Looking to move to, or within, Washington state and wondering where the cheapest place to live might be? We compared the cost of living, median home price, and Comfort Index (so you’ll be able to save on your utility bills) in Washington’s 39 counties. Giving equal weight to each measure, we narrowed in on the 15 counties that have the best average score.
1. Grays Harbor County
Home to a lush rainforest and Pacific coast shoreline, Grays Harbor County stands out with nearly the lowest cost of living and median home price ($110,600) of any county in the state. It’s in the top half of Washington’s counties on the Comfort Index.
2. Ferry County
Ferry County does well overall, ranking in the top ten for each of our categories. Median home price is $154,700, about $15,000 less than the state’s median. The Cost of Living Index is 110, more than the national average of 100 but good by state measures, and the Comfort Index is 78 – better than the national average of 44, but below the state’s high of 90 in Clallam County. It’s a sparsely populated county, with just a few people per square mile.
3. Grant County
Named after President Ulysses S. Grant, Grant County takes first place in terms of the lowest median home price ($107,400) and lowest cost of living. However, it received a 69 on the Comfort Index, putting it in the bottom half of Washington’s counties but still above the national average of 44.
|County||Comfort Index||Cost of Living Index||Median Home Price|
|Grays Harbor County||14||2||2 ($110,600)|
|Ferry County||6||9||8 ($154,700)|
|Grant County||23||1||1 ($107,400)|
|Lincoln County||10||9||9 ($155,500)|
|Adams County||20||5||4 ($131,100)|
|Spokane County||15||8||11 ($157,900)|
|Stevens County||10||12||13 ($158,400)|
|Okanogan County||4||16||15 ($166,600)|
|Yakima County||30||2||6 ($137,400)|
|Garfield County||30||5||3 ($129,900)|
|Lewis County||28||7||5 ($135,500)|
|Whitman County||2||18||21 ($182,800)|
|Cowlitz County||20||12||10 ($156,400)|
|Franklin County||37||2||7 ($140,500)|
|Kittitas County||13||17||16 ($172,700)|
Breakdown of the rank (1-39) for each of the factors in the top 15 counties.
4. Lincoln County
Tying Adams County for fourth-cheapest, Lincoln County has more expensive homes ($155,500) and a slightly higher cost of living but ranks much better on the Comfort Index. The cost of living is just below the national average and tied for 9th cheapest in Washington.
5. Adams County
Adams County lies in the middle of the road in the Comfort Index but has a relatively low cost of living and median home price ($131,100). There are two main cities, Ritzville and Othello, and much of the county’s residents enjoy a rural lifestyle.
6. Spokane County
Found on the eastern end of the state, Spokane County does pretty well in terms of the Comfort Index and the cost of a home ($157,900), and sits in eighth place within Washington on the Cost of Living index. The city of Spokane, nicknamed the Lilac City, is the second-largest in the state. It’s also known for being the birthplace of Father’s Day, which was first celebrated at the Spokane YMCA.
7 (Tied). Stevens County
Located in the northeast of the state, Stevens County ties the national average for cost of living and homes are about $12,000 less than the national average. The county also ranks much higher than the national average on the Comfort Index.
7 (Tied). Okanogan County
Okanogan is the largest and one of the most comfortable counties in Washington, although the median home price is $166,600, and the cost of living is slightly above the national average. The county is perfect for outdoors lovers and is bordered by the Columbia River Basin and North Cascade Mountains.
9 (Tied). Yakima County
With a low median home price of $137,400 and tying for second best on the Cost of Living Index, Yakima is only dragged down the list because it ranks low on the Comfort Index relative to other counties in Washington. Still, with a 66 compared to the national average of 44 it’s a comfortable place to live. The Yakima Valley American Viticultural Area produces over 40 percent of the state’s wine and was the state’s first federally recognized viticultural area.
9 (Tied). Garfield County
Garfield County has some of the cheapest houses in the state ($129,900) and ranks fifth cheapest in terms of the cost of living. However, it’s near the bottom of Washington’s Comfort Index, although still much better than the national average. The whole county is home to less than 2,500 people, and there’s one city, Pomeroy, that is home to over half the county’s population.
11. Lewis County
Many tourists pass through Lewis County while traveling between Portland and Seattle. The county’s twin cities of Centralia and Chehalis, which offer shopping centers and hiking or biking trails. The county is in the bottom third of counties in Washington on the Comfort Index (but still above the national average). The median home price is $135,500, and the county is one of the ten cheapest in Washington based on the Cost of Living Index.
12. Whitman County
If you can afford a home, the median price is $182,800, Whitman County is one of the most comfortable places to live in the state. The cost of living is slightly above the national average, but well below some of Washington’s counties. Washington State University can be found in Pullman, the county’s largest city.
13. Cowlitz County
Cowlitz County is in the top ten in terms of home price, near the middle in the state’s Comfort Index, and better than about 75 percent of counties in terms of the cost of living. There are five cities in the county and the largest, Longview, sits between the Columbia River and Interstate 5.
14 (Tied). Kittitas County
At $172,700, the county’s median home price is higher than the state’s median, however, overall Kittitas County can still be a relatively cheap place to live. The cost of living is in the bottom half of Washington’s counties, and it’s in the top two-thirds on the Comfort Index.
14 (Tied). Franklin County
Named after Benjamin Franklin and one of the fastest growing counties in the state, Franklin County ties other counties for the second lowest cost of living and is in the cheapest 20 percent when comparing the mean home price ($140, 500). It also ties for the bottom of the state’s list on the Comfort Index, but the county still does well with a 64 compared to the national average of 44 – higher is better.
We used data from Sperling’s Best Places to determine the rankings. The Comfort Index considers the temperature during the afternoon in the summer as well as humidity levels. The Cost of Living Index takes into account the cost of health care, utilities, transportation, groceries, housing, and everyday expenses like entertainment and clothing excluding taxes. The median home value (not the average) is based on home sales during the last 12 months.