Considering relocating to the Pacific Northwest? Try moving to the picturesque city of Federal Way, WA. Federal Way is a peaceful city on the Puget Sound with a proud history and friendly neighbors. Residents enjoy a wide selection of dining options, well-maintained public parks, and great local schools. Plus, Federal Way is known for its natural beauty and is home to several nationally renowned botanical gardens and nature preserves. As a result, it’s a nice place to live for residents from all walks of life, from families to young professionals.
Federal Way began as a logging settlement. The earliest usage of the name Federal Way began in 1929 when the five local schools in the region consolidated into one district, and plans for the construction of a Federal Way high school began. The city took its name from the nearby Federal Highway US 99, which went from Everett to Tacoma.
However, despite adopting the name, attempts to officially incorporate the city were shot down multiple times throughout the late 20th century. The city did not incorporate formally until February 1990. Today, Federal Way is a peaceful city that offers affordable living, good schools, and plenty of entertainment options nearby. Here is a look at living in Federal Way and what you should know.
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Where is Federal Way Washington?
Federal Way is a city in King County, Washington, located on the Puget Sound. The city borders Northeast Tacoma, Fife Heights, Milton, Lakeland, and Des Moines. Federal Way is often considered a suburb of Seattle as it is very close by; however it has its own culture and way of life.
Federal Way, Washington Information
- Federal Way County: Kings County
- Federal Way Area: 23.70 sq mi
- Federal Way Zip Codes: 98001, 98003, 98023, 98063 & 98093
- Federal Way Area Code: 253
- Federal Way Elevation: 515 ft
- Federal Way Closest Airport: The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA / KSEA) is 15 miles away from Federal Way
Federal Way Population & Demographics
The population of Federal Way is 99,037, based on the 2020 Census, which is a 13% increase since 2010. The population density of Federal Way is 4531 residents per square mile. It’s the 5th largest city in King County and the 10th largest in Washington overall. Given its proximity to other major cities in Washington, like Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue, Federal Way is part of one of the most extensive metro areas in the state. Many consider it a bedroom community for those who work in Seattle or elsewhere due to the short commute time.
Other Federal Way Demographics
- The population is 51% female and 49% male
- The median age is 37.4
- The racial makeup of Federal Way is 44% white, 17% black, 14% Asian, 16% Hispanic, and 12% mixed race
- The median household income is $78,734, which is 10% below the statewide average
- About 89% of Federal Way residents have a high school diploma, and 29.7% have a bachelor’s degree or higher
- Foreign-born residents make up 29.5% of the population
- Federal Way is very diverse, and 36.3% of households speak another language at home
Federal Way Transportation
The main thoroughfare in Federal Way is I-5, which offers easy access to Seattle and Tacoma and exits at 348th Street, 320th Street, and 272nd Street. I-5 also runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean and goes as far north as Vancouver, Canada, and south as the California-Mexico border outside Tijuana. As a result, I-5 offers access to various major cities, including Portland, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. US Highway 99 also serves Federal Way, which runs along the Puget Sound.
The main transportation in Federal Way is the public bus system, which operates out of the Federal Way Transit Center. There are also plans to extend the Seattle Link light rail to the Federal Way Transit Center, giving residents access to Seattle by public transit. Construction on the rail began in 2020 and will be open by 2024.
The nearest major Airport to Federal Way is the Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA), located about 15 miles from downtown Federal Way.
Cost of Living in Federal Way
The Cost of Living in Federal Way is relatively high compared to the national average but slightly more expensive than the state overall. The Cost of Living Index for the Seattle Metro Area is 152, while the COLI for the nearby city of Olympia is 110. Federal Way is right in the middle of those two at about 135. The cost of living index is a metric used to compare the general price of goods to the US average overall. The national average is 100, which means the Federal Way cost of living is about 30% more expensive than the rest of the country. But it’s still cheaper than other parts of the Seattle metro area.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four, including two adults and two children, would need to make around $109,434 per year to afford to live in King County.
Typical Federal Way Living Expenses
- Inexpensive Restaurant: $22
- Cappuccino: $5.42
- Bottle of Coke: $2.53
- 1 Gallon of Milk: $4.35
- Loaf of Bread: $3.84
- 12 Eggs: $3.61
- 1 LB Chicken: $6.67
- 1 LB Beef: $8.17
- 1 LB Apples: $2.66
- 1 LB White Rice: $2.33
- Average Federal Way Utilities Per Month: $345
*numbers reflect the general Seattle area
Federal Way Taxes:
- Sales Tax: 10.1%
- Income Tax: No income tax in Washington State
- Property Tax: The 2022 property tax rate in Federal Way is $10.97 per $1000 in assessed property value
Home prices and rent also significantly impact the cost of living in Federal Way. The Federal Way real estate market is explored more in-depth in the next section.
Federal Way Real Estate | Average Rent & Home Prices
According to Redfin, the Federal Way median home price is $525,000, which is down by 2.6% year over year. But, the average price per square foot of homes for sale in Federal Way is $297, which is up by 4.4% since last year. In comparison, the median home price in the United States is $393,756, meaning housing in Federal Way is about 33% more expensive than in the United States overall.
Federal Way residents are divided relatively evenly between homeowners and renters, as 56% of housing is owner-occupied, and 44% is renter occupied. According to RentCafe, the average Federal Way rent is $1878 monthly. The price of a studio ranges from $650 to $5447, and the cost of a three-bedroom ranges from about $1545 to $6277. The ATTOM 2022 Rental Affordability Report states that it’s cheaper to rent in Federal Way than buy, which is why the population is so evenly split between renters and owners.
Federal Way Neighborhoods | Where to Live in Federal Way
Federal Way is a city that offers a ton of diversity and cultural attractions. The most desirable homes are in the western part of the city near the water, while the most affordable are in the east. Here are some of the best neighborhoods in Federal Way.
Adelaide – A Family-Friendly Neighborhood on the Puget Sound
Adelaide is one of the largest neighborhoods in Federal Way and consists of mostly residential housing and single-family homes built in the ’60s and ’70s. With easy access to parks, schools, and I-5, Adelaide is one of the best neighborhoods in Federal Way for families.
Buenna – Paradise on Poverty Bay
Located between downtown and Poverty Bay on the Puget Sound, Buenna is a peaceful, family-friendly area full of ranch-style homes built in the ’60s through the ’80s.
Marine Hills – Scenic Beauty in North Federal Way
Marine Hills is a neighborhood in North Federal Way, located adjacent to the popular Redondo neighborhood of Des Moines. The neighborhood features plenty of scenic beauty, including some of the city’s top botanical gardens.
Federal Way Weather and Climate
According to the Kopek Classification, the Federal Way climate is a warm-summer Mediterranean characterized by warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters. The best time to visit Federal Way is in the summer, during July or August. The yearly temperature in Federal Way ranges from about 37°F to 78°F. However, the Federal Way summer high gets up to 88°F, and the winter low can get as low as 27°F. Federal Way averages about 41 inches of rainfall yearly and 5 inches of snow. Pack your galoshes and rain jacket if you’re planning on moving to Federal Way!
Federal Way Restaurants
Federal Way has a diverse culture and features some of the best restaurants in the Seattle area. Whether you’re looking for American fare, Asian food, or Italian, you can find something to suit your taste buds. Here are the best places to eat in Federal Way.
Mi Bella Honduras
A local favorite, Mi Bella Honduras is a Latin American restaurant that’s famous for its baleadas – a Honduran take on a quesadilla.
Mi Bella Honduras 29500 Pacific Hwy, Federal Way, WA 98003, (206) 592-6922
Verrazano’s is an Italian restaurant serving NYC-style pizza and other classic dishes in a relaxed setting with views of the Puget Sound. So, if you’re looking for somewhere to take a date or have a meal with the family, Verrazanos is one of the best restaurants in Federal Way.
Koharu Japanese Restaurant
Koharu Japanese is a traditional Japanese restaurant in downtown Federal Way serving sushi, sake, and a mouthwatering selection of appetizers.
Things to Do in Federal Way
Residents will find many fun things to do in Federal Way, from shopping to waterspouts to botanical gardens. The best places to go shopping are down at The Commons at Federal Way, the Federal Way Crossings, or the Celebration Center. Beyond that, there are also notable malls within a close drive in Seattle and Tacoma. If you’re looking for recreation, here are a few of the top Federal Way attractions.
Dash Point State Park is a 398-acre state park on Puget Sound, right on the border between North Tacoma and Federal Way. The park offers swimming, camping, hiking, biking, and other outdoor opportunities, making it one of the best things to do in Federal Way with kids.
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The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden is a 20+ acre facility featuring more than 10,000 rhododendrons in a lush setting full of walking trails, gazebos, and more.
Centerstage Theater is a local community performing arts venue that hosts regular productions of various famous plays and musicals.
Other Notable Federal Way Attractions
- Pacific Bonsai Museum
- Federal Way Community Center
- West Hylebos Wetlands Park
- Catapult Adventure Park
- Federal Way Farmers Market
Map of Federal Way Things to Do
Federal Way Sports
There are no professional sports teams in Federal Way, however, there are several nearby in Seattle.
Seattle sports teams include:
- Seattle Seahawks – NFL
- Seattle Mariners – MLB
- Seattle Kraken – NHL
- Seattle Storm – WNBA
- Seattle Seawolves – MLR (Rugby)
- Seattle Sounders FC – MLS
- OL Reign – NWSL (women’s soccer)
Federal Way has a proud tradition of high school sports. The local varsity and junior varsity teams are known as the Federal Way Eagles. You can learn more about sports leagues in Federal Way on the Recreation & Cultural Services page of the city’s website.
Federal Way Crime Rate
The crime rate in Federal Way is generally on par with the rest of the state of Washington, although higher than the US overall. The overall crime rate in Federal Way is 2,973 per 100,000 people, 1.8% lower than the state average but 26.7% higher than the country overall. Your chances of being the victim of a crime in Federal Way are 1 in 34.
The violent crime rate is 354 per 100,000 people, which is 20.5% higher than the statewide average but 8.7% lower than the country overall. There were six murders per 100,000 residents in Federal Way in 2020, which is 53.8% higher than the state yet 8.3% lower than the country.
Surprisingly the property crime rate is the exact opposite and roughly on par with the rest of the state yet higher than the national average. The property crime rate in Federal Way is 2,619 per 100,000 residents, which is 4.2% lower than the state but 33.7% higher than the country.
Crimes rates in other Washington Cities
- Seattle crime rate: 5499 per 100,000 people or 61.8% higher than Federal Way
- Tacoma crime rate: 6351 per 100,000 people or 74.6% higher than Federal Way
- Olympia crime rate: 3773 per 100,000 people or 26.1% higher than Federal Way
- Des Moines crime rate: 3862 per 100,000 people or 28.5% higher than Federal Way
When you compare the crime rate to other nearby Washington cities, Federal Way is a safe place to live.The area is patrolled by the Federal Way Police Department, which employs 160 people, including 129 total officers and 31 cavils, which is one officer per 1,000 residents.
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Jobs in Federal Way
There is plenty of economic opportunity in Federal Way. There are more than 778 jobs in Federal Way, not including employment opportunities in other nearby cities like Seattle and Tacoma. The largest employers in the city are Federal Way Public Schools, CHI Franciscan Health, and World Vision International.
- Retail & Hospitality: $46,558
- Business services: $156,012
- Healthcare: $80,556
- Construction: $91,489
Federal Way Schools
The Federal Way Public Schools district is highly regarded in terms of test scores and graduation rates. The Federal Way School District consists of 37 schools. There are 2 K-8, 21 elementary schools, six middle schools, and four high schools in Federal Way.
Approximately 63% of Federal Way Public Schools graduates enroll in a 2 to 4-year college after graduation, and 71% of high school students have taken at least one advanced course. The top schools in Federal Way are Brigadoon Elementary, Mirror Lake Elementary, and Twin Lakes Elementary.
There are also a few private schools in Federal Way, including the Montessori Academy at Spring Valley, the Pacific Christian Academy, and St. Vincent De Paul School. The King County Public Library System has a branch in Federal Way, where residents can take out books and media or attend community events.
Ready to make the transition to Federal Way? Trust All Ready Moving to take you wherever you need to go in King County and beyond. Call the best Federal Way movers or fill out the form on our website to request a free quote.