9 Seattle Neighborhoods that are Hot Right Now

Despite reports of the demise of Seattle-area neighborhoods, we found several that are thriving

Despite reports of the demise of Seattle neighborhoods, we found several in and around the city that are thriving. While some are in the thick of a major growth spurt, others are suddenly sleeper hits, in that sweet spot where expansion is imminent but a prime parking space can still be nabbed on the first pass.

Seattle’s hottest boroughs of the year achieve that special balance, where everyone knows your name at the familiar corner pub, but new shops, coffee spots—and yes, residential structures of all kinds—are popping up to keep things interesting. And because the first indicator of a ’hood’s heat is often a fun new bakery or restaurant, we’ve included a round-up of our favorite new nosh spots in each area, just in case you get hungry while exploring.

See you around the block.

1. Downtown Bothell
If it’s been a while since you’ve checked out Bothell, you may not recognize it. Bothell has delivered more than $150 million in infrastructure and facility improvements to its downtown, including shifting a portion of State Route 522 through town, changing the landscape of much of the downtown core, and literally paving the way for new and future development that will include hundreds of residential units, restaurants, stores and hotels.

Clockwise from top left: Wildwood Spirits Tasting Room, Bothell Landing Park, the Sammamish River, Six Oaks apartments, Beardslee Public House

The first phase of Bothell’s multiyear, multiphase redevelopment plan is up and running, and its initial success has surpassed the city’s expectations.    

“In just a few years, we’ve [already] been able to track $300 million in private capital from new vertical development in downtown Bothell,” says Bothell city manager Bob Stowe. “Our economic projections were for $650 million in private capital over a 25-year period.”

One project in the first surge of growth includes the redevelopment of the old Anderson School property into a McMenamins hotel/restaurant/entertainment center—a project several years in the making that opened last October. Not far from downtown is the Village at Beardslee Crossing, a development that is 75 percent complete and offers approximately 450 apartments and nearly 50,000 square feet of commercial space.

In October 2014, the five-story Six Oaks building next door was finished, bringing 203 apartment units atop a restaurant, a coffee shop and a credit union. And across the street: a brand-new city hall complex, with tentative plans for a pair of hotels to break ground on adjoining property this year.

Bothell’s resurgence is part of a deliberate revitalization plan by the city that started in 2006. City leaders hope the efforts will only add to what Bothell already offers: a sizable high-tech and biotech community; the picturesque Sammamish River, which flows through its downtown; and the growing University of Washington Bothell campus, recently ranked the 36th best college in the nation by Money magazine.

What would be considered a fair amount of development for any city of Bothell’s size (population about 42,000) is, in fact, only the start of what’s to come. The city had initially planned to sell all the property it had acquired for the redevelopment project to one developer, “but the recession threw us a curveball,” says Stowe. The city took it in stride, instead selling property to multiple developers at a more measured pace.

McMenamin’s Anderson School opened in Bothell last October, transforming the former school campus into an entertainment center with bars, restaurants, swimming pool, day spa, movie theater and other amenities

Up next: Bothell’s historic Main Street, which comprises several blocks of established shops and restaurants just east of the bulk of the new activity, will be receiving a face-lift of its own in the coming months. The Main Street Enhancement project will preserve the charm of the 100-year-old district while integrating it with the overall development of public spaces in the downtown area. Upgrades include street lighting, landscaping and wayfinding signage.

Expected to break ground in mid-2016: a yet to be named specialty grocer and drugstore that will anchor two separate 40,000-square-foot retail developments. Other anticipated developments are 100 townhomes and other mixed-use properties, bringing additional housing, retail and office space.

In addition to this growth, Bothell recently received a $6.75 million grant from the state’s Transportation Improvement Board, which will allow the city to continue improvements along Bothell Way NE, the highway that connects new developments in west downtown to the historic east downtown. The Multiway Boulevard Project is a key component of the city’s redevelopment plan, and includes wide sidewalks and tree-lined medians to provide buffers between fast-moving vehicles and slower-paced pedestrians and bicyclists.

Downtown Bothell Snapshot

Median home value: $427,900
Appreciation forecast: 5.2%
Median household income: $74,793
Walk Score: 28/100, car-dependent city
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): By bus—Ride the No. 522 toward Woodinville; takes about 46 minutes. By car—Takes 30 minutes using State Route 520 E
and Interstate 405 N. From Bellevue (Bellevue Transit Center): By bus—Ride the No. 535 toward Lynnwood/Everett; takes about 35 minutes. By car—takes 18 minutes using I-405 N.
School district and ratings: Northshore School District; Westhill Elementary School 8/10, Canyon Park Junior High 9/10,  Bothell High School 8/10

2. Ravenna

Sod House Bakery is one of several new businesses infusing new life into the increasingly upscale Ravenna neighborhood. The baked goods, such as the bakery’s house-made “Pop Tarts,” are a hit with the locals
When real estate agent Ted Meenk recently listed a single-family home in Ravenna, he immediately received 12 written offers.

The 1920s-era, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home—which was listed conservatively at $489,000—eventually sold for nearly $600,000 to a buyer who sweetened the deal by promising to pony up an extra $50,000 in case the appraisal came in low.
Stories like this aren’t unusual, says Meenk. Homes in Ravenna don’t stay on the market for long, and they frequently sell for much more than their list price. The Ravenna neighborhood has been a steady draw for affluent professionals for years, he says, and its appeal is only growing stronger.

“It’s one of Seattle’s classic, iconic neighborhoods,” says Meenk, who has worked as a full-time agent for 22 years. The homes have character and are well-built, he says, and the neighborhood is walkable and close to a number of big employers, such as the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Medical professionals love Ravenna, and it’s a no-brainer for professors and administrators at the UW. They walk to work. They love it.”

In more recent years, the neighborhood has experienced considerable growth and has begun to attract young tech professionals from California, says Meenk. Ravenna’s neighborhood feel and Craftsman-style homes seem to resonate with Bay Area tastes.
The infusion of younger, affluent homeowners into Ravenna is reflected in the upscale businesses popping up along NE 65th Street between 15th Avenue NE and 25th Avenue NE, Ravenna’s generally accepted “main drag.” In recent months, the area has seen the arrival of Sod House Bakery, Wataru and Salare—all seeming to cater to a hip, prosperous clientele.

Fifteen-year Ravenna resident Kim Waag welcomes the new additions. Waag, her husband and two sons live a few blocks off NE 65th Street and have made Sod House’s Kentucky butter cake a semi-regular indulgence. She’s seen businesses along 65th come and go, but feels that the neighborhood and its commercial core are finally in sync.

“I feel like we’re getting some things that are going to stick,” Waag says.

Transportation to and from Ravenna will be improving in the coming years as Sound Transit’s light rail lines are completed. Sound Transit’s Roosevelt Station, one stop along the agency’s unfinished Northgate Link Extension and located just to the west of Ravenna, will open in 2021. The University Link Extension, to the east of Ravenna, is expected to be completed this month, with a station at the University of Washington next to Husky Stadium.

“Living here is going to be massively convenient,” says Waag.

Ravenna Snapshot
Median home value: $666,900
Appreciation forecast: 7.1%
Median household income: $96,287
Walk Score: 74/100, 31st most walkable neighborhood in Seattle
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): By bus—Take the No. 71, 76 or 74 from Westlake Center; takes about 27–33 minutes. By car—Takes about 15 minutes using I-5 N. From Bellevue (Bellevue TC): By bus—Take the No. 271 toward University District, then transfer to the No. 71 to Ravenna. By car—Takes about 20 minutes using SR 520 W.
School district and ratings: Seattle Public Schools; Bryant Elementary School 10/10, Eckstein Middle School 9/10,
Roosevelt High School 9/10

New Neighborhood Flavors
Sitka & Spruce alum Edouardo Jordan’s first restaurant defies genre; the cuisine is inventive and microseasonal with nods to Jordan’s Southern roots and charcuterie apprenticeship in Italy. 2404 NE 65th St.; 206.556.2192; salarerestaurant.com

Next door to Salare, chef Kotaro Kumita, who studied under sushi legend Shiro Kashiba, is crafting traditional edomae-style sushi using real wasabi and no fusion rolls. 2400 NE 65th St.; 206.525.2073; wataruseattle.com

Great State Burger
Josh Henderson’s first quick-service spot, which opened in February, focuses on the trifecta of cheeseburgers (made with antibiotic-free beef), crinkle-cut fries and milkshakes. It will share space with his new American take on a French brasserie, Saint Helens, at press time slated for a February opening. 3600 NE 45th St.; greatstateburger.com, sainthelenscafe.com

3. Columbia City

The new Angeline Apartments complex, which opened last summer, brings 193 living units—and a new PCC grocery store—just north of the heart of Columbia City

When developer and builder Anthony Maschmedt moved his family and business to Columbia City from Beacon Hill in 2006 in search of new development opportunities, many in his professional circle questioned his business sense.

“A lot of my developer buddies were developing in so-called ‘safer’ neighborhoods,” says Maschmedt, principal of Dwell Development. “People didn’t think good things would happen here.”

They were wrong. The neighborhood is currently experiencing its second coming, so to speak. (Its first renaissance a decade ago brought Columbia City mainstays such as Tutta Bella, La Medusa and Columbia City Bakery.) The area is proving to be a hotbed for both residential and commercial development: In the past five years, Maschmedt’s company alone has designed and built upward of 75 single-family homes within a mile and a half of the neighborhood’s core. And, according to Maschmedt, about 1,000 new market-rate apartments are expected to be completed in the Columbia City area—by various developers—in the next 12–24 months.

 “People are realizing the draw of Columbia City,” says Maschmedt.

The neighborhood has much to offer, including the nearby Sound Transit Central Link light rail station, a weekly farmers’ market and a growing list of popular restaurants. One of the neighborhood’s largest developments to date opened last July: the Angeline Apartments, which brings 193 units (with rents ranging from $1,449 for a studio to upward of $3,000 for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit) along with 145 below-grade parking spaces on Rainier Avenue S between S Angeline and S Edmunds streets. A new PCC grocery store anchors the development.

While the quality of the area’s elementary school has been an ongoing issue—Hawthorne is one of the poorest and lowest-performing schools in Seattle—a $1.5 million federal grant in 2012 infused funds into the elementary. In 2015, Hawthorne won the Johns Hopkins University National Network of Partnership Schools award for developing partnerships among teachers, students and communities.     

The Columbia City neighborhood was declared a landmark district in 1978 (one of eight in Seattle) in order to preserve the area’s character and encourage rehabilitation of areas for community use, housing and pedestrian-oriented businesses. To avoid restrictions or delays imposed by historical covenants, some developers are finding opportunities just outside the designated historical boundaries, which follow Rainier Avenue S from S Alaska Street to the north to just past S Hudson Street to the south. Maschmedt is currently building five live/work units along Rainier Avenue, just north of the neighborhood, and a 54-unit studio apartment building on adjacent property is slated for completion next year.

Columbia City Snapshot
Median home value: $438,400
Appreciation forecast: 7%
Median household income: $61,424
Walk Score: 80/100, 21st most walkable neighborhood in Seattle
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): By train—Riding the link rail from Westlake Center to Columbia City takes 25 minutes. By car—Takes about 18 minutes using Rainier Avenue S.
From Bellevue (Bellevue TC): By bus—Take the No. 550 bus into Seattle, then transfer to the No. 7 to Columbia City; takes about 45 minutes. By car—Takes about 24 minutes using I-90 W.
School district and ratings: Seattle Public Schools; Hawthorne Elementary School 2/10, Mercer Middle School 9/10, Franklin
High School 7/10

New Neighborhood Flavors
Salted Sea
This modern seafood restaurant and raw bar where Angie’s Tavern used to be entices with Vietnamese twists on mussels and pan-seared scallops. Brunch—shareable sticky banana cake, smoked trout omelet—is off the hook. 4915 Rainier Ave. S; 206.858.6328; saltedseaseattle.com

Super Six
The latest project from the Marination team, around the corner and off the main neighborhood drag, is all about refined Hawaiian-Korean fusion, including killer ahi poke and some of the best coconut-cream-stuffed doughnuts, aka malasadas, in the city.
3714 S Hudson St.; 206.420.1201; supersixseattle.com

4. Greenwood

Early in the morning on March 9, 2016, a natural gas leak caused an explosion that demolished two celebrated neighborhood community focal points in Greenwood: Mr Gryos and Neptune Coffee. Thankfully, no one was hurt. This piece was written months before this tragic turn of events, but this neighborhood that's experiencing a renaissance has rallied in true Seattle style in support.

Members of the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery help guide how the business is run, and even help select winning brews to be produced by the brewery

Although greenwood Community Council president Rob Fellows has lived in this North Seattle neighborhood for the past 20 years, it’s only recently that he’s seen significant growth.

“It’s spiked in the past two years,” says Fellows, 60, who works as a transportation planner for the state. “We had a long decline during the recession, then it really started picking up.”

It started with the expansion of the Fred Meyer shopping center at N 85th Street and continued with nearby construction of the Piper Village apartment/retail complex, which now houses Mud Bay pet supply store, School of Rock and various other businesses. A new pedestrian/auto lane (or “woonerf,” a traffic-calming street that originated in the Netherlands) called Morrow Lane connects the development to Greenwood Avenue, just two blocks away, where new businesses are popping up from the generally accepted boundaries of N 80th Street to the south and N 105th Street to the north. More new development is under way at First Avenue W and NW 85th Street, directly across the street from Fred Meyer: The Janus development is a 140,000-square-foot mixed-use property that will bring 105 studio, one- and two-bedroom rental units and 8,800 square feet of ground-level commercial space to the neighborhood.

The project is expected to be finished in May.

Two sizable restaurants—local chain The Lodge Sports Grille and soon-to-open FlintCreek Cattle Co.—anchor Greenwood’s main intersection at N 85th Street, where Antika antique store and Greenwood Academy of Hair had formerly staked their claims. Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery (8570 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.428.7709; flyingbike.coop) opened in August a block north, and two new bike shops recently opened their doors: G&O Family Cyclery (8417 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.363.4663; familycyclery.com), specializing in cargo bikes; and Hedrick Cycles (8302 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.453.4433; hedrickcycles.com), with high-end bicycles that will set you back as much as $20,000.

Redfin agent Collin Horn agrees that Greenwood’s popularity is growing.

“Greenwood is a desirable neighborhood,” says Horn. “Several great local restaurants and shops have popped up, so there’s a nice, relaxed neighborhood feel that is appealing to buyers. And it’s surrounded by other established neighborhoods, like Ballard, Maple Leaf and Phinney Ridge, that are easily accessible and fun to explore.”

Redfin’s numbers show that Greenwood’s home sales have risen 36 percent over the past three years—faster than Seattle as a whole, at 29.5 percent.

Clockwise from top left: FlintCreek Cattle Co., G&O Family Cyclery, Coyle’s Bakeshop, Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company

As a longtime Greenwood resident and a supporter of healthy, responsible development, Fellows can’t help but view Greenwood’s growth with cautious optimism. He looks at other Seattle neighborhoods that have lost their character when older buildings are replaced with new ones, and wonders if Greenwood will be the next neighborhood to surrender its past to shiny new structures and hip new restaurants.

“Right now, Greenwood is in that sweet spot,” Fellows says of the area, where there’s still a mix of old and new, and parking is easy to come by. “The question is, is it going to continue that way?”

Greenwood Stat Snapshot
Median home value: $481,900
Appreciation forecast: 7.0%
Median household income: $74,660
Walk Score: 82/100, 16th most walkable neighborhood in Seattle
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): By bus—Riding the No.5 bus from Westlake Center takes 32 minutes. By car—About 18 minutes taking Aurora Avenue N. From Bellevue (Bellevue TC): By bus—Take the No. 271 toward the University District, then transfer to the No. 48 to Greenwood; takes about one hour.
By car—About 23 minutes taking SR 520 W.
School district and ratings: Seattle Public Schools; Greenwood Elementary School 8/10, Whitman Middle School 7/10, Ingraham High School 6/10

5. West Seattle Junction
The new tagline developed in a partnership between West Seattle businesses, the West Seattle Junction Association and the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce says it all: “We Have That!”

The new Junction 47 development at the heart of the West Seattle Junction brings more than 200 living units and a slew of commercial ventures, including a Starbucks Reserve coffee shop

This is a rich, vibrant neighborhood, with its business district centered around the intersection of California Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street. And from dining to shopping to living, there truly is something for everybody.

While visitors think of The Junction as a hot spot for shopping, dining and pub crawling, longtime residents think of it as the main attraction of the nearby West Seattle neighborhoods and as an expanded place for community interaction.

It’s not unusual to find multigenerational families here, and commitment to the community runs deep. Take the Menashe family, for example. Patriarch Jack Menashe has been a West Seattle resident and chief booster for more than 43 years. In 1973, he opened Menashe & Sons Jewelers on California Avenue SW in the heart of The Junction, and he bought and restored the iconic antique West Seattle street clock that stands in front of the store today. Three generations of Menashes have attended Seattle Lutheran High School, located just north of The Junction.

In this tight-knit community, there is also room—and a warm welcome—for the influx of newer and younger residents who choose to make The Junction home. New residents have a lot of choices in housing styles in The Junction and nearby neighborhoods—such as older brick apartment houses, newly constructed chic apartment complexes and condos, modest bungalows, mid-century ranches and high-end contemporary remodels. New construction is evident everywhere; just check out the cranes.

Freelance editor, writer and Seattle magazine contributing editor Niki Stojnic has lived just off The Junction for many years and has noticed both an increased density and a changing skyline. “I can walk from my house to The Junction in 10 minutes and count four or five new construction sites on California Avenue SW for apartments, condos or townhomes,” Stojnic says.
She’s not imagining things. “Over 1,500 high-end apartment units have just been completed or are under construction in the West Seattle Junction,” says Jason Miller, a commercial real estate agent in Colliers International’s Seattle office. “Those units are accompanied by more than 200,000 square feet of new retail space. West Seattle Junction is booming.”

At the epicenter of this development boom is Junction 47, a mixed-use project comprised of two buildings, more than 200 residential units and more than 20,000 square feet of street-front retail. The development opened last October, and leases were quickly signed for a Starbucks Reserve coffee shop, The Lodge Sports Grille, Kizuki Ramen restaurant and Bishops Barbershop.

“And there is more to come,” Miller says.

Along with stores that have been there for a while, such as Trader Joe’s, Easy Street Records & Café (serving up breakfast, CDs and vinyl) and other local faves, the influx of new people and new residential development also means new businesses moving in. Thunder Road Guitars (4736 California Ave. SW; 206.678.5248; thunderroadguitars.com), a favorite of local rock stars, is a family-owned business and boasts an extensive selection of vintage used and rare guitars. A peek through the new storefront windows might net you a view of an indie musician test-driving a vintage guitar on a designated “by appointment” day—a day meant to give customers a chance to test inventory, with the store to themselves and the undivided attention of the staff.

In typical Junction style, the crop of newer businesses is an eclectic mix. Juniper (4155 California Ave. SW; 206.937.1777; junipernaturalnailbar.com), a nail salon that uses strictly nontoxic products, is a definite hit in this neighborhood, known for its predilection for all things green. West Seattle Cyclery (4508 California Ave. SW; 206.557.7267; westseattlecyclery.com) gets kudos for its selection of bikes, service and knowledgeable staff. Emerald Water Anglers (4502 42nd Ave. SW; 206.708.7250; emeraldwateranglers.com), Seattle’s only professional fly-fishing guide service and outfitter, boasts a wall mural by Portland artist Chris Haberman that tells the story of the fly-fishing waterways of the Northwest.

And if the shopping doesn’t hook you, the views and natural beauty will. “There’s always a view from nearly anywhere,” Stojnic says. “There’s something for everyone—beach, urban core, hills. It’s easy to get downtown and to the airport. And yet, it’s quiet. We’re just off bustling California Avenue, and you wouldn’t know it. It feels like you can get everything you need right here—without ever leaving the peninsula.”

West Seattle Junction Snapshot
Median home value: $517,700
Appreciation forecast: 6.2%
Median household income: $80,654
Walk Score: 95/100, a walker’s paradise
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): By bus—Use the RapidRide C Line toward West Seattle; takes about 24 minutes. By car—Takes 15 minutes by way of Alaskan Way Viaduct and West Seattle Bridge.     

From Bellevue (Bellevue TC): By bus—Take the No. 550 toward Convention Place All Stations, then the C Line to West Seattle. By car—Takes 23 minutes using I-90 W
School district and ratings: Seattle Public Schools; Schmitz Park Elementary School 8/10, Madison Middle School 8/10, West Seattle High School 7/10

6. Beacon Hill
Renewal and development are the name of the game in Beacon Hill’s neighborhoods. The impact is stunning.

Beacon Hill’s Jefferson Park is a neighborhood gem; home of the nation’s largest neighborhood urban community farming project and the Jefferson Skate Park

“I’ve lived on North Beacon Hill for 28 years and have never seen development of this scale, but I realize that we’re typical of what’s happening throughout the city [of Seattle],” says Susan Sanders, a real estate broker who specializes in Beacon Hill for Coldwell Banker Bain. “Businesses are moving here, the community is growing in terms of cohesiveness, there is a large amount of new construction, and bike paths have been developed.” Sanders also says that unprecedented, large-scale renovations are occurring in two major community hubs that are also historic landmark sites—Pacific Tower and El Centro de la Raza. “In five years, I feel that this community will look very different than it does now,” Sanders says. There will be change, yes. But given the focus on investment in organizations and structures that serve all populations, Beacon Hill’s unique blend of diversity in age, family, lifestyle, income, profession, culture and ethnicity—which gives the community its heart—will remain and thrive.

Pacific Tower, the former home of Amazon, is now home to Pacific Medical, a FareStart café, a number of nonprofit organizations, the Community Health and Innovation Center, and Seattle Central College’s medical training programs. Many of the building’s occupants provide critical services to underserved populations.

El Centro de la Raza is a nonprofit that was initially established to provide a voice for the Latino community; it has dedicated itself to serving low-income and marginalized populations for more than 41 years and administers 44 social service programs. In March 2015, Centro de la Raza held a groundbreaking ceremony for one of its most ambitious projects: Plaza Roberto Maestas, a $42 million mixed-use affordable housing development located near El Centro de la Raza’s historic schoolhouse headquarters building and the Beacon Hill light rail station.

Compared to other neighborhoods, Beacon Hill is often overlooked by many in the Seattle area, says Sanders. But that is beginning to change with the influx of new businesses that attract both visitors and locals, such as Tippe and Drague Alehouse, Italian eatery Bar del Corso, and bar and burger hangout Oak. These are warm, inviting neighborhood spots where “everybody knows your name—just like on Cheers,” Sanders says.

Beacon Hill boasts numerous gems attractive to visitors. Jefferson Park, the beneficiary of major investment in 2012, is the largest Olmsted-planned green space in Seattle and a prime attraction. (Golf pro Fred Couples played at the Jefferson Park Golf Course and grew up in the neighborhood.) Other draws include the 7-acre Beacon Food Forest, the nation’s largest neighborhood urban community farming project; and the music, dance and poetry events sponsored by Beacon Arts.

“Organizations like Beacon Hill Merchants Association engage the community in planning, development and renewal,” Sanders says.

While Seattle city government defines Beacon Hill as consisting of north, mid- and south Beacon Hill plus Holly Park, locals refer to the area as just North and South Beacon Hill.

Clockwise from top left: Bar del Corso, Sound Transit’s Beacon Hill light rail station, iconic Pacific Tower, neighborhood new development, Fresh Flours café, view of downtown Seattle from Jefferson Park

“North Beacon Hill [approximately defined as north of Columbian Way] is where most of the Beacon Hill commercial district is located, as well as light rail and major transportation hubs,” Sanders says. “It’s close to downtown. There are great views and good schools.” Although more affordable than many Seattle neighborhoods, this is the most expensive part of Beacon Hill, with median home pricing at about $482,000.

“South Beacon Hill is sandwiched between Columbia City to the east, Georgetown to the west and North Beacon Hill to the north. It’s quieter, more affordable and still close to active commercial districts,” Sanders says. The median home price is about $368,000.

Given the density and costs of owning or renting in other neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill—with its stunning views, green belts, cozy neighborhoods, community spirit and more modest home pricing—is an attractive alternative.

Beacon Hill Snapshot
Median home value: $400,500
Appreciation forecast: 6.3%
Median household income: $52,896
Walk Score: 51/100, somewhat walkable
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): By bus—Riding the No. 36 from Westlake Center takes about 34 minutes. By car—Takes 21 minutes using I-5 S. 
From Bellevue (Bellevue TC): By bus—Take the No. 550 toward Convention Place All Stations, then the No. 36 to Beacon Hill; takes about 47 minutes. By car—Takes 36 minutes using I-90 W.
School district and rating: Seattle Public Schools; Kimball Elementary School 6/10, Mercer Middle School 9/10, Franklin High School 7/10

7. Bremerton
Young, hip, happening...Bremerton?

A new city-led campaign is actively targeting millenials to live and work in Bremerton. The hour-long ferry commute to the mainland can be relaxing and productive, city leaders say, and beats sitting in Seattle traffic

The town’s mayor, Patty Lent, wants millennials to make that association with her city of 39,410, an hour-long ferry ride across Puget Sound from Seattle. And given the changes Bremerton has been seeing in the past couple of years, it may not be that much of a stretch.

City leaders have been actively promoting the livability of their city, best known as the home of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and its efforts have been paying off. Building permits have skyrocketed: By last year, the total valuation of permits approved in 2015 was upward of $81 million, according to the city. That’s more than twice the $36 million approved in 2014. And more than 1,000 new housing units (in the form of apartments and single-family homes)—most of them in or within walking distance of the downtown core, with others accessible by bus—will be completed within the next two years.

“We want young families and young professionals,” says Lent, a former Kitsap County commissioner who is currently serving her second term as mayor. “We feel living here and having access to everything going on in the bigger metropolis [of Seattle] gives them the best of both worlds.”

Lent feels the ferry commute for those who have jobs in Seattle shouldn’t be a deterrent. After all, she says, it’s better than sitting in traffic for an hour in your car on Interstate 5. Bremerton has plenty of jobs as well, she says, for those who want to live and work in Bremerton. The naval shipyard and the naval base are hiring about 50 people a week, she says, many of whom are tech professionals and engineers.

Clockwise from top left: Puget Sound Naval Shipyard; shaking things up at Toro Lounge; historic Admiral Theatre; the roasted beet salad at Honor Bar; Purpose Boutique, artist Curtis Steiner at his Manette gallery, named after his dog Mortimer

The type of young people the city is hoping to attract are already beginning to discover Bremerton. Kate Giuggio and Matt Tinder (formerly the executive pastry chef at Coi and Saison in San Francisco) are opening Saboteur Bakery adjacent to Bremerton’s Evergreen Park this spring, after hosting a number of pop-up events in downtown Seattle and elsewhere. They’re renovating a Quonset hut built in 1910 and formerly used by the Navy.

“We were drawn to Bremerton because it has an amazing ‘up and coming’ vibe,” says Giuggio. “We wanted to go to a community that is really in need of a great bakery and found an amazing space that is really iconic to the community.”

Artist Curtis Steiner opened an offshoot of his eponymous Ballard gallery last fall in Manette, a small residential and retail neighborhood located just east of downtown Bremerton across the Port Washington Narrows. The Green Lake resident, who has a second home in Manette, calls his Manette shop Mortimer, named after his dog (Manette, 2108 E 11th St.; 206.297.7116; Facebook, “Curtis Steiner”). And Navy wife and mother Christie Johnson opened Purpose Boutique (402 Pacific Ave.; 360.813.6040; purposeboutique.com) in 2013—the first new women’s clothing shop in Bremerton in 25 years, according to Lent.

In a video made by the city last year to market Bremerton to technology companies and their human resources departments, Johnson touts space availability and affordable rents as reasons she opened shop in Bremerton.

“Why Bremerton? Some people like to ask why,” she says on the video. “But I like to ask, why the hell not?”

Bremerton Snapshot
Median home value: $243,000
Appreciate forecast: 4.0%
Median household income: $43,362
Commute time: From Seattle (Westlake Center): There is no direct route by bus. The closest way is from the Seattle Ferry Terminal, from which the ferry delivers you to the Bremerton Transportation Center; takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes
By car—Via I-5 S and State Route 16 W; takes 1 hour and 18 minutes
From Bellevue (Bellevue TC): By bus and ferry: Take No. 550 from Bellevue TC to Seattle Ferry Terminal, which takes you to Bremerton Transportation Center; takes about 2 hours.
By car—Via I-5 S and  SR 16 W; takes 1 hour and 27 minutes.
School district and rating: Bremerton School District; Naval Avenue Elementary School 7/10, Mountain View Middle School 4/10, Bremerton High School 6/10

8. Kirkland
Bellevue, where tower cranes are looming and the housing market is booming, isn’t the only Eastside community to watch. Kirkland—its little sister to the north—has seen considerable growth in recent months, with more on the horizon.

The Kirkland Urban development will bring housing and retail to the former Kirkland Parkplace property

Home prices there have risen 11.7 percent in the past year, says Nanette Bergdahl, a broker with RE/MAX Northwest in Kirkland for the past 17 years.

“Kirkland real estate is a hot commodity and remains very desirable,” says Bergdahl. “The authentic feel, walkability and access to the waterfront are the three main attributes that attract people.”

The most notable commercial growth happening in this waterfront community is the new mixed-use Kirkland Urban development, a redevelopment of the former Kirkland Parkplace, just off Central Way and east of Peter Kirk Park. The first phase of the development is expected to be completed in November 2018, and includes two office buildings, one residential building with 190 apartment units and a massive (50,000-square-foot) grocery store. At full build-out (additional phases will be market-driven), Kirkland Urban is expected to include a new movie theater, restaurants, bars and more than two acres of public open space.

9. Bellingham
A thriving beer scene in a college town? It would be a shock if the pairing wasn’t a success.

Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro is one of the many breweries sprouting up in Bellingham—and where there are breweries, beer lovers are not far behind

Currently, Bellingham is home to six breweries (it’s also home to Western Washington University), with a few more in the planning stages. Two of these breweries serve as the city’s beer anchors. After 20 years, Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro is still a favorite with the locals. And Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen, which opened in 2008, is recognized as one the best producers of lager-style beers in America.

As if hopping breweries weren’t enough, Bellingham was ranked ninth best in the country for a healthy work-life balance by NerdWallet, a consumer advocacy website. The study, released in mid-2014, looked at weekly hours worked, commute time, income and cost of living in 536 cities across the U.S.

“Nestled in the mountains, [Bellingham is] big enough to have great amenities, but small enough that it feels like a cute town,” says Redfin agent Michael Fleming. “I am also starting to see Bellingham get more frequently recognized as a great place to retire to and just a great place to consider moving to because of the high quality of living.”

Ranked immediately above Bellingham at no. 8 in NerdWallet’s work-life balance study is Eugene, Oregon; another city with a sizable contingency of craft brewers. Coincidence?

We think not.

Neighborhood snapshot sources (data gathered between 11/15/15 and 1/15/16): median home value: Redfin.com; average appreciation: Zillow.com; median household income: city-data.com; Walk Score: walkscore.com; commute time: soundtransit.org and googlemaps.com; school district and rating: greatschools.org

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