Bellingham, Washington is one of the northernmost cities in the United States, located only about 20 miles south of the Canadian border. It has a full-time population of more than 82,000 people. Nestled between the Coastal Cascade Mountains and the waters of Puget Sound, there are stunning views of snow-capped Mount Baker and there is water everywhere, from the salty sea to fresh water lakes and streams. Bellingham boasts fine restaurants, casual cafes and brew pubs, good shopping, a revitalized downtown area, golf courses, and much more.
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Housing Statistics The median home and condo price in 2011 was listed as $256,500, but the mean price of all housing units was more than $342,000. Median rents for the same year were recorded as $873. The March 2012 cost-of-living index for Bellingham was 99.9, just below the U.S. average. Of the almost 30,000 homes in the city, 52% are renter occupied, suggesting that finding a house to rent or rent to own in Bellingham is quite easy. The square-foot sales price for homes in Bellingham has risen approximately 12% over the previous year, and the 160 homes sold in the two-month period of May and June 2013 represent more than a 50% increase over the same period last year.
Festivals and Fun Fairhaven District is the historic old town that comes alive each spring for the annual Dirty Dan Days Seafood Festival. This celebrates the tale of Bellingham's first homesteader, seaman, and "character," who is said to have rolled his piano out of his hotel downhill into the sea when the new owner refused payment. The wacky legend is commemorated in reverse each year when teams compete to push decorated pianos up the hill. There's also a costume contest, a Dirty Dan look-alike contest, rowing competitions, and a chowder cook-off. Other spring and summer activities include Holland Days, when the tulips are in bloom, a Ski and Sea Festival centered around an 85-mile relay from the mountains to the water, and the Northwest Washington Fair in August.
Transportation and Commutes Getting around Bellingham is easy. Because it's not a large city when it comes to area, commute times are almost nonexistent- less than 18 minutes on average. But a private automobile is not the only way to move from place to place here. Bicycles are popular for in-town travel among students and faculty at Western Washington University, and there is a very good public bus system. Then there's the water. Because this is very much a seaport town with an emphasis on boating, water sports, and marine activity, water travel is very common, and not just for weekend sailors. Kayaks, canoes, speedboats, fishing boats, large yachts, and water toys are aplenty. Some people even commute from island homes to Bellingham. In addition, the Alaska State Ferry departs from here for its weekly trip up the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, and beyond.
Neighborhoods There are about 20 neighborhoods in Bellingham, with Guide Meridian and Puget generally deemed most expensive. Older areas of the city tend to be more reasonable, for both home rentals and apartments to rent.
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