There’s a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in Washington:
Should I buy a place or rent?
Well, we aren’t here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you’ll do the right thing and a buy a place 😉
And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in Washington, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Evergreen State.
To do that we are going to look at places in Washington that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the ‘deals’.
The best deal in Washington at the moment? That would be Vancouver according to our analysis.
Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in Washington:
- Vancouver (Photos | Homes)
- Battle Ground (Homes)
- Tumwater (Photos | Homes)
- Lakewood (Photos | Homes)
- Washougal (Photos | Homes)
- Arlington (Photos | Homes)
- Marysville (Photos | Homes)
- Milton (Homes)
- Pullman (Photos | Homes)
- Everett (Photos | Homes)
The methodology that wen’t into this can be a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below.
If you’re not worried about finding a deal on good places to live, check out the most expensive places to live in Washington and, for those of you on a budget, the cheapest places to live in Washington.
How do you determine the best places to buy a home in Washington?
We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.
So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we’d approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in Washington. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in Washington with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.
To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2012-2016 and compared it to the previous vintage (2011-2015). Specifically, we used the following criteria:
- Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
- Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
- Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It’s still kinda cheap)
We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still ‘cheap’ for Washington with the following caveats:
- Home prices had to be within 20% of the state average (Much lower than that and you get to some of the more dangerous places)
- Home prices increased in the last year, and
- Above 5,000 people (Bigger cities have more data points)
So of the 617 cities and towns in Washington, only 26 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.
We then ranked each place from 1 to 26 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a ‘best place to buy’ index with the place having the lowest index being the best.
Turns out that Vancouver is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Evergreen State.
Read on for more on these places.
The Vancouver area was inhabited by a variety of Native American tribes, most recently the Chinook and Klickitat nations, with permanent settlements of timber longhouses. The Chinookan and Klickitat names for the area were reportedly Skit-so-to-ho and Ala-si-kas, respectively, meaning ‘land of the mud-turtles.’ First European contact was made in 1775, with approximately half of the indigenous population dead from smallpox before the Lewis and Clark expedition camped in the area in 1806. Within another fifty years, other actions and diseases such as measles, malaria and influenza had reduced the Chinookan population from an estimated 80,000 ‘to a few dozen refugees, landless, slaveless and swindled out of a treaty.’|Meriwether Lewis wrote that the Vancouver area was ‘the only desired situation for settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.’ The first permanent European settlement did not occur until 1824, when Fort Vancouver was established as a fur trading post of the Hudson’s Bay Company. From that time on, the area was settled by both the US and Britain under a ‘joint occupation’ agreement. Joint occupation led to the Oregon boundary dispute and ended on June 15, 1846, with the signing of the Oregon Treaty, which gave the United States full control of the area. Before 1845, American Henry Williamson laid out a large claim west of the Hudson’s Bay Company (including part of the present-day Port of Vancouver), called Vancouver City and properly registered his claim at the U.S. courthouse in Oregon City, before leaving for California. In 1850, Amos Short traced over the claim of Williamson and named the town Columbia City. It changed to Vancouver in 1855. The City of Vancouver was incorporated on January 23, 1857.
Battle Ground got its name from a standoff between a group of the Klickitat peoples and a military force from the Vancouver Barracks, which had recently transitioned to a U.S. Army post. In 1855, when this occurred, the Klickitat peoples had been imprisoned at the Vancouver Barracks. The hostile conditions of their detainment inspired some of the Klickitats to decamp.
Lakewood was officially incorporated on February 28, 1996. Historical names include Tacoma/Lakewood Center and Lakes District (this name was used by the U.S. Census in the 1970 and 1980 Census). Lakewood is the second-largest city in Pierce County and is home to the Clover Park School District, the Lakes Water District, Fort Steilacoom Park and Western State Hospital, a regional state psychiatric hospital.
Washougal was officially incorporated on December 4, 1908. Its Mount Pleasant Grange Hall is the oldest continually used grange hall in Washington.
Prior to American settlement in the 19th century, the Puget Sound region was inhabited by indigenous Coast Salish peoples. The confluence of the two forks of the Stillaguamish River, the location of present-day downtown Arlington, was a prominent campsite for the Stillaguamish and Sauk peoples while following fish runs; the Stillaguamish named the campsite Skabalko, and had a major village at Chuck-Kol-Che upriver near modern-day Trafton.
Marysville was established in 1872 by government-appointed Indian agent James P. Comeford, an Irish immigrant who had served in the Civil War, and his wife Maria as a trading post on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. The reservation, located to the west of modern-day Marysville, was established by the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855, signed by local Native American tribes and territorial governor Isaac Stevens at modern-day Mukilteo. The treaty’s signing opened most of Snohomish County to American settlement and commercial activities, including logging, fishing and trapping.
About five years after European-American settlers established Whitman County on November 29, 1871, Bolin Farr arrived here, camping in 1876 at the confluence of Dry Flat Creek and Missouri Flat Creek, on the bank of the Palouse River. Within the year, Dan McKenzie and William Ellsworth arrived to stake claims for adjoining land. They named the first post office here as Three Forks. In the spring of 1881, Orville Stewart opened a general store and Bolin Farr platted about 10 acres (40,000 m2) of his land for a town.
The land on which Everett was founded was surrendered to the United States by its original inhabitants under the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott. Permanent settlement in the area by European descendants started in 1861 when Dennis Brigham built a cabin on a 160-acre (0.6 km2) claim on the shore of Port Gardner Bay. Over the next several years a handful of settlers moved to the area, but it wasn’t until 1890 that plans for platting a town were conceived.|On July 17, 1890, The steamship Queen of the Pacific left Tacoma for an Alaskan cruise with Henry Hewitt, Jr. and Charles L. Colby aboard. During this ‘Fateful voyage’ initial plans for an industrial city on the peninsula along the banks of the Snohomish river were formulated. On August 22, 1890, The Rucker Brothers filed their plat at Port Gardner, a 50-acre (200,000 m2) townsite on the bayfront side of what is now the city of Everett. This plat was later withdrawn to accommodate the plans of the Hewitt-Colby group.
There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In Washington
There’s our analysis of the best places to buy a house in Washington. And, to be clear, we aren’t necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.
In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 617 places in the state.
So if we’d could rent or buy in these cities, we’d definitely buy.
For more Washington reading, check out:
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Washington
- 10 Safest Places In Washington
- 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Washington
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In Washington