How High Is the Cost of Living in Washington?

The cost of living in Washington is well above the national average. Finding affordable living in the Evergreen State is all about knowing where to look.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Aug 22, 2022
The cost of living in
is notoriously high—and it’s increasing at a rate of 12% to 20% every year. In 2022, a single adult needs at least $36,052 a year to cover all their basic expenses. To live comfortably, they’ll need more than double that. 
Washington is one of the most in-demand places to live in the United States. World famous coffee, scenic nature, and thriving art scenes are attracting new residents from all over America and beyond, driving up the cost of living. With such a rapidly developing economic landscape, it can be difficult to know just how high the cost of living is in Washington.
To clarify things,
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—has created this comprehensive guide. In it, we’ll explore the various aspects that affect Washington’s cost of living, where you can find the most affordable housing, and how to
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How high is the cost of living in Washington? 

It’s a well-known fact that the west coast is an expensive place to live—and Washington is no exception. Compared to other states, Washington ranks as the 13th most expensive state to live in. Its 111.6 Cost of Living Index (COLI) means that it’s 11.6% more expensive than the national average. 
An area’s COLI is a comparative measurement. It describes the area’s cost of living (COL) compared to the national average. So, if an area has an index rating of 100, that means the cost of living is exactly average (or equal to 100% of the average). 
For context,
(the most expensive state to live in) has an index rating of 193.3—meaning its COL is 93.3% higher than average. Other west coast states, such as
, have ratings of 142.2 and 130.1 (respectively). So, Washington is at least the cheapest state on the coast—but it’s still a lot more expensive than places like
(94.3) or
Of course, that’s just the average. Let’s take a closer look at specific living expenses, like groceries, healthcare, housing, etc. 

Food: $370 to $880 per month

We’ll start with the most important expense that anyone has—food. Washington’s cost of living index for food is 108.4, which means groceries are going to be 8.4% more expensive there than in most other places. According to the
United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA), as of 2022, the national monthly average cost of food for a single individual is $342—meaning it’s about $370 in Washington. If you have a family of four, that jumps to $877
Keep in mind that these numbers are referring to the cost of groceries only—if you go out to a restaurant to eat, you’ll be spending a lot more! 

Healthcare: $725 per month

Healthcare makes up a huge portion of Washington’s cost of living. Residents pay an average of about $8,700 annually per person, which breaks down to just over $725 a month. This is dramatically higher than the national average of $7,893 annually/$657 per month. Of course, this expense is not as unilateral as food—some individuals have no health expenses at all, while others will have to pay tens or even hundreds of thousands each year. 
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Housing: $1,168 to $2,500 per month

Washington is notorious for its expensive and competitive housing market. At $504,200, the median selling price for a house in the Evergreen State is 73% higher than the national average. Monthly, this means that homeowners there are paying a median mortgage rate of $1,951—and it’s getting more expensive all the time! 
Things aren’t much better for the 33.8% of Washington residents that rent instead of own. Here’s a quick breakdown of rental costs as of 2022:  
  • Average studio rent: $1,168
  • Average one-bedroom rent: $1,254
  • Average two-bedroom rent: $1,519
  • Average three-bedroom rent: $2,107
  • Average four-bedroom rent: $2,500
Keep in mind, though, that these are the statewide average—some cities will be significantly higher while others will be more affordable. In
, for instance, a one-bedroom apartment typically only costs about $950 per month. In
, on the other hand, you’d likely pay $1,600-$1,700 for a similar place. 

Transportation: $408 to $1,109 per month

Transportation is also higher in Washington than in most other states. A single individual will have to pay about $408 each month just to get around. If you have a family of four, that jumps to $1,109 per month. This would include things like
public transportation passes
(approx. $99 annually),
the cost of car insurance in Washington
(approx. $1,300 annually), the average annual car payments (approx. $5,856), and more. 

How much you need to live comfortably in Washington: $36,052 to $84,000 per year

By quickly crunching the numbers above, you would find that can a single individual will need to make at least $32,052 after taxes to cover basic necessities in Washington. In reality, though, you probably wouldn’t be able to get by on that. You’ll need at least another $4k-$5k for annual utility expenses, and dozens of other miscellaneous expenses crop up throughout the year. Here are a few common examples: 
  • Average cost of a meal in a cheap restaurant: $15-$20
  • Average cost of a date: $195.00 (US average: $116) 
  • Average cost of a beer: $7-8 (US average: $4.65) 
  • Average cost of a coffee: $3.46 (US average: $2.70) 
  • Average sales tax: 6.5%(US average: 5.09%)
According to a survey published by
, a single individual will need to make between $66,960 and $87.300 annually to afford a comfortable life in the Evergreen State. That means you’ll need to be making $35-$45 an hour at a full-time job—which is well over double the state’s minimum wage of $14.49/hour!

The Washington cities with the lowest cost of living

If you decide to move to Washington, it’s a good idea to scout out a few different cities—the cost of living can vary a lot from one town to another. Below, you’ll find some of the places in Washington with the lowest cost of living indexes: 
  1. Pullman
    (COLI: 89.7): Tucked away in the southwestern corner of the state, Pullman is a surprising cosmology little oasis of red-brick buildings amidst a sea of evergreen trees—and it’s 10.3% cheaper to live in than the average U.S city! 
  2. Spokane
    (COLI: 90.5): A good mixture of big city amenities, small-town charm, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures. It has avoided inflated cost of living because it is relatively far away from the ocean. 
  3. Walla Walla
    (COLI: 93.7): Walla Wall is a great place to experience charming architecture and vibrant local culture—as well as stunning mountains, rivers, and more! Plus, it’s pretty affordable! 
  4. Ephrata
    (COLI: 93.9): Ephrata is a small town in central Washington where the weather is nice, the locals are friendly, and the median home prices are less than a third of the statewide average! 
  5. Pasco
    (COLI: 93.9): Unlike the rest of Washington, Pasco is pretty affordable. And, unlike most areas in the state, Pasco enjoys near-constant sunshine—perfect for enjoying its many hiking trails and the nearby Sacajawea Historical State Park. 
The cost of living index for any city is a constantly fluctuating variable. If you’re looking for an affordable place to live in Washington, it’s definitely a good idea to check the most recent numbers—but these five cities should be good options! 

How to easily find home and car insurance in Washington

Picking the right city can help keep the cost of living in Washington to a minimum—which is important given how expensive the state can be. Another way you can save money is by comparing multiple insurance quotes to find the best deals on home and
car insurance costs
in Washington. 
The fastest way to compare quotes is using
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