What You Need to Know About Living in Ballard

When I was a younger real estate agent, Ballard was often not a part of my clients' list of desirable neighborhoods.

The reason I was often given was the proximity to I-5. Seattle was different 10 years ago. Major employment centers were typically in the center of downtown, Redmond, or one of the many Boeing locations.

In other words, people needed the freeway to get to work. Getting to the 5 from Ballard is, to put it mildly, challenging.

Well, like everything else, Seattle has changed! One of our largest employment centers is now located north of Downtown in South Lake Union. Amazon, Google, Tableau, Adobe, Eddie Bauer, Apple, and Facebook have changed Ballard’s buying pool. It’s easy to get to SLU, Fremont, Westlake and the north end of Downtown from Ballard! So that’s why Ballard is so hot right now, Ballard. (I love Mugatu from Zoolander, yes I’m a nerd.)

Today, Ballard is a quick hop away on the Rapid Ride or an even quicker drive to Seattle’s high-tech, high-pay hubs. (Beware, the buses to downtown get VERY full during peak-traffic!)

For my Microsoft friends, the Connector stops several times off 24th and twice on Market. (It takes between 45 minutes to an hour to get to the Microsoft Campus in Redmond.)

So if you’re interested in buying a home in Ballard, where should you look? Here are my tips:

In my view, there are 4 different “Ballards,” and the dividing lines are 15th Ave NW and NW 65th St. Depending on what you’d like to live in—and maybe more importantly what your budget is—will likely determine which quadrant you’d be looking in.

  • The SW quadrant is what most people think about when they think about Ballard. This is where old downtown Ballard is, off Ballard, Shilshole and Leary Ave. It’s also the most expensive per sq. ft. section of Ballard. South of Market or one or two blocks north of Market near 15th, you’re looking at condos. Otherwise, you are likely looking at townhouses.

  • The SE quadrant is still very convenient in terms of commute, but that section is filled with little turn-of-the-century to mid-century homes. In that section, prices range from high to low starting on the high side near 65th. (There are little shops on 65th east of 8th.) Homes become more affordable as you move toward Market.

  • The NE Quadrant (above Ballard High School) ranges from high price to value driven the farther you move away from 70th and Alonzo (another cute street with little shops on it). I guess you can see that walkability is one of the key factors in home prices today (not rocket science). Still, I find that section around 70th and Alonzo to be a good deal. 70th has everything you want near your house, except a grocery store. But it has a great little breakfast place, great dinner place and a bar. Perfect, I’m set!

  • Lastly, there is the NW quadrant which represents the best value, and it also has the lowest walkscores. But what the heck, you are still very close to other areas and your house will likely be bigger and nicer than the other Quadrants. You just have to ask yourself where your priorities are!

Townhouse construction in Ballard today is as hot as it ever was. As a result of all this construction, appreciation the last several years has been tremendous. 2015 from start to finish saw 15% appreciation. Now with Expedia, Microsoft, Spaceflight, and with the Facebook and Tableau expansion in SLU/Westlake/Fremont, you will likely see this trend continue for the foreseeable future.

The restaurant/bar scene in Ballard is sophisticated, diverse, and abundant with one of Seattle’s largest neighborhood villages. You’ll find locally owned shops in Old Ballard off of Ballard, Shilshole and Leary Ave. Great restaurants like Stoneburner, and Bastille are thoroughly modern and sophisticated. One of my favorite shops to buy gifts for my happy homeowner’s little babies is on Ballard Ave. It’s a toy store where they sell toys not manufactured by other children. Great idea, right?!

So, that’s the skinny on Ballard! Learn even more about Ballard on my Ballard neighborhood page.

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Matt Miner

Real estate guru and Seattle know-it-all


In everything that I do as your REALTOR®, I have one guiding principle in mind: To make certain that your home-buying or selling experience is a happy, successful, wonderful life experience! We build trust and security with our clients using knowledge and transparency.