Night scene of Port Angeles in Washington state.

6 Most Affordable Towns to Retire in Washington

With its diverse landscapes, vibrant communities, and moderate cost of living, retiring in Washington State offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and urban amenities for anyone looking to set down new roots. From the coastal serenity of Oak Harbor to Ellensburg's Western embrace to the stillness of Moses Lake and the mountain vistas of Port Angeles, each town presents retirees with the ideal setting for life’s next adventure. Walla Walla's vineyards provide a picturesque backdrop for new sensory experiences, while Pullman's college-town vibe adds youthful energy. With reasonably affordable housing options and abundant attractions, Washington State invites retirees to savor life's joys at every stage.

Oak Harbor

Beautiful evening at beach, Joseph Whidbey State Park
Beautiful evening at the beach, Joseph Whidbey State Park. Image credit T.Schofield via Shutterstock.

Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island is a pretty town with a strong military presence and a relatively low cost of living, making it an appealing option for retirees seeking affordability. The median home listing price is $418,000, slightly below the US national average of $420,000. Overall, Oak Harbor's living costs, including utilities, transportation, and healthcare, are reasonable and manageable for retirees on a fixed income. Oak Harbor is home to the WhidbeyHealth Medical Center, which offers comprehensive healthcare services and specialty care.

Located nearby, Deception Pass State Park is a stunning natural gem with a rugged coastline, lush forests, and scenic trails. It is also one of the most popular state parks in Washington. New residents can admire breathtaking views of Puget Sound and the surrounding Fidalgo Island, connected by the circa 1935 Deception Pass Bridge.

Retirees can wander downtown Oak Harbor and explore its historic charm, quaint shops, art galleries, and eateries. Pick up a latte at Whidbey Coffee or a glass of vino at The Tipsey Jellyfish. Explore the Allgire Project—nine stunning murals celebrating Oak Harbor’s history and culture. End the perfect day in Oak Harbor at the Blue Fox Drive-in Theater, where admission prices are low, and the chili and cheese toppings come free on the hotdogs.


Davidson Building in Ellensburg, Washington. Image credit: Jasperdo via Wikimedia Commons.
Davidson Building in Ellensburg, Washington. Image credit: Jasperdo via Wikimedia Commons.

Ellensburg is a historic town in central Washington with a thriving arts community and a lower cost of living than many other parts of the state. The town is known for its Western heritage, outdoor recreational opportunities, and proximity to the Cascade Mountains. The Ellensburg Rodeo held every Labor Day weekend has been a tradition since 1923 and has earned its title of one of “America’s Top 10 Professional Rodeos,” according to USA Today. It features a midway, a carnival, live entertainment, and, of course, the one-ton bulls that challenge the cowboys.

The streets of downtown Ellensburg are lined with cute shops and art galleries housed in historic buildings, cafes, and restaurants like The Porch Steakhouse, Julep, and Rock & Reef Brewing, all on North Main Street. Fans of rodeo and Western culture will love the Clymer Museum of Art, which showcases the early American art of John Ford Clymer, who painted scenes of Native American life, wildlife, and landscapes.

Housing prices are generally lower than in larger urban areas, but at around $432,000, they are slightly higher than the US national average. While Ellensburg does not have a significant hospital within city limits, it is within reasonable driving distance of healthcare facilities in neighboring towns such as Yakima and Wenatchee. Kittitas Valley Healthcare, a 25-bed critical care hospital, provides emergency services to Ellensburg.

Moses Lake

Fishing off the dock in Moses Lake, Washington
Fishing off the dock in Moses Lake, Washington.

Located in central Washington, Moses Lake is a vibrant community with a low cost of living and a wide range of amenities. The median price of a home in Moses Lake is $303,000, making a retirement move to the town very affordable. Samaritan Healthcare offers various healthcare services, including primary, specialty, surgical, and emergency care for the town’s residents.

Moses Lakes is surrounded by natural beauty, including its namesake lake. Retirees can enjoy recreational activities on the picturesque Moses Lake, including boating, fishing, swimming, and picnicking. The lake also features scenic walking trails, birdwatching opportunities, and waterfront parks for stretching and relaxation. Newcomers can rent stand-up paddleboards and kayaks from A Ride in the Park, which delivers to Moses Lakes parks and residences.

During the summer months, visiting grandchildren will love the Surf 'n Slide Water Park, which features water slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and splash pads, while visiting adults can visit a tasting room in nearby wineries like Cascade Cellars or Camas Cove Cellars.

Port Angeles

Night scene at Port Angeles in Washington state
Night scene at Port Angeles in Washington state.

On the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles offers stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and easy access to Olympic National Park. The park features diverse ecosystems, including temperate rainforests like the Hoh Rainforest (pronounced “Hoe”)—one of the few remaining temperate rainforests in the U.S. During the winter season, an average of 140 inches of rain falls, resulting in a lush green canopy above the trails. There is a 72-site campground in the old-growth forest, and the Hoh River Trail is the main out-and-back hiking trail.

Despite its natural beauty, Port Angeles has a reasonable cost of living, making it an attractive option for retirees seeking affordability and outdoor recreation. A home in Port Angeles costs $450,000. The Olympic Medical Center provides many healthcare services, but the town has numerous medical clinics, pharmacies, and healthcare providers to meet retirees' medical needs.

Retirees can stroll along the picturesque Port Angeles waterfront, admiring views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Victoria, British Columbia, and the ever-present Olympic Mountains. The waterfront area has charming shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Smugglers Bar & Grill serves fresh seafood dishes on the waterfront but doesn’t shy away from serving ⅓ pound Angus burgers, while Barhop Brewing serves small-batch craft brews and artisanal pizza. Several companies operate 3 to 4-hour whale-watching tours from Port Angeles. The Puget Sound Express promises views of endless wildlife, from pods of orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, puffins, bald eagles, and more.

Walla Walla

View of the small city Walla Walla in Eastern Washington during sunset.
View of the small city of Walla Walla in Eastern Washington during sunset.

Walla Walla, Washington, presents an appealing option for retirees seeking a tranquil yet vibrant lifestyle with essential amenities and quality healthcare at Providence St. Mary Medical Center, a reputable hospital providing comprehensive healthcare services to residents. Walla Wall has a moderate cost of living, and the median price of owning a home is around $462,000.

Walla Walla has a small-town charm complemented by a thriving arts and culture scene. The town is renowned for its picturesque vineyards and wineries, offering retired wine enthusiasts many tasting rooms and tours. A few notable wineries among the over 120 in the area include Caprio Cellars, whose tasting room has a 360° view of the Walla Walla Valley. Caprio Cellars makes Bordeaux blends and produces 4,000 cases of wine per year. Spring Valley Vineyards has been growing vines for over 20 years, and visitors can hang around after tasting a farm-style meal prepared by a local chef.

Walla Walla offers retirees a wealth of landmarks and attractions to explore and enjoy. Other attractions include Whitman College, Fort Walla Walla Museum, Pioneer Park, and numerous downtown boutiques, galleries, and restaurants.


The campus of Washington State University in Pullman, Washington
The campus of Washington State University in Pullman, Washington

Home to Washington State University (WSU), Pullman has a lively college-town atmosphere, lots of coffee shops like Crybaby Café and the Well Coffeehouse, and a small-town charm that appeals to retirees. The town offers affordable housing options and essential amenities, including healthcare services provided by Pullman Regional Hospital. The median price of owning a home in Pullman is $460,000.

New retirees can explore attractions such as Kamiak Butte County Park, which has over five miles of forested hiking trails and an elevation of 3,641 feet. The annual Lentil Festival is worth visiting, now in its 35th year. Eastern Washington and northern Idaho produce a quarter of the lentils in the U.S., which put Pullman on the map. The festival is a community event that brings together athletes, artists, students, local brewers, winemakers, and lentil farmers every summer.

The town is home to Washington State University, which provides opportunities for lifelong learning, cultural events, and sporting activities. The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at WSU has six galleries containing historic and contemporary collections from the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum is dedicated to engaging visitors by exhibiting thought-provoking works on a rotating basis.

Retiring in Washington State offers a spectrum of appealing options. From the coastal charm of Oak Harbor to the Western flavor of Ellensburg, retirees can find homes ranging from around $300,000 to $450,000. Moses Lake and Port Angeles provide picturesque settings and more affordable housing options from $300,000 to $400,000. At the same time, Walla Walla and Pullman offer a mix of historic charm and vibrant college-town atmosphere with homes falling within a mid to upper price range of $400,000 to $500,000. Each town presents retirees with unique benefits, from coastal living to cultural richness, amidst Washington's diverse landscapes.

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