By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
In New York state, the standard formula for professionals is to retire in Florida.
Here in Washington state, the standard procedure for the vast majority of us is to retire – somewhere else in Washington.
Retirement is like many things in life; we do it individually, but rarely, if ever, alone.
And, like many other major life decisions, from going to college to starting a career to getting married, we tend to do what those around us do.
And we tend to go where they go.
The ultimate retirement community in Washington state is, of course, Sequim.
If you have ever been to Sequim, you know that this statistic is accurate; more than 35% of the population (36.6% to be exact) of Sequim is over 65.
Every fast food place and shopping center in the area is staffed by, and filled with the one overwhelming demographic of the area – people over 65.
The median age in Sequim is 59.1, which is older (by almost two decades!) than the national median age of 38.1.
And Sequim is, by far, majority white.
In fact according to a recent survey (https://bestneighborhood.org/race-in-sequim-wa/), Sequim is 89.5% white. (Tacoma is about 60% white)
The remaining 10% of Sequim’s population is about 5% Hispanic, about 1.5% Asian and less than half of one percent Black and Native.
All of this makes for an interesting political climate. Home to clusters of conspiracy theorists and celebrities with multi-million dollar off-grid compounds in the surrounding hills, political contests in Sequim, including state, local and presidential elections, are close – more than half of all political races end with less than a 5% point difference.
In Sequim, 30.79% of all adults have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. Educated women make up 51.95% of the population.
Women out-number men.
And about 14% are statistically in poverty.
And, as most of us know, Sequim gets far more sunny days than most of Western Washington
I mention all of this because these are just a few of the dynamics you should consider before you make those big retirement relocation plans.
Anacortes has the second highest percentage of seniors at 27.4%.
Scenic and with immediate access to the San Juan Islands, Anacortes is a beautiful and affordable place with arts and community services for all ages.
Gig Harbor holds the third highest number of senior citizens – 24.6% to be exact.
Gig Harbor is, of course, in Pierce County, and features the highest percentage of medical facilities close by – almost 12 medical offices per 1,000 people – nearly twice as many as Sequim – and about four times as many as Anacortes.
Merging and averaging all of the attributes, Gig Harbor is, by far the most attractive, statistically at least, of all of the cities of Washington for retirement.
Sequim is second, and Lynnwood is third. Olympia is fourth.
You can see an in-depth analysis of locations and budgets relative to retirement here – https://smartasset.com/retirement/retirement-calculator#Washington/bestPlacesToRetire-2.
You might not want to go very far
And watch out for that “dream home” – you might not be there long.
I see building lots advertised as being perfect for that retirement or vacation “dream home”.
That site might be ideal, but being where you belong and are already known is even better.
I have an old friend that was a building contractor in Sequim.
He specialized in building “dream homes” for retired couples.
These were mostly older couples who had worked and saved, and then down-sized from their family-sized home in a larger city.
They had their “dream home” built, but for a variety of reasons, did not stay there long. Medical issues, isolation or even death would bring them back to their original home and family.
There was a neighborhood my friend unofficially called “death row” because that was the fate of most of the new owners. But even those who did not die often decided, or were forced, to sell their “dream home”.
You can see a recent article on this potential retirement hazard here – https://www.wsj.com/articles/retirees-spend-time-money-for-forever-home-sell-it-11636402781?
Sometimes the “dream” is better than the reality.