Cheapest Place to Live Along the Pacific Ocean

The central Washington coast offers some of the most affordable coastal living along the Pacific.

The central Washington coast offers some of the most affordable coastal living along the Pacific.

The Pacific coast of the United States is an enchanting place to live, but it comes at a price. Coastlines tend to demand higher home prices, which tend to also drive up the cost of local goods and services. The cost of living in Alaska and Hawaii runs high due to their remote locations, and high tax rates are a hindrance to affordable living in the mainland Pacific coast states of California, Oregon and Washington. The community of Aberdeen, Wash., offers the overall most affordable location on the water along the entire U.S. Pacific coast.

Housing

Comprising over one-third of the average American household budget, housing costs are a significant factor in affordability. The median home price in Aberdeen is only $137,000, compared with $242,000 for the entire country. Home prices here average less than one-third the cost of comparable homes in Seattle. There are numerous homes on the market in Aberdeen for far less than the median price, with move-in ready homes on dedicated lots starting as low as $70,000. Rental rates in Aberdeen are affordable as well, with a typical two-bedroom apartment renting for $595 per month.

Cost of Living

The national cost-of-living index includes the cost of utilities, food, personal items and gas. Aberdeen and its immediately adjacent communities are the only towns on the entire Pacific coast with a cost-of-living index that is less than the national average. Due to the abundance of cheap hydroelectric power in the Pacific Northwest, utility rates are among the lowest in the country. Food costs are slightly higher than the national average, due primarily to Aberdeen's one-hour driving distance from a major transportation corridor. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are available through an extended growing season, as is locally caught seafood.

Taxes

Washington state residents benefit from zero state income tax, but that is countered by the second highest state sales tax rate in the country. Aberdeen residents pay a combined state and local sales tax rate of 8.4%. Washington state as a whole has fairly high property taxes, and Grays Harbor County residents pay $11.32 per $1,000 in assessed value on their homes, which is slightly above the national average. This works out to a $1,550 annual property tax bill on a median priced home.

Aberdeen's Downsides

Despite a beautiful setting right on the water and an overall low cost of living, Aberdeen does have its drawbacks. With a population under 100,000 in the greater area, job opportunities can be hard to come by. The area has an unemployment rate that about 50 percent higher than the national average, largely due to recent closures of several paper pulp mills in the area. Given its small size, Aberdeen also lacks some of the big city cultural amenities and activities that some people may enjoy. However, Aberdeen sits between the cities of Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., each of which is approximately a two-hour drive away.

 

About the Author

Jassen Bowman is an IRS-licensed enrolled agent who specializes in IRS collections representation, small business tax law and international tax treaties. He has also served as a licensed real estate broker and investor. Bowman holds a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering technology.

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