Post Summary: The Best Places To Live In The Pacific Northwest
Curious about living in the Pacific Northwest? Maybe you’re thinking about moving to Washington, Idaho, or Oregon and are curious about what you might expect in each city or town.
“What’s the outdoor scene like? Do they have good craft beer? What’s the average house cost? What kind of people live there?”
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live in the Pacific Northwest, you’re in the right place! Berty and I have lived and played in the area our entire lives, so we know a thing or two about our favorite cities and towns.
Keep scrolling for our personal opinions on the best places to live in the PNW!
- Why live in the Pacific Northwest?
- The Best Cities to Live in the Pacific Northwest (Big Cities)
- Other places to live in the Pacific Northwest (Smaller Cities)
- Best Small Towns to Live in the Pacific Northwest
- More Pacific Northwest Destinations (+ Adventures)
Why live in the Pacific Northwest?
So, what’s it like to live in the Pacific Northwest?
One of the best things about the PNW is that wherever you live, you’re likely to experience all four seasons.
The Pacific Northwest experiences a wide variety of weather throughout its diverse landscape. While it’s usually rainy west of the Cascade Mountains, it’s generally much drier on the eastern side of the state. This gives you the best of both worlds!
Some of the biggest attractions that bring people to the PNW are its beaches, craft beer and wine scene, epic national parks, big cities, job opportunities, and outdoor adventures that are like no other.
The Best Cities to Live in the Pacific Northwest (Big Cities)
First, we’ve got to talk about the “Four Corners” of the Pacific Northwest.
This term was coined by Northwest Cable News – a news channel that ran from the 1990s up until about a few years ago. Their slogan was “connecting the four corners of the PNW” which referred to Seattle, Portland, Spokane, and Boise.
These four cities are the biggest ones in the region, and easily some of the most popular places to live in the PNW!
- Population: 734,000 (4 million metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $814K in 2023
- Who lives here? Tech workers, entrepreneurs, outdoorsy folks
Known as the “Emerald City” and the “Coffee Capital of the World,” Seattle is one the most well-known cities in the US. It’s home to tons of unique businesses and people (including the first Starbucks!).
Being within close proximity to Mt. Rainier and the ocean, having tons of free museums and tourist attractions, and being home to some of the largest corporations in the world, Seattle is a hub for all kinds of business people, travelers, and outdoor adventurers.
Seattle is also incredibly diverse, environmentally conscious, and inclusive, making it a welcoming place to live for individuals, couples, and families. If you want to visit it for yourself, download our free Seattle packing list to make your trip planning easy and seamless!
Read More: 36 Epic Day Trips From Seattle, Washington
- Population: 641,126 (2.5 million metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $525K in 2023
- Who lives here? Tech workers, entrepreneurs, outdoorsy folks, young people
If you’re looking at unique, quirky, and adventurous Pacific Northwest cities, Portland checks all those boxes and more!
In northwestern Oregon, Portland is conveniently close to the ocean while still getting inland weather and temperatures. This makes it one of the greenest places to live in the PNW.
There are several cool aspects of living in Portland. The city is extremely biker-friendly, and there are hundreds of microbreweries, coffee shops, and thrift stores in the area. It’s very easy to go on fun hikes, day trips, and other outdoor adventures from the city!
With a motto like “Keep Portland Weird,” you can be sure to expect the unexpected with this one-of-a-kind city.
- Population: 229,071 (593,466 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $370K in 2023
- Who lives here? Outdoorsy folks (especially skiers!), medical workers, families, college students
Spokane is the biggest city in eastern Washington. It’s home to outdoor adventurers, skiers (there are 5 mountain resorts near Spokane!), those in the medical field, and friendly neighbors.
Being a hub for healthcare in the area, you’ll find many satellite schools for nursing and medical school, including EWU, UW, WSU and Gonzaga. Spokane draws people from all over the Inland Northwest while also feeling like a small town!
The city has tons of annual traditions that are beloved by the whole city. This includes Hoopfest–the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture’s ArtFest, Bloomsday–a large running/walking race, Pig Out In The Park, which is a free food and music festival, Gathering at the Falls Pow wow, Spokane County Interstate Fair, the Spokane Fall Folk Festival and more.
This “Lilac City” is not just a unique place to visit, but also a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
Take a tour of all the cool stops east of the Cascades: Plan an incredible 5-day Eastern Washington road trip!
- Population: 237,446 (764,718 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $494K in 2023
- Who lives here? Families, college students, retirees
Due to low crime rates, Boise is a popular place to live for families and retirees. Boise is also a booming college town with Boise State University nearby.
With over 200 days of sunshine, cold winters, and hot summers, those living in Boise get all seasons. This means there is a wide variety of outdoor adventures like hiking, skiing, and white-water rafting!
Other places to live in the Pacific Northwest (Smaller Cities)
- Population: 177,723 (400,408 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $400K in 2023
- Who lives here? Families, those who want to live near Portland, farmers
Salem, Oregon is the capital of Oregon and one of the best places to live in the Pacific Northwest. It’s packed with nearby hiking trails, peaceful views, and a close proximity to Portland (50 minute drive).
Known for its wine and craft beer scene, you’re guaranteed to get stunning views of local vineyards (where you can go wine tasting!) and hops farms in the Willamette Valley surrounding Salem.
With an average high temperature of 82ºF in the summer and little rain, Salem in May-September is drop dead gorgeous!
- Population: 76,354 (4 million metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $887K in 2023
- Who lives here? Tech workers, young professionals, families
Being close to Seattle, Redmond is the perfect place to live for those looking for small town vibes within close proximity to the big western Washington city.
This growing city offers residents a mixture of urban and suburban living. Downtown, there are plenty of large corporations in the area, including Microsoft and Nintendo (Redmond is known as the “Tech Capital” of Washington state!).
Oppositely, there are tons of opportunities for outdoor recreation all around greater King County! Check out these hikes near Seattle to see the abundance of trails nearby.
If you’re looking to get into tech or want to live on the west side of Washington, check out Redmond!
Squamish, British Columbia
- Population: 23,819
- Average home price: $867K in 2023
- Who lives here? Outdoorsy folks, families, skiers, hikers
While it’s on the pricier side, Squamish, B.C. is one of the best places to live in the Pacific Northwest because of its location on the Howe Sound, short drive to Vancouver, B.C. (40 minutes), and its proximity to outdoor adventures within Garibaldi Provincial Park.
With a moderate climate (though lots of rain!), safe area, tons of craft beer and hip cafes, and suburban housing, Squamish is a great place to raise kids or have a fun adventure.
- Population: 219,205 (4 million metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $435K in 2023
- Who lives here? Young professionals, entrepreneurs, families
For those looking to live in the Seattle area but want a cheaper price, Tacoma is a great option!
Here, you’ll find all kinds of housing from apartments to private homes, with quiet and cozy neighborhoods. There are lots of indoor and outdoor activities, good food, and close proximity to other Puget Sound towns.
Overall, the cost of living in Tacoma is relatively affordable and is a great place to raise kids.
What could be better than affordable living AND views of Mount Rainier??
- Population: 105,059 (198,253 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $738K in 2023
- Who lives here? Outdoorsy folk, young people, dog owners, families, those who love a wide variety of food and art
One of the best cities to live in Oregon is Bend! This is because of its unique geological landscape, tons of outdoor adventure opportunities, and proximity to the resort town of Sunriver.
Alongside its stunning mountain views, Bend is particularly popular for its coffee shops and breweries, hiking (including hikes to gorgeous waterfalls!), backpacking, skiing, and other adventurous activities.
The easy-going nature of Bend makes visitors want to stay and those living there never want to leave!
- Population: 92,289 (226,847 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $570K in 2023
- Who lives here? College students, artsy folks, those who love the outdoors
Because of its proximity to the North Cascades and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Canada and Vancouver Island, and the Pacific Ocean, Bellingham, Washington is one of the best cities to live in the Pacific Northwest!
Home to Western Washington University, Bellingham is a bustling college town. This means it has tons of trendy restaurants, coffee shops, thrift stores, and activities.
If you love skiing, hiking, beer, and the mountains, you’re sure to fit in while living in Bellingham.
- Population: 192,169 (2.5 million metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $475K in 2023
- Who lives here? Foresters, outdoorsy people, families, retirees, those who love nature
Vancouver, Washington is one of the best places to live in the Pacific Northwest because it’s close to Portland while still having its own unique vibe.
While the weather in Vancouver, WA is often rainy, it is also stunning on beautiful days and the summer weather is stellar (not too hot, not too cold!).
As the city is very close to nature (steps away from the Columbia River Gorge), there are tons of opportunities to engage with outside activities like hiking, biking, walking, and water sports!
Vancouver, WA is an environmentally friendly city, there’s no state income tax, the schools are good, and the city is very safe, making it the perfect place to live in the PNW.
- Population: 175,096 (382,971 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $451K in 2023
- Who lives here? Families, college students, healthcare workers, outdoorsy people
Located on the southern end of the Willamette Valley, Eugene, Oregon has a beautiful landscape with plenty of elbow room for individuals, couples, and families alike.
From Eugene, you’ll have easy access to some of the cutest Oregon coast towns (1 hour and 15-minute drive), Portland (1 hour and 45-minute drive), and the Willamette National Forest (15-minute drive).
Some of the best aspects about Eugene is that it has a hopping craft beer scene (pun intended!) and lots of local restaurants. It also has men’s and women’s basketball games at the University of Oregon, and all kinds of weather throughout the seasons!
Coos Bay, Oregon
- Population: 15,907 (64,620 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $269K in 2023
- Who lives here? Hikers, families, surfers
You can expect rainy weather in Coos Bay, though southern Oregon often has great weather in the summer and fall.
With a medium home price of $296K, Coos Bay, Oregon is one of the most affordable places to live in the Pacific Northwest on the coast.
Best Small Towns to Live in the Pacific Northwest
North Bend, Washington
- Population: 7,695
- Average home price: $1 million in 2023
- Who lives here? Families, those who love nature and the outdoors
If you’re looking for true Pacific Northwest vibes with enchanting forests and mountain views, North Bend, Washington is the place for you!
With tons of public parks, lots of shopping, good schools, and easy access to the Cascade Mountains and Mount Si, North Bend is one of the best places to live in the Pacific Northwest.
North Bend is a small, diverse city with lots of natural attractions. It’s a great place to raise a family that is focused on outdoor adventure!
This place is home to lots of movies filmed in the PNW, including Twin Peaks!
Hood River, Oregon
- Population: 8,341 (23,280 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $676K in 2023
- Who lives here? Outdoorsy folks, families, mountaineers, wine-lovers
One of the most beautiful places to live in Oregon is Hood River, as it has stunning views of Mount Hood and the Columbia River!
Hood River, Oregon provides residents with a rural, small town feel while also being just over an hour from Portland. The best of both worlds!
Hood River is also just an hour from Mt. Hood, where there’s tons of hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering.
Going wine tasting, hiking, going on day trips to Multnomah Falls, biking along the Columbia River Gorge, visiting lavender farms in the area, and white water rafting are among some of the most popular activities in Hood River.
Richland, Washington / Tri-Cities
- Population: 61,929 (303,501 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $431K in 2023
- Who lives here? Families, young professionals
Richland is one of the Tri-Cities of Washington on the Columbia River, with Kennewick and Pasco as its sister cities.
It’s is a safe suburban city with good schools, an affordable cost of living, and lots of things to do! The weather is often dry, but it can get quite windy any time of year!
Popular activities in Richland include visiting public parks and the local REACH museum, golfing, biking, and attending the Tri-Cities HAPO Columbia Cup, which is an annual hydroplane race and air show.
It’s also one of the best places to live if you love Pacific Northwest desert destinations. It’s convenient to the eastern side of Washington and Oregon, and has access to Southwest Idaho too!
Did you know the world’s largest freezer is located right here in the PNW? You heard that right! Richland, Washington is home to the gigantic 2800 Polar Way. It’s storage facility for over 350 million pounds of frozen food! If you love this fun fact about Washington and want to live in this unique place, check out Richland!
Idaho Falls, Idaho
- Population: 66,898 (157,429 metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $390K in 2023
- Who lives here? Those who like small communities, families, retirees
One of the most affordable places to live in the Pacific Northwest is Idaho Falls. Located in southeastern Idaho, the city has an average home price of $390K.
Idaho Falls provides residents primarily with suburban housing and most residents own their home. Here, there are lots of public parks, restaurants, and cute coffee shops.
Idaho Falls is also a great outdoor hub, with the West Yellowstone entrance being only a 1.5-hour drive away!
Idaho Falls is a very safe place to live and has the feeling of a tight-knit community!
Port Angeles, Washington
- Population: 20,134 ( million metropolitan area)
- Average home price: $327K in 2023
- Who lives here? Outdoorsy folk, those who love Olympic National Park, remote workers
Looking to live near the ocean but can’t afford the million dollar homes on the Seattle waterfront?
One of the best things about Port Angeles is that it’s super close to Olympic National Park. Here, there are tons of things to do, lots of hiking, photography spots, unique places to stay, and stunning views of the Olympic Mountain Range and Pacific Ocean.
Even better, Port Angeles is one of the most affordable places to live in the Pacific Northwest. It has an average home price of $327K!
Walla Walla, Washington
- Population: 33,927
- Average home price: $394K in 2023
- Who lives here? Farmers, wine lovers, artists
Curious about living in farm country but want the comforts of a fun and happenin’ town? Walla Walla is your place!
Located in Southeastern Washington in Whitman County, Walla Walla is the perfect escape for retirees, makers, and homesteaders.
It may not be the most accessible place (there’s only a small airport and it’s about 3 hours from a major city!) but if seclusion and peace is what you want, it’s perfect.
Plan a weekend trip to Walla Walla to get a feel for what the town can offer! Just outside of town, you can experience the gorgeous Palouse Scenic Byway and even venture over to Hells Canyon in Idaho too.
What are some of your favorite places to live in the Pacific Northwest? Tell us about your town in the comments!