Best Places to Live in Southern Washington State
Southern Washington State’s diverse scenery and vibrant communities combine natural beauty and modern comforts. This area is a haven for those seeking harmony in their lives, thanks to its stunning mountains, verdant forests, and tranquil water bodies.
Finding the perfect Southern Washington home is so important. As more people work from home and people’s and families’ priorities change, there are more things that affect where someone chooses to live.
This article will tell you the 12 best places to live in Southern Washington State in 2023. Some of the factors considered when ranking each location were education quality, cost of living, safety, and amenities.
From busy cities to peaceful towns, this list will help you find the right place for your lifestyle and goals. Whether you are a nature lover, a career-driven professional, or looking for a peaceful family life, Southern Washington has something for you.
You can also find out the best places for black families to live in Washington in this article.
Longview, near the Columbia River, embodies a lumber town with a perfect blend of history and nature. Its timber heritage makes this city a charming mix of old and new. From its stately historical buildings to its lush green spaces, it shows how nature and history can coexist.
Residents and visitors enjoy the peaceful parks and trails with river and landscape views. Fishing, boating, and riverside picnics are vital to Longview’s lifestyle and economy. Lake Sacajawea Park, with its enchanting Japanese garden and charming footbridges, is a particular highlight, providing a picturesque setting for leisurely walks and family outings.
Longview’s dedication to history and nature makes it a unique destination. The preservation of the Monticello Hotel and Nutty Narrows Bridge is linked to their efforts in environmental protection. This careful balance of conservation and development makes Longview appealing to those who value history and nature.
The city’s blend of past and present, combined with its idyllic setting, offers a lifestyle that appeals to history buffs, nature lovers, and everyone in between. Longview is well worthy of being mentioned as one of the best places to live in Southern Washington state.
11. Battle Ground
Battle Ground offers a unique blend of small-town charm and contemporary living. As a growing community, it retains a strong sense of connection and intimacy often lost in larger cities. This city’s appeal is its peaceful lifestyle, where urban life gives way to neighborhood living.
Battle Ground’s public schools are renowned for their quality and dedication to student success. This area attracts families with innovative public schools, well-resourced libraries, and community centers. These schools are community hubs where kids and adults learn, celebrate, and socialize.
Battle Ground has a calm, orderly lifestyle that replaces city stress. Residents can enjoy outdoor activities at Battle Ground Lake State Park and other parks. These green spaces are great for hiking, picnicking, and family outings, supporting the town’s healthy lifestyle.
Moreover, Battle Ground’s small-town feel is palpable in its community events and local gatherings. The town hosts many events throughout the year, fostering community. These events include farmers’ markets and cultural festivals celebrating the town’s diversity.
Battle Ground, with its blend of peaceful living, educational excellence, and community vibrancy, emerges as an ideal choice for those seeking the warmth of a small town coupled with the advantages of a growing community.
Washougal, at the entrance to the Columbia River Gorge, is known for its beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. Its stunning natural beauty draws residents and visitors to this charming city. One can fully enjoy the outdoors here, taking in the stunning views and plenty of activities.
Its proximity to the Columbia River Gorge draws outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Hiking trails like the Washougal River Greenway and Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge offer stunning views and wildlife sightings. Walking, bird-watching, and photography are beautiful amid the lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and mighty Columbia River.
Though small, the city has many amenities for various interests. The Washougal Waterfront Park and Trail is a favorite for walking, picnicking, and viewing the river. Perfect for family outings and relaxation, the park’s design blends into the natural landscape.
For those interested in the arts and history, the Two Rivers Heritage Museum provides insights into the area’s cultural and historical significance, adding depth to the community’s character.
Furthermore, Washougal’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty while encouraging recreational activities is evident in its community initiatives. Seasonal events, like the Washougal Art Festival and the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, attract visitors and locals alike, showcasing the city’s vibrant cultural scene.
Overall, Washougal is a place where nature’s grandeur meets community spirit. For those seeking a life amidst scenic landscapes with an abundance of outdoor activities, Washougal emerges as an ideal choice in Southern Washington State.
Kelso presents an enticing blend of affordability, community spirit, and access to outdoor recreation, making it a standout choice for those seeking a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.
One of Kelso’s most attractive features is its housing market. It has cheaper housing than other areas for first-time home-buyers, families, and retirees. Another benefit is that this affordability does not compromise variety or quality.
Kelso has a strong sense of community. Friendly neighborhoods with frequent community events are typical of the city. Kelso Senior Center, for instance, shows this spirit by providing a place for older city residents to socialize and participate.
Kelso’s proximity to natural attractions adds another layer to its appeal. Local fishing, kayaking, and riverside walks on the Coweeman River make the city a gateway to nature. The Cowlitz Riverfront Trail is also a beautiful path for jogging, biking, or strolling, allowing residents to enjoy nature.
Kelso represents a harmonious blend of affordability, community warmth, and access to outdoor recreation. Its housing options meet a variety of needs, and its strong community fosters an inclusive environment.
Ridgefield stands out as a rapidly developing area that successfully merges the allure of modern living with the tranquility of rural charm. For nature lovers and community life enthusiasts, this city is known for its Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and many exciting community events.
Nature lovers flock to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge has thousands of acres of grasslands, wetlands, and forests. People come to birdwatch, hike, and photograph the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty.
Ridgefield’s community spirit is another of its defining features. City residents feel connected through many annual events. The Ridgefield 4th of July Parade, fireworks, and family-friendly activities are highlights.
In terms of development, Ridgefield is experiencing a growth spurt, with new housing developments and commercial projects sprouting up. This growth is carefully planned to preserve the city’s rural character while adding modern amenities.
Another highlight is Ridgefield’s well-regarded public schools, which prioritize quality education. These schools are equipped with modern facilities and have a strong focus on academic excellence, making Ridgefield a top choice for families.
Ridgefield is a city that truly has it all: the natural splendor of wildlife, a vibrant community with regular events and festivals, a growing economy with thoughtful urban development, and a commitment to quality education.
Camas is a picturesque city that offers its residents a remarkable quality of life, highlighted by its top-rated schools, scenic beauty, and charming historic downtown. This city appeals to those who value education, nature, and history.
Camas’ schools consistently rank among the state’s best. Schools like Camas High School are known for their high academic standards, comprehensive curriculum, and strong emphasis on student development. For quality of education alone, Camas is one of the best places to live in Southern Washington state.
Camas’s natural landscape is another major draw. The city has stunning mountain, forest, and waterway views. Lacamas Lake, a peaceful spot for kayaking, fishing, and picnicking, is a famous attraction. To enjoy the lake’s beauty, visitors can hike and bike on the trails.
Downtown Camas is charming and full of history. Beautifully preserved buildings house unique shops, cozy cafes, and local restaurants in its downtown. Events like Camas First Fridays bring the community together with art, live music, and food vendors.
Camas has many parks and green spaces, like Heritage Park, for outdoor activities and relaxation. These well-kept parks are used for sports, leisure, and community events, boosting the city’s appeal.
For anyone looking to settle in Southern Washington State, Camas offers an inviting and fulfilling living experience.
Woodland, nestled strategically near the iconic Mt. St. Helens and the serene Columbia River, offers a unique fusion of adventure and tranquility. This town is a haven for nature enthusiasts and peace-seekers alike.
Mt. St. Helens is an active stratovolcano that is a popular hiking and photography destination. This active volcano is a natural classroom and playground for outdoor adventures. From challenging hikes to leisurely visits, Mt. St. Helens offers an unforgettable experience.
The Columbia River enhances Woodland’s charm. With many boating, fishing, and water sports access points, the river is central to life here. The local favorite, Horseshoe Lake Park, also has picnic areas, a playground, and water activities for family outings.
Woodland also hosts many community events throughout the year, bringing residents together and creating a welcoming atmosphere. Many of these events honor the town’s history and natural beauty.
Thus, Woodland is ideal for those seeking a balance of adventure and calm due to its stunning natural beauty and community spirit.
Centralia, between Seattle and Portland, is affordable, and strategically located. This town appeals to those seeking a quieter lifestyle near major cities.
Centralia’s historic downtown is full of character. Here, people can walk along streets lined with old buildings. Nowadays, these buildings have shops, restaurants, and art galleries. The Fox Theater, a beautifully restored venue, hosts classic movie nights and live performances, enriching downtown’s culture.
Affordability is another key aspect of Centralia’s appeal. The town offers charming homes and modern developments at lower prices than nearby major cities. This low cost of living attracts families, retirees, and young professionals.
Centralia residents benefit from its strategic location. Its I-5 corridor location near Seattle and Portland is ideal for commuters, weekend explorers, and anyone who wants city amenities in a smaller community. The town is also near Mount Rainier and the Pacific coast, offering plenty of outdoor activities.
Centralia’s downtown, affordability, and convenient location make it a popular Southern Washington State relocation option. Its balanced lifestyle of small-town charm and urban accessibility appeals to a diverse population.
Chehalis offers residents a harmonious blend of a comfortable lifestyle, historical charm, and abundant local amenities. The town has maintained its heritage while offering modern amenities.
Events here like the Chehalis Farmers Market and Chehalis Fest bring the community together to celebrate local produce, crafts, and small-town spirit. These events and downtown activities demonstrate the town’s dedication to community spirit.
For its rich history, Chehalis has the Lewis County Historical Museum. The museum in a former train depot displays local history, including railroad and logging industry effects. Beyond the museum, several stunning homes and buildings enhance the town’s beauty. Because of the quiet lifestyle, Chehalis is one of the best places to live in Southern Washington state for retirees.
For amenities, the town has great schools, parks, and a community center with programs for all ages. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike, bike, and horseback ride on the Willapa Hills Trail, making the town more appealing to active people.
Chehalis caters to those who appreciate the charm and simplicity of small-town living while enjoying the benefits of a well-rounded community with easy access to the natural beauty of Southern Washington.
3. Salmon Creek
Salmon Creek, a peaceful suburban community near Vancouver in Southern Washington, is known for its excellent schools and family-friendly atmosphere. Those seeking suburban peace and urban convenience are increasingly drawn to this area.
The emphasis on quality education here ensures that families’ children have excellent learning opportunities. Also, the nearby Washington State University Vancouver campus enriches education and cultural events for the community.
Salmon Creek’s neighborhood layout promotes community and convenience. Residents can enjoy outdoor activities and community engagement on wide, tree-lined streets, well-maintained public parks, and walking trails.
Salmon Creek Park here is a family favorite with its lush greenery and sports facilities. This park and others nearby offer a natural escape for nature lovers.
Salmon Creek also has a great family atmosphere. Regular community events, sports leagues, and neighborhood gatherings foster a sense of belonging. Safety, recreational, and educational opportunities make it ideal for families looking to settle in a nurturing environment.
Felida, an upscale suburban oasis, offers quiet, refined living near Vancouver and plenty of outdoor recreation. For those who want a high-quality suburban experience with urban amenities and natural retreats, this area is becoming more popular, and is for sure one of the best places to live in Southern Washington state.
Its luxury and tranquility make Felida appealing. The neighborhoods’ large, elegant homes and well-kept lawns reflect their upscale character. The streets are quiet and safe, making them ideal for evening strolls or morning jogs.
Additionally, its proximity to Vancouver allows residents to live a peaceful suburban life while being just a short drive from the city’s vibrant cultural scene, shopping, and dining. The easy access to numerous parks and natural areas is also appealing to outdoor enthusiasts.
Felida’s location also benefits water-sports enthusiasts. Its proximity to the Columbia River and Vancouver Lake allows boating, fishing, and water sports. These water bodies are not only recreational hubs but also serve as picturesque backdrops for relaxing and unwinding.
Felida’s appeal is particularly strong for families and individuals who appreciate the finer aspects of suburban living while staying connected to the vibrancy of a nearby urban center.
1. Vancouver – Best Place to Live in Southern Washington State
Vancouver, the best place to live in Southern Washington State in 2023, combines urban amenities with suburban comfort. Its unique location, near Portland, offers residents the benefits of suburban living and proximity to a major city.
Historic and modern, Vancouver’s downtown is a highlight. Community events, street fairs, and farmers’ markets create a vibrant urban environment in this area. The city’s parks and green spaces give residents a quick escape to nature in the city.
Vancouver’s housing ranges from historic homes to modern apartments and condos in the city center. Near downtown are family-friendly suburbs with larger homes and yards. These suburbs’ community parks, excellent schools, and convenient shopping centers make them ideal for families and those seeking a more relaxed lifestyle.
The proximity to Portland gives residents access to its culture, employment, and specialized services without the higher living costs and denser urban environment of a major city. Also, Vancouver’s Columbia River location offers stunning views and many outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and water sports.
A strong local economy and a lifestyle that focuses on community make Vancouver a desirable city in Southern Washington. It has it all—city life and suburban living.
In conclusion, Southern Washington State offers a wide range of living options, each with its own appeal. The common thread running through all these places is the blend of natural beauty, community spirit, and quality of life.
Southern Washington State not only boasts stunning landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities but also nurtures strong, welcoming communities with rich histories and promising futures.
In the future, these communities’ dynamic nature, enduring values, and natural beauty will make them top choices for those seeking a balanced lifestyle. Each city and town on this list is unique and adds to the rich tapestry that makes Southern Washington State desirable in 2023.