Most Affordable Places To Live In Washington For 2020

We used data and science to determine which places in Washington go easy on your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the cheapest places to live in Washington.

When people first think of the west coast, they usually think of California and most specifically, San Francisco.

But the west coast has a lot more to offer than just the California obsession. Washington state is one that should not be skipped over, for it has many amazing things to offer just about anybody.

Love rainy days? Go to Washington.

Want to live near the coast? Washington.

Obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy? You betcha, Washington.

Most specifically, Washington has Seattle, which is one of America’s top cities to live in. But if cities aren’t your thing, Seattle is a great place for nature enthusiasts. The Pacific Crest Trail runs through Washington State and the state is covered with dense, lush forest waiting to be explored.

The only major negative about Washington, other than the rain, is that Washington state can be incredibly expensive. Seems to be a common west coast theme. So where can you live in Washington that gives you access to beaches, mountains, trails, Starbucks, and more, without taking a major cut out of your paycheck?

Luckily for you, we also think Washington is a pretty great place and have found you the top ten most affordable cities in Washington. Hopefully, by living in these more affordable cities, you can have a larger Starbucks budget. You need those hot coffees for rainy days.

The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Washington For 2020

1. ConnellConnell, WA

Source: Public domain

Population: 5,482
Median Household Income: $51,618

Ranking as the most affordable city our list of cheapest places to live in Washington is Connell, a city about 40 miles north of Kennewick. Residents of Connell pay the second lowest proportion of their income for homes in Washington, so it’s super simple to pay off your mortgage in no time here. The median home price in Connell is $117,200 and the median income is $51,618. If you’re not ready for the commitment of a mortgage, then renting in Connell is also quite affordable. The median rent in Connell is $648, which is about a third the cost of the average rent in Washington.

2. QuincyQuincy, WA

Population: 7,531
Median Household Income: $56,921

Located in central Washington, Quincy is the second cheapest place to live in the state. “Opportunities Unlimited” is the city’s motto, and boy is that true in monetary terms.

The median income in Quincy is $56,921 and the median home price is $144,700, giving the city the third lowest ratio of home price to income in Washington. And while rent in Quincy is slightly higher than #1 Connell, renters pay the second lowest proportion of their income for rent in Washington. Couple these low bills with free activities like hiking around Ancient Lakes, and your savings will grow faster than you know what to do with them.

3. EphrataEphrata, WA

Population: 8,050
Median Household Income: $56,429

Washington may be one of the most expensive states in America, but you wouldn’t know it in Ephrata, the third most affordable city in the state. Ephrata is a great place to buy or rent, with both options costing less of your hard-earned income than most cities in Washington. The median income in Ephrata is $56,429 and the median home price is $154,500. At just a hair over $700/month, Ephrata’s median rent is slightly higher than the cities above, but still substantially lower than Washington in general.

Ephrata is located in central Washington, just east of Quincy.

4. ToppenishToppenish, WA

Population: 8,906
Median Household Income: $43,823

Located 20 miles southeast of Yakima, Toppenish is the fourth cheapest place to live in Washington. At a median price tag of $118,800, Toppenish boasts some of the cheapest homes in the state. And with residents earning a median income of $43,823, you’ll have the mortgage paid off before you even finish unpacking. As a bonus, you can see loads of spectacular art in Toppenish without spending a dime, because the city has over 75 murals to see. Trying to spot them all would be an inexpensive way to spend the day in Washington’s fourth most affordable city.

5. West RichlandWest Richland, WA

Population: 14,187
Median Household Income: $92,952

Centered around the cities of Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco, West Richland is the fifth cheapest city in Washington.

A word of warning about West Richland — you’ll need to secure a high-paying job before the city’s affordability becomes apparent. With a median home price of $244,700 and a median rent of $1,143, housing in West Richland is about 30% pricier than the next highest cities on this list. However, because residents earn a median income of $92,952 (about 50% higher than the next highest city on this list), folks pay a smaller proportion of their salaries for housing.

6. PascoPasco, WA

Population: 71,858
Median Household Income: $61,662

With a population of 71858, Pasco is by far the biggest city on this list, so if you want affordability without sacrificing big city amenities, this is the place for you. And with Sacajawea State Park in your backyard, it’s not like you’ll be super far from nature either.

At $186,900 and $895/month for median home price and rent respectively, Pasco may seem a touch on the pricey side of this list. But residents are paid more as well, with a median income of $61,662. That doesn’t put Pasco in the top ten statewide for either home price or rent to income ratio, but solid rankings in each category places Pasco firmly on this list.

7. WapatoWapato, WA

Population: 5,041
Median Household Income: $38,208

The seventh most affordable city in Washington is Wapato, a suburb of Yakima. Washington may have one of the highest rents in America, but nobody’s told Wapato, where the median rent is a measly $647. That’s bound to make Seattleites jealous. At $107,600, Wapato also has some of the cheapest homes for sale in Washington. Even better, the home price to income ratio is the eighth best in the state.

8. GrandviewGrandview, WA

Population: 11,124
Median Household Income: $46,920

Located between Yakima and Kennewick, Grandview is the eighth cheapest city in Washington. With a combination of both a middle-of-the-pack median home price and median income at $137,400 and $46,920 respectively, Grandview has the tenth lowest home price to income ratio in the state. You can save even more money by buying your produce at Bill’s Berry Farm instead of the grocery store.

9. HoquiamHoquiam, WA

Population: 8,454
Median Household Income: $42,250

Located an hour west of Olympia, Hoquiam ranks as the ninth most affordable city in Washington. Not to mention it’s the only city on this list that boasts ocean views and beaches. You’d have no idea you’re living in one of the most expensive states in the country if you moved to Hoquiam, where the median home price is the lowest in Washington at $95,700. With folks in Hoquiam pulling in a median income of $42,250, Hoquiam has the best home price to income ratio in the state. The only thing keeping Hoquiam from a higher spot on this list is a not-so-impressive income to rent ratio.

10. OthelloOthello, WA

Population: 7,980
Median Household Income: $51,071

Rounding out our list of cheapest places to live in Washington is Othello, a city an hour north of Kennewick.

The median home price in Othello is $159,100 and the median income is $51,071, which gives Othello the 14th lowest home price to income ratio in the state. The median rent in Othello is $811, less than half the average rent in Washington. Buying or renting, living in Othello is sure to result in more money in your pocket at the end of every week.

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Evergreen State For 2020

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Washington
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Washington to figure out which is the least expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 119 places in Washington that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in Washington according to the data is Connell. You can download the data here.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Washington Cheapskate

If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Washington, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Washington for 2020.

Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Washington according to the data:

  1. Lynnwood
  2. Bellingham
  3. Seattle

For more Washington reading, check out:

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.