Leavenworth : Washington


What It Is Like to Retire in Leavenworth

Leavenworth,  Washington, is a small town at the base of the Cascade Mountains, very near the center of the state. It started out as a small timber community, and in the early 1900's, became home to the second largest sawmill in Washington, and was also the headquarters of the Great North Railroad.  When the lumber industry died and the railroad left, Leavenworth struggled economically.  Then, in the 1960's, the town leaders decided to use the backdrop of the alpine hills and turn the town into a tourist destination.  Using Solvang, California, as their inspiration, they completely renovated the downtown area and transformed it into a Bavarian village, complete with many festivals, to draw revelers into the town.  The idea worked as Leavenworth soon became a top tourist spot in the Pacific Northwest, with more than a million tourists each year.  The town is only 1.25 square miles and in 2012, the population was recorded at 1,989.  In November, 2007, the televison show "Good Morning America" went to Leavenworth to help light up the town for the Christmas season.  A&E (The Arts and Entertainment Network), named Leavenworth the "Ultimate Holiday Town in the USA".


Where to Retire in Leavenworth and Home Prices

According to Zillow, the median home value of a house in Leavenworth was about $563,117 in mid-2021.  There are many condos and rental units as it is a popular winter destination with skiing nearby.


What Is Special about Leavenworth

Leavenworth is a quaint village with a lot of festivals and recreational activities throughout the year.  Here is what Keith, who suggested we include Leavenworth in our reviews, said about his town:   "Leavenworth is a very safe and walkable community, a 2-hour drive east of Seattle, WA. Other important attributes include; sunny dry weather with four distinct seasons, affordability, available health care and senior center, abundance of lifestyle and cultural activities, numerous employment and volunteer opportunities plus level town topography for easy walking and biking."  Here is a sampling of some of the notices the town has received: Featured on Good Morning America twice, Today Show – “most unusal and unique fall foliage”  Did a segment also on Christmas, A&E Network – The Ultimate Holiday Town, Travel Channel – Best Bavarian Town, Travel Channel – Most Christmassy places in America, Time Magazine – Top 10 places to find the most holiday cheer, NY Times – It is like living in a snow globe, HGTV – Top 10 Christmas Towns, New Day Northwest – Icefest and unique marketing.


What Is Not Special about Leavenworth

Leavenworth is very small and isolated.  The nearest large airport is over 100 miles away. The town does get a lot of snow each winter, and tourist all year round.


Who Will Like Retirement in Leavenworth

Retirees who are looking for a small, picturesque village and enjoy winter sports, German food, and beer, would like it here.


Local Economy Is Driven by

Tourism, public administration, construction


Climate and Physical Environment

Leavenworth is a semi-arid region with an average annual rainfall of 9 inches. The average January temperature is 30 degrees and the average July temperature is 69 degrees.


Restaurants & Cultural Scene

Leavenworth hosts many festivals throughout the year. As expected, Oktoberfest is celebrated in a big way with music, German food, keg tapping, and the "Village Art in the Park".  In November, there is Christkindlemakt, a Bavarian-style Christmas markt that includes a latern parade, Santa Claus, Christkind, and Saint Nicholas.  The Christmas Lighting Festival is held in December.  In the summer, Leavenworth hosts the International Accordion Celebration, with workshops, jam sessions, and competitions.  See Comment from Mejask below: Although there are events and festivals, the "culture" you might find in Leavenworth is many people's vision of traditional culture.



Leavenworth has a low crime rate.


Medical Facilities

Cascade Medical Center



There is an Amtrak station in Leavenworth; the nearest regional airport is 30 miles away in Wenatchee, the nearest large airport is Sea Tac International 130 miles away.


Valuable Links

Town of Leavenworth


Leavenworth Oktoberfest

Travel/Yahoo feature on Leavenworth


What people are saying about Leavenworth

Leavenworth, Washington
I lived in Southeastern Washington for a few years and have visited Leavenworth a few times. It is a very picturesque place to visit especially around the holidays. I would agree with most of the description above but I would be more specific about what is meant by \'cultural activities\'. This is a very small town and is not going to have the type of cultural activities many would think of when they read that phrase. In my opinion the price of real estate is pretty high for what it offers unless you are really into skiing and the festive atmosphere of this kind of place. Be sure to visit and you can decide for yourself. It is very charming.
Posted by mejask on November 13, 2013

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