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home | Locations | FACTS & FIGURES FOR BELLINGHAM, WASH . . .

Ivan Gillis
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Bellingham, Washington


Bellingham, Washington is the county seat of Whatcom County in the U.S. state of Washington. It is the largest city in Whatcom County and tenth largest in Washington. It is situated on Bellingham Bay, which is protected by Lummi Island, Portage Island, and the Lummi Peninsula, and opens onto the Strait of Georgia. It lies west of Mount Baker and Lake Whatcom (from which it gets its drinking water) and north of the Chuckanut Mountains and Skagit Valley. Whatcom Creek runs through the center of the city.


The boundaries of the city encompass the former towns of Fairhaven (now home to the southern ferry terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System), New Whatcom, and others. Bellingham is home to Whatcom Community College, Bellingham Technical College,  Evergreen Team Concepts, Trinity Western, and Western Washington University, which includes, among others Fairhaven College, Huxley College; and the Woodring College of Education.


The name of Bellingham is derived from the bay on which the city is situated. George Vancouver, who visited the area in June 1792, named the bay for Sir William Bellingham, the controller of the storekeeper's account of the Royal Navy.


In 1858, the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush caused thousands of miners, storekeepers, and scalawags to head north from California. Whatcom grew overnight from a small northwest mill town to a bustling seaport, the basetown for the Whatcom Trail, which led to the Fraser Canyon goldfields, used in open defiance of colonial Governor James Douglas's edict that all entry to the gold colony be made via Victoria, British Columbia.


Bellingham was officially incorporated on November 4, 1903. It was the result of the consolidation of four towns initially situated around Bellingham Bay: Whatcom, Sehome, Bellingham, and Fairhaven. A fictionalized account of the history of Bellingham in this era is "The Living" by Annie Dillard.


Bellingham's climate can generally be described as "mild." The average yearly high and low temperatures are 57 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit (14 and 5 °C), respectively. Although the rainy season can last as long as eight months or more, it is usually about six months long, leaving Bellingham with a picturesque late spring and mild, pleasant summer. Bellingham receives an average annual rainfall of 34.8 inches (884 mm).


In March 2005, Kiplinger's Personal Finance named Bellingham one of the top retirement cities in the nation. Purchase price of homes has risen, however rent has remained relatively stable. Many of the condominiums recently built as a result of the demand for affordable housing have subsequently become rental units.


Bellingham has seen a resurgence of real-estate development as house prices climb, caused in part by new residents moving in to the community. In order to accommodate this growth, new properties have sprung up all over the city, including the Downtown, Fairhaven, Happy Valley, Cordata, and Barkley neighborhoods. The city has reiterated their commitment to developing a wide range of housing options for all income categories, while retaining the integrity of existing communities. Annexation of surrounding farmland and county wilderness has been kept to a minimum due to public concern for environmental preservation, but several controversies have risen over the city's decisions to counteract the loss of land by allowing taller buildings in the city core, major new development on previously undeveloped land, and a lack of parks and open spaces in some of the more recently developed areas.




Population (year 2000): 67,171. Estimated population in July 2006: 75,150 (+11.9% change)


Males: 32,291 


Females: 34,880 



Median Age--30.4 Years

Ancestries: German (19.2%), English (13.0%), Irish (12.3%), Norwegian (7.5%), Scottish (4.6%), United States (4.4%).

Races in Bellingham:

  • White Non-Hispanic (85.9%)
  • Hispanic (4.6%)
  • Two or more races (3.1%)
  • American Indian (2.5%)
  • Other race (2.2%)
  • Black (1.0%)
  • Vietnamese (0.9%)
  • Chinese (0.7%)
  • Asian Indian (0.6%)
  • Korean (0.6%)

Income & Housing Costs Numbers:


Estimated median household income in 2005: $35,612 (it was $32,530 in 2000)






Estimated median house/condo value in 2005: $252,100 (it was $156,100 in 2000)







Elevation: 100 feet

Land area: 25.6 square miles.

Population density--2905 per square mile--average.

In-Depth Facts and Figures as listed below, plus other information:

·        Climate Charts

1.      Average Temperature

2.      Precipitation (Rain)

3.      Humidity

4.      Wind Speed (MPH)

5.      Snowfall

6.      Sunshine

7.      Cloudy Days

·        Tornado Activity History

·        Hospitals & Medical

·        Airports

·        Colleges/Universities

·        High Schools

·        Locations of Interest

·        Shopping Centers

·        Churches

·        Lakes/Streams/Rivers/Creeks/Parks

·        Tourist Attractions

·        Banks

·        Housing Costs Information

·        Crime Statistics

·        Radio Stations AM/FM

·        TV Broadcast Stations

·        Discussion Forums


For the above information and photos, click this link:


Total Tax Burden--Data for Calculation

Sales Taxes
State Sales Tax:
6.5% (food and prescription drugs exempt) Local taxes may increase total tax to 8.9%.  Tax is 6.8% on sales and leases of motor vehicles.
Gasoline Tax: 34 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 34 cents/gallon
Cigarette Tax: $2.03/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes
No state personal income tax
Retirement Income: Not taxed.

Property Taxes 
Property taxes account for about 30% of Washington's total state and local taxes.  Properties are appraised at 100% of fair market value.  A property tax exemption program is available for persons age 61 or older, or persons unable to work due to a physical disability.  The property, which can include up to an acre of land, must be owner/buyer occupied.  The state offers a property tax exemption program for those whose household income does not exceed $35,000.  If your income is between $35,000 and $40,000, you may qualify for the tax deferral program.  If your annual income for the application year does not exceed $35,000 your home will be exempt from all excess and special levies approved by voters.  If your household income is between $25,001 and $30,000, you are exempt from regular levies on $50,000 or 35% of the assessed value, whichever is greater (but not more than 70,000 of the assessed value.


The state's tax deferral program works in conjunction with the exemption program.  A senior citizen or disabled person may defer property taxes or special assessments on their residence if they meet certain age, disability, ownership, occupancy and income requirements.  The state pays the taxes on behalf of the claimant and files a lien on the property to indicate the state has an interest in the property.  The deferred taxes must be repaid to the state plus 5% interest when the owner dies, sells or moves from the home, or doesn't have sufficient equity in the property.  Qualified people may participate in both or one of these programs.

For more details on property taxes, click here or call 800-647-7706.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes
Washington replaced the inheritance tax in 1982 with an estate tax.  A new Washington estate tax took effect May 17, 2005.  Estates of decedents who die on or after May 17th are subject to the estate tax.  This is a stand-alone tax that incorporates some provisions of the Internal Revenue Code as of January 1, 2005.  However, the Washington estate tax is not affected by the termination of the federal estate tax in 2010.  The new law allows an exemption of $1.5 million for decedents dying in 2005 and $2 million for decedents dying on or after January 1, 2006.  These exemptions match the estate tax exemptions under the federal estate tax law for 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.  The exemption increases to $3.5 million in 2009.  The estate tax rates start at 10% on values in excess of $1.5 million and increase gradually to 19% on amounts in excess of $9 million.

For further information, visit the Washington Department of Revenue site or call 800-647-7706.

Cost of Living Calculators Links:

Wikipedia Information Link:,_Washington







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