Best Places to Retire in Washington State

city skyline in Washington State

When most people think of retirement, they probably imagine sitting on the beach, relaxing in year-round sunny weather. Many people probably picture their retirement on the beaches of Florida or in the mountains of Arizona. 

You might be surprised to learn that Washington State is a great places for retirement. Check out our guide to the best retirement communities in Washington State.. If you love outdoor adventures, historic cities, quaint boardwalks, and stunning views, you might want to consider living out your retirement in Washington. 

Not only does Washington have an abundance of retirement communities and activities for seniors to enjoy, but it’s also one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees. So if you’re looking for a place to settle down and enjoy financial benefits, you can’t go wrong with a move to Washington. 

So where are the best places to retire within Washington? There are several cities with comfortable weather, gorgeous views, and large retirement communities. Keep reading to learn more about which one might be the best choice for you. 

Best Places to Retire in Washington State

Here’s your guide to eight of the best places to retire in Washington state.

Gig Harbor

With seniors making up nearly a quarter of the city’s population, Gig Harbor is one of the best places to retire, not just in Washington, but in the entire United States. 

This city of just over 12,000 residents is located on the shores of Puget Sound, offering scenic water views and an abundance of relaxing outdoor activities for seniors to enjoy throughout their retirement. Residents can take a harborside walk, rent a kayak, or enjoy a relaxing Gig Harbor gondola ride. 

As a maritime city, Gig Harbor is also known for its rich history. It has an abundance of free museums, historical walks, and more for retirees to explore. There are also plenty of delicious waterfront restaurants and breweries, so you’ll never run out of new food and drink options. 

Retirees can also find plenty of retirement communities throughout the city. And with just a short drive to Seattle, it’s easy to spend time in the city before returning to the relaxing and picturesque Gig Harbor. 

Olympia

Washington’s capital is one of the top retirement spots in Washington State for any seniors who love the outdoors. Located on the Southern end of Puget Sound, Olympia has something for every retiree to enjoy. 

Olympia is home to 45 community parks, a downtown boardwalk, expansive hiking trails, and several scenic championship golf courses. 

Retirees in Olympia have access to a huge variety of outdoor activities. They can:

  • Stroll the gardens of the Washington State Capitol Building
  • Grab fresh fruit and vegetables at the Olympia Farmers Market
  • Spot wildlife at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
  • Visit the Medicine Creek Winery

Olympia also has a charming downtown historic district that’s full of unique shops, restaurants, museums, and so much more. 

With over 55,000 people, Olympia is larger than some other cities on this list. But despite the size, this walkable city offers a quiet, peaceful environment with plenty of outdoor space to enjoy. There are also several gorgeous 55+ communities throughout the city, as well as plenty of medical centers that provide seniors with easy access to care.

Port Townsend

Nestled on the Quimper Peninsula, this small city is a fantastic maritime destination for any retired senior. Port Townsend offers miles of beaches, countless maritime activities, and a thriving arts scene. 

If you’ve been dreaming of a relaxing, waterside retirement, Port Townsend might be the best option for you. From wildlife cruises to tranquil low-tide walks, it’s easy to stay busy and spend hours out on the water. And for more adventures, there are miles of hiking and biking trails throughout the city. 

The vibrant art and culture scene also allows retirees to immerse themselves in a creative and supportive community. There’s a public theater, an annual art walk, art classes, live music, and so much more. 

And while Port Townsend boasts plenty of activities to enjoy, one of the city’s main highlights is its food scene. USAToday ranked it in the top ten best small-town food scenes in 2022, so be sure to take advantage of all the incredible restaurants Port Townsend has to offer. 

Aberdeen

For seniors looking for an affordable place to retire in Washington State, Aberdeen is a great option. Located in Grays Harbor County, this scenic beachfront town is full of outdoor activities to enjoy. 

Residents can find countless things to do at Bottle Beach State Park. This 64-acre park has 6,000 feet of shoreline, an ADA-accessible trail, and some of the best birdwatching trails in the state.

Retirees can also step back in time with a visit to the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport. Here, residents can unwind on a sunset sail, attend weekly events, and learn about the area’s maritime history.

Aberdeen is one of the most affordable places to retire on this list, with a low cost of living and several independent living community options throughout the town. 

Sequim

Sequim offers a relaxed, cozy environment, so it’s no surprise that this small coastal town has the highest percentage of retirees in Washington state at 37%.

With a huge and active population of older adults, Sequim is the perfect place to spend time with a large, welcoming community of retirees. And for an outdoor enthusiast, there’s so much to enjoy in this small city. 

Known as “The Lavender Capital of North America”, Sequim is home to several picturesque lavender farms, as well as an annual lavender festival. The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is also located in Sequim. Here, park visitors can:

  • Go fishing
  • Hike or bike along trails
  • Camp
  • Snowshoe
  • View local wildlife 

One of the biggest draws to this area, however, is the weather. Sequim is in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, meaning residents can enjoy sunny weather, mild temperatures, and little rainfall all year. In fact, Sequin generally only receives around 16 inches of rain annually. 

Snohomish

This charming city of fewer than 10,000 residents can be found on Puget Sound, less than an hour from Seattle. The unique, small-town feeling is perfect for retirees who want to relax and settle down, while the proximity to Seattle offers all the big-city amenities and benefits you could ask for.

Snohomish is best known for its quaint historic downtown. As you make your way through the downtown area, you can relax at a spa, shop for antiques at local stores, or grab some food at one of the local restaurants, wineries, or coffee shops. With so much to explore for residents of any age, it’s no surprise that Snohomish was named one of the coolest small towns in America.

Venturing out from the downtown district, there are plenty of other ways for seniors to stay active and enjoy their retirement. There are walking trails, regional parks, family farms, art exhibits, and more. 

Spokane

As the second largest city in Washington, Spokane won’t offer that quaint, relaxing small-town environment that many people look for in a place to retire. But with a relatively low cost of living, unparalleled weather, and so much outdoor recreation to enjoy, Spokane is still one of the best places to retire in Washington. 

Spokane is surrounded by lakes and rivers, so there are plenty of places to swim, kayak, fish, and try other water activities. There are also hiking and biking trails for all skill levels, so it’s easy to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. 

The unique downtown area is full of historical architecture, local shops, and restaurants. And just because Spokane is a large city, it doesn’t mean there’s no relaxing and picturesque green space for retirees to enjoy.

Riverfront Park is situated in the heart of the urban downtown area. This large, beautiful park includes a sculpture garden, fountain, carousal, and open-air entertainment space. There’s even a Skyride with unforgettable views of Spokane Falls. 

Wenatchee 

In 2021, Wenatchee, Washington’s mild and comfortable climate, ability to walk and bike, air quality, and low crime rate earned it a spot on Forbes Magazine’s list of best places to retire

This safe and scenic retirement destination is full of outdoor activities, restaurants, retail stores, and museums to explore. Residents can:

  • Go birding at the tranquil Horan Natural Area
  • Stroll through the Ohme Gardens
  • Visit one of the many state parks in the area
  • Go snowshoeing during the winter months
  • Explore galleries, stores, and restaurants in Wenatchee’s historic downtown

From relaxing activities to outdoor adventures, Wenatchee has something that every new retiree will love. 

Wrapping Up

Washington is home to so many amazing places to retire. With countless senior-friendly activities, fantastic waterfront views, and a large retiree community, Gig Harbor is one of the best places to retire in Washington State. 

But no matter what you’re looking for in a destination as you plan your retirement, Washington has so much to offer everyone. Throughout the options on this list, you can find affordable and active retirement communities, quaint and relaxing towns, or large cities with an abundance of amenities.

Now that you have a guide to picking a place to retire in Washington, you’re ready to start planning for relaxation and adventure in your new community.