Best Places to Live

Kirkland, WA

Population: 84,721
iStock Photo/volkan.basar

The waterfront city of Kirkland, WA, is a beautiful place for recent college grads to call home — and it’s a great spot to launch a successful career.

Located just east of Seattle on Lake Washington, the community lays claim to a huge (not to mention swanky) Google campus that comprises the company’s third-largest engineering center, and residents have access to high-paying jobs in industries such as health care, banking and transportation. Additionally, Kirkland is part of the Innovation Triangle, a partnership the city has formed with nearby communities Bellevue and Redmond that is focused on inviting technology and innovation-intensive businesses to experiment, develop and prosper in the area.

But don’t worry — it’s not all work and no play. Kirkland has an up-and-coming downtown district with restaurants, shops and Marina Park, which is a lakeside destination that plays host to many of the community’s annual events. The city also has dozens of opportunities for outdoor fun, particularly on the lake, and it offers hiking and cycling at places like Cross Kirkland Corridor, a 5.75-mile crushed gravel trail that stretches from the South Kirkland Park & Ride through the Totem Lake Business District.

“The City of Kirkland is delighted to welcome young people from all walks of life into our community,” says Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen. “We strive to be safe, welcoming and inclusive and believe in creating opportunities for everyone in our beautiful city by the lake. From water sports and volleyball on the beach to a host of high-tech companies, we encourage connectivity and value hard work and creativity."