People are leaving 7 towns in Washington as soon as they can

Washington state, recognized for its iconic Seattle skyline, Olympic National Park, and a vibrant cultural scene, is witnessing a significant population shift. Notably, seven towns are facing an exodus due to various challenges:

  1. Aberdeen: This coastal town in Grays Harbor County, despite being the birthplace of grunge rock legend Kurt Cobain, grapples with severe socio-economic issues. Aberdeen has a high poverty rate of 26.7%, a median household income of just $38,740, and affordable yet declining housing with a median value of $127,900. Compounded by a high unemployment rate of 9.4%, low educational attainment (15.8%), and issues like drug abuse, homelessness, and crime, Aberdeen has become an unattractive option for many residents.
  2. Tacoma: Located south of Seattle in Pierce County, Tacoma, despite being the state’s third-largest city, suffers from a reputation of being dangerous and dirty. It has a high crime rate (56.4 per 1,000 residents, 95% above the national average), expensive housing (median home value of $372,800), and poor air quality due to industrial pollution. These factors make it less appealing for long-term residence.
  3. Yakima: Known for its agricultural output, Yakima in central Washington is also one of the state’s poorest and most segregated cities. It has a poverty rate of 22.9%, a median household income of $46,261, and issues with discrimination and marginalization, especially affecting its large Hispanic population (49.4%). High crime rates (45.9 per 1,000 residents, 76% above national average) further diminish its appeal.
  4. Hoquiam: A former logging and fishing hub near Aberdeen in Grays Harbor County, Hoquiam has faced economic decline. With a poverty rate of 23.8%, a median household income of $37,500, and high unemployment (8.9%), it’s experiencing population decline as residents leave for better opportunities.
  5. Kelso: Situated in southwestern Washington in Cowlitz County, Kelso, adjacent to Longview and along the Columbia River, faces similar challenges. Its high poverty rate (23.1%), median income of $43,028, and high crime rate (51.9 per 1,000 residents, 88% higher than the national average) contribute to its declining population.
  6. Centralia: In southwestern Washington’s Lewis County, Centralia is known for its historic downtown but struggles economically. It has a poverty rate of 24.9%, a median household income of $40,057, and faces high unemployment (8.2%) and low educational attainment (15.5%). Its population has decreased by 1.8% since 2010.
  7. Bremerton: Across the Puget Sound from Seattle in Kitsap County, Bremerton, despite hosting the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, struggles with high living costs and congestion. It has a median home value of $339,900, a rent of $1,237, and a high crime rate (46.4 per 1,000 residents, 78% above the national average)​​.

Data from 2022 shows more people are searching to leave Washington than move in, with significant outflows concentrated around the Seattle Metropolitan Area, particularly in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. Factors driving this migration include unaffordable housing, regressive taxation, and rising crime rates.

For example, King County, housing Seattle, has an average home cost of nearly $875K, making it one of the most expensive U.S. housing markets. Consequently, other areas like Port Angeles, Blaine, and Camas are seeing higher inflows​

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