Best Neighborhoods to Live: Mercer Island, WA

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Best Neighborhoods to Live: Mercer Island, WA

Lovingly known to locals as ‘The Rock’, homes in Mercer Island are as desirable as ever because of its prime location and high ranking schools. The island is a peaceful haven with a small-town feel and a concise blend of local and national amenities, great schools and amazing parks and trails.

In 2015, the median sales price of a single family home in Mercer Island reached $1,199,500, making this island a highly sought after and exclusive place to purchase a home. Construction has begun on a Light Rail link that will connect downtown Seattle with Bellevue & Redmond via Mercer Island. Completion is targeted for 2023, which should positively impact home values.

Residents will count Microsoft Billionaire Paul Allen as one of their neighbors, and waterfront homes in Mercer Island are some of the most highly sought after properties in the Seattle. Admittedly, there is not a lot to do on Mercer Island when compared to downtown Seattle, but for those that choose to live there that’s pretty much the whole point!

If you’re thinking about moving to Mercer Island, or just want to visit, here’s a list of our favorite places to go and things to see.

Location

Mercer Island is nestled in the middle of Lake Washington. Its central location makes it an easy commute via I90 floating bridges to Downtown Seattle to the west, and Bellevue to the east. Mercer Island is also served by Sound Transits Park and Ride, which is a hub for various bus services. Traffic is not too bad, but beware as spaces are scarce!

Popular Bars, Restaurants & Nightlife in Mercer Island

Bennetts
Bennett’s has great wine selection along with tasty comfort food. Image via MyMercerIsland

Bennett’s

Location: 7650 SE 27th Street, Mercer Island, WA 98040
Phone: (206) 232-2759
Go there for: Quality Bistro
Must try: Great wine selection (I’m not saying you need to try ALL of them) and Mac & Cheese
Description: Located in the downtown of the island, Bennett’s is a quality Bistro that serves locally sourced ingredients to produce great comfort food and is considered one of the best neighborhood restaurants.

Roanoke Inn

Location: 72nd Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040
Phone: (206) 232-0800
Go there for: Pub grub!
Must try: Whiskey Barbecue Burger
Description: Practically an institution, this historic watering hole has been serving Mercer Island residents since 1914. Surviving prohibition, it now sports a great selection of craft beers and hearty pub/grill cuisine. This is one of the favorite meeting places for many locals that is held close to our hearts.

Freshy’s Fish & Chips

Location: 2411 76th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040
Phone: (206) 232-3028
Go there for: Sustainable fresh seafood
Must try: Clam Chowder or Cod/Halibut & Chips
Description: My personal favourite – this hidden gem boasts some of the freshest Fish & Chips I’ve ever tasted. Being a British import I hold my Fish & Chips to a high standard and this is the best I’ve had outside of England. The chips that accompany the fish is scarily moreish, and I always have trouble stopping them getting stolen by the family!  

Things to Do & See in Mercer Island

800px-Mercer_Island,_WA_-_Luther_Burbank_Park_floating_docks
Luther Burbank Park has a lakeside setting and tennis courts, off-leash dog facilities and a public boat dock. Image via City of Mercer Island

Enjoy one of the many parks and beaches

Description: The numerous parks on the island offer fantastic opportunities for an enjoyable family day out. Luther Burbank Park has a lakeside setting located on the northern most tip of the island and covers 77 acres.  It includes numerous facilities like tennis courts, a terrific jungle gym play area, a beach, off-leash dog facilities and a public boat dock.  As a dog owner my personal favorite is Pioneer Park.  Contained in 113 acres of woodland trails, you will often encounter resident Islanders out for a jog, walking dogs, and occasional horse riders from the local equestrian center! Island Crest park is known locally as Dragon Park with one of its numerous children playground including a full size Dragon.  Trust me, it is perfect for those with energetic children!

There are a few small beaches dotted along the edge of the island including Clarke beach and Groveland Park, however a special mention must go to Calkins Landing which is currently undergoing a renovation and set to reopen April 2016.  This site commemorates one of the earliest modern day settlers of Mercer Island – CC Calkin.  In 1889 he constructed the lavish Calkins Hotel, which at the time could only be reached by steamboat. The hotel burned down in 1908 under mysterious circumstances.

Real Estate in Mercer Island

MercerIsland

The current real estate climate of the area is competitive.  With the island itself providing the benefit of a centralized location and no physical opportunity for any sprawl, the real estate is finite and scarce resource creating high demand for limited inventory. Added to this is the general economic strength of the greater Seattle region meaning double digit appreciation of real estate in 2015. There were 329 homes sold in 2015 and 66% of these had a sale price of over a million dollars. Be ready to put your best foot forward if you are interested in purchasing anything under a million. Ask a Redfin agent about the area or set up a Redfin saved search that can immediately notify you of any houses that come up in real time so you can move quickly in this aggressive market. Simply click on “save search” at the top of the Redfin Mercer Island page

Getting Around Mercer Island

transportation in mercer

Although the island scores a relatively low Walk Score of 30, meaning the area is car dependent and most errands require driving.  It largely depends on where you live on the island.  Homes closer to either the north or south end shopping district’s could get away with doing most daily grocery shopping and small tasks on foot.  Anything else would largely be car dependent.

Thinking about Moving to Mercer Island?

Here are some additional resources that might help:

What’d we miss? If you have a place you’d recommend that people visit in Mercer Island, let us know in the comments below!

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