Dueling Retirement States: The Pacific Northwest (OR vs. WA)

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

— This article continues our Dueling Retirement States series. See Further Reading at end for links to the other regions compared in the series —

February 16, 2015 — The Pacific Northwest has continued to experience amazing population growth since the end of World War II. Oregon’s population, for example, grew by 400,000 between 2000 and 2010, and almost 2/3 of that was net in-migration. Many of the area’s new residents are 20 and 30 somethings who have come for jobs and the great out of doors. But another demographic segment flocking to the region for its beauty, outdoor recreation, and in many cases, to be near their adult children, is the huge baby boomer group. In this article we will compare and contrast these 2 vital states, Oregon and Washington. Population and income data is from American Fact Finder-U.S. Census Bureau.

A Few Facts
Washington is the more populous of the 2 states. It had a 1990 population of just under 4.9 million, went to 5.9 million in 2000, and climbed to 7.1 million in 2014 – a 45% increase in 25 years. Oregon’s population was 2.8 million in 1990, 3.4 million in 2000, and just under 4 million in 2015 – a 43% increase over that span. Washington has a younger makeup than Oregon – 13.6% of its population is 65+, compared to 15.5% of Oregon’s (the total U.S. % is in between those 2 at 14.1%).

Economics and Home Prices.
Oregon and Washington were not hit as hard by the 2006-7 housing meltdown as many other states were. Zillow’s Home Value Index for Oregon homes was $242,300 in early 2015, up 6.3% over the previous year. The highest priced Oregon Metro is Portland at $297,400 and the lowest was Salem at $168,800. The 10 year low for Oregon home values was about $200,000 in 2012. By comparison, the Home Value Index for the entire USA is $179,200, a 6.6% increase yr. to yr.

Meanwhile over in Washington the Home Value Index was a bit higher at $266,200, up 8% vs. the previous year. The lowest price real estate metro is Tacaoma at $178,800, Seattle was valued at $452,600, and Bellevue the highest at $570,300.

Seattle skyline

Cost of Living
The Numbeo.com Cost of Living + Rent Index is 59.4 for Portland (OR) and 78.21 for Seattle. Since the Index for New York City is 100, that means both cities are less expensive than the Big Apple, with it being cheaper to live in Portland.

Climate
Being close to the same latitude, Washington and Oregon tend to have similar climates. The actual biggest differences are the very wet coastal sections of these states with their desert-like eastern reaches. In Washington the western side of the Olympic Peninsula receives as much as 160 inches of precipitation annually, making it the wettest area of the 48 lower states and a temperate rainforest. However in the rain shadow created east of the Cascades that area receives as little as 6″ of rain annually. Mountain ranges include the Olympics in the west and then the Cascades, with the Selkirks in the northeast. The northeast part of the state tends to have temperature extremes; hot in summer and cold in winter. In Seattle the temperature is quite moderate – the average high is 46 in January and 76 in August.

Over in Oregon the situation is much the same. The western portion is very wet in winter and spring, dry in summer. The eastern two thirds of Oregon have cold, snowy winters and very dry summers; much of it is semiarid to arid. Most of the population lives in the Willamette Valley, which is considered a mild climate for its latitude.

Tax Environment Comparison
Both states have reason to be considered tax friendly. Washington is one of the few states not to have an income tax. The sales tax is 6.5% statewide and 9.5% in Seattle and some other cities. In Oregon the reverse is true: no sales tax but a stiff income tax in its place. The top marginal rate is a very high 11%, which kicks in over $250,000. Although the tax rate starts at 5%, a couple earning just over $16,000 would pay 9%. Oregon exempts social security and some pension income from state income tax. Oregon seems to treat capital gains as regular income.

Both states offer senior property tax exemptions to those with lower incomes. The data below is from the Tax Foundation and Tax-Rates.org. For more detail about taxation and other information about each state see our mini State Retirement Guides.

State
Oregon
Washington
Tax Burden Ranking
16th
27th
State Inc Tax
5% – 11%
None
State Sales Tax*
None
6.5%
Med Prop Tax Rate**
.87%
.92%

*Localities may add additional sales taxes
** On appraised market value

State
Oregon
Washington
Taxation of Social Security
None
None
Taxation of Pensions
Yes, in-state & milit. exempt
None
Inheritance/Estate Tax
Yes – Estate tax on over $1 million
Yes – Estate tax on over $2 million

Where to Live by State
Oregon State Guide
Both states are renowned for their outdoor recreational possibilities, with outstanding hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, and kayaking – among other activities. They also each have a vibrant big city and some appealing smaller towns as well.

Oregon
Topretirements has reviews of 22 Oregon towns and 70 active communities. The Portland and the north central area has just under half of the state population, and many of these people are retirees. Some live in prosperous suburbs like Beaverton. But there are plenty of other towns spread around the state where baby boomers can enjoy retirement. Some retirees like the idea of living in a college town like Eugene, a bit to the south of Portland.

Coastal Oregon
There are some small towns along the Oregon coast that make beautiful places to retire. Tiny Depoe Bay is one of them, and Bandon (with its incredible golf courses) is another.

The Beach at Bandon


To the east
Folks looking for a smaller town with a tremendous reputation among outdoor oriented people might look into Bend, which is more to the east.

Down south
Some of the nicest towns in the state are located to the south, sometimes close to the California border. Ashland, which hosts one of the largest Shakespeare Festivals on earth, is one of them. Famous for fruit growing, Medford, in the south central region in the Rogue Valley is especially nice for retirees. Tiny Jacksonville is a former gold mining town near Medford that is quite charming. Nearby towns like Klamath Falls and Grants Pass are retirement spots with pluses that will attract some people (lower cost of living and the outdoors) and minuses (not as prosperous).

Washington State
Washington State Guide
Eastern Washington, courtesy of Wikipedia and JGkatz Eastern Washington, courtesy of Wikipedia and JGkatz

Washington has a number of different areas to consider for retirement, all with different climates and types of towns. At Topretirements we have reviews of 25 WA towns and 94 active adult/55 communities.Here we will consider some of the state’s best retirement areas.

Olympic Peninsula
Much of this area is rainforest, characteristic by tremendous precipitation from the wet air of the Pacific hitting the coastal mountains. There are a few terrific towns on the edges of this area include Olympia (the state capitol) to the south, Port Angeles, the especially charming Port Townsend, and the “Blue Hole”, Sequim.

Seattle area
In addition to the major city of Seattle and all of its interesting neighborhoods, there are appealing suburbs that you might live in like affluent Redmond. Going north there are the beautiful San Juan Islands (which might be a good, but expensive second home site) and highly rated Bellingham, which has unbelievable natural scenery from Puget Sound on the west and Mount Baker to the east. Anacortes is another beautiful and low key city on the water.

Eastern region
Located more in the center of the state is the fruit growing area around Yakima, which is less expensive. Further to the east is the college town and wine region of Walla Walla, and then tucked in the corner is Spokane.

Fields near Walla Walla

Coastal
Going south along the coast towards Oregon you run into the delightful community of Ocean Shores. See the extensive report on that town by one of our Members, Rich: It is Rocket Science, How a Space Engineer Found His Best Place to Retire.


Comparisons and Observations
– Both Oregon and Washington have many wonderful places to retire. In each you can choose from a youthful big city (Portland or Seattle), college towns, or small towns. You can be near mountains or water – sometimes both.
– Oregon is slightly cheaper in terms of real estate, but the median home price is higher than the national median in both.
– From a tax standpoint if you don’t want an income tax Washington would be the choice, but if your tax Achilles heel is sales tax, pick Oregon.

For further reference:
State Retirement Guides
Gulf Coast Retirement: Sun, Tax-friendly, and a Lower Coast of Living
Retirement 101 Mid-Atlantic States: MD, DE, VA, NJ
Florida Retirement 101
Dueling Carolinas: NC vs. SC
Dueling States: Arizona vs. Florida
California Retirement 101
Retirement in the Southwest: AZ, NM, and Utah
The Mountain States: CO, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY

Comments? We and all your fellow members love to know what you are thinking. Please share your thoughts about retirement in these 2 states in the Comments section below.



Posted by Admin on February 16th, 2015

77 Comments »

  1. Living in Portland since 1962, I’ve seen a lot of growth but it’s controlled. What the Portland metro area has over Seattle metro is a great light rail system as well as a lot less traffic.75 minutes from the coast, an hour from Timberline on Mt. Hood and three hours from high desert in central Oregon, with Bend being the absolute best area for golf, hiking, fly fishing….anything out doors. It’s a great state to retire in. Best bet….come stay for two weeks in Fall-Winter and then do the same in Spring-Summer. Awesome area.

    by John — February 18, 2015

  2. Don’t know about WA, but I’ve lived in Depoe Bay, and currently am living in Salem. Unless you are wealthy, or a healthy pioneer planning to die chopping your own wood, Oregon is not a good place for middle to low income elderly. There are next to no services available when health fails or disabilities occur, unless you are on Medicaid or can afford private-pay. And while you say Salem’s housing price average is around $168,000, you wouldn’t want to live in it. For that price you will get a) high crime neighborhood, b) flood plain, c) house built before 1940 with aging septic tank, or d) 2 or more of the above. Salem taxes are extremely high because of the tremendous number of government buildings (federal, stake, county, city–including 3 prisons), none of which pay property taxes. On the coast, it’s beautiful–but very little quality medical care, which means for serious illness you will be making a 3-4 hour round trip drive over the mountains to inland doctors. Oregon’s great if you’re healthy and outdoor activities are your interests. But, in our experience, that’s about it.

    by Andrea — February 18, 2015

  3. I must agree with Andrea. I will soon be widowed and plan on retiring alone. As green and beautiful as the summers are in the Pacific Northwest, one pays a high price during the bleak and rainy winters. I have explored Salem, Oregon and a decent home costs plenty. The taxes are less than here on the East Coast, but not much less. Medical care is an important consideration when planning to retire. We may be healthy now, but that could change overnight, as is what is happening with my 64 year old husband. I attended college at UVA and am now exploring Waynesboro, VA with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as areas southwest of Charleston, SC. Arizona is too dry and Florida is too humid. Because I cannot afford the 6 and 6 lifestyle, I have to find my retirement in a place that is tolerable year-round as well as affordable and safe. I have not been able to find anywhere in either Oregon or Washington that meets these criteria. I would appreciate any suggestions from others in my situation. I love to golf, ride my bike and exercise. On the other hand, I like to sit on my deck and breathe in clean air, read and listen to music. I am having a very difficult time making a decision.

    by Joanne — February 25, 2015

  4. Seniors are leaving everywhere in the U.S. for everywhere else in the U.S. in an attempt to find an area where they have the amenities which mean the most to them as well as an affordable, clean, safe living environment with the most necessary services readily available.

    I have lived all over this country throughout my lifetime and I can tell you for a fact that, unless you are very wealthy (and even then you will make some compromises) no such place exists in America.

    Oh, it could. Plenty of such places once did and certainly could, but unless there is a concerted effort to create them, these near-perfect retirement homes, especially for low to middle income retirees, simply dont exist. Like our dream jobs, our dream retirement homes are mostly imaginary.

    First of all, be realistic. Baby boomers are a gross commodity as they have been throughout their lives. And businesses will go after their after tax dollars as they always have done. Know this and plan accordingly. Senior retirement areas not slated for assisted living or luxury living are not a top priority as the elderly are not a top priority. Many senior retirement apts/houses are old buildings with problems inherent in old bldgs including maintanance and roaches. Cities may provide the services you need, certainly medical choices and the like, but know that walking around the neighborhood may not be a reality as seniors are major targets of the high crime areas in which many city retirement areas are nestled. If you have any doubt, talk to a volunteer at the “Senior vs Crime” program of the Florida Attorney Generals office.

    Be wise. Dont be conned. We dont have many decades left, most of us, dont waste it spending forever looking for that perfect retirement home. Choose what matters most to you, if you find anything else, consider yourself very, very lucky indeed. Perhaps the best way to look at retirement places is to choose what you cannot bear to live without then delight in whatever new discoveries you find there.

    by Chris — February 25, 2015

  5. For us and I would imagine many other Seniors it is not really a question of where we want to live – it is a fact of life as to where we can afford to live out the rest of our lives in hopefully a comfortable environment and have the finances to enjoy at least the basics of life.

    by Robert — February 26, 2015

  6. I could not agree more with Chris about the alleged “shangrila” of retirement places in this once great nation.I too have lived in many places from Alaska to Arkansas to California and in between and have yet to find that mysterious “best place” to squat.My advice to all is go with the flow and stop chasing rainbows since the money grubbers will be hot on your trail for every nickel and dime they can steal from you. We are all on this rock for a short time so make the best of what you have and stop living in a make believe world.

    by JB — February 26, 2015

  7. Has anyone lived in Spokane WA? I understand the weather is good and was curious about other pros and cons of that area of the pacific NW. I am reasonably sure I will end up in the southeast, but love to read about potential areas elsewhere and hope to get the thread back on track

    by elaine — February 26, 2015

  8. Elaine,I lived in the Spokane area several times over the years.The area has cold winters and hot summers,a true 4 season place.In the summers the downtown area can get smoggy,so they used to have emissions testing for cars,not sure if they still do.I lived in Cheney so was exempt then.A lot of Californians moved into the area in the 1980’s and still are I assume,driving up real estate prices in the Spokane/Courdelene area.Northern Idaho has become a mecca for summertime tourists,and since it is right next door to Spokane,the entire area is affected.Not a bad thing I guess if you have a tourist business.Used to be the wages were low in Spokane,again,I don’t know anymore since I am retired.Personally,I think there are better places in the NW to live and visit.Just my 2 cents.

    by JB — February 27, 2015

  9. Spokane, I grew up in Spokane. I vist regulary to visit family. Other than more people the City has changed very little in the last 50 years. Housing costs are low for a mid to large size city in the west. Hot summers, not really, you might hit the 90s for a week or so but mostly 80’s. And with no humidity May through Sept are very comfortable. The winters cold! But with many more sunny days annually than the Portland or Seattle areas. There are 30 lakes within 30 miles of Spokane, a very serviceable airport, moderate traffic in the city center a very relaxed environment, excellent medical care, three unciversitiies including Gonzaga, Eastern Washington, and Whitworth.It’s a pretty ice spot. Livng in St. George Utah considering the move to Spokane as that’s where the grandkids are. Actually laughed out loud, rare for me, when I read Chri’s comment about leaving everywhere to go everywhere. Spot on!

    by Garyf — February 27, 2015

  10. Elaine,
    The weather can be very different in Washington and Oregon depending on which side of the mountains you live. Spokane is in the extreme eastern part of the state which is much dryer and has a wider range of temperatures. The coastal areas on the western side of the mountains are much wetter but you don’t have the temperature extremes like the eastern side.

    by Jim — February 27, 2015

  11. Have you thought about Idaho. We live 3 hours south of Spokane and 1 Hour east of Lewiston Idaho, we are 1 1/2 hours from Lolo Montana. Very SAFE area. low low crime .affordable living.
    We have 5 acres along the Clearwater River in the town of Kooskia. Idaho. We are considering selling lots to park an RV or build your own home. Lots 50 feet by 100 feet can be purchased for 20,000.00 and you can purchase as many as you want. Many sites include river frontage.

    by TJ — February 27, 2015

  12. Thanks for info on Spokane and surrounding areas…I hope to get to visit and keep in the back of my mind for retirement. The south east if more probable for me….and lately seems to provide me with more than enough ice and snow and cold.

    by elaine — February 28, 2015

  13. Hi,

    I’m looking for information on Walla Walla, WA. I know it’s a wine area and there’s a college there but that’s about it. Does anyone know any more? Thanks

    by Shumidog — March 1, 2015

  14. I am from the mid-west (St. Louis, MO), though I had lived in Denver, San Francisco, Eureka & Vancouver WA about 40 to 30 years ago. I have been looking at Washington State and with the high cost of Seattle, I have been looking at Olympia. Does anyone who moved to Olympia WA have any perspective to share?

    by Ted — March 2, 2015

  15. We have kicked around the idea of retiring to the Seattle area. My wife liked Seattle when we were there back in the early 90’s. I am not a city person so am more interested in the Port Townsend/Squiem area. I like the fact that the area appears to be a little dryer than Seattle due to the rain shadow effect from Mt Olympus.

    by Jim C — March 10, 2015

  16. Any comments on Ocean Sores, WA for retiring.

    by Vickie — March 15, 2015

  17. Your comments are appreciated, especially as I just spent most of my free time the past week reading everything I could on North and South Carolina and Washington, where I now live… I agree with the ‘no eutopia’ view but that there has to be something we think we’d prefer… I moved to WA after college from the east coast and although, yes, beautiful scenery, the best nature- like in many places- has to offer, but personally found, although many disagree, (still after all these decades) a lack of like-mindedness that I have as soon as speaking to anyone from the east coast, which makes friendships much easier – (google “the Seattle freeze”) so as I’ve heard lots of people from NJ/NY retire to the Carolinas, I’m researching that and would appreciate all input and be happy to answer anything about the NW corner of WA state.

    by Jeanne — April 6, 2015

  18. […] For further reference: State Retirement Guides Retirement 101 Mid-Atlantic States: MD, DE, VA, NJ Florida Retirement 101 Dueling Carolinas: NC vs. SC Dueling States: Arizona vs. Florida California Retirement 101 Retirement in the Southwest: AZ, NM, and Utah Comparing the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington for Retirement […]

    by » Dueling Mountain States for Retirement: CO, ID, MT, NV, UT, and WY - Topretirements — June 22, 2015

  19. What can anyone tell me about the Tri Cities area of Washington (Kennewick, Richland and Pasco)?

    by Donna — June 23, 2015

  20. I too am debating where to retire. I know for me safety is priority number one. I want to be able to walk the dog even at night and not worry about being attacked. Weather is next in importance, no snow and not too rainy but not looking for desert heat. I’m okay with colder temps but if it snows I would prefer it be gone by bedtime. Although taxes and cost of living are important I know those factors change on a daily basis and having spent a lifeime of non-stop budgetting I assume I’ll be doing that as long as physically able. I would love some suggestions Right now I am considering Ashland Oregon West Linn Oregon Seattle Washington and Bainbridge Island Washington

    by Cecil — July 5, 2015

  21. Go to City-Data.com and look up each city. There you will find your crime data. I am originally from Tacoma (relatives out towards Elma, son in Sammamish), and personally I would stay out of Seattle. Very high crime, and you will pay half a million for an average place to live. Tacoma is worse for crime, by you’ll only pay a quarter mill.

    Bainbridge Island in my opinion would be great, very low crime and educated. Don’t know about Oregon.

    by art bonds — July 6, 2015

  22. I currently live in Surprise, AZ, am retired, and find a reasonably comfortable standard of living can be achieved on a relatively low income here. Good healthcare is plentiful for seniors as this is a retirement mecca, and crime is very low. My major complaint with AZ is the political atmosphere. It is swathed in ridiculously ultra conservative/right wing extremism in every aspect of life, which is mentally debilitating if you are of a liberal/progressive bent. But if you hate the current administration, are a subscriber to conspiracy theories, want to take your gun into college classrooms and the grocery store, have your christian god involved in everything from education to healthcare, and fear Muslim extremists lurking around every corner, then you’ll love it here. I’m looking for someplace, anyplace, I can afford where I’ll be surrounded by the exact opposite point of view. Both Washington and Oregon appear to score high in that regard, but weather and affordability may be deal breakers.

    by Ro — September 20, 2015

  23. I have been researching both WA vs OR and the deuling Carolinas for my “Utopia” in retirement, although I’ve been on SSD for 10 years due to failed back surgery. I’ve lived my life mostly in horrific NJ ( with a break of 5 years in southern Califirnia in the early 80’s) and if it weren’t for my elderly father (I’m his laast surviving child) and my spouse, I’d be long gone. I’m so tired of the snowy winters and very hot summers and crounds, even though I live in the “burbs:. I crave milder weather, greener surroundings and quitude where I don’t hhear the neighbors partying in their yards at night if I want to sleep with the windows open. I’m tempted to get a tiny house or RV and roam the country in search of my utopia, but again, am stuck here with my father and spouse. Reading these blogs only adds to my dispondence.

    by Debi W — September 27, 2015

  24. Does anyone have suggestions on who to contact to show the various housing options in Bend, OR? I see it coming up over and over as best place to retire and want to take a look with a little guidance. I’m interested in independent living but would also consider an Active 55+ Community but I don’t like being forced in to socializing. : ) Thank you.

    by Steve S. — November 11, 2015

  25. My wife and I are considering the Portland, OR. metro area for retirement. I spent some time on the North end earlier this summer and was very comfortable. We would hope to land in a more urban area and I’d be interested in any feedback regarding the most affordable parts of the metro region….The transit system was very efficient and affordable

    by Peter Callanan — November 12, 2015

  26. Ro, if you like AZ, try Tucson. We’re pretty much blue down here. Yes, we’re affected by the red state legislature and governor, but I believe the state is turning purple with more young people coming of voting age. The problem, as I see it, is that many snowbirds come down in time to register to vote, vote conservative and against taxes for education, then go home in the spring. I’m not anti-snowbirds, but I wish they would understand that they are part-timers here, and those of us who live here year-round have year-round issues, like being sure everyone gets a quality education in this state. Anyway, Tucson is more open-minded – although guns on hips at McDonald’s are still a part of the scenery.

    by Elaine C. — November 12, 2015

  27. Peter – I have been living in the Portland area for the past 25 years, albeit in the ‘burbs of Beaverton on the west side of town. What do you consider “affordable” and what specically are you looking for in a urban locale? Northeast and Southeast Portland and Gresham are probably the most affordable of urban type areas, but they also seem to be higher in crime. There are some nicer neighborhoods (Laurelhurst, Alameda, Hawthorne, Mississippi) but they are very spendy with fierce buying competition. Southeast has a more bohemian vibe. Northwest nighborhoods of the Pearl and Nob Hill are really fun urban areas, but the prices are astronomical. The west side suburbs are nice (yeah, I am biased), and a ranch house will go for about $275-325K, although most housing around here seem to be two stories. Here it is more the chain restaurants and stores, so if you are looking for food carts, upscale cuisine or authentic ethnic cuisine, then go downtown or to the east side. Between the MAX lightrail, the Portland Street car and the bus, public transit is pretty easy to navigate all over the city. Keep in mind that anywhere in Multnomah County will have higher property taxes than Clackamas or Washington counties because they cover the lion’s share of public services for Portland. I hope this helped.

    by Shauna — November 12, 2015

  28. I have lived and owned property in washington for almost 50 years
    It is attracting lots of new people in Seattle and suburbs. ALL the dot Com are here and building large campuses both in and out of Seattle. Boeing is in a boom and young people are drawn from around the country to its mountains. Prices for housing expensive and many educated Asians are relocating for opportunity and love this weather.

    Tried cities on dry side of state is a great place and nice single story rambles are 150k in nice area.
    Anyone wanting info on Northwest feel free to email me. billbradley92@gmail.com. We boomers are in it together and communicating is our greatest asset.

    I can no longer live here because of OA Arthritis. Damp and cloudy most the year.

    by Bill bradley — November 14, 2015

  29. This is for Donna…. I was actually surprised that Tri-Cities wasn’t mentioned at all. The combo 3 cities (Richland, Kennewick, Pasco) and 3 rivers, (Columbia, Yakima, Snake) make this area of arid, eastern Washington very attractive as far as low cost of living, lots of outdoors activities (golf, hiking, fishing), vineyards and wineries everywhere, and low crime in Richland and Kennewick. And sunshine? Over 300 days a year of sunshine with no humidity. Snowfall is minimal to rare, and we may get a week or two of below 20 degrees F for the high in the winter, but it’s mostly low to mid 40s. Spring and fall here are fantastic. There are high paying government contract jobs that help to support public services, good healthcare, local sports, restaurants, and shopping.

    by Ann — February 27, 2016

  30. I have lived in Oregon for the past 26 years. The first 10 yrs in Bend and we now have lived in Corvallis for 16 yrs. Bend was a nice place to live, with lots of outdoor activities, but some winters can be brutal. Sub-zero temps and lots of snow, one winter we had about 3-4 foot of snow piled on our roof. Our front yard had about 8-10 foot snow banks where the plows would push the snow. And way too many mornings , even in summer months, I would have to scrap ice off of my windshield. Now it is very crowded and much traffic congestion. Corvallis has a nice university, and a nice downtown. Not nearly as much shopping as Bend, but we don’t get all of the Californians moving here (sorry). But we do get a lot of rain in the winter and fog. So it can get depressing if that bothers you. But everything is nice and green almost year around. Anything will grow here. The spring, summer, and fall can be beautiful. And only 1 hour drive to the coast. We do like it here, but are thinking of moving up around Seattle as that is where our daughter now lives and we want to be closer to them after we retire. Hope this helps a little for someone.

    by Ed Lee — March 16, 2016

  31. Just read the Tri-Cities (Richland, etc.) have a contamination issue due to a nuclear power plant in their vicinity. Any factual information available?

    by Pam — March 17, 2016

  32. Hi Ed Lee ,

    I have visited Oregon twice and really liked it. We are considering Ashland but it looks like the homes are pretty expensive. Can you give me your opinion of Rogue River area.
    Thanks
    Tony

    by Anthony Gaudioso — March 17, 2016

  33. I want to retire to Ashland as well. I probably would have to rent or purchase a Manufactured home because of the home prices. Medford which is only 10 miles away is less expensive.

    by MaryJane — March 18, 2016

  34. I lived there for more than 16 years. winter is ashland is fairly miild . summers can be hot, but not too hot for some. mt ashland is not far to ski at if you desire. temperature inversions take place in the winter, socking in talent, phoenix and medford while ashland stays sunny and bright. tourist season (summer) the place is a zoo. very crowded with folks from out of town. ashland is the most expensive of the areas to live but you have a lively town (college town) with amenities such as the shakespearean theaters, and all that a college can offer in classes that you would like to take

    by gary jacquot — March 19, 2016

  35. I’ve been researching moving to Western WA for a couple of years now, a place to retire eventually. I scour real estate listings, study towns, trying to find the “best fit”, or at least a good list of places to scope out *in person*. My husband and I want some space…like at least 2 – 5 acres so we can have animals again. Ideally we do not want to even be able to see another home. We both like to be not too far from water (ocean, lakes, rivers), and The Great Outdoors is big on our list! We both feel compelled to live in/near trees. We mountain bike and hike a lot. I’ve been focused mainly in the Kitsap Peninsula, Seabeck, Silverdale areas – as well as up through Sequim/Port Angeles areas. We are aware that living in this type of scenario can carry it’s own risks – rural can mean wild animals, rough wind storms that knock out power lines (frequently in places like Seabeck), and washed out or flooded roads in winter rains. Our plan is to definitely have a generator (for both house and for a water well, if needed) and be prepared to stay put for awhile if services are disrupted. The goal is to live rural but not more than 15-20 minutes from town for things we need an decent medical care, if needed. I *think* the areas mentioned will serve our goal…however strangely enough, the biggest drawback I’m finding is – supposedly limited or non-reliable high speed internet connectivity! Some forested areas are protected from having fiber networks brought in, and others are really spotty. I have a homebased website business I plan to continue while retired, and internet is the center of that. Most real estate agents assure me internet is “no problem” up there…yet to visit many city data type forums, I hear a different story form actual residents. This really could be a deal-breaker for me. Can any of you tell me anything about internet reliability in Western WA and what areas are definitely unreliable? Also curious about restrictions on # of animals allowed in different areas. I hear some say there are very specific restrictions in certain counties, not in others. And again, I get mixed stories for real estate agents. At most, we’d want 2 horses, some chickens, maybe an alpaca or two (for fiber, I’m a hand-spinner), and our usual house cat or two and our two dogs. Any help/insight appreciated…thank you!

    by Carol — April 9, 2016

  36. Looking for comments/recommendations about Western Nevada: Lake Tahoe. Carson City, etc. Am a single woman with a small dog looking for a place with seasons and thought this area might be an option. Have lived om Chicago for the last 40 years so this might be culture shock too! I love to ride my bike and be outdoors. Thanks!

    by Karen — May 1, 2016

  37. Carol, I could give you some information on other areas in Western Washington as I live in Olympia. There are lots of areas around us that are what you are looking for. Please feel free to e/mail me directly at Sreda244@aol.com.

    by Sharon Alexander — May 2, 2016

  38. I have gotten a good laugh reading these posts! Rule #1 don’t believe what anyone who is trying to sell you some thing tells you.
    I was born in Washington, educated in Oregon and worked in and retired from California. I like to forget the 11 months I survived in Detroit.
    I say I have been drifting south all my life. I need to be with in driving distance of the sea. Only the rich can afford beach front in California and I couldn’t stand everyone living in fear and hatred. I discovered Belize before Wheel-Of-Fortune did and retired in 2002 and moved here full time in 2003.
    This is an English speaking country and fully integrated. If you are a bigot don’t come.
    I overlook the Caribbean Sea and live on half my retirement. I could never again live in the USA.
    Good luck to everyone. Just remember – nothing is perfect – not even you. Smile!

    by Harriette Fisher — August 1, 2016

  39. Hi Harriette, I have heard about Belize before and did a little research. From somebody that has ‘boots on the ground’ there, can you comment on if Belize has ‘mañana’ syndrome? Not ‘mañana’ as in ‘tomorrow morning’, but mañana as in ‘not now but later’… sometimes much later, as in no contractor/business/government body is in a hurry to get anything done, and having to wait for a long time to get something done. Like put in telephone service, contractors that take forever to do anything, that sort of stuff?
    Also we have read here in this blog of US citizens being fair game for crime in places like Mexico, with the local constabulary basically turning a blind eye to property crime committed against them under the theory that US citizens can ‘afford it’. Any issues like that in Belize?
    Thanks for a report from on-site.

    by Art Bonds — August 2, 2016

  40. Harriett, I am glad that you found the right place for you. How is the medical care in Belize if you had a serious condition? I have had friends who left the USA and had to return to this country for treatment and endedmup having to pay cash because they did not have health insurance.

    by MaryNB — August 2, 2016

  41. Harriet – I’m with the rest – please share more information!

    Is it safe?
    Do you recommend investing in property or renting?
    Is your SS taxed if you live there?
    And last but not least – are there lots of snakes and bugs???? LOL

    by Liz — August 2, 2016

  42. Anyone have any comments about the Port Townsend, WA area? The area has much less rain than Seattle and appears to have a lower cost of living as well.

    by Jim C — August 3, 2016

  43. I am considering Washington State as well. I have researched and have looked into the rain shaddow. The rain fall is said to be less than Seattle. Is this true? I am considering Brinnon and surrounding areas. Can anyone tell me about the area or any other areas to consider. I am looking for water views and a certain amount of seclusion. I will be purchasing an RV and touring around until I decide on where to land. Of course the people and community are important too as I would love to volunteer and be involved. I think it is such a beautiful state. Thank you for any information. It is greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to a new adventure.
    Kathy

    by Kathy — August 7, 2016

  44. Kathy, Brinnon is NOT in the Olympic rain shadow. Brinnon gets considerably more rain than Seattle.
    http://www.olympicrainshadow.com/olympicrainshadowmap.html

    by Art Bonds — August 8, 2016

  45. Kathy,

    Depending on what areas in the State of Washington you look at can
    have a great variance in the ‘rain factor’. Some areas can be dry.
    Sequim (a nice retirement area) get 16″ rain vs. 37″ for Seattle area.
    Kennewick gets 7″, Wenatchee gets 9″.

    So there is places you can land to avoid the gloom of gray skies
    (Seattle has approx. 147 days of precipitation.

    by mike — August 8, 2016

  46. Have been following the daily weather reports for Port Townsend and Squiem this summer. Lots of sunny days and temps barely hitting 70 degrees. These two towns are in the rain shadow. I’m sure winter has more overcast days but with only 18″ of rain annually it would at least be dry most of the time.

    by Jim C — August 8, 2016

  47. I would check out both Port Townsend and Port Angeles. Each has a different feel. Both being on the Olympia Peninsula make them near the only rain forest in North America but they are considered to be in the shadow. I did not live in either but visited often, particularly Port Townsend when I lived in the Seattle area for 4 years. It was very artsy – lots of galleries and interesting shopped. There is a lot of info on the internet describing the towns and what there is to do there. Both are on the water and offer good access to the nearby islands, whale watching and Victoria, Canada – all good day trips.

    As far as rain – western Washington is rainy and cloudy but the rain is often a mist not even requiring an umbrella. Cloudiness is what you need to deal with and it is not for everyone. If I could afford it, I would spend every summer near the Puget Sound, especially if like cooler summer weather. We did not have or need a/c in our home. However, with the current climate changes that might different right now.

    Check the stats on the rainfall and cloudy days (city-datacom). Also the population if that matters to you.

    by BeckyN. — August 8, 2016

  48. I know people who have retired to the Olympic Peninsula and love it for the weather. On the other hand, if you need serious medical care beyond what the local hospital/medical providers can handle, it’s a long haul to Seattle where you will have to be for top medical care. Even though I’m healthy now, proximity to medical care is one of the top items on my checklist.

    by JoannC — August 8, 2016

  49. I visited Port Angeles many years ago and loved it. But I see that Port Angeles, Sequim, and Port Townsend all get an ‘F’ in crime on the website I turn to first for a snapshot of a community. Just sayin’.

    by Gary Knoke — August 9, 2016

  50. Thank you for all the information. It is so difficult to relocate. So much to consider. I have done tons of research on line however it doesn’t take the place of scouting around in person. Full time rving has its pluses and minuses too but I think it is the only way to really find out where to finally settle.
    Again thank you, Kathy

    by Kathy — August 10, 2016

  51. We move this comment from Evan because it fits better here:

    Can you tell me about retirement in the Port Angeles-Sequim-Port Townsend area of Washington state? We were there recently and my wife noticed many people who were our (retirement) age.
    Thank you.

    by Admin — August 12, 2016

  52. Since the discussion is right in the area, I’d like to add a tip about taking the ferry over to Canada. We visited Port Angeles by car and wanted to make an overnight to Victoria. Great trip and beautiful city, but after the fact we realized that we should have left our car in Port Angeles. Take the ferry as a pedestrian — it is far less expensive. You will likely save enough to pay for your hotel. You can get a bus or taxi to wherever you like and this is a city that begs to be walked, In addition, you may avoid a long ferry line. We happened to pick the return day that was the Canadian equivalent of the 4th of July. The early morning ferry was full long before we got there and the first ticket we could get was for 3:00pm. Long, unexpected wait to fill — in our case with two dogs and car packed to the max. If we had been walking, it would be walk on and go.

    If you are going on into Canada after Victoria, this may not apply, but it’s well worth considering being a walking tourist over being a motorist if you don’t really need to have a car.

    by Rich — August 13, 2016

  53. Hi! My husband and I are currently living/retired in Phoenix, Arizona. We have been here many years and now the ozone, bad air quality days are increasing constantly. You have to drive everywhere and the politics here are way too conservative for us. People are not too friendly anymore and guns, violence and drug gangs are rampant and very bad.

    So, we have decided you move/retire to Portland, Oregon next spring. We can’t wait!. The public transportation is incredibly amazing, great foodie restaurants, food trucks, picturesque views of rivers, one hour to the ocean, great medical care, amazing beer and wine country, farmers markets galore and so much more!!!. Not to mention very liberal, the nicest people on the planet, amazing ? flowers, hiking, biking and the best coffee on the planet. Also, a great music and arts scene, the great Portland Saturday market under Burnside bridge, the best donuts in the world, great fishing, canoeing, kayaking and fabulous at museums. Yes, it gets cloudy and rainy in the winter… But it’s fun in the fall and up to Christmas as it’s fun to huddle around the fire and dream of Xmas dreams. Then, we plan to vacation to Arizona, California or Florida in the winter. Please research Portland…. It’s amazing!!!!!

    by Ml — August 14, 2016

  54. Also, the Phoenix area is getting hotter every year. We have more triple digit days than we ever have before. Really, Portland, Oregon is your ticket to happiness. Of course, I think you can also just decide to be happy, and then you will be, no matter what, no matter where you live. 🙂

    Good luck!

    Ml

    by Ml — August 14, 2016

  55. Rich – We visited the Olympic National Park and Cape Flattery two years ago. I want to go back and revisit! We could only do 6 days and covered Sequim, Port Angeles and Port Townsend too. Next trip, I hope to do a ferry to Victoria as you described and maybe visit Whidbey Island too. We are off to northern CA next month for a week and will fly into Medford OR then stay in Trinidad CA. I’m trying to plan day trips from there and we will visit Ashland OR. We did the OR coast last year starting in Portland and visited Astoria down through Florence. Stayed in Newport and Cannon Beach. WA and OR and stunningly beautiful states! Love PNW!

    by JoannL — August 14, 2016

  56. I lived in Portland for 8 years back in the late 90s and loved it. Things have changed though….prices of homes and apts have skyrocketed. You are right about the people, they are very down to earth and very friendly. That’s where I met my husband and eventually moved back to SanDiego for family reasons but plan on retiring back to the coast of oregon. It’s a lot cheaper especially for people on a fixed budget. Sure it rains more but that’s why it’s so beautiful….. just can’t decide which coastal town to retire to because there are so many to choose from! Lol

    by Mary11 — August 15, 2016

  57. I have posted about Portland, Oregon before. I was thinking of moving there too. I just got back from my fourth visit to Portland and spent 3 weeks there. Things have gotten progressively worse there with the homeless problem. It is very, very bad there right now. There are homeless people( mostly men with mental health issues) living all over the streets. Apparently, the passed a new law, the Safe Sleep Act, which allows people to live on any public property, sidewalks, parks, street, highways, etc. I am not exaggerating when I say it is the worst situation that I have ever seen in any city in my life. I really suggest a long visit to the area you are thinking of before you make your plans. I left there this summer, thinking that it is just not safe for me and I may never go back again.

    by MaryNB — August 15, 2016

  58. Homeless encampments are springing up all over the United States. This is very much in conjunction with the horrific and epidemic level of opioid addiction we are suffering from as a country. As a nation, we are making very little progress at getting this socialtal epidemic under control. Unfortunately, far too many seniors are part of this epidemic cycle due to their severe addiction to opioid pain medications.

    by Bubbajog — August 15, 2016

  59. So, why are people still moving to Portland? I used to only pay $650 for a 2 bedroom apt in the early 2000s and now it’s doubled in price .

    by Mary11 — August 16, 2016

  60. Regarding Portland OR Safe Sleep Act.

    http://www.opb.org/news/article/portland-homeless-camping-policy-end-safe-sleep/

    In my opinion: Nobody should have carte blanche to just sleep or encamp anywhere on public property. It creates a possible unsafe environment. Would you want your wife and young daughter, while hiking on a public trail, to walk past an encampment like the one pictured in the article, knowing it may be occupied by (as MaryNB states so eloquently) “homeless people( mostly men with mental health issues)”? Not only that it is an eyesore and detracts from the public’s enjoyment of the scenery.
    Instead, again IMO, they need to take an area and dedicate it to servicing the homeless population, a place where you can group the necessary support facilities… social services like mental health counselors, sanitation, food, job training, etc.

    by Art Bonds — August 16, 2016

  61. I moved to Portland a year ago to be near family but I’ve just about decided that family isn’t enough. I live in a suburb and almost never go into downtown because I find it so unpleasant. My conclusions, after a year’s observation as an outsider with no emotional or long term ties to the place: Portland has good “bones” but is way behind the eight ball in coping with the problems brought on by extremely rapid growth. City government seems well meaning but inept and powerless; the Portland school district administration is in a shambles. The most creative thinking about how to deal with the homeless is coming from wealthy developers. According to “Portland Monthly” magazine, most new arrivals are mid-level management folksattracted by the booming economy. They are the 20-30 somethings with big checkbooks but small inclination to get involved in the nitty gritty of running their new home. So, my observation is that there is a huge gap between the older, “native” population who dream of how things were back in the 90s and these new arrivals looking for a good time.
    Having said all that, the real reason I’m thinking of leaving is the weather. Well, weather combined with the extremely high cost of housing. I’ve discovered that I need lots of light and sun. Having lived almost all of my life in sunny places so rarely having been without it, I had no idea how much I depend on it to avoid depression. The part of me that really loves my life here, keeps thinking that there must be an affordable, sunny living space just waiting out there for me to find it. But if it’s out there, it isn’t appearing on Craigslist or any of the other popular rental listing sites. Again it’s the collision of high demand and lack of supply. And I’d add long-time lack of creative design thinking. For all Oregonians’ love of the outdoors and environment, I’ve yet to find an a multi-unit complex oriented towards the sun’s path for passive heating/light. Only the newest (& therefore the most expensive) complexes have air conditioning and most don’t even have windows that allow cross ventilation. It’s really hard to deal with high 90’s outside (forecasted for Thurs-Sunday this week) with no relief inside my apartment!
    One last negative: traffic! If you like LA style slow-and-go driving, Portland is your place. If you like planning your life around traffic, come here.
    Sorry to sound so negative. Portland does have much to recommend it and even I haven’t fully committed to moving on. The folks for whom it would work best, in my opinion, are: from northern latitudes or similar climates or know that they are not effected by 9 months of cloudiness; have more than average income; don’t mind either traffic or using public transportation. I can imagine urban folks from the NE who are sick of snow and cold will find Portland a heaven of exciting urban life with no need for more winter protection than an umbrella.

    by Laney — August 16, 2016

  62. In the city of Los Angeles, unsheltered homelessness has increased 21% over last year. If you travel 6th St. in downtown Los Angeles, you will experience an incredibly large encampment of tents, cardboard boxes, and other creative fixtures; full of homeless people in very crowded conditions. This is an environment of predominantly males with serious mental health issues and drug addictions. Because this is Los Angles, with the best climatic conditions, you have the epicenter of homelessness in the United States. I do believe the Left Coast with superior climatic conditions from the Mexican border and northward; has become a haven for the homeless.

    by Bubbajog — August 16, 2016

  63. I guess I’m still the dreamer and view Portland as a European oasis. I know about the people that are homeless, yet I don’t judge them….on the other hand, I see that as an opportunity to share my gifts. As a musician, I plan to bring my keyboard downtown and play songs for anyone and to crochet scarves and hand them out randomly. I will even bake cookies, wrap them with pretty bows, write a poem and hand them out as I see fit. :). I think we have just about lost our humanity and compassion if we can turn away from those in need.

    Can’t wait to move to Portland and I remain an optimist both now and always. 🙂

    by Ml — August 17, 2016

  64. MI – you will be an asset to Portland. You do not keep your head in the sand, even in retirement. No Whining, Worrying , or Wallowing allowed at your house !!

    by SandySW — August 17, 2016

  65. I had considered Portland, OR several times as my retirement place. Once I went to look for housing and was faced with day upon day of no sunshine. I knew then that I could not live without an adequate amount of sunshine.

    by June — August 17, 2016

  66. Here’s a positive picture of life with Portland’s homeless. My sister and I went dowtown on Tuesday to see the “Native Fashion Now” exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art. Excellent exhibit in an excellent museum! Afterwards we lunched at The Carts, joining lots of PDX’s office workers and tourists. Like those who didn’t have to rush back to a desk, we took our lunches to Pioneer Park and ate, sitting on a bench. The scene was SO Portland: “Bespoke Bikes” busy creating fruit smoothies by pedal power, a violinist providing lovely music and a good selection of Portland types to watch. They included quite a few men who looked, acted and talked as tho’ they are homeless. They were not pan handling, just sitting in groups on benches talking among themselves. There was one guy sitting near the trash receptables. We watched him pull a container out as soon as it was thrown away, open it, and start eating – lunch #1. I only wanted about 1/2 of my lunch so, to save him the trouble of digging it out of the trash, I offered it to him directly and was thanked – lunch #2. No sooner than he’d finished it, than someone threw a container into the trash. He grabbed it and started eating lunch #3! Just think of how ecologically friendly he was being in saving 3 lunches from going to the landfill.

    by Laney — August 18, 2016

  67. Laney, loved your story!!

    by Ml — August 18, 2016

  68. Here’s a question for the tax focused: Washington does not have an income tax; Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax. My question is: as a retiree who doesn’t buy much any more except groceries, gas and the occasional piece of clothing, how can I figure out whether I’m saving more by living in the no-sales-tax state (and paying Oregon’s high income tax) or would I be better off moving to the no-income-tax state? In fact many retirees do move to WA but continue to shop in OR to take advantage of both tax free offerings. There are the costs of moving to consider as well as the “costs” of dealing with the traffic clogged bridges and freeways across the river separating the two states.

    by Laney — August 19, 2016

  69. Laney,

    Why not live in/near Vancouver, WA (across border from Portland)
    and live in a non-income state and cross the border to a non-sales tax state?

    by mike — August 19, 2016

  70. Laney,
    I also was looking into this question and came out with saving approximately $30 month on sales taxes without buying large purchase items. I won’t be working so income taxes isn’t a concern, and if you have less than $25000 per year you don’t need to even file any taxes either. Now property taxes in Washington is good, if you are over 65 you have an option of not having to pay your yearly taxes, if you qualify according to income. Oregon also allows you to delay paying until you pass away too. So, I have chosen oregon incase of large purchases being made at some point in the future.

    by Mary11 — August 19, 2016

  71. The comments by Chris back in Feb are still the best. No place is perfect year round. Not just in the USA but worldwide. I have traveled the world my whole life, and in the 10 years since I’ve retired I have been, like many, a snowbird. Summers one place, winters another. Why, because there is no perfect year round place. Anywhere along the Gulf coast is nice in winter. Would have to pay me a million to stay there is summer. Northern states are good in summer. Don’t want to freeze and shovel snow in winter. That is why the rich have home in many places. Not being rich I just rent. That works for me because I am not a fussbudget when it comes to housing. Clean and in a decent neighborhood is all I require. It doesn’t have to be big and fancy as I’m not trying to impress anyone. I don’t own it so don’t have to spend and time or money on maintenance. IMO retirees make things harder on themselves by not being able to let go of the whole home ownership mentality. Renting also makes it a lot easier to move again if you find out you don’t really like the place after all.

    by Bob — August 20, 2016

  72. Bob, you are absolutely right. It does completely depend on the person. Some have few real requirements out of life (and that’s just fine — for them), others have clear views on what they want. When we were having the house built that we designed and have now lived in happily for 24 years (13 in retirement), we had very specific requirements and made sure they were met. The guy I worked for at the time was totally different. He basically told his builder, here’s the lot, here’s the money, let me know when I can move in — and then just forgot about it. (I have no idea what the long term outcome was.)

    It sounds like you’ve found what makes you happy. We have too, but the two choices are very different. All anyone can hope for is to have their retirement choices make them happy — and good luck to all.

    by Rich — August 21, 2016

  73. Art Bonds, thank you for posting the article about Portland, Oregon’s mayor ending the
    Safe Sleep policy. I don’t know what will happen there, but it is going to take time and a great deal of effort to make the streets safe again. I don’t judge the homeless, but the situation was not safe at all for a woman who likes to take walks alone. The apartment that I was staying in was in an expensive part of town, and had homeless men camped out beneath the windows and they drank and screamed at passerbys all night. It was terrifying just to step out the door and I didn’t get much sleep. In the morning there were broken bottles and human waste on the sidewalks next to their sleeping bodies. It was awful no matter where I went. I know that the last 7 years have been very bad for cities in this country and it is most evident in Portland.

    by MaryNB — August 21, 2016

  74. Thanks, all, for your experiential comments which are extremely helpful for my ongoing evaluation of a possible move to the Pacific NW and, in keeping with the article, to learning more about OR v. WA. I’m already retired, but widowed about two years ago and wanting a total change. This is probably the wrong thread to mention some experiences about East Coast retirement and living, although I’ve seen a few comments about the consideration of East Coast alternatives to the NW. If useful, I have some substantive experience to offer about living in the SE, and spent 10 years in FL.

    by Katherine — September 13, 2016

  75. I have lived in Southern Oregon both as a child and an adult, am currently living in SoCal where I cannot afford to retire and to be honest don’t want to, tired of the endless summer (for those of you looking for that and can afford the cost of living this may be the place for you) but for me intend to return to Southern Oregon the Medford/Grants Pass area, I look forward to 4 seasons and rain. The Rogue River provides lots of activities the location of So Oregon allows for day trips or 2 day trips to the coast, Portland area, California there is lots of out door activities, cultural activities, great access to fresh veggies and fruits and the people are really great. A manufactured home close to the river is calling my name.

    by Kathe — September 16, 2016

  76. Kathe, you sound like a twin. I lived in Portland, where I met my husband and now living in Sandiego, but plan to move to southern oregon. Just can’t decide between the coast or Ashland area. Can’t afford and don’t want to retire in california. I’ve lived in all 4 corners of the US and you can’t beat the weather but looking forward to moving back to oregon. ….

    by Mary11 — September 17, 2016

  77. Mary11……. Please do more research on the property taxes, I think you will find that you in fact do have to pay property taxes although there is a senior exception in my county but it only lowers your tax base it does not eliminate it. I know of nowhere in Washington State that you don’t have to pay property taxes. FYI……..I have lived in Washington since 83 and have loved it. I am a senior, (69 this year) semi returned and sell real estate in the Olympia area when I am there during the summer months. My wife and I snowbird to AZ during the winter months in our RV and love our lifestyle. Washington State is no different from another, same political issues, same homeless issues, lousy weather (unless you enjoy the rain in the spring and fall and cold winters with occasional snow) but beautiful and unbeatable in the summer months with mild temps and fabulous environment. Probably one of the prettiest places in the US during the months of May through September. Of course I am partial to the Olympia area as I have lived here many years, moved here from the North Seattle area and would never go back there. If you were to choose Olympia as your landing place, your are 60 to 90 minutes to Seattle, a huge city with everything you could ever need. Outstanding medical facilities with the UofW, etc. one of the top rated cancer research facilities in the country, Fred Hutch Research Center, and wonderful heart, etc. facilities in surrounding hospitals. Trust me on that one, I’ve have occasion to use both in the last few years ! The Olympia area still has good reasonably priced housing, outstanding environment, almost no traffic, surrounded by the Puget Sound so tons of water sports if you like that sort of thing, an hours drive to the ocean, a hour and half to some of the best winter sports in the world, etc. etc. However, as many have stated, there is no perfect place but if you are like us and can pack up and head out when the weather gets to a point that you feel “all coupled up” then this is the place for you. If you, or anyone else on this blog, has questions regarding the Thurston County area of Washington State (Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and surrounding area) feel free to reply here.

    by Dick Pierson — September 18, 2016

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