Best Places to Live

Kirkland, WA

Population: 84,721
iStock Photo/volkan.basar

If you Google “Kirkland technology companies,” one of the first results is none other than Google itself. In 2004, well before the internet giant became a household name, Google saw the high-tech potential of Kirkland and opened a small office in the Seattle suburb.

Double-digit job growth soon followed, as the Kirkland office began rapidly hiring engineers. Within 10 years, Google expanded its Kirkland campus to a 375,000-square-foot facility with more than 1,000 employees. It is now Google’s third-largest engineering center.

This type of high-tech growth is taking place throughout Kirkland. The city has approximately 9,600 STEM-related jobs, accounting for 27.7 percent of the total workforce. That is the sixth-highest percentage in the country. In addition, the median income for those jobs is $122,309, which ranks No. 8 nationally. It's no wonder Kirkland was also featured on our 2018 list of the 10 Best Cities for Recent College Grads.

Top STEM-related employers in the city include Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems (a manufacturer of aircraft electrical power systems), broadband provider Wave, analytics company Inrix (which focuses on automotive mobility and transportation) and Tableau Software (a data-visualization specialist that added 1,000 employees in 2016).

Kirkland’s high-tech history dates to the 1980s, when McCaw Cellular set up shop in the city. After the company was sold to AT&T in 1994, several members of the original McCaw team went on to pursue new telecom ventures in Kirkland, helping establish the city’s techy reputation.

One of the leaders in the pre-Google days was Rosetta Inpharmatics, a pioneering biotech software company focused on measuring gene activation. The company was so successful it eventually was acquired by pharmaceutical giant Merck, further certifying the city’s credentials in STEM-related fields.

Located on the eastern shores of Lake Washington within sight of the Seattle skyline, Kirkland is another of those places that successfully walks the line between small-town comfort and big-city amenities. Kirkland combines good schools and family-friendly neighborhoods with plenty of shopping options and a lively downtown filled with restaurants and pubs.

Waterfront parks made up approximately a quarter of Kirkland’s total square miles, highlighted by the sandy beaches at Marina Park in downtown. Residents also can enjoy the Cross Kirkland Corridor, a 10-foot-wide, 5.75-mile trail that runs through the heart of the city. The corridor passes alongside approximately 1,700 businesses, providing many walkers and cyclists with a healthy and beautiful route to work.

Find out more about living in Kirkland, WA.