15 Best Places to Live in Washington

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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When many people hear the name Washington, the first thing that springs to mind is the District of Columbia. Washington State often gets confused with the American seat of power, and it’s understandable.

So, how desirable is the Evergreen State for anyone looking to put down roots here? The state has two volcanoes, Mount St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. It has more glaciers than the other 47 contiguous states, with a classic Pacific Northwest terrain marked by the Cascades and a treasured coast.

Gallup ranks it as the seventh-most liberal state in America, so you can bet its outdoor-loving folk are a pretty awesome bunch. The state, the only one to be named after a U.S. president, is the largest apple producer in the country, claiming the bragging rights as the headquarters of some of the world’s biggest and most admired employers – Amazon, Microsoft, Costco, and Starbucks.

Expectedly, Washingtonians enjoy some of the highest incomes in the nation, ranking 12-highest in terms of per-capita personal income. This is also one of seven states that don’t pay state individual income tax. It comes with the bonus of making significant savings on your energy bills as the electricity rates in WA are the third cheapest in America.

Here are the 15 best places to live in Washington State based on crime rate, school system excellence, home affordability, and growth and prosperity.

1. Redmond

Redmond, WashingtonSource: Kyle_Graff / shutterstock
Redmond, Washington

With a population of over seventy-five thousand and less than twenty miles from Seattle, you’ll find the city of Redmond, one of the best places to live in Washington.

This city has a high quality of life with an excellent school system, a thriving economy, and plenty of nature parks that provide abundant recreational opportunities. Redmond has diverse shopping, restaurants, a safe community, and a dedication to protecting its natural environment.

With its dedication to preserving nature, Redmond has over thirty parks on over thirty miles of walking trails. Redmond is the perfect city to raise a family with its teen center, community center, and recreation programs.

Redmond offers its residents a combination of urban and suburban living, so if you enjoy a peaceful, laid-back environment, it’s the perfect city to call home!

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do and see in Redmond are:

  • Marymoor Park
  • Sammamish River Trail
  • Microsoft Visitor Center
  • Evans Creek Preserve
  • Idylwood Beach Park
  • Black Raven Brewing Company
  • Real Life Exhibit Seattle
  • Redmond Town Center

2. Sammamish

Sammamish, WashingtonSource: Dan Lewis / shutterstock

Sammamish is located in the Northwest of Washington, a charming city to enjoy the outdoors. With a population of over sixty-six thousand, it’s one of the best places to live in Washington. Residents enjoy living in Sammamish for its suburban feel, and most are homeowners.

While living in Sammamish, you can take advantage of all its nature parks including Beaver Lake Park, Cougar Mountain Regional Park, and Lake Sammamish State Park. Redmond has a fantastic school system, a thriving economy, and recreational opportunities.

This alone makes Redmond one of the most desirable cities in Washington for families.

Entertainment & Activities

While living in Sammamish has plenty of activities to keep you occupied, including outdoor, cultural, and recreational activities. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, this is one of the best cities to call home.

  • Pine Lake Park
  • East Sammamish Park
  • Hazel Wolf Wetlands
  • Big Block Brewing
  • Ebright Creek Park
  • Beaver Lake Park
  • Sahalee Country Club
  • Rockmeadow Equestrian Center
  • Heritage Hills Cabana
  • Cougar Mountain Zoo

3. Pullman

Washington State University in Pullman, WashingtonSource: Steve Smith / shutterstock
Washington State University In Pullman, Washington

Situated in Whitman County, Pullman has a population of over thirty-two thousand, this suburban town has a lot of parks to take advantage of the outdoors. Pullman is known for its agriculture and has an abundance of rolling hills of wheat.

In Pullman, you’ll find Washington State University and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories’ international headquarters.

Pullman offers plenty for its residents, everything from cultural to recreational activities. The city offers many community events throughout the year, such as the annual National Lentil Festival.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Pullman are:

  • Washington State University
  • Kamiak Butte County Park
  • Martin Stadium
  • Bill Chipman Palouse Trail
  • Wawawai County Park
  • Charles R. Conner Museum
  • Sunnyside Park
  • Lawson Gardens
  • Palouse Discovery Science Center
  • Museum of Anthropology
  • South Fork Public House
  • Zoe Coffee and Kitchen
  • Paradise Creek Brewery

4. Issaquah

Issaquah, WashingtonSource: Joe Mabel / Wikimedia

Known for its attractive setting, arts and culture, and nearby recreation you’ll find Issaquah one of the best places to live in Washington. Issaquah is a modern city surrounded by nature parks that are great for hiking.

With a population of over thirty-nine thousand, Issaquah gives its residents a suburban feel while still living in the city. Issaquah is also home to the headquarters of Costco. Other significant businesses in Issaquah are Microsoft and Darigold.

The city of Issaquah experiences warm summers and very wet winters, with winters being much wetter than their summers. For transportation, Issaquah has a free circulator bus that runs from business districts to community centers, making commutes a breeze.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Issaquah are:

  • Village Theatre
  • River Mountain
  • Lake Sammamish State Park
  • Cougar Mountain Zoo
  • Pine Lake Park
  • Issaquah Depot Museum
  • Twin Cedars Winery
  • Issaquah Valley Trolley
  • Squak Mountain State Park

5. Richland

Richland, WashingtonSource: locksmithtricities.com

Home to over fifty-eight thousand residents, Richland is a lovely community to explore the outdoors and one of Washington’s best places to live.

It hosts several outdoor events such as the medieval Renaissance fair, folk life, music festivals, and art and car shows. It is located in the heart of Washington and has shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, and plenty of culture and history.

With its proximity to Seattle and other cities, residents can access other areas when desired. With its small-town atmosphere, future job growth, and water recreation, what’s not to love about Richland?

Entertainment & Activities

Richland is known for having various water activities that residents and visitors enjoy. People of all ages can enjoy the attractions and activities in Richland!

  • Howard Amon Park
  • Goose Ridge Winery
  • Badger Mountain Park
  • Fairchild Cinemas
  • Chamna Natural Preserve
  • Adventures Underground
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Wildlife viewing tours
  • Hiking trails

6. Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island, WashingtonSource: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / shutterstock
Bainbridge Island

Known for its natural beauty, rustic character, and proximity to Seattle, Bainbridge Island is one of Washington’s best places to live. Bainbridge Island developed a new type of transportation called the Bi-Ride that operates on two routes and costs only $2.

Located only a thirty-minute ferry ride from Seattle, you can find an abundance of shopping, restaurants, and museums. Over the years, Bainbridge Island has become a substantial shipbuilding and farming industry.

Today, Bainbridge Island has over twenty-four thousand residents and a diverse community of artists, organic distilleries, and locally owned farms. In addition, the island offers many outdoor activities.

If you’re looking for a small city and love ferry rides, you’ll love Bainbridge Island!

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Bainbridge Island are:

  • Bloedel Reserve
  • Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial
  • Bainbridge Island Museum of Art
  • Fay Bainbridge Park
  • Heyday Farm
  • Bainbridge Island Historical Museum
  • Bainbridge Vineyards
  • Bainbridge Distillers
  • Kids Discovery Museum

7. Snoqualmie

Snoqualmie, WashingtonSource: www.ci.snoqualmie.wa.us

Located only twenty-five miles away from Seattle, you’ll find the small town of Snoqualmie. Snoqualmie is known for its natural beauty, especially Snoqualmie Falls, and is a popular destination among travelers worldwide.

With its beautiful scenery, outdoor recreation, thriving economy, and environmental sustainability, Snoqualmie has become a desirable place to live among families. In 2022, Snoqualmie received a Best City Award as being ranked the third safest city in Washington.

The small town of Snoqualmie has received many awards for its high quality of life. If you’re looking to call Snoqualmie home, you’ll enter a friendly and welcoming community.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Snoqualmie are:

  • Snoqualmie Falls
  • Northwest Railway Museum
  • Mailbox Peak
  • Sigillo Cellars
  • Railroad Community Park
  • Gold Creek Pond Trail
  • Snoqualmie Point Park
  • Snoqualmie Casino

8. Kirkland

Kirkland, WashingtonSource: SEASTOCK / shutterstock

Kirkland is the twelfth largest city in Washington, with a population of over eighty-one thousand. With its robust park system and suburban city life, Kirkland is surrounded by other cities in King County.

While living in Kirkland, you won’t need to worry about a commute. Kirkland is located near Interstate 5 and 405 and State Route 520.

With its commitment to supporting local businesses, Kirkland has a wide variety of shopping, galleries, and boutiques. In addition, Kirkland also has many waterfront parks and forests where residents can do their hiking.

As a result, while living in Kirkland, you’ll be able to enjoy its waterfront landscapes, wooded forests, and much more! Kirkland is the best place to call home if you love living in the big city but still want that suburban feel.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Kirkland are:

  • Juanita Bay Park
  • Marina Park
  • Bridle Trails State Park
  • Kirkland Library
  • Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail
  • Chainline Brewing Company
  • Waverly Beach Park
  • Kirkland Arts Center
  • Flatstick Pub

9. Bellevue

Bellevue, WashingtonSource: SEASTOCK / shutterstock

With over one hundred and forty-five thousand population, Bellevue is the fifth largest city in Washington and has one of the best economies. With its gorgeous nature parks and excellent schools, it’s ranked as one of the best mid-sized cities for families.

While business is booming, Bellevue has its traditions celebrated at Kelsey Creek Farm Park. Spanning over thirty-three miles, Bellevue is only a short drive from the Cascade Mountains.

As its number of residents grows, Bellevue continues to become a diverse community with friendly and welcoming residents. With a mixture of urban and suburban living, Bellevue is a great place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Bellevue are:

  • Bellevue Downtown Park
  • Bellevue Skate Park
  • Deer Run Park
  • Bridle Trails State Park
  • Lake Sammamish State Park
  • Chesterfield Beach Park
  • Bellevue Arts Museum Store
  • Bellevue Farmers Market (Thursdays)

10. Woodinville

Woodinville, WashingtonSource: FloweringHearth at English Wikipedia / Wikimedia

Located just fifteen miles north of Seattle, you’ll find the town of Woodinville. Known for its wine, recreation, and tourism industries, this town has a community of friendly and tight-knit residents.

Families enjoy the town of Woodinville for its bike trails, renovated parks, playgrounds for children, events, and entertainment hosted by the community. While strolling around town, you’ll notice the dozens of restaurants, coffee shops, and other eateries that can satisfy your cravings.

The demographics alone in this small town make it an excellent place to raise a family thanks to its excellent school systems and outdoor activities. Not only is the small town of Woodinville one of the best places to live in Washington, but it’s also a great place to grow up!

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Woodinville are:

  • Woodinville Whiskey Co
  • DeLille Cellars
  • Paradise Valley Conservation Area
  • Over the Rainbow Hot Air Ballooning
  • Golf Club at Echo Falls
  • Willows Lodge

11. Maple Valley

Maple Valley, WashingtonSource: SEASTOCK / shutterstock
Maple Valley

Maple Valley is one of the best places to live in Washington, only thirty minutes from Tacoma. Maple Valley is in the perfect location and has much to offer its residents.

In greater Maple Valley, you’ll find many family residences on multiple acres of land, some of which even have horses, cows, sheep, and alpacas. In other areas you’ll find apartments, senior housing, and townhomes, making almost every option available when housing options are concerned.

The Maple Valley school district has one high school, two middle schools, six elementary schools, private schools, and homeschooling options for families. This community focuses a lot on education, so if you’re a family considering moving here, your children will be well cared for.

In Maple Valley, you’ll find three nature parks: Lake Wilderness Park, Summit Park, and Take-A-Break Park. In addition, every year, the community of Maple Valley holds many annual events, the most popular being the Maple Valley Days Festival.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in the city of Maple Valley are:

  • Lake Wilderness Trail
  • Elk Run Golf Club
  • Maple Valley Days Festival
  • Henry’s Ridge Open Space
  • Hops n Drops Restaurant
  • Lake Wilderness
  • Maple Valley Farmers Market
  • Woodland Park Zoo
  • The Museum of Flight

12. Kenmore

Kenmore, WashingtonSource: SEASTOCK / shutterstock

Kenmore is one of the best-kept secrets of Washington State. As an urban community, residents love living in Kenmore for its great outdoors, award-winning school system, and many amenities.

Residents in Kenmore will tell you that this truly is the best place to live and work. In addition to its thriving economy, Kenmore is home to Bastyr University, the best natural medicine university in the United States.

Located only minutes from Seattle, you can access any area from Kenmore by its major highway, boat, or the Burke Gilman Trail. If you’re looking for a place with plenty of family-friendly fun, Kenmore is a great place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Kenmore are:

  • Saint Edward State Park
  • Cairn Brewing
  • Wallace Swamp Creek Park
  • Log Boom Park
  • Friday Harbor Seaplanes

13. Olympia

Olympia, WashingtonSource: John T Callery / shutterstock

Olympia is one of the best places to live in Washington, with excellent walks and waterfront views. With its boardwalk, Percival Landing, Olympia hosts one of the largest farmer’s markets in the state. Olympia is also home to one of the largest breweries.

Olympia also has plenty of history and exciting attractions for its residents and visitors who come to the area. Residents rave about Olympia because you have everything you need without traveling to the big city.

With its unique outdoor recreational options, you’ll also find mouthwatering dining options and family-friendly activities for all ages.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Olympia are:

  • Olympia Farmers Market
  • Percival Landing
  • Historic District Olympia
  • Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve
  • Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls
  • Olympia Coffee Roasters
  • Capitol State Forest
  • Olympic Flight Museum

14. Mercer Island

Mercer Island, WashingtonSource: Russ Heinl / shutterstock
Mercer Island

In Mercer Island, you’ll find excellent schools, beautiful parks, and a friendly community. Known as an island and city, Mercer Island has over twenty-five thousand residents and is situated in the center of Lake Washington.

Connected to Seattle by a bridge, Mercer Island has been recognized by the state of Washington as a top fifty suburb with plenty of parks, public beaches, and hiking trails.

Mercer Island has become popular among families looking for a place to raise children. In addition to its safe and excellent schools, residents living here love its easy commute and opportunities for community gatherings.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Mercer Island are:

  • Barrels
  • Greta Hackett Outdoor Sculpture Gallery
  • Hap’s Burgers and Taps
  • Deane’s Children’s Park
  • Clarke Beach
  • Groveland Beach
  • Luther Burbank Park
  • Pioneer Park
  • Youth Theatre Northwest
  • Mercer Island Farmers Market

15. Seattle

Seattle, WashingtonSource: ESB Professional / shutterstock

Rounding off our list and one of the best places to live in Washington is the city of Seattle. With its popular dining options, thriving community, and coastal setting, Seattle is great for outdoor water recreation and sightseeing.

Known for its highly popular attraction, the Space Needle, residents, and visitors both still visit this attraction for its views from the observation deck. Seattle is much more than its rainy weather and coffee, it’s a great place to start and raise a family.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Seattle are:

  • The Space Needle
  • Seattle Harbor Cruise
  • Pike Place Market
  • Gasworks Park
  • Post Alley Gum Wall
  • Seattle Coffee
  • Alki Beach
  • Lake Union


15 Best Places to Live in Washington:

  • Redmond
  • Sammamish
  • Pullman
  • Issaquah
  • Richland
  • Bainbridge Island
  • Snoqualmie
  • Kirkland
  • Bellevue
  • Woodinville
  • Maple Valley
  • Kenmore
  • Olympia
  • Mercer Island
  • Seattle