Money's Best > Best Places to Live
Best Places to Live
Seattle, Washington
Neighborhoods as varied and unique as Washington state's gorgeous coastal landscape
November 20, 2002: 1:54 PM EST
By Joan Caplin, MONEY Magazine

NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - Consider the neighboring communities of Fremont and Ballard, on the north side of town. Fremont is Seattle's acknowledged hip and cool spot, the kind of place where you meet people named Sunshine.

Great places to live around Seattle
Snoqualmie Valley
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"When I saw a day spa, a Thai restaurant and a video store all on the same block, I knew I'd found home," says one Sunshine Morrison, 30. Fremont's rich stock of old industrial buildings means apartments and condos predominate; prices run from $175,000 to $300,000.

Next door in Ballard, you'll find more houses with verdant backyards. In a city shaped by hills, Ballard lies on a relatively gentle slope that opens it to sun almost all the time, a big advantage in the damp Pacific Northwest. Originally a Scandinavian settlement, homes here range from fishermen's bungalows to new, larger constructions. Ballard also boasts some of the most active locks in the United States. "Watching the boats is a happening," says nearby resident John Halterman.

Half an hour to the east of the city is the Snoqualmie Valley, nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The small towns here -- Snoqualmie, North Bend, Preston and Fall City -- are in a geographic sweet spot, just as close to Seattle as they are to the ski slopes. New home construction is burgeoning, but the area retains a rural feel.

"It's all elk and golf courses," says Mitchell Setlow, who lives in nearby Issaquah and frequently drives out to the valley to relax. "It's what Washington living used to be about."

For those who prefer their commute by ferry -- not a bad idea, considering Seattle's chronic bumper-to-bumper car traffic -- the other side of Puget Sound is the ticket. Bainbridge Island is the classic off-the-mainland bedroom community, but heady real estate prices there and in the other close-in waterfront suburbs have more commuters from Seattle taking the 40-minute cruise to Bremerton and the nearby communities of Silverdale and Poulsbo.

Until a few years ago, Bremerton, a Navy town, was perhaps better known as a good place for a sailor to get a tattoo than as a place to raise children. But the school system is rapidly improving, and homes -- ranging from ranches to view-stealing mansions -- average about a third less than similar spreads in Seattle itself.  Top of page

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