Located just to the east of Seattle, is the beautiful city of Bellevue, Washington. The city is known to be rich and glamorous, and the locals always have wonderful things to say about living in the privileged area. Unfortunately, only hearing the good things about a city can actually become rather difficult at times, especially when researching the area and deciding whether it is a good place to move to for you and your family.
This article explains some of the less appealing aspects of living in Bellevue. These explanations and points are given in the hope of helping prospective newcomers have a better idea of what to expect when moving to the area.
Well, just like any major city around, Bellevue deals with lots of traffic. This is made even worse since the city is located right next to Seattle and only has two bridges to get you across to the city. This means that for morning commutes, a simple drive can take 3 or 4 times longer than usual.
Currently, the drive time from downtown Bellevue to downtown Seattle will take you nearly 30 minutes to complete the 11-mile drive. In fact, just to get across one of the bridges, which is 3 miles long, takes 11 minutes and can get even worse during commute times.
A local resident in the area stated, “All traffic in the Seattle area (including the Eastside Bothell/Kirkland/Redmond/Bellevue/Factoria) is highly impacted twice a day, from 7 am to 10 am and from 4 pm to 8 pm. During those windows (aka “Rush Hour”) traffic grinds to a near-halt across the region. If you have to drive during those periods, it doesn’t really matter if you’re on the freeway or the side roads, it’s miserable.”
2. Poor Public Transportation
Currently, there is almost no public transportation for the city of Bellevue. There is a single bus system that runs from Bellevue into Seattle so those who have to commute have an option besides their car, but just within the city, there isn’t currently an option.
The East Link Light Rail is currently being worked on and is expected to be finished in 2023, which will provide fast transportation throughout Bellevue and into Seattle, saving extra time for commutes. They haven’t stated what part of 2023 to expect the completion, however, the Seattle area has a reputation for slower and delayed construction.
3. Parking is Bad
Despite being a very nice city and having mostly higher-end homes, the parking situation for residents tends to be incredibly tough. “The parking is horrible everywhere. Really tight spaces.” and “I pay $125 a month for a covered garage spot at our apartment building. When I was looking, most apartments did charge more than that for a spot,” are just a few reviews that people have made about the parking situation within the city.
Obviously, if you get a home of your own you won’t have to likely worry about the availability of parking spaces at your house, however, with the traffic and construction that is common it can be difficult to find parking spaces at larger malls or supermarkets.
4. The Toll Roads
If you never have to go into Seattle then you are lucky since you won’t have to worry about the fact that one of the bridges to get across Lake Washington is a toll bridge. The SR 520 bridge, the northern bridge, is in fact a toll bridge and if you have to make lots of trips between Seattle and Bellevue, the toll can quickly rack up.
The best option is to get a Good To Go pass, which will save you $2 on every single trip that you make. At 8 am on a weekday, the toll cost is a whopping $4.30 with the pass and $6.30 without. The toll is lower on the weekends, however, those who have to commute are going to want to avoid this bridge at all costs.
5. Lots of Construction
Over the past few years, the population in Bellevue has grown by an incredible 18%, and it doesn’t show much sign of stopping despite its negatives. Because of such a large influx of people wanting to live in Bellevue, they have started to construct many new homes and apartments. This means that there are lots of construction projects going on throughout the city, and that is before we add in the project of the East Link Light Rail System. Expect there to be continued construction through the city for many more years to come.
6. Very Expensive Housing
Ever since COVID-19, the prices of homes have quickly been going up, however, in Bellevue home prices have been going up at an even faster rate. According to Zillow.com the average price of a home within Bellevue is $1,599,674. The average price of homes in the United States currently is $374,900, and the Washington average is $625,264, meaning that the average price of a Bellevue home is over $1 million more than the Washington average and is 4 times more than the national average. Showing just how quickly the home prices have grown, just 10 years ago the average price of homes was just $499,000.
7. The Cost of Living is Highest in Washington
Along with the cost of homes being far higher than both the national and state average, the cost of living is just as much. The average United States average is right at 100, the Washington average is also just above the national average at 118.7. However, the cost of living in Bellevue was nearly double the national average at 196.5. A large portion of that is from the housing cost, but both health and utilities cost less than the national average.
8. No AC in Any Homes
When it comes to the expensive homes you would hope to get all the add-ons and every amenity so that it is the perfect home, but the vast majority of homes don’t have air conditioning. The biggest reason for this is because the weather tends to be colder and from mid-fall to late spring you really don’t have to worry about getting too hot as the temperature won’t get above 70 degrees.
However when it gets to late July, August, and September, the temperature can start to get up into the 80s, and if it gets really hot into the 90s. It is during these months that you might wish you had that air conditioning unit just to help you cool down a bit without having to use a pool, which aren’t super common either, or a lake.
9. Rain and Weather
When you hear about Washington, the first thing that you are likely to think about is going to be the amount of rain that it gets. And to a degree this is true, the Washington wet season typically starts in October and lasts until May. During these 8 months, typically there will be around a 32% chance it will rain each day.
It will also receive around 45 inches of rain each year, however, this is on average the amount that many east coast cities also receive, the difference is that Washington’s rain is spread over many more days.
But, During the summer months, Washington and Bellevue weather can be incredibly nice and allow you to enjoy the number of parks, mountains, rivers, lakes, and other natural activities that can be found all over the Northwest of Washington. However, even in the summer, the temperature is mild at an average of 80 degrees max temperature. But this also pays off with a warmer winter with less snow to worry about.
10. Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD is a type of depression that is caused by the changing of the seasons. Typically for most people, it will start in the middle of autumn and go until early to mid-spring. However, because Bellevue is constantly grey and raining it is a much more common problem for people living here. Most commonly, people who get SAD will experience oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain, and low energy, however, depending on the person it can result in other symptoms like anxiety and irritability.
11. It is Boring
Yes, there are lots of mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, and other natural parks that are amazing to visit and incredibly beautiful, however, besides these the city of Bellevue doesn’t have many activities for you to enjoy. These natural places are great for the summer months, but once you get into the rainy season it becomes more difficult and less fun to be out in those areas. So when it is raining for 8 months, there won’t be much for you to do in Bellevue without leaving for Seattle or another nearby city.
One local stated, “If you already live here, Bellevue is paradise. But if you don’t, it’s a terrible place. You’ll hate the rain; you’ll hate the dank weather; you’ll hate the politeness; you’ll hate not being able to see the horizon – ever. You’ll hate all the water. You’ll hate how boringly bland this town is.”
12. Locals are Non-Welcoming
A term used in Washington for the fact that locals aren’t very welcoming is “The Seattle Freeze” and this can go on for long periods of time as some people will still feel like transplants into the area after living there for 5 or more years. This is because most people tend to already have an established friend group and don’t have much interest to make new friends.
This means that new people within the city can seem cold and non-welcoming. There are also habits that those from the area have, one example is with umbrellas. When someone is planning on moving to the area and asking how many umbrellas they needed, they responded with, “Don’t you dare bring an umbrella to my city.”
13. It is Isolated
When you think of Bellevue being isolated you might think “but it is right next to Seattle.” And you are right, but after that, the next closest major city is Portland which is 4 hours away. The Northwest is very isolated and getting anywhere can take days if doing so by car. Unlike the east coast where you can visit 30 major cities in a single day, in the northwest, you will be hard pressed to visit two on the same day.
14. The “Bellevue Bubble”
Being a more expensive community, those who live within Bellevue tend to have a different outlook than those from other cities and towns around them. Those from Bellevue tend to be more stuck up and forget or are ignorant of those who go through struggles like poverty, crime, or homelessness and these are very rare within the city.
15. Very Competitive Public Schools
The schools in Bellevue are very good and extremely competitive. So why is this a bad thing? Well, since everything is so competitive to get into the gifted program or to get ahead a year, it means that those students who aren’t working as hard to accomplish these difficult goals will get looked down on.
Along with this, there are many studies that show pushing children too hard during their early years of learning can be harmful to their mental state and cause problems later in life.
16. The Taxes
When it comes to Washington and taxes, one of your first thoughts might be, “They don’t have any state income tax so that’s a win for me.” However, it isn’t that way at all. While it is true there is no income tax, the state and city make up for it through other taxes. The first is through sales tax. Washington state has a 6.5% sales tax, but then in Bellevue, they add on another 3.7% to the sales tax meaning that while in Bellevue you will get to pay a 10.2% sales tax on every single item you buy.
The state and city also make up for low-income tax by having a higher property tax rate. Those in Bellevue have to pay $8.85 per every $1,000 their home is worth. This doesn’t sound too bad until you remember how expensive the housing market is currently and this number quickly adds up, leading to very high property taxes.
17. No Sports
Since Bellevue originally was just a suburb, it never got any sports teams because they counted as Seattle. And unfortunately, this still continues since Seattle has lots of sports teams and so Bellevue doesn’t offer any pro sports. That means you will have to work through the heavy traffic streets to go to the Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders, Kraken, or Storm, but you also have to option of the slightly closer University of Washington sports.
The school’s football stadium is just across from Lake Washington which operates Bellevue from Seattle. If you are looking for sports in Bellevue your options are going to be rec league at nearby gyms or high school sports as Bellevue draws no interest to any pro teams.
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