10 Best Places To Live In Washington For 2020


These are the cream of the crop in the Evergreen State.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to live in Washington.

Ah Washington, home of Starbucks, Grunge music, soaring mountains and enough rain to make California extremely jealous.

But what makes Washington really great is its down-to-earth people and creative, friendly communities. While the whole place is downright lovely, some spots in the Evergreen State deserve special attention for standing out as truly extraordinary. This is why HomeSnacks created a list of the top ten best places to live in Washington for 2020.

We are not surprised that Washington has a huge demand for people moving to it as it ranks in the top 20 states to live in America. So Mercer Island has a ton of people knocking down the door to get in.

After analyzing 120 of the state's most populous cities, we came up with this list of the top ten best places to live in Washington in 2020 based on crime, quality of life, and things to do.

What's the best place to live in Washington state? According to the most recent FBI and Census data, Mercer Island ranks as the best place to live in Washington for 2020.

To be fair, any place mentioned in the top ten would be a great place to call home, although some places are definitely on the pricer side of Seattle. But that's what you get for your money: a safe, awesome place to live.

Read on for a detailed take on the top ten and a thorough explanation of how we figured out where to live in Washington.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more Washington reading, check out:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Washington For 2020

Mercer Island, WA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 25,492
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $1,135,200 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (17th best)
More on Mercer Island: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Big congratulations to Mercer Island for holding onto the title of best place to live in Washington for the second year running. Located smack dab in the middle of Lake Washington between Seattle and Bellevue, Mercer Island has a lot going for it. Like the 4th highest median household income in the state at $142,413/year. And the 4th lowest rate of violent crime in Washington.

People in Mercer Island didn't wind up so awesome accidentally. The local public school system scored a 9/10 on GreatSchools, so you know the next generation is well-situated to pick up the mantle of excellence Mercer Island has established. And with over 40% of adults having a master's degree or higher, this early insistence on the importance of education definitely has an impact later in life. One thing to note about Mercer Island though is that the cost of living here is nearly three times as high as the Washington average, so you might want some savings and/or a lucrative job lined up before starting your island life.

Speaking of island life, an extra thing that makes Mercer Island special is the access to awesome beaches. The one at Luther Burbank Park is the most popular, but the west-coast Groveland Beach is the spot to be if you're hunting gorgeous sunsets.

Sammamish, WA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 64,049
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $749,000 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (8th best)
More on Sammamish: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Sammamish is no stranger to the Homesnacks spotlight -- we've already named it the best city for families in Washington for 2020, and a lot of those same factors come into play here. Like having a perfect 10/10 education score on our SnackAbility ratings. And being the place with the 3rd lowest crime rate in the state, with the lowest incidence of violent crime. Or having awesome family-friendly activities around like camping and boating at Lake Sammamish.

Word to the wise though, Sammamish is also the richest place in Washington, so we hope you're comfortable rubbing elbows with the state's elite. Homes in Sammamish are the 2nd most expensive in the state at $749,000. That's no biggie for most residents though since Sammamish also has the highest median household income in Washington at $165,318/year. Along with the normal perks of wealth, Sammamish also has the 3rd highest rate of health insurance coverage in the state at 98.6%. And it's not like some people are getting left in the dust here, because Sammamish has a poverty level of just 2.2%, the 3rd lowest in the state.

The secret is out on Sammamish and the city's population has grown by almost 50% since 2010, so be sure to move quickly if you want to get in on the good times.

Brier, WA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 6,819
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $454,700 (20th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (7th best)
More on Brier: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Located about 15 miles north of Seattle, Brier comes in as the 3rd best place to call home in Washington. Brier is one of the safest places in Washington, with a crime rate roughly 80% lower than the statewide average.

Brier residents enjoy the 6th highest median household income in Washington at $122,623/year. And with home prices at a relatively reasonable $454,700, the cost of living in Brier only about 25% higher than the Washington average. Not to mention that, with an unemployment rate at 3.1%, the 7th lowest in the state, you shouldn't have any trouble locking down a job here.

One thing to note is that, at 46, Brier is the oldest place we're covering, which can be a positive or a negative depending on your priorities. One definite positive, though, is having easy access to Saint Edward State Park, a popular picnic destination for Seattleites.

Snoqualmie, WA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 13,317
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $582,000 (10th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (10th best)
More on Snoqualmie: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Snoqualmie is a King County city of 13,317 located about 30 miles east of Seattle. If you're moving here, expect a lot of random visitors, because Snoqualmie Falls draws more than 1.5 million tourists each year. Those visitors are pretty respectful though because even with all the randoms coming and going, Snoqualmie experienced only 3 violent crimes in 2020, the 2nd lowest in the state.

Aside from crime, the economy of Snoqualmie is cause for considerable envy for other Washingtonians. The absurdly teeny poverty level of 1.3% is the lowest in the state. Unemployment is at incredibly low levels and 98.7% of residents have health insurance, the 2nd highest rate in Washington. Lastly, Snoqualmie's median household income of $144,148/year is the 3rd highest statewide.

Redmond, WA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 63,197
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $631,700 (6th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.9% (22nd best)
More on Redmond: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

We're sticking around King County for our 5th best city in Washington, Redmond. Known as the home to both Microsoft and Nintendo of America, Redmond has a rock-solid economic base to work with. Which helps explain why Redmond residents earn the 5th highest median household income in Washington, $123,449/year. You kind of need to be earning big bucks to get by here, though, because homes go for around $631,700.

Redmond is also the youngest city we'll be covering, with a median age of 34. These young-uns don't have to go far to get to work, because at 23 minutes, Redmond also has the shortest commute of cities on this list. And if you'd rather do your part for the environment, Redmond is a highly-bikeable community and has been described as "the bicycle capital of the Northwest."

Feel free to ride your bike down the Sammamish River Trail and return to a concert at Maymoor Park after you're done.

Duvall, WA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 7,811
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $452,200 (21st best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (46th best)
More on Duvall: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

The first thing to know before moving to Duvall is that people here like to celebrate. Between the June Duvall Days celebration, the weekly SummerStage concerts in McCormick Park every summer, and the annual Sandblast Festival of the Arts, it's fair to say you'll never be bored in Duvall during the summer months.

Partying is great and all, but it's not what lands Duvall in the #6 spot for best places to live in Washington. That would be thanks to having the 2nd lowest crime rate, the 2nd lowest poverty level (2.1%), and the lowest high school dropout rate in Washington.

Here's the really sweet thing about Duvall: it has the 2nd highest median household income in the state at $156,205/year, but only the 21st priciest homes. That combination of statistics is part of the reason why the cost of living in Duvall is on the lower end of cities listed here.

Mill Creek, WA

Source: City Of Mill Creek
Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 20,164
Rank Last Year: 17 (Up 10)
Median Home Value: $486,600 (17th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (9th best)
More on Mill Creek: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

We turn now to our second and final Snohomish County representative, Mill Creek. This city got its start as a planned community centered around a country club and a golf course, so you can imagine it's one of the wealthiest of the Seattle 'burbs. It also has the 9th lowest unemployment rate in Washington, sitting at just 3.2%. If you're part of the employed population, you can expect big paychecks every week, because Mill Creek's median household income is $101,239.

Mill Creek is also known for its safety. It has a crime rate around 50% lower than the statewide average. So you won't have to worry about unsavory characters spoiling your good time when you're out watching one of many shows put on during Mill Creek's summer concert series.

Kirkland, WA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 88,079
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $607,800 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (19th best)
More on Kirkland: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Next up is Kirkland, a city of 88,079 located across Lake Washington from Seattle. Parents love Kirkland because it has an average GreatSchools rating of 8/10, with an emphasis on top-rated high schools. Employees love Kirkland because they earn the 11th highest median household income in Washington at $109,715/year. And everyone loves the fact that Kirkland has about a third as much violent crime as your average Washington city. Not to mention that as the 6th most densely populated spot in the state, you'll never lack for action in Kirkland.

All of these great factors help account for Kirkland's monumental rise in recent years. It is by far the fastest growing city in Washington, adding a whopping 85% to its ranks since 2010. And with a low unemployment rate of 3.6%, there seems to be plenty of jobs for all newcomers.

Being right on Lake Washington means there Kirkland has some of the most picturesque parks in the state, but we recommend Juanita Bay Park as the top choice.

Lake Forest Park, WA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 13,378
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $559,000 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (34th best)
More on Lake Forest Park: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

We're sticking around Lake Washington but heading to the north shore to visit the 9th best place in Washington, Lake Forest Park. Here you'll find the 6th lowest poverty level in the state at 3.7%. Lake Forest Park also has the 28th lowest crime rate in Washington, so safety is hardly an issue.

Just know that to keep up with the Joneses in Lake Forest Park, you'll want your household to earn at least $111,234/year. Especially with home prices up around $559,000. If you do decide to settle down here, you can get great views from the city's highest point at Horizon View Park. And if that's not cutting it, the Space Needle is just 20 minutes down the road.

Bellevue, WA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 142,242
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Median Home Value: $737,000 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (25th best)
More on Bellevue: Real Estate | Crime Report | Cost Of Living

Coming in as the 10th best place to live in Washington is Bellevue, one of the state's biggest cities. The downtown area is the second largest in Washington, and if you move here, you'll probably spend plenty of time in the gorgeous Downtown Park. Bellevue's steady rise in recent years is due to it being the economic hub of Seattle's Eastside and home to major companies like T-Mobile and Expedia, with big names like Facebook and Google planning new local centers for the near future.

Given the techy nature of Bellevue's economy, it's no surprise that over 30% of residents have a master's degree or higher. It's also easy to believe that folks here enjoy the 9th highest median household income in Washington, $112,283/year. You'll want a job paying somewhere in that region before making the move, because Bellevue is one of the most expensive cities in Washington, with a cost of living about 65% higher than the statewide average.

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Washington

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Olympia with a population of 50,836 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities -- Populations over 5,000
  • Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
  • Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000

This left us with 120 cities, 194 towns, and 169 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Washington have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be 'the best'.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Washington

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in Washington across a number of criteria from one to 120, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In Washington".

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data. You can download the data here.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Washington? That would be Mercer Island.

If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Washington.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Mercer Island at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Washington

If you're looking at areas in Washington with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Mercer Island made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Washington for 2020.

Best Towns To Live In Washington

  1. Yarrow Point (Pop. 1,149)
  2. Medina (Pop. 3,169)
  3. Clyde Hill (Pop. 3,197)
  4. Woodway (Pop. 1,367)
  5. Walla Walla East (Pop. 1,729)
  6. Wilderness Rim (Pop. 1,332)
  7. Monroe North (Pop. 1,784)
  8. Chico (Pop. 2,463)
  9. Browns Point (Pop. 1,187)
  10. Canterwood (Pop. 3,409)

Best Small Towns To Live In Washington

  1. Raft Island (Pop. 342)
  2. Keyport (Pop. 442)
  3. Beaux Arts Village (Pop. 368)
  4. Hunts Point (Pop. 461)
  5. Colton (Pop. 418)
  6. Ruston (Pop. 969)
  7. Bay View (Pop. 700)
  8. Cherry Grove (Pop. 447)
  9. Uniontown (Pop. 377)
  10. Dollars Corner (Pop. 798)

If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Washington according to the data:

  1. Aberdeen (Pop. 16,359)
  2. Centralia (Pop. 16,932)
  3. Shelton (Pop. 9,996)

For more Washington reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Washington?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Mercer Island 25,492 3.6% $1,135,200
2 Sammamish 64,049 3.1% $749,000
3 Brier 6,819 3.1% $454,700
4 Snoqualmie 13,317 3.3% $582,000
5 Redmond 63,197 3.9% $631,700
6 Duvall 7,811 4.7% $452,200
7 Mill Creek 20,164 3.2% $486,600
8 Kirkland 88,079 3.6% $607,800
9 Lake Forest Park 13,378 4.3% $559,000
10 Bellevue 142,242 4.0% $737,000

How Is Your Town In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

5 thoughts on “10 Best Places To Live In Washington For 2020

  1. If tyis comment box is for the 10 Best places to live in Washington, you should redo this article. The majority of the best place you have listed also have some of the highest crine rates in Washington.
    Kirkland was ranked one of the best cities to live in, in the whole United States and you have it listed as 168th.
    Please check the facts and realities of our State before publishing.

  2. You are an idiot and obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. The top places you listed are almost universally accepted by wa residents and multiple surveys from professional publications as the worst places whereas sammamish, mercer island, Redmond, etc the best as you can tell by various metrics such as high home values as everyone wants to live in those places, high income, number of college educated professionals, very low crime. Walk down a city street in a place like chehalis versus any location in east king county (Redmond, sammamish, issaquah) and you’ll see. World of difference. Do your research stupid and don’t mislead people.

  3. So, “Newcastle only has 480.0% of its residents living in poverty.” That’s pretty amazing. Impossible, but amazing….

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