Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Bellingham Sits on a Beautiful Coastal Bay in the Shadow of Mt. Baker and Boasts Outstanding Outdoor Recreation, a Popular Farmers' Market, a Symphony Orchestra and More
Along northwestern Washington's scenic coast, Bellingham is 25 miles south of the Canadian border and nestled along beautiful Bellingham Bay. It is in the shadow of 10,871 foot tall Mt. Baker and is lush and green, home to outdoor-oriented people.
Bellingham has been a mill town, a gold town and is still an active seaport with a slightly Canadian feel. The beautiful bay is often dotted with fishermen, boaters and surfers while pleasure boats bob in the waterfront's pretty marina. The San Juan Islands, perfect for kayaking and whale watching, are just to the west, and the nearby mountains draw hikers, skiers and campers. Western Washington University (15,000 students) adds a youthful flavor. The Public Market has organic food retailers, galleries, bookstores and Canadians who come down to shop. Bellis Fair Mall has box stores. The farmers' market happens Wednesdays and Saturdays and always attracts a sizeable crowd.
The downtown has red brick buildings, shops, bookstores, coffee houses and bagel joints. Three theater groups, a ballet and a symphony orchestra add to the cultural scene. Popular festivals include the Bellingham Festival of Music and the GreekFest. A writers' conference, numerous rock music venues and a vein of political activism are Bellingham staples. Home styles range from bungalow and raised ranch to cabin and arts and craft.
Population: 94,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 32%
Cost of Living: 37% above the national average
Median Home Price: $610,000
Climate: Skies are often overcast, and conditions are often drizzly and windy. Summers are short and daytime temperatures average in the 70s, with lows in the mid 40s. Winters are long with daytime temperatures in the 30s and 40s. On average, the area receives 40 inches of rain and 10 inches of snow per year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? Yes
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: The violent crime rate is below the national average, but the property crime rate is above it.
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Liberal
College Educated: 43%
Is Washington Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Cons: The earthquake risk is 75% higher than the national average.
Notes: The hospital, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, is nationally acclaimed for clinical excellence, surgical excellence, patient safety and more. WWU has a party reputation, and some neighborhoods around the school can get a little rowdy. The city has grown 10% during the last decade. Home prices have decreased 6% since a year ago.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
Washington was the 42nd state to enter the union on November 11, 1889. The initial state constitution proposed women's suffrage and prohibition. Both ideas were removed from the final document. Women did not gain the right to vote in the Evergreen State until 1910.
The country's 18th largest state has six distinct geographic areas. The northwest corner contains the rugged Olympic Mountains. The Coast Range, in Washington's southwest corner, include the Willapa Hills. The Rocky Mountains and Cascade Mountains also cut through the state. The Columbia Plateau has fertile land. A large portion of the population lives in the Puget Sound Lowlands. Ports like Anacortes and Skagit have helped the state maintain its role as a leader in trade.
West of the Cascades, the climate can be mild and humid. Washingtonians east of the Cascades may experience warmer summers and cooler winters. Annual precipitation there can be as little as six inches. Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms are a rarity, but coastal flooding, freezing rain, and high winds are possibilities.
Pacific Rim commerce is a major economic driver. Other key businesses are the manufacture of jet aircraft, computer software development, online retailing, mining, tourism, and wood products. Washington contributes red raspberries, apples, and hops to the nation's food basket. It leads the country in hydro-electric power generation.
Washington is the only state in the Union to be named after a president. It's highest point, Mt. Ranier, was named after a British soldier who fought against America in the Revolutionary War.
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