The pros and cons of living in Western Washington

Jun 10, 2018, 8:37 AM | Updated: Jul 9, 2018, 12:24 pm

Washington has received a lot of praise lately. It’s a safe state. It’s an economically competitive state. Real estate prices are gold. And Seattle is the shining emerald in this economic crown.

RELATED: Can $105K buy you happiness in the Seattle area?

But to be fair, and in an effort to stay humble, the state and its largest city don’t boast all good news. There are plenty of cons to the pros of living in Western Washington. It just depends on if you view the rain gauge half full or half empty. So let’s balance out our Pollyanna with a little Debbie Downer.

Economy / jobs

Pro: Washington’s economy is best in the nation

After considering 28 different factors across economic activity, health, and potential, WalletHub ranked Washington as the nation’s best economy. It notes the state has: the highest GDP growth in the country; it has the most exports per capita (tied with Texas, North Dakota, and Louisiana); has the fourth highest change in non-farm payrolls; and the fourth highest percentage of tech jobs.

On top of that, Governor Jay Inslee’s office announced this week that Washington is the most competitive state in the country when it comes to aerospace manufacturing. This is according to a study that the governor’s office commissioned itself. It’s called the “Teal report.”

“Washington has an aerospace supercluster like none other in the country,” Inslee said. “The Teal report shows that by any measure, Washington is leading the way and offers the most competitive environment and workforce for companies seeking to build world-class planes.”

This all factors into yet another No. 1 ranking for Washington — best place for jobs.

Con: Not everyone benefits from the economy, which may not last long

The state doesn’t rank highly when it comes to number of startups, or the highest median annual household income on WalletHub’s list. In Seattle, where a lot of the tech industry is headquartered, only one in four residents earn more than $100,000. More than half of the Emerald City earns less than $50,000 annually.

Seattle is among the top five cities with the most expensive rent, and Tacoma is not far behind.

And economies are fragile, like the ego of certain sitting presidents. Much of the state’s economic engine revs up in Seattle, or at least Western Washington; its vibrations generally radiate out from there. Many in the state are wary of policies coming out of Seattle, such as the recent-passed head tax. Many local companies are saying they are looking to expand outside of Seattle as a result of the tax.

Even surrounding counties are looking to benefit off of Seattle’s taxing attitude. But the larger concern is that the head tax will amplify a message to out-of-state businesses potentially looking to locate in Washington — that they are unwelcome.

On top of that, Seattle was just listed as having the most regressive taxes in Washington; the state itself is ranked for having the most regressive taxes in the nation.

Real estate

Pro: Business is good in the real estate market
Seattle is among the fastest growing cities in the nation, and that is helping to heat up the housing market. Redfin reports that the Seattle region is the second fastest market in the country with homes pending sale in just seven median days on the market — 64 percent of homes sold at above list price. Seattle prices also grew by 14.7 percent since April 2017.

Con: Few can afford it

Seattle tops the list of least affordable cities in the state. It’s followed by Vancouver (near Portland), and Tacoma.

RELATED: People flocking to Boise from Seattle

Nationally, Washington comes in at 44th when it comes to affordability, according to U. S. News. This is based on its rankings with cost of living (38th) and housing affordability (46th).

So while there are plenty of jobs in the nation’s hottest economy, affording to live near that job may not be so easy.


Pro: There’s actually no pro argument here. I literally can’t find any good news related to getting around Western Washington … the Roosevelt bike lane in Seattle is pretty cool, so I guess there’s that.

Con:  There’s plenty of factoids about how bad Washington traffic is, however. It’s the second worst in the nation. The Seattle region’s traffic has been ranked among the worst on Earth. And it turns out we all make it worse for ourselves.

Even when it seemed like there was progress toward solutions, it turns out it was partially a con.

Washington safety

Pro: Washington among top 10 safest states in America

WalletHub is also patting the state on the back as the 10th safest in the country — despite having the fewest law enforcement employees per capita (ranked 49th). But the state has very few occupational injuries, and suffers little costs from climate-related disasters.

Con: Gun violence

Gun violence in Western Washington has gone up, and it’s gone down over the past few years. Despite fluctuations, it keeps happening.

And while property crimes — a common complaint in the region — went down in 2017, violent crimes went up. Meanwhile, there are thousands of backlogged rape kits that remain untested for years. Cemeteries can’t get any relief from addicts and prostitutes. And the region has been experiencing upticks in bias (hate) crimes.


Pro: There’s plenty of beer

Washington doesn’t have the most breweries in the nation, but it ranks fairly high and produces quite a lot of barrels. There’s a considerable craft beer scene. So if affordability and crime gets you down, at least there’s crafty cold one available to you.

Con: It’s all IPA

Which is nice if you love IPA. This is more of a personal observation; it’s not all IPA, but it just seems that IPAs have gone beyond a trend and become a regional flavor. Personally, all beer is a failure by default for not being whiskey. But if we’re going to have so many breweries, why not diversify? It’s like living in a candy factory that only makes black licorice.



MyNorthwest Blog

satellites, night sky...

Bill Kaczaraba

Opinion: With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world

American author Max Ehrmann wrote a poem in 1921. It was distributed in a Christmas card in 1933,

7 months ago

Gingerbread House...

MyNorthwest Staff

KIRO Newsradio wins Bonneville Gingerbread House competition

In a tradition unlike any other, the second annual Bonneville Seattle Gingerbread House competition was fierce between multiple departments.

7 months ago

recount election king...

Bill Kaczaraba

Kaczaraba: It took an election for me to figure out I don’t live in Edmonds

I was excited to get to vote on Edmonds mayor because I had been seeing signs all over the neighborhood. But it was not to be.

9 months ago

All-Star Game T-Mobile Park...

Bill Kaczaraba

Kaczaraba: MLB All-Star Game a picture perfect day for Seattle

What we witnessed this week was a spectacular Seattle. Homeless encampments were gone. Sidewalks were power-washed. There were even baskets with flowers hanging.

1 year ago

summer solstice...

Bill Kaczaraba

Kaczaraba: Summer solstice brings season of concerts, hikes

The summer solstice has come and gone, ushering in everyone's favorite season across the Pacific Northwest.

1 year ago

Seattle Sonics...

Bill Kaczaraba

Could Seattle Sonics 2.0 be on the horizon?

With the NBA Finals in full swing, league Commissioner Adam Silver is talking about a possible revival of the Seattle Sonics.

1 year ago

The pros and cons of living in Western Washington