I grew up living in Washington state, and up until turning 30, called the state home. A few folks have reached out with questions because they plan on moving to Washington, so I wanted to offer my two cents.
I’m not one for small talk, so let’s cover the honest pros and cons of living in Washington.
Keep in mind while reading this article that this is my personal list, not everyone will feel the same way about living in Washington. Hope you enjoy!
Pros & Cons of Living in Washington State
Pros of Living in Washington
#1. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest
There’s no denying that the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific Northwest is a huge draw for most folks interested in moving to Washington state.
The Pacific Northwest is known for being one of the prettiest regions in the country thanks to the drastic Cascade Mountain Range and numerous healthy evergreen forests.
You can easily take an overnight trip to one of the three breathtaking national parks in Washington State, not to mention the plethora of hiking trails just a stone’s throw from the city’s limit!
All this to say, Washington residents take outdoor recreation seriously, and thankfully, there’s plenty of outdoor activities to choose from.
Further Reading: The Epic 7 Wonders of Washington
#2. The summers are perfect
One of the biggest perks of living in Washington state is the dreamy summer weather. In the major cities, summer temperatures rarely exceed 90s and you can count on sunshine from mid-May through mid-September.
Believe me, the summer weather definitely makes up for the winter blues. In fact, many of our friends refuse to move from Washington because summer here is better than most other states.
They’d sooner rent/purchase a home to escape the winter, but couldn’t fathom moving from Washington altogether because of the blissful summer season. It’s never humid or muggy so you can enjoy time outside, and outdoor recreation is a huge deal around here!
#3. There’s no state income tax
Round of applause for my favorite thing about living in Washington: the lack of state income taxes!
Which is actually a big deal when you think of it this way: The exact same salary in the neighboring state of Oregon would automatically bring in 10% less because of Oregon’s income tax.
For example, if you earn $50,000 annually you can expect to keep approximately $5,000 more a year and that adds up quickly.
What’s more, there’s only 9 states in America without state income tax — and Washington just happens to be one of them (lucky us!).
That’s why so many folks from Portland, Oregon choose to move to Washington for retirement.
#4. Washington is a very dog friendly state
In fact, Washington is considered the most dog friendly state in America, go figure! Spend a weekend in Seattle and you’ll see that dogs are not reserved for the country, folks in cities love them too.
You’ll see dogs at restaurants, cafes, parks and even a handful of workplaces.
If you plan on moving to Washington with a dog, you have a clear advantage of making friends because you’ll be meeting other people at dog parks or during your walks.
#5. Job opportunities
For this section I’ll focus Seattle because it’s the most populous city in the state and the place most folks moving to Washington choose.
Seattle has an astounding amount of career opportunities, especially in the tech industry.
In fact, Seattle consistently ranks as one of the top 10 best cities in the country for jobs, thanks to the strong job economy in this tech-centric city.
And since some of the biggest tech companies (in the entire world) are clustered into Seattle’s city limits, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that Seattle is considered one of the best cities in America for tech jobs.
Home to Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Nintendo and Microsoft. Over the past few years a handful of other notable companies moved to Seattle like Adobe, Google, Apple and Facebook.
But don’t let me fool you – competition is fierce. These renowned companies have a very large and talented pool of applicants to choose from, so folks that live in Seattle can’t help but take their careers seriously.
#6. Washingtonians care about the environment
One thing you’ll quickly learn after moving to Washington state is that respect for the environment is a big deal. In fact, Washington is considered one of the top 10 greenest states in the country.
What does that mean for daily life in Washington? Well, for starters, you’ll become a pro at recycling, composting and consignment shopping. Folks in Washington tend to take great pride in leaving a small impact on the environment and their daily actions reflect that.
Shopping at Goodwill is not taboo (rather, it’s complimented) and plastic is seen more rarely, so stock up on these before you make the big move!
#7. Love wine? You’ll love living in Washington state
Washington is the second highest wine producing state in the country, second only to California. How impressive is that!
Home to 792 wineries, it’s safe to say you will never go thirsty living in Washington state. In fact, one of our favorite ways to spend an easy weekend afternoon is to head to a winery. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded folks gently sipping the day away, it’s pure bliss.
Check out the wineries in the Columbia Gorge during your next visit to get a better understanding of this robust industry and welcome past time.
#8. The locals are very active
Even with our reputation of being a rainy state (we’ll cover this shortly), Washingtonians are still considered some of the most active folks in the country.
Officially, we’re the 8th most active state in the country. Which means that your coworkers and friends will probably invite you out for weekend hikes before you hit up the breweries.
The Pacific Northwest draws hikers, campers, mountain sport enthusiasts and all sorts of outdoorsy types. You won’t be able to escape the outdoor lifestyle while living in Washington.
#9. Progressive policies
Whether you consider progressive policies a con or pro of living in Washington is up to you, but for me, it’s something I appreciate.
Washington is one of eleven Death with Dignity Act states, recently passed paid family leave, legalized marijuana and is all in for marriage equality. And while I personally haven’t relied on any of these policies firsthand, I am glad they exist for all.
Cons of Living in Washington State
#1. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
This goes hand-in-hand with the rain and grayness mentioned a minute ago. The grayness is real and it’s the reason so many people are hesitant about moving to Washington.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a disorder that makes folks prone to getting bummed out due to lack of sunshine (this is obviously not a medical definition).
Honestly, between January – March, the gray weather has me clawing at the wall! However, there are ways around SAD while living in Washington — invest in a Happy Light – here’s the one I use daily.
A Happy Light, you say? Yes, it’s a bright lamp that emulates sunlight and provides benefits similar to sunshine. We use ours every single day, plus it helps our plants grow like crazy, too.
My husband likes to joke that Washington weather has two settings: rain and bliss. He’s not wrong.
#2. The housing market
Living in Washington won’t come cheap and the ever increasing home prices only cement the fact further. The pacific northwest is a very desirable destination to be, as such, homes are expensive.
For this portion, I’ll focus on the housing prices in Seattle because it’s the most populous city in Washington.
Seattle is considered one of the most expensive cities in the country to buy a home — which is definitely something to consider if you plan on moving to Seattle to settle down long-term.
If you’d like to live close to downtown, starter homes (requiring some work) start around $765,000 and increase annually.
And yes, I understand that exorbitant housing costs are not unique to Washington – but it’s still very unfortunate.
#3. People tend to be more reserved
I think folks that live in Washington are kind, but definitely reserved. I don’t know if it’s the gray weather, but folks like to keep to themselves which means making new friends can be challenging for new comers.
In my experience, Washingtonians will greet you nicely but they won’t invite you out often. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s been my experience and I’m a lifelong local.
There’s a way around this con of living in Washington though – befriend other transplants! It should be easy to find folks that recently moved to Washington, especially at work.
#4. Threat of wildfires
As of lately, the biggest con of living in Washington is the constant threat of wildfires.
If 2020 and 2021 has taught me anything about living in Washington it’s that wildfires are becoming a part of my daily life.
It’s heartbreaking to see record-setting wildfires fill the city with dense black smoke during the summer months and the occurrences are definitely on the rise.
#5. It rains a lot
It probably comes as no surprise that it rains a lot in Washington. In fact, during the winter months, Washington is the 5th most rainy state in the country.
So buckle in, because the gloomy and gray winter months will feel much longer when you live in Washington state.
But listen, our nickname as the Evergreen State is well earned. Living in Washington state means being surrounded by beauty year-round, mostly thanks to the constant rainfall.
Just remember to pick up the handy tool I mentioned earlier to make winters a bit easier.
#6. The sales tax is high
Clocking in at 6.5%, Washington state has some of the highest sales tax in the country. In addition to the state sales tax, you’ll also need to factor in city-specific sales taxes too, which means your actual sales tax rate may be as high as 10.25% (in Seattle).
Pros & Cons of Living in Washington State (Post Summary)
- The beauty of the Pacific Northwest
- Summers are perfect
- No state income tax
- Washington is a dog friendly state
- Job opportunities
- Washingtonians care about the environment
- Great wine and plenty of it
- Washington is an active state
- Progressive policies
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- The housing market
- People are reserved
- Threat of wildfires
- It rains a lot
- High sales tax
Sounds nice but rains too much.
You concentrated to much on the west side of the state.
LeeAnn Rivera says
Moving from Calif to Wa has been the worst experience of my life. From the rain, constant gloom(therapy lights didn’t help) to the flooding and grumpy neighbors you really start to hate the color green. There are beautiful flowers though.
Completely agree about the people. I’ve never been treated so horribly across the board by the majority of those I’ve met here. King County is the worst. The motto should be, “Welcome to Washington State…stay for the trees, but leave because of the people.’
Larry Perkins says
Yeah well your ?. It’s beautiful all the way across the state and if If you want to get a little wanting for something different there’s a patch of desert ?️ from the trip cities to Walla Walla.Thats it for me Mike B.
There are 4 National Parks in Washington. Cascade, Olympic, Rainer, and St. Hellens
Antonina Pattiz says
Mount Saint Helens is a national monument, but I’m all for it being designated as a national park! I love that place!
Lived here for 18 yrs. Summers are great. House prices are too high. Met a lot of wonderful people. It’s over crowded, can’t enjoy the solitude of a beautiful place like this with the crowds of others trying to do the same. Luckily I met friends that showed me the lesser known places to actually get away from the crowds. I’m happy I moved here. It was definitely worth it.
Susan Ellis says
Let’s keep our little secret.
Sally A. Smith says
I would think that would be because the Eastside is not very often considered part of Washington, until they want our tax revenue.
As a washingtonian who grew up in eastern Washington and lived in western Washington for many years after high school, I can tell you for certain that both sides of the state are completely opposite. This article is great for specifically western Washington, but having moved back to eastern Washington many years ago the sun and hot weather, agriculture and wineries, and beautiful dry climate is another world compared to the west. Research it for yourself.
Daniel H says
Never met a Washington person I didn’t like! I never been to WA but I’ve been to BC close by. Rain doesn’t scare me and I don’t tan easy on the skin much anymore either, ha. Count me in and I’m only 46 years young. :o)
Moved from California and really appreciate the rain,you just learn to do thing inside to keep busy
I was born and raised in Tacoma, Wa.. Truthfully, after 60 plus years I am sick and tired of the cold and gray. It’s almost July here and hardly any nice days since last September 2021, yes thats right! I used to enjoy lots of fishing here but couldn’t care less anymore and to me, the “right” place to live is somewhere in southern sunny California, that sounds grand to me!
Also, no hurricanes or massive twisters. Even if Rainier or one of rhe other mountains blows,the WEST side of the mountains is probably the best place in the country to live. Just stay out of the river valleys – and for heaven’s sake don’t live in Orting – and you should be fine.
Antonio Sanchez says
Does Ortin gets flooded? Which area close to Sumner is ok to live?
Doesn’t rain that much east of cascades. State is divided down the middle regarding weather and other things
I visited Washington state back in 2013 just before I purchased my home in East Central Florida. I flew in to the SEATAC airport then rented a car and drove to Port Angeles. From a Red Lion hotel in Port Angeles I spent the next few days visiting Olympic National Park and took the black ball ferry ride across the straits of Juan de Fucca to Victoria Island BC. I went in the middle of October and had the misfortune of encountering an unusual weather system that brought November like weather early to Port Angeles but even so I really liked it. I have wanted to go back ever since but family commitments keep me in Florida. I have been toying with the idea of selling my home in the muggy and humid Sunshine state and moving to Washington state permanently. Perhaps some day I will.
Antonina Pattiz says
I wish you luck if you choose to make such a big move! Life is more interesting when we do exciting things, keep me posted if you make the leap!
I agree with you. Thank God the east side is better.
Susan Phatsadavong says
Thanks for all the info. We are still debating rather to move to Washington State or Portland. We will visit this winter 2022 and visit again in the following winter 2023 before decide to make our move. We plan to sell our 4 homes and take off. Florida sun, muggy and the humidity is getting me fat, bloated AND prevent me from biking and many outdoors activities. I see enough beaches, I’m ready for the mountain and trails.
Antonina Pattiz says
Love the adventurous spirit! If you’re into mountains and hiking, you’ll enjoy the PNW! Worth mention, you may find Washington a more viable alternative to Oregon simply because of the lack of state income tax (just like in Florida!).
Do not move here if you have a Special Needs child. The amount of red tape is excruciating and the constant thought of losing benefits is very stressful. Traffic is horrendous and the weather leaves much to be desired six months out of the year. It’s nice and green though. Lots of parks and a beautiful coastline.
Antonina Pattiz says
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I think other readers will find it helpful.
Lana Tasker says
I have an autistic daughter. I am surprised a more progressive state would be this way.
Kathleen Jimenez says
My husband was just accepted yesterday for a job in Bellevue. We’re moving from Las Vegas and both of us cannot wait for green,rain, big trees and most importantly, cooler summers. We’re prepared for expensive housing and to us, it’s worth it all. We can’t wait
Lana Tasker says
I love it up there near Port Angeles etc. I am from Colorado and we get 300 plus days of intense sun and I am actually sick of it. The altitude here is starting to bother me too. It’s so dry and barely rains here. My nose is so dry all the time and I feel tired a lot. I felt so good when I went up there this fall! I sleep so much better at sea level. I love rain and clouds against the green it doesn’t seem gloomy. Gloomy to me is dark cloud with white snow or brown grass.
Phyllis josett says
46.6 annual inches of rainfall in New York compared to 38 inches annual rainfall in Washington state. Been a fact for years. Did you forget there is a rainforest western Washington that causes a lot of mist? Lived there many years and am anxious to move back
Michael Dean Nible says
Yes there is a bubble on the east side of Lake Washington where you can paddle your Kayak in peace, safe from the crime and squalor of the Seattle and Tacoma streets. High rates of of crime and violence by certain groups in Federal Way, Kent, Auburn, Burien, Rainier Valley and Lakewood is real. I am a life long resident of the Seattle area and it is disheartening. As long as people ignore these realities when assessing the Pros and Cons of life here, the problems just will keep increasing.
Moved from Arizona, worst mistake I ever made you only get 2 months of nice weather. The rest is wind, rain and snow. It’s miserable here very boring. I miss the southwest more things to do and better food as well
I’m a NWN the weather definitely is much nicer now than many years ago!
It was a great place to raise your kids! We’ve had over 1 million people move here in the last 10 years! And the traffic is a nightmare! It used to be so affordable now one of the MOST expensive place to live!
Yes! Thank you! It’s a lot of Western Washington
I live in eastern washington, tricities, its alright here, winters are cold though, last summer was blazing hot, its nice overall and good to raise a family in the sense its homely living but it is boring and we gotta travel east to spokane or west to seattle or portland to actually do anything entertaining with children.
Visiting in a couple of weeks in the hopes of finding our summer home. Thanks for the tips and perspective!
Ann H. says
You forgot to mention dogs can be attacked by eagles and killed so don’t think of leaving your dog (of any size) outside alone and please be aware the eagle is not frightened of you so will fly directly over your head to attack your dog. Luckily my dog is 70 lbs and jumped up at the eagle and scared it. And there is nothing you are allowed to do about it.
There are large woodpeckers that will start hammering on your house and ruining it and there is nothing you can do about the bird. There are bears, coyotes, and cougars that roam the suburbs and kill pets all the time and you can do nothing. There is little to no service to remove snow from streets in the suburbs so you may get stranded. And since most houses depend on electricity the antiquated lines can be taken down in any of the many windy winter storms leaving you stranded unless you have the money to invest in a whole house generator.
Then there are the huge trees surrounding most areas that can come down at any time during the many windy winter storms and destroy your home hopefully you’re not in it at the time and you are not allowed to cut down the trees. Then let’s talk about attempting to walk your dog when people let their dogs run lose all over the place. Washington is a very backward state in many ways including doctors and vets so please be very careful if you think about moving here.
Oh and your property tax can double in a year or two so don’t be fooled by no state taxes they get you one way or another. Oh and the crooked contractors. We went to a home show and were met at the door by state reps providing brochures on how not to get taken which never happened in the state we used to live in. Think long and hard before moving here!!!