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10 Best Neighborhoods for Seattle College Students

By: Sania Tran
December 5, 2018

Congratulations, you survived the first year of college and it's time to move off campus! Consider yourself lucky if your school is located in Seattle, as it's the “city of neighborhoods.” Every district in Seattle has its own vibe, its own personality. Whether you are an avid hiker or a social butterfly, you'll find that Seattle has everything to make your college years unforgettable.

The U-DistrictWallingfordGreen LakeRavennaFirst HillCapitol HillFremontBallardBelltownQueen Anne Hill

To help you find the best place to live, we prepared a shortlist of neighborhoods to check out during your search. Things to consider when choosing a neighborhood include proximity to your college campus, availability of public transport options, walkability, and, of course, the vibe. At the end of the day, you want to be surrounded by like-minded people and feel at home.

The biggest universities in Seattle are:

[sta_anchor id="the_u_district"]The University District or The U-District[/sta_anchor]

The U-District, home to the University of Washington, is one of the most popular neighborhoods among students. The name speaks for itself - everything here is about students and college life. In fact, 46% of the population residing in the U-District is in their 20s. The neighborhood is famous for its hip cafes and restaurants, with new ones popping up all the time. It also has a great transportation system, so exploring your neighborhood should not be a problem if you don't have a car.

Some of the places popular among locals are the University Farmer's Market and The Ave with its bars and shops. We recommend checking out College Inn, an underground pub located in a historic complex built for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon Exposition. In fact, it’s the only structure built for the exposition that has survived to this day. If you are looking for housing in the district, you'll soon find out that even though there are a lot of options here, it's pretty competitive due to high demand.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW -  0 miles
  • Seattle Central -  3.4 miles
  • NSC -  3 miles
  • SSC -  10.6 miles
  • SU - 3.9 miles
  • SPU - 3 miles

The University District report card:

  • Walk score: 91, Walker’s Paradise
  • Transit score: 77, Very Walkable
  • Bike Score: 85, Very Bikeable
  • Places to check out: University Farmer's Market, The Ave, U-District Street Fair, College Inn pub.

[sta_anchor id="wallingford"]Wallingford[/sta_anchor]

A desirable and trendy district, Wallingford is home to many students. Located close to the University district, it boasts a wide variety of cozy coffee shops where you can spend your midterm prep days. If you are looking for a comfortable place to study and get your daily caffeine fix, stop by A Muddy Cup. Locals say it’s so comfortable that it feels as if you are hanging out in a friend’s living room. If you enjoy outdoor activities, definitely check out Gas Works Park. The former coal gasification plant is now a popular public park that hosts free concerts and athletic competitions. The neighborhood offers a number of housing options - from single-family homes and condos to comfy apartment buildings.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW -  1 mile
  • Seattle Central - 3.6 miles
  • NSC -  3.4
  • SSC -  3.6 miles
  • SU - 4.2 miles
  • SPU - 2.4 miles

Wallingford report card:

  • Walk score: 83, Very Walkable
  • Transit score: 63, Good Transit
  • Bike Score: 87, Very Bikeable
  • Places to check out: Gas Works Park, A Muddy Cup

[sta_anchor id="green_lake"]Green Lake[/sta_anchor]

If you are an outdoorsy fitness buff and enjoy a good run, you will love Green Lake Park. Although swimming in the lake is not allowed, you can rent a kayak or boat. There is also a 3-mile running trail that's perfect for a nice evening stroll around the lake. While not much going on in terms of nightlife, the neighborhood is just a 10-minute drive away from downtown Seattle, so you won't feel isolated. If you are a theater buff, stop by The Bathhouse Theater. Originally built to be used as a bathhouse for bathers swimming in the nearby Green Lake, it was eventually converted into a mid-sized theater with a small “intimate” stage.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW - 1.7 miles
  • Seattle Central -  4.7 miles
  • NSC -  1.6 miles
  • SSC -  11.4 miles
  • SU - 5 miles
  • SPU - 4.1 miles

Green Lake report card:

  • Walk score: 81, Very Walkable
  • Transit score: 54, Good Transit
  • Bike Score: 87, Very Bikeable
  • Places to check out: Green Lake Park, The Bathhouse Theater or Seattle Public Theater

[sta_anchor id="ravenna"]Ravenna[/sta_anchor]

A neighbor to the University District, Ravenna offers a quieter, more laid back atmosphere. It's a good alternative to Green Lake if you enjoy a good hike, but prefer to be close to the UW campus, as there are multiple hiking trails located in Ravenna Park. One of the most popular locations among students is Ravenna's outdoor shopping center called U-Village.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW -  1.4 miles
  • Seattle Central - 4.9 miles
  • NSC -  2.9 miles
  • SSC -  11.8 miles
  • SU - 4.8 miles
  • SPU - 4.8 miles

Ravenna report card:

  • Walk score: 77, Very Walkable
  • Transit score: 58, Good Transit
  • Bike Score: 78, Very Bikeable
  • Places to check out: U-Village, Ravenna Park

[sta_anchor id="first_hill"]First Hill[/sta_anchor]

Close to Downtown, First Hill is a good neighborhood for someone who wants to be near to all the action, but lead a quiet life. Just a short distance away from Capitol Hill, First Hill has been notoriously dubbed  "Profanity Hill" for the steep uphill walk from Downtown. If you go to the Seattle University, this neighborhood is perfect for you as it's home to the SU's main campus.

This neighborhood doesn't offer much in terms of nightlife or restaurants, but lower rents and large grocery stores definitely make up for it. It's also just a 10-minute walk to the main building of the famous Seattle Public Library. Not only does the library feature an amazing book collection, the building itself received a 2005 national AIA Honor Award for Architecture. If you are an admirer of art and intrigued by secret symbols and messages hidden in the pieces of famous painters, you might appreciate the exquisite collection found in the Frye Art Museum. Another great art spot in the neighborhood is the Hideout art bar, where you can enjoy beautiful artwork while sipping on Riesling.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW - 3.6 miles
  • Seattle Central - 0.5 miles
  • NSC - 6.8 miles
  • SSC - 5.8 miles
  • SU - 0.5 miles
  • SPU - 3.5 miles

First Hill report card:

  • Walk score: 97, Walker’s Paradise
  • Transit score: 99, Rider’s Paradise
  • Bike Score: 77, Very Bikeable
  • Places to check out: Frye Art Museum, The Hideout, Seattle Public Library

[sta_anchor id="capitol_hill"]Capitol Hill[/sta_anchor]

Diverse, trendy and fast-paced, Capitol Hill is one of the most popular Seattle neighborhoods and home to Seattle Central College. If you are a social butterfly, you'll enjoy what it has to offer - a vibrant nightlife with bar hopping possibilities, clubbing, concerts and neighborhood parties. There is always something going on here, so you will never be bored.

If you ever dreamed of getting a pup, Capitol Hill has its own dog park, perfect for your pup to get some exercise in the middle of the city. Capitol Hill is also a great location for those spending their summers interning at the biggest online retailer in the US, as Amazon headquarters is only a mile away. If heights don’t make you dizzy, you will enjoy a picturesque walk down the Howe Street Stair Corridor - the longest staircase in Seattle containing 388 steps. In case head-swirling heights are not your thing, take a leisurely walk in the Washington Park Arboretum and don’t forget to stop by the Japanese Garden.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW - 2.5 miles
  • Seattle Central - 0 miles
  • NSC - 5.9 miles
  • SSC - 7.4 miles
  • SU - 1.1 miles
  • SPU - 3.5 miles

Capitol Hill report card:

  • Walk score: 91, Walker’s Paradise
  • Transit score: 80, Excellent Transit
  • Bike Score: 85, Very Bikeable
  • Places to check out: Arboretum and Seattle Japanese Garden, Howe Street Stairs

[sta_anchor id="fremont"]Fremont[/sta_anchor]

Bohemian and artsy, Fremont is located in the northwest of Seattle. Known as a chill and quirky neighborhood, Fremont is perfect for those who want to live in the "real" non-touristy Seattle. If you like art and creativity, you'll enjoy numerous sculptures and art pieces scattered around the neighborhood, such as the famous Lenin statue or two large dinosaur topiaries covered in ivy. While there are plenty of bars and restaurants in Fremont, it offers a more laid-back nightlife. One of the most exciting events in Seattle—the annual Summer Solstice Parade—also takes place in Fremont. As for housing, there are a lot of choices, but this neighborhood is on the pricier side, so students may want to consider sharing a large apartment or condo with a group of friends.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW - 1.9 miles
  • Seattle Central - 3.7 miles
  • NSC - 4 miles
  • SSC - 8.9 miles
  • SU - 4.5 miles
  • SPU - 0.9 miles

Fremont report card:

  • Walk score: 84, Very Walkable
  • Transit score: 63, Good Transit
  • Bike Score: 80, Very Bikeable
  • Places to check out: Summer Solstice Parade, Fremont Dinosaur Topiaries by the Burke-Gillman Trail

[sta_anchor id="ballard"]Ballard[/sta_anchor]

Although Ballard is located pretty far from all major campuses, it's still a popular place to live. Once a commercial district, Ballard is now a hip urban village with a booming nightlife. Boutiques, trendy restaurants, artisan farmers’ markets, and sidewalk cafes - you can find it all within walking distance in pedestrian-friendly Ballard. While housing is on the pricier side, it is still possible to find pretty good rent deals on the outer edges of the neighborhood. If you are an extrovert and always want to have something exciting to do, Ballard is the place for you.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW - 4.9 miles
  • Seattle Central - 6.7 miles
  • NSC - 3.9 miles
  • SSC - 11.7 miles
  • SU - 7.5 miles
  • SPU - 3. miles

Ballard report card:

  • Walk score: 87, very walkable
  • Transit score: 53, Good Transit
  • Bike Score: 90, Biker’s Paradise
  • Places to check out: Ballard Sunday Farmers Market, Majestic Bay Theater, The Matador, Ballard Locks

[sta_anchor id="belltown"]Belltown[/sta_anchor]

Located in central Seattle, Belltown is where it's at. If you are into happy hours and bar hopping, Belltown is perfect for you. Breweries, gastropubs, and nightclubs scattered around this trendy Seattle neighborhood provide plenty of entertainment for students. One of the most popular places amongst young adults is Some Random Bar. If you stop by on Sunday, you will be offered to flip a coin. If you guess it right, congrats, you won a $1 beer! Another trendy place is Big Picture - a local movie theater where they serve drinks and snacks. If you prefer art exhibitions to loud bars, you might enjoy the Olympic Sculpture Park - a 9-acre outdoor sculpture museum and a beach. Hungry? Head over to the Pike Place Market - one of the oldest public farmers’ markets in the United States. As for housing, there are a lot of options, such as modern condos and apartment buildings with a view at Elliott Bay.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW - 3.8 miles
  • Seattle Central - 1.2 miles
  • NSC - 6.4 miles
  • SSC - 6.6 miles
  • SU - 1.8 miles
  • SPU - 3.2 miles

Belltown report card:

  • Walk score: 97, Walker’s Paradise
  • Transit score: 99, Rider’s Paradise
  • Bike Score: 77, Very Bikeable
  • Places to check out: Pike Place Market, Olympic Sculpture Park, Big Picture, Some Random Bar

[sta_anchor id="queen_anne_hill"]Queen Anne Hill[/sta_anchor]

A home to Pacific Seattle University, Queen Anne is known for gorgeous Queen Anne-style houses and its proximity to Seattle Center and all downtown landmarks. The famous Space Needle, EMP Museum and Chihuly Garden and Glass are all close by. You don't have to worry about transportation when in Queen Anne, as there are a lot of bus stops scattered around the neighborhood. Plus many nice restaurants, shops and theaters are within a walking distance. For a taste of some local flavors, stop by the Queen Anne Farmers’ Market. If you find yourself in need to unwind and relax away from the crowd, head over to Parsons Gardens or enjoy the beautiful view on Mount Rainier from Kerry Park. As for housing, rents here are on the pricier side, so you may want to consider sharing a place with a group of friends.

Distance to college campuses:

  • UW - 3.8 miles
  • Seattle Central - 2.6 miles
  • NSC - 5.7 miles
  • SSC - 8.1 miles
  • SU - 3.2 miles
  • SPU - 1.2 miles

Queen Anne Hill report card:

  • Walk score: 82, Very Walkable
  • Transit score: 60, Good Transit
  • Bike Score:  58, Bikeable
  • Places to check out: Queen Anne Farmers’ Market, Parsons Gardens, view on Mount Rainier from Kerry Park

While we only featured Seattle neighborhoods most popular among students, there so many more to explore! International District, Phinney Ridge, Madrona, Montlake, Pioneer Square, South Lake Union are all districts that you should definitely check out as well.

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