Moving to Bellingham

Are you considering a move to the bountiful city of Bellingham, WA? Allow us to be your guide. Where the Cascade Mountains meet the Salish Sea, Bellingham shines, offering an exquisite blend of natural beauty, vibrant culture, and adventure. Offering the best of both worlds--urban life meets outdoor playground--it is no surprise that many are choosing to call Bellingham home. Our comprehensive Bellingham relocation guide will escort you through a journey of discovery, unveiling all the key elements to establish your life in this captivating Pacific Northwest city.

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What to Know Before Moving to Bellingham

1. Jolts of Caffeine are Never Far Away

Caffeine seekers, rejoice! Bellingham is the birthplace of Woods Coffee - a much-loved coffee house founded in 2002 by the Herman family. With numerous outlets spread throughout Bellingham, you're never far from your next caffeine fix! And if you're worried about exploring your coffee options beyond Woods, fear not. Bellingham is practically overflowing with indie coffee shops that fuel the town's laid-back, creative vibe.

2. Adventure Awaits in Every Direction

Bellingham is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. Nestled between Bellingham Bay and Mount Baker, there are unlimited adventures to experience. From hiking, skiing, and cycling to fishing, kayaking, and sailing - there's something here for every adrenaline junkie. And for those seeking a more tranquil communion with nature, picturesque gardens like the blooming Whatcom Falls Park provide a peaceful retreat.

3. Get Ready for All Things Local and Sustainable

Bellingham locals take pride in their sustainability efforts. The Bellingham Farmers Market, a bustling grid of local vendors offering seasonal produce, homemade delicacies, and crafts, is a testament to this. Bellinghamsters also have a penchant for local breweries. With over a dozen breweries in town, many of which emphasize sustainable brewing practices, you're in for a treat if you're a craft beer aficionado.

4. Tap into Bellingham's Rich History

Did you know that Bellingham's oldest existing residential street, the Eldridge Avenue, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places? Named after early settler Edward Eldridge, the street is lined with grand Victorian houses that narrate tales of Bellingham's past. Additionally, the Whatcom Museum, with its iconic Old City Hall, offers fascinating insights into the city's history, arts, and culture.

5. The Most Famous Residents are the Bellinghamsters

A little-known fact about Bellingham is the peculiar nickname its residents are known by - Bellinghamsters! This lighthearted moniker reflects the friendly spirit and sense of community Bellingham locals are known for. More so, you'll often find local businesses and events fondly using the term in solidarity with the town's upbeat, quirky charm.

6. Bellingham Bay Marathon is an Annual Spectacle

Not many are aware that Bellingham hosts the awe-inspiring Bellingham Bay Marathon every September. This scenic race route takes you right along Bellingham Bay, with Mount Baker forming a stunning backdrop. Whether you're a runner or a cheerful bystander, witnessing the event is a uniquely Bellingham experience. So limber up!

In conclusion, Bellingham, WA, can be a wonderful, nature-filled and vibrant city to call home. Steeped in history, committed to sustainability, and brimming with delightful local quirks, Bellingham possesses a distinctive charm all its own. All it takes is one taste of Bellingham's organic strawberries or a sunset over Bellingham Bay, and you might just find yourself becoming a proud Bellinghamster!

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Pros and Cons of Living in Bellingham

Pros of Living in Bellingham

Natural Beauty

Bellingham is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, offering numerous opportunities for outdoor activities. From hiking in the nearby Mt. Baker and North Cascades to kayaking and boating in Bellingham Bay, one can easily relish the area's natural beauty.

University Town

Bellingham is a university town, home to Western Washington University. This means there's a thriving student population, which contributes to a vibrant, youthful atmosphere, plus an array of cultural events and educational opportunities.

Accessible Healthcare

Bellingham is home to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, providing comprehensive medical services to residents. Other healthcare centers are scattered around the city, which means residents have relatively easy access to medical care.

Rich Cultural Scene

Bellingham offers a rich cultural scene including art galleries, theaters, and museums. The historic Mount Baker Theatre and Whatcom Museum are just a few places where locals and tourists can soak in the town's arts and culture.

Organic Local Food

Bellingham has a strong local food scene, with many restaurants and grocery stores sourcing directly from local farms. The city's farmers' markets are famous for their organic produce, artisanal goods, and vibrant community atmosphere.

Cons of Living in Bellingham

High Cost of Living

While Bellingham has many benefits, the high cost of living is a downside. Things like housing, groceries, and healthcare can be more expensive when compared to other Washington cities.

Rainy Weather

Bellingham has a reputation for being quite rainy. While this weather contributes to the area's lush green landscapes, it might not be appreciated by everyone, particularly those who prefer more sunshine and drier conditions.

Small Airport

While Bellingham has an airport, it is relatively small with limited destinations. For regular international travel or flights to many U.S. cities, residents often have to drive to larger airports such as the one in Seattle.

Limited Nightlife

Although Bellingham boasts a rich cultural scene, its nightlife options are relatively limited, especially when compared to larger cities. For many, this quieter, more relaxed environment may be a pro, but for those seeking a bustling nightlife, this could be a drawback.

Long Commutes

If you need to commute to major Washington cities like Seattle or Vancouver for work, the journey could be long and traffic-prone. This commute may be a deterrent for those considering settling in Bellingham but working in more populated cities.

Modern day picture of Bellingham, WA highlighting pros and cons of living in Bellingham, WA

Is Bellingham a Good Place to Live?

Bellingham, WA is a great place to live because it offers an idyllic combination of city living and natural beauty with its vibrant downtown, friendly community, and magnificent surrounding nature including waterfront and mountains. The city teems with recreational activities, boasting an array of parks, trails, and water sports; the arts scene here is equally impressive with galleries, music venues, and unique art walks. Additionally, its strong economy, driven by diverse industries coupled with an outstanding culinary scene and home to numerous microbreweries, make it even more appealing to both young professionals and families.

What Is Bellingham Famous For?

Outdoor Adventures in Bellingham

Bellingham, WA is widely known for its exceptional range of outdoor activities. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty, it's a paradise for hikers, bikers, climbers, sailors and skiers who yearn for adventure. Mount Baker, Lake Whatcom, and Bellingham Bay are just a few of the natural wonders that make this city an outdoor enthusiast's dream.

Bellingham's Rich Art Scene

The city of Bellingham is renowned for its vibrant art scene. The Downtown Arts District is teeming with galleries, museums, theaters, and public art installations. The city also plays host to a multitude of art festivals each year, attracting artists and aficionados from all over the region.

Bellingham's Microbrewery Culture

Bellingham is well-known for its flourishing microbrewery scene. With a number of award-winning breweries in the city, it's the ideal place for beer enthusiasts to dive into innovative brews and traditional favorites. Additionally, the city hosts an annual Bellingham Beer Week, making it a definite stop for any beer lover's tour of the Pacific Northwest.

The Historic Fairhaven District

Bellingham is home to the Historic Fairhaven District, a charming area known for its well-preserved 19th century architecture. This neighborhood is filled with boutique shops, book stores, unique restaurants and lively pubs that give off an old-world vibe, making it a delightful place to explore.

Capital building of Bellingham, WA in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

In Bellingham, WA, the property tax rate for 2023 is approximately at 0.96%. This rate is lower compared to the national average property tax rate of 1.07%.

Sales Tax

The sales tax rate in Bellingham, WA is at 8.7% for the year 2023. This is relatively high when compared to the US median sales tax rate of around 7.12%.

Income Tax

As of 2023, residents of Bellingham, WA, like the rest of Washington state, do not pay state-level income tax. This makes Washington among the seven US states with no state-level income tax.

Housing Market

The housing market in Bellingham, WA is known for being particularly competitive. With a median home value of around $486,928, it outpaces the national median of approximately $277,700. Though prices are high, home ownership is valued, with around 46% of residents owning their homes. Rental costs also surpass the national median, averaging about $1,243 monthly. These homes tend to be of exceptional quality with most buildings being relatively new, constructed post-1940. Despite the cost, Bellingham's beautiful setting and high-quality housing make it a unique and appealing market to both rent and buy.

Cost of Living

Currently, the cost of living in Bellingham, WA is relatively high when compared to other cities in the U.S. It stands at an index of 134.5, about 34.5% higher than the national average. Important contributors to this cost are housing and transportation. However, compared to larger cities like Seattle or San Francisco, Bellingham may still be considered more affordable. Thus, while Bellingham's expense can be a concern, its relative affordability compared to major cities is an attractive aspect for many residents and potential movers.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Bellingham, WA experiences a mild maritime climate, characterized by cool, damp winters and warm, dry summers. The summer months are typically the driest, while heavy precipitation occurs in late fall and winter. Average annual rainfall ranges between 34-36 inches. During winter, snowfall can also occur, but it's relatively modest compared to other parts of the state. Natural disasters in Bellingham include earthquakes due to its proximity to a major fault line. The city also faces potential volcanic threats from Mount Baker, one of several active volcanoes in Washington. Flooding and landslides are occasional concerns during the wetter months of the year. Thus, while Bellingham greets its residents with a generally mild, comfortable climate, it is not without an element of environmental excitement. It holds surprises in its geographical location, immersing inhabitants in the rich dynamics of nature.

Typical weather in Bellingham, WA

Economy & Job Market


* Health Care and Social Assistance

* Education Services

* Retail Trade

* Manufacturing

* Accommodation and Food Services

Bellingham, situated at the nippy tip-top of Washington state, sure does know how to make a name for itself in all sorts of ways, and that includes its roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work industries. Looking back, Bellingham kicked off its hustle and bustle with sawmills and seabound hauling, but has since traded in its lumberjack boots for a more diverse set of industrial clogs. These days, Bellingham's economy knows a thing or two about the health care and social assistance sphere, given that it's the city's largest industry. Education services also earn a gold star, thanks to the city's three colleges. Add to that a robust retail trade, a buzzing manufacturing sector, and some delectable accommodation and food services (because who doesn't love a good chow down?), and you've got a colorful economic tapestry that's just itching to tell its story.

If you're planning a one-way trip to Bellingham and have "find epic job" on your to-do list, strap in because we're about to spill some employment tea. Bellingham's unemployment rate is a smidge below the national average, but don't let that worry you there's plenty of job-boogie to go around. While health care, education, and retail dominate a great deal of the job market, manufacturing and hospitality also promise a good look-see if you fancy getting your hands a little bit dirty. Not to mention, the city's startup scene is simmering with promise, perfect for the venturous spirits out there. So whether you're looking to inspire within education, help a fellow citizen in healthcare, or get creative in the startup scene, delightful Bellingham has got you covered.


Traffic and Transportation

Hey there, Bellingham adventurer! Embrace the charm of this picturesque city as you navigate its terrain. The average commute time in Bellingham, WA is a breeze-friendly 20 minutes. Not a fan of driving? No worries, WTA buses got you covered with great public transportation options. They crisscross the city and extend to the county, making it super convenient to get around. And hey, if jetting off is your thing, Bellingham International Airport has your back. From here, you can fly to cities across the West Coast or even ditch the continent altogether for an island getaway in Hawaii. In Bellingham, your travel needs are in safe and adventurous hands. Happy travels!

What is the traffic like in Bellingham, WA?

Best Neighborhoods in Bellingham

1. Fairhaven

Stepping into Fairhaven is like being transported back in time. With its charming brick buildings from the late 19th century, this historic district of Bellingham transports you to a simpler time. Fairhaven is ideal for those who appreciate an old-world charm mixed with a modern twist. It offers a beautiful waterfront, top-rated dining, unique shopping experiences, and numerous events like the popular farmer's market. Fairhaven is surely the place to be for someone who loves community activities, and the taste of history.

2. Columbia

Columbia, also known as 'the Garden District', is home to Broadway Park, one of Bellingham's iconic parks featuring tennis courts, a playground, and lots of green space for a picnic. The neighborhood is also filled with beautiful craftsman-style homes, providing a picturesque setting that is welcoming and cozy. Columbia offers the tranquility of a suburban lifestyle coupled with the convenience of city living with downtown Bellingham just a short walk away.

3. South Hill

South Hill offers its residents stunning views over the Bellingham Bay and a great sense of community. Most South Hill homes are just a stone's throw away from Western Washington University, adding a lively, youthful vibe to the neighborhood. And for outdoor lovers, there's the South Bay Trail starting from Boulevard Park, which is perfect for a scenic walk or bike ride.

4. Edgemoor

Edgemoor might be just the place for those in search of peace and quiet. Tucked away in the South of Bellingham, this neighborhood is surrounded by beautiful natural environments, from lush green woodland to the calm waters of Chuckanut Bay. Edgemoor residents also enjoy access to Clark's Point, a private, serene spot that offers an unobstructed view of the sun setting over the horizon.

5. Alabama Hill

Alabama Hill is known for its commanding views of Bellingham Bay and the city. This neighborhood is home to a lively crowd and host to several outdoor activities. Residents often spend their time enjoying the Whatcom Falls Park and Bloedel Donovan Park. Alabama Hill also offers quick access to several conveniences, from shopping centers to schools, giving it a suburban feel yet within the city's grasp.

In conclusion, Bellingham, WA is a delightful fusion of city and suburbia offering various lifestyles suitable for everyone. Whether you appreciate the historic charm of Fairhaven, the garden-like ambiance of Columbia, the bay views of South Hill, the tranquility of Edgemoor, or the dynamic character of Alabama Hill, you'll surely find a place to call home in Bellingham.

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Things to Do

Welcome to Bellingham, Washington - a charming city where exciting adventures, unique attractions, and natural beauty come together offering a colorful bouquet of experiences. Whether you're new to the city or simply looking for something different, here are seven top things to do that can turn your everyday life into an unforgettable journey right here in Bellingham.

1. Wander Around Fairhaven Historic District

Travel back in time in the scenic Fairhaven Historic District. Quaint, brick-lined streets, Victorian-style buildings, and a rich tapestry of history, this district is brimming with shops, galleries, and eateries. Enjoy a laid-back afternoon exploring every nook and cranny or simply people-watching at a local cafe.

2. Explore Bellingham Farmers Market

Every Saturday from April through December, the Depot Market Square comes alive with the Bellingham Farmers Market. Taste locally grown organic produce, artisan bread, and sweet treats. Get your hands on handmade crafts or simply enjoy the live music and friendly community ambiance. It's a fun way to support local economy while filling up your pantry!

3. Immerse in Art at The Whatcom Museum

Satisfy your artistic cravings at The Whatcom Museum, which houses a diverse collection of regional and maritime history, art, and culture exhibited in three separate locations-the Old City Hall, the Lightcatcher, and the Syre Education Center. The striking architecture of lightcatcher building itself is worth the visit.

4. Combing The Shores of Locust Beach

Locust Beach offers a delightful, under-the-radar experience. A long, flat stroll beside the waters, you'll often find locals beachcombing for cool bits of driftwood or sea glass. It's also an ideal spot to witness stunning sunsets or for a tranquil picnic with loved ones.

5. Hike Up to Oyster Dome

For those with an adventurous heart, the Oyster Dome Trail up Blanchard Mountain is a must. The trek rewards with the breathtaking panorama of the San Juan Islands and Skagit flats. Start on the Pacific Northwest Trail at Samish Overlook, then zigzag your way up to the bald dome. Don't forget your water bottle!

6. Discover Secrets of Dan Harris Green

Right in the heart of Fairhaven lies the somewhat secret Dan Harris Green, an urban mini-park often missed by casual visitors. Stumble upon this hidden gem, kick back on a bench with a good book, or enjoy a quiet lunch amidst its calm, green scenery. Look closely and you may spot the playful squirrels or colorful birds that call this place home.

7. Enjoy Bellingham's Brew Scene

Beer buffs unite! Bellingham's thriving craft beer scene, boasting over 15 breweries, is a delight for any beer lover. Take a self-guided Bellingham Tap Trail or join a guided tour on the Bellingham Beer Bus to sample mouthwatering brews and meet the friendly, beer-savvy locals.

There you have it - a diverse blend of fun, history, nature, and culture. Whether it's feeling the pulse of the farmer's market, exploring a secret park, or quenching your thirst with local brews, Bellingham has something to offer for everyone. So, get ready to dive in and truly taste the flavor of life in this lovely Pacific Northwestern city. Welcome Home!

Things to do in Bellingham, WA?

Find Movers for Your Bellingham Relocation

As your plans to make beautiful Bellingham, WA your home come into focus, we suggest you take the next crucial step - securing a flawless moving experience. We've collaborated with Great Guys Moving to help you find the best relocating partners. Renowned for connecting individuals with top-notch, licensed, and insured movers, Great Guys ensures affordable rates and high-quality service. Allow them to streamline your transition to Bellingham by matching you with movers designed to meet your needs. Start your incredible Bellingham journey with confidence, and request a free moving quote from Great Guys Moving today.

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