Moving to Bellevue

Bellevue is French for “beautiful view,” and for a good reason with its jaw-dropping views of both the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Situated across from Seattle, between Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, Bellevue is known as the home of some of the most successful tech companies in the nation, like Expedia, T-Mobile, PACCAR Inc, Symetra, and Valve Corporation. In 2014, USA Today ranked Bellevue the second-best place to live in the country. Favorable business environments, local tax rates, and access to fantastic outside-of-work activities, like hiking and boating, are reasons businesses and individuals move to Bellevue.

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, bordering Bellevue on the south, is a popular hiking spot for outdoor enthusiasts who want to escape into Douglas Fir forests with winding trails lined with lush ferns. In addition to beautiful outdoor venues, Bellevue offers great schools, safety, friendly neighborhoods, and fantastic amenities. Foodies can relax knowing Bellevue has a booming farm-to-fork restaurant scene, with offerings from super-fresh seafood to fine dining to Asian fusion.

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Living in Bellevue, WA: What to Know Before Moving to Bellevue

As the continually growing third largest city in Seattle’s metropolitan area, Bellevue has an estimated population of 147,600. Bellevue is known for being a bit posher than Seattle, with exclusive neighborhoods, high quality of life, many modern apartments and office buildings, high-end retail shopping, and hip dining options that fill its 36.5 square miles of urban terrain.

Pros and Cons of Living in Bellevue

Pros:

Here are a few reasons why people love living in Bellevue, Washington:

  • Job opportunities: With so many companies calling Bellevue home, the job market is booming.
  • Recreation: The Bellevue area has many recreational activities to enjoy, from hiking at Cougar Mountain and running trails to rowing on Lake Washington.
  • Public transportation: To avoid frustrating traffic, King County Metro Transit is a great option. Some employers even provide free shuttle services or free ORCA cards for employees who want to take public transit to work.
  • Weather: Washington is known for its excellent weather, and Bellevue is included! If you can tolerate a little more rain and grey skies than you’re used to, you’ll be rewarded with perfect summer temperatures and all-around mild seasons.
  • Shopping: King County dwellers from all over shop at Bellevue’s shopping centers: The Bellevue Collection, The Shops at The Bravern, and Crossroads Bellevue.

Cons:

While living in Bellevue is comfortable for most, there are some cons to living in this Washington metropolitan area:

  • Traffic: Because the Seattle metropolitan area is constantly growing with new employees of Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft filling the streets, Bellevue traffic can be rough.
  • Rental and home prices: Although the housing market is cooling a bit, housing is ultra-expensive.
  • Unique independent shops: While there are a lot of great shopping options, Bellevue lacks locally-owned shops that some people crave.
  • Lack of a downtown: For young professionals who want a nightlife scene or people who enjoy a bustling downtown, Bellevue’s small, original downtown area may leave them wishing for more.

Tax Rates

  • Property tax: Bellevue is in Kings County. The average property tax rate in Kings County/Bellevue is 0.953%. Annual property tax on a $900,000 home would be $8,577. The average US property tax rate is 1.08%.
  • Sales tax: Washington sales tax is currently 6.5%, and Bellevue’s combined sales tax is 10%.
  • State income tax: Washington has no state income tax, which is why the sales taxes are higher.

Housing Market

A lovely place to live and work, Bellevue is super expensive when it comes to renting or owning. The median rental rate in Bellevue is $2,900, and in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area, median rent is $2,350. Just 33% of residents rent their homes.

According to Zillow, the average home value, as of October 2019, was $903,500 and the housing market is beginning to cool off. In 2019, home values fell -3.0% and are forecast to fall another -2.2% in 2020. The median list price nudges a million dollars at $988,000, but the median sales price is $865,400, showing that prices are slowly falling.

The cheapest Bellevue neighborhoods to live in are Overlake, Newport Hills, Lake Hills, Bridle Trails, Factoria, Phantom Lake, Beaux-Arts, Wilburton, Lakemont, and Interlake.

Cost of Living

Because of its sky-high rental and housing prices, it’s no surprise that Bellevue has a high cost of living. The city’s cost of living is 231.7 on the bestplaces.com cost of living index, compared to the United States’ average of 100. For comparison, Seattle is 204. Austin is 130. Bellevue’s high cost of living is due mostly to high housing at 503.6, grocery at 100.4, and transportation at 148. Costs that are lower than the average index are Health at 81.7 and Utilities at 71.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator, a family of four living in the Bellevue/Seattle metro area would need an annual salary of $97,142 to reach a modest but adequate standard of living.

Weather and Natural Disasters

The Puget Sound area of Washington weather is known for having four mild seasons. Bellevue has short, dry, warm summers and cool, rainy winters. Bellevue’s mild seasons allow residents to enjoy outdoor activities all year round.

August is the warmest month, with average highs of 76°F and average lows of 57°F. The coolest months are January and December, with average highs of 46°F and average lows of 35°F. Rainy falls and winters bring an average of 42 inches of rain a year, mainly in November, December, and January.

Bellevue receives an average of 5 inches of snow a year, 23 inches less than the U.S. average. When it does snow, it’s most often in December or January.

While Bellevue is known for mild weather, it’s no stranger to floods and earthquakes. Washington has been anticipating its “big one” for years now. Seismologists predict the Cascadia fault would create catastrophic earthquakes of 9.+ magnitude. However, this earthquake could happen in the next few centuries, and its arrival date is unknown — but residents can prepare.

Economy and Job Market

Bellevue and the Seattle metropolitan area have a strong economy and job market that continue to grow and thrive. Bellevue, WA, currently employs 71,800 people and has an unemployment rate of 3.4%. The city’s top industries are professional, scientific and technical services, retail, then healthcare, and social assistance. 

The highest paying industries in Bellevue are information with a median salary of $115,724; management of company and enterprise at an average salary of $104,118; and professional, scientific, and technical services at $103,159. The major employers are Apptio, T-Mobile, Eddie Bauer, Smartsheet, Boeing, Microsoft, Symetra, Nordstrom, and DataSphere Technologies. Oracle, eBay, Google, and Microsoft have satellite offices in Bellevue.

Job seekers can search online on job boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, etc. Also, because the Bellevue and Seattle areas are full of growing tech companies, contract gigs are very common. If you’re looking for an executive-level job, your best bet is an exec recruiter.

Traffic and Transportation

Bellevue’s walk score is 40 out of 100, meaning most residents depend on a car to run errands or get to work. Some even choose to cycle around Bellevue, but the city only has a bike score of 39 because of a few bike lanes.

Seattle and Bellevue connect via state highway 520, which runs east and west in the north section of Bellevue. Running east and west in the southern section of Bellevue via Mercer Island is I-90. The major roadway bisecting Bellevue north to south is I-405. Because so many people commute in and out of Bellevue across the two bridges (Hwy 520 and I-90) to Seattle, Bellevue often experiences moderate to heavy traffic. 

SoundTransit offers light rail, bus, Link rail, Sounder train, and ferry options to Bellevue, and the metro Seattle region. Light rail connects downtown Seattle to SeaTac Airport. From downtown Seattle, you can also take a ferry to West Seattle, Bremerton, or Bainbridge Island. The Bellevue transit score is 38.

What To Do

While Bellevue is reputed to be crawling with techies and software engineers, the city offers a lot of fantastic non-work things to do. Many bustling cultural, outdoor, and nightlife activities will keep you busy.

The Bellevue and Seattle metropolitan area offers tons of outdoor activities and is a big reason why many people end up living in Washington state. From paddleboarding on Lake Union, canoeing down the Skykomish River, hiking around Cougar Mountain, backpacking through The Enchantments, and skiing or snowboarding at Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Baker, Crystal Mountain or Stevens Pass, there’s a whole world of outdoor fun waiting just one to two hours from Bellevue.

The Seattle metropolitan area is synonymous with music. From the roots of grunge and punk to classical, you can listen to live music at local venues like The Showbox, Neumos, The Triple Door, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, El Corazon, Fun House, Columbia City Theatre, Tractor Tavern, or Benaroya Hall, where the Seattle Symphony plays.

No shortage of landmarks in Bellevue and Seattle will give you the chance to snap a photo. Take friends and family to Bellevue’s beautiful Botanical Garden or one of the many lush parks. Travel west over the bridge to Seattle to eat some Beacher’s handmade cheese and watch fishmongers toss fresh catches around at Pike Place Market. Head up the Space Needle for breathtaking panoramic views of Puget Sound and the city, then come back down – way down – for a Seattle Underground Tour to learn of Seattle’s history.

From the Seattle Art Museum and the Museum of Pop Culture to the Museum of Flight and the Burke Museum of Natural History, the Bellevue metropolitan area offers many museums and exhibits to visit. There’s also a thriving theatre scene where you can catch a Shakespeare play, an improv show, or stand-up comedy. A few popular theaters in Seattle and Bellevue include Paramount Theater, Neptune Theater, Moore Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Rep, Comedy Underground, and Laughs Comedy Club.

If you’re a sports fan, Seattle is a city you can root for. Seattle is home to the MLB’s Seattle Mariners, the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds, WFTDA’s Rat City Roller Derby, and even a new NHL team and stadium – just to name a few. Bellevue is just a short drive or bus ride away from these stadiums and arenas.

Schools and Universities

Because of its excellent schools, Bellevue a great place to raise a family. Bellevue School District consists of 15 elementary schools, one Spanish immersion elementary school, one Mandarin dual-language elementary school, five middle schools, four high schools, and two choice middle/high schools.

Bellevue is home to one university. Bellevue College is a public university that’s part of the Washington Community and Technical College systems, and it enrolls 31,200 each year. It’s the third-largest institution of higher education overall in the state.

Just across the bridge from Bellevue, Seattle is home to well over a dozen universities. There are the University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Central College, North Seattle College, Seattle Pacific University, and Cornish College of the Arts, to name a few.

Crime

Bellevue is safer than 17% of other U.S. cities, and the chance of experiencing property crime or violent crime in Bellevue is 1 in 33. The violent crime rating in Bellevue is 9.6 compared to the US average of 22.7. Property crime is 45.6, compared to the 35.4 national average rate. Crime rates are much lower in Bellevue than in Seattle.

Utility Providers

  • Gas service: The main gas service provider in Bellevue is Puget Sound Energy.
  • Electric service: The primary electric service provider in Bellevue is Puget Sound Energy.
  • Water service: The City of Bellevue’s water service is a part of the Cascade Water Alliance, and the city encourages residents to conserve water for the betterment of the environment.
  • Trash and recycling pickup: Bellevue contracts waste disposal and recycling pickup through Republic Services.
  • Internet and cable service: Of the many companies providing internet and cable services in Bellevue, Frontier, CenturyLink, Spectrum, and Infinity are among the most popular. 

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Best Neighborhoods in Bellevue, WA

When moving to Bellevue, WA, it may be tough to know where to start when choosing a neighborhood. If you’re new to the Seattle metropolitan area or even Washington state, you may be unfamiliar with the parks, waterways, and other features that make Bellevue a great place to live. Based on factors like housing costs, incomes, low unemployment rate, low crime, and population, here are eight of the best neighborhoods in Bellevue:

Somerset

Known for its excellent view of Bellevue, Lake Washington, the Olympic Mountains, and the Seattle skyline, Somerset is a desirable place to live. The neighborhood sits on a large hill with an elevation of just under 1,000 feet. The neighborhoods of Factoria, Eastgate, Hilltop, Newport Hills, and Coal Creek surround Somerset.

The general vibe in Somerset is safe, family-friendly, and residential. Most residents own their homes, and a majority of the residents lean to the left in terms of political views. 

Residents can take a stroll to the northeast corner of the neighborhood to the family-friendly Eastgate Park to use the ballfield, tennis courts, picnic tables, play area, or nature trails. Or, take an even longer trek through the  Coal Creek Natural Area’s winding, 4.5-mile forest trail.

  • Population estimate: 13,614
  • Median annual salary: $132,161
  • Median home value: $1,199,500
  • Schools: Somerset Elementary School 8/10, Tyee Middle School 9/10, Newport Senior High School 8/10

Beaux-Arts Village

Beaux-Arts is a tiny neighborhood that sits on the west edge of Bellevue, right on Lake Washington. The charm of Beaux-Arts comes from its small-village vibe, jaw-dropping water views, tree-lined residential streets, and private beach that the residents keep up themselves. The neighborhood is home to a mix of old and modern structures, adding to its visual interest. West Bellevue and Woodridge surround Beaux-Arts.

Other than enjoying the private beach and taking in Lake Washington, residents can spend their downtime at Chesterfield Beach Park, take a dip, or paddle a kayak at Enatai Park, both sitting just north of the village. There are also many nearby restaurants and coffee shops.

  • Population estimate: 220
  • Median annual salary: $196,083
  • Median sale price: $2,800,000
  • Schools: Enatai Elementary School 7/10, Tyee Middle School 9/10, Newport Senior High School 8/10

Lakemont

Sitting on the north face of Cougar Mountain and the eastside of Bellevue, Lakemont is known for its woodsy vibe and two parks: Lakemont Park and large Lewis Creek Park. The parks are known for their lush green foliage, winding trails, and the feeling that you’re truly out of the city. The proximity to Cougar Mountain even allows hikers to catch a glimpse of wildlife, like deer and black bears. 

The neighborhoods of Montreux, Cougar Hills, and Coal Creek surround Lakemont. This community also straddles the town of Issaquah. All homes currently listed, as of November 2019, are priced at over one million dollars. Some children, depending on their Lakemont address, attend schools in the Issaquah School District. 

  • Population estimate: 5,654
  • Median annual salary: $163,075
  • Median home sale price: $2,210,000
  • Schools: Sunset Elementary School 7/10, Pacific Cascade Middle School 7/10, Issaquah High School 8/10 

Meydenbauer

The Meydenbauer neighborhood of multi-million dollar homes is on Lake Washington, surrounded by downtown Bellevue, Clyde, and directly north of Beaux Arts Village. The expansive Mercer Slough Nature Park borders the southeast corner of the neighborhood. One of the neighborhood highlights is the large Meydenbauer Center convention center that hosts over 300 events a year. The convention center includes a massive exhibition hall, large meeting room, a performing arts theatre, and ample parking. Most of center’s events are conventions, large company meetings, trade shows, etc. You’ll have easy access to I-405, I-520, and I-90 for commuting.

Overall, Meydenbauer has a relaxed, residential urban vibe, with a mix of beautifully-maintained old and new homes. Many young professionals live in this area, but the average age of residents is 50-years-old.  The overall political view leans left. 

Because it’s close to Bellevue Square, Meydenbauer is known for its shopping options. This area also has plenty of trendy places for meals and cocktails and is close to the Bellevue Art Museum, the Downtown Park, and City Center Plaza, making it one of the more bustling Bellevue neighborhoods with lots to do. 

  • Population estimate: 3,337
  • Median annual salary: $125,502
  • Median sales price: $1,895,000
  • Schools: Medina Elementary School 9/10, Chinook Middle School 6/10, Bellevue High School 8/10, and Lake Washington High School 10/10

Tam o’ Shanter

Known for its beautiful Tam o’ Shanter Golf and Country Club, and gorgeous views, the Tam o’ Shanter neighborhood sits right on the shores of Lake Sammamish, on the eastside of Bellevue. Lake Hills, Viewpoint, Highlands, and Crossroads surround this community.

The general vibe of this neighborhood is quiet and residential. The Tam o’ Shanter Park is a family-friendly, well-kept, 15-acre greenspace that’s complete with winding forest trails, walkways, indigenous plants, a picnic area, and a playground. Just north of this neighborhood sits Ardmore Park, another popular family-centric park.

  • Population estimate: 2,676
  • Median annual salary: $120,536
  • Median sales price: $910,000
  • Schools: Spiritridge Elementary School 8/10, Bennett Elementary School 9/10, Tyee Middle School 9/10, Interlake Senior High School 8/10 

Newport Hills

Newport Hills is a large community that sits on the west side of Bellevue, near the shores of Lake Washington near the Pines, Hazelwood, Newport, Newcastle, and Coal Creek neighborhoods. Just to the east of Newport Hills is the expansive Coal Creek Natural area, known for its various trails, and The Golf Club At Newcastle.

The general vibe of Newport Hills is residential, family-friendly coziness. Newport Hills features its own Newport Hills Park, which boasts a play area, soccer field, ballfield, restrooms, and ample parking, making it attractive to families.

  • Population estimate: 2,698
  • Median annual salary: $115,846
  • Median sale price: $745,000
  • Schools: Puesta del Sol Elementary School 8/10; International School grades 6-12, 8/10; Bellevue High School 8/10

Interlake

Sitting on the east side of Bellevue, near Lake Sammamish, Interlake is known for its proximity to all that Bellevue has to offer. Interlake is near Crossroads, a popular mall complete with trendy shops and boutiques, restaurants, a large food court, live music, events, and a multi-screen movie theater.

Interlake has a mixed vibe due to its residential and commercial areas. The neighborhood is home to many families, green parks, and proximity to downtown Bellevue. Most residents of this area own their homes. Highly rated Interlake High School offers the International Baccalaureate program and boasts some famous athlete, political, and musician alumni.

Residents of Interlake are within walking distance of Crossroads Water Spray Playground that boasts play equipment,  gardens, a community center, and a nine-hole golf course. And for little ones, there’s WiggleWork Kids and Jumping Beans Indoor Playspace. These playgrounds offer a balloon area, blocks zone, water trampoline, slides, and more.

  • Population estimate: 3,989
  • Median annual salary: $114,421
  • Median home value: $855,000
  • Schools: Puesta del Sol Elementary School 8/10; International School grades 6-12, 8/10; Interlake Senior High School 8/10

Woodridge

Although it’s one of the smaller and quieter neighborhoods on the eastside, Woodridge is known for its gorgeous views from atop a hill, numerous parks, proximity to downtown Bellevue, and beautiful homes. Many of the homes are large, mid-century, single-family homes that overlook Lake Washington. Woodridge sits near the neighborhoods of Norwood Village, Wilburton, Lake Hills, Robinswood, Factoria, and Mercer Slough Nature Park. 

The general vibe of Woodridge is a mix of city life, residential coziness, and green spaces. The three parks are Bannerwood Ballfield Park, Norwood Village Park, and Woodridge Water Tower Park. Woodridge Water Tower Park boasts a long shady trail, perfect for urban hiking and serious bird watching. Residents of the area also have access to Woodridge Open Space, with its 2- acres of upland forest, and a community pool. Woodridge is also home to the Wilburton Trestle, the Pacific Northwest’s longest wooden railway trestle, clocking in at 975 feet.

Woodridge boasts three beautiful parks: Bannerwood Ballfield Park, Norwood Village Park, and Woodridge Water Tower Park, which offers a trail that’s well-shaded by tall trees and a good spot for serious bird watching. Residents also have immediate access to the Woodridge Open Space, a 20-acre upland forest that’s part of the Richards Valley Greenway.

  • Population estimate: 3,539
  • Median annual salary: $114,818
  • Median home value: $636,967
  • Schools: Woodridge Elementary School 6/10, Chinook Middle School 6/10, Bellevue High School 8/10

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