As I have noted here before, Seattle doesn’t make a lot of general U.S. retirement lists, at Forbes or elsewhere, especially those that crunch hard data and have a value orientation in the methodology. That’s largely due to Seattle’s high cost of living–54% above the national average–which in turn is due in no small part to lofty housing costs, which are 68% above the national median. I started researching various retirement lists for Forbes long before becoming New To Seattle in 2011.
But this list is different because its methodology doesn’t take costs into account. The name says it all: “Great Places To Follow Your Passions In Retirement.”
The idea is find places to retire to in order to pursue your bliss, or something you want to do. Here’s a description of the methodology, from which 25 locations across the country were identified:
We chose seven rather broad categories: arts, fine dining, lifelong learning, volunteering, outdoor activities on water, outdoor activities on land, and the sub-category of golf. Then we examined statistical databases (serious crime rate data, for instance, comes mainly from the FBI, volunteer data from volunteeringinamerica.gov) and published assessments of enthusiasts, adding our own metrics. We looked hard for towns that excel in more than one category. After all, you might enjoy feeding both body and brain. Or, you and your spouse might have different interests.
Here’s what I had to say about Seattle:
PASSIONS:ARTS, DINING, LEARNING, VOLUNTEERING, OUTDOOR LAND ACTIVITIES, OUTDOOR WATER ACTIVITIES. Booming city of 650,000 offers tremendous range of activities, including nearby skiing. Very walkable and bikeable. Median home price: $386,000. PROS: Strong economy. Abundant doctors per capita, above-average Milken Institute best cities for aging rank. CONS: Cost of living 54% above national average. Rains much of the year, serious crime rate above average. NOTED: Surprisingly mild climate. TRIVIA: Named for an Native American chief.
Seattle was not the only Washington State city to make the list. So did scenic Walla Walla, cited for dining and outdoor land activities. With a median home price of $210,000, 8% below the national median, and a cost of living only 3% above the national average, Walla Walla is a lot cheaper than Seattle, albeit a little remote, and a lot safer.