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Forbes Ranks Bellingham In “Top 25 Places To Retire”

Bellingham is no stranger to accolades about the quality of living, desirability, and fitness in this most subdued of towns. This week saw our fair city add one more award to the list: best place to retire. To be fair, Bellingham shares that honor with 24 other American cities listed in Forbes’ “Top 25 Places to Retire”, including Bellevue and Austin, Texas. However, since the list does not rank the cities in any particular order, we can still make the argument that we are the best!

Posturing aside, Bellingham is a great place to retire for a variety of reasons. Forbes lists the city’s role as a college town, our excellent economy, and relatively low average home price at $266,000 as the economic reasons to retire here. Low crime rate was also a factor. Perhaps the most appealing aspect, however, is the climate and walkability of the city.

The Western Front recently featured an article lauding Bellingham as the second most fitness-friendly city in the nation, based on a study done by New York financial investment platform SmartAsset.com. Modern health studies place an increasingly high premium on the importance of exercise at all ages, so being ‘walkable’ is definitely another point in Bellingham’s favor as a place to retire.

The appeal of Bellingham is undeniable across all age groups, reflected in the cities average growth rate of approximately 24% over the last 20 years (based off 2000 and 2010 census data). Being listed as a top place to retire certainly won’t hurt those growth rates. With small increases in enrollment at WWU year over year as well, the balance of age demographics in Bellingham works out well, providing a steady employment base as well as disposable income from retirees. That might be one factor in Forbes designating the Bellingham economy as a reason to retire here.

Forbes did have a few negatives for Bellingham as well, primarily the high cost of living (9% above the national average) and an unfavorable tax climate. These factors apply across Western Washington for the most part, and they certainly aren’t new to Bellingham. The award itself speaks to the fact that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Bellingham was listed in the same category by Forbes last year as well, so the city’s desirability seems to constant to a degree.

Whether the continued acknowledgement by Forbes will lead to an influx of retirees moving to Bellingham remains to be seen. Construction in the area is already working to supply the demand for housing, with high value “empty-nester” homes forming a key portion of home sales in the area.

Do you think Bellingham deserves the distinction as a great place to retire? Are you retired yourself, or know someone who chose to retire here? How about any other awards that Bellingham has won deserve a shoutout? Let us know in the comments!

Tobias Osterhaug

Tobias Osterhaug

Tobias is a full-time contributor to Bellingham Business News, covering local business events, tech news, and advice for job seekers in the Bellingham area. He graduated from Western Washington University with a double major in History and Chinese Language & Cultural Studies, and has previously worked as a coordinator in Western’s Writing Center.

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