When people talk about Seattle's billionaires, they don't often mean Seattle's billionaires. Sure, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz still lives within city limits, but our other famous three-comma club members (is Bezos at four yet?) actually reside in the Eastside suburbs. Amazon's founder owns a house in Medina, a small city on Lake Washington that's still big enough for his richest-man-in-the-world forebearer, Bill Gates, to also call home. And Steve Ballmer, the one-time Microsoft CEO and current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, recently bought another pad in Hunts Point.
These mansions symbolize a broader real estate reality in the Puget Sound region: Money often heads east. According to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data through June of 2021, all of Seattle's most expensive suburbs can be found in the Eastside—with one exception.
Somehow, this Lake Washington isle has managed to get pricier. The city of 25,000 has long topped lists of the most affluent communities in Washington; these days, its average home sells for nearly $2 million. Here you can find both sylvan and waterfront properties, sometimes all in one: The Deerwood Estate was listed in early 2021 for nearly $14 million.
Median sale price: $1.9 million
Bellevue (and points west)
The constellation of communities around Bellevue—Clyde Hill, Medina, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point—typically attract the billionaire set west of I-405. But Bellevue itself is a magnet. Unlike most Eastside locales, the city offers a variety of high-end condos to complement its more palatial homes. It's also more diverse than its neighbors.
Median sale price, west of I-405/east of I-405/south of I-90: $1.6 million/$1 million/$1.2 million
Kirkland's population and economy continues to grow, with Google and Tableau offices at the new Kirkland Urban development perhaps a sign of more move-ins for years to come. Prices here have risen sharply during the pandemic, though this real estate map area does include a slice of Bellevue next to the 489-acre, horse-friendly Bridle Trails State Park.
Median sale price, Kirkland/Bridle Trails: $1,347,000
Big spenders can still head west. The only non-Eastside community on this list requires a ferry commute to and from Seattle, but in a world of more hybrid and remote work options, that might not be quite as much of a home shopping factor anymore. A variety of dining options and trails greet newcomers.
Median sale price: $1,100,000
Yes, there's another placid mass of water east of Seattle that's lined with manses. Lake Sammamish distinguishes a part of the Eastside known for its proximity to Microsoft's headquarters. Slightly more homes have sold here, at higher prices, during the pandemic. Redfin shows houses in the area regularly selling for upwards of $1 million.
Median sale price, east of Lake Sammamish: $1,088,000
Microsoft's HQ has given this suburb international name recognition for decades. Its prices remain high after all those years, and with light rail threading its way through the Eastside to Redmond in 2023, more may consider the city a place to hunker down.
Median sale price, Redmond/Carnation: $990,000