Best Areas to Live in Seattle

The best areas to live in Seattle, you say? That's a question that's going to depend a lot on what you're really looking for in your Seattle experience. Here's my thoughts on the matter as a Windermere Realtor.

Best Areas to Live in Seattle

The places to live in the Emerald City come in many different shapes and forms. What exactly constitutes the best places depends on your needs and your relative cost of living.

But getting into this discussion involves a more directed conversation about the history of Seattle as a whole.

Seattle in 2010 was a completely different world from what it is now. Hardly any aspect of the city has stayed the same, barring the city’s feverish addiction to the black nectar of the mountains.

But all that to say, despite transformational changes to its urban structure, there are still wonderful things to love about Seattle.

And yes, coffee is still one of them.

Yes, we will be talking about coffee...

What is the best area to live in Seattle?

I also make the point that we need to distinguish what YEAR of Seattle we are talking about because many natives (myself included) relish saying that one area or another WAS a great area until X or Y happened.

But for the sake of this post, I think that dealing in the present matters more than anything. So, this is my breakdown of the best places with the most housing options in 2020. As you should be able to tell, this is simply my own opinion…and I will try my best to not be blinded by nostalgia. Here are some things to consider as you try to decide what the best places to live are for YOU in the city of Seattle.

Ranking the Neighborhoods of Seattle

If you are a local, you’re probably already familiar with the many neighborhoods in Seattle. But if you’re new to the city, or you’re plotting your next move… here’s a breakdown of some of the key areas. Consolidated by Google themselves.

Now, this is not an exhaustive list. I can spot a few simple ones that are missing right away… cough cough, Green Lake, Magnolia, Wedgewood, Greenwood, Ravenna, Sand Point, Upper Queen Anne… the list goes on.

But this is a good list to start with.

What is the safest neighborhood in Seattle?

First, you should ask yourself what you are looking to get out of your life in Seattle. Are you raising a family in the city? Looking to retire? Looking for a young adventure of your own, with the horizon freshly laid upon your gaze?

Safety is often one of the most important reasons that people choose a neighborhood. There are plenty of other factors that play into this, but this is certainly a dominating one.

Rating Neighborhoods by Safety

Determining which neighborhoods are the safest can be a challenge, as the metrics involving crime are often in a state of flux.

Places like Lower Queen Anne, the University District, Lake City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Beach and the downtown area as a whole can have their own unique challenges.

In general, it's best to have a good dose of common sense in ANY city that you live in... being in densely populated areas after dark is usually not such a great idea.

Real estate in Seattle is also changing in accordance with home prices, unemployment rate, and the general housing costs of living in the city.

When I was a bit younger and fresh out of college, I worked during the week in Pioneer Square at a tech company. This was right at the rise of the tech boom in Seattle. This neighborhood, in particular, has been re-shaped something crazy over the last number of years. While it was once regarded as a dangerous area (and still is, in parts) it has seen a rise of interest due to its many amenities and nightlife.

What are the bad areas of Seattle?

I certainly don't mean to dwell on this topic, but often, people are more concerned with which areas to avoid rather than which neighborhoods they ought to congregate.

That being said, the answer to what is a "bad" area will vary slightly. Seattle, relative to other major metropolitan areas is fairly safe... but you'll want to look further into the crime data yourself to get a full answer to that question.

bad areas of seattle
Data from 2018 showing the comparison between Bellevue and Seattle on crime

If you are in search of peaceful single-family homes in Seattle, you might do better to look near Magnolia park or even Shoreline, which is just due north of Seattle. In my humble experience, considering the lifestyle that a home offers you is relatively more important than whether or not it has water views.

Amenities in Seattle

The suburbs of Seattle all offer different types of amenities. Belltown, Phinney Ridge, Lower Queen Anne, West Seattle, Columbia City, South Lake Union, and Rainier Valley all have plenty of things to enjoy.

Coffee shops are one thing that people come flocking to Seattle for. And for good reason, we do have innumerable great ones. Instead of listing off my favorites, I'm just going to tell you straight up that Milstead & Co. in Fremont has stood the test of time for me as my favorite coffee shop.

Coffee Shops in Seattle

In fact, I'm really just in real estate to work off the massive debt that I've accumulated as a result of going to Milstead for so many years ;) (jk).

Credit where credit is due, there are many other neighborhoods that have great coffee shops and more. South Lake Union seems to run the show when it comes to food trucks. It also happens to be where the majority of Amazonians live and work, whether in apartments, high-rises, or new homes.

Bus lines and bike lanes also extend far across Seattle, giving you plenty of options for getting downtown (or wherever you need to go), although I'd be misrepresenting the city if I told you that it's easy to get around. Ho ho. It's changed so much in the last 10 years.

If spending less time in a commute is a big deal to you, I'd encourage you to locate yourself as close to your target destinations as possible. Or at least choose a neighborhood with plenty to do that will keep you local.

Capitol Hill, for example, will have far more going on than Mercer Island. Not to mention the cost disparity between the two is quite high. Capitol Hill, on the topic, has several new condos and various rental buildings popping up.

Where do most Amazon employees live in Seattle?

Since I mentioned them in the previous paragraph, let's talk a bit more about businesses (and specifically, Amazon).

These businesses have actually changed the personality of the northwest substantially, by bringing many newcomers over the last decades.

The cost of living in Seattle tends to get a bit higher, the closer you get to these businesses. Most residents of Seattle look to minimize the amount of time they spend in their commute, so consequently, things get quite dense in the city center.

No, people don't actually LIVE in the spheres... they tried that in the movie "Bio-Dome," and I think we all agree that was a bad idea.

Pike Place Market has some limited housing options nearby, which have seen more growth lately... but many folks end up relying strictly on transit.

Seattleites who work at Amazon mostly live in the South Lake Union area, although I've heard plenty of stories of locals that make the hop over to Bellevue instead. Their reasoning can be due to finding better condo options, favorable restaurants, or even schools with better test scores in their district.

If you feel like I'm not giving you a direct answer, you're not totally far off. The difficult thing is, there are so many different reasons to make a move in the first place, that it's difficult to tell you what the right way to do it is. If you're coming to Seattle looking to participate in loads of events, visit cafes, nightclubs, shopping, or to capitalize on the hot job market, then your reasoning will vary substantially more than somebody who is looking to drive up to Mount Baker on the weekend for a hike!

Quiet Neighborhoods in Seattle

While I am hard-pressed to tell you than any neighborhood in Seattle is truly “quiet” these days, I think that these are probably your safest bet for a relatively quiet experience.

And, none too surprising, most of these come at a premium in terms of pricing. The median home price in Magnolia is just over $1,050,000…. And frankly, the rest of the city isn’t too far behind. Some are even further ahead.

Broadmoore, Laurelhurst, and Madison Park all are among some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city. Although I have to say, Magnolia is still my favorite neighborhood in Seattle.

magnolia seattle
Magnolia Bluff, in Seattle

I've always regarded it as a spot where you can enjoy all of the great things about Seattle during the day, while not having to be surrounded by it at night. I spent 4 years living in Magnolia during college and afterward, and I was a frequent visitor to Discovery Park, which was like a sort of sacred space for me from the busy town.

This neighborhood also has wonderful views of Puget Sound in some parts and is in a location that's only a short distance from many other amenities in Seattle.

In terms of housing, Magnolia has houses, places to rent, or even a vacant lot here and there if you'd like to build. It's also one of the areas of the Emerald City that is more abundant in nature, which isn't necessarily the case in others. In terms of places to live, I feel as though it's as close to peace as you can get... with maybe West Seattle coming in as a close second.

Neighborhoods in Seattle with Lots to Do

This is another tough one, as there are tremendous amounts of things to do in Seattle in general.

If you’re a fan of a small-ish community with walkable bars and a relaxed vibe, Fremont is definitely my favorite when it comes to socializing. It’s not TOO saturated and seems to have preserved some of its charm even amidst the urban transformation.

fremont seattle

Plus, you get to watch the bridge go up and down. Which, even if you get tired of having to deal with it in traffic, is still kind of a fun experience. Ballard is very similar to Fremont, although has recently started becoming far denser in population.

These are some of the other things that you should consider checking out, whether you're looking to live in Seattle or just visit.

Other Places to Live

There is a lot more geography to the Seattle area, whether you're looking for a small-town feel, a suburb, or more.

Be sure to consider some of these spots as you look around:

You can always visit Seattle's local websites and travel guides to get a better sense of what these can offer you. As a realtor, I'm here to help you determine what the cost of living and the best places to live are in the Seattle area. What the means for your lifestyle in the Emerald City is going to vary based on what you want.

Whether you want to participate in the bustling nightlife of Capitol Hill or enjoy the serenity of Lake Washington, I hope that my breakdown here gives you a good idea of what the best places to live are in the Emerald City.