The Pacific Northwest appears to attract some folks. They yearn to go hiking in the evergreen forests surrounding Mount Rainier, cheer on the Seahawks at noisy games, and curl up with a good book on rainy days. Different sections of Washington state, however, have higher living costs than others. So, how much does it cost to live in Washington state on average?
Let’s dig deeper before you go looking for mountaintop cabins or townhomes in Seattle.
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What Is the State of Washington’s Livable Wage?
The first thing to realize about Washington is that the cost of living varies depending on whatever region you visit. The cost of living in the communities surrounding Seattle is the greatest; therefore, a living wage in these areas will need to be greater than in the more rural and eastern parts of the state. Look for properties outside of King County if you want your pay to stretch further. The state of Washington does, however, have a generous minimum pay of $12 per hour, which is more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. If you choose to live in Seattle, the minimum wage is $15 per hour to reflect the city’s higher cost of living. Washington also has rules in place for salaried workers or those who are paid a certain amount regardless of how many hours they work. Salary workers must make at least $23,660 dollars ($11.35 per hour) to be classified salaried and free from overtime compensation, according to government requirements. As of January 1st, 2020, that barrier in Washington is set at $35,568 ($17.00 per hour). While the cost of living in Washington state is higher than in most other states, it is commonly cited with California as having one of the highest minimum wage levels in the country.
The Cost of Living and the Purchase of a Home
If you wish to buy a property in Washington, you will find that it has one of the most competitive residential real estate markets in the country.
Buying a house may be a long and complicated process. There will be closing charges in addition to the down payment, which is typically 15-20% of the selling price. If you own a home in the area where you used to live, you must sell that home as well. Utility and maintenance expenditures, as well as property taxes and house insurance, will all contribute to your cost of living once you’ve purchased and moved into your new home. There are numerous advantages to living in Washington, but one of them is the high expense of housing.
Housing Rent Costs
In comparison to the most costly districts in the aforementioned cities, Washington’s most affluent neighborhoods offer good value.
The average cost of living in Foggy Bottom, Shaw, and the U Street Corridor are between $2,500 and $2,700 per month. The average rent in these areas is $2,234, which is not significantly more than the average rent in D.C.More inexpensive neighborhoods like Georgetown and Brightwood rent for $1,700-$1,800 per month, which is closer to the national average of $1,463.Rents in Alexandria, Virginia, Silver Spring, Maryland, and Columbia, Maryland, are all less than $1,800.Even if the figures appear to be high, living in Washington, D.C. does not have to be prohibitively expensive. When you share a room with a roommate, you can save a lot of money compared to living alone.
For example, the average price of a private room in a shared home in D.C. on Bungalow is up to 25% less than the average studio apartment rent in the same area.
Purchase Price of a House
The median sale price of a home in Washington, D.C., in January 2020 was $580,000, more than twice the national median sale price of $245,000 at the time. The greater Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area has substantially lower real estate costs than the city itself, so purchasers should explore outside of the city for homes priced about $400,000.D.C. has some of the lowest property taxes in the country. After deductions and credits, homeowners will pay an effective tax rate of 0.55 percent, which is nearly half of the national average of 1.08 percent.
Cost of Utilities
A single person in an average-sized apartment in Washington, D.C., can expect to spend $147 per month on utilities, which is 8% less than the national average.
The Price of Food
Dining out in the D.C. area can be quite costly, especially at dinnertime. A full-service restaurant lunch costs about $40 for one person, not including a drink or tip. Lunches are less costly, costing roughly $15. Restaurant meals and takeaway are subject to a 10% sales tax, which is more than the normal sales tax of 6% on most other purchases. Residents of D.C. can expect to pay 10% more at the grocery store than the national average. In Washington, the average monthly grocery bill is $304.If this seems excessive, keep in mind that grocery prices in D.C. are 27% lower than in New York City and comparable to those in Seattle and Chicago.
Cost of Transportation
Washingtonians, who spend more money getting to work than inhabitants of any other U.S. city, have particularly high commuting expenditures.
In 2018, the average transportation cost in D.C. was $13,095 per household, significantly higher than the national average of $9,669. Because commuting consumes both time and money, paying a higher rent to be closer to work may be worthwhile in exchange for a higher quality of life. Almost two-thirds of D.C. workers drive alone to work. The capital’s gas prices are comparable to the national average (ranging from $2.80 to $3.80 per gallon over the last year), but the 43-minute average one-way trip adds up.
Drivers in D.C. can expect to pay $1,527 per year for full coverage auto insurance, which is $100 higher than the national average but less than drivers in California and New York. One-quarter of the population of D.C. takes public transportation to work. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metro rail system is the most popular alternative. The cost of a Metro subway ticket varies depending on the amount of time and distance traveled. During off-peak hours, travel costs between $2 and $3.85, rising to $2.25-$6 during commute hours. These prices are comparable to those of other distance-based systems in the San Francisco Bay Area, such as BART. The cost of commuting by rail from Maryland is somewhat more per ride. Within the city, bus lines supplement the metro system. The cost of a bus ticket is $2 per ride.
Unlimited bus and subway pass range in price from $13 for a one-day pass to $58 for a week’s worth of travel. The unlimited pass in Washington is much more expensive than the $33 weekly pass in New York City’s public transportation system.
Overall, workers in the Washington, D.C. area earn $35 per hour on average, which is 26% more than the national average wage of $26. This equates to a yearly compensation of about $73,000 on average. The only places in the United States where workers may expect higher pays are Manhattan and the San Francisco Bay Area. Government, business, and professional services industries have a high concentration of jobs (44 percent) in Washington, D.C.In D.C., these jobs pay more than they do elsewhere. Lawyers, who are required in the political lobbying process, can earn $180,000 per year in Washington, compared to $145,000 elsewhere. On average, political scientists earn more than $125,000 per year. High-earners pay a disproportionate amount of taxes to the government on their doorstep. The District’s income taxes are progressive, ranging from 4% to 8.95 percent. This places Washington, D.C., among the top ten states in terms of income tax rates.
Residents of the District also pay these high taxes without having a representative in Congress, which is a long-standing complaint that is even reflected on local license plates. Politics dominates life in the nation’s capital, both economically and culturally. Washington, D.C. is the only place to be if you work in this field or want to be closer to where the big decisions that affect American life are made. Washington is also an appealing and cheap area to live and work, with above-average earnings, a stable employment market, an abundance of free activities, and lower rents than other large cities. The Bungalow provides individual rooms in shared dwellings at a lower cost than single-family housing in the same areas. Wifi, utilities, and monthly cleaning are all set up before you move in, ensuring a smooth transition into coliving. Unlike other shared housing choices, Bungalow thoroughly checks all of its residents and assists you in finding roommates who share your tastes and interests.
Costs of Child Care in Washington
Child care costs contribute thousands of dollars to a family’s annual budget. In Washington, the average yearly cost of child care for a 4-year-old child is $10,569, far higher than the national average of $8,903.Similarly, in Washington, it costs an average of $17,688 a year to care for a four-year-old child and an eight-year-old child, compared to a national average of $15,853.
Taxes in Washington
Taxes are one of the few expenses that differ significantly from one state to the next.
The average adult working in Washington pays $5,697 in taxes per year, which is less than the national average of $6,542. This includes state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security contributions and Medicare payroll. The state is one of only nine in the country that does not collect a wage tax, which helps to explain why tax payments are lower than the national average.
When federal taxes are excluded and state and local taxes, such as property and sales taxes, are included, Washington’s state and local tax burden is higher than the national average. Washington collects $3,527 in state taxes per person per year, compared to $3,151 on average across all states.
County Costs of Living (or County Equivalents)
The cost of living varies not only from state to state but also from neighborhood to neighborhood within states. King County, which includes Seattle, has the highest overall cost of living for a family of four in Washington, at $97,596 per year, well exceeding the statewide average of $86,409 per year. Meanwhile, Adams County is the most affordable part of the state. The average yearly cost of living in the area for a family of four is $67,201, which is $19,208 less than the state average. The town of Othello is the most populated in Adams County.
For Some People, Washington Is a Tax-Friendly State With a Low Cost of Living.
There is no state income tax in Washington!
This means that if you work in Washington, you will not have to pay any taxes other than federal income taxes on your paycheck. Because there is no state income tax, your take-home salary will be larger, allowing you to spend more money on necessities. Washington, on the other hand, has a 6.5 percent statewide sales tax. Depending on where you live, you may be subject to extra-local sales or use taxes of up to 3%. Those who live near the Oregon border can take a quick drive to take advantage of the state’s tax-free shopping.
Access to and Affordability of Healthcare, as Well as Your Cost of Living
In terms of overall healthcare access and cost, Washington is placed 20th out of all 50 states.
Healthcare expenses account for a considerable portion of the overall cost of living. If you relocate to another state, your capacity to purchase healthcare, as well as your ability to obtain treatment, are major markers of how much you will pay for this vital resource. The rates set for insurance coverage in a state, as well as the out-of-pocket payments that must be paid by you when receiving care, are used to determine affordability. Your cost of living will rise if rates or out-of-pocket expenses are high. The ease or difficulty of receiving healthcare is referred to as access to healthcare. Access is measured by identifying barriers to care delivery, such as the inability to obtain insurance coverage, the need to travel great distances to health care facilities, and the absence of adequate facilities and/or healthcare experts. Another key factor to consider is the timeliness of care, or how quickly you can see a healthcare provider.
What Is the Cheapest City in Washington State to Live in?
You may discover that there are additional hidden beauties outside of Seattle as you travel around Washington state. While King County and its neighboring areas are often the most popular places to visit and relocate to, there are more affordable communities that offer entertainment and community activities for residents seeking a lower cost of living than Washington state’s average.
Despite being the state capital, this city is surprisingly cheap.
While the area’s typical household income is $52,834, the average home price is only $240,800, making it significantly less expensive than areas closer to Washington state’s average cost of living.
Olympia also has easy access to nature, whether you want to go fishing or trekking on the Bothell, just outside of Seattle, is another affordable location in Washington state to explore. While not the cheapest in the state, it is one of the most cost-effective areas in King County. The average home costs $344,600, while the median earnings of $75,643 remain high. Bothell is a popular choice for families and young professionals just starting out in their professions because it is only a 30-minute drive from Seattle.
Before settling down in Seattle, have a look at some of these cities in Washington state that has a lower cost of living to see if they can provide you with the same experiences at a lesser cost. By choosing a place off the beaten path, you may be able to afford a larger home or a smaller mortgage.
What Is the Most Affordable State of Living in?
If you’re looking for a place to live only on the basis of cost, you might want to consider states outside of the Pacific Northwest. The cost of living in Washington and Oregon is among the highest in the country, although there are more cheap cities and regions throughout the country, especially in the South. Mississippi is the cheapest state to live in, with a cost of living that is 15% less than the national average. Its monthly dwelling costs around $795, and its living wage is only $48,537.Transportation, food, childcare, and other necessities are also among the most affordable in the country. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri are among the states with the lowest cost of living. Georgia is also on the list; however, the cost of living in Atlanta is far greater than elsewhere in the state.