle ride, followed by an all-day march of people in outlandish costumes.

This quirkiness is balanced out by the tech community that’s also based there. With most of the tech buildings clustered along the waterfront, this low-key crowd has helped keep in business the many little shops that line Fremont’s ‘downtown,’ which is at the intersection of Fremont Ave and 35th. You’ll find clothing boutiques, a paint and sip place, spas (including one where you float in a salt bath!), and a few gift shops.

One of my favorite aspects is the abundance of low-key pubs. It’s like Goldilocks. Sometimes you want a place that’s not too fancy, not too grimy, but juuuust right. There are a lot of those in Fremont. I’d recommend “9 Million in Unmarked Bills” and Brouwer’s (which has 50+ beers on tap).

There’s plenty of good food too, especially if you have food restrictions. You can find the Flying Apron, a gluten-free vegan bakery with lunch items, a stone’s throw from the “Silence Heart Nest,” which is a vegetarian place with a-maz-ing food. Especially brunch.

When I lived in Fremont, I loved walking or biking down the Burke Gilman trail. It goes all the way to the Ballard Locks, and beyond to Golden Gardens Park to the west, and to the East, if you’re feeling like a workout, you can go for miles up the edge of Lake Washington and beyond to Redmond. Speaking of workouts, I’ve tried both the Fremont Health Club and the Anytime Fitness, and both are good options, with very honest staff (rare these days at gyms).

Bike commuters will love the bike lane that goes all the way to downtown, which gets quite busy in the summer. The downside is that there’s constant construction when you go through South Lake Union, so the route changes sometimes. But still, after a modest uphill, it’s mostly a gentle downhill, so you don’t arrive at work too sweaty. Then you can power home for your afternoon workout. Just watch out for the overly-competitive guys in spandex who Will. Not. Let. You. Pass. (just kidding, they’re not that bad).

For groceries, I usually went to Fred Meyer in Ballard, which isn’t far. Closer, you have two options. Right in downtown is PCC Natural Markets, which is fantastic for organics, but expensive. The other option, Marketime Foods, also pricey, is in what I call Fremont’s “other downtown.” If you go up Fremont Ave north until you reach 40th-45th you’ll find a cluster of coffee shops, a yoga place, a cook book store, and a couple restaurants including the famous Paseo’s Cuban sandwich shop, which often has a line 30 people deep down the road.

Living in Fremont means you’ll probably be in a small apartment building or a single-family home. There aren’t a ton of huge apartments yet, though there are a few along Aurora/99. Either way, it’s going to be pretty expensive. Prices are driven up for the small-town walkability, and all-in-one downtown, with most amenaties you’d need on a daily basis. But watch out for the recent appearance of “Apodments.” They take a small plot of land that had 1 single family home, put in a 40-unit ‘micro-studio’ building, and provide zero parking. Zero. So the nearby street parking gets flooded, and neighbors frustrated. There’s a constant tension between affordable housing, parking, and wealth. Because, like most neighborhoods North of downtown, Fremont is very white, and quite privileged. Which isn’t a bad thing, but important to know.

Another sticking point is the traffic. In the summer, the Fremont Bridge goes up about every 10 minutes to let wealthy folks through on their sailboats. This clogs up traffic all throughout the downtown area. Luckily there’s the alternative to cross the Aurora Bridge, but be careful, because it has dangerously narrow lanes that has caused countless fender benders, and more than a few high-profile multiple fatalities.

Lastly, there are plenty of tourists in Fremont! Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they come to see ‘the center of the universe,’ and you can’t avoid them. There’s not so many that it’s unbearable, but it can get a little crowded in summer. They love going to the Theo chocolate factory, which sometimes causes the smell of warm melted chocolate to waft through the streets. Not bad.
Pros
  • Burke Gilman Trail
  • Bicycle friendly
  • Excellent cafes
  • Great nightlife
Cons
  • Lots of tourists
  • Cost of living
  • High traffic volumes on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
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 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
Just now
Editors Choice

"Quaint, walkable, green, and...white"

Wallingford, aka Wallyhood is a combination of small-town vibe and big-city perks. A charming, walkable neighborhood full of green spaces, it has a vibrant downtown with a movie theater, restaurants, pubs, and stores.

Just north of Lake Union, Wallingford is squeezed between parks in the north and south (Woodland/Greenlake and Gasworks, respectively), and highways to the East and West (I-5 and Aurora/99). The main downtown runs along 45th.

In addition to "The Guild," the local movie theater, which is complete with old-style billboards announcing the actors names surrounded by lights, there is a smattering of cute shops. I like the Sock Monster, Wide World Books and Maps, and a mall housed in a quaint red wooden building, full of artisan shops such as a yarn shop, vintage clothing shop, and Trophy Cupcakes, to name a few.

I never thought a grocery store could be iconic until I became a regular at the local QFC on 45th. It has large Hollywood-style lettering on top of the building that spells Wallingford in yellow, and is often decorated for the holidays or the Seahawks.

Speaking of icons, the neighborhood also has an ever-busy Dicks, where people begin lining up for a burger and fries before lunch.

There are quite a few other eating places, such as Fainting Goat gelato, Seattle Tilth restaurant with local ingredients, and Chile Pepper Mexican Restaurant, among others. My all-time favorite is Jhanjay Thai, which is all-vegetarian, and super-fresh. My brother moved to New York a few years ago, and each time he visits, its always our first stop.

Do I even need to mention how many coffee shops there are? I mean, its Seattle. We can be cultish about our favorite window seats. My go-to place is Chocolati, which has house-made hot chocolate, truffles, and my regular order, the Mexican Mocha.

There are plenty of pubs, and a few spots with live music. I like the Octopus Bar, which is decorated inside and out as a pirate ship. Its as cheesy, and as awesome, as it sounds. The place gets packed for holidays like Mardi Gras.

One of the best things about Wallingford is the amount of parks. Gasworks Park, at the South end of the neighborhood, rests on Lake Union, and is the site of the slightly grimy, yet colorfully-painted remnants of a coal-to-gas factory. The best feature, though, is the large grassy hill that is a popular spot for festivals and picnics. The annual sea-fair festival uses the park as home base, and it is also the best place to watch the 4th of July fireworks. Last year, they had a man with a parachute who attached huge sparklers to his feet and spun around the sky, landing near gasworks.

To the north is the large Woodland Park (urban trail runners love it), which includes Seattles Zoo. And a bit further north is Greenlake Park, which is a separate neighborhood, but only a short walk from Wallingford. One of my favorite things to do when friends are visiting is to get a coffee and take a stroll around the 2.8 mile paved path. There are also a few smaller parks sprinkled throughout the central Wallingford area.

Wallingford is know for its walkability, not just because of the stores and parks, but also because walking through the neighborhoods is a simple pleasure. Unlike much of Seattle, Wallingford hasnt yet been filled with large apartment buildings, though thats changing. But for now, it's mainly single-family homes and 2 or 3 story buildings, many of which have veggie gardens and decorate for the holidays.

Traffic: no matter where you go in Seattle, its not going to be great. The bonus for Wallingford is that you have the choice of two main north/south arterials: I-5 and Aurora/99. The Fremont bridge is a nearby third option, if both of those are congested. Also, Aurora/99 has many busses going downtown, including the quick E-line Express.

Theres one last thing to mention that applies not just to Wallingford, but to most neighborhoods north of downtownits very white, and relatively privileged. Seattle has a long history of neighborhood division by race, and remnants of that still linger today. If youre considering living in Wallingford, youd have to be comfortable living in a place that is probably more that 90% white. Im not saying its a bad thing, but its the kind of thing that you dont know until you visit a few times in person.

Overall, if youre looking for a home thats a mix of small-town and big-city, close to parks and shops, Wallingford is a gorgeous place to check out.
Pros
  • Vibrant downtown area
  • Large parks
  • Easy busses to downtown
  • Bicycle friendly
  • Great restaurants
Cons
  • Lack of ethnic diversity
  • High traffic on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
EmmanuelleAlva
EmmanuelleAlva Thank you for your honest review!
Apr 12, 2016
LatoyaW
LatoyaW WHITE, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN
Apr 20, 2016
jisunk
jisunk WHITE, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN
Feb 18, 2017
homel
homel why is it not good for resale?
May 18, 2017
Add a comment...

Questions

Answers

Edmonds?
Dec 11, 2015
1 Answer

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