Washington State Cost of Living | What to expect?

Considering moving to the Evergreen State? We don’t blame you. It’s becoming a popular destination for job seekers and nature lovers from all over the country (and world)!  It’s also a great place to get a top notch education or raise a family. What is the Washington State cost of living? Read on..

Here are some of the major living costs to factor in:

  • Taxes, (Property, Income, Sales)
  • Utilities, Home Maintenance
  • Insurance 
  • Housing & Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Food

Tax Costs

Washington State Property Tax Costs 

Property taxes in Washington are multiplied by the mill rate (also called property tax rate). Mill rates are calculated at 1/10 of 1¢ OR 1$ per $1000 for example.

To calculate the rate, take the mill rate and multiply by the assessed home value. For example if the mill rate is .950% and the assessed value is $100,000:

 .00950 * 100,000 = $950.00

Mil rates differ however by county and districts within the county sometimes.

Keep in mind that assessed value vs market value are not the same number. County assessors arrive at the value of a home by comparisons and then deduct any tax exemptions. Next, that number is multiplied by an assessment rate (also known as the assessment ratio); a percentage that each tax county sets (typically 80% to 90%), to arrive at the taxable value of your property.

Below are some examples of tax rates and property tax costs in some popular cities in Washington state. These values are close to the median home prices as of the time of this writing.  Check out our Market Stats page or other blog posts for more housing market statistics. 

Redmond, WA (King County)

  • Assessed Home Value : $865,000
  • Average Mill Rate: 0.953%
  • Annual Property Taxes: $8243.00

Sammamish (King County)

  • Assessed Home Price: $965,000
  • Average Mill Rate: 0.953%
  • Annual Property Taxes: $9196.00

Bainbridge Island (Kitsap County)

  • Assessed Home Price: $710,000
  • Average Mill Rate: 1.006%
  • Annual Property Taxes: $7143.00

Snohomish  (Snohomish County)

  • Assessed Home Price: $576,000
  • Average Mill Rate: .999%
  • Annual Property Taxes: $5754.00

Tacoma  (Pierce County)

  • Assessed Home Price: $315,000
  • Average Mill Rate: 1.210%
  • Annual Property Taxes: $3812.00

Spokane (Spokane County)

  • Assessed Home Price: $248,000
  • Average Mill Rate: 1.186%
  • Annual Property Taxes: $2941.00

Washington State Department of Revenue has a list of counties and their contact info for individual rates if you need to perform more research. 

Income Tax

Rejoice! Washington residents don’t have to pay income tax. 

Sales Tax

Washingtonians make up for not paying income tax with fairly high sales tax. This varies from city to city but here are some sales tax rates for some popular locations:

CitySales Tax Rate

You can download all the local rates from the Department of Revenue. Some residents take a trip down to Oregon to get no sales tax on larger purchases.

Washington State Maintenance & Utility Cost

Plumber, Repair, Mechanic, Plumbing, Wrench, Pipe Washington State cost of living

Since we’re in a pretty temperate climate, the Washington state cost of living for utilities is relatively low. According to wallet hub, Washington is ranked 49th in the states for energy costs. 

wallet hub energy table Washington State cost of living

A good rule of thumb for maintenance costs is the 1% rule. It is fairly safe to assume that 1% of your homes value will be spent on maintenance and repairs annually. If you paid $400,000 for your home for example, you’d end up spending around $333.00 a month. 

Homeowners and PMI Insurance

According to gobankingrates.com the annual homeowners insurance rates in Washington state are around $1155; slightly higher than the national average of $952. Some of this may have to do with the east side of the mountains however, because this part of the region is more prone to wildfires. 

If you don’t put at least 20% down on your house, you’ll need to pay for private mortgage insurance or PMI, which will cover the difference between the loan amount on the home and the market value in default. Typically these rates are between .5% and 1.5% of the total loan amount for a home, driven by your loan-to-value ratio and other factors. 

Cost of Living Indexes

The Washington State Cost of Living in comparison to the rest of the United States is around 16 % higher. This is primarily driven by the ever increasing housing prices. If you’re curious about current housing prices or market forecasts check out our blog or market stats page for up to date statistics. The average house price in Seattle at the time of this writing is at $688,500. 

best places COL index Washington State cost of living
Source: bestplaces.net 

Cost of Buying a Home

Money, House, Loan, Construction, Home, Estate, Finance

As mentioned above, housing prices in Washington State (in most areas) are higher than the national average. There are other costs that one should consider when buying a home..

Down payments for new homes can vary; they can range from 0-down first time homebuyer programs, 3.5% down on FHA loans, and 15%+ on conventional loans. These can be higher than what you’d pay in other states do to the higher housing prices. 

Closing costs are another consideration. On average in Washington, buyers can expect to pay between 1% – 3% of the purchase price in closing costs and fees. These cover part of the escrow fees, mortgage loan fees, homeowners insurance fees, document prep charges, title insurance and recording fees. Sellers tend to pay more at closing for excise taxes and real estate commissions for the listing and selling offices. 

Cost of Selling a Home

Sellers in Washington State tend to pay more at closing, factoring in excise taxes and real estate commissions.

Washington State Department Of Revenue | Excise Tax Chart:

Sale price thresholdsTax rate
$500,000 or less1.10%
$500,000.01 – $1,500,0001.28%
$1,500,000.01 – $3,000,0002.75%
$3,000,000.01 or more3%

Sellers commissions are usually 3% to the listing office and 3% to the selling office. These costs are negotiable depending on each transaction. 

Inspection repairs and other maintenance may need to take place before selling a home; these costs can very substantially. 

Don’t forget to also account for remaining utility bills also.

Staging is also a method used by most sellers to help make their property more presentable. The average cost of staging in Washington State is around $700. 

Kitchen, Wine, Staging, Real Estate, Food, Home Washington State cost of living


Renting in the Seattle area isn’t a whole lot cheaper either.. According to Apartment List’s March 2019 report, the average rent for a two bedroom apartment in Seattle is $1,659. That’s $500 higher than the national median of $1,175.

Food Costs

Oysters, Delicacy, Food, Fresh, Gourmet, Raw, Seafood

It’s hard to live the the Seattle Metropolitan area and not enjoy some delicious seafood! Head over to Pike Place Market for the fresh catch of the day. Feel like turf food instead? Head over to Dick’s drive in for a reasonably priced hamburger. 

The average restaurant meal in the Seattle area is roughly $30 bucks a person; $5 dollars higher on average than the rest of the states. 

A gallon of milk is higher here as well; look at the USDA chart below comparing Seattle/Tacoma to other major cities.

USDA Mlk Cost Washington State cost of living

Transportation Costs

Taxi, Vehicle, Road, City, Urban, Cars, Jam

Seattle does have a light rail system but it only runs from Sea-Tac to to the University of Washington. Most folks have their own vehicles or ride the metro bus system. There are a lot of bicycle friendly cities in Washington as well. 

A one month orca card bus pass will cost you around $100 at the time of this writing. 

Seattle traffic is the 9th worst in the U.S. with the average driver spending 55 hours per year in their vehicle. With the population growing more each year, this problem isn’t going to be solved any time soon. Compound this with high gas prices at $3.09 of the time of this writing and you might find yourself looking to get a bicycle too after relocating. 

Using a Real Estate Broker to Buy or Sell Your Next Home

Let us help you with the purchase or sale of your next home. Team Sno-King brings over 15 years real estate brokerage experience in the Seattle housing market and is your community partner in any of your real estate endeavors. Contact us for a free consultation. 

What we offer our buyers and sellers:

  • Attorney level representation – preparation & execution of all contracts and paperwork; supplying required contingencies, addendums, forms in accordance with real estate laws. 
  • Free professional photography with photo editing for listings
  • Free moving truck!
  • Getting the price right through CMA/appraisal and correlation of market data and comparable differences.
  • Advising on preparation/renovation of home to ensure maximum sales price.
  • Attending to all aspects of the sale and keeping all parties in alignment with deadlines: inspections, appraisal, title/escrow, showings, open houses, staging, photography, contracts, closing.
  • Communicating with associated parties: attorneys, lenders, title reviewers, inspectors, appraisers, opposite parties.
  • Resolve issues that could hold up or terminate transactions: holdovers, title issues, repair issues, zoning, permits, financing etc. 
  • Tying up loose ends:  signage, key box, key delivery, last minute removal items.

Thanks for reading our post on the Washington State Cost of Living. We hope you this information useful and informative. Stay classy 🙂

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