The capital of Washington State is 60 miles south of Seattle on the southern end of Puget Sound. Budd Inlet goes right into the center of the city. Olympia is a perfect place for those who love the outdoors as well as love the city. The ocean is a little way to the west, and the mountains are a little way to the north and east. Tacoma and Seattle are a short drive.
Olympia has a decent cost of living – definitely more affordable than Seattle and Tacoma. They are very proud of their public transportation system with the Sounder Train and an extensive bus system. Amtrak also has routes to Tacoma and Seattle by train. Many people work for the government, but great jobs are available in technology, distribution, healthcare, and hospitality.
If you love the outdoors (and the rain), you’ll enjoy the many parks, forests, and waterways. Rock climbing, backpacking, and kayaking destinations are right outside your door. Mt. St. Helens, ocean beaches, and Hood Canal are a short drive. Heritage Park is next to the State Capitol, Capitol Lake, and downtown Olympia. The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a national natural landmark with 275 migratory bird species, marshes, and an abundance of salmon.
Those who like the performing and visual arts will not be disappointed in the selection of theaters, concerts, and art museums. The Squaxin Island Museum teaches visitors about native tribes in the area. The Wet Science Center is all about water.
Living in Olympia, WA
Children attend the Olympia School District. There are 11 elementary schools, four middle schools, and three high schools. There are several private schools, as well as good support for homeschooling families. South Puget Sound Community College and Evergreen State College provide associate, bachelor, and master’s degree programs for higher education.
With 33 neighborhoods on all sides of the inlet, moving to Olympia is all about finding your perfect home. Some have gorgeous views of the water, some have great proximity to downtown, some are great for families, and some are on the outskirts where it’s quiet. Here are a few highlights to get you started.
Cain Road has 835 newer upscale homes supported by an active homeowner’s association. Home prices vary from $350,000 to $930,000. The majority of the homes were built in the 1950s through the 1990s. Most homes have 3-4 bedrooms. The average commute time is 10-19 minutes. The median household income is nearly twice that of the rest of Olympia. There are two local parks in the area – Watershed Park and McGrath Woods Park. Children who attend the Washington Middle School do not have to go far.
Castlewood is a larger community with a population of 1266 and a median home price of $325,000. This is a family community with residential homes and amenities. There are several parks in the area, including LBA Park, Margaret McKenny Park, and Chambers Lake Trailhead Park. Johnson Berry Farm is close by for berry picking. Children attend Margaret McKenny Elementary School and Washington Middle School.
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East Bay Drive
A narrow neighborhood right on the coastline, East Bay Drive has condominiums, waterfront properties, and gorgeous homes. There are beaches in your backyard, and nearby at Priest Point Park. Take a hike on the rocky beachfront alongside Ellis Cove. East Bay Drive has a population of 193 and a median home price of $850,000, with homes selling as high as $1.2 million.
Eastside is a mix of residential and businesses and is close to downtown for easy commutes. One of the older neighborhoods in the area, its history dates back to the mid-1800s. Homes are modest in size, with a median price of $394,000. The active neighborhood association sponsors community events such as the Annual Summer Picnic.
A quieter neighborhood with an older population, Indian Creek has 539 residents. This is a great place for retirees and those looking for a safe and secure area. The median home price is $327,490. There are several parks for walking, including Woodland Trail / Frederick Street Crossing and McGrath Woods Park. There are also several churches in the neighborhood, including Westminster Presbyterian Church and the Church of Living Water.
With a taste of England in the neighborhood and street names, Nottingham is a delightful area. With a population of 203, this small community is one of the most affluent and safest. It’s very close to shopping and restaurants. Schools in the area are Pioneer Elementary, Sunrise Beach School, and Olympia High School.
Located south of downtown and the state capitol building, this neighborhood is excellent for those who work in the downtown area. The median home price is $577,000, and the homes are older with established trees in their yards. The city’s oldest school – Lincoln Options Elementary (built in 1922), is in this neighborhood. Tennis courts, picnic areas, and turf ball fields are found at Stevens Field. Young professionals and families make South Capitol their home within walking distance of restaurants, coffee shops, arts events, and a produce market.
Many of the more desirable neighborhoods are on the east side of the inlet, but South Westside is an exception. This is one of the largest neighborhoods in terms of population. Homes here average in price from $420,000 to $530,000. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, and fitness facilities. The Capital Philharmonic is located in South Westside. It’s dog-friendly and walkable. There are several public and private schools that children can attend. There are plenty of green spaces and access to the inlet at Marathon Park.
Moving to Olympia, WA
For an area with great schools, friendly tree-lined neighborhoods, plenty of outdoor activities, special events, and fresh produce and seafood, you can’t beat Olympia, WA. With views of Mt. Ranier and Puget Sound, there’s city life in the middle of an outdoor mecca. Find the local hangouts and enjoy the best of the pacific northwest.