Retire in Bellingham


Find out how much it costs to live in Bellingham.

Cost of Living

One of the major reasons Washington is starting to make waves in the retirement community is its lack of state income, social security, pension, and inheritance taxes. Just note that Bellingham does have a somewhat high cost of living.

Kiplinger Rating:

Tax Friendly

State Income Tax:


Social Security Tax?


County + State Sales Tax


Property Tax Rate *


Property Tax Ranking (County Property Tax rank out of 2,773, higher rank=lower rate) *


* 2008-2010

Cost of Living Index (100=average):


Housing + transportation costs as % of income:


Tax Details

State Sales Tax Breaks for Seniors:


Pensions Taxed?


Tax burden: % income going to state and local taxes:


Inheritance and estate taxes (per Kiplinger):

There is no inheritance tax, but estates in excess of $2 million must file a Washington estate-tax return. Tax is due only on the amount above $2 million, with an additional $2.5 million deduction for family-owned businesses valued at less than $6 million. Estate-tax rates range from 10% to 20%.

Taxing of other retirement income (per Kiplinger):


Property Tax Break for Seniors (per Kiplinger):

Washington has four property-tax relief programs available for homeowners who meet the individual program requirements: the Property Tax Exemption Program for Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons, the Property Tax and Special Assessment Deferral Program for Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons, the Property Tax Deferral Program for Homeowners with Limited Incomes and the Grant Assistance Program for Widows or Widowers of Veterans._x000D__x000D_The Property Tax Exemption Program is available to people who are 61 or older or disabled by the year before the property tax is due. The property must be owner-occupied, and household income must be $35,000 or less. For qualified applicants, the home is exempt from all voter-approved excess and special levies. In addition, if household income is $30,000 or less, a portion of the regular property tax amount may be exempt. When household income is between $25,001 and $30,000, the exemption also applies to the regular levies on the first $50,000 or 35% of the home's assessed value, whichever is greater (but not more than $70,000 of the assessed value). When household income is $25,000 or less, the exemption applies to the first $60,000 or 60% of the home’s assessed value, whichever is greater._x000D__x000D_Seniors 60 or older and disabled persons who have income of $40,000 or less may also qualify for the state's tax-deferral program. This program works in conjunction with the exemption program, and it allows qualified applicants to defer property taxes or special assessments on their residence. The state pays the taxes on behalf of the applicant and files a lien to indicate that the state has an interest in the property. The deferred taxes, plus 5% interest, must be repaid to the state when the owner passes away, sells or moves from the home._x000D__x000D_There is also a property-tax deferral program for those who make more than $40,000. The deferral program for homeowners with limited income is available for homeowners with combined disposable income of $57,000 or less, and there is no age or disability requirement. This program allows homeowners to defer half of their property taxes annually. The deferred amount accrues interest until it’s repaid (the interest rate for 2014 deferrals is 2%). Deferrals must be repaid when the home is sold, the applicant passes away or the home is no longer used as the primary residence._x000D__x000D_The state also has a property tax assistance program for spouses of deceased veterans. It applies to a widow or widower of a veteran who was 100% disabled, a disabled former prisoner of war, or a veteran who died on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability. The surviving spouse must be 62 or older, own a primary residence in the state and have income of $40,000 or less. He or she receives a grant based on income, the value of the residence and local levy rates. The grant does not have to be repaid as long as the applicant continues to live in the residence until at least December 15 of the year it is received.


For more detailed tax information from Kiplinger, visit

Real Estate

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Work Potential

Torn between wanting to take advantage of everything Bellingham has to offer and still wanting to bring in some extra income? Part-time work in Bellingham is a common affair for those over 65-nearly 70% of the jobs for those in this age bracket are part-time. Plenty of work seems to be available in healthcare and education, with the 3 largest employers including Western Washington University, the Bellingham School District, and St. Joseph Hospital.

  • Area
  • National Average

5 Largest Companies

  • St. Joseph Hospital
  • Western Washington University
  • Bellingham School District
  • BP Cherry Point Refinery
  • Heath Tecna Inc

GDP Growth Last 3 Years


Income Growth Last 3 Years


Employment Growth Last 3 Years


Top Industries Hiring

  • Manufacturing
  • Health care and social assistance
  • Retail trade
  • Administrative and waste management services
  • Transportation and warehousing

Breakdown Fulltime vs Part Time over 65 (%)

  • Part Time over 65
  • Full Time Over 65

Occupation Breakdown (%)

  • Management, Business, Science & Arts (MBSA)
  • Natural Resources, Contruction & Maintenance (NRCM)
  • Production, Transportation, Materials & Moving (PTMM)
  • Sales & Office (S&O)
  • Service

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