Seattle is so hot right now. How many times have prospective homebuyers heard this as both a boast and a warning? Yes, home prices continue to rise at unprecedented levels, thanks to a tech boom that keeps booming. But focusing only on this skyrocketing trajectory ignores the wealth of character found across Seattle’s neighborhoods. Using hard real estate data, and factoring in the less quantifiable (but nonetheless crucial) matter of what’s cool, here are the top 25 places to live in the city.
- Walk Score: A 0–100 metric that reflects a neighborhood’s “walkability,” or its proximity to restaurants, shops, parks, and other amenities.
- Transit Score: A 0–100 metric that reflects a neighborhood’s accessibility via public transit.
- YOY: Year-over-year percentages show changes in real estate data from data collected the previous year.
Median Sale Price: $890k • Sale Price Change YoY: 11.3% • Homes Sold in 2017: 251 • Median Rent: $2,979 • Walk Score: 83 • Transit Score: 59
Nestled comfortably between Lake Union and Green Lake, Wallingford is a centrally located neighborhood that could, in another city, be confused with a cozy suburb. Craftsman-style homes with handsome porches line streets dappled with sunlight in the summertime. But walk a few blocks to North 45th Street and suddenly Wallingford takes on a Main Street flair: record stores, local merchants, and unfussy eateries like the affordable sushi spot Musashi’s and of course the original Dick’s Burgers. Further south the surroundings transform into a hot up-and-coming destination for both brunch and happy hour, a stretch that hosts Eltana, the Whale Wins, Thackeray, and Pablo y Pablo, to name only a few. This trek leads to Wallingford’s emerald jewel: Gas Works Park, with its industrial architecture and panoramic view of downtown (and the seaplanes flying into and out of Lake Union), the most distinctive patch of green in the city.
2. Central District
Median Sale Price $770k • Sale Price Change YoY 10.8% • Homes Sold in 2017 256 • Median Rent $2,700 • Walk Score 88 • Transit Score 67
Close to the perks of metropolitan life (lots of bus lines, Capitol Hill bars) but far enough from big-city chaos (bustling university campus, those same Capitol Hill bars) the Central District is a residential sweet spot. And people have taken notice. Many a starkly modern condo has sprouted up between nineteenth-century Victorian houses and craftsman revival homes. Jewish, Asian, and black communities have historically lived in the Central District, but the area’s becoming more gentrified—yes, the G-word—by the day. Now places like Chuck’s Hop Shop draw beer nerds with IPAs and funky sours, and Union Coffee and Squirrel Chops caffeinate nearby residents, while neon-lit Uncle Ike’s beckons cannabis seekers near and far. (It’s the highest-grossing pot shop in the state.) Some change that’s easy to get behind though: Judkins Park. What once was a deep ravine used as a dump has blossomed into a six-block stretch of green space and playfields. —Rosin Saez
3. North Admiral
Median Sale Price $716k • Sale Price Change YoY 15.7% • Homes Sold in 2017 243 • Median Rent $2,817 • Walk Score 68 • Transit Score 42
While residents to the west know the differing characteristics of their community across the bridge, Seattle at large has only lately started recognizing the distinct neighborhoods that make up what they’ve known all along as just West Seattle. North Admiral is one such community—one of the oldest neighborhoods in West Seattle and the place many Seattleites conjure when thinking of the peninsula. East of Alki and just above the heart of West Seattle, North Admiral embraces beachfront mansions on the Duwamish Head and, further inland, blocks of dignified homes flanking California Avenue. Long considered remote, even after the bridge opened, many homebuyers are now fighting each other off to move to West Seattle.
Median Sale Price $801k • Sale Price Change YoY 22.3% • Homes Sold in 2017 264 • Median Rent $2,628 • Walk Score 84 • Transit Score 58
For years, North 36th Avenue, the commercial center of Fremont, remained relatively unaffected by new development compared to its neighbors. The stretch is lined with old bike tinkerers, hippie shops, and midcentury houses turned into coffee shops, and Thai restaurants. But the recent upzone changes things, clearing the way for taller mixed-use residential buildings among (and, in many cases, in place of) the mixed-and-matched commercial tableau. Case in point Modern Korean gem Revel, until recently housed in an unassuming old one-story building, will soon find itself in the ground floor of a shiny new condominium. But fret not. The reliably weird Center of the Universe should weather the coming developments and still appear weird on the other end. Plus, its hillside microneighborhoods of incongruous streets and hidden stairways remain atop the list of Seattle’s most unique and sought-after residential zones.
5. Capitol Hill
Median Sale Price $600k • Sale Price Change YoY 29.0% • Homes Sold in 2017 524 • Median Rent $2,341 • Walk Score 91 • Transit Score 73
Every time someone declares Capitol Hill “over”—no longer the wild, creative heart of Seattle, thanks to parking woes, price tags, or the fact that the Block Party just feels so corporate these days, man—two newcomers discover it for the first time. They wander Lake View Cemetery at noon to marvel at the solitude, or wait in line at 1am for a cream cheese hot dog outside Neumos. Fresh faces walk Pike/Pine on a rowdy Friday night and feel like they’ve finally found their people. Lately the best advertisement for downtown housing is that it’s walking distance to Capitol Hill. The mark of a truly vital neighborhood is its ability to be reborn again and again, from auto-sales row to party central, from outsider haven to the city’s most in-demand real estate. Think Capitol Hill is over? That’s okay. For another resident, it’s just begun. —Allison Williams
Median Sale Price $760k • Sale Price Change YoY 15.9% • Homes Sold in 2017 870 • Median Rent $2,296 • Walk Score 87 • Transit Score 51
Just off the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the bustling City of Ballard sprouted a century ago from these marinas and fishermen’s terminals. Now its stretch of trendy boutiques and restaurants rivals the shopping and nightlife scenes anywhere else in Seattle. But the busy southern end of this increasingly popular neighborhood is just the front door, so to speak. New condominium developments give way to older apartment dwellings and then, as you go farther north, quiet single-family neighborhoods, peppered here and there with community parks and surprising pockets of bars and restaurants a bit more low key than the weekender favorite Ballard Ave. Travel west and, suddenly, a beach! Bonfires and kite surfers fill Golden Gardens every year as soon as the sun cooperates. It’s no wonder many residents want to again recognize Ballard as its own city.
Median Sale Price $635k • Sale Price Change YoY 6.4% • Homes Sold in 2017 359 • Median Rent $2,486 • Walk Score 85 • Transit Score 52
Long coveted by young families looking for a quiet place to put down roots, Greenwood remains one of Seattle’s residential beating hearts. The neighborhood features traditional homes mixed with newer construction (the status quo across much of Seattle in 2018), laid out in a straightforward grid (not so typical for Seattle) and bisected by a commercial stretch of craft cocktail bars and family-friendly cafes. Greenwood can also claim most of the benefits of both a Seattle suburb and a more urban pocket. Far enough north from the commercial hubbub that surrounds Lake Union, kids can play outside their homes without worrying about cars speeding by on a shortcut to an after-work happy hour meetup. But it’s only around 15 minutes into downtown via Aurora or I-5. Expect a lot of competition in this consistently red-hot neighborhood.
Median Sale Price $779k • Sale Price Change YoY 6.0% • Homes Sold in 2017 132 • Median Rent $2,943 • Walk Score 72 • Transit Score 53
Topographically speaking, Leschi is a neighborhood divided. Most of its identity centers on the Lake Washington shoreline, where cyclists pedal past pleasure boats bobbing in the harbor and a handful of restaurants (Meet the Moon, Daniel’s Broiler) cater to families and mature tech types. Down the street, tiny Leschi Market somehow has just the thing for both weeknight diners and sunbathers who surreptitiously drink rosé on the nearby T-dock in the summer. That pastoral vibe extends up the steep hillside. Houses might be tudors or ramblers, older or brand spanking new, but they all embrace those panoramic views. Atop the ridge, residents tend to identify with other, adjacent neighborhoods: Madrona with its quaint village strip or the Central District where residency doesn’t imply that you live in a lakefront mansion. But even these sedate blocks have the occasional flash of sparkling lake water. —Allecia Vermillion
Median Sale Price $1.2 million • Sale Price Change YoY 25.8% • Homes Sold in 2017 79 • Median Rent $3,709 • Walk Score 67 • Transit Score 62
Less conspicuously wealthy than Madison Park, nearby Montlake still boasts idyllic communities of wide streets and old craftsman and tudor homes that will put you back some real cash. There’s something vaguely New England about many Montlake properties, with their pillars and porches and manicured lawns just asking for a game of croquet or a weekend afternoon of fetch with a well-trained pup. This sense of timelessness extends into Montlake’s own downtown district, nary a boxy condo in sight. Instead, the slip of a commercial zone contains the cozy neighborhood tableau of an upscale restaurant (Cafe Lago), a coffee shop (Fuel Coffee), a florist, a bike shop, and a handful of other local merchants. Bookended by two expansive parks, Interlaken and the Arboretum, Montlake is a posh community on the water surrounded by greenery.
10. Bitter Lake
Median Sale Price $400k • Sale Price Change YoY –9.1% • Homes Sold in 2017 168 • Median Rent $2,235 • Walk Score 68 • Transit Score 48
This sliver of a neighborhood (drive about a dozen blocks on Aurora Avenue and you’ll pass right by it) packs a lot of character into such small square mileage. Named for the body of water on its north end, Bitter Lake is a long-overlooked but up-and-coming area owing to its range of housing options—from new multifamily developments to old single-story homes to proud lakefront properties. The neighborhood’s density—high compared to other mixed-zone communities of apartments, condos, and single-family homes—means you won’t find the wide streets and long sidewalks that prospective homebuyers may require as the connective tissue between their home and the community. Instead, Bitter Lake reflects its location: a commuter-friendly residential pocket immediately adjacent to Highway 99 with enough space to settle in and put down roots.
11. Mount Baker
Median Sale Price $821k • Sale Price Change YoY 46.6% • Homes Sold in 2017 139 • Median Rent $3,047 • Walk Score 75 • Transit Score 59
The craftsman homes are so tall and stately, you’d swear you were on the north end of Capitol Hill. But the people who occupy them are younger and less white than you’d expect. Mount Baker doesn’t have a ton of shops and restaurants, though the existing neighborhood fixtures are fiercely beloved, from Mioposto’s wood-fired breakfast pizzas to the impeccable microroasts at QED Coffee. Thanks to the Saloon, a recent arrival to the area, there’s even a place to get a good manhattan, sans children. Throw in some sprawling Olmsted-designed greenways, a beach, a legit playground, a light rail station, and easy access to downtown and the Eastside: Mount Baker may not have Capitol Hill’s rocking nightlife, but nobody hanging out at the Community Club (a hub of musical performances, yoga classes, even potlucks) seems to be complaining. —AV
12. Beacon Hill
Median Sale Price $574k • Sale Price Change YoY 17.5% • Homes Sold in 2017 453 • Median Rent $2,461 • Walk Score 61* • Transit Score 65*
Walk around this southeast Seattle neighborhood and you might notice the wall murals, statues, and other public art celebrating a range of ethnic communities. Beacon Hill’s diverse residents, largely Asian or Pacific Islander and foreign born, have shaped the neighborhood into what it is now. Though much of the community contains single-family homes, it’s surrounded by cultural hubs exclusive to Beacon Hill. You can find social justice nonprofit El Centro de la Raza with its front-yard garden and playground, conveniently located by the light rail station and go-to cafe the Station. In North Beacon Hill, find ethnic food essentials at the Red Apple grocery store or spend a few sweaty hours climbing at the Seattle Bouldering Project. And there’s always Jefferson Park for a picnic date. —Hayat Norimine
Median Sale Price $735k • Sale Price Change YoY 34.9% • Homes Sold in 2017 118 • Median Rent $2,724 • Walk Score 47 • Transit Score 45
Out of all the neighborhoods in Seattle proper, even the peripheral residential communities to the north and south, like Bitter Lake and Rainier Beach, Fauntleroy is perhaps the most hidden from the heart of Seattle. Across the West Seattle Bridge, through the heart of West Seattle and downward into Fauntleroy Cove, this small pocket of cottages and bungalows blesses residents with a level of marine serenity that shouldn’t be possible just six miles from downtown Seattle. The sound laps gently upon the isolated cove, a strip of sand lined in parts with the neighborhood’s most covetable homes, offering peaceful (if chilly) walks in the gray months and knockout views of the Olympic Mountains on clear days. And if residents need to get away even further from the city for a weekend day trip, the Fauntleroy ferry dispatches daily escapes to nearby Vashon island and Southworth.
14. South Lake Union
Median Sale Price $490k • Sale Price Change YoY 14.6% • Homes Sold in 2017 13 • Median Rent $2,438 • Walk Score 92 • Transit Score 86
No other neighborhood better illustrates Seattle’s tech-driven boom than South Lake Union. Look at an aerial photo from just 10 years ago and note the skyline now (if you can see past all the cranes). What was once a low-key lakefront district filled mostly with warehouses transformed seemingly overnight into the epicenter of the city’s tech industry, now under the shadow of the Amazon headquarters. The blocks between Lake Union and Denny brim during the day with throngs of this new workforce, all heading to or from bites at any of the neighborhood’s wealth of fast-casual concepts or a quick refresh at barre or spin class. Then streets all but empty out at night, when the residents of SLU’s midsize to large condo developments either revel in the quiet or take advantage of the central location, making a quick trip downtown or to Capitol Hill.
Median Sale Price $868k • Sale Price Change YoY 19.7% • Homes Sold in 2017 489 • Median Rent $3,056 • Walk Score N/A • Transit Score N/A
Jutting west, out into the water on a branch of land—gloriously common in Seattle’s quirky geography—Magnolia is like the city’s forested backyard. Lush thickets of trees extend up the hillside from the water like green waves crashing against the shores. The woodland hides towers of multiunit residences and hamlets of sumptuous homes overlooking the water. To the south, Magnolia Park and its tree-lined bluffs boast panoramic views to the west and southwest. But it pales in size next to Discovery Park—the largest park in Seattle, almost a neighborhood unto itself. This expansive swath of public land somehow contains stretches of beach, a historic fort and forest trails, and wide lawns to lay down a picnic or toss a football. Magnolia is not the easiest to get to, it requires a skirt around Interbay and Queen Anne. But isolation is part of its charm.
16. Madison Park
Median Sale Price $1.8 million • Sale Price Change YoY 51.7% • Homes Sold in 2017 105 • Median Rent $3,753 • Walk Score 68 • Transit Score 35
If there was ever a proper beachfront community in oceanless Seattle—complete with waterfront mansions and swaths of beautiful public land on which locals come to sun and swim and dream of owning something there one day—it’s Madison Park. The upscale community, facing Lake Washington and bordered to the west by the Washington Park Arboretum, feels like its own destination outside of Seattle. The homes in Madison Park are some of the most expensive in Seattle, and understandably so. Modern mansions and breathtaking tudors with long, gated driveways and expansive east-facing windows are as ostentatiously luxurious as Seattle gets. Nearby Madison Park Beach—a wide slope of grass that gets full afternoon sun in summer and leads directly to the shores of Lake Washington—is a local treasure whether you live in the neighborhood or are just visiting.
17. Lower Queen Anne
Median Sale Price $560k • Sale Price Change YoY –13.7% • Homes Sold in 2017 211 • Median Rent $2,387 • Walk Score 92 • Transit Score 69
One of Seattle’s most dynamic neighborhoods is also one of the most overlooked. Lower Queen Anne’s proximity to KeyArena, Seattle Center, and McCaw Hall makes it a marquee destination for the arts, but it’s rarely thought of as a thriving residential community. Folded in among the busy thoroughfares of Roy and Mercer Streets, however, you’ll find blocks of classic multiunit residences, upscale condos, and even a fair amount of water views. It’s more accurate to think of Lower Queen Anne as a convergence of its neighbors: the self-sustaining community of Upper Queen Anne, and the cosmopolitan buzz of Belltown. And with Lower Queen Anne’s new upzone in place, allowing the construction of taller mixed-use buildings, the neighborhood will soon be flush with new residences, making it an even more viable option for urban dwellers than it’s been all along.
Median Sale Price $588k • Sale Price Change YoY 21.3% • Homes Sold in 2017 568 • Median Rent $1,861 • Walk Score N/A • Transit Score N/A
It wouldn’t be far fetched to guess the majority of Seattleites venture into Northgate primarily to visit the namesake mall. But thanks to a steep uptick in new development, this expansive community north on Interstate 5 contains dwelling options for both first-time homebuyers looking to get into the market with a condominium and new families vying for a place to spread out a bit. Expect Northgate to continue increasing in density, especially in the mixed-use midrise variety, as the forthcoming Northgate Light Rail Station (scheduled for 2021) makes the outlying neighborhood a more viable commuter option. Seattle’s willingness to invest in this transit infrastructure points to a future in which Northgate, known mostly as home to the largest enclosed mall in the city, gets folded into Seattle as one of its up-and-coming neighborhoods.
19. Upper Queen Anne
Median Sale Price $845k • Sale Price Change YoY 16.1% • Homes Sold in 2017 600 • Median Rent $3,048 • Walk Score 70 • Transit Score 59
Upper Queen Anne (or just Queen Anne, depending on whom you ask) is an instantly identifiable Seattle neighborhood: the big houses on the hill. Rising above the buzz of Lower Queen Anne to the south, and the lovable hippie community Fremont on the north side, the hill’s summit is among only a handful of places you’ll find platonic front lawns and proper backyards—a real white picket fence vibe—in the whole city. Its elevation, and the stateliness of the homes, gives Upper Queen Anne a bit of an esteemed air. But past the iconic Kerry Park view and the historic Victoria Townhomes, Queen Anne is actually quite a quaint and low-key neighborhood, the sort of supportive community that will keep a local grocer like Ken’s Market thriving even with a Trader Joe’s just down the way.
20. Columbia City
Median Sale Price $680k • Sale Price Change YoY 15.3% • Homes Sold in 2017 141 • Median Rent $2,451 • Walk Score 84 • Transit Score 59
Gone are the days when Columbia City was a cherished secret: an oasis hidden in Rainier Valley, filled with sloping hills of traditional houses and handsome townhomes, and a most picturesque downtown tract. It boasts neighborhood staples of classic theater (Columbia City Theater), family breakfast favorite (Geraldine’s Counter), pub with live music (the Royal Room), and workaday local merchants trading pleasantries with familiar faces at the summer farmers market. Well, secret’s out. Even with the increase in new home construction and commuteworthy restaurants popping up along Rainier Avenue, Columbia City manages to hang on to its small-town vibes. This might be due to the distance from the city’s downtown core, but mostly it’s thanks to the loyal community who helped build and sustain the character of this distinct Seattle neighborhood, and who want every new resident to fall in love too.
Median Sale Price $677k • Sale Price Change YoY 20.9% • Homes Sold in 2017 389 • Median Rent $2,213 • Walk Score 97 • Transit Score 98
Want to be in the thick of it? Belltown is a stark contrast from quiet residential neighborhoods with darling streets and ample parking. The Seattle urban center’s de facto entertainment district, Belltown forgoes playgrounds, family diners, and community theaters for urban dog parks, gastropubs, and nightclubs. A normal Friday might include happy hour frites and a pilsner at Belltown Brewing, then on to chic dinner staples like Tavolàta, ending with a nightcap at any of the reliable dives on Second Avenue. A plethora of old and new condo developments means there is no Lyft fee between last call and home—some with enviable views of Elliott Bay. But Belltown is not all nightlife. Its close proximity to both downtown and the Sound can make for a healthy routine of leisurely strolls to Pike Place Market or weekend jogs along the Olympic Sculpture Park.
Median Sale Price $829k • Sale Price Change YoY 3.8% • Homes Sold in 2017 211 • Median Rent $2,899 • Walk Score 77 • Transit Score 53
Ravenna made headlines in recent years as one of the hottest housing markets in the entire country. And understandably so. Tracts of gorgeous multistory homes and older mansions line wide streets dappled in green, and it’s quieter than you’d expect from a community so close to the University District and those rowdy youths. Central in the neighborhood, 65th Avenue provides the commercial anchor of grocers, bookstores, and a few bars pleasantly long in the tooth. Also historic is the nearly century-old Roosevelt High School, stately home of the Rough Riders. On the southern end of the neighborhood, the conjoined Ravenna and Cowen Parks provide a lush greenbelt with plenty of winding trails for a bit of respite. That’s why Seattleites move to Ravenna after all, for a little close-by peace and quiet.
23. South Park
Median Sale Price $393k • Sale Price Change YoY –3.1% • Homes Sold in 2017 55 • Median Rent $2,114 • Walk Score 59 • Transit Score 37
As would-be homebuyers push farther outward from central Seattle to find affordable dwellings, many eyes (and no small amount of developer prospecting) now turn to what has long been considered the city’s most diverse neighborhood. South Park’s majority Hispanic population adds to a food and culture scene unlike anywhere else in Seattle. Out of the historically industrial region, fueled by the Duwamish River, springs a vibrant community filled with public art, traditional eateries, and festivals celebrating both Hispanic and Native American heritage. While an influx of new residents and construction drives the local cost of living up, South Park’s property values have not skyrocketed at unprecedented rates like elsewhere in the city, and local advocacy groups continue to do the work of ensuring the Seattle boom can coexist with the longtime residents of this diverse neighborhood.
24. Hillman City
Median Sale Price $613k • Median Sale Price YoY 25.0% • Homes Sold in 2017 83 • Median Rent $2,346 • Walk Score 84 • Transit Score 54
Don’t get it confused with Columbia City. This southern stretch of Rainier Avenue may have once been considered outskirts to its desirable neighbor to the north, but Hillman City has taken on an exciting new identity following a period of relative stagnation amid a city experiencing unprecedented growth. But you could even think of Hillman City as Columbia City’s younger sibling. For one, it hosts some of the hippest new casual eats south of the stadiums, like Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max, Big Chickie, Full Tilt Ice Cream’s sister bar Hummingbird Saloon, and microroaster Tin Umbrella. The Hillman City Collaboratory—a coworking space and community incubator brought to the neighborhood’s historic district by two local arts organizations—points to an exciting future of Hillman City as a viable alternative dwelling for creative and civic-minded residents looking to venture out of the Capitol Hill bubble.
Median Sale Price $588k • Sale Price Change YoY 4.0% • Homes Sold in 2017 67 • Median Rent $2,374 • Walk Score 69 • Transit Score 46
So much of Georgetown’s appeal comes from its apparent sovereignty: a neighborhood geographically disconnected from the rest of the city by industrial zones, with a brick-and-mortar, vaguely Southwest aesthetic all its own. This character keeps Georgetown a thriving commercial and residential district, even when it lacks abundant single-family home offerings compared to its neighbors. Just visit to understand its peculiar magic. Drive south—past the stadiums, past SoDo, through the Industrial District—and come upon something of a Route 66 town, brimming with vintage shops, music stores, and first-rate comic book retailer Fantagraphics Books. Biker bar–esque Smarty Pants and divey pool halls rub shoulders with a relatively newer crop of marquee eateries like Fonda La Catrina, Ciudad, and Brass Tacks. Also there’s a giant cowboy boot in a park and a trailer park mall full of vintage clothes and trinkets.
Data provided by Redfin and Zillow. Median sale prices were collected October–December 2017. Data reflects all residential types, including single-family homes, condos, and townhouses. Year-over-year percentages show changes in real estate data from data collected the previous year.