Moving to Washington? Here’s 11 Things to Know First

You are moving to Washington state? How exciting! There are many benefits of living in Washington, like the scenery, the people, the weather, and the food. So many fun experiences await you in the Evergreen State. The weather is typically rainy in Western Washington and super sunny in Central and Eastern Washington. We have 5 volcanoes and the Cascade Range runs throughout our state all the way up to the Canadian border.

I moved here in 2002 from Tennessee, and so far, I have truly enjoyed living in my new Washington state “home.” I wish I had a guide like this when I moved here, a list of things to know before moving to Washington. I hope this list below is informative for you and if it is, please share it with anyone else you know planning to make the move to Washington.

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11 Things to Know First If You're Moving to Washington State


1 . Safest Places to Live

If you can afford to live in the more affluent cities of Washington, I recommend Kirkland, Spokane, Seattle, Bellevue, Bellingham, and any cities located in the Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, or along the coast of Highway 103 because of (access to immensely beautiful and peaceful beaches).

2 . Most Affordable Places to Live

Bellingham WA
Lorin Lindell on Unsplash

Washington can be an expensive place to live, depending on where you stay. Some reports say that we have 15% higher cost of living than the national average. Some of the most affordable counties to live in Washington include: Adams, Ferry, Skagit County, Yakima County, Pierce County, Franklin and Okanogan. There is a good resource here to see a more comprehensive list of the most affordable counties to live in Washington.

RELATED: The Top 3 Most Affordable Zip Codes in Washington

3 . Most LGBTQ+ and Multiculturally Inclusive Places to Live

AllGo on Unsplash

Washington residents report that the cities of Bellingham, Olympia, Bremerton, Seattle, Spokane city central, Vancouver, Tacoma, and Bellevue seem to be the most inclusive places to live. Rural towns in Washington tend to have small pockets of inclusive areas to live and thrive and some none at all. Do your research.

4. Major Sports Teams of Washington State

Seattle Mariners Baseball T-Mobile Park in Seattle, WA
Sung Shin on Unsplash


NFL: Seattle Seahawks

XFL: Seattle Dragons


Seattle Storm


Seattle Mariners


Seattle Sounders


Seattle Kraken


5 . The Seattle Freeze: Is it real?

Seattle, WA
Felipe Galvan on Unsplash

Many people who move to Seattle say that the residents are "cold" to newcomers. I've never personally experienced that but that doesn't mean it isn't true. If it's a rainy day in Seattle, you are likely to not receive as warm a welcome from Seattleites! Ha.


6 . College and Party Towns

Oregon State v Washington
Getty Images

The big college sports rivalries in Washington are between University of WA, WA State University, Gonzaga, and Eastern WA University. Getting a ticket to the Apple Cup and getting invited to one of the thousands of tailgating parties is a highlight for many in Washington state.

7 . The Traffic and the Ferries

Washington Ferry
Jose M on Unsplash

Explore more of scenic Washington via one of the ferries. It will be a long and relaxing ride. There is also an option to bring your car with you inside the ferry. Traffic on I-5 and I-82 near the major cities of Washington can be brutal during peak morning and evening commute times and weekends, including on the mountain passes, so just know that before you move here. We do have HOV lanes, express lanes, and various toll bridges to help alleviate some of the ridiculous amounts of bottlenecking on the freeways. Getting a Good To Go! Pass for the toll bridges is a good option to consider.

8 . The Beaches and Outdoor Sporting Possibilities, and proximity to Canada

Long Beach WA
Bruce Warrington on Unsplash

Many residents of Washington travel to the Upper and Lower Western coast for a truly relaxing vacation experience. You can visit neighboring Canada in several of our bordertown cities, like Blaine. Bring your passport! You can get there by the Amtrak train, driving, or flying.

9 . The “Little” Scenic Towns of Washington

Leavenworth WA
Rosalie Barley on Unsplash

A few of the notable cities in Washington to visit include Leavenworth (Little German), Poulsbo (Little Norway), Friday Harbor and any of the San Juan Islands, and the ID (International District) of Seattle.


10 . The County Fairs, Major Concert Venues, and Major Festivals

Skagit County Tulip Festival in Mount Vernon WA
Perry Kibler on Unsplash

Some of the best festivals to attend in Washington state.

  • Skagit County Tulip Festival
  • Seattle Pride Festival
  • Watershed
  • Bumbershoot
  • Seattle Boat Show
  • Emerald City ComiCon
  • Fremont Fair
  • Paradiso EDM Festival
  • Seattle International Film Festival
  • Capitol Hill Block Party
  • Poulsbo Viking Fest
  • Hempfest
  • Washington State Fair (the biggest one in the state)
  • Argosy Christmas Ships Festival



11 . The Political Climate

Protests in Washington State
Ben Mater on Unsplash

Every state has its own set of problems to deal with when it comes to the political climate. Washington is relatively conservative "red" outside of major progressive cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and Spokane, but tends to lean "blue" during presidential and gubernatorial elections.

Whenever you end up moving to Washington state, I hope you end up loving it here just as much as I do!

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