15 Best Cities for Retirees in the Pacific Northwest (Where Your Money Could Stretch Far)

Spend your golden years surrounded by stunning mountains, vineyards, and the ragged coast of the Pacific Northwest.
Updated Dec. 5, 2023
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If you’re craving a laid-back retirement filled with days spent hiking in a stunning natural landscape or leisurely relaxing in a wine region, then the Pacific Northwest could be calling your name.

While the Pacific Northwest is known for its gray, dreary days, there are enclaves of sun, and the four-season atmosphere provides a welcome change of pace for those moving from regions with more extreme climates. 

Plus, you might even be able to keep more money in your bank account. Washington state has no state income tax, while Oregon boasts no sales tax. Here are 15 of the best affordable cities for retirees in the Pacific Northwest.

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Vancouver, Washington

Patrick/Adobe i-5 interstate bridge at sunrise

Escape the high cost of living in Portland and head across the river to Vancouver — not to be confused with its Vancouver neighbor to the north.

This affordable city benefits from the lack of state income tax in Washington, and has all the benefits of the Portland area, but without the traffic and prices. 

You’re close to beaches, mountains, and the waterfront in Vancouver itself. There is something for just about anyone close by. 

Willows, California

Jeremy Francis/Adobe fog and light rays in the redwood forests

You don’t often associate California with affordable places to live, yet Willows is a Northern California small town that’s still holding on to its affordability.

The median home price is only $200,600, which is practically unheard of in the Golden State. 

This community-driven town is excellent for those looking to take advantage of the mild weather and enjoy the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge or the Mendocino National Forest.

Coos Bay, Oregon

Sundry Photography/Adobe protected cove near cape arago

Homes in Coos Bay are $155,000 below the median for Oregon — a significant difference, especially when you’re on a fixed income.

You’ll find state parks nearby, as well as Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and Umpqua Dunes. It’s the perfect area for an active retirement. 

Add in museums and a coastal location, and you have an incredible spot to spend your later years. Plus, Coos Bay is a hub for health care, which is always a plus for retirees.

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Spokane, Washington

Kirk Fisher/Adobe city center of spokane washington

You don’t have to leave the comforts of a city to find an affordable place to retire. Spokane is a mid-size town with no state income tax and a cost of living below average for Washington, though it is slightly higher than the national average.

You’ll find four beautiful seasons, and plentiful golf courses for those interested in hitting the links in retirement. Because of the city’s size, there are good health care options available, including rehabilitation centers.

Umatilla, Oregon

Matthijs/Adobe umatilla road

Like many places, Umatilla has seen its property values rise, but its median home value is still $154,200, which places it as one of the most affordable spots in the Pacific Northwest.

This Eastern Oregon town is home to only 7,000 people, which is wonderful for retirees who want a small-town feel. You’ll find history as well as the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge and the McNary National Wildlife Refuge.

Kingston, Washington

R. Jeff Huth/Adobe winter scene of homes near kingston

Looking for old-fashioned charm on the water? Then Kingston is the picturesque town where you should spend your golden years.

This waterfront community is full of incredible views, hiking trails, and small-town festivals and events. The cost of living is above the national average, but affordable compared to many of the other cities in the Pacific Northwest.

Ephrata, Washington

Jeremy/Adobe sunrise over the grand coulee

While Ephrata is beginning to arrive on the map, with home values steadily increasing, the median home price is still less than half of the Washington state median, making it one of the most affordable cities for your retirement.

Located in the Columbia River Basin, Ephrata is an ideal spot for retirees looking to spend their time hiking, mountain biking, and enjoying the great outdoors.

Blackfoot, Idaho

Rumorfy Media/Adobe beaver dam in sun valley idaho

Love potatoes? You’ll love Blackfoot. The Potato Capital of the World has the most potatoes of anywhere in the world, but, if that’s not enough reason to move there, consider that the median home value is only $170,600.

It’s a quiet small town of about 12,000, which makes it an excellent place to spend your best years, surrounded by a close-knit community.

Eureka, California

Matt Gush/Adobe historic downtown Eureka California

You can find all of the natural beauty of Northern California for a fraction of what you’ll pay in larger cities by moving to Eureka. This waterfront town has incredible views of Humboldt Bay and awe-inspiring forests filled with Redwood trees.

Want to take on a home restoration project in your retirement years? There are hundreds of Victorian homes in Eureka.

Salem, Oregon

Victoria/Adobe riverfront city park in salem oregon

Though housing prices are rising, Salem remains a comparatively affordable place to live when compared to other places in Oregon.

There’s a historic downtown area, as well as charming parks, perfect for retirees who want to live in town. You’ll also find mild weather, the allure of the Willamette wine region, and fantastic health care.

Sequim, Washington

LoweStock/Adobe marlyn nelson county park sequim

While the Pacific Northwest often attracts a younger crowd, Sequim is known for its older population. Nearly 36% of its population is over 65.

This city, located in the shadows of the Olympic Mountains, has stunning weather and its fields of lavender attract onlookers from all over the state. 

Its cost of living is only slightly higher than the national average, and, of course, there’s no state income tax in Washington.

Port Townsend, Washington

Reagan/Adobe port townsend

This coastal town of 10,000 offers an affordable cost of living for those who want to live on the water in Washington.

There’s no state income tax and the cost of living is lower than average in the state of Washington. Popular among retirees, Port Townsend offers a bustling and historic downtown, filled with restaurants and coffee shops.

Harbor, Oregon

mdurson/Adobe beach scene in brookings oregon

You can skip state sales tax and tax on Social Security income in Oregon, which means there’s more money to allocate toward a slightly higher cost of living.

Harbor is a popular town with retirees and, even with a population of just 2,000, 80% are over 60. There’s a mild climate and an active outdoor scene in this rural area, perfect for those who love to camp, hike, boat, and fish.

Issaquah, Washington

CascadeCreatives/Adobe pine lake sammamish washington

For Pacific Northwesterners who want to stay close to Seattle, whether it’s for the health care system, the cultural opportunities, or family, Issaquah is a happy place to escape.

This small city, with a population of 39,000, offers an urban feel within a less expensive suburb. The cost of living is still higher than average, but lower than Seattle, and it comes with the ease of living outside of the big city.

Wenatchee, Washington

Jaskaran Kooner/Adobe mountains in Wenatchee Washington

If you’re looking for a small city that won’t drain your savings account like many other places in Washington, then Wenatchee is one to consider.

This city of 34,000 has a lush landscape, which lends itself to its claim to fame as the Apple Capital of the World. 

You’ll find more than 20 parks in the area, and a vibrant cultural scene, making it an amazing spot on the Columbia River for retirees looking to stay involved and active in the community.

Bottom line

LoweStock/Adobe harrison lake

The Pacific Northwest isn’t going to offer bargains in terms of retirement towns, but there are affordable places to be found so you don’t have to worry so much about growing your retirement funds.

By going to smaller towns and off-the-beaten-path locations in proximity to larger cities, you can enjoy the stunning natural landscapes and the easygoing lifestyle that people love about the PNW, but at a more retirement-friendly price.

FinanceBuzz is not an investment advisor. This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author Details

Heather Bien Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.

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