Lake City: A Renters & Homeowners Guide

The Joseph Group Dec 2020

Ian Joseph

“Clients first!” – is a huge part of the DNA that Ian Joseph and his Team have established at The Joseph Group. This motto helps them focus on striving for the highest level of customer experience, for their clients (landlords) and customers (tenants). In fact, Ian strongly believes that in life, family and business, you must strive to give more than you receive. “You can have everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." - Zig Ziglar


Lake City is one of the most affordable up-and-coming neighborhoods that are still within Seattle city limits. The neighborhood’s affordability and convenient location have made it a magnet for families and students attending the nearby University of Washington (colloquially known as “U-Dub”). 

Single Family Homes to Rent or Buy

While Lake City does offer an assortment of newly renovated apartment buildings, its true power lies in its affordable single-family homes. Each of Lake City’s child- and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods (Chelsea, Matthews, Victory Heights, and Olympic Hills) are nestled between major roads with convenient and well-populated businesses, stores, and restaurants. This layout makes it safe for families with children or elder relatives, but convenient for running errands and commuting. Many of the neighborhoods have organized, family-friendly block parties and celebrations throughout the year. 

Easy Day-To-Day Living

Unlike many of the hipper neighborhoods around Seattle, Lake City offers easy access to your day-to-day living needs. It’s all fun and games living downtown until you have a family to feed and need easy access to your minivan to get the groceries home. Lake City’s location, school districts, and other conveniences make it the perfect neighborhood for students and young families.

Fast Commutes

Seattle traffic is notoriously bad as a whole, but Lake City offers unique opportunities to cut down on your commuting time. In short, you don’t have to work in Lake City to live there. When you live in Lake City, you:

  • Have access to the I-5 Express lane
  • Are near Northgate Transit Center for convenient park-and-ride opportunities all around King County
  • Are always close to local and express bus lines along Lake City Way

In addition, plans are in the works to extend the Seattle Link to Lake City and nearby neighborhoods in the next few years, making it a great long-term investment for homebuyers.

Your choice of grocery and convenience stores

Lake City is a center for highly competitive grocery stores that keep their prices low, their parking lots free and accessible, and their hours friendly (some are even open 24 hours a day). You’re not stuck going to one over-priced grocery store or driving for an hour to get to somewhere more affordable. Here is a short list of the different grocery stores you can find within a 4 mile radius of each other:

  • Safeway
  • QFC
  • Fred Meyer (which also features clothing, toys, home decorating, bed & bath, lawn & gardening, and more)
  • Grocery Outlet
  • Bartell’s
  • Walgreens

Close to major shopping districts

Aside from Lake City Way’s row of shops and restaurants and smattering of grocery stores, this neighborhood is situated an easy drive or bus trip away from Seattle’s popular shopping districts, including:

  • Northgate Mall and surrounding box stores (Target, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.)
  • University Village, an open air mall featuring local small businesses, restaurants, and popular chains (Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, etc.)
  • Town Center at Lake Forest Park, a Shoreline strip mall that features great restaurants, book stores, and specialty stores (fishing, chocolates, bakeries, pets, etc.)

Close to schools

If you are a student or have children, Lake City is close to:

Fast Food Chains

Whether you prefer the fast food classics, you’re in a rush, or your kids are not feeling adventurous, Lake City Way is peppered with lots of chain staples to choose from, including:

  • Starbucks
  • Dick’s
  • Wendy’s
  • Taco Bell
  • Panda Express
  • Subway
  • Chipotle

Other Family-Friendly Things to Do in Lake City

  • Matthew’s Beach: This public Lake Washington beach is a magnet for family fun. The lake is open to lifeguard supervised swimming in the summer, and the beach offers a beautiful view of the mountains. Kids will have a blast running around on the park’s trails, climbing the jungle gym, or playing in the basketball courts. You can take your chances grabbing a picnic table (first come, first served), reserve a picnic area for a major event, or spread a blanket on the grass beside the beach. This is also a popular stop for cyclists on the Burke Gilman Trail.

  • The Burke Gilman Trail: This 19 mile biking and hiking trail runs along Lake Washington right through Lake City. Whether you’re using it recreationally or to commute from Ballard to Kenmore, the Burke Gilman offers a safe, convenient, and beautiful trek for cyclists, rollerbladers, and more.

  • The Lake City Library: This small and newly renovated library branch is still a hub for readers and community activities. This location also offers volunteer-run tutoring for elementary, middle school, and high school students.

  • Virgil Flaim Park: This hidden gem offers more than the usual children’s jungle gym. While just a quarter mile square, it features a picnic area, basketball courts, and a skate park. It’s also right next to a Starbucks if you want to enjoy a fancy drink while you relax.

  • The Lake City Farmer’s Market: This small but well-attended farmer’s market is available from June through October. In addition to your typical free samples and small business stands, the Lake City Farmer’s Market also occasionally hosts family-friendly games and contests for visitors.

  • The Meadowbrook Pond Rehabilitation Project: The Pond Rehabilitation Project has significantly increased property values in Lake City by addressing Thorton Creek flooding issues, but it also is a great place to explore with the family. This park features art installations, scenic walks around the pond, and educational stops that go into the wildlife it supports.
  • Meadowbrook Pool: This year-round pool offers swimming lessons and summer camps for the little ones and lap lanes for a solid workout. 

A Dog-Owner’s Paradise

Seattle is a city that loves dogs, but Lake City’s municipal and commercial spots offer an extra warm welcome to dog owners.

  • Close to 3 Dog Parks: Though not technically within Lake City limits, the Magnuson, North Acres, and East Side dog parks are a short drive’s way away if you’re looking for an off-leash escape for you and your pet.
  • Dogwood Play Park: Socializing your dog during Seattle’s rainy season is no longer an issue with this indoor-dog-park-meets bar offering beer, cider, and wine to patrons while their dogs play.
  • Close to 2 local pet chains: All the Best Pet Care & Mud Bay Pet Supplies have arguably the most reliable and highest quality pet supplies in Seattle. Their educated employees can make recommendations on food, toys, and day-to-day supplies like leashes and dog gates. They also have great rewards programs for shoppers with frequent discounts and deals. 

The Widest Selection of Great International Cuisine in Seattle

Due to skyrocketing commercial rental costs closer to downtown, Lake City has attracted some of the best international cuisines in the city. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Toyoda Sushi: While there are fancier (some may argue “better”) sushi restaurants in Seattle, you can’t beat Toyoda when it comes to bang for your buck. Toyoda delivers delicious sushi and traditional Japanese dishes at a fraction of what you’ll pay at some of the swankier spots. Be sure to check their hours, however. This hole-in-the-wall maintains its family restaurant flair by limiting its number of tables and how often it’s open. We recommend a seat at the counter for some extra experimental bites from the chef.
  • Aloha Ramen: Just down the street from the Lake City Library is a small, Hawaiian-themed ramen restaurant. Their extensive ramen menu caters to both vegetarians and carnivores alike.
  • Flo-Anna’s Diner: This Greek diner has all the staples: a homey atmosphere, all-day breakfast, quick and easy eats, and friendly wait staff. Weekends can get busy, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their fast table turnaround and you’ll feel full in no time.
  • Goodie’s Mediterranean Market: This garden-level market offers popular Greek groceries as well as an amazing fresh Greek deli. Skip the line at the supermarket and buy your hummus, baba ganouj, and grape leaves at Goodies.
  • Jebena Café: Play with your food at this intimate Ethiopian restaurant. Their delicious spreads are the perfect serving for two and while they do serve meat dishes, we highly recommend their Vegetarian plate full of savory lentils, spinach, potatoes, and more to choose from.
  • Loxicha Authentic Oaxan Food: Washington offers your choice of wonderful Mexican restaurants, but the Loxicha food truck parked on 15th Street is up there with the best of them. Everything from their full-to-bursting burritos to their simple rice and beans is cooked to perfection. Take your food to-go or relax on their connected patio. It’s also cash only, so come prepared. 
  • Zylberschtein’s Delicatessen & Bakery: East coasters know Zylberschtein’s is the closest you’ll get to an authentic bagel and lox in Seattle. This Jewish deli’s selection is in high demand, so get there early or opt into their Bagel Club, which reserves half a dozen or baker’s dozen of bagels for you once a week.
  • Kaffeklatsch: This German bakery and coffee shop is right in the heart of Lake City Way’s hustle and bustle. They’re famous for their pretzels, but also have a great selection of rolls, loaves, and sweet baked goods to choose from. Or, if you’re looking for a good deal, Kaffeklatsch offers an Early Bird Special that comes with a breakfast sandwich and coffee for customers who order before 9am. It’s also a popular place to grab a bite with little ones since the café has a designated kid’s area with toys, art supplies, and more. You can also share your table with a stranger and pick up a board game provided by the establishment.
  • Mount & Bao: This Chinese restaurant serves the best-steamed buns and dumplings in town, but don’t hold back if you see something else you’d like to try on their menu. You can’t go wrong!
  • Kelly Cannoli: This coffee hut also serves specialty and traditional Italian cannoli that are to die for. Swing by in your car to pick some up from their drive-thru window, or pull up a chair under their umbrella to relax and enjoy your cannoli in person.
  • Tubs Subs: While not technically international cuisine (you can’t get more American than this sub shop), Tubs Gourmet Sub Sandwiches has an unbeatable selection of meat or vegetarian sandwiches to choose from. Parking is limited, so we recommend public transit or order delivery.

Lake City Night Life

Lake City is infamous for its adult-themed establishments, but there are also plenty of respectable bars, breweries, and taprooms for those looking for date nights or a casual get together with friends:


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