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Living a Beach Lifestyle in Bellingham, Washington

If there was ever a town with momentum it is Bellingham Washington. It was rated the #2 City & Metropolitan area in the country in “Cities Ranked and Rated”. Kiplinger’s called Bellingham one of the top retirement communities in the U.S. Located on the northwestern coast of Washington, this city of 79,000 (180,000 in the Metro area) has several colleges and Western Washington University with 14,000 students.  Bellingham has unbelievable natural scenery from Puget Sound on the west and Mount Baker to the east.  Bellis Fair Mall is a large mall that attracts many shoppers from Canada. There is a functional downtown and an active redevelopment plan for the waterfront.

For a list of profiles of over 600 cities and towns go to retirement community reviews, or for more information on taxes and what it is like to retire in Washington State. Here are our reviews of Walla Walla, and San Juan Islands.

Where to Retire in Bellingham and Home Prices

The Fairhaven neighborhood near the ferry has many lovely Victorian homes. Many new developments are being built to accommodate active adults. Seattle is just 78 miles away.

Real estate is starting to get higher than the state average but lower than Seattle and the rest of the west coast. reports the median home value has been rising the past several years and was at $685,796 in mid-2022, and reflects a 25% rise over the past year.

What Is Special about Bellingham

• College town • Evergreen forests and Mount Baker ski resort • Puget Sound • Sea to Ski Race • Whatcom Museum of History and Art • Whatcom Falls Park • Village Books (independent bookstore) • Bellingham Farmers Market • Sea Race ends here • Bellingham Bay • Short train ride to Seattle or Vancouver • Very close to Canadian border • Nice parks.

What Is Not Special about Bellingham

Crime (particularly property crime) is somewhat high • It rains a lot in winter.

Climate and Physical Environment

Bellingham is in the extreme northwestern corner of Washington State, Puget Sound is on the west and Mount Baker 25 miles to the east. It sits on a coastal plain with the land rising away in coniferous forests. It rains a lot here in winter, although seldom torrentially. The climate is somewhat mild. Air conditioning in houses is rare.   Google Map Bellingham

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

Bellingham has an active music scene that attracts many from the university. Bellingham is home to the Bellingham Theatre Guild. Whatcom Museum of History and Art sponsors art exhibitions. Western Washington University provides some university arts programs. There are 4 two year colleges in town. Restaurants from upscale to inexpensive college fare. Pickford Cinema is the place to see film, while current movies can be seen at Barkley village.


Crime index is about average.

Medical Facilities

St. Joseph's Hospital is here.


Bellingham is the maritime gateway to the San Juan Islands and Alaska. Bellingham International Airport is about 5 miles north of downtown. Amtrak has a station in Bellingham.

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