Over the last few years Washington State has been trying to push sweeping tax changes through the legislature including an attempt at creating a capital gains tax at the local state level. That is currently being challenged in court. Washington State remains free of an income tax and that is a substantial draw to the state for retirees.
Washington continues to be one of the most expensive real estate markets in the US and that can act as a deterrent for retirees moving here from other areas. However Washington has a very strong and growing economy and that is creating good paying jobs that tend to lure families to the state. Many retirees want to stay close to their families, particularly grand children. This continues to form an anchor for many retirees as younger people are flocking to the state in great numbers.
Washington's moderate center left politics were always a draw for both liberals and somewhat conservative people but during the last few years the state government has made a strong California-like move to the left. For some this may be a good thing and could be a draw, but for others it is a negative.
States with moderate politics tend to be the most desirable because they welcome a variety of viewpoints and tend not to chase away people. California chases away people as does states opposite California like Mississippi. Washington has enjoyed political moderation for decades. but as I mentioned above, the state now seems to be following California. This despite the horrific problems we see happening in that state these days.
So I believe the merits of Washington State still outweigh the negatives, but trends are moving towards a less desirable stopping point for retirees. This will be a disadvantage to states that have lots of retirees such as Arizona and Florida. In those two states the voting population is older and tend to have legislatures more in tune with the needs of the senior population.
Washington State is one of the few states that is getting younger. Currently we rank 43rd of 51 (DC is included) for residents over the age of 65. A decade ago we were ranked in the middle of the pack. The current median age is 38. That compares to the "oldest" state, Maine with a median age of 45 and the "youngest" state, Utah with a median age of 31. States with the most people over age 65 are Maine with 21.8% followed by Florida with 21.3%. West of the Rockies, the leader is Hawaii with 19.6%. Wow Oregon is ahead of Arizona by a smidgen with 18.6%!
So that's the trend and things can and do change. I am guessing that Oregon has received a great many retirees from neighboring California because Oregon is definitely not as retiree friendly as Washington State. That's another post.