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Is Washington a Good State to go Off the Grid?

Updated on October 4, 2014

Washington has a lot going for it when it comes to going off the grid. Temperate climates (for the most part), an abundance of natural resources including timber and water and it is located in the western region of the country. But, there are some unsavory areas that might cause one to hesitate going off the grid in this state.

1. Weather:

It rains a lot in the state of Washington, make no mistake about that. Washington is considered to have a Marine West Coast climate. The Olympic Peninsula is one of the only areas with a temperate rain forest in North America. To the west of the Cascades temperatures are mild and humid and temperatures rarely go past 79 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. In the winter temperatures seldom drop below 46 degrees Fahrenheit. However in the eastern part of the state the summers are warm and the winters are cool.

2. Precipitation and Snowfall:

The average annual precipitation in Washington is 38.4 inches. In the western part of the state you will experience frequent cloud cover, fog and dreary days. The Cascade mountain ranges receive up to 200 inches of annual snowfall. Washington is the 29th wettest state in the union. I thought it would be more than that but still you won't be striving for water here.

3. Building Codes Alternative Housing Materials:

Washington has a reputation for a high level of bureaucracy and that rings true regarding residential land-use regulations which are extensive and worse than average.

4. Cottage Businesses:

Washington allows cottage food operations of potentially non-hazardess foods direct to consumer only. Washington does require some sort of permit, registration or license and has a sales limit ranging from $500 to $15,000 dollars. Washington also requires labeling.

5. Homeschooling laws:

Washington has moderate regulation when it comes to homeschooling children. The state requires parents to send notification, test scores and/or professional evaluation of a student's progress.

6. Rainwater Harvesting:

Rainwater harvesting is legal and encouraged in the state of Washington.

7. Taxation:

  • Washington's total tax burden is 8.9%, 35th lowest and below average of the rest of the country.
  • There is NO income tax in the state of Washington.
  • Property taxes are governed by state laws that require county assessors to appraise all property at 100 percent of its market value. Regarding per capita property tax, Washington is average, the state does offer a property tax exemption for anyone with income less than $35,000.
  • Sales Tax is 7 to 9.5% depending on where and type of sale.
  • Washington has an estate tax.

8. Gay Marriage:

Same sex marriage has been legal in the state of Washington since December 6th, 2012.

9. Gun Laws:

Permit to Purchase Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns: NO

Registration of Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns: NO

Licensing of Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns: NO

Permit to Carry Rifles and Shotguns NO, Permit to Carry Handguns: YES

Washington is ranked 40 out of 50 in the best state for gun owners poll (#1 being the best). The reason that Washington has such a bad rating is that there are a lot of prohibitions on where you can possess and store ammunition and firearms. 31% of the population of Washington are gun owners.

10 Garden and Food Laws:

Raw milk sales are legal in Washington, you can even buy it in the stores. I can find nothing that states that Washington would not allow front yard gardens so I would assume that they do unless I hear otherwise.

11. Raising farm animals:

Farm animals can graze year round in Washington although in the northern and eastern areas it can get very snowy in which case you might have to supplement their feed. The city of Seattle allows up to 8 fowls per lot and the city of Bellevue allows 6. Check with your city to be precise. If you plan on selling eggs at a retail outlet, however, you will need an egg handler's license.

12. Property Prices and Cost of Living:

Cost of Living
The United States

The average median price for a home in the state of Washington is $249,500. This is much higher than the average priced home of $170,100 across the United States. I was surprised to find this but I believe the reason is that Seattle and the nearby cities skew this number. The prices for homes in the country and in the eastern part of the state tend to be lower than average

Washington's average cost of living score is 117 based on a U.S. Average of 100. Based on this chart Washington is on average more expensive than the rest of the United States.

13. Growing Season:

Most of the state of Washington has a decent growing season, remember this is the Evergreen State! There are parts in the eastern part of the state, further north or near the Cascades where you might need a green house to supplement your growing season.

Washington has a lot going for it as a state. It has beautiful scenery, is located next to the Pacific Coast and has a great deal of natural resources. Washington does get earthquakes and has active volcanoes. Who can forget the explosion of Mount St. Helen's (an active volcano) in 1980 and again in 2008 (although to a much milder degree). Also, the crime rate is about average. However, Washington has become extremely bureaucratic and the laws in Washington tend to lean liberal and because of that I would think twice before going off the grid in this state.

Would You Like to go Off the Grid in Washington State?

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    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      18 months ago from The High Seas

      Well this was a really interesting article and I thank you for it. I am going to take a look at your other writings now too.

    • profile image


      19 months ago

      I was born and raised in Washington state and there are also a lot of areas to live off grid and it only rains on the far west side of the state the east side is normal rain conditions and cold winters ,,

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      20 months ago from Manhattan

      Thanks for the warning.

    • Crystal Starheart profile image

      Crystal Starheart 

      20 months ago from Malo

      People don't know what is waiting for them in Washington state, especially NE Washington: See Facebook -- Ferry County Crime

      There are areas in Washington State where people can go, who then become targeted victims of the local predators in the area and the surrounding inhabitants who benefit and profit from their crimes. Ferry County is one of those areas.

      Some Places Need a Warning Label — Now You Can’t Say You Weren’t Warned

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      20 months ago from Manhattan

      Usually liberal leaning states have a lot of rules and regulations, which prohibit going off the it makes it less desirable to me.

    • profile image

      Susan Galvan 

      20 months ago

      I'm curious, does a state leaning toward liberal make it less than desirable to you? To me it's a plus.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      One inaccuracy is that Washington State is a pretty big state and a big huge portion of it is arid and dry. To say that WA is a wet rainy climate when you're actually just talking about the northwestern corner of it is not quite correct. Most of the rainy wet areas are too highly populated to go off grid, anyway.

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      5 years ago from Manhattan

      Yes, it is very beautiful but yeah that sales tax seems huge especially since neighboring Oregon doesn't have one at all.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I have traveled there and loved it, even with the rain. The sales tax was a big turn off for me personally but I loved the farmers markets that were available. I didn't know they had no income tax either.

    • WillStarr profile image


      5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Like Patti, I too would love to live in a houseboat in a marina. I used to spend the weekends in my small boat in a marina outside Oklahoma City. I loved it!

    • Brie Hoffman profile imageAUTHOR

      Brie Hoffman 

      5 years ago from Manhattan

      That sounds nice to could still do it!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      5 years ago

      I have often dreamed about living on a houseboat in Seattle. I guess the movie got to me!


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