Best Places to Live

The Most Coveted Seattle Neighborhoods and Suburbs

When the housing market’s this fierce, competition is always pending.

By Angela Cabotaje Published in the Summer 2022 issue of Seattle Met

Illustration: Seatle Met composite and Goodstudio / shutterstock.com

Bidding wars, waived contingencies, all cash. Those once-in-a-blue-moon tactics are basically the bare minimum now if you’re looking to snag any sort of square footage in Seattle and its surrounds. Locals hyped on the new hybrid work norm seek space, mostly in the burbs, while the priced-out fuel demand in once-affordable enclaves. Some weary would-be buyers want to leave the region, even the state, altogether. And for those who wish to remain, may the offers be ever in your favor. 


Contents

Hottest Seattle Neighborhoods / Priced Out and Moving To...Arkansas? /
Least Competitive Seattle Enclaves / Hottest Seattle Suburbs  / Rent Roller Coaster 


Data Decoder 

YOY: Year-over-year percentages show change compared to the previous year.

Sale-to-List Ratio: A home’s final sale price divided by its list price. Anything over 100 percent means it sold for above asking.

Days on Market: How long a listing is active before the seller accepts an offer.

Data provided by Redfin. Rankings are based on 2021 Compete Scores; data was collected between January and March 2022 and reflects all residential types, including single-family homes, condos, and townhouses.


Maple Leaf rakes in residents with quiet residential streets.

Image: Will Austin

Hottest Seattle Hoods

Seattle communities with a real competitive streak.

North Beach and Blue Ridge 

Neighborhood: Broadview
Median Sale Price: $1,125,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 11%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 108.9%
Median Days on Market: 6
Homes Sold Change YOY: 88.9%

It’s not quite country club level, but this southern swath of Broadview sure gets close. Private beaches and parks are a literal thing here—as are the McMansions popping up for Puget Sound views—though the proximity to Golden Gardens and Carkeek Park ensures the public has some semblance of waterfront access too. Good luck finding a sidewalk, a trait typical of North Seattle neighborhoods annexed in or post 1954, but have your pick of preserved midcentury modern homes.

Unlisted Gem: When the holiday-happy Olympic Manor community gets lit. 

Meadowbrook

Neighborhood: Lake City
Median Sale Price: $810,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 24.6% 
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 104%
Median Days on Market: 6
Homes Sold Change YOY: 0%

Nature and history converge in this little pocket of Northeast Seattle, where the Duwamish once settled near Thornton Creek before loggers and farmers transformed the area. One remnant, the red-brick LaVilla Dairy milk-processing building, still stands, but nowadays it’s mostly quiet residential areas studded with trees—lots of ’em—ideal for those seeking well-appointed lots within city limits.

Unlisted Gem: The community-run NE Seattle Tool Library lends a hand to those flexing their fix-it know-how.

Ravenna has multigenerational appeal.

Image: Will Austin

Ravenna

Median Sale Price: $1,048,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 6%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 110.3%
Median Days on Market: 6
Homes Sold Change YOY: 8.1%

The hub that sprang up around a railroad stop is now a confluence of it all: mellow streets, wooded Ravenna Park, a renowned public university, and one “don’t call it a mall” outdoor shopping center. But to really understand its ever-present popularity, just take a look at the array of folks who call this area home—yuppies, college professors, and UW students alike.

Unlisted Gem: Revitalizing pick-me-ups at Queen Mary Tea Room.  

Bryant 

Median Sale Price: $1,213,000 
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 41%  
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 117.7% 
Median Days on Market: 6
Homes Sold Change YOY: -44.4%

Call it the understated cousin of Northeast Seattle. Tucked between more well-known neighborhoods, skinny little Bryant is oft overlooked, but what it lacks in bravado it makes up for with trim houses and tidy tree-lined curbs. Those seeking a touch of hustle and bustle can find it on the south end, where bikers zip by on the curvy Burke-Gilman Trail and businesses line Sand Point Way.

Unlisted Gem: A business trifecta off NE 45th Street: Great State Burger, Rudy’s Barbershop, Burke-Gilman Brewing Company. 

Maple Leaf

Median Sale Price: $750,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 10%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 109.9%
Median Days on Market: 5
Homes Sold Change YOY: -26.2%

Brokers once nudged first-time homebuyers here, where a mix of new-build condos and modest bungalows offered a gentler parachute into the rabid housing market than more established neighborhoods might. Not anymore. Young families and high-earners both flock to Maple Leaf now for its residential appeal as well as its clusters of commerce along Roosevelt Way.

Unlisted Gem: Picnic-, pickleball-, and bike-ready Maple Leaf Reservoir Park.

Woodland Park Zoo fits right in with Phinney Ridge’s wild prices.

Phinney Ridge

Median Sale Price: $825,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: -10%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 109.7%
Median Days on Market: 6
Homes Sold Change YOY: 50%

Don’t let the seasonal cooling fool you—the median sale price of homes in this enclave topped $1 million during the dog days of last summer. It’s pretty easy to see why. In addition to its sidewalked blocks, knots of freshly erected townhomes, and ample apartment offerings, Phinney Ridge can tout everything from a combo wine shop/bookstore to a Filipino fried chicken spot along Greenwood Avenue and Phinney Way, not to mention the city’s only zoo. If you live on the west side, just be prepared to hoof it—that ridge is no joke.

Unlisted Gem: Caffeine-saving Home Espresso Repair; look for the spray-painted sign.

Medieval meets modern in Delridge’s Roxhill Park. 

Image: Jane Sherman

Roxhill

Neighborhood: Delridge
Median Sale Price: $701,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 8%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 109.2%
Median Days on Market: 6
Homes Sold Change YOY: -35%

The landlocked southwest corner of Delridge may be less flashy than other parts of West Seattle—we can’t all fringe Alki Beach, after all—but it still has plenty to appease. Not the least of which is a median sale price hovering in the relative territory of “affordable.” Multiple parks and just-the-basics Westwood Village up the convenience factor considerably, which, after that West Seattle Bridge closure, we know is no small thing.

Unlisted Gem: Huzzah for ye olde castle-themed play structure (and the skate park too) at Roxhill Park. 

Stretches of undeveloped waterfront add to Seward Park serenity.

Image: Will Austin

Seward Park

Median Sale Price: $725,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: -34%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 106.5%
Median Days on Market: 9
Homes Sold Change YOY: 25%

In 1911, Seattle bought a parcel of land known as Bailey Peninsula for $322,000—about $9.75 million in modern times. Today Seward Park is one of the city’s most beloved retreats, jutting out into Lake Washington like a hook. Naturally, the neighborhood that grew around it draws a number of homeowners seeking not only access to the water but also a medley of homes, from stately structures to retro split-levels to more modest single-story properties.

Unlisted Gem: Nighttime Owl Prowls through Seward Park led by the Audubon Center.  

Victory Heights

Neighborhood: Lake City
Median Sale Price: $860,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 41%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 111.1%
Median Days on Market: 6
Homes Sold Change YOY: 18.8%

Between shopper-crowded Northgate and car-filled Lake City Way sits Victory Heights. The business-heavy borders of this micro neighborhood make it pretty clear you’re still within city limits, but on sidewalk-less residential blocks, it’s a different story. Towering firs line properties. Lattice fences abound. The price point remains within reach for cramped condo dwellers, though.

Unlisted Gem: A creative homeowner on 20th Avenue Northeast uses faux skeletons to create a funny-bone-tickling setup.

Wedgwood

Median Sale Price: $1,156,000 
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 32%   
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 117.9%   
Median Days on Market: 6
Homes Sold Change YOY: -25.8%

Its name? A brand of English china. Its monument? A 19-foot-tall boulder known simply as Wedgwood Rock. Its claim to Seattle fame? The city’s first P-Patch. What sprang up as a planned community during the World War II housing boom has become a repository of local trivia knowledge and also an increasingly popular place for families seeking residential streets with preserved large trees. Matthews Beach and Magnuson Park are also within its vicinity.

Unlisted Gem: Wedgwood Rock, debris from the Vashon Glacier, is protected from development. Good thing—it weighs 1.5 million pounds.

Ballard brunch-goers gather at the Fat Hen.

Whittier Heights

Neighborhood: Ballard
Median Sale Price: $1,042,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 15%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 110.3%
Median Days on Market: 7
Homes Sold Change YOY: -14.8%

Whittier Heights is a sign of the times, where cranks slap “Free Ballard” bumper stickers on their Subarus to protest the condo developments of recent decades. Its perfectly rectangular grid of streets sports a mix of older but well-kept Craftsmans along with contemporary townhouses and custom single-family homes—with the odd red-brick Tudor for good measure. Interior streets are relatively quiet and pedestrian friendly, while the perimeter is packed with businesses, buses, and other road traffic.

Unlisted Gem: Quaint brunches at the Fat Hen; the shakshuka is a favorite.

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You Say Wedge, I Say WTF?

The Wedge

A triangular slice of Woodinville, not a salad.

Grass Lawn

Redmond never looked so green. Wait, is that Marymoor Park?

Stuck

…in Auburn. 

Delta

Covid just had to ruin it for you, huh, Everett?

Manhattan

Where the wolves of Burien live.

Mann

Best friend to that other Central District subsection: Dogg.

Olde Town

Who knew Lil Nas X was so fond of Issaquah?


 

When the Price Is Right

 
As Seattle nears an affordability tipping point, small towns spy a capital opportunity.

When Marley Blonsky quit her corporate job last year to focus on her side hustle, she realized with startling clarity that she could move anywhere. Technically, the longtime Seattleite could afford to live here—she paid $1,500 each month for a 700-square-foot one-bedroom in Capitol Hill—but she wouldn’t be able to save for a down payment on a house.

So she made a list: Portland, Minneapolis, Kansas City. Locations where her size-inclusive cycling community, All Bodies on Bikes, could thrive, and most importantly, places with less property sticker shock than Seattle. Then one night, a sponsored post rolled onto Blonsky’s Instagram feed. “It [showed] bicycling, and I think they talked about cost of living. And I was like, What is this?” 

“This” was strategic, algorithm-aided calculus from the Northwest Arkansas Council. In November 2020, the nonprofit, which promotes economic growth in the areas around Fayetteville and Bentonville, launched its “Life Works Here” campaign to attract prospective residents. NWA flooded Seattle and similar outdoor-loving urban markets like Austin and Denver with ads—along with the opportunity to apply for a $10,000 grant just for moving there. “Come for the tech jobs. Stay for the health benefits,” a billboard next to traffic-slogged Olive Way beckons beside a picture of a family biking across a trestle bridge. “You belong here,” coaxes another to cars inching south on Aurora Avenue. The NWA website even has a cost comparison calculator that shows how much further your Seattle money will stretch in Arkansas. (Apparently, by nearly 50 percent.)

"Around 70 small towns dangle monetary incentives to priced-out city dwellers, hawking their median home values and internet speed ratings."

During the pandemic, “we really started to double down because we saw people leaving the coasts who could help us fill this niche area of entrepreneurship, creatives, and tech talent,” explains Nelson Peacock, NWA’s founder and CEO. “Seattle was chosen mainly because it has those attributes.” He demurs when asked about NWA’s marketing budget, but according to Brendon Smith of billboard company Lamar Advertising, it costs between $10,000 and $15,000 per month to rent that prime billboard space on Olive Way.

And it’s not just Peacock and company. Smith has noticed an uptick in these types of talent-poaching organizations seeking advertising during the pandemic. Jobs Ohio is one that’s also marketed to Seattleites; Calgary Economic Development too. MakeMy
Move.com, a website launched in late 2020, tracks all types of move-here appeals to weary, priced-out city dwellers like Blonsky. Around 70 communities—Morgantown, Ketchikan, Muncie—have listings on this Tinder for small towns, dangling monetary incentives and hawking their median home values and internet speed ratings.

Taylor Marr, deputy chief economist at Seattle’s Redfin, says the attempt to lure city talent to lesser-known locales isn’t anything new, but it’s certainly picked up as living costs have risen and remote work effectively severed the office tether. “During the last two years of the pandemic, we’ve seen consistently more people looking to buy real estate outside of the Seattle metro and leave Seattle.” A University of Washington mobility survey showed that 19 percent of respondents moved or were planning to move during the pandemic, and more than half of those people were doing it for more space and amenities.

For Blonsky, though, it’s not about pandemic trends—it’s kismet. She applied for the NWA grant sight unseen and moved out there in early April. The people are friendly, she says, the region, like a “Disneyland for bikes.” For $1,000, she’s renting a three-
bedroom house in Bentonville, a block off the main square. Eventually, she’d like to buy a home, but for now, she’s content to have “things I never thought would be possible in my life,” like a backyard, room for dinner parties, a garage. “I just like having time and space to kind of grow as a human,” Blonsky says. “Seattle has really shaped me, so it’s sad to be leaving. But I’m also excited.


Downtown condos don’t lack luster even if their prices have stagnated.

Image: Art Wager

Least Competitive
Neighborhoods

Home hunting was a little less heated in these urban blocks.

Downtown

Median Sale Price: $651,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 5%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 100.1%
Median Days on Market: 16
Homes Sold Change YOY: 4.5%

Depending on who you ask, downtown is either dying or just going through a rough patch. But in this condo-saturated part of town, it’s still possible to close on a home for below asking.

Belltown

Median Sale Price: $534,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: -2%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 100.3%
Median Days on Market: 16
Homes Sold Change YOY: -28%

The usual pros of this urban neighborhood—proximity to the downtown core, without all those tourists—falls a bit flat during pandemic times, when remote workers seek more space beyond their studio walls.

Broadway

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Median Sale Price: $683,000 
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 25%   
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 102%
Median Days on Market: 7
Homes Sold Change YOY: 0%

We’ll forgive Redfin the befuddling name for what is essentially west Capitol Hill, but it’s been an equally confusing ride for homebuyers in this nightlife hub, where homes closed for below list price during much of 2021.

First Hill

Median Sale Price: $550,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 11%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 101.2%
Median Days on Market: 8
Homes Sold Change YOY: 84.2%

A recent influx of “economical” sub-500-square-foot units and million dollar–plus condos only adds to Pill Hill’s housing diversity (no, the three hospitals don’t count), but limited space still isn’t much of a draw in the work-from-home era.

Lower Queen Anne

Median Sale Price: $488,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: -17%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 100.4%
Median Days on Market: 31
Homes Sold Change YOY: 8.3%

Consider that sound emanating from the vicinity of Lower Queen Anne a collective sigh that construction is finally done at Climate Pledge Arena. The traffic and hordes flocking to Seattle Center, though, won’t be going away any time soon.

Westlake

Median Sale Price: $592,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 25%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 103.6%
Median Days on Market: 10
Homes Sold Change YOY: -66.7%

The somewhat quieter side of Lake Union gets glorious water views, but car-logged Aurora Avenue’s part of the package too. Buyers in 2021 appeared to have luck closing on the mostly older condos here below asking, though recent numbers suggest a turnaround is in the works.

Cascade

Neighborhood: South Lake Union
Median Sale Price: $850,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 25%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 101%
Median Days on Market: 9
Homes Sold Change YOY: -29.7%

Did Amazon make up this neighborhood name or what? The heart of Bezos HQ, once filled with tech workers and gleaming new condos, lost its rhythm once employees stayed home during the days of social distancing—some for good.

Eastlake’s homes ride the market tides.

Eastlake

Median Sale Price: $945,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 30%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 100.6%
Median Days on Market: 8
Homes Sold Change YOY: -2.8%

Floating homes, spec houses, established condos—Eastlake has always had a creative mix of housing for its equally unique locale betwixt the hubbub of the city core and the bustling University District. The up-and-down demand here may just reflect that eternal in-between status.

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Real Estate Is Risky Business

Local real estate agents dish on their most memorable occupational hazard.

Sinking Feeling

Courtney Cooper, Seattle Afloat

“I was locking up [a floating home] and I dropped the key in the lake. I had to call the listing agent who thought I was an idiot. And I was. I learned to get floats on my keys.”

Nightmare Before Closing

Robin Sheridan, Compass

“I had a tree fall on a house during escrow. I had a flood on closing day. I had a guy screaming at me so loud one time on the phone that I truly thought if we had been in the same room that he would have actually hurt me.” 

Four’s Company

Mark and Kim Hobbs, Rain City Homes

“We toured all of the rooms [of the condo], and as I opened the last bedroom door, there was a threesome having a grand old time. And they didn’t stop, you know—they just kept doing their thing.” 


Snohomish Cascade homes may look a tad same-same, but that just means you get mass-market appeal.

Image: Will Austin

Hottest Seattle Suburbs

Zoom boomed, and our nearby towns did too. But which slices of suburbia sizzled the most?

Snohomish Cascade

Suburb: Snohomish
 
 
Median Sale Price: $1,080,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 30%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 120.9%
Median Days on Market: 2
Homes Sold Change YOY: 14.3%

Planned subdivisions feature their own painted welcome signs—and man-made waterfalls—in this Snohomish community where single-family homes reign. There’s not much in the way of architectural character, but for those looking for good schools, vaulted ceilings, and the manicured lawn life, this is it.

Unlisted Gem: Willis D. Tucker Community Park packs recreation into its 84 acres, hosting outdoor movies in summer, a sprayground, and an off-leash dog area.

Damson-Logan

Suburbs: Lynnwood and Bothell
 
 
Median Sale Price: $1,112,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 50%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 112.3%
Median Days on Market: 5
Homes Sold Change YOY: 33.3%

The west and east sides of Puget Sound converge just north of here at the junction of I-5 and 405. It’s fitting for a mostly residential area that claims both Alderwood Manor in Lynnwood and part of Bothell West as its own, where retro homes and new-build communities add to the diverse housing mix.

Unlisted Gem: That moniker? Named for the two main roads that wind through here. Hey, at least they didn’t choose nearby Locust Way.

Two wheels rule at Redmond Bike Park.

Image: Will Austin

Education Hill

Suburb: Redmond
 
 
Median Sale Price: $1,310,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 37%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 122.6%
Median Days on Market: 4
Homes Sold Change YOY: -9.7%

This eerily Texas-shaped wedge of a neighborhood is named for its abundance of schools and lofty location overlooking the Sammamish and Bear Creek valleys. Quiet, tree-studded cul-de-sacs house everything from classic split-levels to newer planned communities, all a short drive from Redmond’s commercial core.

Unlisted Gem: Redmond Bike Park’s three dirt-jump trails and pump track draw BMXers and mountain bikers alike to “Shredmond.”

Filbert-Winesap

Suburb: Bothell
Median Sale Price: $1,010,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 41%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 119.2%
Median Days on Market: 5
Homes Sold Change YOY: 93.8%

In July 2015, Bothell’s city council adopted a comprehensive redevelopment plan for its town, including 17 subareas—one of which is 1.2-square-mile Filbert-Winesap. Things look decidedly cookie-cutter, but if you don’t mind twinning with your neighbors, it’s a prime place to find new, turnkey properties and several ready-to-build lots.

Unlisted Gem: Even a micro neighborhood like this has its own nanobrewery, 4 Stitch Brewing Company, set up in an actual garage.

Quaint Silver Lake.

Image: Will Austin

Seattle Hill-Silver Firs

Suburbs: Everett and Snohomish
Median Sale Price: $950,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: 40%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 117.2%
Median Days on Market: 4
Homes Sold Change YOY: -9.2%

This former census-designated place (it has since split into two: Silver Firs and Eastmont) hugs a few different communities, curving around Mill Creek to the west, stretching down into Bothell and up north to Everett. Housing trends toward the typical suburban sprawl—newer build developments—but some holdout split-levels and ranches remain.

Unlisted Gem: Locals consider Silver Lake their mini Lake Washington, with boating, fishing, a sandy beach, and even a disc golf course.

Thrasher’s Corner-Red Hawk

Suburb: Bothell
Median Sale Price: $815,000
Median Sale Price Change YOY: -3%
Average Sale-to-List Ratio: 110%
Median Days on Market: 5
Homes Sold Change YOY: -43.7%

The Thrasher’s Corner part of this Bothell subarea is the heavily commercial west side, full of strip malls along the Bothell Everett Highway. Most of the Red Hawk half is residential, with plenty of recently built single-family properties from the city’s 2015 redevelopment plan, but townhomes too. It may feel like a neighborhood divided, but you sure can’t beat that convenience factor.

Unlisted Gem: A strip mall hides a standout menu of bubbling tofu soups, pork belly wraps, and hot pot at Korea House.


Rent Roller Coaster

Is the ride over yet?

During the onset of the pandemic, Seattle-area apartment dwellers saw their rents plummet, nosediving as much as 20 percent. A year later, those prices skyrocketed. Now frustrated renters want to know: Is stability in sight?

That depends on where exactly you live. According to Rob Warnock, a senior research associate at Apartment List, rents in Seattle proper are back to March 2020 levels. Move outward in concentric circles, though, and prices have ballooned well beyond Before Times standards. “In the Bellevue and Kirkland area, we’re seeing prices are up maybe six to 10 percent from where they were before the pandemic,” he notes. “But as you move even further out, go down towards Tacoma, Federal Way, Lakewood, even down to Olympia—these are cities that have seen upwards of 15 to 20 percent rent growth.” Up north in Everett and Silverdale, it’s the same story.

The turbulence boils down to Economics 101: supply and demand. Within city limits, physical constraints limit rental availability; there’s only so much land, and it’s already densely populated. The end of Seattle’s eviction moratorium may relieve some of that pressure, Warnock says, but not enough to provide substantial relief and at an ethical and humanitarian cost. Out in the burbs, ongoing supply chain issues and rising costs of materials and labor curb further sprawl.

Inventory is basically pinched everywhere, and changing priorities have driven interest farther from the towers in the city’s core. New Seattle legislation that requires at least six months’ notice for rent increases might keep prices stable for longer, something especially attractive during these tumultuous times, but landlords may respond with preemptive rent hikes instead, leading to even more pricing tumult. The rise of hybrid work in recent months has also given the suburbs a big boost, with more residents opting for space and amenities over commute time.

As the traditionally fast-paced summer market heats up, Warnock predicts the Seattle-
area rental scene, especially in those out-lying areas, will only continue this historic rise. “I’m pretty confident that prices will continue to go up—and faster than they would have before the pandemic,” he says, “when things felt a little bit more stable.” 


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