Guide to Independent Living in Washington
Washington state is known for good coffee, mountain landscapes and an outdoor lifestyle. It’s becoming a popular retirement destination, with almost 16% of the state’s 7.3 million residents aged 65 and over. It’s not just the mild climate that attracts older adults; Washington is surprisingly budget-friendly. There’s no state income tax, so seniors can spend their retirement income enjoying their golden years. Although high housing costs impact the overall cost of living, common senior expenses such as health care and utilities are well below the national mean.
Seniors who have an active lifestyle and can live on their own without assistance have many independent living choices in Washington. These communities provide older adults with a home among peers that has convenient access to entertainment, dining and medical care. Many also offer hospitality services such as housekeeping and transportation.
This guide has information about the costs of independent living in the state and a comparison to the costs of other senior living options. It also has a list of free and low-cost resources that can help seniors in Washington enjoy their retirement.
How Much Does Independent Living Cost in Washington?
Note:There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.
Independent living costs in Washington average $3,900 per month. This is almost $1,000 higher than the national average of $2,925. Prices in Washington are also higher than those in nearby states. To the east, seniors in Idaho can expect to pay around $2,495 for independent living, and the average in Montana is $2,983. In Oregon, the cost averages $3,279, while further south in California, the average cost is $3,413 per month.
The United States
The Cost of Independent Living in Washington’s Top Cities
Independent living prices in Washington can differ greatly depending on where you live. The state’s largest city of Seattle has the least affordable independent living, with prices there averaging $4,388 per month. Prices in Wenatchee, in the center of the state, are close to the Washington median at $3,738. In Spokane, the cost sits at $3,177, while in the capital of Olympia, seniors can expect to pay around $3,123. The most affordable options are found in the northern city of Bellingham, where seniors pay around $2,990, and in Walla Walla in the south of the state, where prices average $2,087.
The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care
Washington has many different care options available to seniors, and understanding these options and the costs involved can help people make decisions about long-term care. Adult day health care offers an assortment of activities in a secure environment during daytime hours, typically when a primary carer is working. It’s the most affordable option at $2,600 per month. The next-cheapest option is independent living at $3,900, while assisted living provides personal care services and costs $6,000 per month. Seniors who prefer to remain living at home can look at homemaker services for $6,547 per month. Assistance from a home health aide is slightly more expensive at $6,578. Nursing home care offers the highest level of care, and the price reflects this, with a semiprivate room averaging $9,429.
Adult Day Health Care
Home Health Aide
Assisted Living Facility
Nursing Home (semiprivate room)
Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in Washington?
The short answer is no, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of living in an independent living community. That being said, those who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), may be able to take advantage of financial assistance programs in Washington to partially or fully cover the cost of care in Assisted Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need help with ADLs, read our guide to Assisted Living in Washington.
For more information about other ways to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc, read the section below.
How to Make Independent Living More Affordable in Washington
There’s no government help to pay for independent living, but seniors don’t have to pay for it completely out-of-pocket. Other funding options include:
- Reverse mortgage loans: This is a type of loan available to people aged 62 and over. The payout is based on the equity of the home and must be paid back once the home sells.
- Life insurance: Many insurance policies allow policyholders to access their benefits prior to death. It’s also possible to sell a policy to a third party.
- Annuities: An annuity provides regular payouts to people based on a lump-sum deposit. These payouts can be used to pay for senior living.
- Long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance policies may pay for the services provided in an independent living community, such as meals, transportation and housekeeping.
Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in Washington
Washington has a number of resources and programs designed to help residents as they age. Government and nonprofit organizations have free and low-cost services available to address a range of needs.
|Area Agencies on Aging||Contact local offices||There are 13 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) throughout Washington. Each has an Information and Assistance office that can provide information and referrals to local resources. Many also provide services such as senior transportation, home-delivered meals and assistance for caregivers. The exact services available depend on the needs of seniors in the region.|
|Washington State Council on Aging||(360) 725-2466||The State Council on Aging is an advocacy group that includes representatives from local communities, AAA advisory committees and people from the long-term care industry. The group advocates for aging and disability issues, and members also conduct community outreach, educating others about issues that impact older adults.|
|Aging and Long-Term Support Administration||(360) 438-7903||The mission of the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration is to help seniors and people with disabilities live with health, independence and dignity. It oversees many programs that help fund long-term care, such as home health care, and has information available to help people make decisions about their future care. Its programs also assist with health issues concerning seniors, such as fall prevention and Alzheimer’s disease.|
|Washington Community Living Connections Network||1-855-567-0252||The Community Living Connections Network helps people connect with resources and supports that can help them stay healthy, happy and independent. The website and helpline have a database of organizations in Washington that provide support. The CLC also provides options counseling and assistance to help seniors make plans for future care.|
|Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs||1-800-562-2308||The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs offers support to people who served in the military. It has qualified officers who can help veterans access pensions, health care and other benefits and compensation. It also has a Counseling and Wellness program that provides confidential counseling to veterans and their families.|
|Washington Assistive Technology Act Program||(800) 214-8731||The Washington Assistive Technology Act Program (WATAP) helps seniors access assistive technology to make tasks easier, allowing people to live independently for longer. WATAP has a device library, allowing seniors to try a device before they decide to buy. It also provides alternative financing and runs a classifieds service that helps older adults buy gently used devices.|
COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Washington Independent Living Communities
The following rules and guidelines were obtained from dshs.wa.gov/altsa/covid-19, as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to independent living communities and assisted living facilities.
This data has been most recently updated on 2/15/2022, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging.
Visiting Loved Ones
|Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?||Yes|
|Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?||No|
|Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?||Yes|
|Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?||Yes|
|Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives?||Yes|
|Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Outings and Group Activities
|Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?||Yes|
|Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?||No (Conditions Apply)|
|Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?||No|
|Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors
|Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?||Yes|
|Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|
|Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?||Yes|
Safety Measures for Residents
|Are staff members required to regularly screen residents for coronavirus symptoms?||Yes|
|Are residents relied on to screen themselves and self-report potential coronavirus symptoms?||No|
|Are staff members required to take residents’ temperatures?||Yes|
|Are residents being tested for coronavirus?||Yes (Conditions Apply)|