From Magnolia to Medina: Which Seattle-Area Neighborhood is Right for You

By VDB Compass
2020-03-13T13:08:31.000Z

A guide to where to find your bliss in this city on the rise

While some residents may take issue with the rain and the rush hour traffic, few have plans to leave Seattle anytime soon because there’s just something about it that attracts people and keeps them from wanting to leave. Striking a balance between being a major metropolitan center and being surrounded by breathtaking beauty, filled with a vibrant food and music scene, embodying a modern bohemian culture, and providing endless opportunities for outdoor recreation within minutes of downtown, it’s easy to see why Seattlites stay put. From Seattle’s lively downtown to secluded waterfront communities, the city and its surrounding neighborhoods have much to offer for a variety of lifestyles. Discover which neighborhood is right for you with this comprehensive guide.

Capitol Hill

Filled with eclectic boutiques, a vibrant nightlife, hip restaurants, and indie coffee shops all within walking distance of downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill is an urban-dweller’s paradise. Arguably Seattle’s most diverse neighborhood, Capitol Hill is home to residents of all backgrounds and walks of life, attracting young professionals and families seeking larger historic homes with Pacific Northwest character. With Cal Anderson Park and Volunteer Park also in the neighborhood, residents enjoy a built-in escape from the hustle and bustle with walking trails, a plant conservatory, hilltop panoramic views, and the art deco Asian Art Museum. 

Capitol Hill is also diverse in terms of its real estate options, complete with an abundance of charming 19th and 20th century Victorian and Craftsman-style restored residences mixed with modern apartments and condo buildings closer to downtown. If you’re looking for a bustling neighborhood that offers the best of city living and access to Seattle’s natural beauty, Capitol Hill is the spot for you. 

Greenlake

Offering waterfront living minutes from downtown, Greenlake is a unique neighborhood in North Central Seattle named for its centerpiece—a 259-acre freshwater lake—surrounded by a public park. Greenlake’s residential streets are lined with unique mid-century homes alongside newer apartment and single-family home developments and dotted with local restaurants, shops, and small businesses that make it feel like a tight-knit village within the city. The neighborhood’s lake and park are urban gems that add a lot of value to Greenlake’s lifestyle, and residents get a taste of the city’s history with the Bathhouse Theater and the Green Lake Library, which was built in 1910 and is an officially-designated Seattle landmark. 

Greenlake’s proximity to city amenities, coupled with its endless opportunities for outdoor recreation—from swimming and sunbathing to running and cycling—make it an extremely attractive community for young families and professionals seeking upmarket real estate and a suburban-style lifestyle while also maintaining commuting access to downtown Seattle. 

Magnolia

Jutting into Seattle’s iconic Puget Sound, Magnolia is an affluent community that feels like a daily vacation from the rush of city life. This hilly peninsula is surrounded by water, neighbors the largest park in the city, and exudes a secluded, private feel, making you feel miles away without leaving Seattle’s city limits. A beach with miles of hiking trails, ample open green space, a historic lighthouse, and views across the waterway to the San Juan Islands are at residents’ fingertips—all in the shadow of Seattle’s growing skyline. 

Magnolia is attractive to high-income buyers seeking a place to unwind and call home. Real estate in Magnolia is varied, from 19th-century waterfront estates with expansive views to contemporary yet captivating homes with elevated design, quality, and finishings with lasting appeal. While the community is mostly residential, it has a small commercial district dubbed The Village with locally-owned shops, eateries, and coffee houses that exude small-town charm. From beachcombing for sea glass and soaking in the charm of The Village to exploring Discovery Park and watching the sunset from your living room, Magnolia is an open invitation to luxuriate in a slower pace of life.

Queen Anne

Sitting atop the highest hill in Seattle and known as the crown jewel of Seattle real estate, Queen Anne is perfect for those looking for an inviting community with a rich history and a strong sense of belonging. During the city’s early economic development, Queen Anne’s hill became a popular destination for Seattle’s elite to build their impressive estates, a number of which are still standing today. Built between 1890 and 1910, these Victorian-era mansions exude luxury and reside alongside homes in a variety of other styles, including restored brick Tudors, Crafstmans, and modern townhomes. 

As Seattle’s second-largest neighborhood, Queen Anne touches Lake Union to the east, Elliott Bay to the west and south, and Fremont Cut to the north, making way for waterfront contemporary condo buildings with impressive penthouses that overlook Puget Sound. Queen Anne’s southern edge is home to Seattle’s most iconic landmark—the Space Needle—and residents can easily reach downtown and all the world-class dining, shopping, and entertainment the city have to offer while maintaining a sense of distance as you float nearly 500 feet above the rest of Seattle.

West Seattle

Exuding an independent feel from the heart of Seattle, yet close enough to the big city amenities of downtown, West Seattle is a laid-back community full of character, natural beauty, and down-to-earth neighbors. West Seattle is where the first European settlers arrived in 1851 and attempted to occupy, but were thwarted by poor weather—ever since, the area has developed its own sense of community and autonomy that is very much alive today. Despite its proximity to downtown, West Seattle feels like a small town with a distinct spirit that attracts those with creative and adventurous attitudes who stray from the norm.

A big part of what makes West Seattle so unique is “The Junction,” its downtown area bursting with record stores, tap houses, beloved eateries, locally-owned bakeries, thrift stores, eccentric boutiques, and more that make residents feel like they never have to—or want to—leave. Spending the day or evening around a bonfire on Alki Beach is another West Seattle signature pastime that contributes to the beach town vibe alive in the neighborhood. Bottling the non-conforming soul of the Pacific Northwest and giving residents a walkable, close-knit community with outstanding views and access to the waterfront, West Seattle is a true gem.

Kirkland 

Beyond the city limits, there are many highly desirable and sought-after communities surrounding Seattle that provide more relaxed lifestyles without giving up access to downtown. Among them is Kirkland, Seattle’s up-and-coming sister city to the east, offering luxury living on Lake Washington that is popular among Seattle’s tech professionals, families, and retirees seeking an escape from the bustle of city life. 

From upscale downtown condos to vast properties on the lake, there are many options in Kirkland when it comes to waterfront real estate. Those looking for a more metropolitan lifestyle are attracted to the walkable Market-Downtown district, which has a number of great restaurants, art galleries, and access to the lakefront, making it one of the most liveable neighborhoods in the area. South of downtown is Moss Bay and Lakeview, where you’ll find grand waterfront homes with private docks and stunning architecture surrounded by parks and fantastic views of the Seattle Skyline. If you’re looking for an urban-suburban mix with breathtaking scenery as your backyard, Kirkland may be right for you.

Bellevue

Bellevue is a serene city separated from Seattle by Lake Washington and a couple of floating bridges, keeping it close to the action without being at its center. Bellevue’s downtown has boomed in recent years, with an influx of high-tech companies and other businesses moving to the area, leading to the construction of high-rise apartments, modern office buildings, and ever-expanding commercial retail options. While downtown is more fast-paced, most of Bellevue retains a suburban, laid-back feel thanks to its many parks, local community festivals, network of trails, and residential neighborhoods dotted with larger historic and contemporary homes, from newly-built farmhouse-style estates to stunning Victorians surrounded by lush landscaping. 

Bellevue’s reputation for great schools and desirable real estate attracts families with young children looking to put down roots just outside the city. Its growing population has led the area to be very culturally diverse, creating a vibrant sense of community and making it a great place to raise a family. Merging a high-tech hub that provides easy access to shopping, dining, parks, schools, and entertainment with sprawling small-town style living and endless opportunities for hiking, swimming, biking, and more, Bellevue is an urban-suburban dream.

Medina

Across Lake Washington, on Seattle’s eastside, you’ll find Medina, a small residential enclave with some of the area’s most stunning real estate. Home to some of the tech industry’s biggest players, including Jeff Bezos and Bill and Melinda Gates, Medina has an intimate population of about 3,000 and feels utterly secluded from the bustling metropolis to the west. As the wealthiest zip code in Washington, the homes in Medina are reflective of its residents' statuses, with luxurious properties on spacious lots and large estates on the desirable Evergreen Point Road with docks and private beaches unmatched anywhere else in the Seattle area. 
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Beyond its sought-after real estate, this lakeside community has much to offer residents who are lucky enough to call this tranquil islet home. Medina’s Overlake Golf & Country Club dates back to 1927 and boasts an Arthur Vernon Macan-designed 18-hole golf course along with tennis and swimming facilities and an impressive recently-renovated clubhouse to socialize and engage with other members. Old Bellevue is also a minute’s drive from Medina, a quaint downtown area with independent restaurants and boutiques that’s perfect for a weekend stroll or night out for dinner without making the trip into Seattle. 

Looking for luxury real estate in Seattle, WA so you can have access to these great trails year-round? Contact us today. It would be our pleasure to help you find a piece of Seattle luxury real estate that’s right for you.

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