If you love the ocean and mountainous scenery, Washington is the place for you! Washingtonians take advantage of the state’s majestic mountain ranges with miles of hiking trails and embrace coastal life with numerous beaches and islands. The Evergreen State has something for everyone to enjoy! If you are looking for a place to call home in Washington, here are the top five cities.
1. Richland, Washington
Housing cost to income ratio: 5.01%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.20%
Violent crime index: 15.2
Nonviolent crime index: 35.3
Cost of living index: 98.4
Richland is part of the Tri-Cities area of Washington. Despite the name, this area is comprised of more than three cities, Richland being the smallest. Unlike some of the coastal cities in Washington, Richland only receives eight inches of rain annually. This, along with an average of four inches of snow and 196 sunny days per year, makes the perfect climate for Richland’s vast array of outdoor sports and activities. The Columbia River offers bass and steelhead fishing, boating, and swimming. People from across the country flock to see the annual Tri-City Water Follies and Air Show every July. There are over 30 trails open year-round for biking, walking, running, and hiking. This moderately conservative city has the luxuries of a mid-sized city, but the comfort and charm of a small town. Richland residents are encircled by local art theaters, award-winning wineries, and even Guy Fieri-approved restaurants. Richland families also have a variety of schools to choose from, as 13 school districts serve the area.
2. Spokane-Coeur D’Alene, Washington
Housing cost to income ratio: 5.06%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.23%
Violent crime index: 28.6
Nonviolent crime index: 95.3
Cost of living index: 98.6
This region is made up of both Spokane, Washington, and Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. These two cities offer residents all the amenities of big city living but with the charm of country living. Spokane is known for its extravagant downtown scene, full of local theaters, art museums, and a steam plant turned restaurant and brewery. Coeur D’Alene is known for its active outdoor life. Lake Coeur D’Alene offers boating, swimming, kayaking, and fishing. Families can also rent bikes, hike Tubb Hill, or picnic in any of the public parks. Area residents find the balance of these two cities to be the perfect combination for everyday life. The region receives about 17 inches of rain, 44 inches of snow, and 171 sunny days. Residents are served by a combined 102 hospitals and 19 school districts. This unique cross-state dynamic creates a welcoming environment for tourists, but the locals maintain loving community relationships year-round.
3. Yakima, Washington
Housing cost to income ratio: 4.78%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.13%
Violent crime index: 28.8
Nonviolent crime index: 69.7
Cost of living index: 93
Yakima is considered by many residents as The Heart of Central Washington. It’s surrounded by rivers where residents can fish, swim, paddleboard, and kayak. Yakima’s yearly average of nine inches of rain, 18 inches of snow, and 199 sunny days creates the perfect climate for many outdoor activities and is crucial for Yakima’s agriculture and viticulture. This city is well known for its apples but grows many other fruits and vegetables like cherries, peaches, pears, mint, asparagus, hay, and eggplants. Yakima is the nation’s primary producer of hops, a critical ingredient in beer. Because of its wonderful array of produce, Yakima is home to many distilleries, breweries, and wineries that attract tourists. The city leans conservative, but its diverse population welcomes everyone into its close-knit communities. The suburbs like Grandview, Zillah, and Terrace Heights allow residents to enjoy everything Yakima has to offer while steering clear of the main city drag.
4. Bremerton, Washington
Housing cost to income ratio: 7.38%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.59%
Violent crime index: 31.8
Nonviolent crime index: 60.7
Cost of living index: 108.9
Bremerton is the largest city on the Kitsap Peninsula. Just a short ferry ride away from downtown Seattle, Bremerton has much to offer residents who love the big city life but want to avoid the tourist hot spots. Bremerton’s 3-mile Bridge to Bridge Urban Trail connects residents to other neighborhoods on the peninsula like Erlands Point, Illahee, and Meadowdale. The city receives an abundant rainfall annually: 49 inches. Precipitation in the form of snow only amounts to three inches. With 151 sunny days per year, you will have plenty of time to enjoy Bremerton’s outdoor activities. The city offers plenty of indoor activities as well. Bremerton has a variety of museums and galleries, shopping centers, and restaurants with tasty local cuisine. Bremerton is also home to the Silver City Brewery, which prides itself on its diverse brews and loyal customers. Three school districts serve area residents, and families moving to Bremerton can be assured their medical needs will be met at any of the 31 hospitals.
5. Tacoma, Washington
Housing cost to income ratio: 5.15%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.75%
Violent crime index: 43.3
Nonviolent crime index: 85.2
Cost of living index: 118
Tacoma is located about 45 minutes south of Seattle, but Tacomans will be the first to tell you that they can hold their own when it comes to urban living. This somewhat liberal city is growing into a diverse and welcoming community. There are art galleries and museums, including the famous Museum of Glass, performance venues for live music and theater, zoos, parks, and trails for hiking and drinking in the beautiful scenery. At night, residents can enjoy a variety of restaurants ranging from low-key food trucks to upscale fine dining. Tacoma receives about 41 inches of rain, four inches of snow, and 141 sunny days per year. Families looking for education options will find many great choices in any of the seven school districts. Students wanting to continue their education will be pleased to know there are four colleges and universities. Tacoma also has 41 hospitals that are available for all your medical needs. The city’s population growth can be attributed to some great neighborhoods like Clyde Hill, Mercer Island, and Medina.
This list was compiled using statistics for cost of living, average housing costs, average childcare costs, and crime indices.
Jessi Gonzalez writes on the topics of home-buying, home decor, and home-ownership for New Home Source. She has a degree from Coastal Bend College and is currently enrolled in the English degree program at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.