How is Washington State for retirement?

If you are looking to retire on the West Coast, Washington State may be a good place to retire. Find out how Washington is for retirement.

3 min read

If you are approaching retirement, one of the things you have to decide is where you will live in retirement. Generally, most Americans are interested in moving to a state with favorable taxes, a good climate, outdoor recreation, and low crime rate. One of the states you can consider relocating to is Washington, which has become a popular retirement destination for seniors on the west coast.

Washington is a good state to retire in if you are looking for a state with favourable taxes, good weather, scenic landscapes, and dozens of outdoor activities. The state does not have income taxes, and you won’t pay income taxes on retirement incomes such as social security, pension, and retirement distributions. The abundance of mountains, lakes, beaches, and rivers makes Washington a good state to explore the outdoors.

Is Washington a tax-friendly state to retire?

Washington State has a favorable tax system with no state income taxes. This means that you won't pay state income taxes on social security benefits, pension payouts, and retirement distributions from your 401(k), IRA, or other retirement accounts. Also, if you find a part-time job in retirement, you won't pay state income taxes on your salary. However, you will still owe federal income taxes on your retirement earnings.

Since the state does not have an income tax, Washington imposes sales taxes to raise revenue. The statewide sales tax is 6.5%, while cities and counties charge up to 4% in local sales tax. Cumulatively, the average sales tax in Washington State can be as high as 9.29%. Though the sales tax is higher than the national average, some goods such as prescription drugs, groceries, and newspapers are exempt from sales tax.

Are property taxes high in Washington State?

If you are a homeowner in Washington, you should expect to pay property taxes on your home. The property tax rates are slightly lower than the national average, and you should expect to pay an average effective rate of 0.93%. This means for every $100,000 of your home’s assessed value, you should expect to pay about $930.

Washington State offers a property tax exemption program for seniors. To be eligible for this exemption, you must be age 61 or older and unable to work to an injury or disability. Also, your household income must be below your county's income threshold, which can range from $45,000 to $67,411. If you qualify for the exemption, the state will freeze your home's assessed value, and part of your home value will be exempt from property taxes up to $70,000.

Reasons why you should retire in Washington

Here are some reasons why Washington State is a good place to retire:

Tax benefits

Washington does not impose income taxes, and this makes it attractive to retirees who are on a budget. This means that you won’t pay state income taxes on your 401(k) withdrawals, social security, pension, and other retirement incomes. Also, there are low property taxes, and some goods like prescription drugs and groceries are exempted from sales tax.

Mild climate

Washington State, also known as the Evergreen State, is known to receive lots of rain. Though the Pacific Northwest receives a lot of rain, the state has a mild climate all year round, which helps lower energy costs. On the eastern side of the state, the state experiences a warm desert climate, which makes it great for wine production and plenty of craft breweries.

Quality healthcare

If you want to live an active and healthy lifestyle in retirement, you should consider retiring in Washington. The state boasts world-class health care and is home to some of the best hospitals like the University of Washington Medical Center. If you are looking for assisted living communities, there are active adult communities in Washington where you can access the required medical care and specialists.

Low crime

Overall, Washington has a lower crime rate than the national average, and it is considered relatively safe for retirees. The state has the 12th lowest crime rate among all the 50 states, with a crime rate of 284.4 offenses for every 100,000 residents.

Though the violent crime rate is lower, Washington has the fourth-highest property crime rate. Washington's property crime rate is 39% higher than the national average, or 2946.17 offenses per 100,000 people.

Outdoor recreation

The mild climate allows retirees to spend time outside and enjoy the majestic spaces that nature has to offer. Washington is surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers, and a dozen more recreational activities. You can enjoy the stunning mountain views, go for a boat ride, go fishing, or enjoy water sports.

Best cities to retire in Washington

Gig Harbor

If you are interested in a small-town experience, you will love Gig harbor. The town has a population of about 10,000 people. It is located across the Narrows Bridge, and it is less than an hour from Seattle. Gig Harbor is good for outdoor activities like kayaking, boating, fishing, and hiking. With more than a quarter of its population being seniors, there are plenty of events and volunteer activities to keep you busy all year round.


Olympia is the capital of Washington, and it allows retirees to explore public parks, recreation centers, and historical buildings. Some of the historic buildings you can visit include the Capitol building and the Governor’s mansion. The city also hosts some of the best hospitals in Washington.

Port Townsend

Port Townsend is located on the Olympic Peninsula, and it is home to beautiful Victorian architecture and downtown buildings. Though Port Townsend gives you a small-town feel, there are lots of activities to keep you busy. You can discover history at the Fort Worden Historical State Park, go for a picnic at the Chetzemoka Park, or learn history at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.


Wenatchee is known for its charming neighborhoods, vibrant cultural scene, and affordability. The city lies on the Columbia River and it overlooks the Cascade Mountains. If you tour the countryside, you can find farms, vineyards, and fruit orchards to sample the different fruit varieties and wines.