Pros And Cons Of Living In Bellingham, WA

The city of Bellingham, Washington lies just before the Canadian border and is about an hour north of Seattle.

If you love the outdoors and enjoy getting out in all seasons, this might be an ideal spot for you to settle. Like any region, Bellingham has positives and negatives.

Washington state map

Pros and Cons: Overview

Pros:

  • Beautiful scenery
  • Lots of outdoor activities
  • Great shopping and restaurants
  • Strong Job Market
  • No income tax

Cons:

  • Cold winters
  • High cost of housing
  • High property taxes
  • High sales taxes
  • Rains a lot
Bellingham Washington Aerial Landscape Panoramic Sunset View Looking Towards Fairhaven
Bellingham Washington Aerial Landscape Panoramic Sunset View Looking Towards Fairhaven

Things to do

Pros: Bellingham is growing in popularity with tourists. There are many interesting galleries to visit, shops to enjoy and restaurants to tempt your taste buds. If you love seafood, the many options offered by restauranteurs will amaze you.

Cons: Tourists tend to come to town to spend money. They may quickly fill up the latest seafood restaurant and drive up prices at your favorite clothing store. However, once you live in Bellingham, you can find the gems that don’t make the travel reviews. You may even be able to build a side hustle as a guide to the hidden treasures in this terrific city!

Natural beauty

Pros: This city lies between the Cascade Mountains to the east and Samish Bay to the west. Look any direction and the beauty of nature will catch your eye. If the sky is clear, you may become part of a crowd of folks who needs to gather to enjoy the sunset over the ocean. Keep your schedule flexible.

Cons: All of this beauty can quickly get clogged up with hikers, bicycle trail riders and loose dogs. Once you live in Bellingham, you may find that your favorite hiking time is at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday because the trails are quieter. While Bellingham is a beautiful place surrounded by natural wonders, it can feel crowded.

Bellingham, Washington Aerial View
Bellingham, Washington Aerial View

Sense of Community

Pros: Despite the fact that Bellingham can feel flush with people, they’re friendly. Bellingham has a strong sense of community as well as community pride. If you have an interest in building a business and a future in a particular region, the folks of Bellingham will likely be supportive of what you’re trying to grow.

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Cons: You don’t have to fit into a cookie-cutter mold to fit in within the community of Bellingham, but you do need to bring something new to the table at frequent intervals. You will want to prepare to be observed if you choose to open a business in Bellingham. That being said, if you’re willing to put in the effort, you will find a listening ear in Bellingham. Just be prepared for a sense that folks might be observing you more closely than in other cities you’ve lived in.

Bellingham Harbor
Bellingham Harbor

Job market

Pros: As of January 2023, the job market in Bellingham is quite strong. In addition, Bellingham is a great spot for anyone looking to build a side hustle. The strong tech culture of the northwest means that both start-ups and those just looking to pick up a few extra bucks in the evenings and on the weekends can find gigs quickly.

Cons: Bellingham is a popular city and the competition for jobs can be severe. If you’re planning a move here, do your best to have at least one job lined up for yourself before you arrive. If you have a side hustle that will transfer, bring it. Do your best to get your education completed before you get here, and, of course, be ready to learn.

Cost of living

Pros: Once you can afford it, Bellingham has a great deal to offer. You can find energetic fun and restful peace in this wonderful town, often on the same day. You can also find many free things to do here, especially if you love the outdoors and have the right precipitation gear. Remember that you’re on the coast. If you love to cook or have at least decided that you’re going to learn to cook, seafood will likely be a lot cheaper than steak.

Cons: Bellingham is not a cheap place to live, though there are costs that are markedly less than elsewhere in the country. According to payscale.com, the cost of living is 21% higher in Bellingham, Washington than the national average. While the cost of groceries is a bit higher and housing is a lot higher, utilities are markedly cheaper. You can consciously lower your miscellaneous costs, such as hobbies and fun, by cultivating fun activities that get you outside or by building hobbies that will make you some money in the future.

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Fairhaven Bellingham, Washington
Fairhaven Bellingham, Washington

Taxes

Pros: Washington does not require citizens to pay income tax. Additionally, food is not subjected to sales tax unless it comes with utensils. If you need a good reason to learn to cook, move to Washington!

Cons: Sales tax in the city of Bellingham is 8.8%. Property taxes here are also higher than the national average, in no small part to make up for the lack of a state income tax.

Housing

Pros: You can find a variety of spaces to rent in Bellingham, from traditional apartments to houses to private rooms. The housing market is tight at the moment; if your plan is to buy, make sure you have your financing in order before you start looking. If you’re in a position to sell in this region, congrats!

Cons: Housing costs are high in Bellingham. In fact, the cost of a home is 39% higher than the national average. If your funds are very tight, you may find that your best option is to rent a single room or rent a small place with a roommate (or two). Come to the city flush with cash when you choose to go apartment shopping; you will likely need at least 2 months’ rent to get into your own place.

Weather

Pros: Bellingham celebrates all the seasons. From snowboarding and skiing in the winter to swimming and rafting in the summer, there are good reasons to be outside in each season of the year.

Cons: Rain will be your nearly constant companion. It will impact your behavioral patterns on a weekly if not daily basis. Bellingham gets, on average 165 days of rain each year. When the sun does come out, expect some crowding on your local walking path.

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