National study ranks several small cities in Washington as some of the best in the U.S.

People who live, work and play in Washington know that it is a special place. Now, several communities across the state are being recognized as some of the best in the country.

WalletHub is a personal finance website that generates national rankings and studies every year. In its 2021 Best Small Cities in America study, the city of Sammamish ranked at the top of the list for the second year in a row. 

More than a dozen other small cities across Washington also made this year’s list, scoring above the 70th percentile. 

In no particular order, those cities are:

  • Redmond
  • Bothell
  • Kirkland
  • Olympia
  • Shoreline
  • Marysville
  • Longview
  • Maple Valley
  • Issaquah
  • Edmonds
  • Bellingham
  • Lake Stevens
  • Walla Walla

The city of Maple Valley peaked in the 88th percentile of the rankings. Mayor Sean Kelly said he credits the high score to community members, leaders and volunteers working together to help make the city successful. 

"Everybody feels like they belong here and you can make a difference here. We’re really proud that we have a low crime rate, we really take honor that we make sure everybody feels welcome and they are involved in our community," said Kelly. "That’s what makes us a special place."

"I like to think of it as that Disneyland magic—when you come here, you feel welcomed, you feel supported and you know that great things are possible," said Malia Hollowell, president of the Tahoma School Board.

WalletHub’s study is based on a number of criteria—including economy, education, health, public safety, affordability and quality of life.

"It’s a very engaged community of people who are just looking and longing for that sense of community," said Amber Bills, owner and broker of Amber Bills Real Estate Group. "Our housing market has definitely seen an increase, an influx of people coming from up north and on the east side—kind of searching for a place where it is a smaller town feel, more affordable and has that special blend of affordability, and quality and well-ranked schools."

Hollowell said the Tahoma School District’s commitment to helping students prepare for life after the classroom helped the city achieve high scores in the national ranking.

"We need to help them have the tools and support that they need in order to have strong mental health. So for us, helping our students become future-ready is a true commitment that we have taken and we are putting in the work it takes in order to make that happen," said Hollowell.

WalletHub’s list is focused on cities with populations between 25,000 to 100,000. The full list and criteria are available online.

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