In the next year, my husband and I plan to relocate from the Bay Area to Washington state, specifically to the Seattle region. Friends and family have all asked why, and so I thought I’d highlight some of the advantages.
Better Job Market
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Washington state is in the top five states with the best job growth. With a job growth rate of 1.6 percent, the state has recouped 83 percent of the jobs it lost during the recession. It also has an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent, and year-over-year increases in the population in the workforce; this is in stark contrast to the national unemployment rate, which keeps falling partially because people are leaving the workforce. In addition to this, the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area outpaces the state’s performance, with an unemployment rate of just 4.8 percent.
Now, I have been looking for fulltime employment since January, and have just settled on a part-time temporary job to pay the bills, so the better job market is very attractive.
Also attractive, is that Washington is one of the few states that offers average wages of over $50,000 a year, without a high cost of living. The best part of all? Employees in Washington rated their work environments as above average, meaning that they enjoyed their time at work, too.
Lower Cost of Living
Okay, now you have a job, sure, but it pays less than the Bay Area; can you truly make a living on less? The answer is yes. The cost of living in Washington state is significantly lower; according to CNN Money’s Cost of Living Calculator, someone with a salary of $50,000 living in the San Jose, California area would only need a salary of just over $38,000 to lead a comparable lifestyle in Seattle. Better yet, if you move out to a suburb of Seattle, like Everett, you’d only need a salary of $36,600 for a comparable lifestyle. Compared to the Bay Area, housing in Washington state tends to run about 50 percent less expensive in the Seattle area, and even less in other parts of the state.
No Income Taxes
The first two reasons are mainly why we’re moving; really, I’d love to be in such a good position that we actually owe income tax. Since we’ve been married, my spouse and I have spent most of the time living as poor students, on a shoestring budget. However, given the better job market and high wages, the fact that there are no state income taxes becomes more important as our incomes grow.
So there you have it: The combination of the increased likelihood of getting a job at all, plus the fact that it’s much easier to live on entry level salary, and more lenient taxes as incomes increase makes Washington a perfect choice for my family. I will miss my friends and family and the beautiful California weather, but setting my family up for long-term success is more important.