11 Pros and Cons of Retiring in Seattle

Seattle, Washington is a beautiful area and lots of people dream about moving there. If you’re looking for a good place to settle down and retire, you may wonder if Seattle is a good place to do that. Well, as is the case with every big city, Seattle has it’s fair share of pros and cons.

Pros

1. Great Healthcare

Seattle has one of the best healthcare systems in Washington. It was ranked as the “10th-best hospital city in the nation based on an assessment of overall health care infrastructure, quality of care, and access” to different healthcare professionals. source This is great for retired seniors who may have a variety of health issues and need to have access to great healthcare.

Hospitals are seen in Seattle just as frequently as you see a Starbucks café. They are everywhere. So if you get hurt and need to go to the hospital, you are in luck, because you will not have to go very far to receive quality health care.

2. Low Taxes

Washington is very tax-friendly toward retirees. Social Security income is not taxed, and any withdrawals from retirement accounts are not taxed. However, any new large amounts of new income outside of Social Security payments can, and most likely will, be taxed, even though there is no income tax in Washington.

However, there is a sales tax in Washington. Luckily, Seattle has a relatively low sales tax rate than many other states of similar sizes. It has a 6.5% sales tax rate.

3. Easy Hikes Nearby

Seattle is an area with a blend of nature and skyscrapers, which means that there are a lot of areas that are great for hikes or long walks. Areas such as Carkeek Park, Discovery Park, Redmond Watershed Preserve, Denny Creek Trail, and Soaring Eagle Regional Park are great areas for people to hike when they do not have a lot of hiking experience or want to walk in a forest-like area without much difficulty.

4. Public Transport

Although Seattle does not have a subway system like other large cities, there are many other forms of public transport available to the residents of Seattle that do not own a car. In many areas of Seattle, it is possible for you to find a bus to your intended destination, or at least nearby, almost 24/7. However, this availability depends on what area of Seattle that you are in, and where you want to go. There are also lots of taxis and ride-share systems available in the area.

If you want to travel outside of Seattle to visit friends or family, there are many railroad systems available in nearby areas, and the trains are nearly always on time. The train system is great for people who want to travel, but do not want to be in the car for hours.

5. Moderate Climate

Seattle has a very moderate climate, which is great for people who do not enjoy being in very hot temperatures for a long time. Seattle is in a very rainy area, and it rains nearly constantly during the fall months, and periodically during the springtime. However, it rarely experiences a large amount of flooding.

It also rarely snowy in Seattle, and it is almost always sunny and warm during the summer months. One great thing about the area is that it rarely reaches temperatures over 100 degrees during the summer months. The trees block out many of the harsh rays of sunlight, which is great for people who get sunburns easily. When I lived in Washington, I almost never got sunburnt, even though I am very pale and sunburn easily.

During the hot summer months, it is easy to find a public area that has air conditioning if your home does not have air conditioning. However, during the summer months, it can be hard to find other areas to cool off, like swimming pools or beaches, that are not heavily crowded.

6. Plenty of Restaurants

There are many restaurants and marketplaces in Seattle. Many restaurants have specialty food items, beers, and wines available to their customers. The seafood is amazing in Seattle because it is nearly always fresh. Many Seattle seafood restaurants are in close proximity to a waterfront. Pike Place Market is one of the most famous public markets in Seattle, especially because it is right on the Elliott Bay waterfront. However, Pike Place Market vendors sell many more items than just seafood. The vendors sell all sorts of items, such as hand-sewn clothing and Seattle souvenirs.

If you do not like going to restaurants frequently, there are plenty of other places to go to. The Space Needle and the famous Gum Wall are very popular tourist areas in Seattle, though they do become crowded during the summer months.

Cons

7. High Housing Cost

Seattle housing costs are very high. Currently, the average rent cost is $1,332 for a one-bedroom apartment, and that price is expected to increase in future years. source

A study that was done in 2020 found that Seattle has the seventh most valuable housing market in the United States. Homes are even more expensive, especially if you want to buy a house in downtown Seattle. The median home price in Seattle is $824,666. source

There simply is not enough housing available in Seattle, especially because people are constantly moving into the area. Luckily, housing developments are constantly being built.

8. High Crime Rate

Even though the crime rate in Seattle is relatively low for such a large area, and is lower than metropolitan areas that are a similar size, it is still very high. The crime rate in Seattle in 2018 was 680.17 per 100,000 population, a 7.5% increase from 2017. source Property crime is one of the most common forms of crime. However, the amount of crime has gone down very slightly in recent years.

Most people do feel safe in Seattle even with the high crime rate. Since most crime is focused on property and vehicles, most people feel safe walking in Seattle, even in the downtown areas. This is great for people who are visiting the area for a short amount of time, but it is not so great for those who are planning on moving to Seattle permanently.

9. Lots of Traffic

Traffic is almost always heavy in Seattle. During rush hours, traffic is nearly at a standstill, especially if an accident has occurred, or a holiday is approaching. Many people choose to take the bus or choose another form of transportation because they do not like driving through the heavy traffic. If you are in the Seattle area, it is wise to always leave early rather than late, since you never know if there will be traffic.

The amount of construction on the roads does not help lighten the amount of traffic. Highways and overpasses are almost always being fixed or built. However, by the time that they are built, there is even more traffic than they planned on. Seattle is constantly growing, and the city is having trouble keeping up with it.

10. Large Homeless Population

In King County alone, there are at least 11,751 homeless people. source Even though there are homeless shelters, and the city is constantly trying to combat the homelessness problem, they have not been able to help many people who are struggling. This means that on every corner of the city, there are multiple homeless people who are trying to find ways to feed themselves and their families. There are many people who are trying to get help, but not enough resources to help them.

The Seattle homeless population is the third-largest in the U.S., after LA and NYC, even though the other cities are much larger than Seattle. source

Although the city is doing everything that they can to prevent people from becoming homeless, they have not been able to stop the issue from happening. Many homeless people are dying, and drug overdose is currently the leading cause of death among homeless people in Seattle, even though it should be preventable. source

11. Nearly Constant Rain

It almost always rains in the Seattle, Washington area. The average high temperature for Seattle in April is 57 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average April low is 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it almost always rains in Seattle, Washington, it is very difficult for many people to go on outdoor activities that they would otherwise enjoy. Even though the Seattle area is known for its hiking trails and forest areas, many people are not able to enjoy them.

The average high temperature in Seattle in December is 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average low for the area in December is 39 degrees Fahrenheit. While this is not very cold compared to many places, the rain makes it feel even colder. source

The average high temperature in Seattle in August is 72 degrees Fahrenheit, although it often can get to slightly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The average low temperature in Seattle is 57 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it only reaches this low temperature at night, so you will not be able to enjoy this cool temperature during waking hours. If you enjoy going hiking during the summer months, then you are not alone. Many people enjoy going hiking in Seattle during the summer months. However, this means that hiking trails can become very crowded, and this may make your hiking experience less enjoyable.

You may also be at risk for seasonal depression due to the heavy rain, so make sure you consider your mental state before you move.

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Kat McLaughlin

I'm Kat. I love animals and the outdoors. On any given weekend, you'll find me hiking or mountain biking!

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