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