Author Topic: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado  (Read 8820 times)

Trudie

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Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« on: April 14, 2015, 12:28:46 PM »
I would like to get opinions from the community comparing Oregon, Washington State, and Colorado as places to retire.  I know there is a lot of variation depending on what type of town you choose, but it's interesting hearing others' motivations.    I specifically would like advice from people currently living there and why (not) they chose one place over another.  Before I start doing more "objective" analysis of COL, taxes, health care, activities, and lifestyle I'd like to hear from the people on these boards -- particularly if they located there from another area of the country.

Here's my "wish list" (somewhat in priority order):
(1)  Mild climate with significant sun (ability to spend most days of the year outdoors).  I am fine with some winter and some summer, just not the extremes.
(2)  Access to good health care and health insurance programs/exchanges.
(3)  Access to the great outdoors -- for running, biking, walking, golfing
(4)  Urban amenities with a smaller town feel.  I do not have an inherent dislike for suburbs, especially if well connected by public transport.  We don't need to live in the middle of it all, but would like access to it.  Urban areas with a strong "neighborhood ethic" could be appealing.
(5)  Reasonable taxes for retirees.  Decent cost of living.
(6)  Laid back attitude.  Progressive values.
(7)  Access to major airport.

We're starting to explore options this summer, so I'd be interested for others to weigh in.

At present, we live in the upper midwest.  It's too cold to really enjoy year-round, and the winters can be downright depressing.  (I think snow is beautiful, it's just not seeing the sun day after day or having long stretches of sub-zero temps I can do without.)  We've always lived in University towns so are used to those amenities, albeit with a small town feel.  We would not want to give that up.  Our interests are:  running, biking, golfing, gardening, reading, using the public library, and we value being part of an active church (liberal Christian) community.  We have more interests than that, but those are the primary ones.

Joshin

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2015, 12:43:16 PM »

Here's my "wish list" (somewhat in priority order):
(1)  Mild climate with significant sun (ability to spend most days of the year outdoors).  I am fine with some winter and some summer, just not the extremes.
(2)  Access to good health care and health insurance programs/exchanges.
(3)  Access to the great outdoors -- for running, biking, walking, golfing
(4)  Urban amenities with a smaller town feel.  I do not have an inherent dislike for suburbs, especially if well connected by public transport.  We don't need to live in the middle of it all, but would like access to it.  Urban areas with a strong "neighborhood ethic" could be appealing.
(5)  Reasonable taxes for retirees.  Decent cost of living.
(6)  Laid back attitude.  Progressive values.
(7)  Access to major airport.


I've lived in Washington and Colorado. I currently live in Eastern WA, with plans to retire to Western WA in 10 years.

#1: Western WA isn't known for it's sun, but it's mild year-round. Eastern WA has four very distinct seasons, with each lasting about four months. Winters are variable. Sometimes sub-sero temps and lots of snow, other years mild temps and a bit more sun. Just depends on whether our winter storms blow in from the Pacific or from Canada. Definitely mild compared to Midwest winters, though. Southern WA may have milder, sunnier weather, I don't know.

Colorado, on the other hand, is generally sunny and mild year-round-- at least in the Denver area.

#2: We've had good luck on the exchanges as a self-employed family. Lots of choices and large doctor networks. WA is very forward thinking when it comes to social programs. For dental, we use the local dental college. Ours is great, but I hear the one on the west side of the state is even better.

#3: The entire state is one giant outdoor playground. This is our primary motive for staying here.

#4: Lots of small towns with the urban benefits, especially as you go west. In Eastern WA, there are no true suburbs, just small towns that surround the main city. We're in Spokane. We have strong neighborhoods here -- some stronger than others -- but most have their own street fairs, festivals, parades, and block parties. A very similar feel to the different festivals in the small towns throughout Nebraska and Kansas.

#5: Cost of living is great in the east, a bit higher in the west. No state income taxes, which is a major bonus. Sales tax and property tax is slightly higher than in states with a state tax, but not horribly so. Most of our expenditures are food, which isn't taxed, so we don't really feel the sales tax.

#6: There are progressive and liberal enclaves in the east, and they are growing. We picked our neighborhood specifically because it is more progressive, but generally, Eastern WA is conservative due to the Idaho influence (but nowhere near as bad as Idaho). This is part of the reason why we plan to travel west for retirement.

#7: International airport access is available on both sides of the state, and WA is dotted with smaller regional airports so that you are never more than a short drive and flight from a hub.

Hope this helps!

waffle

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2015, 12:53:38 PM »
I have lived in all 3 states (currently Colorado). I would recommend southern Washington around Vancouver. There are several smallish communities around there. I say this because Washington has no state income tax and Oregon has no sales tax, so you can have the best of both. Live/work in Washington and do most of your shopping in Oregon.

Norioch

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2015, 12:58:13 PM »
Here's my "wish list" (somewhat in priority order):
(1)  Mild climate with significant sun (ability to spend most days of the year outdoors).  I am fine with some winter and some summer, just not the extremes.
(2)  Access to good health care and health insurance programs/exchanges.
(3)  Access to the great outdoors -- for running, biking, walking, golfing
(4)  Urban amenities with a smaller town feel.  I do not have an inherent dislike for suburbs, especially if well connected by public transport.  We don't need to live in the middle of it all, but would like access to it.  Urban areas with a strong "neighborhood ethic" could be appealing.
(5)  Reasonable taxes for retirees.  Decent cost of living.
(6)  Laid back attitude.  Progressive values.
(7)  Access to major airport.

I currently live in western Washington.
(1)  Mild climate with significant sun (ability to spend most days of the year outdoors).  I am fine with some winter and some summer, just not the extremes.
We have a mild climate, but not significant sunlight. More like significant drizzle.
(2)  Access to good health care and health insurance programs/exchanges.
Washington has a state-run insurance exchange so the private insurance market is less vulnerable to being gutting by the Supreme Court. I'm not sure what the private market is currently like since I've been covered by my employers for years. The nearby health facilities seem pretty good, especially the UW medical centers.
(3)  Access to the great outdoors -- for running, biking, walking, golfing
We definitely have this. There's plenty of nearby national parks with temperate rainforest, perfect for hiking, camping, etc. There's also pretty good nearby skiing.
(4) Urban amenities with a smaller town feel.  I do not have an inherent dislike for suburbs, especially if well connected by public transport.  We don't need to live in the middle of it all, but would like access to it.  Urban areas with a strong "neighborhood ethic" could be appealing.
This is a little more vague, so I'm not sure how we stack up to your expectations. I live in the suburbs but I'm within walking distance of most amenities. We have an OK, but not spectacular, public bus system.
(5)  Reasonable taxes for retirees.  Decent cost of living.
There's no state income tax. Instead we have state sales tax. Groceries are not taxed, so a frugal mustachian should be able to keep their taxes low. Housing isn't cheap, but it isn't ridiculous NYC/bay area stratospheric expensive either.
(6) Laid back attitude.  Progressive values.
Check. At least the people I hang around with seem pretty relaxed.
(7)  Access to major airport.
Check. SeaTac is a short drive away.

Overall I really like western Washington, but I don't plan to stay here in retirement. The one and only reason I don't want to stay here is because I'm afraid that the next megathrust earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone will strike within my lifetime, and I don't want to be west of the Cascades when it hits. That pretty much rules out all of the Pacific Northwest, unfortunately.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2015, 01:03:38 PM »
I'm originally from the upper Midwest. I grew up in Minnesota and have also lived in Iowa and Wisconsin. I moved to Seattle a few years ago and love it.

Here's how it stacks up on your wish list:
1) Mild climate, yes. The weather is cooler in the summer (few people feel a need to install air conditioning in their homes) and warmer in the winter (the average low temperature in December and January is above freezing). Significant sun, no. The summer is very sunny but the rest of the year is pretty gray most of the time. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the outdoors the rest of the year, you just need to have a good jacket on.
2) I can't speak too much about the relative quality of our healthcare system, but the local ACA exchange has a number of plans available from different companies.
3) Access to the outdoors is great. We have numerous parks and bike trails within the city, and there are lots of mountains to hike and/or ski on within an hour or two drive. We also have lots of water if you like spending time on boats.
4) Seattle is often described as a city of neighborhoods. There's a big downtown area, but we have a couple of dozen distinct neighborhoods, each with their own unique feel and a smaller business district in the center. Public transit could always be better, but it's pretty good overall.
5) Washington has no state income tax. Sales taxes are around 9%, but shouldn't be a big deal for people with Mustachian spending habits. Property tax in the city tends to be around 1% of assessed value. Houses are expensive by Midwest standards. Most other things are roughly the same price, perhaps marginally more expensive.
6) Laid back attitude: check. Progressive values: check.
7) Access to major airport: check. SEA is the 15th-biggest airport in the US by passenger volumes, and it's easily accessed by a train from downtown.

If you want the smaller university town feel, you may want to check out Bellingham, Corvallis, or Eugene. Climate will be similar, city size will be smaller, and access to major airport will be more difficult.

littlebird

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2015, 03:51:08 PM »
I also live in Seattle, WA (for 7 years) and I'm originally from Virginia. I don't have much to add on top of what most people have posted here other than in regards to:

1) Mild and sunny, and your ability to get outdoors all year. Yes, it is mild here. It rarely snows in the lowlands but the mountains get hammered with snow so there is good skiing and snowshoeing. But, in a normal year (not this year) it drizzles and is grey from mid-September until June. I have gone weeks without seeing the sun. In the darkest part of winter the sun is only up from ~8 am to ~4:30 pm, so it is very dark. The summers (end of June through September) are amazing; sunny and high 70's with no humidity and the sun is up from 5 am until 10 pm. But that's only a quarter of the year. We really only have two seasons the way I see it, the warmish and dry season and the cold and wet season.

I can and do get outside all year, but mostly that's because I am a skier. I have hiked and camped in the rain, I own all of the best equipment for such weather (Goretex everything! Full rainflies! Tarps galore!), and it still sucks.  People in Seattle are extremely active, but the non-skiers I know don't get out much during the rainy season. 40 degrees and raining makes it very difficult to be comfortable while being active outdoors.

Some people absolutely don't mind the grey and dark and are very happy here. Other people, like myself, can't do it. If you need sun, Western Washington is not for you!

Ricky

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2015, 04:09:45 PM »
Not to derail the thread, but you should also consider Asheville, NC. It has the same vibe as the PNW without the clouds. It has the mild climate/small but urban/access to the outdoors that you're looking for. I can't speak for Colorado.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed Seattle when I visited, and despite the cost of living there are several "urban but not urban" neighborhoods with good access to urban amenities.

FranzJoseph

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2015, 08:03:40 AM »
I have lived in Seattle, Everett, Portland, Vancouver (WA), Spokane, Pullman and Arlington, WA.  Spent a lot of time in Bend, Hood River, Yakima, etc.  Used to live mostly in Washington in or near Seattle and now live just outside of Portland.  While I miss the Puget Sound and the salty waters I do prefer the slightly warmer/drier climate a little further south as well as a smaller city.  A lot less traffic!  I'm currently in the epicenter of all my favorite places - the Oregon coast, the Cascade mountains and the Columbia River Gorge.  If I had a choice I would possibly move down to Bend, OR due to the community and access to outdoors mainly Smith Rock, Mt. Bachelor and the Deschutes River.  Plus it's way more sunny and dry.

1) Ditto what everyone else said although we've had two years of dry and sunny winters now which is not the norm.

2) Both Seattle and Portland have access to very high quality healthcare.  I'm currently working at OHSU which is a massive healthcare campus.

3) All places listed have great access to all sorts of outdoor sports.  Surfing, skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, kite boarding, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, etc.  It's all here.  Check out Forest Park in Portland, OR.

4) Seattle has a number of cool neighborhoods that have a small urban feel - love Fremont, Ballard and Magnolia.  Portland has its great neighborhoods like Alberta, Sellwood, NW, Hawthorne  too but it is definitely more compact with lots of transport options - this is the place to ride bicycles and take the tram.  More human scale I think.

5) Higher property taxes in OR, state income tax, higher cost of living in Seattle compared to Portland, etc. 

6) Ditto.

7) Seatac and PDX airports.

Trudie

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2015, 12:16:01 PM »
@waffle Where in Colorado do you currently live?  We visited the Fort Collins area a couple of years ago and it's appealing to me/us.

waffle

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2015, 12:32:06 PM »
@waffle Where in Colorado do you currently live?  We visited the Fort Collins area a couple of years ago and it's appealing to me/us.

I live in Aurora right now. My wife is from Fort Collins and her family still lives there. We lived with them for a couple months while house hunting for a place near work and we still go up to visit a couple times a month. Fort Collins is a really nice city, and if my job was there I sure wouldn't mind living there. I'm a country guy and Aurora/Denver area is just too crowded for my tastes. Fort Collins though is fairly condensed so it doesn't take much to get out of town.

Exflyboy

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Re: Retire in Oregon v. Washington v. Colorado
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2015, 12:43:49 PM »
It depends on where you go as to how high your RE tax is.

I live in OR (and the State tax really ticks me off) but my RE taxes are less then $2k for a 5.5 acre ranch including the rental trailer.. I do get a farm deferral on it though.

When our income drops the state tax will still be 9% of our income... Would consider moving but we do get $14k a year in rent.. from our property.