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8 Reasons to Move to Bellingham, WA

Location, arts and culture, recreation top the list

By Raven Petty on July 15, 2015

Bellingham, WA
Bellingham / Flickr user: Heather Harvey

Moving to Bellingham, Wash., offers opportunities to enjoy abundant attractions and entertainment, year-round recreation, and access to major metros, allowing residents to live in a smaller city (pop. 80,000) with big-city amenities. Bellingham sits only 90 miles north of Seattle, 21 miles south from the Canadian border and 52 miles south of Vancouver, B.C. The city’s location offers residents plenty of at-home things to do and easy access to nearby larger metros. Here are seven more reasons to move to Bellingham:

 Whatcom Falls Park

Highly ranked on TripAdvisor for its beautiful waterfalls, peaceful serenity and walking trails, Whatcom Falls Park is a 241-acre park that features a fish hatchery, picnic areas, tennis and basketball courts, and fishing derby pond. Regulars praise the park as a great place to hike, unwind, and hang out with friends and family, and the park is enjoyed year round.

Annette Bagley, director of marketing for Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism and resident for 17 years credits the city’s recreation and open spaces as one reason why it’s a great place to live.

“It is a great place live because of the proximity to open space and nature. Bald eagles fly over our homes on a regular basis. Bike lanes are prolific, and residents use them regularly,” she says.

 Other Recreation, Fitness Friendly – No. 2

In addition to Whatcom Falls Park, Bellingham residents have four-season options for recreation. In fact, the city was given the No. 2 spot for Fitness Friendly Cities in the U.S. by SmartAsset.com.

“[Residents enjoy] easy access to outdoor recreation options from saltwater kayaking and sailing to city and mountain trails for running, hiking and biking. Also, moderate temperatures keep the landscape green for most of the year. We are fiercely protective of our parks, trees and green spaces,” Bagley says.

Bellingham also offers season-special events ranging from Wings Over Water, an annual bird-watching event in the spring to Cloud Mountain Fall Fruit Festival, a popular festival that features more than 200 varieties of fruits, cider, nuts, and jellies and sauces.


Diverse Neighborhoods

Looking for Old World architecture? What about shoreline views and resort living? Or how about rustic mountain views? It’s no problem to find all that and more in Bellingham, which offers 25 distinct areas in which to live. Blaine is known as the busiest border crossing between British Columbia and Washington State, while Lynden reflects its Dutch heritage and is surrounded by farmland, which is the largest raspberry producing area in the U.S.

 Fairhaven Historic District

This historic district serves as the area’s premier place for entertainment, shopping and dining. Twelve historic buildings, many dating as early as the 1890s, help showcase the city’s rich history, while new restaurants and shops continue open regularly. Cultural attractions include jazz shows, an outdoor cinema, art walks and writers’ workshops. The district is also home to Village Books, one of the longest running and best independent bookstores in the nation.

Other arts and culture in the city includes the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention, the Pickford Film Center and the Upfront Theatre, as well as the Mount Baker Theatre and Whatcom Museum.

Small Business Support

Thinking of starting a business, or do you already own one? If so, Bellingham may be the place to move.

“Bellingham residents love supporting local businesses including craft breweries, small farmers, independent retailers and Do It Yourself ‘makeries,’” Bagley says.

Bellingham SCORE Chapter 591 helps new and small businesses start and grow nationally through free mentoring, workshops and events. The chapter is part of SCORE, which has 364 chapters throughout the U.S. Additionally, small businesses can find support at WWU’s Small Business Development Center, with free services such as developing a business plan, obtaining financing and managing cashflow.


As microbrews continue to gain traction, Bellingham has no shortage of their own breweries. Among them is the highly rated Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro, located in a restored 1922 warehouse in downtown Bellingham. Yelp reviews rave about the beer selection, atmosphere and food, which is all locally sourced. Other top-rated breweries include Aslan Brewing Company, Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen, and Kulshan Brewing Co. See where Bellingham ranked on our Top 10 Beer Cities 2014 list.


Students in Bellingham also have access to quality education options. Home to more than 15,000 students, Western Washington University is a top choice for education in Bellingham. WWU offers 160-plus academic programs, and it is often praised for its green efforts. Accolades include U.S. News and World Report, Forbes and Kiplinger’s, and G.I. Jobs selected WWU as a Military Friendly School. Ranked in the top 25 in the state by U.S. News is Squalicum High School, which is part of the Bellingham Public Schools district.

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