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The 20 Best Places to Live in the Pacific Northwest

Eastmoreland, Oregon

What do Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia all have in common? If you answered they’re all part of the Pacific Northwest, give yourself a round of applause.

Littered with stunning scenery, charming little towns, and dynamic cities, it’s one of North America’s top regions. If you’re considering packing the trunk and making it your next permanent home, check out our top twenty best places to live in the Pacific Northwest for 2020.

Quail Ridge, Idaho

20, Quail Ridge, Idaho

If $107,298 sounds the kind of income you’d like a piece of, you might want to cast your eyes in the direction of Quail Ridge, Idaho. As well as enjoying a superbly above average income, residents can expect access to some top-ranking schools, a great range of amenities, a crime rate so low it may as well not exist, and some of the friendliest, most welcoming neighbors you’re likely to find anywhere.

Fort St. John, British Columbia

19. Fort St. John, British Columbia

As the largest city in northeastern British Columbia, Fort St. John has a superb array of things to do, see and experience. According to Money Sense it also ranks as the best place in British Columbia to live – a position that no doubt has a lot to do with its excellent affordability, strong economy, low crime rate, and friendly community.

Westlake, Washington

18. Westlake, Washington

Money’s been pouring into Westlake, Washington of late, with the effect that the streets are clean, the parks are maintained, and new shops, restaurants, and bars seem to crop up every day.

There’s also no shortage of great schools and community events, while the job market is flourishing to the tune of a $102,546 median household income. All in all, a neighborhood well worth the $445,735 median home value.

North Redmond, Washington

17. North Redmond, Washington

Fancy a taste of the high life? Then cast your eyes in the direction of North Redmond, Washington. Granted, you’ll need to find $828,439 if you want to buy a home here, but with the staggering median income of $236,901 to counterbalance the initial outlay, you won’t find yourself in the red for long.

Other chief highlights to watch out for include a friendly, highly educated community (a whopping 35% have a bachelor’s degree and another 47% have a masters), some great schools, and access to all the shops, bars, restaurants, and recreational pursuits you could ever want.

Squamish, British Columbia

16. Squamish, British Columbia

If nature’s your thing, look no further than Squamish, BC. The town is an outdoor lover’s dream, boasting more than 1,200 trails and the stunning Shannon Falls waterfall to boot.

Whether you want to engage in some mountain biking, climbing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, hiking, kayaking, rafting, backcountry skiing, or Nordic skiing, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to get up close and personal with the area’s outstanding natural beauty.

Although the median house price may be above the average for BC, the strong economy and healthy median income more than compensate.

Southeast Redmond, Washington

15. Southeast Redmond, Washington

If affordable housing is your number one priority, you’ll find few places in the Pacific Northwest quite so appealing as Southeast Redmond, Washington. At just $104,553, the cost of a single-family home is $80,000 less than the US average.

Throw in some great schools, a feasibly low crime rate, and, somewhat surprisingly given its extreme affordability, a median income of $104,519 (just 34 dollars less than the cost of a house), and you’re looking at one very appealing destination indeed.

Southwest Hills, Oregon

14. Southwest Hills, Oregon

If you’ve got the $656,342 it takes to buy a property in the supremely attractive neighborhood of Southwest Hills, Portland, Oregon, then count yourself lucky. Not only can residents expect to enjoy the frankly jaw-dropping median household income of $131,076, but they can also expect a fantastic clutch of schools, next to no crime, amazing restaurants, and more shops and little local businesses than you could shake a stick at.

Whistler, British Columbia

13. Whistler, British Columbia

What skier worth their salt hasn’t heard of Whistler? Every year, the little town welcomes scores of outdoor enthusiasts eager to make the most of its stunning surroundings. It’s not all skies and snowboarding though.

With more culture, history, and amenities than most cities twice its size can claim, it’s bursting at the seams with charm. With a median home value of just $399,000, it’s also a superbly affordable destination (at least by BC standards).

Arlington Heights Oregon

12. Arlington Heights, Oregon

If you’re thinking of making Portland your next permanent home, you’ll find it hard to beat the exclusive little neighborhood of Arlington Heights.

Not only do most households boast the very considerable median income of $129,363, but they’re also privileged with some of the best schools in the state, some of the safest streets, and by all accounts, some of the friendliest neighbors.

As you’d expect, high property prices come with the territory: expect to cough up around $615,561 for a single-family home here.

Northeast Bellevue, Washington

11. Northeast Bellevue, Washington

If you see an A* ranking on Niche, you’d do well to sit up and take note. Northeast Bellevue doesn’t just get top marks from the site itself, it also gets A’s all the ways from its residents. “I would absolutely live here forever if I were not going to college out of state.

I love the easy access to breathtaking natural landscapes, parks, hikes, views, and creeks that could not be had anywhere else. I practically live in the woods, up the street from a school.

Shopping centers are plentiful. Schools are amazing: award-winning and nationally recognized. Population demographics are diverse and the city is a melting pot of ideas, cultures, and tolerances.

The climate is generally a reliable 50 degrees F, cool enough for a jacket, warm enough to go on a walk while you wear the jacket. This area is the best,” says one, while another enthuses, “Nature here is pretty diverse and exciting.

There is a lot of green here and although I have not been to many other parts of the country, I think I could say this is a green place with many outdoor opportunities.” Can’t say fairer than that.

Sammamish Valley, Washington

10. Sammamish Valley, Washington

A single-family home in Sammamish Valley, Washington may come with a $466,806 price tag, but considering the number of great benefits that come with living here, it’s a price well worth considering.

Residents can not only expect a median income of $143,968, but also a plethora of opportunities for work and play. The job market is booming, the amenities are bountiful, and the community is as active as it is friendly…. what more could anyone possibly want?

Oak Bay, British Columbia

9. Oak Bay, British Columbia

Beautiful, friendly, and undoubtedly one of the highlights of British Columbia, few could argue Oak Bay doesn’t have its own unique magic. The number of family-friendly activities is outstanding, with miles of beaches to enjoy, and a positive plethora of boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops.

Thanks to its superb location, it also boasts one of the mildest climates in Canada – perfect for newcomers who want to enjoy the full array of outdoor leisure opportunities on offer.

Stewart Gulch, Idaho

8. Stewart Gulch, Idaho

Want to know why Stewart Gulch ranks so highly amongst the Pacific Northwest’s best destinations? A quick glance at some of the stats on Area Vibes should tell you all you need to know.

As well as boasting a crime rate that’s 62% lower than the US average (equating to just 988 crimes per 100K people), its unemployment rate of 2% is 63% lower than the national average, its median household income of $110,372 is 100% higher, its income per capita is 117% higher, and its high school graduation rate of 97% is 17% higher.

On the flip-side, the median home value of $350,350 is 90% higher than average- but considering the rest of the stats, it’s a price few will mind paying.

Southeast Redmond, Washington

7. Southeast Redmond, Washington

If affordable housing is your number one priority, you’ll find few places in the Pacific Northwest quite so appealing as Southeast Redmond, Washington. At just $104,553, the cost of a single-family home is $80,000 less than the US average.

Throw in some great schools, an unfeasibly low crime rate, and, somewhat surprisingly given the extreme affordability, a median income of $104,519 (just 34 dollars less than the cost of a house), and the attraction is obvious.

East End, Idaho

6. East End, Idaho

As the capital and most populous city in Idaho, Boise obviously has its share of big-city attractions. Fortunately, it lacks the flipside of city living, with a fantastically low crime rate, friendly residents, and much the same charm as a small town.

If you want to experience the best of Boise, the neighborhood of East End makes an outstanding choice. Along with a fabulously high median income of $85,753, residents can expect a great location next to the foothills and downtown, a superb array of schools to choose from, and no shortage of shops, bars, cafés, and restaurants.

Central Hills, Idaho

5. Central Hills, Idaho

With a population of just 1,373, Central Hills is in no danger of picking up the award for Idaho’s biggest neighborhood. It does, however, pick up a runner up award for its best.

Home values are pricey (expect to part with around $361,300 for a single-family home) but the upfront expense is more than offset by the fabulous $112,772 median household income, the welcoming, diverse community, the almost nonexistent crime, unemployment and poverty rates, and the fanatic array of amenities on offer.

Overlake, Washington

4. Overlake, Washington

Few would dispute that Overlake ranks as one of, if not the, best neighborhood in Redland, Washington. Crime, unemployment, and poverty are low to non-existent, while the job opportunities are so plentiful and well paid, most households are sat on the very attractive median income of $133,691 (which, just to put in perspective, is over twice the national average).

Schools are top rate, with Interlake Senior High Schools, International Community School, and Redmond High School all boasting newsworthy graduation rates and test scores. Factor in an excellent range of amenities, and it quickly becomes clear why so many are prepared to part with $539,609 for a home here.

Bethany, Oregon

3. Bethany, Oregon

With just 23,177 residents, Bethany, Oregon has a quaint, small-town charm that more than justifies the $479,700 median home price. Downtown Portland, meanwhile, is just a 30-minute drive away, giving residents the chance to enjoy the best of both worlds.

As well as having plenty of indoor recreational venues on offer, there’s also a positive surplus of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, with a surfeit of trails, parks, and bicycle paths. The community is friendly, welcoming, diverse, and, if there median household of $121,149 is anything to go by, pretty dang wealthy.

Eastmoreland, Oregon

2. Eastmoreland, Oregon

According to Niche, Eastmoreland, Oregon ranks as the number 1 best neighborhood in Portland… and it’s easy to see why. Along with a crime rate that counts as one of the city’s lowest (last year, there were no reported robberies, rapes, or murders, and just 61.8 assaults per 100,000 residents, compared to a national average of 282.7), there’s a fantastic selection of schools (with Le Monde French Immersion Public Charter School, Richmond Elementary School, and Emerson School all deserving a special mention), an unbeatable range of restaurants, parks, bars, shops, and unique local business, and a true sense of community among its 6,686 residents.

Highlands, Idaho

1. Highlands, Idaho

Highlands is a small neighborhood in Boise, Idaho that over the past few years, has managed to become one of the state’s hottest destinations. With an idyllic location that offers residents the chance to escape into the wilderness whenever they want, but without giving up the convenience of city life in the process, it’s hard to fault the setting.

Neither is it particularly easy to find any complaints with the exploding arts and culture scene, the surfeit of outdoor recreations, the booming job market, the fabulous schools, or the $135,161 median household income. The message is clear: if you want to come as close as possible to paradise in the Pacific Northwest, go to Highlands.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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