When it comes to offering the best of the Pacific Northwest, Bellevue, Washington, stands out among the competition. In fact, situated on the eastern shore of Lake Washington in the Seattle metro area, it’s best known for its picturesque natural beauty, strong economy, and overall high quality of life. Want to know if living in Bellevue, WA, is the right move for you? Here are 20 things to consider.
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Bellevue at a Glance
- Bellevue is a part of King County and is connected to Seattle by the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge.
- With a population of around 152,800, Bellevue takes up a total land area of close to 33.5 square miles.
- The median age in Bellevue is close to 40 years old.
- Bellevue was originally developed as a residential part of the urban area of Puget Sound, but it’s now home to a bustling commercial community.
Living in Bellevue, Washington – FAQs
Q: Is Bellevue a good area to live?
A: With a variety of ways to stay entertained, local natural beauty to explore, lots of jobs available, and so much more, Bellevue is a fantastic area to live in.
Q: Is it better to live in Seattle or Bellevue?
A: That depends on your personal preferences, of course. However, Bellevue is known for its upscale atmosphere, while many of Seattle’s neighborhoods are known to be more run down. Even though it’s more expensive, Bellevue may be a better place to live because of its better living options.
Q: Is it expensive to live in Bellevue?
A: With a cost of living higher than both the state and national averages, Bellevue does get quite expensive.
Q: Is it cheaper to live in Seattle or Bellevue?
A: The cost of living in Bellevue is the exact same as Seattle.
1. Cost of Living in Bellevue, WA
Bellevue is among the most expensive cities to live in the U.S., as the cost of living is nearly 60 percent higher than the U.S. average. The cost of living index is 158.1 in Bellevue, while the national average index is 100. The high cost of living can be attributed to housing, transportation, and groceries, all of which are well above the national average (housing sits at four times the national average!). Despite this, health costs are below the national average at just 88.2, which some residents might find as a worthy trade-off, coupled with the job opportunities that come with living near Seattle. (Amazon, Apple, and plenty of fintech companies to choose from. Need we say more?)
For a single person or retiree to live comfortably in Bellevue, the required annual income after taxes should be around $38,800. For a family of four with both adults working, the required annual income after taxes should be closer to $102,300.
Bellevue Botanical Garden
(Source: Paul Hanaoka via Unsplash)
2. Pros and Cons of Living in Bellevue, WA
While it may not be difficult to find a job in Bellevue, and there are plenty of options for entertainment both indoors and outdoors, you will always find some drawbacks when moving somewhere new. Here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind when making your decision to move to Bellevue.
Pro: Plenty of Outdoor Recreation
Bellevue boasts easy access to Lake Washington and is also not far from the Cascade Mountains, so days on the water or weekends on the trails are both easy to plan. And for weeknights or early mornings, there are many parks and trails within easy reach, like the Bellevue Botanical Garden.
Pro: Close Proximity to Seattle
People who live in the city of Bellevue enjoy easy access to everything they need; residents don't necessarily need to leave the area for anything. But if they're looking for a bigger city to visit close by, they can always travel to Seattle, since it’s just 10 miles away.
Pro: World-Class Healthcare
If you or a loved one needs medical care, you can count on Bellevue's hospitals to provide the best possible service. Overlake Hospital Medical Center, for example, has been serving the community for many years, and it has a reputation for providing the latest cancer treatments and prompt emergency care.
Pro: Strong Education System Ideal for Families
Multiple schools within the Bellevue School District are ranked on Niche’s list for “Best Public High Schools in Washington.” So parents living in Bellevue can rest assured that their kids will receive a quality education.
Con: Lots of Rain
Con: Pricey Real Estate Options
Bellevue has many beautiful homes. However, its average home value of more than $1.3 million is well out of reach for many.
While the Seattle metro area isn’t one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for tourists, you will still have to deal with a fair share of local tourism. To put it in perspective, nearly 34 million visitors came to Seattle and King County in 2022 alone.
3. Bellevue Housing Market
With an average home value of around $1.3 million, finding a home to purchase in the city may get tricky if you’re on a budget. But if you can swing it, there are various types of homes on the market throughout the area, such as single-family houses, townhouses, and condominiums. People looking to build a new home can do so easily with the abundance of vacant land. And with a variety of different neighborhoods to choose from, options are somewhat flexible for finding a place to live. Even if the prices are high!
4. Renting in Bellevue
If you’re moving to Bellevue and looking for the best way to save money, you can always choose to rent instead of buying. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Bellevue is around $2,550, but it will vary based on the specific location, size, quality, and other amenities. You will usually find that studio apartments are the most affordable and two- and three-bedroom apartments are the priciest.
(Source: Zac Gudakov via Unsplash)
5. Best Places to Live in Bellevue
West Bellevue — Ideal for Retirees
The West Bellevue neighborhood is characterized by its large homes and panoramic views of Lake Washington, along with high-end apartments and condominiums. The area is most ideal for retirees in search of a laid-back lifestyle, with various parks and open spaces available, such as the Mercer Slough Nature Park.
Bridle Trails — Ideal for Families
The north Bellevue neighborhood known as Bridle Trails is the namesake of the nearby state park. Bridle Trails State Park features 28 miles of trails, and it's regarded as one of the best equestrian parks on the West Coast. The park also hosts various cultural events and family-friendly entertainment that’s geared toward all ages.
This community is close to the Microsoft Campus Trail along State Route 520, making it a convenient place to live for those who like to stay active. It's also only a short drive from various attractions in Seattle, and the proximity to Interstate 405 makes it easy to travel both south and north through the region.
Eastgate — Ideal for Singles and Young Professionals
Eastgate is a convenient yet vibrant location ideal for younger professionals who need to commute to Seattle for work every day. In fact, it's just a 10-mile drive to the heart of downtown.
This lively neighborhood has a variety of local restaurants and shopping establishments that are located along the freeways, which include the Eastgate Plaza and the Marketplace at Factoria. Residents of Eastgate can also enjoy the outdoors and take advantage of the numerous recreation opportunities, both on land and on the water, that are available at Lake Sammamish State Park.
6. Public Transportation in Bellevue
The King County Metro and Sound Transit provides public transportation in and around Bellevue, which includes a variety of bus routes that connect the area to nearby cities. The Bellevue Transit Center — located in the heart of downtown — serves as a convenient hub for commuters, in particular.
The Link Light Rail system connects Sea-Tac Airport to various areas in Seattle, including Capitol Hill and Downtown Seattle. It's also developing new lines from Seattle to Redmond and Bellevue.
(Source: Bellevue School District via Facebook)
7. Bellevue’s Education System
The public school system in the city of Bellevue is ranked first on Niche’s list for “Best School Districts in Washington” and comes with an A+ rating. Bellevue School District offers a wide range of educational opportunities for its students, and local residents can be sure they will receive a quality education.
Some of the schools that are ranked highest among middle school students in Bellevue are Odle Middle School, Tyee Middle School, and Chinook Middle School. Public high schools that are highly regarded in the area include Sammamish Senior High School, Newport Senior High School, and Bellevue High School.
Those wanting to pursue higher education are in luck, as well, as there’s easy access to the many programs offered by Bellevue College. The University of Washington is also less than 30 minutes away, if you’d rather commute into Seattle.
8. Adults Sports Leagues in Bellevue
The city's Parks and Community Services department offers various sports, such as men's basketball, women's basketball, and co-ed volleyball, for multiple seasons each year.
There are also varying levels of play that accommodate everyone and range from recreational to the more competitive side.
Various leagues and games are held in gyms within the city of Bellevue, and they are supervised by the Parks Department. The facilities are well-maintained, and the players are trained by the region's sports officials.
9. Bellevue WeatherThe summer season in Bellevue provides warm temperatures, with the average daily high temperature falling higher than 72 degrees Fahrenheit between June and September. The hottest month in the city is August, with a high of 77 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 58 degrees Fahrenheit.
The period between November 12 and March 1 is the cool season in Bellevue, and the month of December is, by far, the coldest, with an average low of 37 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. Crime Rates in Bellevue
The crime rate in the city of Bellevue is among the highest in the country, with a rate of 36 crimes per 1,000 residents. It's also one of the highest in the country among communities of all sizes. In Washington, over 85 percent of the state's towns and villages have lower crime rates than Bellevue.
According to NeighborhoodScout, a lot of the crimes committed in the city are property crimes. Some examples of these property crimes include arson, motor vehicle theft, and burglary. With that being said, taking extra precautions, like investing in a quality security system and placing cameras around your property, might be a bigger deterrent against these crimes than you may originally think.
11. Job Opportunities
The technology sector is a major industry within the city of Bellevue, which also boasts some of the biggest organizations globally. Some of the major employers in the area include Amazon, T-Mobile, Expedia, and Microsoft. The city's retail industry is also booming, with the renowned Bellevue Collection among its offerings.
12. Bellevue’s Dining Scene
The dining scene in Bellevue is a bit different from Seattle’s main options and consists of more Chinese food, along with lots of Mexican and Italian choices. Although different, you’ll always be sure to find a fabulous place to sit down for a meal while living in Bellevue.
- Supreme Dumplings: Local residents love visiting this place because of the silver-toned dining room and the enormous selection of soup dumplings, which are known as Xiao long bao. Supreme makes seven variations of these, ranging from chicken to black truffle. And their other offerings are equally as delicious.
- Castilla: One of the best Spanish restaurants in Bellevue Square comes from chef Clara Gutierrez Carroll, who is from a region in central Spain known as Castilla. Her large menu features a variety of dishes, including paella, empanadas, and chorizo. The bar, which also serves a selection of gin tonics, is worth a visit on its own.
13. Bellevue’s Culture
The Bellevue Arts Museum is regarded as one of the best cultural institutions in the area. It features a variety of programs and exhibits designed to provide visitors with a captivating cultural experience. The museum includes a mix of exhibits, workshops, and tours that visitors can check out. And the shopping center in the city, known as The Bellevue Collection, is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys shopping. It has lots of stores and restaurants that cater to varying tastes.
14. Golfing in Bellevue
If golfing is one of your favorite pastimes, then you’ll be in luck when living in Bellevue, as there are plenty of great golf courses directly in the city or just a short drive away. These are all set amidst the Puget Sound region's natural beauty and provide wonderful scenic views.
The City of Bellevue and Premier Golf Center, LLC, manage the Bellevue Golf Course, which features over 6,000 yards of green. Another one of the main courses in the city of Bellevue is the Crossroads Golf Course — a nine-hole course designed for players of all abilities.
15. Free Things To Do in Bellevue, Washington
When it comes to what to do in Bellevue, Washington, for free, the city has plenty of opportunities for people who are looking for an escape from the daily grind. First, it’s situated in an area full of green spaces, which makes it a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Some of the must-visit spots include Kelsey Creek Farm Park and Wilburton Hill Park.
Another one of the best places to enjoy the outdoors locally is the Meydenbauer Bay Park, which features a tranquil waterfront setting and magnificent views of Lake Washington. It’s an especially great place to picnic, boat, and kayak.
16. Fun Things To Do With Kids in Bellevue
Looking for a family-friendly place that offers great amenities for each family member? Bellevue offers plenty of museums and cultural attractions, aside from the parks in the area, that are all in a beautiful setting and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
KidsQuest is a hands-on, interactive kids' museum that encourages learning through play. It features interactive exhibits that are designed to provide a variety of learning experiences for children, with an emphasis on art, science, and technology.
Bake’s Place Bar & Bistro
(Source: Bake's Place Bar & Bistro via Facebook)
17. Bellevue’s Nightlife Scene
Some of the area's most prominent bars include the Living Room Bar and Civility & Unrest, which are both known for their high-style atmosphere and craft cocktails. Other establishments, such as Tavern Hall, are known for their casual vibe and great whiskey lists. The city's best live music venue? That’s Bake's Place, which features a variety of acts each week.
18. Bellevue’s Prominent Wine Scene
The area around Woodinville and in the city of Bellevue, which is home to the largest number of wine tasting rooms within the U.S., is a great place to visit for those who appreciate a good glass of wine. There are many different types of wine-tasting experiences that you can enjoy, including boutique wineries, historic homes, and tours that originate from the area.
The best places to enjoy wine local to Bellevue include:
19. Local Farmers’ Markets
The warmer months bring about the opportunity for people in the area to get their hands on fresh fruits, vegetables, and other specialty food items. There are several farmers’ markets held weekly in the region, and there are also small stands that sell farm-fresh produce. Some of the most popular choices among residents include the Lake Hills Greenbelt Produce Stand and the Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm. The season for farmers’ markets generally lasts from May to November, and you can see when each market is open by checking out Bellevue’s event calendar.
Adventure Whale Watch & Wildlife Tour with San Juan Safaris
(Source: San Juan Safaris)
20. Local Tours and Sightseeing
The region around Seattle-Bellevue has stunning scenery, including mountains and sparkling waters that are among the most beautiful in the entire country. In addition, the Puget Sound region boasts vibrant urban settings, numerous wine-tasting experiences, and a wide range of other things to do.
Sightseeing in Bellevue is a fun way to explore the region's various attractions, and it’s also a great way to show friends and family who come to visit you what a spectacular place you live in. There are plenty of ways to sightsee around the city, such as taking boat tours of Lake Washington and whale watching from San Juan Island.
Move to Your New Bellevue Residence Easily and Efficiently With the Help of PODS
Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.
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