How to Choose the Right Neighborhood in Seattle When Buying a House

April 15, 2019
Last updated:
March 23, 2022
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If you are thinking of buying in Seattle, you may be wondering which specific neighborhood to buy in. This article will provide suggestions.

Spectacular Seattle, Washington, known as “The Emerald City”, and “Portal to the Pacific” boasts lively and diverse neighborhoods perfect for your home buying adventure. From architecturally historic Queen Anne, to the modern high rise living in Downtown Seattle, to the LGBTQ friendly Capitol Hill and waterfront properties in Green Lake, your adventure will lead you to the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood for you.

Nature lovers can frolic at the many beaches or explore the urban forests while gazing at the ever-present snow capped Mount Rainier. Families thrive in the exceptional public schools and certified public preschool programs, while nesting in the quaint residential areas of West Seattle and Wallingford. With a low unemployment rate, young professionals will find a myriad of opportunity at numerous major corporate headquarters or quirky local startups, and individuals who earn under $250,000.00 annually pay no State income tax!

Fresh seafood and weekly organic farmers’ markets abound. The young and funky vibes of Seattle neighborhoods welcome musicians, foodies, families, entrepreneurs and CEOs. Take a tour of 10 favorite Seattle neighborhoods described below, and begin your search to find the best house in the neighborhood.

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1. Capitol Hill

A motley mix of old and new houses done with style and verve, ecofriendly townhouses fit beside condo complexes with ground level retail space and beautiful and creative craftsman inspired single family homes.  This is truly one of the hip neighborhoods where the young, high-tech and culturally adventurous love to reside. It is the epicenter of coffee culture, home to clubs that spawned the famous grunge movement, and the site of some of Seattle’s biggest events, such as the well-known Block Party and the annual Pride Parade.

The LGBTQ center, Capitol Hill is quirky, diverse and nonjudgmental.  Enjoy the cafes, shopping, funky nightlife and community gardens offered by this community.

Not to be missed is Chophouse Row, a tucked-away pedestrian alley of shops, bars, and restaurants where odd is normal and quirky is hip. Green space abounds at Volunteer Park.  While close to the center of downtown, Capitol Hill homes tend to be less expensive than other nearby residential areas.

Median home value: $785,311

2. Ballard

Just a few minutes north of downtown Seattle, Ballard offers a wide range of new construction options, condominiums, sweet rehabbed bungalows, and the lovely Cape Cod homes, perfect for families.

This waterfront neighborhood features the famous Ballard locks connecting Puget Sound, Lake Union, and Lake Washington.  Large boats and small kayaks travel through. A fish ladder and swinging walkways add to the attraction, as well as a beautiful sandy beach and stunning mountain views.

Though there has been much new construction, Ballard has kept some of its original history, with its roots in Scandinavian seafaring. The docks still house a strong Norwegian fishing community.  The pleasing old architecture that Seattle is known for is still to be found off the main drag.

Median home value: $874,843

3. Queen Anne

Northwest of downtown, Queen Anne neighborhood is an affluent, quiet area featuring the highest hill in the city. The name derives from an architectural style that includes asymmetrical façades, gables, classical columns, spindle work, monumental chimneys and balustrades.

Families will enjoy the close proximity of the Seattle center in lower Queen Anne, while East and West Queen Anne are both popular residential areas that share a common business district along Queen Anne Avenue. North Queen Anne, which borders Fremont, is home to Seattle Pacific University.  Queen Anne offers numerous parks and many family friendly activities.

Median home value: $859,672

4. Downtown Seattle

Skyscrapers and high-rise condominiums overlook Elliot Bay in Seattle’s bustling, compact downtown. The efficient network of public transportation and designated bike lanes alleviates the need for a car.

Bordered east by the city hills and to the west by Elliot Bay, downtown Seattle has much to offer. At renowned Pike Place Market residents can browse fresh seafood and produce. Here eclectic restaurants and food stalls abound. 

Steps away from Westlake Center and Pacific Place, a mix of high end and discount retailers, one-of-kind boutiques and home furnishing stores, residents can spend the day in this retail corridor.  The popular central waterfront has a giant Ferris wheel and Seattle aquarium.

Cultural attractions include the art museum and symphony at Benaroya Hall, and your choice of theaters and performance halls. Take a ride on the ferry to the Seattle Pier.

Median home value: $932,382

5. West Seattle

Located west of the Duwamish River and extending to Puget Sound lies West Seattle.  It is a harbor of calm, one step removed from the urban bustle

Residents enjoy Alki Beach, where kite surfing and parasailing are common. Head out to California Avenue and Admiral Way where music stores, thrift stores, and bakeries abound. Many businesses are unique to west Seattle, and chain stores are rare.

The year-round farmers market and summer festivals keep a family feel to the area. Its close proximity to Sea-Tac airport is an added bonus for those who frequently travel.

While preserving a small town feel, West Seattle has a funky business district.  The popular Junction area, considered to be downtown West Seattle, has a full selection of shopping, dining, drinking, concerts, coffee and wine tasting options.

Full of townhouses and waterfront property, this neighborhood is perfect for those who want to be close to, but not in the center of the city.

Median home value: $974,230

6. Northgate

One of the largest neighborhoods in north Seattle, Northgate features a private lake, the world’s first shopping mall, and North Seattle Community college. A new condominium complex and movie theaters were recently constructed near the mall.  This neighborhood hosts even smaller communities such as the tight-knit Maple Leaf, while North College Park and its student population is a little more laid back. Perhaps the quietest area is Pinehurst, on the north end.

Activities are endlessly varied and can include golfing at Jackson Park Golf Club, a visit to one of the many parks perched on grassy hills, a spa day at one of the many salons, or sipping coffee and dining at one of the local cafés.

Median home value: $866,769

7. Green Lake

Green Lake is considered to be one of the quietest, most family-friendly places to live in Seattle. Green Lake neighborhood offers residents an urban feel with a plethora of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Green Lake, the neighborhood, is on the smaller side, squeezed between I-5 on the East and Highway 99/Aurora to the West. It has the feel of being just far enough away from the city to be peaceful and quiet, while still allowing easy access to the urban center.

The main draw of the Green Lake neighborhood is the lake itself. Green Lake has a 2.8 mile paved path that runs around the perimeter. Paddleboats and kayaks are available for rent from the community center on the eastern edge, and local rowing teams hone their skills on the 260 acre lake.

The culture is very quiet and low-key, with relatively affluent residents, many families, and quite a few young professionals. Because of its proximity to North Seattle Community College, and the University of Washington, there is a small college community living in Green Lake as well.

Median home value: $999,369

8. Fremont

Eclectic Fremont attracts the artist community. It is popular for its year-round Sunday Market featuring an abundance of food stalls, handcrafted accessories, and unique finds. Fremont Canal Park is wonderful for the waterfront hangout and walkway ambiance, while Fremont Peak Park has a fabulous view of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains.

The Fremont Troll, a two-ton statue made of steel rebar and concrete, resides under the Aurora Bridge. Enjoy artfully hand-made chocolates at Theo Chocolate factory tour or Sip locally brewed beer at Fremont Brewing, where they welcome children and pets at their long communal tables.  Yoga enthusiasts abound in the area.

Explore a plethora of  single family homes or condos.  The design and style of these sought-after homes are as diverse as the residents of this walkable neighborhood. Transportation by bus is reliable and an easy option if you’re going downtown. The 5 will get you there in about 20 minutes.

Median home value: $949,699

9. Wallingford

Wallingford is one of the more popular family residential neighborhoods in Seattle. Located at the southern edge of Green Lake in northern Seattle, this residential district is bounded to the east by the trendy University District and on the west by historic Fremont.

The area is famous for its sidewalk cafes, restaurants and eclectic shops and home to many carefully refurbished character buildings, such as the old Interlake School, which now houses a tasteful assortment of stores and residences. Good Shepherd Center, an Italianate-style former Catholic school, is home to nonprofit organizations, dwellings and work spaces for artists.

The 90-acre Woodland Park is just north of Wallingford’s northern border, and includes the well-known Woodland Zoo, a miniature golf range, a picnic area and trails. The adjoining Green Lake Park is a beautiful 50,000-year-old glacial lake. Green Lake features a bathhouse, fishing pier, walking paths and bird watching.

From Lake Union to NW 60th Street one sees sturdy old houses with large, majestic evergreens. The busy primary business district lines N 45th Street between Stone Way N and Interstate 5.

Median home value: $1,133,096

10. South Lake Union (SLU)

South Lake Union has a hopeful, forward thinking, exciting feel. It is a place where creative and eco-friendly folks reside. Even with the plethora of new apartments, bakeries, restaurants, shops, coffeehouses and event spaces, there is still plenty of old Seattle flavor.  Find rustic warehouses, loft style homes in rehabbed industrial areas, and Alaska-bound fishing boats. Neighborhood markets fill the streets on summer weekends, and the South Lake Union Streetcar shuttles people back and forth between downtown Seattle and SLU.

A booming hub for Amazon and the biotech industry, South Lake Union has a lively nightlife, a variety of eateries and lunchtime food trucks.

Median home value: $859,672

The iconic Seattle Space needle boasts the trademarked slogan “Metronatural,” indicating a fusion of city and nature, according to its author.  The housing market in Seattle is uniquely poised to provide the perfect house, based on a wide array of individual tastes. Professionals, students, families, individuals, nature lovers and job-seekers alike are sure to find that particular home that ideally suits their distinct preferences.  Apply today at Sammamish Mortgage for a preapproval letter, and enjoy shopping for your next home in one of Seattle’s favorite neighborhoods.

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Ready to Apply For a Mortgage?

If you’re ready to apply for a mortgage, Sammamish Mortgage can help. We have been offering a variety of mortgage programs for home buyers across Washington State since 1992. We’re a local mortgage company serving the broader Pacific Northwest region, including Washington state, Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon. Please contact us if you have any questions or are ready to apply for a home loan.

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