Oregon and the state of Washington are both beautiful areas with lots to offer in terms of climate, environment, friendly people, city and rural areas, and recreational opportunities.

If you’re considering a move to a northwestern state, choosing between these two can be a challenge.

However, each has pros and cons, and learning more about each can help you pick the state that better suits you.

oregon vs washington pros and cons


Key Takeaways – pros and cons

  • Both Oregon and Washington experience high amounts of rain each year.
  • In Oregon, there is no sales tax.
  • In Washington, there is no income tax.
  • The minimum wage in Washington is higher than in Oregon.
  • The cost of living in Oregon is higher than in Washington.
  • The average home cost in Oregon is higher than in Washington.
  • Washington has a better public school system compared to Oregon.
  • Washington has a higher population density compared to Oregon.
  • Both Washington and Oregon offer incredible opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Climates

Washington and Oregon are both quite large, so they each encompass several ecosystems. Washington has grasslands, prairies, wetlands, a large coastal region, and a great expanse of temperate rainforest.

Oregon features many of the same mountainous, coastal, wetland, forest and temperate rainforest, and grassland areas, and it is also home to a region known as the high desert.

Because there are so many environments in each state, climates across the states can vary. Temperatures in eastern Washington or Oregon’s high desert region can often be quite hot.

Coastal regions in each state see somewhat milder temperatures, with less of a temperature shift during different seasons.

Both states see a very high amount of rain. Oregon, for example, sees about 41 inches of rain each year, which is about 3 inches higher than the national average.

Most of this rain falls in the autumn and winter months. Washington is often considered the rainiest state.

Although the state has an average annual rainfall of about 38 inches, some areas can see between 70 and 150 inches each year.

Anyone thinking of moving to either state will need to accept that many days of the year will be rainy. However, you may be able to choose a region that sees less rain.

In areas where rain is frequent, the landscape is also beautifully green and dense with foliage.

Rainforest in Oregon
Rainforest in Oregon

Taxes

Washington and Oregon have different ways of charging taxes. In Oregon, there is no sales tax, so if you purchase food or an item, you’ll only pay the price of that item.

However, if you work in Oregon, you will be charged a state income tax. The state’s income tax ranges from 5 to 9.9%, depending on how much you earn each year.

In Washington, there is no income tax. However, there is a sales tax. This tax is only about 6.5%, though, so if you don’t shop too often, you may be able to save some money, thanks to the lack of income tax.

oregon vs washington

Minimum Wage

Both Washington and Oregon have relatively high minimum wages. Washington’s minimum wage is currently $14.49 per hour, and this will increase to nearly $16 an hour over the next year. Oregon’s minimum wage is $13.50 per hour.

Check out: Living in Dallas vs Denver – List of pros and cons

Cost of Living

The cost of living in each state varies from region to region. Urban areas, for example, are typically more expensive than rural areas.

In general, though, the cost of living in Washington state is about 13% higher than the national average. However, the cost of utilities is about 10% lower than the national average.

Utilities in Oregon are also relatively inexpensive, but the overall cost of living is about 30% higher than the national average.

Both states have a high average housing cost. In Oregon, the average price for a home is about $340,000, and that goes up to around $465,000 in city areas such as Portland.

In Washington, the average cost of a home ranges from around $292,000 in more rural areas to about $504,000 in urban areas.

If you’re looking to rent, prices generally start at around $1,000 for even small apartments.

Washington is also known for its expensive healthcare. Healthcare costs do vary depending on the insurance plan and whether your workplace offers insurance.

However, most people will pay an average of $350 to $450 per month for health insurance. Healthcare is also expensive in Oregon, and costs rose about 50% over 10 years.

Many people in Oregon can also expect to pay around $450 per month for insurance.

average home prices for oregon and washington

Public Schools

Washington is known for its excellent public schools. Residents of the state frequently vote to increase school funding. This funding is often funneled back into the classroom and helps to prioritize teaching.

Because a teacher’s pay is also relatively competitive in Washington, many teachers are attracted to the state, and schools are generally well-staffed.

However, although the public school systems in Washington are great, the state’s testing scores are a bit lower than in other states.

For some people, this information is irrelevant, as testing scores don’t always correlate to good grades. This information can be useful when it comes to tests such as the SAT, however, which helps children get into top colleges and universities.

Oregon does not have the amazing public school system of Washington. Out of 51, the Oregon public school system is ranked at number 40.

This doesn’t mean that children won’t learn in Oregon, but if you have young children or your kids are hoping to get into great colleges, Washington might be a better option.

Cities, Towns, and Neighborhoods

Oregon and Washington each have an excellent mix of cities and towns.

Seattle, Washington, for example, is home to just under 84 million people, which makes it smaller than huge cities like New York but still gives it a big-city feel and ensures that there are many opportunities for fine dining, shopping, or entertainment.

Seattle is also known for its excellent music scene.

City of Seattle Washington
City of Seattle, Washington

In Oregon, Portland is one of the most popular cities to live in. Portland is a smaller city, and it’s close to rural areas, so it’s a great option for people who want a balance between city conveniences and a quiet place to live.

For people who enjoy more pastoral living, there are plenty of rural areas in each state to choose from. Both states are also known for their quiet, peaceful neighborhoods, even in more urban areas.

However, because of Washington’s high population density, finding a large home with a yard in a more urban area can be quite challenging, so anyone looking to move to an urban area in Washington should be ready to check out apartments or smaller homes.

city of Portland, Oregon
City of Portland, Oregon

Hiking and Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

Both Washington and Oregon offer incredible opportunities for day hikes, backpacking, camping, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and observing nature.

Washington is home to the Olympic, Mount Rainier, and North Cascades National Parks, and there are also three national historic sites, four national historical parks, a national historical reserve, and 124 state parks.

Oregon has just one national park, called Crater Lake National Park. However, anyone living in Oregon can also explore the state’s two national monuments, two national historical parks, and one national historic site. The state also has 53 state parks.

Politics

Fitting in with the local politics of an area can often be a deciding factor for anyone considering a move. Oregon is a predominantly liberal state.

They more often elect Democrat senators and representatives. The eastern half of the state tends to be more liberal, and the state’s cities are also generally more liberal.

For more conservative-minded people, there are many conservative regions closer to the western half of the state.

Washington has a political climate very similar to that of Oregon. Western regions tend to be more conservative, while eastern and urban areas are more liberal.

Overall, the state is generally more liberal, and residents often elect Democratic representatives and senators.

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