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Living in Olympia Washington - EVERYTHING You Need to Know

What is Living in Olympia Washington Like?

Olympia, Washington, is the state's capital and located in the South Puget Sound region. Known for its beautiful natural surroundings and a strong sense of community, Olympia is an excellent place for those who enjoy outdoor activities and a slower-paced lifestyle. With a population of around 54,000, Olympia is a smaller city with much to offer its residents.

One of the most popular attractions in Olympia is the Olympia Farmers Market, which features fresh produce, handmade crafts, and other goods from local vendors. The city also has several parks, including Priest Point Park and Tumwater Falls Park, which offer hiking trails, picnic areas, and other outdoor recreational opportunities.

Olympia's economy is diverse, with major industries including government, healthcare, education, and retail. The city's largest employer is the state government, with numerous state agencies and offices in Olympia. The city is also home to the South Puget Sound Community College and the Evergreen State College.

The cost of living in Olympia is relatively affordable compared to other cities in the state, with housing costs being one of the most significant expenses. The city's housing market is competitive, with low inventory and high demand, but affordable options are still available. Olympia also offers a high quality of life, excellent schools, a strong sense of community, and a laid-back lifestyle.

With its beautiful natural surroundings, diverse economy, and affordable cost of living, living in Olympia, Washington, might be the right choice for you and your family. Read on to learn more about living in Olympia, including info on Olympia neighborhoods, schools, cost of living in Olympia, and pros and cons of living in Olympia, to see if moving to and living in Olympia, Washington, is the right decision for you!

The Moving to Olympia Washington Team

Let our team of trusted professionals help you buy or/and sell a home in Olympia, Washington. To connect with a local expert/real estate professional in Olympia, Washington, CLICK HERETo start receiving emails with homes that match your criteria anywhere in Washington, CLICK HERE and sign up for Listing Alert. With a little info on what, where, and how much, you'll get newly listed homes matching your criteria sent to your inbox as they hit the market. This can give you a big leg up in your home search.

The first step in the home-buying process is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Todd Davidson is an experienced mortgage broker and can help you get the best financing option for your home purchase. Not quite ready yet? Todd can help you put together a plan to get you there. Whether you're thinking a few months or a year or more if you want to buy a home, reach out to Todd and he can help. CLICK HERE to email Todd and set up a call to get the process started or just call him at 971-275-2465. 

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Todd Davidson

Mortgage Broker

What is the Cost of Living in Olympia Washington?

If you're exploring a move to Olympia, Washington, or any place, the cost of living would be a significant factor in your decision-making. I calculated the REAL cost of living in Olympia, Washington, by factoring in today's costs for housing (rent and own), utilities, food, transportation, healthcare, and other necessities to live. To live in Olympia, Washington, and rent, you would need to make $45,000 a year. To live in Olympia, Washington, and buy a home, you would need to make $70,000 a year. Rental amount is based on current low end cost of studio or one bedroom, purchase is based on recent low end sales of a three bedroom and monthly payment with 20% down.

Cost of Living

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Top Neighborhoods in Olympia Washington

A challenge you'll face when relocating to Olympia, Washington, is selecting the right neighborhood. The city offers an array of remarkable communities with top-rated schools, stunning green spaces, and a host of activities to explore. Below are some of the best neighborhoods in Olympia, Washington, to consider:

South Capitol

South Capitol is a mix of historic homes and modern apartment buildings, with plenty of green space and parks throughout the neighborhood. Some of the parks in the area include Sylvester Park, Heritage Park, and Capitol Lake. The Washington State Capitol Campus is also nearby, which houses the state government and several historic buildings. Students in the South Capitol neighborhood attend Pioneer Elementary School, Washington Middle School, and Olympia High School. If living in Olympia, Washington, check with the Olympia School District to verify which schools your kids will attend.

Washington State Capitol in Olympia Washington


Eastside is a diverse neighborhood with a mix of single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses. The neighborhood is home to the Eastside Farmers Market, open from June to October, and several parks, including Lions Park and Watershed Park. Schools in the area are Madison Elementary School, Reeves Middle School, and Avanti High School. If living in Olympia, Washington, check with the Olympia School District to verify which schools your kids will attend.

Bigelow Highlands

Bigelow Highlands is a peaceful and quiet neighborhood with a mix of single-family homes and townhouses. The community is close to the Chehalis Western Trail, which offers miles of walking and biking trails. The neighborhood is also close to several parks, including Yauger Park and Grass Lake Nature Park. Public schools in the area are Garfield Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School, and Capital High School. If living in Olympia, Washington, check with the Olympia School District to verify which schools your kids will attend.

West Bay Drive

West Bay Drive is a charming and picturesque neighborhood located in Olympia, Washington, along the western shore of Budd Inlet. This residential area offers a mix of single-family homes and apartments, many with stunning views of the water and surrounding nature areas. One of the neighborhood's highlights is the West Bay Waterfront Park, which provides public beach access, walking trails, and picnic areas. The nearby Percival Landing Park is also a popular spot for outdoor recreation and hosts several events throughout the year. The neighborhood is conveniently located near downtown Olympia, providing easy access to shops, restaurants, and other local businesses. Some popular dining options include the Westside Tavern and Anthony's Hearthfire Grill. Students in the West Bay Drive neighborhood attend Garfield Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School, and Olympia High School. If living in Olympia, Washington, check with the Olympia School District to verify which schools your kids will attend.

Budd Inlet, Puget Sounds, in Olympia Washington

East Bay Drive

East Bay Drive is a beautiful waterfront neighborhood located on the eastern shore of Budd Inlet, a part of Puget Sound. The neighborhood has a mix of single-family homes and apartments, many offering stunning water views and nearby nature areas. The neighborhood is home to East Bay Waterfront Park, which offers public beach access, picnic areas, and a playground. The nearby East Bay Public Plaza hosts community events and features a performance stage, and the adjacent Hands On Children's Museum is a popular destination for families with young kids. Restaurants and cafes in the neighborhood include Budd Bay Cafe, Dockside Bistro & Wine Bar, and Swing Wine Bar. Students in the East Bay Drive neighborhood attend Madison Elementary School, Reeves Middle School, and Olympia High School.

If moving to Olympia, Washington, and you'd like to buy a home in one of these fabulous neighborhoods, CLICK HERE to sign up for LISTING ALERT to be the first to know when a home matching your criteria gets listed for sale in Olympia, Washington.

Public Schools in Olympia Washington

If you live in Olympia, Washington, your kids will attend public school in the Olympia School District. The district offers a  high-quality education to students of all ages. The Olympia School District serves 9,000 students in 19 schools.


According to, the Olympia School District is ranked as the #11 best school district in Washington for the 2022-23 school year, with an overall A grade. The district boasts high graduation rates, with over 92% of students graduating on time, well above the state average. If you live in Olympia, Washington, your kids have access to an excellent education!

Top Destinations & Attractions in Olympia Washington

If you're relocating to Olympia, Washington, and curious about the activities and entertainment available, you'll be pleased to find there's a wide variety of options to choose from. Here are some of the most popular destinations, attractions, and events that you won't want to miss while living in Olympia, Washington:

Capitol Lake Park: is a beautiful and popular park in the heart of Olympia, Washington. The park is situated adjacent to the Washington State Capitol Building, and its centerpiece is Capitol Lake, a 260-acre man-made lake that was created in the early 1950s. Capitol Lake Park is home to several important historical landmarks. The park features a 24-foot-tall totem pole carved in 1989 by Native American artists from the Pacific Northwest. The totem pole represents the heritage and culture of the local indigenous tribes. Another notable landmark in the park is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, a replica of the original wall in Washington, D.C. The memorial honors the more than 58,000 Americans who died during the Vietnam War.

Washington State Capitol: The Washington State Capitol is a must-see attraction in Olympia. The capitol building is home to the governor's office, the Washington State Legislature, and the offices of many state agencies. Visitors can take a free guided tour of the capitol building to learn about the state's history and government.

Olympia Farmers Market: The Olympia Farmers Market is popular with foodies and families. The market is open on weekends from April through October and offers a wide variety of fresh produce, artisanal foods, and handmade crafts.

Hands-On Children's Museum: The Hands-On Children's Museum is an excellent destination for families with young kids. The museum features interactive exhibits that encourage learning through play. Kids can explore a giant treehouse, build with blocks, and learn about science and technology.

Lakefair: Lakefair is an annual summer festival in Olympia. The festival features a carnival, live music, a parade, and a fireworks show. Lakefair is a great way to experience the local culture and community.

South Puget Sound Wildlife Area: The South Puget Sound Wildlife Area is a beautiful natural in Olympia. The area features wetlands, forests, and saltwater beaches. Visitors can hike, birdwatch, and fish in the area.

Olympia Film Society: The Olympia Film Society is a non-profit organization that promotes independent cinema in Olympia. The society hosts screenings of classic and contemporary films, live music, and other cultural events.

Tumwater Falls Near Olympia Washington

Tumwater Falls Park: Tumwater Falls Park is a beautiful natural area in Olympia. The park features a waterfall, hiking trails, and picnic areas. Visitors can also learn about the area's history at the park's interpretive center.

Pros and Cons of Living in Olympia Washington

Living in Olympia Washington Pros

  1. Natural Beauty: Olympia is situated at the southern end of Puget Sound and is surrounded by beautiful forests, lakes, and mountains. Residents enjoy access to some of the most stunning natural scenery in the country and a mild climate that makes outdoor activities possible all year round.

  2. Thriving Arts Scene: Olympia is home to a vibrant arts community with many galleries, theaters, and music venues. The city also hosts several annual arts festivals, including the Olympia Arts Walk and the Procession of the Species.

  3. Strong Economy: Olympia is the capital city of Washington State, home to many government offices and agencies. The city also has a thriving private sector, with diverse businesses, including healthcare, education, and technology.

  4. Great Schools: Olympia is served by the Olympia School District, consistently ranked among the best in the state. The district has a reputation for academic excellence and strong community involvement, with various programs and resources to support student success.

  5. Active Lifestyle: Olympia is an excellent place for people who enjoy an active lifestyle. The city has a network of parks and trails perfect for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. There are also several fitness centers and sports leagues for residents to participate in.

  6. Cultural Diversity: Olympia is a diverse and inclusive city with residents from various cultural backgrounds. The city celebrates this diversity through events like the Olympia Ethnic Fest, which showcases the music, food, and traditions of different cultures worldwide.

Living in Olympia Washington Cons

  1. Rainy weather: While the Pacific Northwest is known for its natural beauty, it is also known for its rainy weather. Olympia receives an average of 50 inches of rain annually, which can be a downside for those who prefer sunny, dry climates.

  2. Cost of living: Olympia's cost of living is slightly higher than the national average, particularly regarding housing costs. While it's less expensive than nearby Seattle or Portland, residents should expect to pay more for rent or a mortgage than in other parts of the country.

  3. Traffic: As Olympia continues to grow, traffic has become an increasingly frustrating issue. Rush hour can be a headache for commuters, particularly on major roads like Interstate 5 and Highway 101.

  4. Limited job opportunities: While there are job opportunities in Olympia, the job market is less robust than in larger cities like Seattle. Some residents may need to commute to nearby towns for work, which can add to traffic and transportation costs.

  5. Homelessness: As with many cities, Olympia has a visible homeless population. While the city has tried to address the issue, it can concern some residents and visitors.

  6. Distance from major cities: Olympia is relatively far from larger cities like Seattle and Portland, which can be a con for people who regularly visit these urban centers.

Olympia Waterfront

FAQs About Living in Olympia Washington

What is Olympia known for?

Olympia, Washington, is know for several things but its biggest claims to fame is its role as the state capital of Washington, making it a hub for government activity and politics.

What cities are nearby Olympia Washington?

Living in Olympia, Washington, you will be just over 60 miles from Seattle, the states largest city. But what cities are close by? There are a number of great cities close to Olympia, Washington: Tumwater, Lacey, Yelm, Centralia, Chehalis, Lakewood, Tacoma, and University Place are all in close proximity to Olympia.

What is the weather like in Olympia?

Living in Olympia, Washington, you can expect mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. During the winter months, the average high temperatures range from 44°F to 50°F, and the average low temperatures range from 32°F to 37°F. The city occasionally experiences snowfall in the winter, but it is relatively rare and typically does not accumulate heavily. Summers are mild to warm and dry, with average high temperatures ranging from 75°F to 81°F with little to no rainfall. The city occasionally experiences heat waves in the summer when temperatures get into the high 80s and 90s. Living in Olympia, Washington, you can expect to get around 51 inches of rain annually. Most of the rainfall happens in the fall and winter, and some in spring.


Does Olympia Washington have good public schools?

Yes. ranks Olympia School District, #11 in the state of Washington. With high graduation rates and an A rating, kids who live in Olympia, Washington, will get a good education!

Who are some large employers in Olympia Washington?

If living in Olympia, Washington, some top employers in the area include the State of Washington, which employs over 45,000 people, Providence Health & Services, with over 4,000 employees, Washington State University, with over 2,500 employees, Evergreen State College, with over 1,200 employees, and Thurston County, with over 1,000 employees. The state government is by far the largest employer in the area, with the headquarters of many state agencies located in Olympia.

Is Olympia Washington safe?

Living in Olympia, Washington, you will find it a very safe city. The crime rates in Olympia are lower than the state and national average. According to recent statistics, the overall crime rate in Olympia is 49% lower than the national average. Property crime, which includes theft and burglary, is 44% lower than the national average, and violent crime, including assault and robbery, is 59% lower than the national average.

I want to relocate to Olympia.  How do I make it happen?

You've come to the right spot if you're looking to move to Olympia Washington.  There’s a lot of information on this website to help including some helpful links below. If you want to ask questions, try our Facebook Group > Moving to Washington  where we have broad group of locals to answer any question you might have. If you’re looking to buy a home in the Olympia area, getting pre-approved for a mortgage should be your first step. For Mortgage Info, reach out to me. I would love to tell you more about what living in Olympia, Washington, is like as well as help with your mortgage if you decide to purchase a home.

Video's About Moving and Living in Olympia Washington

Elizabeth Davidson - Realtor - About Me Video

Elizabeth Davidson - Realtor - About Me

Elizabeth Davidson - Selling Your House

Elizabeth Davidson - Realtor -  Listing your home

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