Cost Of Living in Puget Sound
The cost of living in the Puget Sound region varies depending on the specific city and factors such as housing, taxes and general expenses.
What do we mean when we say Puget Sound region?
Puget Sound is a region in the northwestern part of Washington state, encompassing several counties, cities, and islands. It is also the name of the body of water that connects the Pacific Ocean with the inland waters of Washington. The Puget Sound is home to a number of popular and easily accessible islands in Washington (more than 170): namely Orcas Islands, Lopez Island, and San Juan Island with its lovely coastal town of Friday Harbor.
The region is known for its natural beauty, diverse culture, and booming economy, but also for its high housing prices, traffic congestion, and homelessness issue.
The cost of living in Puget Sound is a topic that many people are interested in, especially those who are considering moving to the area.
According to some sources, the cost of living in Puget Sound is higher than the national average, but lower than some other major metropolitan areas in the country.
According to AreaVibes, the cost of living in Puget, a neighborhood in Bellingham, is 17% higher than the national average, and 1% higher than the Bellingham average. The housing cost is 25% higher than the national average, but the state income tax is 100% lower than the national average.
According to Puget Sound Moving, Puget Sound’s cost of living is rather reasonable, with the average cost of housing hovering somewhere around $100,000 for a single-family home. Puget Sound is also close to several beautiful bodies of water, making it a hot destination for people who wish to enjoy nature and outdoor activities.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA advanced 4.6 percent over the year ending in June 2023. The CPI-U measures the changes in prices paid by consumers for a basket of goods and services. The main contributors to the increase were food (5.7 percent), shelter (5.3 percent), and new and used motor vehicles (8.8 percent).
According to King5, the most affordable city in the Puget Sound region is Marysville, where the average person will spend roughly 16.2 percent of income on a mortgage. The other four cities in the top five are Tacoma (17.1 percent), Everett (18.2 percent), Kent (18.9 percent), and Auburn (19.1 percent). Seattle is one of the hottest housing markets in the country, where the average person will spend 29.9 percent of income on a mortgage.
Let's compare some costs:
The cost of living in Puget Sound is 1% lower than the Bellingham average and 14% higher than the national average.
The cost of housing is 25% higher than the national average.
The general sales tax in Washington is 28% higher than the national average.
The state income tax in Washington is 100% lower than the national average.
The overall cost of living in Puget Sound is 22% higher than the national average.
The cost of health care is 27% higher than the national average.
The cost of groceries is 22% higher.
The cost of transportation is 18% higher.
The cost of miscellaneous goods and services is 17% higher.
The cost of utilities is the same as national.
What residents said about living here?
According to a survey conducted by the Puget Sound Regional Council, cost of living is what people like the least about the central Puget Sound region. Of the 2,000 King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish county residents, 29 percent answered cost of living was what they dislike the most. Transportation/traffic congestion fell to 13 percent. Homelessness came in third with 12 percent.
The survey also found that over the next 25 years, 19 percent of the respondents said they want to see a lower cost of living in the region. The same number want reduced traffic congestion. Fourteen percent say they want more affordable housing. And 8 percent want more mass transit options.
The average rent in Puget Sound varies depending on the location, size, and quality of the housing. According to RENTCafe, the average rent in Bellevue in April 2023 was $2,100, making it the most expensive city for renters in Washington state. Seattle trailed at $2,000 per month rent. Other nearby cities such as Renton, Tacoma, Everett, and Kent also saw rental growth over the last year.
The average cost of housing in Puget Sound also depends on many factors, such as the type of home, the neighborhood, and the market conditions. According to Zillow officials, there are still pockets of affordability across the Puget Sound region. The most affordable city in the Puget Sound region is Marysville, where the average person will spend roughly 16.2 percent of income on a mortgage. The average cost of housing in Puget Sound is around $100,000 for a single family home.
The cost of living in Puget Sound also includes other expenses such as food, utilities, transportation, health care, education, and entertainment. According to AreaVibes4, the cost of living in Puget is 17% higher than the national average. Washington general sales tax is 27% higher than the national average. Washington state income tax is 100% lower than the national average.
The cost of living in Puget Sound is a trade-off between the benefits and challenges of living in this region. Some people may find it worth paying more for the quality of life, the opportunities, and the diversity that Puget Sound offers. Others may find it too expensive or stressful to live here and may look for alternatives elsewhere. Ultimately, the decision depends on one’s personal preferences, goals, and budget.
Why would you like to live in Puget Sound?
Washington is famed for its rugged natural beauty, which extends to the many islands scattered throughout the Puget Sound. These scenic islands are typically densely forested and a hub for flora and fauna. They have small populations but plenty of gorgeous natural surroundings that make them appealing for nature lovers seeking a tranquil home.
There are plenty of preserved natural settings and parks throughout the Puget Sound islands. Fay Bainbridge Park is a popular camping destination on Bainbridge Island with Cascade Mountain views. Point Robinson on Maury Island is a scenic coastal park with a historic lighthouse overlooking the water. Samish Island is quiet and thickly forested with beaches and trails.
If you want to live somewhere that accommodates an active outdoor lifestyle, the Puget Sound islands are for you. These islands have scenic parks and trails that residents can explore, excellent weather, and year-round mild weather. You aren’t likely to deal with dry summer heat, and snowfalls are exceedingly rare.
While living on the Puget Sound islands, you’ll have access to some incredible recreation opportunities. Their waterfront locations make them a hub for boaters and fishers, and the marine wildlife is incredible, so spotting a whale or orca is very possible.
While mainland Washington has busy communities like Seattle and Tacoma, you aren’t likely to find crowded cities on the Puget Sound islands. Instead, you’ll find quaint and charming small towns with relatively small populations. This makes them exceedingly safe places, popular for everyone from families to retirees.
Oak Harbor is a busy city on Whidbey Island that is home to almost 25,000. It has a bustling downtown with many quaint shops and restaurants and is known for its family-friendly atmosphere as well as its military legacy. Gorgeous Camano Island is home to more than 15,000 and boasts a colorful downtown with galleries, casual dining, and nearby beaches. Friday Harbor is a scenic town on San Juan Island with a small permanent population of just under 3,000. It is a hotspot for nature lovers, with plenty of renowned preserved natural sites and excellent boating conditions.
Puget Sound is a unique place. The Puget Sound region offers many options for outdoor recreation, with its mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests. Many people value Puget Sound for its beauty, from tribes who have lived in the area for thousands of years to people who just moved to the region. The people who live close to Puget Sound have a sense of it as a place, an idea of what it is, what it means to them, and what they hope it will be in the future. If you can offset higher cost of living here by, for example working at some of the tech companies you can find here (Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Boeing, etc.), or you don't mind rainy weather, than there is no better place to live than here.