Moving to Tri-Cities, WA? Here’s 7 Things You Need to Know

By in Tri-Cities, WA with 25 Comments

(Last updated: July 2023)

Are you thinking about moving to the Tri-Cities? You might be wondering whether you should look for a home in Kennewick … or maybe Pasco … or maybe Richland. Or maybe even West Richland. (Yes, there are more than three cities in the Tri-Cities. More on that in a moment.)

You might be afraid that you’re gonna need an umbrella most days because your new address will have “WA” in it. (You won’t!)

You might be wondering if there’s anything to do in the Tri-Cities. (There is!)

I’ve been in your shoes. Hi, I’m Cari McGee. My husband and I moved to Kennewick in 1994 and had a ton of questions! Then four years later, we moved to West Richland. (Yep, that’s part of the Tri-Cities, too.) And then, six years after that, I became a licensed Realtor®. Since then, I’ve sold more than 500 homes in practically every neighborhood across the Tri-Cities!

That’s my way of saying you’re in good hands with this article.

We didn’t plan to live our whole lives in the Tri-Cities. My husband was a TV sportscaster when we moved here, and we were planning to work our way up to bigger cities every few years. But his career began to change right when we decided to start a family — and after just a couple years of living here, we knew the Tri-Cities was a great place to raise a family. (We were right!)

So if you’re thinking about or planning to relocate to the Tri-Cities, read on — there’s a lot of info here. And if you have any questions, get in touch anytime! We love to help folks learn more about this great area.

7 Things to Know About Moving to Tri-Cities, WA

Whether you’re thinking about moving to Kennewick, Pasco, or Richland, here’s what you need to know…starting with the fact that locals consider the “Tri-Cities” to be more than just those three cities.

1) There’s more than three cities in the Tri-Cities.

Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland are technically the “Tri-Cities.” They’re all joined together at the confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers. But when we talk about the Tri-Cities, us locals could also be talking about

  • West Richland — which is, of course, west of Richland
  • Benton City — southwest of West Richland
  • Burbank — east of Pasco
  • Finley — the least-populated of the “suburbs” and located east/southeast of Kennewick

Here’s what it looks like on a great map that was originally created by a Wikipedia user:

map of Tri-Cities WA with suburbs

Benton City looks like it’s a bit disconnected from the rest of the “Tri-Cities,” but West Richland is growing very quickly and spreading to the west. The newest residential developments are on the west side of West Richland, so it’s only a matter of time until we’re all connected. (In fact, there are already a bunch of homes and wineries on Hwy. 224 between Benton City and West Richland.)

2) We’re growing!

The Tri-Cities added about 36,000 people between 2010 and 2018, according to the Census Bureau — and we’re expected to add another 112,000 over the next 20 years! As of July 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates our total population at a little more than 311,000 people.

The state’s Office of Financial Management recently published its 2023 population estimates, showing Kennewick as the most populous city in the area (86,740 residents), followed by Pasco (81,280) and Richland (63,320). But you see the growth no matter where you drive around town — builders are working on new homes and new hotels and businesses are going up!

photo of a new construction home being built in West Richland

3) It doesn’t rain constantly like you think it does in Seattle.

When you live in the Tri-Cities, you get used to having conversations like this when you meet a stranger:

Other person: Where are you from?
You: Washington state
Other person: Seattle?
You: No, the Tri-Cities. About 3 hours southeast of Seattle.
Other person: (frowns) Oh. You must be used to rain.

No! We only get about 7-8 inches of rain per year! But everyone lumps us in with Seattle and its 38 inches of rain per year. No thanks. The Tri-Cities has really wonderful weather. We get all four seasons here. It may snow in the winter (we average about four inches of snow per year) and it’s not unusual to have a few weeks with temperatures above 100 in the summer. Spring and Fall are absolutely magical.

4) We have all kinds of outdoor activities through all four seasons.

No matter what time of year it is, the Tri-Cities will have something to offer if you’re into outdoor sports and activities.

We have more than 30 walking/hiking/running trails, ranging from riverside to mountaintop. The Sacajawea Heritage Trail is popular with bicyclists and walkers/runners. It’s a scenic, 23-mile loop that touches Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland on both sides of the Columbia River. I’m a big fan of hiking up Badger Mountain, and you can do that year-round as long as there’s no snow on the ground. (Well, I wouldn’t hike it with snow on the ground, but other people do.) Biking and running are also super-popular here — there are a lot of races all year long if you’re competitive, or you can just use some of the same paths and trails that the runners do.

We have 10 terrific golf courses that will offer challenges to golfers of any skills, including a couple that used to host pro and high-level college tournaments. High school sports are really popular in the Tri-Cities — our teams often play for and win state titles! We also have a junior hockey team — the Tri-City Americans — and a minor league baseball team, the Tri-City Dust Devils. If you’re into sports and the outdoors, you’ll love it here!

Our biggest event all year long is the Tri-Cities Water Follies and Air Show — a three-day event that draws people from all over the country on the last weekend of July. It features thrilling hydroplane boat races on the Columbia River, incredible jets and historic planes flying overheard, all kinds of food and fun stuff for people of all ages.

5) We’re the wine capital of the Pacific Northwest.

The experts say that the weather and soil here is similar to the Bordeaux region of France. Pretty cool, huh? That probably explains why we have more than 200 wineries within a 1-hour drive — many of which have won international wine awards. Heck, even CNN has noticed our status as the hub for wine lovers in this part of the country.

photo of a Tagaris Winery sign

This wine scene makes up a big part of the local economy. The local tourism board is always running ads across the state and even further afield to promote wine tourism. We have companies that offer winery tours via car and/or limousine, and we even have wine cruises along the river that are a perfect evening out for you and a loved one, or you and a group of friends! Several years ago, my brothers and I took our mom out on a limo-guided wine tour for her 80th birthday, and it was wonderful!

6) We have a great arts scene!

The community arts scene is alive and well in the Tri-Cities. We have great groups and organizations like the Mid-Columbia Symphony, Mid-Columbia Mastersingers and Mid-Columbia Ballet. Our local high schools put on award-winning productions every year — we sponsored the Hanford High School drama department while our youngest child was involved with their productions. And even younger thespians can get started at the Academy of Children’s Theatre.

We have regular productions and events at the Richland Players theatre, and there’s a new outdoor theater — the HAPO Community Stage — not far away also in Richland. We have several music festivals in warm weather months, and one of our biggest events of the year is Art In The Park, which fills Howard Amon Park in Richland on the same weekend as the Water Follies.

7) We have a great food scene!

I kid you not: 20 years ago, it was a huge deal when Outback and Olive Garden opened restaurants here. Like, people lined up around the block to get in. Not just on opening day, but for weeks! Nothing against those restaurants — we’ve eaten there plenty of times! — but overall, the food options in Tri-Cities were pretty dire back then.

Today, it’s a totally different story! We have tons of great, locally-owned restaurants offering all kinds of food — Italian, Mexican, Indian, Asian and more. We have a Brazilian steakhouse, great sushi restaurants, incredible brewpubs and wonderful bakeries. Guy Fieri even came for a visit during the winter of 2018-19, and six of our great local restaurants were featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” in 2019. Our food truck-scene has really taken off in the past few years. There are several food truck hubs popping up across the Tri-Cities offering some of the best food in town.

If you like to cook, or prefer to eat fresh food at home, we also have excellent farmer’s markets that run through most of spring, summer, and fall. Fresh fruits, vegetables, gourmet spices and so much more — all sourced from local farms.

And all of this adds up to give any foodie plenty of things to love about the Tri-Cities!

photo of fresh fruits at the Richland Farmers Market

Where to Live in the Tri-Cities

Homes in the Tri-Cities are affordable compared to our big-city neighbors to the west. Over the years, and especially recently, I’ve regularly helped Seattleites and Portlanders find homes here that are every bit as beautiful as the ones they were living in — but they cost far less than what they would have paid for something similar over there. For the latest info on median home prices and other local data, see the recent articles on our blog in the Tri-Cities Housing Market category.

If you don’t have a preference on where to live, start with this map-based home search. But if you have a good idea of where you want to be, here are links to each city:

Kennewick homes for sale | Pasco homes for sale | Richland homes for sale | West Richland homes for sale | Benton City homes for sale | Burbank homes for sale | Finley homes for sale

Let me warn you about what you might see if you’re browsing homes on Zillow. The Zestimates for Tri-Cities homes are really bad, like much worse than they are in Seattle, Portland, and across the country. In 2019, we spent six months studying the accuracy of Tri-Cities Zestimates — comparing them to the actual sales price of more than 500 homes.

If you’re looking at the Zestimate of a Tri-Cities home, you can assume that it’s too high by almost 6%. So, if you see a home with a $400,000 Zestimate, the home’s actual value is probably closer to $375,000. And get this: Across the Tri-Cities, about 16 percent of Zestimates were at least $50,000 wrong. Yikes!

What is it Like to Live in the Tri-Cities?

The Tri-Cities is big enough that you can enjoy many big-city luxuries. I mentioned the art scene above, and all the great restaurants that have opened in the past 10-15 years. But we’re also small enough that it won’t be unusual for you to see cows, horses, or other animals grazing in yards on the outskirts of each town. There’s really a great mix of small-town and mid-sized city. We don’t have an Apple Store or a Trader Joe’s — those are two of the stores that locals are always clamoring to get. Maybe someday!

photo of Howard Amon Park and the Columbia River in Richland, Washington

A lot of Tri-Cities life surrounds the rivers. The Yakima and Columbia intersect the area and meet up with the Snake just east of Pasco. Some of our best restaurants offer amazing river views while you eat. We have a lot of boat owners here, and the river is busy most of spring, summer, and fall. Pasco has a couple rows of beautiful riverfront homes. Kennewick and Richland both have a lot of riverfront parkland, and those are busy year-round with families having fun, or people walking, jogging, biking, playing frisbee golf … you name it.

When it’s time to leave town for vacation or a business trip, you’ll appreciate our airport (PSC is the airport code) with plenty of options to get you wherever you’re going. These airlines serve the Tri-Cities Airport:

  • Alaska – flies to/from Seattle
  • Delta – flies to/from Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis
  • United – flies to/from Denver and San Francisco
  • Allegiant – flies to/from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix/Mesa
  • Avelo – flies to/from Burbank, CA

You can drive to Spokane in about two hours, and it takes ~3.5 hours to drive to either Seattle or Portland.

Are the Tri-Cities Safe?

The Tri-Cities is a very safe place to live! West Richland has been named one of the safest cities in the whole state more than once, and Kennewick/Pasco/Richland don’t rank too far further down those lists. We’re small enough and safe enough that, on the rare occasions when there is a serious crime … it’s BIG NEWS.

I’m not allowed to answer your questions about types of crimes or crime rates in specific cities or neighborhoods, but you can call the non-emergency police phone lines to ask about any neighborhood you’re considering to ask them about crimes in that area.

What About Tri-Cities Schools?

Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland each have their own school districts. The Richland School District also serves the city of West Richland with both elementary and middle schools. Learn more at the links below.

I’m also not allowed to answer specific questions about schools, but you can look up school and district information on

We also have several higher learning options in town, including WSU Tri-Cities (4-year), Columbia Basin College (2-year) and Charter College (career training).

Final Thoughts on Moving to the Tri-Cities

We really love living in the Tri-Cities — so much so that my husband and I changed our career advancement plans 25+ years ago and decided to settle here and start a family. We think you’ll love it, too! As you can see by now, there’s a lot to love — great weather, plenty of outdoor activities, great wineries and restaurants, a vibrant arts scene, and so much more. It’s a great place to live, work, and play. It’s safe and the people are super friendly.

If there’s something I didn’t include in this article, or a question that I didn’t answer, drop me a note anytime. You can use the “Text Us” option below, or email me here, or just call or text me directly at 509-430-5342. I’d love to talk to you about the Tri-Cities and make sure you have all the info you need if you’re thinking about moving here.

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About The Author
Cari McGee

My husband and I came to the Tri-Cities in 1994, and we thought it would be a temporary stop on our way to larger cities. He was a television sports anchor at the time, and we planned to go wherever the "next step up" took us. Twenty-plus years later, we're still here and we've loved every minute of it! We have two children now, and we've found the Tri-Cities area is a wonderful place to raise a family. It's a great place to do outdoorsy things -- I like to hike Badger Mountain or run along the river path. I also love reading ... by a cozy fire in the winter or a beautiful picture window in the summer (with the A/C on!). I've been a licensed Realtor since 2004. I earned my managing broker's license in 2016, which means I can run my own brokerage, or create a team of real estate agents and supervise them, which is exactly what I did when I formed the Cari McGee Real Estate Team in 2018! We have administrative and marketing personnel, as well as additional agents to serve you. I became a director of the Tri-Cities Association of Realtors Board of Directors in 2016, became Secretary/Treasurer of the organization, and was elected to Vice President in 2019. Want to talk about real estate? Click here to schedule a meeting with me!


  1. Dennis m steever says:

    Thinking of Richland area. Need room for parking rv,car trailer. And need a shop for 3 or more cars. 3plus bdrm,2bath,ra.bler,single level

  2. Cari McGee says:

    HI, Dennis!  Thanks for letting us know you’re thinking about moving to the Richland area. We’d love to help!  One of the agents on the team will be reaching out to you soon to learn more and help you with your house hunt.

  3. Kenneth Martin says:

    Hi Carri, my situation is a bit different. I’m retired mil. 61 years old.. I have friend with COPD living in Martinsburg WV. I know. Long way from WA. I livre and work in Spokane. I drive the Para Trans bus and love my job. To give him hope, I talk with him about moving to Washington. I have alsways loved Cntral Washington. I will make a road trip this summer to look around. Please keep me in mind. Thanks Ken martin

  4. Jane says:

    What is the cost of living in tri city

  5. Edward Anthony Cifu says:

    Would like information about the area.

  6. Marlon J Dancel says:

    Hi Cari, I just got approved for a job transfer to PSC Airport. Potential move in is first week of December 2021.Just sold my house here in Las Vegas but will probably rent for a few months (until the market cools down). I would like your advise/opinion on best rental places in the Tri Cities, preferably no more than half hour away from PSC Airport.
    Thank you

  7. Kajsa Lethbridge says:

    Hi there Marlon! So exciting you got your job approval to move to the area! I have emailed you directly and look forward to helping you with your home search!

  8. Chanel Wilson says:

    Hello, my name is Chanel and my family and I have been wanting to move to the Tri-Cities area for a while now. We live in rural Alaska, delta Junction to be exact and to be honest, the cost of living in Alaska is expensive. Just the cost of heating will run you upwards over $3000/ a winter. The cost of all types of fuel is up as well. We currently pay a mortgage but if we plan to relocate, we’d like to rent for a while. There are a lot of differences between states when it comes to the cost of living and the calculator above doesn’t really give me enough information I’m looking for. I’d appreciate if someone could email me for a little more in depth info. Thank you

  9. Bridget Parks says:

    Hello. Best place to stay when coming to check out the area? Hotels that would put me near everything?

    • Cari McGee says:

      Hi, Bridget! I suggest any of the hotels in the Columbia Point area of Richland. They’re pretty centrally located. There is a Courtyard by Marriott, a TownePlace Suites, also by Marriott, and a hotel called The Lodge at Columbia Point. There are more in the area as well, but I would center a stay in that area.

  10. Stephanie Farafontoff says:

    Nothing was mentioned about the health care for us older folks.  I’ve heard its tough to get a new patient appt. Is this the case?  I’m considering moving there but my biggest concern is having good medical care.  And the availability.   

    • Cari McGee says:

      Hi, Stephanie! Great question, and I haven’t heard that that is the case. Let me speak to some friends in the medical field and find out their take. I’ll message you when I know more!

  11. Russ Brumley says:

    Going in blind. I currently live in Marysville,Wa, maybe 40-mins north of Seattle. My current home was last appraised at 1.103, It is 100% paid for, so maybe worse case scenario, my house sells for 940,000, that leaves me a little wiggle room, I’m looking at the price range 0f 700,000-750,000, from what I have read “West Richland” seems to be a nice area, I’m 63 now, No kids, Single, lived in Western Washington all my life, really tired of the rain, I think that I should be able to find a pretty nice home in that price range, I like nice modern homes with nice looking yards, I currently live on 2,45 acre lot here in Marysville ( the forest ) I will require a fenced backyard as I have a small dog, Also sick of the coyotes running through my yard….

    • Cari McGee says:

      Just sent you an email about all of that!

      • Karen W. says:

        Hi, I’ve been reading through the comments and I’m looking to relocate. I’m a recent transplant to Colorado Springs from CA, and I’m unhappy here. I wanted 4 seasons again, but the wind here is more than unpleasant. And I’m just 63 and looking again for a safe place I can retire and also help raise my 4 year old grandson. I’m not fond of much rain, but love the snow. Is the trivalley a good place to (finally!) relocate for my needs? Would you send me some info on the healthcare system, safety and school ratings? Thank you!

  12. angie robles says:


    We are retiring and have two 10 year olds. We are looking for a great safe area to raise our children. Politics have taken a heavy toll in our country and I want to live somewhere where there are not a lot of political flags waiving around. We want to beClose to amenities and local sports. I would like a home with at least an acre to grow fruit trees and chickens. Can a place like this be found in the tri cities?

  13. Glenn Fink says:

    Hi Cari! I live in West Richland too, and I’m planning to move (to get out from under a huge mortgage) in August or September. If you’d be interested in helping me sell my home I’d love to hear from you. I love that you are active on social media, and you’re a very good writer. Please contact me if you’re interested. 


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