The Pros and Cons of Living in Washington

Hoh Rainforest

The Pros and Cons of Living in Washington

Tucked up in the northwest corner of the United States, nestled against the Canadian border to the north, the beautiful Pacific Ocean to the west, the forests of Idaho to the east, and the Columbia River to the south is Washington State. The state is known for its unique demographic, with the Cascade mountain range dividing the east and west parts of the state.

Anyone from Washington State who has traveled knows that we always have to explain where Washington State is located and that it’s a different place than Washington with the White House. Most people only know of Seattle, but the state has many other cool cities and towns. I might be biased because I am from the Evergreen State, and I never get tired of telling new friends about the beauty of Washington and why it’s the coolest place to be.

If you’re considering a move to Washington State, you should check out this list of the many pros and cons of living in Washington. You’ll quickly notice that the list of pros is significantly longer, a testament to the many positives this place has to offer.

If you are curious about the state and want to learn more, check out 20 Things Washington is Known For, or just hop on over for a visit and see for yourself.

Four Distinct Seasons

Iconic & beautiful winter scene with deep snow on ground in Cascade Mountains of WA state with a creek meandering through the snow, snow covered log in water, snowy evergreens & mountain background.
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The Cascade Mountains in Washington state experience deep snow.

One of my favorite things about Washington State is that there are four distinct seasons, so if you like a sizzling hot summer and a white Christmas, you can have both here. Depending on which side of the state you live in, the seasons can be harsh or mild.

The state is basically divided in half by the Cascade mountain range that runs from the southern border with Oregon up to the border with Canada. On the east side of the state, the climate is extremely hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter. The summer temperatures can reach into the triple digits, and the winter temperatures are often in the single digits, even in the negative degrees.

Four Distinct Seasons (continued)

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Locals living in Washington state can enjoy beautiful fall colors.

Meanwhile, the west side of the state is milder, with summer temperatures reaching the 80s and winter temperatures dipping just below freezing. This side of the state also has year-round rainfall, which can be off-putting to newbies, but the rain is easy to get used to; just get yourself some good rain gear, and you are set.

For many Washingtonians, the biggest benefit to the seasons is the ability to enjoy season-specific hobbies like snow skiing and snowshoeing in the winter while still enjoying swimming and boating in the summer. Spending time in the outdoors is common, and for most locals, hiking and camping are year-round activities.

Seattle Culture

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Seattle features attractions such as the Space Needle and Great Wheel.

Most people have heard of Seattle because it’s the biggest city in Washington State. Some people know the city because it’s the birthplace of Amazon and Microsoft, and others because it was the epicenter of the early 90s grunge scene. If you watch TV, you might know it is the setting of the long-running TV series “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Frasier,” Or you may know it as the home of the first Starbucks and the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix. Seattle is known for lots of things, and spending time here is definitely one of the pros of living in Washington.

Seattle Culture (continued)

Giraffe(s) at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle
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Look at giraffes and many other animals at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.

If you have ever visited the city, you probably saw some of the famous Seattle landmarks like the Space Needle, Pikes Place Market, and the University of Washington. But the city has so much more to offer locals and tourists alike. You can spend time at the many museums around the city, like the Museum of Pop Culture, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Museum of Flight. And if museums aren’t your thing, you can always see live music at the many different venues throughout the city. Or, if you prefer animals to humans, you can visit the Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium.

One of my favorite things about the city is the food scene. The city has a thriving food scene thanks to the culturally diverse makeup of the city; you can find amazing food from all over the world, like Chinese dumplings, spicy Thai noodles, Ethiopian flatbread, Mexican birria, Italian calzones, Turkish coffee, and so much more. If you can’t decide what to try, just wander over to the International District and see what looks and smells good. And if you love seafood, then you are in the right place because Seattle has some of the best seafood, from fresh local oysters to salmon to Dungeness crab.

International Border

Washington state map
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If you live in Washington State, you’re never too far from the border to Canada.

Another cool thing about the Evergreen States is that it has an international border. It shares its northern border with British Columbia, Canada. So, you can take a road trip to cross the border and be in another country. Of course, this part of Canada is English-speaking, so there isn’t a big cultural shift once you cross the border, but it’s still kind of cool to hop in your car and drive to another country.

If you come to visit Washington and get a craving for the Canadian delicacy, poutine, then it’s easy to head north to see Canada; just make sure you have proper identification, such as a passport or Nexus card. Several years back, American citizens could cross the border with only a birth certificate, but the rules have changed, so make sure you check before you go so you don’t get turned away at the border.

Outdoor Recreation

Children hiking in mountains or forest with sport hiking shoes. Girls or boys are walking trough forest path wearing mountain boots and walking sticks. Frog perspective with focus on the shoes.
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There are plenty of outdoor attractions to explore in Washington state.

Spending time outside is a big hobby in Washington State. Outdoor recreation is part of the lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest, from mountain biking and snow skiing to running and hiking. It makes sense because the state is absolutely beautiful. There are fifteen national parks, 140 state parks, and historical sites where visitors can get out and enjoy nature. There are many lakes and rivers for fishing, swimming, and boating, as well as ski resorts and snowshoeing spots for winter activities.

Camping is a way of life in the state. From tent camping to RVs and yurts, there is a camping style for everyone. There are even places to go ‘glamping,’ which means glamour camping, so if you want to experience the outdoors but don’t want to deal with bugs or sleep in a tent, you can still enjoy the great outdoors in style.

Washington was on Forbes’s list of the ten healthiest states, and it is hard to dismiss the connection between overall health and the number of outdoor activities that locals do. We all know that exercise keeps us healthy in mind, body, and spirit, but exercise outdoors is even better. So, outdoor recreation made the list of pros of living in Washington.

Creative Spirit

Jimi Hendrix
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Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle, WA.

Maybe it’s the rainy weather or all the time people spend outdoors, or maybe it’s all the fish we eat up here in the northwest corner of the United States, but the creative spirit is alive and well. Creativity and innovation are part of the way of life in Washington State. From traditional arts like painting, drawing, and music to theatre and acting to writing, there is a real creative vibe, and the area supports the creative arts.

Some famous creative types from Washington that you may have heard of include the creator of the Simpsons, Matt Groening, director David Lynch, actors Rainn Wilson, Joel Mc Hale, Anna Faris, and Kyle Mac Lachlan, and musicians Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Quincy Jones.

Creative Spirit (continued)

Salish Grandfather carved wooden welcome figure pole on First Nations land
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The Coast Salish are a group of Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest.

The creative spirit of the region also influences cutting-edge ideas in business and technology. Some examples are Bill Gates and tech company Microsoft, everyone’s favorite online retailer, Amazon, the coffee chain on every corner, Starbucks, and giant outdoor retailer REI; all of them are from Washington.

The original creative spirits from the region are the numerous indigenous groups that have inhabited the area long before grunge music and tech. From the coastal Salish-speaking indigenous groups to the inland Kalispel, Colville, and others, their contributions to the arts are immeasurable. If you are lucky enough to visit Washington, then make sure to visit the many museums dedicated to preserving the creative arts of the indigenous populations of the region. There are too many to name, but here are a couple: Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery and the Northwest Native Art at the Burke Museum.

Excellent Education

Happy elementary school teacher giving high-five to her student during class in the classroom.
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You won’t have trouble finding a good school in Washington state.

Families considering moving to Washington State will appreciate the excellent schools here. There are several public universities, including the University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University, and Central University. Plus, the state is home to many private universities and specialty schools. In addition, the public school system is well-funded and pays some of the highest salaries to teachers.

Islands and Beaches

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The San Juan Islands are a popular spot to visit in Washington state.

Washington State has the unique position of being on the coast and has many small and not-so-small islands. The San Juan Islands are one of the most visited parts of the state, and it’s easy to see why. This small group of islands sits in the water between Vancouver and Washington and is part of Washington State.

The islands range from big to small, with the smallest being just big enough for two lawn chairs and the biggest being populated with resorts and hotels. Four of the islands can be reached by the state ferry system. However, some of the smaller islands are only accessible by small boats or kayaks. There are folks who live year-round on the islands and others who only visit the islands for camping and hiking.

Besides the beaches on the islands, there are lots of hidden beaches throughout the state along the coast and the peninsula. Visitors can explore the beaches and tidepools and even set up camp. For me, the islands and the beaches fill a special spot on the list of pros of living in Washington State.


Hoh Rainforest
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Did you know that Washington state has its own rainforest?

When you hear the word rainforest, you probably imagine a thick, lush jungle somewhere in South America, but the truth is there are actually rainforests in the U.S. There are two in Alaska, one in Puerto Rico, and, you guessed it, one is in Washington State.

The Hoh Rainforest is in the Olympic National Park and sits in the southwest part of the state. It is the largest temperate rainforest in the U.S. and is home to a diverse mix of flora and fauna. From old-growth trees to wild ferns and lots and lots of moss, the Hoh rainforest looks like a velvet painting with layers of every shade of green imaginable. Hiking the trails in the rainforest feels like stepping into another world. If you ask me, this place should be on everyone’s bucket list of places to visit because it really is a unique place.

Diverse Populations

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Washington is a diverse state where people speak a variety of languages.

Diversity makes us all better, and it is one of the things that makes the state so special. There are people from all over the world who have made Washington their home and, in doing so, have brought their rich cultures to the state, making it even better. From food to language to customs, the mix of people is one of the best things about living in Washington.

Many residents of the state speak Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalong, Russian, Korean, Hindi, and more. Cities across the state host events celebrating international culture and holidays.

Delicious Produce and Farmer’s Markets

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Woman worker at farmerÕs market

Washington is a great place for those who enjoy fresh produce.

You probably know that Washington is known for growing apples, but the state produces more than just apples. Farmers across the state grow other fruits and vegetables like melons, asparagus, apricots, and cherries. The best place to find all of these regional treats is at the local farmers market. Some of these farmer’s markets are year-round, and others are only open from late spring through early fall. In some of the bigger cities, like Seattle and Spokane, there are markets almost every day of the week, while smaller towns in agricultural areas usually just host markets once a week.

Throughout the different farmer’s markets, you can find all kinds of goodies like locally produced honey, fresh cheeses made from local dairy farms, homemade bread made with locally sourced grains, wild foraged mushrooms like morels and chanterelles, and a wide range of berries from raspberries and blueberries to strawberries and wild huckleberries. The wide variety of local specialty products and the abundance of farmer’s markets are just another pro of living in Washington.

Craft Beers

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Craft beer backgrounds. Top view

Craft beer lovers will be in heaven in Washington state.

If you like adult beverages, then you will be happy to know that Washington has amazing local breweries making small-batch beers and cider. According to the Washington Brewers Guild, there are 426 breweries. The tradition of microbrewing in the region has a long history and is connected to local agriculture. Hops, the main component of a tasty brew, have been cultivated in the area since 1865, and small-batch beer brewing has been around since then. It was only in the last forty years that microbrews have become big business in the state, and a sort of microbrew pub culture has evolved. Whether you like a hoppy citrus-infused IPA or prefer a darker amber ale, you will definitely want to check out the many microbreweries across the state.

Beer isn’t the only adult beverage made in the state; Washington has many vineyards and has been recognized internationally for producing quality wine. There are vineyards all over the state, but the biggest concentration is in the Columbia Valley around Walla Walla, Prosser, and Benton City. Visitors can enjoy wine tasting year-round, but the best time for wine lovers to experience the Washington State wine scene is during the late summer and early fall when the wineries are hosting “crush” events to celebrate the harvest. The various wineries will have tastings, food, and live music. Be sure to have a designated driver or hire a car service so you can safely move around the region and get a chance to try the different varietals.

Cons of Living in Washington State

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There are some downsides to living in Washington state.

Any list of pros must have a list of cons. No place is magical and perfect. Every place has some downsides to it, and here is my list of cons of living in Washington. You may notice the cons list is much shorter, and depending on your preferences, some things on the list may not be cons at all. Ultimately, anyone considering making Washington their home will need to weigh both the pros and cons of living in Washington and decide for themselves.


Clouds rainy weather
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Washington is known for cloudy and rainy weather.

For some, the weather in Washington can be challenging. If you live on the west side of the state, the constant rain can be difficult. Anyone suffering from seasonal affective disorder or depression may find it difficult to live in a place that is gray and rainy for a good portion of the year. Folks who work outside or just don’t like to get wet probably won’t like the high amount of rainfall, which can lead to lots of colds and illnesses.

On the east side of the state, newbies to the area might find the heavy snowfall in the winter difficult to deal with. From shoveling snow to keeping the pipes from freezing, the bitter cold winters can be unpleasant. And scorching hot summers present other challenges since many of the older homes do not have air conditioning.


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Housing is especially expensive in Seattle and the surrounding areas.

Washington State is expensive. The tech boom and real estate market have caused prices to soar, and living the quality of life that one desires may be difficult depending on your income and whether you have kids or want to start a family. The pandemic had a huge effect on the housing market in the state, and while Seattle and the surrounding area have always been expensive, the pandemic made it even more so, and many people have been priced out of the competitive housing market. Even smaller cities and less popular towns have seen a rise in housing prices, causing many to keep renting or move elsewhere.

Rise in Homelessness

A shopping cart loaded with junk at a homeless camp with wet cardboard boxes nearby
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Larger cities in Washington state are struggling to find a solution to their area’s homelessness problem.

One of the most unfortunate consequences of the steep housing and rental prices is homelessness. Unhoused people throughout the state are suffering, and the larger cities like Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane have not figured out a solution to the rise in the unhoused population. While there are resources funded by a mix of government agencies and churches, there just isn’t enough aid to help everyone. Just like in other parts of the U.S., this is a problem that is going to continue and most likely get worse unless we, as a society, are able to figure out a solution that helps everyone.


crime scene tape with blurred forensic law enforcement background in cinematic tone and copy space
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Crime has been increasing in Washington state.

The high cost of living, the large number of unhoused people, and the lack of sufficient resources have a direct effect on the levels of crime in the region. Statistics show that crime has been increasing throughout the state.


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Multiple lane highway with many cars in a traffic jam.

Traffic is a problem around big cities in Washington state.

A growing population and an influx of people moving to the state have increased traffic, and in some areas, the infrastructure does not support the amount of cars on the roads. Big cities like Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane seem to have traffic at all hours of the day, not just during the morning and evening rush hour. While Seattle has an excellent public transposition system, the rest of the state does not. In large regions like the Tri-Cities in southeast Washington, public transportation falls short, and it is incredibly difficult to live there if you do not have a personal vehicle. Many of the agricultural areas in the state are spread out and lack adequate public transportation for people who need it. (Next, Meet the 10 Biggest Musicians From Washington.)

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