It’s not easy to choose between Washington or Colorado to live. The choice boils down to your preferences and factors like cost of living, crime rate, and weather. When choosing either Washington or Colorado to live in, which is better?
Washington is a green state with a diverse population and robust job market. It’s a great state to live in, although it gets lots of rain. Colorado supports healthy living and is vigilant about renewable resources. It can get pretty arid, but the scenery is beautiful.
Living in Colorado or Washington has both advantages and disadvantages. This article dives into varied factors that should help you lean toward one state over the other.
Washington or Colorado to Live
Washington has many rainy and cloudy days, particularly in the western part. It experiences at least 150 days of rain (mostly drizzles) in a year, but it’s not the rainiest US state – Hawaii is. On occasions, it rains daily in Washington for a month.
Washington’s ‘Indian’ summer is the time for barbeque camping, happening from mid-May to mid-September. Drought is rare in the state, but July can peak at 90 degrees. The eastern part, like Spokane, can rise to 100 degrees, then drop to below zero degrees on winter nights.
Winter offers gray skies, with temperatures seldom hitting below 45 degrees but could drop to 20 degrees overnight. Spring witnesses blooming daffodils, plum trees, tulips, and apple blossoms. In the fall, Washington transforms into a kaleidoscopic ensemble of trees in orange, yellow, and red tops.
Colorado experiences changing weather within a day and throughout the year. On a summer day, the temperature swings from 40°F to 30°F within 15 minutes, accompanied by thunderstorms.
As a high desert, the state often has less moisture, experiencing more sunny days a year than Florida. During summer, high temperatures range from 90°F to 100°F, with an ultimate high of 110°F.
The winter season has a temperature range of 10°F to 20°F, but it can drop to 0°F.
Southern Colorado is often warmer than the north, while the mountain parts are typically 10 degrees colder than the Denver/Front Range area.
Cost of Living
With a real estate market on the rise, homes in Washington are expensive, particularly in Seattle, the state’s most populous city. The state’s average home purchase is 65% higher than other US states. The rent average is also higher by 20% than the national average.
Gasoline and grocery are also on the higher strata of expenses. But given Washington’s moderate temperatures, utility bills are average.
According to Zillow, Colorado’s average home purchase price at the beginning of 2022 is around $570,000. Colorado’s top 3 most popular cities with house prices stacking up are Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder. Renting is a less expensive option across 53% of the Colorado area, averaging less than $1,500 a month.
Utility expense is average in Colorado, less than $250 a month. This cost includes the following:
- Natural gas
- Cable TV
- Trash and Recycling
- Water and Sewer
Washington doesn’t levy a personal income tax. The state also doesn’t have a corporate income tax, a perk it shares with only four other states.
However, Washington’s sales tax of 6.5% is higher than many US states. Combining the state and average local rates, it shoots more than 9%. Property and gas taxes are also among the highest in the US.
Washington also levies gross receipt taxes on businesses. Also known as Business and Occupation Tax (B&O Tax), it’s computed based on sales revenue, gross proceeds, gross business income, and product values. Depending on business type, the rate ranges from less than .5% to over 1%.
Colorado’s flat income tax rate is 4.5%. The base sales tax is 2.9%, with cities adding their own sales tax.
Medical and recreational cannabis are subject to the regular sales tax, plus 15% and 15% for excise tax.
Property tax in Colorado is among the lowest in the US, averaging less than 1%. Interestingly, the revenue generated from this tax stays within your county instead of going to the Colorado state government. The fund is used for local school districts, free public events, and road maintenance.
On average, a crime happens every minute in Washington, giving the state an Overall Crime Grade of D. It ranks 23rd for safety, where 77% of the state is safe.
More crimes happen in central Washington, particularly the retail areas, while the south has fewer crime instances. Washington’s major airport is a high-crime location, as well as parks and designated recreational areas.
Property crime is highest in Washington, followed by violent and other crimes.
Colorado is among the nine US states with increasing property and violent crimes every year, with its property crime as the third-highest in the US.
As of 2022, the state’s violent crime rate is slightly higher than the US average, increasing 11% versus 2021.
Coloradans are more concerned about package theft, a crime rate of 49% versus the US average of 45%. According to the Porch Pirate Report, Denver tops the US’s hotspot list for package thefts.
Washington or Colorado: Pros and Cons
Washington has some of the largest corporations in the US, creating many work opportunities.
The Microsoft headquarters, a dream-job destination for tech-savvies, is located in Redmond, just outside Bellevue and not far from Seattle. If you’re eyeing the aviation industry, Alaskan Airlines considers Washington its home.
Other prospective employers include:
For coffee lovers who like to indulge and work, Starbucks is headquartered in Seattle, with store chains peppering the area. Amazon, whose roots include Seattle, is interestingly always hiring.
Apart from work-generating industry giants, Washington is among the top producers of cherries and apples in the US, creating job opportunities in the agricultural sector.
And since Washington hugs the Pacific, fishing can be a source of income.
Next to Alaska, Washington is the second most glaciated state in the US.
More than 3,000 glaciers sit on top of Mount Rainier and the mountain ranges of Olympic and North Cascades.
In 2015, Washington trimmed four-year-college costs by 15 to 20%.
The state ranks 12th among US public schools, including six public universities like Washington State University and the University of Washington.
There are more than 300 breweries in Washington. In Seattle, tasting new craft beer is fun and easy.
Washington is the second-highest wine-producing state next to California, with nearly 800 wineries. Among the top destinations are the wineries in Columbia Gorge.
The following policies can go both ways depending on your perspective:
- Death with Dignity Act
- Paid Family Leave
- Legalized Cannabis
- Marriage Equality
Convenient International Travel
You’d enjoy Washington if you have the travel bug because flying isn’t your only option.
- Drive to Canada in less than a day.
- Take the ferry from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia.
- Have a day trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, in less than five hours.
Similarly, you can fly non-stop to Asian countries like China and Japan or Asian cities like Beijing, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, and Shanghai.
Largest Ferry System
Washington has 21 ferries, the most extensive system in the US.
It ferries about 24 million passengers (tourists and workers) yearly across Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. The 20-port destinations include British Columbia and, Seattle, Tacoma.
Parks and Forests
Washington is a natural beauty. Among the popular nature spots include:
- Olympic National Park
- North Cascades National Park
- Mount Rainier National Park
The state is also home to nine national forests.
- Mount Baker-Snoqualmie
- Clifford Pinchot
- Idaho Panhandle
Washington’s mild weather encourages lots of outdoor activities:
Washington is a constant contender in the top-five greenest states in the US.
The state actively promotes solar panels, composting, plastic reduction, recycling, and consignment shopping. Washington leverages renewable sources in its energy consumption to support the environment further.
Seattle is the friendliest city in the US for your furry companions.
They can tag along when you go to parks, restaurants, cafes, and some workplaces. When you visit stores that don’t allow non-service animals, there are air-conditioned lockers to keep them comfortable.
Thousands of earthquakes visit Washington yearly. While many of these quakes are too minor to feel, Washington experienced a major one in 2001.
Washington’s last volcanic eruption happened in 1980 at Mount St. Helens, but there are five active volcanoes in the state.
- Mount Adams
- Glacier Peak
- Mount Baker
- Mount St. Helens
- Mount Rainier
There hasn’t been a tsunami in Washington for more than 300 years. But as a coastal region, the state is prone, and it pays to be prepared.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD isn’t your typical medical condition, but the lack of sunshine in Washington brings it about. Investing in a sunlight lamp (view on Amazon) that simulates sunshine can be good for you and your house plants.
According to Wallet Hub, Washington is the third-worst state for drivers, and poor road quality is among the reasons.
Seattle and Tacoma often experience heavy traffic, and the Washington freeways get congested during peak hours.
There’s a spike in homeless people across Washington’s city areas, but it’s a common concern among other US states.
2020 and 2021 witnessed several wildfires in Washington. Record-breaking wildfires engulfed Washington cities with dense smoke during the summer months.
Washington is the 5th rainiest state in the US, particularly in the winter months. During the season, umbrellas (view on Amazon) are as crucial as winter jackets.
Colorado ranks 6th among the largest natural gas-producing states and in the top 5 across the US. As a result, transportation cost is lower, and the need for out-of-state deliveries is reduced.
7 out of 10 households in Colorado use natural gas as their primary heating source. Instead of central heating systems and electric stoves, they use furnaces and gas cooktops in the winter.
Residents of Colorado actively seek the outdoors to stay active, from food and exercise to hobbies and therapy.
The average healthcare cost of $340 a month includes organic food, gym membership, vitamins, and outdoor activities like camping, skiing, and hiking.
Public transportation is widely available through Colorado’s Regional Transport District (RTD). Buses, rails, and light-rail services transport residents around Boulder, Denver, and nearby cities.
A monthly pass costs between $100 and $200. For better discounts, there are the Neighborhood EcoPass, Employee EcoPass, CollegePass, and FlexPass.
Colorado has been doubling its renewable sources since 2010.
Many homeowners power their houses with solar panels, while businesses operate on wind turbines, which count to about 2,000.
Car insurance premiums in Colorado are among the highest in the US. High premiums are brought by increased risks of falling rocks when driving near mountains and hail storms.
The average car insurance rate is about $115 a month, which is 0.6% higher than the US average.
In the last 20 years, Colorado’s population increased by nearly 2 million, bringing the state’s population to over 6 million. It’s the 21st most populated state in the US.
While clean, Coloradan air is extremely dry. Its elevated topography (10,000 feet above sea level) necessitates residents to drink often to avoid dehydration. Using moisturizers (view on Amazon) isn’t an indulgence because it prevents skin cracking.
Nose bleeds, headaches, sore throats, and elevation sickness (nausea) are common reasons to visit a doctor.
Conclusion: Washington or Colorado to Live
Washington’s dynamic market is a huge magnet for young people beginning to explore their careers. Its amazing coastline and stunning mountain ranges have also drawn people to start a new life in the state.
Colorado’s low cost of living gives the state an edge. Its outdoors is also a haven for people seeking to quench their thirst for adventure. The state’s low taxes are hard to beat, and health is wealth for many Coloradans.
When choosing between Washington and Colorado to live in, consider the factors surrounding the choice. Is the plethora of job opportunities your priority, or does the low cost of living ring louder?
If you evaluate the pros and cons of each state, you’ll undoubtedly arrive at an educated decision.