10 Top Places to Raise a Family in Washington State

Aerial view of Snoqualmie, Washington in August 2021
© Cavan Images/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Kellianne Matthews

Published: January 15, 2024

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Nestled within the dynamic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, Washington State offers many wonderful places to raise a family. Whether you prefer small-town life, stunning natural scenery and outdoor recreation, or the hustle and bustle of a big city, a wonderful community awaits you and your family in Washington State!

1. Tri-Cities

Columbia River through the Tri-Cities

The Tri-Cities are not quite as busy as cities like Seattle and Portland.

©David Parsons/iStock via Getty Images

Washington State’s Tri-Cities include Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. All three cities are great places to raise a family in Washington, with a lower cost of living and a strong economy. The public schools in this area typically rank well, and several of the school districts even exceed state averages. In addition, there are private schools and higher education options as well. 

The Tri-Cities area is considered a safe environment, with crime rates below the national average and many family-friendly activities available. The Columbia River is nearby, with plenty of opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, camping, and hiking. In addition, there are several art galleries, museums, and sporting events to enjoy.

2. Sammamish

Pine Lake Sammamish Washington USA Aerial View

Sammamish has lots of natural scenery, trails, and crisp, clean air.

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Washington’s city of Sammamish is an ideal place to raise a family. It is a safe community with low crime rates. There are also several top-ranked public schools to choose from, with a variety of academic programs and excellent extracurricular activities. The area is surrounded by trails, parks, and plenty of outdoor adventures alongside the beautiful Lake Sammamish

The community of Sammamish is very friendly and family-oriented, hosting several family-friendly events throughout the year like farmers markets, concerts, festivals, and fun recreation programs. In addition, it is just 20 miles east of downtown Seattle if you want to enjoy the big city attractions. However, Sammamish does have a higher cost of living

3. Redmond

Redmond Offices

There are many tech opportunities in Redmond.

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Like Sammamish, Redmond also boasts several excellent public schools that rank among some of the best in the nation. It also enjoys a lower crime rate and a strong, family-oriented community with parks, playgrounds, and wonderful events throughout the year. Redmond is conveniently located near Seattle for big city fun, while simultaneously having plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities like Marymoor Park, Sammamish River Trail, and the Redmond Watershed Trails. In addition, Redmond is home to the Microsoft headquarters, offering a plethora of STEM job opportunities. However, this excellent location also comes with a higher cost of living and fewer public transportation options. 

4. Bellevue

Lake Washington Sunset King County From Bellevue to Seattle

Bellevue is near Seattle for other big city attractions.

©Cascade Creatives/Shutterstock.com

The public schools in Bellevue, Washington, are highly rated and continually surpass the national average. The area also boasts a low crime rate, clean streets, and a pleasant environment with lots of activities and opportunities. There are many green spaces like Bellevue Downtown Park and Marymoor Park, as well as biking trails, waterfront recreation, galleries and museums, festivals, and performing arts centers. However, Bellevue does have a higher cost of living, traffic can get rather congested, and the city doesn’t have as many public-transportation options. 

5. Issaquah

Downtown Issaquah Aerial in the Fall

Issaquah is just 20 miles east of downtown Seattle.

©Kyle_Graff/Shutterstock.com

The top-notch schools in Issaquah, Washington, make this area a wonderful place to raise a family. In addition, Issaquah consistently ranks as one of the safest cities in the state, with a thriving downtown as well as a supportive environment for families and community-centered living. There are parks, playgrounds, farmers markets, and festivals, as well as historic buildings, charming cafes and restaurants, and vibrant downtown shops. Issaquah is located between the Cascade foothills and Lake Sammamish, offering breathtaking scenery and a wide variety of outdoor adventures.

6. Kirkland

Kirkland, Washington, Lake Washington

Kirkland offers plenty of glorious waterfront views.

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About 20 minutes northeast of downtown Seattle, Kirkland is another great place to raise a family in Washington State. The city has a variety of family-oriented events and a strong sense of community, as well as low crime rates and several parks and playgrounds. Its public schools are highly ranked, and there are endless outdoor recreational activities as well. Located on the shores of Lake Washington, Kirkland offers many opportunities for swimming, kayaking, boating, hiking, and biking.

7. Camas

Creek flowing under hiking bridge in Camas, Washington

Camas is located within a beautiful area with stunning natural scenery.

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The city of Camas is a welcoming and supportive community that boasts a low crime rate and highly rated schools. There are several parks and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, from hiking and biking to swimming and fishing. In addition, Camas has a “small-town feel” and hosts many fun family-friendly events and activities throughout the year. It is just a short drive from Portland, Oregon, which also offers many additional cultural activities and fun entertainment. However, the cost of living in Camas is higher than the national average, which can make raising a family here more difficult for some. 

8. Mercer Island

View of the Lacey V Murrow memorial bridge in the harbor of Seattle Washington

Mercer Island is connected to Seattle via floating bridges.

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The schools in Mercer Island are consistently ranked as some of the best in the state, with smaller class sizes, high test scores, and strong extracurricular activities. in addition, Mercer Island is a great place in Washington State to raise a family due to its strong sense of community and very low crime rates. There is a wide variety of family-friendly events and activities throughout the year, as well as numerous outdoor activities. With its access to Lake Washington, as well as miles of hiking trails, beaches, and parks, there are plenty of opportunities for families to enjoy. 

Although it is an island and can feel like a city unto itself, Mercer Island is also well connected to Bellevue and Seattle by ferries and bridges. However, it is a very expensive place to live, and traffic on the bridges and ferries can be a challenge for those who commute.

9. Snoqualmie

Aerial view of Snoqualmie, Washington in August 2021

Snoqualmie offers beautiful scenery, but the winters here can be harsh.

©Cavan Images/iStock via Getty Images

The breathtaking scenery of Snoqualmie makes it a wonderful place in Washington State to raise a family.  Nestled amid forests, mountains, waterfalls, and the Snoqualmie Valley, there are endless outdoor adventures to be had here. It is a beautiful natural haven and an absolute dream for families who love to spend time outdoors. Snoqualmie is also more affordable than its neighboring cities of Bellevue or Seattle and is close to cities like Issaquah and North Bend. 

Snoqualmie also enjoys a low crime rate and a strong sense of community. The schools here are wonderful as well, ranking among the best in the state with strong academic programs, diverse extracurriculars, and small class sizes. However, its location can feel isolated from major cities in the state.

10. Spokane

The Spokane River at sunset, in Spokane, Washington.

Spokane also offers numerous family-friendly activities and events with a strong sense of community.

©ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

Compared to many of the other major cities, Spokane has a relatively low cost of living and is generally more affordable. In addition, it generally offers good educational programs, and some of the city schools are highly ranked in their academics. There are lots of opportunities for families to have fun and spend time together, with numerous playgrounds, parks, museums, and children’s theaters, as well as tons of outdoor recreational activities. 

Spokane is located near mountains, rivers, and forests, making it a great place for families who love outdoor recreation. It also offers all four seasons. However, winters can be cold, snowy, and fairly harsh, and wildfires and seasonal aversions can occasionally cause poor air quality.

Summary of the 10 Top Places to Raise a Family in Washington State

RankingPlace
#1Tri-Cities
#2Sammamish
#3Redmond
#4Bellevue
#5Issaquah
#6Kirkland
#7Camas
#8Mercer Island
#9Snoqualmie
#10Spokane


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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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