A true gem of the Pacific Northwest, Washington State is loved by residents and visitors alike. The state is known for its lush natural beauty. Home to some of the most magnificent mountains, forests, and rugged coastlines in North America, it’s no wonder so many people move here for the gorgeous views and abundant outdoor recreation. But there’s more to love about Washington than just its forests and landscapes.
This article will cover everything you need to know if you’re thinking about moving to Washington State. From awesome activities in Seattle, to the state’s weather and climate, to the best small cities to live and work in, we’ve got you covered! Keep reading to learn more about the “Evergreen State” and find out if it’s the right place for you.
What It’s Like To Live in Washington State
Bordered by the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north, Idaho to the East, Oregon to the South, and the Pacific Ocean to the west, the land which now comprises Washington State was ceded by the British Empire in 1846, along with the rest of the Washington Territory. Since then, the state has grown in population, industry, and culture. It is now one of the most affluent and socially liberal states in the country, ranking among the best in terms of life expectancy and job opportunities.
You’ll never run out of things to do in Washington State. If you love the amenities of city life and the great outdoors, you get the best of both worlds in Washington. If you live in or near the Seattle area, you have access to some of the west coast’s best music and art festivals, shopping, and activities, and you’ll live in close proximity to incredible restaurants, bars, wineries, and coffee shops. But even in the heart of the city, you’re never far from the peace and tranquility of the great outdoors.
The best neighborhoods in Washington aren’t all in Seattle and its surrounding suburbs. If the big city isn’t your thing, there are many smaller cities to consider, including:
Washington State By The Numbers
You can’t judge a place by the facts and figures. To get a true sense for Washington State and its people and culture, you’d have to visit and immerse yourself in the place. But the statistics of a place can give you a basic sense of what to expect if you’ve never been there before.
Here are some of the key facts, figures, and demographics to know about Washington State:
- Washington comprises 71,362 square miles of land.
- The state has a total population of 7,614,893, according to the last U.S. census; the greater Seattle area makes up about half of the entire population.
- The cost of living in Washington State is 118.7 — significantly above the national average.
- The state is home to some large colleges and universities, including the University of Washington, Washington State University, and Western Washington University.
- The median household income in Washington is $73,775, which is among the highest in the country.
- Western Washington gets an average of 152 sunny days each year and gets about 38 inches of rain annually.
- The state is known as one of the most mountainous in the nation, home to 3,167 named mountain peaks.
Moving to Washington State: Pros & Cons
Like any place, there are wonderful things about living in Washington, as well as a few less-than-wonderful things. Keep in mind that people want different things in their home state, so what’s a major advantage to one person may be a pain in the side of the next person. That said, below are some of the most commonly cited pros and cons of living in Washington State.
- You’re never far from the great outdoors. One of the amazing things about living in Washington State is that, no matter where you are, natural beauty is right at your doorstep. Even Seattle is surrounded by forests and the Puget Sound, and it’s within easy driving distance of some of the most beautiful forest environments in the world.
- Washington has a robust economy and great employment opportunities. Home to some of the most recognizable names in business, including Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco Wholesale, and Nordstrom, there’s no shortage of job opportunities. In fact, the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
- There’s a low-income tax burden. While you’re still on the hook for federal taxes, Washington is the only state on the west coast that doesn’t have a state income tax. The government generates revenue from sales and property taxes as well as business taxes, but the overall tax burden on individual citizens is still relatively low.
- The state has high resident satisfaction. Compared with other states, Washingtonians consistently rate their state as the best to live in (or at least one of the best)! In resident polls, people who live in Washington almost always rate their local communities and their sense of wellbeing in positive terms.
- Washington has a high cost of living. Washington is a great place to live. Unfortunately, that means you pay something of a premium to live there. The state has some of the highest home prices and rent in the country. Fortunately, this also tends to translate into higher incomes.
- There’s not much diversity. In terms of its racial, cultural, religious, and ideological diversity, Washington is lacking. The population of Washington State is 69.3 percent white, and only 19.3 percent of Washingtonians speak a non-English language. While the state prides itself on its progressive politics, it’s not the place for those looking to meet a wide range of people from different backgrounds.
- It rains. A lot. The forests in Washington are breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, the cost of this beauty is rain, rain, and more rain! This is especially true in western Washington. On average, it rains about 150 days a year in Seattle.
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