Healthiest Cities in Washington

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Healthiest Cities in Washington

When it comes to living an active lifestyle, Washington has all the bases covered — on land and water. You can jog at Seattle’s Gas Works Park, climb to the top of Mount Rainier or kayak around the San Juan Islands.

Of course, these aren’t the only ways residents of the Evergreen State stay fit. The percentage of commuters hopping on bikes is double the national average, and those using public transit ranks as the seventh highest in the nation. So in health-conscious Washington, which cities stand out as the healthiest?

To find the locations that are best for your well-being, NerdWallet analyzed 142 places to find the healthiest cities. We examined health care coverage, hospital quality, number of parks and how many people walk, bike or take public transit to work.

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Key takeaways

The Puget Sound effect. Eight of the top 10 cities are in the Puget Sound region. Anchored by Seattle, this area offers opportunities to take public transit, walk or bike to work, and is near some of the state’s best locations for recreational activities.

Park-filled places. In the top 10, there are an average of 11.5 parks per 10,000 residents, which is more than double the statewide average of five parks.

Residents are covered. Across the top 10 cities, 91.9% of residents have health insurance — which is significantly higher than the statewide average of 86.8%.

Healthiest cities in Washington

1. Vashon

Vashon, which sits on an island in southern Puget Sound, boasts of having over 15 parks per 10,000 residents, and 94% of people have health insurance coverage. Here, 24% of commuters, the third highest in the top 10, don’t use a car to get to work, and for Vashon residents, that means many take the state ferry to Seattle.

2. Pullman

Residents of Pullman have found a way to get activity in their lives on a daily basis: They don’t use a car to commute. More than a third, the highest percentage in the top 10, are getting to work by other means, with almost a quarter of all commuters walking to the office in the town that’s home to Washington State University. That makes it easy for residents to walk over to the popular Pullman Farmers Market to grab some fresh local produce.

3. Union Hill-Novelty Hill

Located just east of Redmond, Union Hill-Novelty Hill is one of the seven King County places in the top 10. In this community of 22,000, 96% of residents have health insurance, one of the highest marks in the state. Perhaps more importantly, there are 23.12 parks per 10,000 residents — the highest ratio in the state. Plenty of green space and a proclivity for preventive care is a perfect recipe for a healthy city.

4. Seattle

With an extensive public transit system, beautiful parks and an above-average rate of health insurance coverage, Washington’s biggest city is also one of the healthiest. More than 3 in 10 commuters either walk, bike or take public transportation, making it easy to maintain an active lifestyle in the Emerald City. King County, where Seattle is located, has less than one, only 0.35, McDonald’s restaurant per 10,000 residents. Perhaps people would rather buy their food from Washington-based Costco, the nation’s largest seller of organic food.

5. Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island is the second Puget Sound island in the top 10. This picturesque community of 23,000 has an incredibly popular farmers market, featuring produce and wine grown on the island. More than a quarter of residents use public transportation to commute, with many of them taking the 35-minute ferry ride to Seattle.

 


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6. Ellensburg

Ellensburg, the home of Central Washington University, has compact, walkable streets where 14.3% of residents commute by foot, one of the highest percentages in the state. There are also 12.56 parks per 10,000 residents, which is above the top 10 average of 11.5. Students in this college town have the option of passing on dining hall cheeseburgers for fresh produce at the Kittitas County Farmers Market.

7. North Bend

North Bend is located at the base of the Cascades, in the Mountains to Sound Greenway, a stretch of scenic landscape that encompasses 1.5 million acres. This means it has plenty of green space, with 18.48 parks per 10,000 people. What’s not plentiful? McDonald’s, which has only 0.35 locations per 10,000 residents in King County, which is below the statewide average of 0.40 of the fast-food restaurants.

8. Mercer Island

Residents of this island east of Seattle, in Lake Washington, have the second-highest rate of health insurance coverage in the state at 97%. The island also has a heritage of athletic prowess: Mercer Island High School’s eight Scholastic Cup championships, which recognizes athletic and academic performance, are tied for the most awards in the state.

9. Redmond

The home of Microsoft is also the home of one of the nation’s oldest bicycle races: Derby Days, an annual criterium race on the streets of downtown Redmond. The city’s 10.63 parks per 10,000 residents are more than double the statewide average of five.

10. Bellevue

Located on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, Bellevue’s location is perfect for a healthy lifestyle. Over 17% of commuters walk, bike or use public transportation, which is 10% more than the statewide average. One of Bellevue’s best features is Mercer Slough Nature Park, where residents can hit over 7 miles of trails, canoe through wetlands or pick blueberries, all of which is less than 2 miles from downtown.

 

Healthiest cities in Washington

Rank City Non-car commuters Health insurance coverage County hospital rankings Parks per 10,000 residents McDonald’s per 10,000 county residents Score
1 Vashon 24.4% 94.0% 72.40 15.29 0.35 71.00
2 Pullman 35.0% 89.9% 86.00 3.95 0.44 69.59
3 Union Hill-Novelty Hill 6.1% 96.0% 72.40 23.12 0.35 66.38
4 Seattle 31.7% 88.7% 72.40 7.56 0.35 65.00
5 Bainbridge Island 32.6% 93.9% 65.00 6.06 0.40 61.60
6 Ellensburg 21.3% 84.8% 73.00 12.56 0.48 59.76
7 North Bend 2.9% 91.8% 72.40 18.48 0.35 55.87
8 Mercer Island 10.2% 97.0% 72.40 10.73 0.35 54.09
9 Redmond 12.3% 92.4% 72.40 10.63 0.35 53.90
10 Bellevue 17.4% 90.3% 72.40 6.97 0.35 52.62
11 Ridgefield 1.0% 88.5% 72.50 17.75 0.32 52.38
12 Poulsbo 9.4% 89.6% 65.00 15.04 0.40 51.70
13 Camas 4.2% 92.6% 72.50 13.50 0.32 51.22
14 Olympia 13.4% 86.4% 71.50 10.14 0.39 50.86
15 Bremerton 22.2% 83.6% 65.00 7.25 0.40 50.06
16 Newcastle 6.7% 94.9% 72.40 10.38 0.35 49.78
17 Maplewood 2.3% 93.8% 67.80 15.70 0.40 49.61
18 Cheney 24.6% 87.3% 67.50 3.69 0.53 48.63
19 Gig Harbor 6.9% 90.4% 67.80 12.22 0.40 47.62
20 Washougal 3.5% 83.7% 72.50 13.97 0.32 47.62
21 Issaquah 11.5% 93.5% 72.40 6.01 0.35 47.61
22 Tukwila 15.7% 77.5% 72.40 7.23 0.35 46.32
23 Shoreline 15.6% 87.8% 72.40 3.90 0.35 46.06
24 College Place 16.6% 86.7% 74.50 2.27 0.34 45.61
25 Snoqualmie 3.6% 95.5% 72.40 9.02 0.35 45.59
26 Sequim 13.5% 87.5% 67.00 6.06 0.28 45.10
27 Sammamish 7.0% 97.4% 72.40 5.23 0.35 44.32
28 Bellingham 17.5% 86.3% 68.00 3.80 0.39 44.19
29 Walla Walla 13.8% 84.2% 74.50 3.78 0.34 44.18
30 Kirkland 9.8% 90.7% 72.40 5.27 0.35 44.06
31 Enumclaw 5.5% 87.2% 70.10 9.83 0.37 43.57
32 Normandy Park 2.8% 90.5% 72.40 9.33 0.35 43.28
33 Battle Ground 2.0% 88.4% 72.50 10.11 0.32 43.20
34 Bothell East 7.6% 89.6% 63.50 10.43 0.41 43.14
35 Woodinville 6.0% 91.4% 72.40 6.31 0.35 42.44
36 Mount Vista 5.2% 90.1% 72.50 6.54 0.32 41.97
37 Ocean Shores 2.3% 86.6% 67.00 12.54 0.42 41.91
38 Cottage Lake 4.0% 95.7% 72.40 5.85 0.35 41.87
39 Barberton 2.4% 94.3% 72.50 6.93 0.32 41.78
40 Liberty Lake 5.4% 92.9% 67.50 9.00 0.53 41.39
41 Sumner 9.5% 85.0% 67.80 7.36 0.40 41.32
42 Parkwood 21.1% 83.2% 65.00 1.39 0.40 41.29
43 Burien 12.6% 82.2% 72.40 3.92 0.35 41.25
44 Chehalis 8.6% 85.3% 73.00 8.24 0.66 41.22
45 Clarkston 13.3% 79.7% 75.00 4.12 0.46 41.14
46 Mill Creek East 6.2% 92.3% 63.50 8.56 0.41 40.59
47 Lacey 4.2% 90.0% 71.50 7.16 0.39 40.53
48 Brier 12.2% 91.0% 63.50 4.84 0.41 40.34
49 Yelm 5.1% 87.9% 71.50 7.06 0.39 40.32
50 Lake Forest Park 8.1% 92.0% 72.40 3.12 0.35 40.31
51 Des Moines 9.4% 82.0% 72.40 5.31 0.35 40.23
52 Tumwater 4.6% 89.7% 71.50 6.74 0.39 40.20
53 Lake Shore 4.5% 93.0% 72.50 4.72 0.32 40.15
54 Felida 1.7% 95.9% 72.50 5.46 0.32 39.90
55 Port Angeles 10.8% 87.3% 67.00 3.67 0.28 39.57
56 Vancouver 6.2% 83.1% 72.50 5.91 0.32 39.16
57 Country Homes 16.0% 88.1% 67.50 1.81 0.53 39.12
58 Edmonds 11.7% 92.1% 63.50 3.74 0.41 38.91
59 Kenmore 9.6% 90.4% 72.40 1.43 0.35 38.74
60 Bothell West 9.7% 91.0% 63.50 5.25 0.41 38.72
61 Mill Creek 6.6% 89.9% 63.50 7.59 0.41 38.69
62 White Center 16.9% 74.9% 72.40 1.35 0.35 38.60
63 Duvall 1.8% 92.5% 72.40 5.75 0.35 38.55
64 Ephrata 6.1% 89.2% 65.00 7.70 0.44 38.52
65 Centralia 5.7% 85.3% 73.00 7.83 0.66 38.19
66 SeaTac 14.5% 76.5% 72.40 1.83 0.35 37.83
67 Anacortes 7.6% 88.9% 74.00 2.52 0.43 37.80
68 Auburn 8.1% 84.2% 70.10 4.59 0.37 37.73
69 Federal Way 9.3% 82.3% 72.40 3.31 0.35 37.65
70 Bryn Mawr-Skyway 11.5% 83.5% 72.40 1.23 0.35 37.30
71 Bothell 8.9% 89.7% 67.95 2.63 0.37 36.92
72 Lynnwood 14.5% 82.3% 63.50 3.05 0.41 36.43
73 Renton 8.6% 84.2% 72.40 2.03 0.35 36.15
74 Kent 8.2% 81.9% 72.40 2.94 0.35 36.06
75 Wenatchee 5.6% 78.2% 73.33 4.64 0.27 36.05
76 Aberdeen 7.1% 81.1% 67.00 6.59 0.42 36.02
77 Minnehaha 2.4% 87.6% 72.50 4.61 0.32 36.02
78 Walnut Grove 3.5% 87.5% 72.50 3.74 0.32 35.78
79 Alderwood Manor 8.4% 90.7% 63.50 3.68 0.41 35.44
80 Steilacoom 6.5% 89.7% 67.80 3.31 0.40 35.35
81 Spokane 8.8% 85.4% 67.50 4.39 0.53 35.23
82 Mount Vernon 6.2% 80.4% 74.00 4.06 0.43 35.16
83 Lakeland North 9.2% 84.6% 72.40 0.72 0.35 35.11
84 East Renton Highlands 5.9% 91.2% 72.40 0.79 0.35 35.05
85 Orchards 2.8% 86.7% 72.50 3.78 0.32 34.92
86 Covington 5.0% 91.7% 72.40 1.11 0.35 34.90
87 Hobart 3.7% 92.4% 72.4 1.47 0.35 34.54
88 Tacoma 9.0% 82.4% 67.8 3.04 0.40 34.17
89 Everett 11.1% 81.8% 63.5 3.46 0.41 33.86
90 Mountlake Terrace 11.0% 83.5% 63.5 2.98 0.41 33.82
91 University Place 6.1% 90.2% 67.8 2.22 0.40 33.78
92 Lake Morton-Berrydale 3.6% 92.2% 72.4 1.02 0.35 33.78
93 Lakeland South 4.5% 86.2% 72.4 2.23 0.35 33.71
94 Richland 4.9% 90.3% 70 3.00 0.50 33.65
95 Silverdale 5.9% 90.7% 65 3.03 0.40 33.45
96 Waller 4.9% 90.2% 67.8 2.71 0.40 33.40
97 Lakewood 8.8% 84.1% 67.8 2.04 0.40 33.39
98 Martha Lake 10.3% 85.1% 63.5 2.53 0.41 33.28
99 Puyallup 6.2% 85.6% 67.8 3.18 0.40 33.26
100 Hazel Dell 5.8% 83.3% 72.5 1.58 0.32 33.23
101 Edgewood 2.9% 88.8% 67.8 4.22 0.4 33.09
102 Maple Valley 3.2% 93.1% 72.4 0.43 0.35 33.03
103 Burlington 1.8% 78.3% 74 5.94 0.43 33
104 Five Corners 3.7% 83.6% 72.5 2.65 0.32 32.95
105 Mukilteo 7.5% 91.2% 63.5 1.96 0.41 32.61
106 Port Orchard 9.4% 88.2% 65 0.82 0.4 32.53
107 Shelton 5.8% 79.0% 72 4.07 0.49 32.37
108 Monroe 5.7% 85.8% 63.5 4.59 0.41 32.32
109 Lake Tapps 4.8% 92.9% 67.8 0.82 0.4 31.93
110 Maltby 2.3% 92.1% 63.5 4.56 0.41 31.92
111 Woodland 3.0% 79.6% 67.75 5.49 0.34 31.83
112 West Clarkston-Highland 3.1% 84.9% 75 1.99 0.46 31.72
113 Bonney Lake 4.3% 90.6% 67.8 1.7 0.4 31.72
114 Kelso 6.5% 81.6% 63 4.21 0.39 30.83
115 Kennewick 4.0% 82.2% 70 3.87 0.5 30.73
116 Artondale 2.0% 93.4% 67.8 1.55 0.4 30.69
117 Parkland 8.3% 82.4% 67.8 0.55 0.4 30.31
118 Town and Country 1.8% 84.9% 67.5 5.15 0.53 30.02
119 Lynden 2.9% 89.1% 68 1.62 0.39 29.96
120 Fife 7.1% 82.1% 67.8 1.08 0.4 29.87
121 Longview 3.1% 86.4% 63 4.09 0.39 29.7
122 Airway Heights 5.8% 81.5% 67.5 3.21 0.53 29.53
123 Arlington 5.2% 89.0% 63.5 1.65 0.41 29.35
124 Ferndale 3.8% 87.6% 68 0.85 0.39 29.11
125 South Hill 4.3% 88.7% 67.8 0.19 0.4 28.97
126 West Richland 2.6% 90.6% 70 0.81 0.5 28.94
127 Lake Stevens 4.5% 87.9% 63.5 2.09 0.41 28.88
128 Quincy 2.1% 74.8% 65 7.24 0.44 28.66
129 Sedro-Woolley 1.4% 83.6% 74 0.94 0.43 28.27
130 Grandview 1.2% 69.3% 62.25 10.1 0.45 27.9
131 Marysville 4.9% 86.8% 63.5 0.98 0.41 27.32
132 Prosser 3.8% 80.2% 70 1.74 0.5 26.96
133 Spokane Valley 3.7% 84.3% 67.5 0.89 0.53 25.82
134 West Side Highway 0.0% 89.6% 63 1.89 0.39 25.46
135 Moses Lake 4.4% 83.5% 65 0.48 0.44 25.32
136 Oak Harbor 2.9% 90.8% 57 0.45 0.25 25.15
137 Terrace Heights 0.5% 91.2% 62.25 1.58 0.45 25.03
138 Finley 2.3% 77.6% 70 1.54 0.5 24.36
139 Othello 4.9% 78.2% 68 4.03 1.06 22.13
140 Yakima 4.8% 76.3% 62.25 0.33 0.45 21.04
141 Sunnyside 4.4% 62.2% 62.25 4.39 0.45 20.3
142 Toppenish 1.6% 60.4% 62.25 2.23 0.45 14.34

 

Methodology

The score for each place was derived from the following sources:

  1. The proportion of commuters who don’t drive is 30% of the score.
  2. Health insurance coverage and hospital survey rankings from Medicare are each 15% of the score.
  3. The number of parks per 10,000 residents is 30% of the score.
  4. The number of McDonald’s locations in the county per 10,000 residents is 10% of the score.

All data are from the 2013 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, OpenStreetMap, Medicare, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and AggData. NerdWallet analyzed 142 places in Washington. Places with fewer than 5,000 residents were excluded, and 40 places without park or hospital data were also excluded.


State ferry and Puget Sound, Washington, image via iStock.