It's the finest Emerald City this side of Oz.

Even with its lush, icy-clean landscape of Douglas Fir Trees, shady mountains, and sapphire lakes, Seattle is no campy town. Each year, millennials, hipsters, and families are drawn to the cool coffee culture, outdoor play, and eclectic cuisine that make it a thriving metropolis the Wizard himself would envy.

Not all of us have a jewel of a fortune to invest in a home. If you are considering a purchase for work or play, you will want to look at the cheapest places to live in Seattle.

The homes you consider also have to to be safe, attractive, and a convenient drive from your favorite attractions. Let's take a look.


Why Seattle?

The Seattle housing market is famously hot. In fact, there has been a 31% increase in the housing market since 2013. For every 263 homes in Seattle, only one is for sale. It is now the seventh most costly housing market in the United States.

The population of Seattle grew by 2.8% between 2013 and 2014, the largest growth in America at the time. What do folks find so irresistible?

Seattle is the perfect brew of urban living and verdant landscape. The birthplace of Starbucks and grunge music has a low cost of living compared to places like Silicon Valley. Yet the boutiques, museums, and restaurants rival New York or Los Angeles in their quality and originality.

While it drizzles most months of the year, the continuous hydration leaves mountains and lawns a vibrant green that contrasts the iridescent lakes and mountains in a breathtaking way. Parks with hiking, skiing, and watersports are just a few of the outdoor adventures locals enjoy.

Ethnic food like pho, ramen, dim sum, and sushi, is available in every neighborhood. And there are craft breweries and refined wineries to suit every palate.

Seattle is dog-friendly and your pooch can accompany you to a restaurant, a bus, or even inside Nordstrom. A Northwest-flavored culture means the locals are amicable and sociable. It is not uncommon for folks to eat breakfast together on the weekends, and for many local bars and bakeries to cater to the tradition.

Sports fans will love going to see the Mariners, Seahawks, and Sounders. And other great cities like Portland and Vancouver are a short commute away for an enlightening day trip.

Why Get a Mortgage?

It costs about $1,800 to rent an average one-bedroom apartment in Seattle and about $2,390 for a two-bedroom apartment. This is about as much as it would cost for a monthly mortgage on a $400,000 home. Yet buying pays off with capital that you can use to save or invest if and when you decide to move.

Down-payments make everybody nervous. Yet the median down-payment for most home buyers in the United States is only 7% of the purchase price.

Conventional and FHA loans are popular among first-time home-buyers in the Seattle area who don't have a lot of money to save up. The minimum down payment for a conventional loan in Washington State is 3%. The minimum down-payment for an FHA loan is 3.5%.

Conventional loans require a larger down-payment of 10% or 20%. A 20% down-payment takes away the need for mortgage insurance and lowers a buyer's overall borrowing costs.

The Seattle Office of Housing provides down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers at or below 80% of the area median income.

If you have a low debt-to-income ratio and a higher credit score, a Seattle jumbo loan might be right for you. They may be taken out on mortgages that exceed conforming size for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In Washington State, in 2019, that limit is $726,525.

Where are the cheapest places to live in Seattle? Here are some great places to start:

1. Kenmore

Located on the North end of Lake Washington, homes in Kenmore start at around $400,000. These same homes would sell for about $100,000 more in nearby neighborhoods like Issaquah or Sammamish.

Enjoy the breathtaking hikes and bike rides through waterfront parks and marinas. There are a plethora of family-owned businesses like butcher shops, restaurants, and drugstores.

Residents love the North Shore Schools and St. Edwards State Park. Downtown Seattle and Bellevue are only a 20-minute drive away on back roads.

2. Queen Anne

Modern condos can be purchased for less than $350,000 in this bustling Seattle neighborhood at the base of Queen Anne Hill. Amazing views, historic houses, and eclectic eateries make this a non-stop hot spot for urban professionals.

Close to clever shops, independent bookstores, clubs, and restaurants, the neighborhood boasts views of the Seattle skyline a la Frasier Crane.

The hipster life is a breeze here, as it is easy to get around on foot or bike. It is a short jaunt away from Puget Sound or the iconic Pike Place Marketplace.

Apartments are pet-friendly, and newly renovated buildings are available. The Museum of Pop Culture and Pacific Science Center promise no end to interesting learning and growth.

3. South Newcastle

While Bellevue homes can cost over a million dollars, this quaint community located just south of Coal Creek boasts large, spacious yards and clean landscaping.

Most of the mid-century, single-level homes are not renovated, but many are willing to forego luxury for the comfort of a well-maintained neighborhood that is convenient to city life.

Located near 405 and I90, the neighborhood is an easy commute to working hubs like Issaquah and Renton. It is known for its trail network for hiking and biking, and close proximity to pubs, restaurants, and events.

South Newcastle is one of the Best Places to Live in the US by CNN's Money Magazine in 2011.

4. Puget Ridge

Located just south of the West Seattle Bridge, east of Delridge Way, Puget Ridge is convenient to all the Seattle has to offer.

In South Seattle, with an abundance of private schools nearby, Puget Ridge boasts views of the Seattle skyline, Lake Washington, Mount Rainier, and the Cascade Mt. Range.

While a new construction in the area is worth about $600,000, older 1,400-1,800-square-foot homes that need updating can be purchased from $250,000 to $300,000.

5. Upper Rainier Beach

Known for its warm and friendly neighbors who cultivate colorful gardens, this mostly residential neighborhood is located on the southeastern corner of Seattle along Lake Washington.

Modest, remodeled homes with decks and hot tubs can be purchased for around $400,000.

The Atlantic City Boat Ramp, Kubota Garden Park, and many natural creeks are the outdoor attractions of the enclave. The Sound Transit Link Light Rail Station and King County Metro are convenient ways to access the rest of the city.

6. Pinehurst

Located on Lake City Way to the North East, this neighborhood boasts good school systems. Other family-friendly elements include quiet neighbors and a close proximity to grocery stores and gyms.

The area just north of Northgate Mall is always developing, with new restaurants, coffee shops, and services.

While a new construction in the area is worth about $700,000, remodels can be purchased between $450,000 and $500,000.

7. Belltown

Condos with views of the city and the water can be bought or less than $400,000 in this groovy hipster neighborhood. Turn-key homes in well-run buildings are convenient to grocery stores, breweries, and bars with play-spaces for kids.

Located across Lake Washington from Downtown Seattle, the cultural attractions of the area include the Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue Botanical Gardens, and KidsQuest Children's Museum.

8. Kingsgate

Located just east of I-405 in Kirkland, Kingsgate is close to work hubs like Microsoft. It is close to grocery stores, banks, houses of worship, and trails for hiking and biking.

Solid homes can be purchased between $400,000 and $500,000.

9. Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park is a great place to rent a paddle boat, walk a dog, hang a hammock, or take a walk outside. It is also close to restaurants and cafes in north-central Seattle.

Trim condos in well-maintained buildings can be bought here for under $400,000.

10. Beacon Hill

Cool condos and single-level homes can be purchased in this bustling neighborhood for under $450,000. Largely residential, it is located in southeast Seattle near I5.

With a great view of downtown and an abundance of restaurants and shops on 15th Avenue, you will enjoy the quirky culture of this tucked-away neighborhood.

Some of the Cheapest Places to Live in Seattle Are the Most Desirable

Busy urban neighborhoods like Queen Anne and Belltown offer city life at affordable rates for Seattle investors. Family-friendly hamlets like Puget Ridge and Rainier Beach have suburban charm in close proximity to urban attractions. Yet they are some of the cheapest places to live in Seattle, and you will not regret your savvy decision.

For more information, contact us today.

About the Author

Helping Seattleites buy their dream homes for over 15 years. Founder of Seattle's Mortgage Broker and author of Homeownership Simplified: The Truth about ZERO Down.