Issaquah is one of the fastest growing suburbs in America today. Located only 15 miles east of downtown Seattle, it is also known as the bright cultural beacon of the east King County.
Voted one of the most livable cities in the country by Outsider Magazine, Issaquah features a down town alive with restaurants, galleries full of art lovers and emerging artists, and local musicians and singers who bring the nights to life.
It’s also home to a populace that cares about both the environment and their own health. This explains the respect for green building techniques and the abundance of natural foods and other products in Issaquah’s stores. The presence of a thriving Farmer’s Market where residents can purchase locally grown, organic produce attests to their love of fresh, home-grown foods. Many local restaurants also boast use of locally grown ingredients.
As of mid-2015, the median price of a home sold in Issaquah was $525,000. This is a 6.2% increase from the price in mid-2014. This number is slightly higher, but still consistent with the 5% historical appreciation rate that was normal prior to the boom and bust period the nation experienced in recent years.
Single family homes offered for sale range from the low $200,000’s all the way up to more than $4 million. Condo prices also vary greatly, ranging from the mid $100,000’s to more than $600,000.
This median home value is 145.3% greater than the National average. Interestingly, the rental rates do not keep pace with sales prices. The median rental rate in Issaquah is only 59.5% greater than the National average.
Largely due to the cost of housing, the cost of living in Issaquah is 45.7% greater than the national average.
However, this is offset by the fact that the income per capital is 70.9% greater than the national average.
As is true for other east King County cities, more than twice as many Issaquah residents hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as do those in the general population of America.
A Bit of History…
Settlement of the Issaquah area began around 1860 when loggers arrived to cut the timber and farmers settled in to take advantage of the rich soil. The area became well-known for producing some of the best hops in the world – so good that they were exported to Germany. This industry had great promise, but by the end of the century, a hop blight brought it to an end.
By then coal had been discovered and all that stood in the way of exploiting it was lack of transportation. A Western Washington businessman named Daniel Hunt Gilman became instrumental in persuading the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad to lay track to Squak Mountain. A coal mining boom followed and at one point, Issaquah’s was almost as populous as Seattle.
Although known as Issaquah, residents felt they owed a debt of gratitude to Gilman. Thus, the town council of 1892 named the city after him when it was incorporated in 1892. Issaquah was now Gilman. However, by 1899, they realized that another town was already named Gilman, causing confusion in both mail delivery and business associations. The council petitioned Olympia to change the name back to Issaquah.
The name Issaquah is thought to have come from the Indian description of the sounds of the many migratory birds that passed through the surrounding Sammamish Valley. It could also mean “snake,” or “little stream,” depending upon who is telling the tale.
When mining deposits began running out in the late 1890’s, the focus switched from supporting miners to supporting the lumbermen who worked for companies exporting timber from Issaquah to Seattle and other rapidly growing communities.
Unfortunately, these were “boom and bust” industries which had largely faded out by the time of the Great Depression and the town remained quiet for several succeeding decades.
The economy today…
Were it not for Boeing and Microsoft, Issaquah would not be the thriving city it is today.
Although it has had its ups and downs, Boing has been a major employer in the area for more than 100 years.
When Microsoft opened its Redmond campus in 1996, it heralded a new wave of prosperity for all the surrounding communities, including Issaquah. Not only was Microsoft hiring, its presence spurred the growth of the entire technology industry. Now hundreds of technology companies, both large and small, are operating and hiring in eastern King County. In June 1996, Costco became another major Issaquah employer, when it moved its global headquarters to Issaquah from nearby Kirkland, Washington.
The highly educated individuals working in technology, the medical fields, and corporate upper management command high wages and demand nice homes and quality goods and services. As a result, real estate prices are high and retail, personal service, recreational, and restaurant businesses thrive.
With a land mass of just over 8 acres and a current population of approximately 35,000, Issaquah is now ranked as one of the fastest growing suburbs in the nation.
Issaquah has 11 public schools, 6 private schools, and one post-secondary school: Trinity Lutheran College. Seven other colleges are located within 16 miles.
In addition to clinics and care facilities, Issaquah is home to the Swedish Medical Center – a full service hospital in the Issaquah Highlands.
Shopping in Issaquah…
Grand Ridge Plaza
Opened in 2013, Grand Ridge Plaza is a 280,113 square foot destination shopping center on 24.58 acres in the Issaquah Highlands. In addition to the Highlands, it serves the Sammamish Plateau.
Grand Ridge was constructed using a variety of green building strategies, which resulted in the center’s LEED certification. This is the foremost nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.
The center is home to more than two dozen retail stores and a dozen restaurants, and is anchored by a 56,820-square-foot, 12-screen Regal Cinemas and a 44,543-square-foot Safeway.
Regal Cinemas: Issaquah Highlands Stadium 12 IMAC & RPX is the only theater in the Issaquah Highlands.
Safeway: Custom designed to serve the wants and needs of East King County residents, this store features more than 3,000 organic and natural products, a bakery with open-flame hearth oven, a full-service deli and salad bar, and a Starbucks kisosk, plus dining areas and dozens of other services.
This popular shopping center offers more than 40 shops and eateries, including recognized names such as GNC, Payless Shoe Source, REI, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Papa Murphy’s.
Gilman Village is an Issaquah landmark, and one of Puget Sound’s best known and most distinctive shopping destinations. Houses, buildings, and other structures preserved from the farming and mining sites in Issaquah’s historic past are home to more than 40 unique shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
Marvin and Ruth Mohl, began salvaging these buildings in 1972 as a way to preserve Issaquah’s history. After renovations, they combined them in a park-like setting which became Gilman Village. The combined efforts of the Mohl’s, working with the Baylis Architects, Richard Haag Associates, and
landscape architect Stephen G. Ray have won numerous awards, including the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce’s Eastside Quality of Life Award, for “the pleasures it gives through its rich discoveries of space and forms.”
Gillman Village is also often mentioned when speaking of “things to do and see in Issaquah.”
More places to go and things to do and see…
The Farmer’s Market
While shopping isn’t always included in a list of things to do and see, our Issaquah’s Farmer’s Market isn’t just about shopping. In addition to offering fresh locally grown produce, freshly baked goods, cut flowers, handmade arts and crafts, and a variety of spices and specialty cooking mixes, we offer fun.
The Farmer’s Market includes activities for children and families, cooking demonstrations, informational booths, mini-concerts, and on-site master gardener educators to answer your questions.
The Village Theatre, established in 1979, presents live stage plays on its main stage in downtown Issaquah.
Concerts on the Green
Concerts on the Green is a summertime tradition in Issaquah. Here families can enjoy free concerts in an outdoor setting on the Issaquah Community Center lawn.
Cougar Mountain Zoo
Located just west of Issaquah on the north slope of Cougar Mountain, The Cougar Mountain zoo features Nashi – the resident cougar. It’s also home to Taj and Almos, the only Bengal tires in Washington state.
Cougar Mountain Zoo is home to many endangered birds from around the world, along with lemurs from Madagascar, cranes, reindeer, macaws, wallabies, ratites, and camelids.
The Salmon Days Festival
Salmon Days, held the first full weekend of October each year, is a two-day festival celebrating the return of the salmon to their birth-waters. The festival is also in honor of Issaquah’s history, culture, and ethnic diversity.
Artists from across the Northwest bring their wood, glass, pottery, jewelry, paintings and metal artworks for sale in booths which are situated across the downtown area.
Sporting events include a fencing invitational, a golf tournament, and both 5 km/10 km runs (plus a 3 km run for children). A “Field of Fun” in Memorial Park provides free entertainment for children of all ages. Visitors are encouraged to visit the newly restored Salmon Hatchery to view the returning salmon in close detail.
Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
Built in 1936 under the federal Works Project Administration, the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is located on Issaquah Creek, within the city limits. Educational tours are conducted by volunteer guides who are dedicated to the preservation of our wild salmon.
This hatchery, which raises about 4 million King and Silver salmon each year, is the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s most visited hatchery, with an estimated 350,000 visitors a year.
Paragliding and hang gliding enthusiasts can often be seen flying from a premiere launch site in the heights of Tiger Mountain. Weather permitting, some fly year-round.
We don’t always think of a restaurant as a landmark, but Issaquah’s TripleXXX is one of the only two Triple XXX restaurants that still exist.
More in downtown Issaquah…
Park for free next to the historic Issaquah Train Depot on Front Street – home to the Issaquah Museum. While you’re in town you can visit the local brewery, sample fresh sushi, dine on hand-crafted BBQ, and finish the meal with designer cupcakes. Stop to see live glass blowing demos, visit some of the fine art galleries downtown, or take a tour of Issaquah’s outdoor public art. When it’s time for refreshment, choose one of the fine local wines offered by downtown establishments.
At night the downtown comes alive with dining, cocktails, dancing, and music. A variety of restaurants, bars and pubs offer something for nearly any taste.
Does Issaquah’s vibrant atmosphere appeal to you?
If so, get in touch and I’ll help you find the perfect Issaquah home. For a preview of homes for sale today, click here. (link to Issaquah search page)