10 Best Places to Live in Washington State – 2024 Updated Rankings

Washington offers a lot more than just Seattle & Starbucks. Our list of the best places to live in Washington State is newly updated for 2024 with fresh insights and ratings.

The Evergreen State is famous for its dazzling stretches of pure green landscapes and exciting towns and cities that have been established among its alluring forests, lakes, and rivers.

Washington has become a paradise for both nature enthusiasts as well as tech workers who have flocked to the state to take advantage of opportunities in both arenas.

As one of the nation’s fastest-growing states, it offers ample amenities and things to do that virtually every part of society can enjoy. But, this high quality of life does come at a price as Washington is also notorious for being one of the most expensive states in the US.

Still, there are many great communities across the state that offer a fine balance of fun, safety, and overall great livability.

So, let’s see what the best places to live in Washington State are in this updated list for 2024.

Best Places to Live in Washington State – Background Methodology

To develop this updated list of the best cities in Washington State, we included an analysis of several crucial inputs that make a place truly worth living in.

We created a full database and filled it with all the latest information on important metrics like the cost of living and the latest average home prices.

Next, we gathered data on crime rates from the FBI through AreaVibes as well as the quality of school systems via Niche.com.

We also only included cities with well-rounded communities that feature plenty of things to do and amenities for residents of all ages.

We then quantified the results from all of these categories and added up their scores to get our unique Strategistico Rating to rank all of the cities across the state.

The 10 Best Places to Live in Washington State in 2024

10. Olympia


Strategistico Rating: 83
Population: 49,608
Cost of Living Index: 1% Below Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

Olympia earns 10th place on this updated list of the best places to live in Washington State. 

The state’s capital city offers a classic Washington way-of-life right on the shores of the Puget Sound in the northwestern part of the state.

Residents here can enjoy breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains at the Capitol State Forest or head downtown to the city’s historic district and visit the farmer’s market or some locally-owned restaurants or breweries.

Olympia has also emerged as a hotspot for jobs, as the city’s status as the capital has created a thriving market for those seeking political and legal careers.

9. Port Townsend

Strategistico Rating: 85
Population: 9,286
Cost of Living Index: 3% Above Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

This maritime city is located right on Port Townsend Bay and the Salish Sea among the islands of northwestern Washington.

It is one of the more isolated communities on this list, making it one of the best cities to live in Washington State for those looking for a cute and quiet place a little closer to nature.

This cozy town is also steeped in history and features two National Historic Landmark Districts.

Port Townsend’s quaint downtown district on the waterfront is where residents can enjoy neighborhood restaurants, bars, and shops among its Victorian-style buildings.

8. Pullman


Strategistico Rating: 85
Population: 31,276
Cost of Living Index: 8% Below Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

Washington State offers more than just the cluster of towns and cities around Puget Sound and Pullman is a fine example. This bustling city is located in the southeastern region of the state just 15 minutes from the border with Idaho.

It is also home to over 20,000 students who attend Washington State University within the city, which gives the community a strong college town ambience.

That makes Pullman a great place to consider relocating to for both families as well as retirees, as the city offers small-town charm but big city amenities through the university, such as museums and performing arts events.

7. Richland

Strategistico Rating: 87
Population: 53,227
Cost of Living Index: 11% Below Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

Richland is another great city that is located outside of the Seattle metro area. This thriving city of over 50,000 residents is also the most affordable on this list of the best places to live in Washington State.

Its growing reputation as one of the state’s emerging research and innovation hubs along with its affordability makes it an excellent choice for virtually all ages, from young professionals to retirees.

Meanwhile, the city offers tons of things to do, including the Uptown Shopping Center along with Richland Parkway that is filled with gourmet restaurants and lively bars.

There is also access to lots of outdoor points of interest, such as the Yakima and Columbia Rivers nearby as well as the Howard Amon Park on the downtown waterfront.

6. Bellevue


Strategistico Rating: 89
Population: 136,718
Cost of Living Index: 47% Above Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

Residents of Bellevue can surely enjoy a beautiful view, just as its French-inspired name describes. Located right across from Seattle with Lake Washington separating the two, Bellevue grew in popularity due to its proximity to the Emerald City.

But, it has developed into its own destination, with plenty of world-class amenities that make it unnecessary to venture into Seattle.

It offers a busy downtown that features cultural spots like the Bellevue Arts Museum as well as public parks like the Bellevue Downtown Park, the 21-acre crown jewel of the city. 

Of course, it also offers many quiet, tree-lined suburban neighborhoods that are great for families and commuters looking for a more relaxed pace of life outside of the city.

5. Mercer Island

Strategistico Rating: 90
Population: 24,467
Cost of Living Index: 82% Above Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

Mercer Island is the city on the piece of land that is between Seattle and Bellevue in the southern region of Lake Washington. This gorgeous island community is also the most expensive on this list of the best places to live in Washington State.

It offers a plethora of recreational activities for residents and visitors to enjoy and features a laid-back lifestyle that is perfect for those looking for an oasis of calm around the Seattle region.

It is also known to be one of the area’s most tight-knit communities as well.

Additionally, it is filled with public parks as well as a vibrant town center with many great eateries and cafes that will make you never want to leave the island. 

Mercer Island was even named one of the best suburbs in all of America by Business Insider.

4. Leavenworth


Strategistico Rating: 91
Population: 2,147
Cost of Living Index: 5% Below Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

Leavenworth, Washington is well-known to tourists as a town to experience the sweet tastes of southern Germany. But, it is also an excellent place to call home.

This small mountain town is located about two and a half hours east of Seattle and is one of the best places to live in Washington State for those looking for cozy small town vibes with a European flavor. 

Leavenworth’s Bavarian-inspired street fronts offer great restaurants, bars, and cafes that can be enjoyed with visitors from all parts of the world, while the town hosts numerous events throughout the year that bring the community closer together.

Its location in the mountains also provides residents with easy access to some of Washington’s most incredible natural sights, including The Enchantments, a famous wilderness region for hiking.

3. Kirkland

Strategistico Rating: 94
Population: 85,812
Cost of Living Index: 33% Above Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

This Seattle suburb is probably most famous for lending its name to Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand. That is due to the fact that Costco’s headquarters used to be located in this ever-expanding city.

While it is technically a suburb of Seattle, Kirkland has developed into a major city of its own that perfectly mixes urban and rural neighborhoods together.

It has also attracted numerous corporations, including a campus for Google and offices for GoDaddy and Salesforce.

Meanwhile, the city itself features some great amenities, such as the Kirkland Performance Center, where you can catch a live concert, ballet, or an event for kids, as well as a vast waterfront with great green spaces.

Kirkland also offers a diverse choice of eateries, wine bars, and breweries to round out its reputation as an excellent all-around city to call home and one of the best places to live in Washington State. 

2. Redmond


Strategistico Rating: 95
Population: 59,268
Cost of Living Index: 39% Above Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

Redmond is another Seattle suburb that is probably best known as being the home to the headquarters of Microsoft and Nintendo.

This tech hub has developed into one of the most sought-after destinations in all of Washington, as it boasts a great quality of life with a never-ending list of diverse amenities to enjoy.

For example, the Redmond Town Center offers over 120 stores and 20 restaurants right in the center of the city. There is also plenty of park space with hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails as well.

Speaking of biking, Redmond is also well-renowned for its extensive biking infrastructure. It was even named the “Bicycle Capital of the Northwest.”

Of course, the city also hosts many cultural events and festivals each year that further strengthens the ties of this tight-knit community.

1. Bainbridge Island


Strategistico Rating: 96
Population: 23,576
Cost of Living Index: 41% Above Washington Average

Location: Check on Google Maps

Bainbridge Island tops our list as the best place to live in Washington State in 2024. This charming island community sits just west of Seattle across the bay and is the perfect spot for families, retirees, outdoor enthusiasts, boaters, and history buffs – you name it and Bainbridge Island is suited for it.

Start at Bainbridge Island’s downtown district with its Nationally Accredited Washington State Historic Main Street and shop among its unique boutiques and art galleries or grab a bite at one of the exquisite locally-owned restaurants or cafes.

Or, indulge in the island’s lively arts and culture scene, which includes the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

You can also enjoy one of the many parks or beaches that are scattered across the community as well as one of the many festivals or events that are held throughout the year.

All of this can be experienced around the safe streets of Bainbridge Island, which features crime rates that are over 50% lower than the US average.

Best Places to Live in Washington State – Summary

Overall, the best cities to live in Washington State in 2024 are:

  1. Bainbridge Island
  2. Redmond
  3. Kirkland
  4. Leavenworth
  5. Mercer Island
  6. Bellevue
  7. Richalnd
  8. Pullman
  9. Port Townsend
  10. Olympia

These top cities are scattered all across the state, so that you can have many different options to choose from that are outside of the Seattle area.

We think that they are all excellent places to relocate to as they are easy to settle into and offer a great sense of community for people of all ages.