Aerial view of beautiful Gig Harbor, Washington.

8 Towns Perfect for Retirement in The Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is arguably one of the most beautiful regions on the continent of North America. It is marked by its numerous majestic mountain ranges, its diverse coastline, and its lush old-growth temperate rainforests. Because of this distinct beauty, it is unsurprising that many potential retirees are hopeful of being able to retire in the region. This region is unofficially understood to consist typically of the American states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and the Yukon. However, differing interpretations of the region's boundaries exist. As a result, the options available to those looking for a "Pacific Northwest" retirement are numerous, perhaps even overwhelming! This list will hopefully serve as a good starting point for those looking for insight into what this beautiful corner of the world has to offer.

Ellensburg, WA

Davidson Building in downtown Ellensburg, Washington. Image credit Ian Dewar Photography via Shutterstock
Davidson Building in downtown Ellensburg, Washington. Image credit Ian Dewar Photography via Shutterstock.

Sitting on the Yakima River in the Kittitas Valley, Ellensburg is a quaint town of 18,000 people with a rich Victorian history. The town is host to a weekly farmers market, which occurs every Saturday between May and October. There are a number of other annual festivals as well, including a "Brewfest," a jazz festival, a rodeo, a street performance festival, and even a Dachshund parade for the locale's dog lovers.

The town is also home to Central Washington University, which infuses the town with a steady, youthful population during the school year. According to the 2010 census, roughly 62% of the town's population was between the ages of 18 and 44, and only 8.9% were over the age of 65, making this an ideal community for more upbeat retirees who wish to spend their twilight years in a more sprightly community. The town also lacks a major hospital, with all the notable healthcare facilities being located in its nearby towns, which may pose a problem for some seniors.

In February 2024, Ellensberg homes were noted to be selling for a median price of around $436K, slightly more than the national average. Overall, the town may not be ideal for those looking for a quiet and tranquil retirement surrounded by people in a similar stage of life, but it could be perfect for those who wish for a more eventful mid-size town to settle in.

Port Townsend, WA

Port Townsend Boat Haven Marina. Editorial credit: Cascade Creatives /
Port Townsend Boat Haven Marina. Image credit: Cascade Creatives via Shutterstock.

Port Townsend, Washington, is a small city about 2 hours from Seattle and a self-proclaimed "Victorian Seaport and arts community." The city was founded in 1851 and, for a time, was anticipated to become the largest harbor on the United States' West Coast before experiencing a significant economic decline in the late 1890s when the Northern Pacific Railroad was unable to reach the city. It lies on a bay known as the "Port Townsend Bay," just north of the Olympic National Forest, within the Olympic Mountains' rain shadow, which results in the town receiving significantly less annual precipitation than many other communities in the area. The town's historic district was listed as a National Historic Landmark, and great efforts have been made to preserve its Victorian architecture.

The town is an exciting community of artists and retirees, with several art galleries and artist collectives within the city's borders. There are several highly-rated retirement communities, a public golf course, a number of beautiful parks and beaches, and harbor-front patio restaurants. Several of the town's art galleries are also known to host art classes. The town is also host to an annual film festival a number of music festivals, and monthly public art events. There is also a significant maritime culture in the community, and they host a "Wooden Boat Festival" every fall, one of the biggest gatherings of wooden boats and boat-builders in the world.

In 2010, the town's median age was 53, with the majority of residents being 45 and up. Being a small recreational community geared towards seniors, however, the median price for a home in the city is listed at 700K with a very competitive market.

La Grande, OR

A sign letting people know they are at City Hall in La Grande, Oregon. Editorial credit: Michael Barajas / Shutterstock.
A sign letting people know they are at City Hall in La Grande, Oregon. Image credit Michael Barajas via Shutterstock.

Lying within the Grande Ronde Valley, the town of La Grande has a population of around 13,000 and is known as a hub of outdoor recreation. It is also home to Eastern Oregon University, which brings down the median age of the community but also provides opportunities for any retiree who may wish to spend their free time learning! The town is known for a number of parks and trailheads in the area for those looking for a more outdoorsy and active retirement. There are two retirement communities in the town, one of which, Grande Ronde Retirement, boasts 4.6 stars on Google reviews. Another appealing draw for the town is its prime buyers market, with homes selling for around 309K, significantly under the national and state averages at the moment.

Cottage Grove, OR

Cottage Grove Historic District, Oregon. Image credit Ian Dewar Photography via Shutterstock
Cottage Grove Historic District, Oregon. Image credit Ian Dewar Photography via Shutterstock.

Located in Lane County, Oregon, Cottage Grove is a beautiful small town known locally as the "Covered Bridge Capital of the West," thanks to the six covered bridges that cross the two rivers that embrace the town's eastern and western perimeters. With a population of only 10K, Cottage Grove is a slow-paced, quiet community perfect for anyone looking for peace during their golden years. Speaking of gold, the town prides itself on its history as a mining community, being home to the Bohemia Gold Mining Museum and hosting the Bohemia Mining Days festival every year. The town is idyllic and beautiful, marked as a "Tree City, USA" by the Arbor Day Foundation. There are four major parks and trailheads within the town's borders, four distinct golf courses, and the well-rated "Cottage Theatre." For those looking for a retirement community to join, the town has three different options, with "Magnolia Gardens" being the highest rated. For those looking to settle down in a new home instead, the median price right now is 378K, comfortably beneath state and federal averages.

Gig Harbor, WA

Sunrise Beach Park in Gig Harbor, Washington.
Sunrise Beach Park in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Named for the harbor on which it sits, Gig Harbor is a popular tourist destination due to its fine dining, retail boutiques, picturesque waterfront, and proximity to both state and municipal parks. However, it is also a prominent retirement town, appearing on almost every list of Washington's best retirement towns, with over 25% of the population being 65 or older. The town is about 20 minutes from Tacoma and less than an hour from Seattle, so its top-tier medical facilities are readily available to those who might need them. There is also a vast number of retirement communities within the town, many of which have ratings between 4.5 and 5 on Google reviews.

However, those looking to purchase a new home for their retirement will have to hand over a sizable chunk, with the median house price sitting at 833K, significantly over the average Washington home price.

Sun Valley, ID

Sun Valley, Idaho, in winter.
Sun Valley, Idaho, in winter.

Known as a resort town, Sun Valley, Idaho, refers to the town and the wider valley area itself, which encompasses a number of other towns. The town of Sun Valley only has a population of just under 2,000 permanent residents, with most people in the area being visiting skiers and snowboarders. Despite this, the town has a median age of 54, with 30% of residents being 65 and up. The town is also a frequent destination for celebrities and other noteworthy people who visit the town's resorts or own property there, including Richard Dreyfuss, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Clint Eastwood. It is not just mountain sports such as skiing and snowboarding that the Valley has to offer; Sun Valley is home to a number of golf courses and recreation centers, as well as spas and a concert venue.

However, being a luxury resort town with a population under 2 thousand, the median house price in the town is almost 3 million, though some smaller units are available for as low as 424K.

Brookings, OR

The panoramic view of Brookings, Oregon jetty, and harbor entrance was captured by drone.
The panoramic view of Brookings, Oregon jetty, and harbor entrance was captured by drone.

Founded as a logging town, Brookings, Oregon, has a population of under 7K. It sits right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, ten minutes north of the Californian state line. There are two beaches within the town's borders and a number of beautiful parks, including a state park just north of the town with a campground and RV site. The town also has a farmer's market that's open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There is also the annual "Pirate Festival," along with the "Azalea Festival," which has a parade and live music performance every Memorial Day weekend. There is one golf course within the town and two others less than fifteen minutes outside the town. There are also four retirement communities located in Brookings, with 24% of Brookings' population being 65 and up, and all of the retirement homes have ratings on Google of 4 and up.

For those considering purchasing a home, the house price in Brookings is at 492K, just barely below Oregon's median of 497K.

Sequim, WA

Olympic Discovery Trail in Sequim, Washington. Editorial credit: CL Shebley /
Olympic Discovery Trail in Sequim, Washington. Image credit: CL Shebley via Shutterstock.

Lying within the same rain shadow of the Olympic mountain as Port Townsend, Sequim, Washington, is a small waterfront town with a population of just over 8,000, with almost 35% of residents being 65 and up. The town has a rich indigenous, pre-colonial history, going back as far as excavated mastodon bones with evidence of human hunting from 14 thousand years ago. Today, the town is known for its lavender fields and even hosts a lavender festival every July. The town has a yacht club and a golf club and has a number of parks in the area for added recreation activities for retirees who want to keep active! The area's homes are currently priced at 521K, but it offers a vast selection of retirement homes if one is not looking to buy a whole new house.

Being known for its tranquil beauty, temperate climate, and relaxing outdoor recreation opportunities, the Pacific Northwest is a host to many townships ideal for one's retirement period, no matter what lifestyle or budget they're looking to accommodate. With plenty of amenities and access to adequate health care, this region of the US is ideal for those looking for a change of scenery for their Golden Years.

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