Retiring in Washington
This article will take you through the main things you need to consider if you are retiring in Washington.
Washington state is a beautiful place to retire, with a diverse range of landscapes and outdoor activities to keep retirees entertained.
While there is no official count of how many people retire to Washington each year, data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that, in 2020, Washington had a population of approximately 7.7 million people, with more than 1 million residents over the age of 65.
What age can you retire in Washington?
There is no specific retirement age mandated by law in Washington, which means individuals can retire whenever they choose, as long as they are able to financially support themselves. However, there are some age-related benefits and considerations for retirees in Washington:
Social Security benefits: The earliest age at which you can begin receiving Social Security benefits is 62, but if you delay taking benefits, your monthly payments will increase. Full retirement age (FRA) is between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year. Delaying benefits until after FRA can result in even higher monthly payments.
Medicare eligibility: Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, regardless of retirement status. However, if you choose to retire before age 65, you will need to find alternative healthcare coverage until you become eligible for Medicare.
Age discrimination: While there is no mandatory retirement age in Washington, it is still illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on age.
Retirement savings: Regardless of retirement age, it is important for individuals to start saving for retirement as early as possible. Many financial experts recommend saving at least 15% of your income for retirement.
However, like any location, there are both pros and cons to retiring in the state.
Why do people retire to Washington?
No state income tax: Washington does not have a state income tax, which can be a huge advantage for retirees living on a fixed income, as it means they won't have to pay state taxes on their retirement income.
Low property taxes: Compared to other states, property taxes in Washington are relatively low. This can be a significant financial benefit for retirees who own their own homes.
Natural beauty: Washington is known for its stunning natural beauty, from the rugged coastline to the majestic mountains. The state is home to several national parks, including Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park, as well as numerous lakes and rivers.
Outdoor activities: Washington offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and skiing. The state is also home to several world-class golf courses.
Healthcare: Washington is home to some of the best hospitals and medical centers in the country, making it an attractive destination for retirees who may require regular medical care.
Culture and entertainment: Washington is home to several vibrant cities, including Seattle and Tacoma, which offer a range of cultural and entertainment options, including museums, theaters, and music venues.
What puts people off retiring to Washington?
Rain: Washington is known for its rainy weather, particularly in the western part of the state. This can be a downside for retirees who prefer sunny, warm weather.
High cost of living: Compared to other states, the cost of living in Washington can be relatively high. Housing, food, and healthcare costs are all generally higher in Washington than in other states.
Traffic: With a growing population, traffic can be a major issue in some areas of Washington, particularly in the Seattle metropolitan area.
Natural disasters: While Washington is not as prone to hurricanes as some other states, it is still at risk for natural disasters such as earthquakes and wildfires, which can be a concern for some retirees.
Best places to retire in Washington
If Washington is your chosen retirement state, here are some of the best places to retire in:
Spokane: Located in eastern Washington, Spokane is a great retirement destination for those who enjoy outdoor activities. With a low cost of living, good healthcare options, and a thriving cultural scene, Spokane has a lot to offer retirees.
Sequim: Known as the "Lavender Capital of North America," Sequim is a picturesque town on the Olympic Peninsula. Retirees can enjoy the mild climate, beautiful beaches, and numerous hiking trails in the area.
Port Townsend: This historic Victorian seaport is a charming retirement destination with a thriving arts and culture scene. Retirees can enjoy waterfront dining, boutique shopping, and the numerous festivals and events held throughout the year.
Bainbridge Island: Located just a short ferry ride from Seattle, Bainbridge Island offers a peaceful and scenic retirement destination. Retirees can enjoy the island's numerous parks and beaches, as well as the vibrant arts and cultural scene.
Walla Walla: This small town in southeastern Washington is known for its award-winning wineries and vineyards, making it a great retirement destination for wine enthusiasts. With a low cost of living and excellent healthcare options, Walla Walla is an attractive option for retirees.
In conclusion, retiring in Washington has its advantages and disadvantages. While the state offers a mild climate, stunning natural scenery, and a diverse range of cultural activities, the high cost of living, especially in cities like Seattle, may be a drawback for some retirees. Additionally, the state experiences occasional earthquakes and wildfires, which may pose a risk. It's essential to consult with a financial advisor to evaluate all of the expenses associated with retiring in Washington, such as property taxes, healthcare, and living costs, to make an informed decision about whether the state is a suitable retirement destination for you.
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.