The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Issaquah

Located between the Sammamish Plateau and the “Issaquah Alps,” this Seattle suburb is the best of both worlds—here’s what you should know before you move.
Written by Kathryn Kurlychek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Moving to
will require a big budget (and perhaps an unabashed love of the outdoors). While expensive, this
suburb is a picturesque slice of Pacific Northwest life just waiting for you to call it home. 
Whether you’re moving cross-country for a job or just looking to get out of Seattle, the small town of Issaquah, Washington is easy to set your sights on. Nestled in a lush valley backed by stunning mountain views, the town appears like something off a postcard, with the suburbs backed right up against mountain peaks bristling with western hemlocks and golden tamaracks. 
Despite its distance from the city, this nature-lover’s paradise still comes at a price—and here to walk you through the basics of it all is
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What you need to know about Issaquah before you move

Just 17 miles east of Seattle, Issaquah is named for the valley it sits in, between the Sammamish Plateau and the “Issaquah Alps,” a gorgeous stretch of rolling highlands that meet the Cascade Mountains to the west. 
Originally a late-1800s mining town turned Pacific-Northwest paradise, Issaquah’s 40,051 residents enjoy an outdoor lifestyle that promises the best of both worlds—from beautiful hiking trails and wholesome farmers markets to all the charms of downtown Seattle only twenty minutes away. Let’s take a closer look at what characterizes living in Issaquah.

1. You’ll need to budget for this ‘burb

Awarded as one of Sunset Magazine’s Best ‘Burbs, Issaquah promises a stunning natural haven that doesn’t come at the cost of proximity to Seattle—but it does come at a price. As Washington state’s 6th-most expensive city, you’ll find Issaquah’s cost of living nearly as steep as in Seattle itself, with an average cost of living index 49% higher than the national benchmark. 
What does that look like in terms of real costs? Well, in Issaquah you can expect to pay $4.50 for a loaf of bread, $5.88 for a gallon of gas, and $6.16 for a hamburger. The average ideal salary for a single adult is $2,442 per month—although a family of four will want to make closer to $5,300 per month, according to

2. Tech is the top industry

Speaking of salaries, the average take-home in Issaquah is around $83,000 a year—although the median household income is actually closer to $122,000 a year. What jobs do these salaries pay for? According to
, software engineering, network engineering, and software development are among the top professions in the area.
That’s right—Issaquah’s booming with tech! Home to Microsoft, SanMar, and Swedish Medical (among others), it should come as no surprise that the city boasts big tech specs. 
It’s also a great place for young entrepreneurs or anyone looking to enter a growing industry. Job growth is only predicted to increase, thanks to Issaquah’s state-mandated target of 17,517 jobs by 2031

3. You’ll want a home security system to curb property crime

Generally speaking, Issaquah falls in the 52nd percentile for safety—making it an overall averagely safe place to live. But theft, burglary, and property crime play an outsize role in the city’s crime statistics, according to
Your home is 300% more likely to be robbed if you don’t own a home security system, and in central Issaquah, your chances of becoming a victim of property crime are 1 in 38. 
Of course, as you move further from the city center those numbers start to dwindle. The southwest part of the city, including neighborhoods like Squak Mountain, is generally considered the safest area. 

4. The community is eco-conscious and family-friendly

From its award-winning school districts to an abundance of parks, swimming pools, cycling paths, and recreational sports teams, Issaquah is the perfect place for young families to start putting down roots. 
Sandwiched between mountains, national forests, and state parks, Issaquah’s community feels dedicated to an active, outdoor lifestyle—and annual events like the
Art Walk & Music Stroll
keep residents connected and help create a strong sense of local pride.
Singles and couples can easily find their spot in the city, too—and Issaquah’s overwhelming commitment to sustainability makes it the perfect place for those interested in adopting a greener lifestyle. 

5. From bikes to buses, you can count on city transport

Issaquah’s public transportation system is far-reaching, with routes running to and from the city center all the way into Seattle! Whether you choose to travel by bus, intercity transit, or take part in the park & ride system, you’ll find options for getting around both downtown and beyond. Options that are only expected to expand, given the city’s intent to further improve public transportation
starting in 2023
If you do own a vehicle, you can expect your commute into Seattle to take about 27 minutes, which is right on par with the national average. 

6. Experience classic Pacific-Northwest weather

With moderate temperatures year-round, you’ll find an agreeable climate in Issaquah, where most of the precipitation occurs in the winter months. 
On average, August is the warmest month, with temperatures typically in the high 70s and mid-80s (although record highs have been recorded in the low 100s).
By contrast, December is the coldest month—and November-January sees the most rainfall. Winter temps tend to fall in the mid-30s and low 40s, but in some cases have been recorded as low as 0°F. 

7. Buy a compost bucket for your new home

Given Issaquahs’ natural backdrop and the emphasis on outdoor recreation, the town’s commitment to sustainability practices perhaps comes as no surprise—sustainability education is even built right into the public school curriculum! 
But whether you’re into green living already or new to the concept, you should start getting comfortable with reducing, reusing, and recycling (or risk your neighbor’s judgment!). 
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Does Issaquah live up to its stereotypes?

If the list above has you feeling intimidated or apprehensive, Issaquah may not be the perfect suburb for you. While it certainly lives up to its fabled beauty and historic charm, this particular Pacific-Northwest paradise comes at a price—and it’s one that’s well above the national average. Most residents are either couples or families, and often it’s that pooled income that helps make living in Issaquah become a reality. 
Expensive? Check. Beautiful? Check. If your dream is to live in a community where ecological consciousness and sustainability are at the forefront of local values and you can peep a mountain view from almost any spot in town (and don’t mind paying steep prices to do so), then Issaquah just might be the place for you. 
Key Takeaway High cost of living and property crime are balanced out by stunning natural scenes, award-winning school districts, and a temperate climate in Issaquah. 

Finding a place to live in Issaquah

Issaquah’s cost of living is high—and housing costs play an outsize role in the data. You’ll find market prices
nearly double
the national average, with a median home sale price of $908,509
You’ll also be facing a seller’s market, which means there’s high competition and homes sell quickly (typically within 30 days or less from the time of listing), so if you find a home you like, you’ll want to act fast to avoid getting trapped in a bidding war.  
Despite steep housing costs, most residents still own their own homes. That being said, you can rent a nice 1-bedroom in central Issaquah for around $2,395 per month. For a cheap apartment on the outskirts of town, you’ll pay less—around $1,400 per month.
When it comes to choosing a neighborhood, start by making a budget so you can feel comfortable in your commitment—and so you know what you can afford. If you can, it will help you to keep your budget flexible. 
If you’re homebuying, it’s important to keep in mind that most houses in the area sell above their asking price, so staying lenient can help your chances of securing the perfect place. 
If you’re unfamiliar with Issaquah’s neighborhoods, here’s a brief overview:
  • Most popular neighborhoods: Issaquah Highlands, Squak Mountain, Talus
  • Central Issaquah neighborhoods: Montreaux, Providence Point
  • Best neighborhoods if you’ve got kids: Mirrormont, Issaquah West, Coalfield
  • Best neighborhoods for outdoor enthusiasts: Eastside, Newport, South Lake Sammamish
  • Most affordable neighborhoods: North Issaquah, Olde Town, Tibett’s Creek Valley
Pro Tip Staying flexible with your budget will improve your chances of securing the perfect home or apartment. 

Moving to Issaquah checklist

So you’ve set a budget, found a place to live, and are ready to take the leap of faith—but don’t jump in blind! Here are some helpful tips to keep you organized throughout your move so you and your belongings all arrive safely at your new home. 

Before you go

Prior to leaving, be sure to do the following: 

After you arrive

Phew! You finally made it, but the journey doesn’t end here. Once you arrive in Issaquah, be sure to take care of the following: 
  • Update your car insurance
    to comply with
    Washington’s minimum requirements
    —and register your car in the Evergreen State.
  • Consider updating or swapping home insurance—or
    purchase renter’s insurance
    if you’re leasing a unit.
  • Update your mailing address, voter registration, and healthcare information. 
  • Explore your new neighborhood. Try one of Issaquah’s many local coffee shops, downtown restaurants, or hit the trails and head on a scenic adventure! The Pacific Northwest is your oyster.

How to save on car, renters, and home insurance in Washington

Whether you’re buying or renting, it’s a good idea to keep your property covered with renters or homeowners insurance. 
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If you’re looking for classic Washington state charm and proximity to Seattle, Issaquah could be right for you. You’ll need a lot of savings in the bank, both to afford the suburb’s high housing costs and to purchase a home security system once you’ve moved to reduce your chances of property crime.
Just how much money you should budget for your move depends on where you’re coming from and what neighborhood you’re looking to live in—but the average, single adult will want to make around $2,500 a month to afford a comfortable lifestyle once you’ve arrived.
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