As we continue to search for our next home we are wondering which state would be the better state to retire in, Washington or Oregon? We’re not ready to retire yet, but as we get closer to retirement age we wonder where to retire, Washington or Oregon?

Both states seem to be experiencing amazing population growth. It’s no wonder as both states have incredible beauty, wonderful outdoor recreation as well as the cities of Portland and Seattle.

After searching the Internet I found a few facts. Washington is the more populous of the two states. In 1990 the population was just under 4.9 million and it is now 7.4 million.. Oregon’s population was 2.8 million in 1990 and now it is 4.1 million. Washington has a younger makeup than Oregon, 13.6% of its population is 65+, compared to Oregon’s, which is 15.5%.

Real estate prices seem to be very similar. Of course it depends on where exactly you are looking for a house. Washington’s home values have gone up 6.9% over the past year and it is predicted they will rise again this year. Oregon prices have also gone up 6% over the last year and they are also expected to continue to rise. We left an area where the real estate market has not been raising much at all. Unfortunately we will not be making a lateral move.

We do not plan to live in the city in either state, but if you compare the cost of living Seattle, Washington is 38% more expensive than Portland, Oregon!


Both Washington and Oregon have similar climates. The actual biggest differences are the very wet coast sections of each state as compared to the desert like eastern reaches. Most of our exploring has been along the western part of each state.

What about taxes? Both states are actually considered tax friendly. Washington does not have an income tax. They do have a sales tax, which is 6.5% statewide and higher in certain areas like Seattle and some other cities. In Oregon the reverse is true, they have no sales tax but a stiff income tax instead. Oregon exempts social security and some pension income from state income tax. Oregon seems to treat capital gains as regular income. Both states offer senior property tax exemptions to those with lower incomes.

After weighing all the comparisons I think it will come down to where we can find a house that we want to spend the next twenty years in. Both states have a lot to offer, beautiful scenery, lots of hiking trails, youthful big cities such as Portland and Seattle. You can choose to live near the water or near the mountains or somewhere in between.

what to pack last

So we’ll keep looking in both states and see what we can find as far as our next house goes.

6 comments on “Where to Retire: Washington or Oregon?

Nancy on February 4, 2019 8:13 pm

We lived in Portland a long time and we go back to visit. Hubby was just there. Property tax is astronomical, water bill ditto, huge traffic issues, lots of homeless folks. Nice city if you can afford a basic home for 800,000$. You couldn’t pay me to live there now. Older people hate all the high city fees for permits too…

Nancy Wolff on February 5, 2019 1:36 am

Sounds like you are much happier now! We will not be living in the city no matter which state we end up in!

nancy on February 5, 2019 1:45 am

So for a rural area Oregon would still be high w/property tax (yet), but no sales tax. Washington has sales tax. There are real weather differences in Oregon- Salem Willamette valley is warmer, little snow. Green but milder. Bend area is gorgeous, but very expensive. Coast has terrible winter storms, potential tsunamis, heavy tourist traffic. Politics varies by the area. We moved here for hubbie’s job. Wasn’t a choice, learned to live with it. There’s a very entrenched political/religious base because of one church (3 letters.) Carries a lot of weight here.

Nancy Wolff on February 5, 2019 3:23 pm

Definitely not interested in living on the coast! We’re learning so much! Can’t believe how high the sales tax is in WA! Hoping to find something where we can be close to our four grown children, have out own life and become an urban gardener!

Robin on March 30, 2019 2:17 pm

Nancy. Is it possible for a 60plis couple in MW Ohio to afford a tiny home to retire in, in Oregon. One daughter teaching special needs kids in San Diego, the other older daughter a Marine Corps vet finishing up her degree, working in NC. Younger daughter in San Diego s plans to relocate w/ her Marine Corps husband in a few years more up towards Astoria, her older sister plans on getting a job in either Wash. or Oregon state to be close to her sister. We would like to do the same but wonder if it is possible for us to afford. I worked for USFS one year decades ago but was homesick and came back to Ohio. Where might be some of the better places to research out there in order to eventually be closer to our girls? Thanks for your time, Robin

Nancy Wolff on April 2, 2019 2:20 pm

I think it is possible for a 60plis couple to afford a tiny home in Oregon! As long as you don’t want to be right in the city limits of Portland! It also depends on what size house you want and what sort of property you are looking for. Get a map of the state and do a little research. Our grown children are all in the city either in WA or OR, (Seattle, Tacoma, Portland). Our goal is to be within an hour of an airport, have a little garden space and room for the grandkids to visit. Although it is a hot market it seems that the prices are coming down a little.

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