The small towns, plentiful forests, and quaint beaches make Washington state a good potential candidate for retirees to settle down in. The relaxing views of the water and deep connection with nature have helped foster multiple communities of retirees, many of which are focused on good health and exercise by making good use of the state’s parks and trails.
In addition to the wealth of things to do, Washington state does not tax things like Social Security benefits or withdrawals from 401(k) or pension distributions, making it a great place to retire and make the most of savings. Below are 10 of some of the best towns to retire in Washington state, what they offer, how big they are, and more.
For many, Gig Harbor is at the top of the list of places to retire in Washington state. With its deep connection to maritime industry and history, down to naming itself the Maritime City, Gig Harbor has all the coziness of a small town while still being in close proximity to larger cities like Tacoma or Seattle.
Retirees can find peace and quiet as well as stunning views of the Puget Sound without having to live too far away from modernity. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is only 30 miles away from Gig Harbor and ferries to other towns are easily accessible. Within the town itself is a walkable waterfront filled with shops, galleries, museums, restaurants, and more.
The historic Victorian buildings and gorgeous views off of the Olympic Peninsula has cemented Port Townsend as one of the prettiest towns in Washington state. The town’s smaller size makes it a comfortable place for retirees while still having plenty to do and explore.
Beyond the town’s various shops and restaurants, Port Townsend is also home to Fort Worden State Park. Inside of the park is the Fort Worden Lifelong Learning Center which has 16 nonprofits and other businesses. Port Townsend also has plenty of public programming that focuses on wellness, recreation, education, and arts.
Across the Puget Sound from Seattle is Port Orchard, a cute and quiet small town with a bustling water recreation community. The town has plentiful views of both the water and the mountain ranges. Port Orchard also provides easy access to Manchester State Park for those with an interest in outdoor recreation.
Port Orchard is a short half hour trip away from Tacoma and a 90 minute ferry ride from Seattle. In the city itself are museums, farmers markets, restaurants, and more. Port Orchard is also home to the Hobbit House attraction, drawing in movie, book, and fantasy fans from all over.
Few places are as breathtaking and relaxing as Ocean Shores. Retirees looking for genuine peace and quiet can find plenty of it here, with the city only having a population of 6,700. The town has misty mornings, ocean views, and sandy beaches with plenty more natural parks and recreation areas to explore.
The area is frequented by tourists during the summer but even then the area remains peaceful. The resort itself is also away from the actual downtown and suburb area, keeping residents and visitors fairly separated. Ocean Shores downtown is filled with restaurants and shops, most of which is run by independent business owners.
With the highest population of seniors in the entire state, Sequim is one of the top places for retirees. Located on the Olympic Peninsula, the town is known for its reasonable housing prices and mild but sunny weather. Sequim also has access to some of the best healthcare in Washington and is famous for its lavender cultivation and dungeness crab population.
Sequim is known for multiple festivals that it hosts yearly, including the Irrigation Festival which is the longest continually running festival in Washington. They also have the Sequim Lavender Weekend every July. The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is located to the north of the city and includes hiking trails and a lighthouse.
Listed as one of the best places to retire in by Forbes in 2017 and 2019, Wenatchee’s low cost of living combined with its low crime rate has made it an ideal place for retirees. Known as the Apple Capital of the World, Wenatchee has plentiful orchards, vineyards, and farms. Wenatchee is located on the Columbia River, providing residents with peaceful outdoor scenery while simultaneously having a lively downtown and thriving culture.
Despite being a smaller size town, Wenatchee has plenty to do. The downtown area has been revitalized and houses restaurants, cafes, shops, and more. Wenatchee also has a lively art community and lots of outdoor recreation, including a walkable 85 piece sculpture project.
The state’s capital might not immediately come to mind when looking for places to retire but it actually has several retirement communities. The city is known for great healthcare and is only an hour from Seattle without being as expensive.
Olympia has great recreation both in and outside of the city. There are plenty of walkable areas like the Governor’s Mansion, the capitol campus, and multiple gardens. Plenty of public parks and recreation centers are located in Olympia as well. The South Sound Wine Trail and the South Sound Coffee Trail run through the city, taking more adventurous retirees out of the city through nature preserves and conservation areas.
Just a short ferry ride away from Seattle is Bainbridge Island, a popular weekend getaway destination for city dwellers. What many people don’t know is that it is also a great place to retire. Bainbridge Island is also one of the safest cities in the state and has access to great healthcare, including a helicopter pad that can ferry residents to Seattle for specialist care if need be.
In addition to the town’s popular restaurants, cafes, shops, and art galleries, Bainbridge Island has multiple public parks, beaches, and historical sites. Despite being popular with visitors, Bainbridge Island is still peaceful and not as bustling and crowded as downtown Seattle.
Named after the peninsula it resides on, the town of Long Beach shares 28 miles of sandy shores with 5 neighboring small towns, all of which are great places to retire. Although it sounds crowded to have 6 cities on one peninsula, Long Beach is the longest beach in the states, giving ample room between towns for residents to enjoy the scenery and take part in recreation.
Long Beach is perhaps the epitome of peace and quiet. The area has fairly mild weather year round, with maybe occasional storms in winter only. The beaches are perfect for strolling during spring and summer. Just outside of town are multiple state parks, including the Cape Disappointment State Park.
With Seattle less than an hour’s drive away, Snohomish is a peaceful small town with a lower tax rate for retirees than the national average. Living in Snohomish means having access to great healthcare, including the University of Washington Medical Centers. Snohomish weather is quite mild, with summers peaking at 80 degrees and winters dipping to 35 degrees. It seldom snows, meaning inclement weather is typically unlikely.
Snohomish has small town vibes, with the area primarily containing fine dining, shopping, and live entertainment. They also have cultural and educational centers. For the most part, the town is peaceful and laidback, perfect for retirees looking to relax in peace and quiet.