On the north bank of the mighty Columbia River in southwest Washington lies Vancouver, the small town in which I have retired.
Yes, there is still a Vancouver in North America! Many only know the Canadian city of Vancouver. In fact, Vancouver, Washington is the original Vancouver, with a history that goes back hundreds of years.
Vancouver, WA combines the advantages of living in a small town with the convenience of a big city.
Here are 14 reasons I chose to retire to Vancouver. Perhaps you will also be amazed by some of these conveniences.
1. No state income tax
Washington State is one of nine US states with no state income tax and does not tax retirement income. Yes, there is sales tax, but I prefer it to state income tax.
2. Housing costs / property tax
I am drawn to Washington State for cheaper housing costs and lower property taxes compared to Portland.
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3. Proximity to Portland International Airport
As a travel enthusiast, this is an important concern for me. I can be at Portland International Airport in 10 minutes. When guests come to visit, I invite them to text me after landing, pick up their luggage and when I arrive at the airport they’ll be waiting for me.
Portland Airport has often been called one of the best airports in the country. It’s a fun place to leave or to arrive.
Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge or I-205 Bridge. (Photo credit: Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com)
4. Traffic is healthy
Whenever I drive in a bigger city I am reminded of why I chose Vancouver, Washington as my retirement. As my brother used to say when he was visiting from Long Beach, California, “It makes sense here!”
5. I like medical care in a smaller city
I feel like medical care is more personal in a smaller town. My chosen medical center is less than 3 miles from home.
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6. I love the four different seasons
Vancouver stays pretty green all year round. Yes, there is a reason! More on that later! Overall, the temperatures remain quite mild. We can get a few days of snow every year. The summers are relatively mild.
Spring brings blooming trees, tulips, daffodils, and gardening. In my garden there are also raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and an apple tree.
Summer has warm temperatures; however, temperatures usually cool down at night.
Autumn brings the beautiful change of leaves and my garden harvest. Autumn also brings the harvest of state grapes and hops, which brings a lot of fun experiences!
Winter has its own charms: on the one hand, the observation of winter storms and, on the other hand, the migration of gray whales. Winter also brings the delicious Dungeness crab. The crab season usually starts just before Christmas and ends in late spring. Many of my perennials appear shortly after the New Year.
Yes, winter also brings rain. I say to myself, “at least I don’t have to shovel it” like I had to shovel a lot of snow in Alberta, Canada! On a visit from Alberta, my mother said, “It’s so green here!” I would answer, “Yes, Mom, there is a reason for that.”
I will endure the rain over the snow every day! I can always escape when the rain gets too heavy.
Roxana Gonzalez / Shutterstock.com
7. Proximity to sea beaches
Two of my lucky places are the ocean beaches along the southern Washington coast and the Oregon coast. In less than 2 hours, I can be walking or sitting on the beach and enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean. My favorite spots on the Washington coast are Ilwaco and Long Beach; My two favorite places on the Oregon coast are Newport and Depoe Bay.
8. Proximity to mountains
Snow lovers will be delighted to learn that less than an hour’s drive from Vancouver are two ski areas on Mt. Hood, Oregon: Timberline and Mt. Hood Ski Bowl. Timberline is the only year-round ski resort in North America. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, there are snow groomer rides and snowshoe hikes. Take a day trip or stay at the historic Timberline Lodge. Mt. Hood Ski Bowl is the largest night ski area in the country and has an incredible snow tubing park.
9. Proximity to Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Within 20 minutes of my home in Vancouver, I can enjoy the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The 80 mile long canyon follows the Columbia River and forms the border between Washington and Oregon. The geological formations are unique – sheer cliffs fall into the rushing waters of the river and more than 50 waterfalls will grab your attention. The most famous waterfall is the Multnomah Falls, one of Oregon’s most famous landmarks. Head to Vista House Crown Point Scenic Viewpoint for breathtaking views of the canyon.
The area is a recreational playground. You can hike, camp, kite surf, windsurf, observe wildlife or take your time to marvel at the incredible beauty.
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com
10. Proximity to award winning wineries / craft breweries in Washington and Oregon
I can visit award-winning wineries in eastern Washington and central Oregon within a 1 to 3 hour drive. In Washington, the Yakima Valley has over 120 wineries and is the largest hop-growing region in the country. Nearby are Walla Walla’s 150 wineries known as “The Wine Destination In The State”. Tualatin Valley, part of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, is known as one of the premier Pinot Noir growing regions in the world!
11. The beauty of the Vancouver Waterfront and Columbia River Renaissance Trail
Recently named “One of the Best Pedestrian Attractions” in the country by Fobes, Vancouver’s Waterfront features two miles of paved pathways along the mighty Columbia River. With six wineries, seven restaurants, historic sites like Kaiser Werften, and breathtaking views of Mount Hood, there’s something for everyone. The boardwalk continues on to the Columbia River Renaissance Trail, a series of paved trails through Vancouver’s National Historical Reserve, Officer’s Row, and downtown Vancouver. People like to walk, hike, cycle and jog along the paths.
12. Proximity to a wildlife sanctuary and an outdoor education center
The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is just 21 miles north of Vancouver and comprises 5,300 acres of wetlands, riparian forests, and marshland that is home to a variety of plants, birds, animals, and fish. There is both a car tour route and a network of hiking trails that are suitable for wheelchair users and hikers. During the mating and breeding season, certain parts of the refuge are inaccessible to visitors. Check the website for updates.
The senior citizen pass is valid here as well as other passports. Otherwise there is a small fee per car charge / group of four hikers. There are also lots of volunteer activities.
Columbia Springs is a 100 acre outdoor education center here in Vancouver. With more than 2 miles of hiking trails and boardwalks, people of all ages enjoy the opportunity to connect with nature and learn more about the environment. The hatchery dates back to 1938 and raises hundreds of thousands of steelheads, rainbow trout and salmon. The area is a beautiful setting for picnics, walks, hikes and bike rides. There are many educational courses taking place. My favorites are the bird watching and aviary building classes.
Many senior citizens volunteer at the center.
13. Monthly community newspaper for seniors
The Senior Messenger is a great tool to help seniors stay connected and active. Find recreational activities, 50+ travel programs, and health and wellness information. The 50+ Travel Program offers affordable day trips to the Pacific Northwest.
14. Vancouver’s rich history
History buffs will find a lot to discover here in Vancouver.
The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site consists of Fort Vancouver, Officer’s Row, Vancouver Barracks, and the Pearson Air Museum. You can learn about the history of the fur trade in the Pacific Northwest between 1825 and 1860. The 200 acre site was the hub of the Hudson’s Bay Company here in Vancouver. Officer’s Row is a series of 21 Victorian houses built between 1849 and 1906 to house US Army officers.
The Lower Vancouver National Historic Reserve includes Waterfront Park and the Kaiser Shipyards Overlook, which commemorates the ships, tankers, and escort vessels that were built here for the war effort. You will also find plaques commemorating the Lewis & Clark Expedition 1804-1806. A land bridge connects the two locations.
Vancouver also features the state’s oldest town square, Esther Short Park, which is anchored by the historic Slocum House from 1867. The two story Victorian home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information on many of my favorite sites mentioned here, check out my articles on TravelAwaits.
For more information on retirement options, see these articles: