What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Olympia, WA?

Heather Robbins
by Heather Robbins

If you are thinking of moving to a new area, the process can be stressful, especially if you do not know much about the area that you are moving to. You do not want to end up in a city that is not going to be ideal for you and your circumstances or life goals. However, once in a while, there is that seemingly perfect city to move to that seems to have it all. In this case, it is Olympia, WA.

Most people would describe Olympia as the city where you can get out of town without leaving the city. As Washington’s capital, there are benefits to living here as it has many attractions, trails, parks, and other activities. Also, it has a low cost of living and an excellent public transportation system. However, the downside is that the job market can be difficult, and it does rain more than in other places.

Olympia is an excellent place as it is located in the middle of everything, literally. Want the ocean? It is not far off to the west, while the mountains sit at the north and east. If you want a big city, you can travel up to Seattle and spend a day there, while there is plenty of country around too if you are looking for a break. Below, we have included some pros and cons to living in this beautiful capital.

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The Pros Of Living In Olympia

While an excellent public transportation system is reason enough to move to this city, there are plenty of other reasons. We have listed just a few of the top benefits of living in Olympia.

1. Low Living Costs

The cost of living is one of the most significant concerns when it comes to moving to a new place as some of the prices can surprise you. However, Olympia is a friendly city for those who get by on an average income as it has an average cost of living, unlike places like San Francisco or Denver.

For housing alone, the expense is just 1% lower, and it is also lower than the national average. Since Washington grows a lot of its produce and meats, you will find great prices on food and other necessities. However, you may have to travel just a few miles east into the country for the best deals.

Other expenses like heat, electricity, and other bills seem to be lower too. This may be due to the fact that there is not a very severe change in weather come winter or summer. Therefore, you are not forking out insane amounts of money to keep your home habitable.

2. Amazing Public Transportation System

Something else that residents love about the Olympia area is its vast network of transportation systems. You can pretty much get anywhere you want using public transportation, within reason. You can take the metro straight to and from Seattle. There is also the option of a Greyhound, Amtrak, or rideshares such as Lyft or Uber; however, these alternatives tend to be more expensive.

Washington has been working on a system since 2015 that will bring the Seattle Sounder Train from Everett to Olympia. At the time of writing (2021), this has not been completed yet, but they aim to have this done in the near future. So, between the metro bus system, rideshares, Greyhound, Amtrak, and the Sounder Train, you will have plenty of travel options to explore nearby cities.

3. Diverse Job market

The job market in Olympia is rather diverse as far as what is open. If you do not have a degree, there is no need to worry. Olympia is dotted with many different restaurants and hotels, so as long as you have the correct documents, you can land a job in the hospitality industry.

If you are a specialist in IT, medical, or engineering, you have plenty of options, with the University of Washington Healthcare Clinics, Microsoft, and Boeing being nearby. Many different warehouses are also hiring for help from those with and without degrees or special certifications. However, you may need to commute.

4. Close To Other Cities That Are Easy To Navigate To

Olympia is about 1 hour and 20 minutes south of Seattle; however, that is without bad traffic. Ideally, you will not want to take that trip unless it is between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM or after 6:30 PM. This is because the ‘rush’ hour lasts for nearly half the day, and this can make a 1 hour and 20-minute trip into a six+ hour trip.

But Seattle is not the only nearby city. Within an hour, you can get to Tacoma, Longview/Kelso, Chehalis, Gig Harbor, and more. The commute is easy regardless of if you are taking public transportation or if you are driving. Olympia sits right on the I-5 corridor, and the further north, you have the options of other freeways such as 167, highway 18 and Interstate 405, and then I 90 that runs east and west. So, if you land a job in a nearby city, there is no issue getting to work each day.

Also, there is not too much to do in Olympia itself, so the fact that you are near other major cities will benefit you and give you more choices of activities, events, and attractions. So, if there is a concert or some other major event you want to go to, it is not as out of the way as it would be if you lived in Kalaloch or on the Olympic Peninsula.

5. Great For Outdoor Lovers And Hobbyists

The best part of this particular area of the state is that you are surrounded by beautiful forests, rivers, lakes, and parks. If you are a lover of camping, fishing, or boating, this is the perfect place for you! Also, you can find many places to go rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, or take a backpacking trip around Mt. Rainier on the Wonderland Trail.

Now, suppose all of that sounds a bit too adventurous for you. In that case, there are other family-friendly activities such as taking a stroll through the Japanese Garden in Olympia to view the beautiful budding flowers. Or, if you feel like taking a road trip, you can have a couple of hours north, past Everett, to attend the tulip festival in the spring in Skagit Valley.

There is something for everyone in Olympia. Skiing, snowboarding, boating, fishing, camping, traveling, foodies, music, art, gardening, cooking; You can find everything within close proximity of Olympia. Even if you want to go to the desert, you can hop on I-90 and head to eastern Washington.

The Cons Of Living In Olympia

While Olympia has so much to offer its residents, there are several downsides to the city that we will explain further below. This will help you have an honest view of what you can expect if you decide to move to the area.

1. Difficult Job Market

While the job market is diverse, it is also difficult. Since there are so many people who live in Olympia and the surrounding larger cities, you will most often find yourself competing for a position. Not to mention, 80% of the people in the area work for the state, and if that is something you are interested in, you will most likely need to commute.

Something else to think about is if you do not want to commute and you prefer to work in town, you are more or less restricted to restaurant work, hotel management, or working for a grocery store or gas station. This is not ‘negative,’ as the people who work in these industries are very much appreciated, but it takes a special sort of person to be able to thrive in those businesses, which means it is not for everyone.

2. Higher Crime Rates

Even though Olympia is a small town, it does have a slightly high crime rate. With a population of just over 49,000, there have been 459 violent crimes per 100,000 people and 1,854 property crimes. While these numbers a low, they are still higher than Washington’s rates in the state.

Olympia has its community of homeless, which tend to sort of getting out of hand. Most of the crimes stem from drugs and stealing. Therefore, you should be fine as long as you lock up your home and car at night. Other than that, it is nothing to really worry about. Although for some, the crime rate may be a deal-breaker.

3. It Rains A Lot

If rain is now something you are fond of, then you may not like living in Olympia. Since Washington’s lowlands do not get much snow, it rains throughout winter, fall, and the first half of spring. Therefore, the rainy season is between the end of October to the beginning of May, just a little over six months.

Olympia is located at the foothills of the mountains but also on the water. Due to its location, it sees quite a bit of rainfall and sometimes winds. However, in the summertime, it may not rain for a couple of months in a row, resulting in a drought. It is best just to be prepared and stock up on some vitamin D! Vitamin D deficiency runs rampant in Washington and Oregon since it is mostly cloudy for over half the year.

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Related Questions

Is Olympia, WA, an excellent place to live?

Olympia is a great place to live! It is a tiny scenic town that has its farmers market, as well as small shops where you can support local businesses, as well as the option to purchase fresh from the sea seafood. Also, it is in close proximity to many other larger cities, so if you cannot find something in Olympia, you do not have to go too far to get it.

What is the weather like in Olympia, WA?

Olympia can get very cold; however, it is rare. The record low of Olympia was -8 F in January, but it usually averages 30 degrees in the wintertime. In the summer, the temperature will average around 80 degrees but will rarely spike above 90.

What is Olympia Washington famous for?

Olympia is the capital of Washington, not Seattle. It is the center of the state government and a famous city for travelers to stop before hitting the ocean. There is not much special about Olympia itself, but the activities surrounding it and its location make it unique.

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Heather Robbins
Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

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