Olympia, Washington

Best Places to Retire in Washington


Olympia (population 44,000) is the capital of Washington. It is located at the southernmost point of Puget Sound, about 60 miles southwest of Seattle and 113 miles north of Portland, Oregon. The population of Thurston County is about 220,000. http://www.ci.olympia.wa.us/

The first American settlers claimed the town site in 1846, and it was laid out in 1850 like a New England style town, with a town square and tree-lined streets. The name Olympia was inspired by the view of the distant Olympic Mountains that can be seen on clear days. It was the first access point to Puget Sound from the Columbia River and soon developed into a hub of maritime commerce. When Washington achieved statehood in 1889, Olympia became its capital.

Olympia is recognized as a city dedicated to the arts and has been named as among the best small arts towns in America. It is home to approximately 100 arts organizations and venues with nearly 1,000 resident artists. The city itself has more than 70 pieces of public art and sponsors many arts-related organizations and special events. There are private galleries, museums, dance troupes, ballet, choral groups, opera, a symphony, chamber orchestra, jazz, and more. There is something for everyone.

There are good dining, nightlife, and entertainment choices, good shopping, extensive opportunities for continuing education, and good healthcare. The natural beauty that so well defines the Northwest surrounds the area. This includes a magnificent view of Mt. Rainier standing guard on the eastern horizon.

Arts & Culture

The city’s “Arts Walk” is a bi-annual event that celebrates and showcases the artistic talent and works of artists from the region. The city, the Olympia Arts Commission, and many local organizations and businesses sponsor the event which is held each April and October. (360) 709-2678

Harlequin Productions offers a season of live theater productions at the State Theater in downtown Olympia. http://www.harlequinproductions.org/index.html

The Olympia Symphony Orchestra offers a full season series as well as a very popular “Music in the Park” series and other special performances. http://www.olympiasymphony.com/

Ballet Northwest is a community-based group dedicated to dance as a performing art. http://www.balletnorthwest.org/

Olympia Little Theater offers a season of community theater entertainment. http://www.olympialittletheater.org/

Opera Pacifica Education and Repertory Association (O.P.E.R.A.) provides performance opportunities for aspiring professionals. It holds regular recitals, conducts classes and lectures, and performs regularly. http://www.operapacifica.org/

Evergreen State College Performing & Media Arts offers a number of music, dance, and theater productions for the public. http://www.evergreen.edu/expressions/

Olympia Arts Commission is an advisory board appointed by the Olympia City Council. http://www.artisttrust.org/node/357

Bigelow House is Olympia’s oldest surviving home, built before 1860. Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow came west over the Oregon trail. http://www.trpc.org/external/programs/historic+preservation/olyhistoric/o3.htm

Hands On Children’s Museum is designed for children and adults to enjoy together. It features more than 50 interactive exhibits and other creative attractions. http://www.hocm.org/

The State Capitol Museum is in Lord Mansion, a few blocks from the Capitol campus. Exhibits offer interpretations of regional Native American history and other temporary exhibits. http://www.wshs.org/

Washington Center for the Performing Arts is the largest such facility in the region, with a 983-seat proscenium theater with four seating levels. It hosts the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, touring artists, and dozens of other community theater, music, and dance groups. http://www.washingtoncenter.org/

Yashiro Japanese Garden honors Olympia’s sister city Yashiro, Japan. http://www.ci.olympia.wa.us/?sc_itemid={3181FD9F-0E67-4333D-90BD-

Masterworks Choral Ensemble is a chorus of more than 70 mixed voices, with more than 20 years of history. (360) 491-3305 http://www.mce.org/

Sweet Adelines Chorus is a women’s barbershop group singing both chorus and quartets. It meets at the Oddfellows Hall. (360) 491-3044 http://olympiasweetadelines.org/barbershop_13.html

Olympia Highlanders Bagpipe Band. (360) 943-8824 http://www.olympiahighlanders.org/


Olympia’s Parks, Arts & Recreation Department offers an extensive program of events and activities that includes all age groups. The city currently manages over 700 acres of parkland. http://www.ci.olympia.wa.us/?sc_itemid={DD9CA9DC-669B-45B9–9D96-BB06346208BD}

The area offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Thurston County alone has 52 parks, more than 7.5 miles of trails and 11 golf courses. There is also great fishing, sailing, boating, whitewater rafting, and other water sports.

Olympic National Park is north of the city on the Olympic Peninsula. It consists of more than 900,000 acres with three distinct ecosystems. It includes high country with beautiful vistas, a rain forest where more than 12 feet of rain falls annually, and views of the wilderness beaches on the Pacific Coast. http://www.nps.gov/olym/


Evergreen State College is a public liberal arts college with approximately 4,000 students. http://www.evergreen.edu/

South Puget Sound Community College is a public two-year institution with nearly 3,000 full-time students. http://www.spscc.ctc.edu/.

Senior Programs

Senior Services for South Sound is a private non-profit group governed by a volunteer board. It has been serving the needs of seniors since 1973. Services include an activities program, services for at-risk seniors, a care connection program, and a nutrition program. http://www.southsoundseniors.org/


Columbia Capital Medical Center is a comprehensive, 119-bed community hospital. http://www.capitalmedical.com/

Providence St. Peter Hospital is a 390-bed, not-for-profit regional hospital. It has been named among the top 100 hospitals in the nation for cardiology, orthopedics and stroke care. http://www.providence.org/swsa/facilities/St_Peter_Hospital/default.htm


Olympia Regional Airport has two runways serving large corporate jets, commuter planes and light freight aircraft. http://www.portolympia.com/airport_entry.asp


The climate is characterized by warm, generally dry summers and wet, mild winters. Average temperatures for January are a high of 45 and a low of 32 degrees. The average temperatures for July are a high of 76 and a low of 59 degrees. There is an average snowfall in January of 6.8 inches. http://www.wunderground.com/US/WA/Olympia.html


The Olympian – http://www.theolympian.com/

Property Taxes


State Taxes


Chamber of Commerce


State Aging Agency



Tumwater – 3 miles
Lacey – 6 miles
Rainier – 17 miles
Grand Mound – 19 miles
CcCleary – 21 miles
Lakewood – 26 miles
Tacoma – 30 miles
Fredericson – 32 miles
Artondale – 39 miles
Federal Way – 40 miles
Bremerton – 60 miles
Seattle – 61 miles
Everett – 89 miles

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