People enjoying the Maritime Gig Harbor Festival, via july7th /

7 Top-Ranked Towns in The Pacific Northwest for Retirees

The Pacific Northwest, spanning the states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, is home to breathtaking mountains, tall evergreens, scenic beaches, and dense rainforests. However, it is also known for gray skies and, in many places, cold winters that can be quite severe. Despite this, the region is peppered with locations where any retiree would love to spend their golden years. From West Linn, Oregon, to Gig Harbor, Washington, discover below seven top-ranked towns in the Pacific Northwest for retirees.

West Linn, Oregon

Exterior view of the Youth Music Project, a music school in West Linn, Oregon.
Exterior view of the Youth Music Project, a music school in West Linn, Oregon, via Tada Images /

Often referred to as “the city of hills, trees, and rivers,” West Linn offers a welcome respite from the monotony of urban sprawls. One of the town’s principal attractions is the Willamette Falls, the largest waterfall by volume in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Retirees appreciate West Linn for its proximity to Portland, providing easy access to big-city amenities, including a range of excellent hospitals and shopping venues. The town’s median age is about 44 years, allowing retirees to find community among both younger and older residents. However, homes here have a median price of $725,000, which may be considered a good value considering West Linn’s safety, tranquility, amenities, and accessibility.

Redmond, Oregon

Welcome to Redmond Oregon downtown sign
Welcome to Redmond Oregon downtown sign

Redmond's high desert landscape presents a unique, almost lunar attraction. It offers a plethora of outdoor adventures for empty nesters, with numerous scenic trails, parks, and waterfalls. The Dry Canyon Trail, known for its beautiful wildflowers, is right in Redmond’s backyard, and a park by the same name sits at the town's heart. With about 37,900 residents, Redmond is smaller and more quaint than Bend, its neighbor to the south. Yet, all the amenities of Bend, including hospitals and cultural attractions, are just about 17 miles away. Homes in Redmond have a median price of $503,887, a figure to consider against Bend's median home price of $692,258. Moreover, Redmond enjoys an average of 8.8 inches of precipitation a year, making it one of the sunniest places in the Pacific Northwest.

Tumwater, Washington

Tumwater Falls in Tumwater, Washington.
Tumwater Falls in Tumwater, Washington.

Tumwater ranks high among Pacific Northwest towns for retirement, partly because of its convenience to Olympia, the capital of Washington State. In a medical emergency, Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia is less than seven minutes away. Plus, Tacoma, the state's third-largest city, is just about a half-hour drive. Tumwater’s median age is around 35 years, offering retirees the opportunity to engage with a younger demographic, which can enhance their sense of purpose and overall quality of life. Additionally, homes in Tumwater are relatively affordable, with a median price of $500,000. A notable highlight is the opportunity to watch salmon leap up the falls at the enchanting Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls.

Central Point, Oregon

Central Point, Oregon sunset
Central Point, Oregon sunset

Central Point is celebrated for its picturesque scenery and warm, friendly residents. The town is strategically located south of the Table Rocks in the Rogue River Valley, roughly 30 miles north of the California border. Don Jones Memorial Park, known for its lush trees, verdant grass, and spacious fields, offers an ideal setting for leisure activities. Additionally, the Crater Rock Museum showcases an impressive collection of rocks, minerals, petrified wood, and fossils, making it a highlight of the town. One of Central Point's attractions for retirees is its affordability, with a median home price of $415,000, making it accessible for many. The town also boasts a diverse demographic, with Hispanics comprising about 15% of the population. Furthermore, Central Point's proximity to Medford, the seat of Jackson County, ensures easy access to amenities, including hospitals, enhancing its appeal for retirees.

Anacortes, Washington

Arched sign over road welcoming to historic downtown Anacortes
Arched sign over road welcoming to historic downtown Anacortes, via Ian Dewar Photography /

Anacortes is renowned for its exceptionally friendly community and offers a quaint, suburban atmosphere brimming with charm. Such attributes make it an appealing destination for anyone, especially retirees. The town's median age of 48.6 years facilitates connections with peers, fostering opportunities for social interactions. Anacortes is equipped with numerous healthcare facilities, including Island Hospital, which has received the Outstanding Patient Experience Award. Contrary to Seattle's weather, Anacortes enjoys a more pleasant climate, enhancing its desirability as a retirement spot. With its beautiful beaches and hiking trails, discovering Anacortes could indeed mark the end of your search for the perfect retirement locale.

Gig Harbor, Washington

Beautiful Day in Gig Harbor, Washington.
Beautiful Day in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Gig Harbor is aptly named for its prime location along the water, nestled in the South Puget Sound area opposite the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the fifth longest suspension bridge in the United States. The town enjoys a milder and more agreeable climate than some might expect, thanks to its waterfront position. The community is also noted for its high level of education, with 24% of the adult population holding post-graduate degrees, enriching local conversations with wit and insightful discourse. Gig Harbor is distinguished by its convenience; the commute to Tacoma via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is a brief 20-minute journey, while Seattle, with its comprehensive amenities, is just about 45 minutes away by car. Although homes in Gig Harbor have a median price of around $750,000, the investment is well-justified by the stunning views of Mount Rainier, the Cascades, and other natural beauties that residents enjoy.

Hood River, Oregon

Landscape view of beautiful Hood River city.
Landscape view of beautiful Hood River city.

Homes in Hood River have a median price of $710,000, but they offer access to some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Situated in the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River boasts an incredibly picturesque landscape. Known as the Windsurfing Capital of the World, it is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, filled with a variety of activities to keep retirees physically active and socially engaged. Additionally, Portland, the “City of Roses,” is just under an hour's drive away. However, Hood River itself is not lacking in amenities. For example, Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital comes highly recommended by 81% of its patients, a figure 11% higher than the national average. The town’s median age is 39 years, fostering connections across generations and adding a sense of vitality to retirees’ lives. With Whites and Hispanics making up 66% and 24% of the population respectively, Hood River also offers a welcoming degree of diversity.

The Takeaway

As a retiree—or someone considering retirement—you likely value beautiful natural scenery, outdoor adventures, diversity, access to quality healthcare, and safe, friendly neighborhoods. The Pacific Northwest is home to several towns that meet these criteria. Despite the region's reputation for gray skies and harsh winters, places like West Linn (corrected from West Lynn), Oregon; Redmond, Oregon; and Tumwater, Washington, stand out as excellent options. Choose your destination, pack your belongings, and embark on a fulfilling retirement journey in this enchanting corner of the United States.

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