Best Seattle Suburbs for Affordable Homes
With the median price of homes in Seattle topping $690,000, it’s no wonder many people are willing to trade a little extra commuting time for a reasonably priced place to live.
By Sheila Mickool March 6, 2018
This article appears in print in the March 2018 issue, as part of the “Best of the Burbs” cover story. Click here for the rest of the story.
Seek a home in one of these suburban communities and you just may be able to put the words “affordable” and “home” together again.
Everett’s fortunes have changed; the economy is looking up for the once-distressed city north of Seattle. Signs of good times ahead: Narrative Coffee, a new, upscale coffee bar recently opened in a historic building on Wetmore Avenue in the heart of downtown; Funko, a leading pop culture products company known for its whimsical and unique items, opened its first retail store and new headquarters down the street; and a couple of blocks away is a recently opened Marriott Courtyard hotel.
The town is an interesting blend of urban (with all the expected amenities downtown), industrial (the Port of Everett handles more than $30 billion in exports annually, and Boeing builds multiple models of its aircraft at its Everett plant) and military influences (Naval Station Everett is the homeport for a U.S. Navy carrier strike group).
In Everett’s historic area near downtown, you can still score a “Donovan home,” named for Edward Donovan, a pioneer in building affordable homes between 1915 and 1931. John L. Scott real estate agent Jerry Grayson recently listed one—a two-story Craftsman style with four bedrooms, one and three-quarter bathrooms, fenced yard and detached garage—for $374,950. Historic homes (Tudor, Craftsman), mid-century homes, developments geared toward families, gated communities, townhomes, condos and new construction are all available in and around Everett.
Median Home Price: $343,400
Appreciation: 13.8 percent
School Rank: Everett School District, no. 33 in the state
Public Transportation: King County Metro bus service, Sound Transit, Community Transit, Skagit Transit, Sounder commuter trains
Commute to Seattle: 28.2 miles, typically between 55 minutes and 1 hour, 50 minutes
Located on the southern shore of Lake Washington, Renton is a city of contrasts. Once a blue-collar town—Boeing and PACCAR are still major employers here—Renton has branched out in recent years. Near its older yet still thriving downtown are new areas, which include The Landing, a major retail and restaurant development, and Southport, a mixed-used complex currently under development on Lake Washington.
For home seekers, Renton has something that’s in short supply in Seattle: an inventory of affordable homes, according to Andrea Salad of Redfin. Salad recently listed a remodeled four-bedroom, one-bath home in the Renton Highlands, with views of the Seattle skyline, for $379,995. Housing options include newer family developments, townhomes and condos; mid-century ramblers in well-established neighborhoods; new construction; and vintage homes (some remodeled, some needing attention).
Median Home Price: $450,900
Appreciation: 10.1 percent
School Rank: Renton School District, no. 102 in the state
Public transportation: King County Metro bus service, Sound Transit,
Commute to Seattle: 11.9 miles, typically 28–55 minutes
Photographs by: Hayley Young (Renton); Brooke Cole (Maple Valley). From left to right: Southport is a new mixed-use complex along Lake Washington in Renton, a city that also offers a stock of affordable housing; Many homes in this Maple Valley neighborhood come with Mount Rainier views
For the same prices being asked for homes in neighborhoods closer in, buyers can find larger homes and lots in Maple Valley, which makes the area especially appealing to families. It’s one of the state’s fastest-growing areas—and also an area with one of the highest median incomes per household in King County. There is every option available when it comes to housing, including apartments, senior housing, townhomes and single-family residences in planned developments. Andrea Salad of Redfin recently sold what could be considered a classic Maple Valley home for $384,000: a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home in a park-like setting.
It’s not unusual for homes here to be on multiple-acre properties; homeowners sometimes use the acreage to raise horses, cows, sheep and alpaca. Maple Valley is also served by the highly rated Tahoma School District, an important factor for family-oriented buyers.
Median Home Price: $446,300
Appreciation: 8.3 percent
School Rank: Tahoma School District, no. 6 in state
Public Transportation: King County Metro bus service
Commute to Seattle: 28.6 miles, typically 50–60 minutes
Mukilteo, a bedroom community with single-family homes and condos (including some with water views), where a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium with a garage in a treed community was recently advertised for $355,063. In Des Moines, a community along Puget Sound, a three-bedroom, two-bath cottage in a beachfront community was listed at $450,000. Farther afield and en route to Stevens Pass is Sultan, a former logging town with vintage and rustic homes as well as some newer construction; a recently constructed family home with three bedrooms and two baths on a corner lot was on the market for $287,000.
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