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Living in Bellingham Washington - EVERYTHING You Need to Know

Bellingham Washington

What is Living in Bellingham Washington Like?

Bellingham, Washington, is located in the northwest corner of Washington State, near the border with Canada. Today the city is home to approximately 94,000 residents and is known for its stunning natural beauty, thriving arts scene, and outdoor recreational opportunities. The town is near the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and the North Cascades National Park, which offer hiking, skiing, and camping opportunities.

Bellingham's major industries include healthcare, education, and tourism. Western Washington University is located in Bellingham and is a major employer in the area. The city also has a vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues.

One of the more popular attractions in Bellingham is Whatcom Falls Park, which features hiking trails, waterfalls, fishing, and picnic areas. Another popular attraction is the Fairhaven Historic District, home to unique shops, galleries, and restaurants housed in historic buildings.

The cost of living in Bellingham is higher than the national average but lower than many other cities in Washington. Housing costs in Bellingham can be expensive, especially in the more desirable neighborhoods. However, the cost of living can vary depending on the neighborhood, with some areas being more affordable than others.

With the amazing scenery, abundant recreation, and slightly slower pace of life than you'd find in a bigger city, you might find living in Bellingham, Washington, is the right choice for you and your family. Read on to find out more about living in Bellingham, Washington, including info on Bellingham neighborhoods, schools, cost of living in Bellingham, and get answers to FAQs about living in Bellingham, Washington, to see if living in Bellingham is the right decision for you!

The Moving to Bellingham Washington Team

Let our team of trusted professionals help you buy or/and sell a home in Bellingham, Washington. To connect with a local expert/real estate professional in Bellingham, Washington, CLICK HERE. To start receiving emails with homes that match your criteria anywhere in Washington, CLICK HERE and sign up for Listing Alert. With a little info on what, where, and how much, you'll get newly listed homes matching your criteria sent to your inbox as they hit the market. This can give you a big leg up in your home search.

The first step in the home-buying process is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Todd Davidson is an experienced mortgage broker and can help you get the best financing option for your home purchase. Not quite ready yet? Todd can help you put together a plan to get you there. Whether you're thinking a few months or a year or more if you want to buy a home, reach out to Todd and he can help. CLICK HERE to email Todd and set up a call to get the process started or just call him at 971-275-2465. 

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Todd Davidson

Mortgage Broker

What is the Cost of Living in Bellingham Washington?

If you're exploring a move to Bellingham, Washington, or any place, the cost of living would be a significant factor in your decision-making. I calculated the REAL cost of living in Bellingham, Washington, by factoring in today's costs for housing (rent and own), utilities, food, transportation, healthcare, and other necessities to live. To live in Bellingham, Washington, and rent, you would need to make $44,000 a year. To live in Bellingham, Washington, and buy a home, you would need to make $72,000 a year. Rental amount is based on current low end cost of studio or one bedroom, purchase is based on recent low end sales of a three bedroom and monthly payment with 20% down.

Cost of Living

Living in Bellingham Washington Tips/Info/Blog Posts

Helpful Tips for Moving to Oregon and Buying a Home







Top Neighborhoods in Bellingham Washington

One of the major challenges when relocating to Bellingham, Washington is deciding on the right neighborhood. The city boasts a number of fantastic communities with highly-rated schools, beautiful parks, and plenty of attractions to explore. Here are some of Bellingham's top neighborhoods and what you can expect from living in them:


Located on the south side of Bellingham, Washington, the Fairhaven neighborhood is known for its charming shops, restaurants, and coffeehouses. It also features a waterfront park, Fairhaven Park, with a playground, picnic areas, and walking trails. Residences in the Fairhaven neighborhood include single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums. Many of the houses in the area were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s and have been lovingly restored over the years. Some newer homes and condominiums have been built in recent years. Public schools in the area include Lowell Elementary School, Fairhaven Middle School, and Sehome High School. If living in Bellingham, Washington, check with the Bellingham Public School District to verify which schools your kids will attend.


The Columbia neighborhood in Bellingham, Washington, is just south of downtown. This charming, picturesque neighborhood boasts beautiful tree-lined streets, amazing views, and a strong sense of community. Many of the homes in Columbia are single-family homes, although some townhomes and apartments are available in the area. The neighborhood has a mix of owner-occupied and rental properties, making it a popular choice for families, students, and young professionals. Columbia has several parks, including Elizabeth Park, which features a playground, picnic areas, walking trails, and a community garden. Rock Hill Park is a small park with a playground and picnic area, while Cornwall Park is a larger park with a playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a walking trail. There are several attractions near Columbia, including the Bellingham Farmers Market, which offers a variety of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and live music every Saturday from April to December. The Whatcom Museum is another popular attraction, featuring exhibits on local history, art, and culture. Many businesses and restaurants are in the area, including The Bagelry, Horseshoe Cafe, and Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro. Public schools in the area include Columbia Elementary School, Whatcom Middle School, and Bellingham High School. If living in Bellingham, Washington, check with the Bellingham Public School District to verify which schools your kids will attend.

South Hill

Overlooking Bellingham Bay, the South Hill neighborhood offers stunning water views and surrounding mountains. With a mix of historic homes, many of which have been updated, newer homes, and townhomes, the neighborhood caters to families and young professionals. Boulevard Park, a popular waterfront park with walking trails and a beach, is located in the area. The South Hill neighborhood offers a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options, including popular restaurants, The Filling Station, The Black Cat, and Goat Mountain Pizza. Pelican Bay Books & Coffeehouse is a popular bookstore in the neighborhood. Public schools in the area include Happy Valley Elementary School, Fairhaven Middle School, and Sehome High School. If living in Bellingham, Washington, check with the Bellingham Public School District to verify which schools your kids will attend.

Susnet Along Boulevard Park in Bellingham Washington


The Birchwood neighborhood is located in the northern part of Bellingham, Washington. This neighborhood is known for its diverse mix of residential homes and its access to parks, attractions, and businesses. The neighborhood offers a mix of residential homes that range from modest bungalows to larger, more modern homes. Many of the houses in the area are single-family homes with large yards, although apartments and townhomes are available in the neighborhood. One of the most popular attractions in the Birchwood neighborhood is Birchwood Park. This park features a large playground, sports fields, and picnic areas, making it an excellent place for families to gather and play. The neighborhood is also home to the Birchwood Trails, a system of walking and biking trails that offer scenic views of the surrounding area. The Birchwood neighborhood is home to many businesses and restaurants, including the popular Brandywine Kitchen. This restaurant serves up delicious locally-sourced food, including burgers, sandwiches, and salads. The neighborhood also features a number of grocery stores and small shops, making it easy for residents to run errands close to home. Public schools in the area include Birchwood Elementary School, Shuksan Middle School, and Squalicum High School. If living in Bellingham, Washington, check with the Bellingham Public School District to verify which schools your kids will attend.


Located in the heart of Bellingham, the Roosevelt neighborhood is known for its mix of residential homes, parks, attractions, businesses, and restaurants. The neighborhood features a mix of residential dwellings, including charming historic bungalows, mid-century modern homes, and newer construction. The area also features several apartment buildings, making it a popular destination for renters. One of the most popular attractions in the Roosevelt neighborhood is Bloedel Donovan Park, which features a large playground, sports fields, and a boat launch. The park also offers access to Lake Whatcom, a popular boating, fishing, and swimming destination. The neighborhood is also home to the Bellingham Golf and Country Club, which features an 18-hole golf course and a range of other amenities. The Roosevelt neighborhood is home to many businesses and restaurants, including the popular Aslan Brewing Company. This brewery and restaurant serves up a variety of locally-crafted beers and tasty pub fare. Other popular restaurants include the Fiamma Burger and the Co-op Cafe. The neighborhood is also home to various shops and small businesses, making it easy for residents to run errands nearby. Public schools in the area include Roosevelt Elementary School, Kulshan Middle School, and Bellingham High School. If living in Bellingham, Washington, check with the Bellingham Public School District to verify which schools your kids will attend.

If moving to Bellingham, Washington, and you'd like to buy a home in one of these fabulous neighborhoods, CLICK HERE to sign up for LISTING ALERT to be the first to know when a home matching your criteria gets listed for sale in Bellingham, Washington.

Public Schools in Bellingham Washington

If living in Bellingham, Washington, your kids will attend school in the Bellingham School District. The district serves approximately 11,600 students across 22 schools, including 14 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 4 high schools. The Bellingham School District earned an A- rating on, with top-ranked schools including Squalicum High School, Fairhaven Middle School, and Wade King Elementary School. The district's graduation rates are consistently high, with an average of over 90% of students graduating within four years. If you live in Bellingham, Washington, your kids will have access to an excellent education that will prepare them for success in college, career, and life. With a focus on academic excellence, diversity, and community engagement, the district is dedicated to providing students with the support and resources they need to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

Top Destinations & Attractions in Bellingham Washington

If you are living in Bellingham, Washington, and looking for something to do, you're in a luck! There's a lot in Bellingham as well as the surrounding areas. Below is a list of some of the more popular destinations, attractions, and events you'll want to put on the to-do list if you live in Bellingham, Washington:

Whatcom Falls: Whatcom Falls is a popular attraction in Bellingham, Washington. Whatcom Falls Park is a 241-acre park that features a beautiful waterfall, miles of walking trails, and recreational opportunities such as fishing, swimming, and picnicking.

Whatcom Falls in Bellingham Washington

Skiing at Mount Baker: Just a short drive from Bellingham, Mount Baker offers some of the best skiing in the Pacific Northwest.

Bellingham Farmers Market: This open-air market runs from April to December, offering fresh produce, handmade crafts, and live music.

Chuckanut Drive: A scenic drive along the coast with breathtaking views of the water and the surrounding mountains.

Boulevard Park: A popular waterfront park with picnic areas, a playground, and a beach. This park also has a trail that connects to the South Bay Trail for a longer walk or bike ride.

Mount Baker Theatre: This historic theater hosts a variety of events, from concerts and comedy shows to theater performances and film screenings.

Whatcom Museum: A museum dedicated to the art, history, and culture of the Pacific Northwest, with exhibitions and programs for all ages.

Lake Padden Park: A large park with a lake for swimming, fishing, and paddle boating, as well as hiking trails, picnic areas, and a playground.

Fairhaven Historic District: A charming neighborhood with historic buildings, boutiques, and restaurants, as well as access to the Interurban Trail for a walk or bike ride.

Bellingham Bay Brewery Trail: Sample some of the area's best craft beer by following the brewery trail, which includes stops at popular breweries like Aslan Brewing Company and Kulshan Brewing. Also check out Bellingham Bay!

Bellingham Bay in Bellingham Washington

Pros and Cons of Living in Bellingham Washington

Living in Bellingham Washington Pros

  1. Natural Beauty: Living in Bellingham, Washington, you're surrounded by stunning natural beauty, from the snow-capped Mount Baker to the sparkling waters of Bellingham Bay. The city also has numerous parks, trails, and beaches for residents to explore.

  2. Outdoor Activities: With its natural beauty, Bellingham offers numerous outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, and fishing, to name just a few. The city is also home to several golf courses and a sailing center.

  3. Progressive Community: Living in Bellingham, Washington you'll find its progressive community and has a commitment to sustainability. The city has numerous initiatives to reduce waste, promote green energy, and support local businesses.

  4. Education: Living in Bellingham, Washington, students have acess to an excellent education system, with numerous public and private schools, as well as Western Washington University, a top-ranked university in the region.

  5. Cultural Offerings: Bellingham has a thriving arts and culture scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues. The city also hosts several festivals throughout the year, such as the Bellingham SeaFeast and the Bellingham Festival of Music.

  6. Access to Seattle and Vancouver: Living in Bellingham, Washington, you're located about an hour and a half from both Seattle and Vancouver, making it easy to access these major cities for work or leisure.

  7. Community Spirit: Bellingham has a strong sense of community, with numerous events and organizations that bring residents together, such as the Bellingham Farmers Market, the Whatcom County Fair, and the Bellingham Bay Marathon.

Living in Bellingham Washington Cons

  1. Cost of Living: Living in Bellingham can be expensive, with a higher cost of living compared to some other cities in the region. Housing prices, in particular, can be quite high, which can be a challenge for those on a tight budget.

  2. Weather: While many people love the Pacific Northwest for its mild climate and lush landscapes, others may find the constant rain and cloudy days to be a downside. Bellingham does get a lot of rainfall, especially in the fall and winter months.

  3. Traffic: While Bellingham is not as congested as some larger cities, traffic can be a challenge during peak commuting hours. Bellingham's growth in recent years has led to some increased traffic on certain roads and highways.

  4. Limited Job Opportunities: While Bellingham has a growing economy, job opportunities in some industries may be limited compared to larger cities. Some residents may need to commute to Seattle or Vancouver for work opportunities.

  5. College Town: While Western Washington University is a great asset to the community, some residents may find the presence of a large university to be a downside, particularly in terms of traffic and noise in certain areas.

  6. Isolation: Living in Bellingham, Washington, you're somewhat isolated from other major cities in the region, which can make travel to other destinations more challenging. This can also make it more difficult to access certain services or amenities that may be available in larger cities.

FAQs About Living in Bellingham Washington

What is Bellingham known for?

Bellingham, Washington, is known most for its natural beauty. Located on the shores of Bellingham Bay, surrounded by mountains, forests, and waterfalls, the city offers stunning views and outdoor recreation opportunities.

What cities and attractions are near Bellingham, Washington?

Bellingham, Washington, is located approximately 25 miles northwest of Mount Vernon and 90 miles north of Seattle. Bellingham is also close to other cities in the area, including Everett, about 70 miles to the south, and Vancouver, British Columbia, about 50 miles to the north. The city is a gateway to several popular destinations in the region, such as the San Juan Islands, North Cascades National Park, and Mount Baker. Bellingham's location in Whatcom County makes it an ideal starting point for exploring the surrounding natural beauty and nearby cities.

What is the weather like in Bellingham?

Bellingham, Washington, has a marine west coast climate, which is characterized by mild, wet winters and relatively cool summers. During the summer months, temperatures in Bellingham typically range from the mid-60s to the low 70s, with occasional warmer days reaching into the 80s Fahrenheit. The summer months tend to be relatively dry, with July and August being the driest months, but occasional rain showers can occur. In the winter months, temperatures in Bellingham generally range from the mid-30s to the low 40s, with occasional colder days or even snowfall. December and January tend to be the wettest months of the year, with precipitation in the form of rain, snow, or a mix of both. Living in Bellingham, Washington, you can expect around 35 inches of rain a year. Most of it comes from November through February.


Does Bellingham Washington have good public schools?

Bellingham's public schools are very highly rated and provide opportunities for students to succeed academically and personally. With on-time graduation rates exceeding 90% and test scores and rankings that are well above average, it is safe to say Bellingham schools are very good!

Who are some large employers in Bellingham Washington?

If living in Bellingham, Washington, some top employers are: Western Washington University, with over 2,500 employees, the Bellingham School District, with over 1,500 employees, St. Joseph Hospital, with over 1,200 employees, the City of Bellingham, with over 900 employees, and the Whatcom County government, with over 800 employees.

Is Bellingham Washington safe?

Bellingham, Washington, is a safe city. According to, Bellingham's crime rate is lower than the national average, with a crime rate of 22.61 per 1,000 residents compared to the national average of 28.63 per 1,000 residents. Additionally, Bellingham's violent crime rate is lower than the national average, with a rate of 2.67 per 1,000 residents compared to the national average of 4.49 per 1,000 residents. If living in or moving to Bellingham, Washington, you should feel very safe!

I want to relocate to Bellingham.  How do I make it happen?

You've come to the right spot if you're looking to move to Bellingham, Washington.  There’s a lot of information on this website to help including some helpful links below. If you want to ask questions, try our Facebook Group > Moving to Washington  where we have broad group of locals to answer any question you might have. If you’re looking to buy a home in the Bellingham area, getting pre-approved for a mortgage should be your first step. For Mortgage Info, reach out to me. I would love to tell you more about what living in Bellingham is like as well as help with your mortgage if you decide to purchase a home.

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