Spanning counties in both Washington and Oregon, the Mid-Columbia Valley is named for the mighty Columbia River, which cuts through it from north to south. Connecting to both the Snake River and the Yakima River in Kennewick, the area was historically a hub for steamboats and railroads. The fertile valley gives life to orchards, vineyards, and strawberry farms throughout the area.
Generally considered a politically conservative region, the Mid-Columbia Valley has an overall rural feel and a rich history in the agriculture and food-processing industries. As more manufacturing is coming to the area, job opportunities are increasing, and more people are moving to the small cities in the region to support this growth. There is often plenty of land in eastern Washington and northeastern Oregon, so if you are considering building a new custom home, this area presents a good opportunity to find a property that matches your needs.
Size: 2,791 square miles
Major cities: Ephrata, Moses Lake, George, Royal City, Grand Coulee
Median property value: $153,800
At the northwest corner of the Mid-Columbia Valley lies Grant County. Most famous for the Grand Coulee Dam in the north, the county is also the state’s largest producer of potatoes. The climate has four distinct seasons, but with hot summers and cold winters, it’s not as temperate as other areas in the state. Agriculture is a primary industry in the economy, specifically farming of hardy crops that can withstand the colder winters, such as corn, onions, carrots, sugar beets, and of course potatoes.
With around 20,000 people, the largest city in the county is Moses Lake. Although the city’s economic base was historically agriculture, it has been expanding into manufacturing and technology in recent decades, with companies such as BMW, Boeing, and Dell having facilities in the area.
Size: 1,760 square miles
Major cities: Kennewick, Benton City, Prosser, Richland
Median property value: $188,300
Benton County is located south of Grant County and bordered on the south by Oregon. With the Columbia River bordering the county on three sides, it’s not surprising that the river continues to play a significant role in the local culture and economy. The much smaller Yakima River also provides recreational opportunities such as fishing, boating, and scenic hikes.
Kennewick is known as a winter paradise because of its mild winters, attracting retirees from throughout the larger region. Located along the famous Lewis and Clark Trail, the city is a popular attraction for tourists from all over the country. The historic downtown buildings maintain their quaint look and feel while housing modern amenities such as restaurants, breweries, wine bars, galleries, and local shops. Sports lovers will appreciate the many live athletic events hosted at the Toyota Center, including the regional hockey teams.
Size: 1,265 square miles
Major cities: Pasco, Mesa, Connell, Kahlotus
Median property value: $169,700
Franklin County sits just east of Benton County, with the Columbia River on the western border and the Snake River on the eastern side. Pasco, the largest city in the county, sits across the river from Kennewick, and together with Richland, the three make up the Tri-Cities area. Although Pasco has only around 60,000 residents, the combination of the three adjoining cities feels like a much larger metro area with around 280,000 residents.
The tri-cities region has been named one of the best places to raise a family by Kiplinger and also a top city for investing in property by CNN. Families considering relocating to the Mid-Columbia Valley should consider building a new custom home in the Tri-Cities area to benefit from the welcoming communities and historically stable property values.
Size: 1,930 square miles
Major cities: Ritzville, Othello
Median property value: $146,400
Just north of Franklin County, Adams County has a much more rural feel, a conservative culture, and a lower cost of living. Located just one hour from Spokane, Ritzville is a popular stop for tourists, partially because of the historic downtown with multiple buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. At the other end of the county, the largest city, Othello, is about an hour away from the Tri-Cities region.
The primary industry in the county is agriculture, particularly wheat and other dryland crops. Locals from all over the eastern part of the state come for the rodeo in Ritzville. The southwestern part of the county near Othello has much more irrigation, and the farming is more focused on fruits and vegetables. Families who want a rural experience and large plots of land should consider Adams County for building a new custom home.
Walla Walla County
Size: 1,299 square miles
Major cities: Walla Walla, Waitsburg, Prescott, College Place
Median property value: $191,700
South of Franklin county and bordered on the south by Oregon, Walla Walla County also skirts the Snake and Columbia Rivers on the west. The western tip of the county, which includes Burbank and Humorist, is near the Tri-Cities area and the many amenities it provides. Agriculture, specifically wheat and sweet onions, is one of the major economic bases in the county, in addition to vineyards and wineries.
The city of Walla Walla and its two suburbs are home to around 45,000 residents, the majority of the county’s population. With more than 100 wineries and top-tier restaurants, the area also attracts tourists who want to take in the scenic views and charming historic downtown. With athletic teams, performing arts, and above-average public schools, Walla Walla is an excellent place in the Mid-Columbia Valley for families to settle.
Size: 873 square miles
Major cities: Dayton, Starbuck
Median property value: $162,200
Columbia County sits east of Walla Walla County and is bordered on the south by Oregon. A relatively small county, it is also the state’s third-least populated. Residents tend to be more conservative, the overall feel is rural, and there are many retirees in the area. The economy is predominantly based on agriculture and food processing, especially wheat, asparagus, and peas.
The largest city is Dayton with around 2,500 residents. Both locals and visitors enjoy the historically preserved downtown area, which includes a stately courthouse, a restored train depot, and a pedestrian-friendly stroll. Although some families might have a more difficult time finding all of the amenities they desire, the area is well-suited to farmers and retirees who want a quiet lifestyle with expansive scenic views.
Size: 2,049 square miles
Major cities: Heppner, Boardman, Ione, Irrigon, Lexington
Median property value: $124,400
At the northern edge of Oregon, Morrow County is just south of Benton County in Washington. The local economy is primarily based on agriculture, food processing, lumber, livestock, and recreation, particularly along the Columbia River in the north.
A low cost of living and tight-knit communities make Morrow County appealing to families of all types. Heppner is home to an annual bicycle ride that follows a 108-mile scenic loop. Further north, Boardman sits on the Columbia River and provides jobs in food processing, power plants, and data centers.
Size: 3,231 square miles
Major cities: Pendleton, Mission, Pilot Rock, Stanfield, Hermiston, Athena
Median property value: $143,400
East of Morrow County, Umatilla County has three distinct communities: the Milton-Freewater area in the northeast, the area surrounding Pendleton in the central part of the county, and the West-End. Because of its proximity to Washington state, Milton-Freewater is primarily connected to the Walla Walla community and its resources. The other two areas center largely around Pendleton and Hermiston, respectively.
The largest city is Hermiston, which is predicted by Portland State University to experience 80 percent of the growth in this county over the next 15 years. One reason for this growth is the construction of an Amazon data center and distribution centers for large corporations such as UPS, FedEx, and Walmart. In addition to this expansion into new industries, agriculture continues to be a significant contributor to the economy with cultivation of potatoes, corn, onions, and at least 200 other crops.
If you’re thinking of building a new custom home in the Mid-Columbia Valley, visit the Adair Homes office in Kennewick or call 509-627-6870 to discuss your project. If you need to buy land, we can help connect you with a Realtor who specializes in land sales, secure financing, and design the home of your dreams. Contact us today to get started.