Affordable Houses Brought within Reach of Seattle by Ferry

The Wenatchee Departing Seattle

The Wenatchee Departing Seattle

Washington State Ferries

The Washington State Ferry System connects Seattle and the nearby mainland to the many islands and peninsulas around Puget Sound.  Residents rely on the system to connect them to centers of employment and commerce.  Seattleites ride the ferries to reach recreational opportunities.  And tourists frequent the system in the summer to enjoy the ride and the beautiful destinations the ferries make accessible.

Washington Ferry Statistics

The size of the ferry system is truly impressive:

  • The largest ferry system in the US with 23 million riders per year
  • The third largest system in the world
  • 10 million vehicles carried per year – more than any other system in the world
  • The system operates 22 ferries distributed among 9 routes, averaging 450 crossings per day
  • The largest ferries, such as the Wenatchee pictured here, can carry 2,500 passengers and 202 vehicles at a time

Seattle-Bremerton Crossing

This is one of the most popular crossing for tourists.  You can walk on at the waterfront in Seattle, enjoy the one hour ride across to Bremerton, and then either explore downtown Bremerton or get right back on the ferry for the return trip.  The view is varied and tremendous all along the way:

  • The dramatic departure from the Seattle waterfront with the skyline of skyscrapers behind
  • The new Great Seattle Wheel
  • The huge cruiseships docked on Elliott Bay
  • The port with its huge cranes and cargo ships
  • West Seattle and Alki Beach that reach out towards the ferries
  • The Olympic Mountains coming closer as one approaches Bremerton
  • The forests and waterfront homes lining the shore as the ferry winds its way through Sinclair Inlet


Ferry Loaded with Vehicles

Ferry Loaded with Vehicles

Two clients I’ve worked with this year have made me aware of how ferries can figure into real estate planning:

Commuting by Ferry

A client taking up a new job in South Seattle became aware from his co-workers of Port Orchard and nearby communities on the Kitsap peninsula as an affordable alternative to King County house prices.  Port Orchard is serviced by the Fauntleroy-Southworth ferry route with a relatively quick crossing (30 minutes direct or 45 minutes, when stopping at Vashon Island).  He realized that he could afford a larger house on more land than was possible near to his job in King County. He explained to me that the cost of commuting in one own’s vehicle alone adds up to $6,000 per year.  He participates in a van pool that brings the cost down to $1,000 per year.  The county owns the 15 passenger van.  Riders meet at a park-and-ride near to the ferry terminal.  The van gets priority loading onto the ferry, so they never miss a crossing.


Vacation Homes around Puget Sound

A second client searched all around Puget Sound for a waterfront vacation home.  He wanted a nice beach for the kids, a project house he could work on, and a reasonable drive under 2 hours.  He also gravitated to Port Orchard for its affordability.  We found him a great deal on an estate sale that had been empty for 5 years.  The house was set forward on the beach ahead of its neighbors for some privacy.  It has a great view of Colvos Passage, Vashon Island, the tippy-top of Mount Rainier, and the downtown Seattle skyline in the distance.  He was delighted to find that the waterway in front of the house is full of delicious red crab.


Waterfront Homes near Bremerton

Waterfront Homes near Bremerton


About Bob Kelly

Experienced buyer's agent with eXp Realty based in Bellevue. I encourage my buyers to negotiate from low bids and save money. Service area is King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Thurston counties - even more widely for vacation homes. Specialties include vacation homes, working with investors, general home buyers, and listings. Based on my real estate investing experience, I can advise clients about property analysis, landlording, effective online advertising, running a vacation rental, creative financing (lease options, owner financing), flipping/rehabbing, and much more. Contact me at
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