21 Pros and Cons of Living in Washington State

An image of Diablo lake in Washington State, USA. The photograph is taken from the top of a large and shows the lake in the middle of a deep velley. A snow capped mountain range is in the distance

The Pacific Northwest is a region of the United States that’s rapidly growing in popularity. People are enamored with Washington state for its beauty and growing job market. Young people are flocking to this state to begin their careers and explore what it has to offer.  

The Pacific Northwest offers some of the most beautiful coastline in the country and mountain ranges. It’s no wonder people are packing up their lives and heading to Washington. 

Pros of Living in Washington 

If you’re thinking of relocating to Washington or are already on your way, here are 16 reasons why living in Washington is one of the best places to be.  

It Offers Great Job Opportunities 

When you’re relocating to a new city or state, being able to secure a job is on many people’s minds. Unless you already have one lined up, of course. 

Washington is home to some of the country’s largest corporations. Due to the number of jobs available in the state, the average annual salary in the state is $66,000. 

Microsoft’s headquarters is in Redmond, Washington, for those looking to break into or remain in the tech industry. Redmond is just outside of Bellevue and not far from Seattle. 

The state is also the home base for Alaskan Airlines, an excellent company if you’re looking to start a career in the aviation industry. 

In the bustling city of Seattle, you’ll find Starbucks headquarters, another major corporation that offers jobs in the headquarters or in the hundreds of Starbucks stores in the area. 

Another large-scale company that has roots in Seattle is Amazon. They’re regularly hiring, giving the state more and more job opportunities. 

There’s more to Washington than working in their larger cities. Washington is one of the nation’s top agricultural producers of cherries and apples. 

Another primary industry is fishing. Due to having miles of Pacific coastline, they provide the country with some of the best seafood. If working in a corporate position isn’t for you, plenty of agricultural and fishing jobs are available. 

There Are Beautiful National Parks and Forests

One of the main attractions of Washington is all the natural beauty. There are countless parks throughout the state, but some of the most popular nature spots are their national parks. There are three national parks in the state: 

  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Olympic National Park
  • North Cascades National Park

All three of these beautiful parks are only hours away from the major cities of Seattle and Tacoma. Even if you live more inland or out east in Spokane, you can reach all three national parks in less than seven hours. 

In addition to the three magnificent national parks, there are nine national forests in Washington. The nine national forests are: 

  • Colville 
  • Olympic  
  • Gifford Pinchot
  • Kaniksu
  • Idaho Panhandle 
  • Mount Baker-Snoqualmie
  • Umatilla 
  • Wenatchee
  • Okanogan

These beautiful parks and forests offer thousands of miles of hiking trails and other activities to do, depending on the time of year. 

During the winter months, skiing and snowboarding are popular in certain parks, and in the summer, boating and water activities are perfect for cooling down.

It’s Less Than a Day’s Driving from Canada

A photo of Vancourver Canada with a Canadian Flag in the foreground. The photo shows a huge lake and a modern city with dozens of high rises

One of the best things about living in Washington is that you don’t need to hop on a plane to travel internationally. From almost anywhere in the state, you can drive into Canada in less than a day. 

For example, you can get to Vancouver, British Columbia, in less than five hours from most locations. For those who live on the west coast of the state, this is the perfect day trip.

If you don’t want to go to Vancouver or have been there before, Victoria is another option. You can take a ferry from Seattle into Victoria, British Columbia, for a quick but exciting trip from Washington’s west coast. 

The towns on the Olympic Peninsula are very close to Victoria too. Some ferries can take you from that point into Canada as well. Just make sure you have a passport with you before you head out on one of these adventures. 

It’s an Environmentally Friendly State

When we think of “green” states, the west coast of the nation ranks high. Washington is regularly ranking within the top five “greenest” states in the country. From plastic reduction to adding solar panels wherever possible, Washington is on a mission to save our planet. 

Washington ranked as one of the top states that ranked highest when it comes to energy consumption from renewable resources. It also ranked in the top ten for environmentally friendly buildings per capita. 

It’s People are Generally Happier

Data from a National Gallup poll showed that Washington residents are generally happier than those in other states. Residents tend to be more satisfied with services, opportunities, and the beauty of Washington. 

To be more specific, they ranked 13th. The people in Washington are quite pleased with their financial situation and their physical-well being. 

It Offers Affordable Higher Education 

Culture in the United States highly encourages people to pursue a higher education post-high-school. Unfortunately, college is expensive, and many people can’t afford it or are not willing to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. 

In 2015, Washington decided to cut college costs by 15-20%. This only applies to four-year colleges, but that makes getting a four-year degree in Washington much more affordable than in some other states. 

There are six public four-year universities in Washington you or a loved one can attend. The main two are the University of Washington and Washington State University. 

It Has Various Localities to Consider

When you say you’re moving to Washington, people probably assume you’re moving to a city such as Seattle or Olympia. While these larger cities appeal to many people, you’re not confined to city living when you relocate here. 

There are plenty of beach towns on the west coast that offer a slower way of life. Popular beach towns include Westport and Port Angeles. 

If city or beach living isn’t your speed, inland Washington has a lot of charm too. There are plenty of mountain or valley towns to choose from. Spokane is an adorable town that borders Idaho.

It’s a Dog-Friendly State

There’s no need to leave your furry friend behind when you live in Washington. This is a very dog-friendly state. There are countless parks to bring your dog with you to, and even restaurants and cafes encourage you to bring them when you dine outside. 

Many people think cities are no places for dogs because of all the concrete, but Seattle has ranked as the dog-friendliest city in the United States. There are even air conditioned lockers outside many stores where non-service animals aren’t allowed so you can quickly grab what you need and get back to your dog. 

There are 900 Wineries

A picture of a Vineyard in Maryhill Washington State. It shows dozens of rows of grape vines and a large stone structure on the right side

When you think of wineries on the west coast, your mind probably jumps to California. But did you know that Washington has almost one thousand wineries? For wine lovers, this is a beautiful state to live in. 

You can venture to wineries on weekends to sample some of the local wine and appreciate all your state can produce. You’ll find wineries scattered across the state. There are a few close to Seattle and then towards the Washington Oregon border. 

You Can Fly to Parts of Asia Nonstop

Asia has some gorgeous and exciting countries, but flying there from the United States can be long and tiring. If you live in Washington, there are several nonstop flights to certain cities in Japan, China, and other Asian countries. 

Some of the cities you can fly to nonstop from Washington are Taipei, Taiwan, Beijing and Shanghai, China, Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan. 

It will still take quite a bit of time with the time change, but it will take less time than if you were flying from New York or Florida because you won’t have to have a layover for hours.

Washington Has a Diverse Population 

Washington has over seven million people living there, and the population is still growing. With so many people brings a mix of cultures. Washington is pretty diverse compared to some other states. 

The state’s population breakdown is 69.3% white, 12.4% Hispanic, 8.9% Asian, and 3.7% African American. It may not seem that diverse at first glance, but for comparison purposes, let’s look at neighboring Idaho. The population is 81.8% white, 8.12% Hispanic, 1.49% Asian, and less than 1% African American. . 

With a pretty diverse population, people looking to move from other countries are attracted to this state because it tends to be more welcoming than states with less diversity. 

It’s Schools are Ranked 12th in the Nation

It’s pretty clear that Washington values education. In addition to making college more affordable, they rank 12th in the United States for public school systems. One of the main reasons people are moving to Washington is to give their children or future children a better education. 

It’s One of the Most Glaciated States

Besides Alaska, Washington is the most glaciated state in the United States. You can find glaciers on nearly every mountain in the state, putting the number of glaciers over 3,000. 

These glaciers are on top of the mountains in the North Cascades range, Olympic Range, and even Mount Rainier. 

Being the second most glaciated state makes Washington unique. It tells a story of past ice ages, and they’re beautiful to see when you’re out hiking or doing other outdoor activities. 

It’s the Only State Named After a President

An illustration of George Washington, one of the most famous presidents of the United States

I’m sure you thought that the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., was named after the first president, George Washington. Surprisingly, it wasn’t. Washington state was, though. 

When Washington gained statehood in 1853, it was going to be named Columbia. However, many people thought that Columbia was too similar to the District of Columbia, and Washington’s name was proposed, and it stuck. 

As the only state named after a president, and the United State’s first president, this makes Washington pretty unique. 

It Has Over 300 Breweries

For beer lovers, Washington is a fantastic place to live. Throughout the state, you’ll find over 300 breweries producing locally crafted beer. Washington doesn’t have the largest number of breweries in the nation, and many of these breweries don’t even produce 1,000 barrels of beer a year, but there are some unique creations here. 

The craft beer culture runs heavy in the state, specifically in cities like Seattle. You can find clusters of breweries in neighborhoods that make tasting new beers fun and easy to do. 

It Operates the Largest Ferry System in the Nation 

For ferry lovers, Washington is the place to be. Washington has the most extensive ferry system in the nation, with 21 ferries. These ferries take passengers across the Puget Sound and the Salish Sea to 20 different ports. 

The Washington State Ferries serve around 24 million people a year. The ferries take passengers to ports such as Seattle, Tacoma, and ports in British Columbia. These water highways serve tourists as well as those who are commuting to work. 

Cons of Living in Washington

As with living anywhere, it’s not always perfect, because if there was a perfect place, no one would live anywhere else. What may be a con to you may not be a con to someone else. Here are some of the downsides to living in Washington state. 

Sales Tax is High

The sales tax in Washington state is 6.5%. That’s higher than almost every other state in the nation. The good news is, it’s not the highest overall, but it’s up there. 

If you’re relocating to Washington state from a state like California or Tennessee, whose sales tax is 7%, you may not mind this change since it’s slightly lower than what you’re used to.

For those moving from a state with a lower sales tax, this may take some getting used to. Fortunately, since you won’t be paying any income tax, a higher sales tax isn’t a huge deal for most. 

You Have to Worry About Earthquakes

If you’re relocating from California or another state on a fault line, this may not be a massive deal for you. However, for those who aren’t used to living in a state where earthquakes are common, this can be scary and take some getting used to.

Fortunately, the last major earthquake in the state was in 2001. There are thousands of earthquakes in Washington every year, but few of those are large enough for people to feel them. 

You will feel some minor earthquakes from time to time, but learning about earthquake readiness can help you feel more prepared and less scared when the ground begins to shake. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Alaska

You Have to Worry About Tsunamis on the Coast

Living in coastal regions brings the potential threat of tsunamis all along the west coast of the United States. If you plan to live on the west coast of the state, you’ll want to keep this in mind. On the plus side, a tsunami hasn’t hit Washington state in over 300 years. 

While tsunamis aren’t common in Washington, it’s best to be prepared and know the risks of living in coastal towns. 

There are Active Volcanoes

While Washington has some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States, you have to remember that some of this beauty has active volcanoes. Currently, there are five active volcanoes in the state of Washington: 

  • Mount St. Helens
  • Mount Adams
  • Mount Rainier 
  • Glacier Peak 
  • Mount Baker

Of course, you won’t have much to worry about if you don’t live anywhere near these volcanoes. Even if you live near one or more of these, the risk is still minimal. The last volcanic eruption in the state was when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980.

The Climate

The climate in Washington can be tricky to get used to. Typically, Washington has a minimum of 150 rainy days a year. But contrary to popular belief, Washington is not the rainiest state in the nation. 

While all this rain keeps nature vibrant and green, it can put a damper on your mood when it’s rained every day for a month straight. But if you can handle cloudy and rainy days, you probably won’t have any issue living here. 

Final Thoughts

Washington state is a unique state with something for everyone to love. From the beautiful nature to easy access to other states and countries, what’s not to love about Washington? 

Even the climate and the fact that a natural disaster could strike at any moment isn’t enough to deter people from loving where they live. 

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Spokane, Washington