Surprisingly, Washington is not on most retirement lists, which is a shame, as there are many good places to retire in Washington. Washington has something for every retiree, including large cities like Seattle and Bellevue, with professional sports teams, five-star restaurants, and the symphony.
Washington is also home to several small towns, both on the water and inland. Plus, finding outdoor adventures in Washington is always easy, as you are never far away from the ocean, rivers, and multiple mountain ranges.
Washington offers an abundance of outdoor activities, from hiking, biking, and camping in the mountains to spending time on the water fishing, boating or kayaking. Those looking for a place to retire amongst lakes and numerous state parks to explore will fall in love with Washington.
And for those who love a good cup of coffee, Washington is definitely the state for you. But coffee drinkers are not the only ones able to find their favorite beverage in abundance here, with 900 wineries and 50,000 acres of vineyards, wine connoisseurs will love exploring the abundant regional wines.
The mild climate of Washington is very appealing to those who are not interested in melting in dry heat or freezing in frigid temperatures. Though it’s joked that Washington is a very rainy state, they have nothing on Hawaii. Washington does get rain, but mainly in the winter months. Additionally, because of the mild temperature changes, those who love spending time outdoors will be able to enjoy the beauty of this state year-round.
Here’s another advantage. Washington is one of the tax-friendliest states for retirees. First, because Washington does not have an income tax, so all retirement funds, like pensions and social security, are tax-free. Property taxes are just below the national average too, making Washington even more appealing to retirees. The one catch is that Washington does have a high sales tax.
Finally, Washington is home to several notable hospitals, many of which made the 2019-20 USNews best hospital list, which includes rankings for various specialties. Of the many hospitals on the list 108 of Washington’s hospitals were featured on this list.
Where to Retire in State
- Gig Harbor
- Port Townsend
- Percent of Senior Population: 148,164
- Overall Population: 14.2%
Bellevue is one of the biggest cities in Washington, though its size does not detract from its beauty. With the Cascade Mountain Range sitting behind and Washington Lake to its front, this metropolitan area is perfect for retirees looking to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Bellevue has very mild climate conditions with highs in the mid-70s at the peak of summer and lows of mid-30s in the winter. Active retirees will love being able to enjoy the outdoors year-round.
There are two colleges located within Bellevue’s city limits, Bellevue College and City College, adding a note of vibrancy to this urban area. One of the benefits of the nearby colleges is the enhanced arts in the area, such as:
- Bellevue Arts and Crafts Fair
- Bellevue Arts Museum
- Biennial Sculpture Exhibition
Also, retirees looking for a city with a well-developed transit service will like Bellevue’s light rail and bus systems. These services allow for easy travel between Bellevue and Seattle, as well as around the local Bellevue area. Bellevue also offers some of the best shopping in the area and has the largest shopping complexes in the region.
Active retirees will enjoy taking advantage of the many local parks, like:
- Mercer Slough Nature Park
- Wilburton Hill Park
- Downtown Park
- Bellevue Botanical Garden
- Kelsey Creek Park & Farm
Plus, there is an abundance of water activities with the two lakes that frame the east and west side of the city. And when you need to get away from the city for some quiet time with nature there are several state parks nearby:
- Lake Sammamish State Park
- Squak Mountain State Park Natural Area
- Saint Edward State Park
- WA State Park
- Weowna Park Trails
There are several medical centers in Bellevue with a full-service hospital as well, Overlake Hospital. Plus, just a short drive away in Seattle there are several other hospitals to choose from there too.
- Percent of Senior Population: 26.5%
- Overall Population: 17,527
Anacortes, located in the northeast region of Washington, is situated on Fidalgo Island in Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. Formerly a fishing town, Anacortes is now home to almost 18,000 residents and more than a quarter of those are seniors.
And though the fishing industry no longer drives the economy of Anacortes, the city does thrive during tourist season. Plus, two local refineries add to the cities economic well-being.
The charming downtown area is filled with specialty stores, antique shops, and galleries. Anacortes also hosts festivals like Shipwreck Days, Waterfront Festival, and the art festival. Plus, live performances are available year-round at the Anacortes Community Theater.
Those looking to spend their retirement enjoying the outdoors, especially near the water, will particularly enjoy living in Anacortes. On the island, you can hike Mount Erie, which happens to be the highest point on Fidalgo. Or residents can head on over to Washington Park to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. There is also the Guemes Channel Trail, which is excellent for walking, running, or bicycling.
And just because Anacortes is on an island doesn’t mean that it lacks any of the mainland’s conveniences. Anacortes is home to multiple medical facilities, including the Island Hospital.
Though Anacortes is a prosperous city and full of tourism, the crime rate is half the national average. However, the one drawback for some is the median home price, which is above the national average at $502,645.
- Percent of Senior Population: 23.5%
- Overall Population: 10,717
Gig Harbor is one of the best places to retire in the country, according to Smart Asset. Gig Harbor is also one of the most picturesque cities you can find as it is beautifully framed by the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier backdrop.
Fishing and boat building once were the primary drivers of Gig Harbor’s economy, but over the years has changed significantly. Many of the residents live in Gig Harbor but commute to Tacoma, less than twenty minutes away. Also, due to its charm and lovely scenery, Gig Harbor has its fair share of tourists as well.
The downtown area has a strong Scandanavian and Croatian influence, as those were the first settlers in the area. You can see the cultural impact in the architecture and design of the area. Plus, many of the small boutiques, galleries, and shops, many of which are locally owned and operated, also reflect the city’s history.
The nearby state parks provide ample outdoor entertainment like crabbing, camping, kayaking, and fishing. Plus, Gig Harbor is a very walkable town, making it easy to stay active. And for the summer days, you would rather not walk there is a trolly that runs between the shopping district and waterfront area.
But what makes Gig Harbor standout above and beyond other Washington cities is that it is home to the most medical centers per 1,000 residents, making finding medical care easy.
- Percent of Senior Population: 32%
- Overall Population: 9,831
Port Townsend is one of the best cities to retire in the nation. It is a quiet waterfront town with views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. In addition to the beauty that surrounds Port Townsend, Port Townsend is full of historical buildings, many of which have been preserved to retain the cities authentic feel.
When passed over by the railroad, it was economically devastating; however, in the long run, residents of Port Townsend are thankful for the oversight. Had the railroad come through the town as past residents had once hoped, much if not all of the local charm and peace would have been lost. Today the downtown area is lined in cafes, restaurants, and galleries instead of the urban area it would have become.
The Port Townsend community is smaller than many other cities, less than 10,000, but boasts a large senior population, over thirty percent. In addition to seniors, Port Townsend attracts artists of all varieties including writers, musicians, singers, theater folk, visual artists, and crafters.
And with a thriving art community, Port Townsend offers a variety of art outlets, including multiple theaters for live performances, live music several nights a week, and art boutiques. Lovers of this type of community might also consider Evergreen in Colorado.
One of the greatest attractions Port Townsend has to offer is the abundance of local parks for retirees looking to stay active.
- Fort Worden State Park
- Olympic National Park
- Old Fort Townsend State Park
And after spending the day outdoors, retirees can enjoy a cold craft beer on the waterfront or a bite to eat at one of the many eateries in town.
Though it is a smaller town it does have its fair share of medical centers, 2.93 per 1,000 residents; including a full-service hospital, Jefferson General Hospital.
- Percent of Senior Population: 7,640
- Overall Population: 39.3%
Sequim is one of the driest areas in Washington, with only a 14-inch average annual rainfall. And though it may have a less than average rain, it has an abundant senior population, with 39% of the population 65+ years old.
Sequim is popular with retirees for several reasons. First, it is surrounded by natural beauty as it sits on Sequim Bay and has the Dungeness River running through it. Plus, the Olympic Mountains rests in the background, framing this picture-perfect town.
If you are looking to retire to a place where you can enjoy the outdoors and spend time out on the water, Sequim is the place for you. It has various nearby parks perfect for hiking, walking, biking, kayaking, and fishing:
- Sequim Bay State Park
- Dungeness River Audubon Center
- Purple Haze Organic Lavender Farm
- Pioneer Memorial Park
- Dungeness Wildlife Refuge
During the summer, Sequim hosts a farmers market that is abundant in fresh foods from the local agricultural region. There are also two summer festivals – the Irrigation Festival and the Sequim Lavender Festival, keeping Sequim a bustling town in the summer months.
Sequim Senior Center offers a variety of activities, classes, and events for the residents. The Sequim Senior Center hosts classes such as language, art, and computer classes. Plus, they offer Happy Hour events, trips to local attractions like the Clearwater Casino, and international trips too.
Though there is no hospital in town, it is still home to 6.72 medical centers per 1,000 residents. The closest hospitals are found in Port Angeles less than a half-hour away.