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Cost of Living in Washington, 2023

October 20, 2022
Thinking about moving to Washington but don’t know how much you can spend? Here’s what to expect from the cost of living in Washington and how to plan for your move.

With mountains, volcanoes, beaches, and deserts, Washington state offers enough variety to draw in new residents from across the world.

Not only do locals enjoy gorgeous views and outdoor recreation opportunities, but Washington residents also benefit from the state’s plethora of apple orchards, proximity to the ocean, and lots more, making the Evergreen State a special place to call home.

If you’re looking to move to Washington, you’ll need to create an accurate budget to ensure that your move is headache-free.

We’ve got you covered!

Here’s everything you need to know about the cost of living in Washington state.

What Is the Cost of Living in Washington?

The Pacific Northwest has become a hotspot recently. Not surprisingly, the cost of living in Washington matches the trend, with things being a bit more costly here than in the rest of the country.

The average cost of living in Washington is 21.9% higher than the national average.

Cost of LivingWashingtonU.S.
Overall121.9100
Grocery101.1100
Health88.8100
Housing172.8100
Median Home Cost$504,200$291,700
Utilities74100
Transportation113.6100
Miscellaneous113.3100

Be sure to remember these figures provide an average across the state and that the cost of living can vary drastically.

Highest Cost of Living in Washington

The city in Utah with the highest cost of living is Bellevue, across Lake Washington from Seattle. The average cost of living in Bellevue is 99.7% higher than the national average.

Cost of LivingBellevueWashingtonU.S.
Overall199.7121.9100
Grocery111.7101.1100
Health88.288.8100
Housing399.5172.8100
Median Home Cost$1,165,300$504,200$291,700
Utilities7174100
Transportation128.9113.6100
Miscellaneous150.9113.3100

Lowest Cost of Living in Washington

On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Westport, a small city in Grays Harbor County. The average cost of living in Westport is 11.6% lower than the national average.

Cost of LivingWestportWashingtonU.S.
Overall88.4121.9100
Grocery98.1101.1100
Health108.888.8100
Housing80.5172.8100
Median Home Cost$234,900$504,200$291,700
Utilities65.274100
Transportation87.9113.6100
Miscellaneous101.7113.3100

Washington Housing Costs

Housing should always be the first cost you consider when moving to a new state. Not only do rent prices vary drastically by location, but they can also change drastically over time.

Here's a breakdown of the average rent prices for one and two-bedroom apartments in Washington's biggest cities, including Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Vancouver.

CityAverage 1-Bedroom RentAverage 2-Bedroom Rent
Seattle, WA$1,700$2,055
Vancouver, WA$1,392$1,604
Tacoma, WA$1,251$1,598
Spokane, WA$984$1,330

While rent prices were skyrocketing for a while, these popular Washington cities are beginning to level out. Seattle, Vancouver, Tacoma, and Spokane all fall below the state’s average year-over-year growth of 15.2%.

Those looking to own property in Washington will find that median home prices, much like rent prices, are also on the rise.

CityMedian Home Price
Seattle, WA$984,905
Vancouver, WA$525,560
Tacoma, WA$512,068
Spokane, WA$428,920

If these cities don't seem right for you, learn about the best places to live in Washington!

Washington Transportation

Seattle, Washington's largest city, has a comprehensive public transportation system operated by multiple agencies. As a result, the city has some of the highest rates of commuters in the nation who rely on public transportation. Riders can get around via train, bus, or water taxi!

If you choose to rely on public transportation, you might save a pretty penny. MIT's Living Wage Calculator sets the average Washington resident's annual transportation cost at $4,938. For a family of four with two children, this expense increases to $13,456 annually.

As a monthly public transportation pass costs a low $99 per month or $1,188 per year, you can expect over 75% in savings

Washington Food Costs

Whether you plan to treat yourself once a month or more frequently, you'll need to know how much those delectable meals will affect your budget. Here's what you can expect to pay for a three-course meal in Washington, according to Numbeo.

  • Seattle: $85
  • Spokane: $60
  • Tacoma: $67.50
  • Vancouver: $70

If you’re someone with incredible will and discipline, you might be able to make all of your food at home. If so, you can expect to pay $3,999 annually or $333 monthly for your groceries. However, if you shop for a family of four, expect to pay $11,764 annually or $980.33 monthly.

Washington Healthcare Costs

The average Washington resident spends $2,178 on medical costs each year. Families of four spend a whopping $6,618 annually. However, these numbers only account for employer-provided health insurance. If your employer does not provide health insurance, you may have substantially different costs.

If you are in the market for health insurance, you can head to Healthcare.gov for low-cost, affordable health insurance coverage. Just be sure to report your move to ensure that you don’t experience a lapse in coverage.

Washington Utilities

It’s important to estimate your utilities when building your apartment budget. We call it an estimate because many factors influence utility costs, including personal preference, your apartment’s size, the age of your appliances, and more.

The average American pays $240 monthly for basic utilities. Residents of Washington’s major cities may pay less than average for utilities. For example, Seattle residents pay just $233.54 on average, while Spokane residents pay $208.70.

Fitness and Entertainment

Although Washington isn’t known for its fitness and entertainment options, it offers many opportunities for anyone seeking to work up a sweat or have some fun.

The average Washington resident spends $1,811 on fitness and entertainment costs annually, while a family of four spends $4,127 annually. Here are some of the things they spend it on!

Gym Memberships

In love with the thrill of visiting the gym and working up a sweat? Here’s what you can expect to pay for a fitness club membership in Washington’s biggest cities.

  • Seattle: $54.50
  • Spokane: $33.78
  • Tacoma: $30
  • Vancouver: $35

If you prefer more economical fitness options, don’t worry! There are tons of free and low-cost fitness options in Washington. Many folks choose to run or bike. Better yet, walking is a low-cost way to keep fit and explore the city.

Visit a State Park

Whether you’re an avid hiker or looking for a fun way to spend a weekend, Washington offers residents close proximity to several incredible national and state parks.

These are low-cost and free entertainment options that are awesome for families or fun solo excursions.

Hiking, biking, fishing, paddling, running, walking, and more await you at a Washington national park. Here’s how much entrance to these parks costs.

  • Mount Rainier National Park: $30 (single vehicle)
  • Olympic National Park: $30 (single vehicle)
  • North Cascades National Park: Free

Visit a Famous Museum

If you love the arts or love the science of curation, head to one of Washington’s many museums. These relatively inexpensive options, offer tons of entertainment and learning opportunities. Here is the cost of general admission for some of Washington’s most popular museums.

  • Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture: $12
  • Museum of Pop Culture: $30
  • The Whale Museum: $9
  • Museum of Flight: $25

Keep in mind that you may need to pay more if you want to check out some of the newer exhibits or special attractions. However, museums usually offer a discount on certain days. If you plan it right, you might be able to save big.

Head to Seattle to Catch a Game

The good news is that Washington is home to professional football, basketball, hockey, and baseball teams. The bad news is that you’re in for a drive unless you live in Seattle. You can tack on gas prices in addition to the cost of your ticket. Here’s a breakdown of the average ticket costs for each professional sports team:

  • Seattle Seahawks: $133.00
  • Seattle Storm: $42
  • Seattle Kraken: $20-$40
  • Seattle Mariners: $45

If you want to save a bit and avoid the drive, head to your local sports bar to meet fellow fans, eat good food, and have great drinks while watching the game.

State Taxes in Washington

The current Washington state sales tax rate is 6.5%. However, city and county sales tax rates combine with this rate, which significantly raises it. For example, Seattle’s combined sales tax rate is 10.25%.

Washington does not collect a state income tax. If you are moving from a state that does collect a state income tax, this could make a big difference.

Other Expenses to Consider in Washington

Moving to a new state can be challenging to budget for, as many costs are difficult to assess.

Bare in mind additional expenses such as the Marijuana Excise Tax. Washington state allows for the legal use and purchase of marijuana. However, consumers must pay a 37% excise tax on each purchase of marijuana. Even for recreational consumers, this can be a steep price.

What Salary Do I Need to Live in Washington?

Your recommended salary is the pre-tax salary you should earn to live comfortably in a specific location. Understanding the recommended salary in Washington is the first step toward building a fail-safe budget.

To determine your recommended salary, you’ll need to use the rule of three. To live comfortably, your pre-tax income should be at least three times the price of rent.

Using Seattle as an example, we’ll use the cost of a one-bedroom apartment to determine your recommended salary.

As the average rent price of a one-bedroom apartment is $1,616, your pre-tax income should meet or exceed $4,848 monthly or $58,176 annually.

Final Thoughts

If The Evergreen State is calling your name and your budget is signaling green for the move — it’s time to start your search for the perfect Washington apartment! If affordability is a concern, check out the cheapest places to live in Washington.

Congratulations!

Take our quiz to get started on your apartment hunt in Washington!

FAQs: What to Know Before Moving to Washington in 2023

How expensive is an apartment in Washington?

Depending on where you live in Washington, rents are on the rise. A one-bedroom apartment in Seattle costs $1,667, and a two-bedroom apartment costs $2,015.

A one-bedroom apartment in Tacoma costs $1,239 and a two-bedroom apartment costs $1,581.

A one-bedroom apartment in Spokane costs $955 and a two-bedroom apartment costs $1,581.

A one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver costs $1,346 and a two-bedroom costs $1,551.

What is the cheapest rent in Washington?

Some of the cheapest rents in Washington are found in Spokane. A one-bedroom apartment in Spokane costs $955 and a two-bedroom apartment costs $1,290.

How expensive is it to live in Washington?

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Washington ranges from $955 to $1,290 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Public transportation varies depending on where you live. MIT's Living Wage Calculator sets the average Washington resident's annual transportation cost at $4,938. For a family of four with two children, you can expect to pay $11,391 annually.

Food costs about $3,999 annually or $333.25 monthly for groceries in Washington. However, a family of four will spend about $8,853 annually or $737.75 monthly.

How far is Washington from California?

Washington is 954.6 miles from California and takes over 16 hours to drive via US-97 N. You can also fly or drive between the two states. A flight from Seattle to Los Angeles, California takes about 4 hours.

How far is Washington from Oregon?

Washington to Oregon is 359.2 miles via US-97 N and takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes to drive. Buses and flights are also available between the two states. The flight from Seattle to Portland takes about an hour.

Is Washington Cheaper than California?

Yes, Washington is cheaper than living in California. The average rent for a California one-bedroom apartment is $2,054.79. In Seattle, a one-bedroom costs $1,667, which is among the most expensive places to live in Washington.

Is Washington Cheaper than Oregon?

No, Washington is not cheaper than living in Oregon. Spokane is among the cheapest places to live in Washington. A one-bedroom apartment costs $955. In Oregon, one of the cheapest places to live is Eugene. Eugene has an average rent of $1,610 for a one-bedroom apartment.

What is the population of Washington?

According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Washington was 7,738,692 in 2020.

What is a good salary in Washington?

The Census Bureau reports that the average salary for Washington residents is $59,400. In Seattle, you'll need an average income of $60,012 to afford a one-bedroom apartment. In Tacoma, you will need a salary of $44,604 to live comfortably. If you live in Spokane, you need at least $34,380 for a one-bedroom apartment. Living in Vancouver requires $48,456 for a comfortable lifestyle in a one-bedroom apartment.

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DAVINA WARD
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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