The West Puget Sound area has a mixed climate depending on where each community is located. Some areas have the typical Pacific Northwest heavy rainfall, while others sit in the rain shadow of the mountains and enjoy more moderate climates. However, regardless of the season, many people enjoy outdoor activities and a healthy lifestyle in the coastal and mountainous communities in Northwest Washington.
Building a new custom home in West Puget Sound ensures a lifetime of beautiful views, fresh air, and access to the majestic mountains of Olympic National Park. Retirees are attracted to the areas with consistently moderate weather, families appreciate the welcoming communities, and young professionals can be close to larger cities without the higher cost of living.
Size: 2,671 square miles
Major cities: Port Angeles, Forks, Sequim, Ozette
Median property value: $220,200
Although Clallam County covers approximately 2,600 square miles, almost 35 percent of that area is water, and the entire southeast region features the heavily forested Olympic National Park. Home to the westernmost points in the continental United States, the county sits on the Olympic Peninsula, and more than one-third of the area is on the coastline. The town names Forks and Port Angeles might seem familiar from the popular Twilight series, which is set there. With the county being surrounded by so much water, it’s not surprising that both residents and tourists enjoy scenic hikes along the shore, boating, kayaking, and many other outdoor activities.
Port Angeles is the largest city in the county, with almost 20,000 residents. Mild winters and summers that don’t get too hot make it an attractive place for retirees and outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate relatively moderate weather for most of the year. Although the Pacific Northwest is known for its rainfall, Port Angeles sits in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, making it significantly less rainy than Seattle. The deepwater harbor serves as a marine hub for businesses that operate in the Pacific Rim and Puget Sound.
Schools in the county are above average, making it attractive to young families, and the cost of living is relatively low compared to other areas in the state. The senior-friendly towns are also home to many retirees who come for the fresh air, moderate climate, and healthy lifestyle. The most common types of jobs in the region are in administration, retail service, and healthcare.
Size: 2,183 square miles
Major cities: Port Townsend, Port Ludlow, Queets
Median property value: $291,200
Just south of Clallam County, Jefferson County is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west and Puget Sound on the east, with Mount Olympus and Olympic National Park occupying most of the middle. Residents throughout this county tend to be more liberal even though the communities in the east and west are geographically separated by a mountain range and, therefore, do not tend to interact. The eastern part of the county is popular among retirees primarily because of its moderate climate.
Bounded by the mountainous barrier of the national park to the west, the eastern part of the county is mostly accessible by bridge from Kitsap County to the south, the highway from Port Angeles to the west, and ferry from Whidbey Island to the east. The largest employer is Jefferson Healthcare, followed by the Port Townsend Paper Mill. Most of the activity in Jefferson County is centered around the Port Townsend area, which is the only incorporated city. This small, charming city is known for its Victorian buildings, local cultural events, waterfront retail district, and marine trades industry.
Western Jefferson County, along the Pacific Ocean, has a wetter climate because, unlike the eastern part of the county, there is nothing to block the winds coming from the sea. This area is less densely populated, and the cost of living tends to be lower. The local economy is more dependent on logging rather than wood processing, and the feel is primarily rural.
Size: 1,051 square miles
Major cities: Shelton, Harstine Island, Skokomish, Kamilche, Hoodsport
Median property value: $201,800
Mason County lies to the southeast of Jefferson County, nestled into West Puget Sound with ample shoreline on the eastern border and the Olympic National Forest occupying the northwest corner. The area ranks high as a prime location for retirees, especially those who enjoy nature, outdoor activities, and the arts.
Shelton, the westernmost city on Puget Sound, has a classic Pacific Northwest feel with significant annual rainfall and a dry period in the summer. A historic mill town, the area still serves the wood products industry and proudly calls itself the “Christmas Tree Capital.” The Hood Canal area in the northeastern part of the county is a popular tourist area with a thriving restaurant scene, cultural events, and outdoor activities, including world-class scuba diving near Sund Rock.
In the less populated western part of the county, Matlock is the largest community, with a population in the hundreds. The primary economic driver is logging, and the area is ideal for those who enjoy rural living. Although it is relatively isolated, Matlock is only about 20 minutes from Shelton, so there is easy access to retail establishments and amenities when needed.
Size: 566 square miles
Major cities: Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard, Bremerton, Poulsbo
Median property value: $288,800
Located on a peninsula across Puget Sound from Seattle, Kitsap County is best known for the presence of the United States Navy, which is not surprising considering there are more than 200 miles of saltwater shoreline in a relatively compact area. Surrounded mostly by water, residents connect to other counties primarily by ferry and the Hood Canal Bridge in Port Gamble. The county is roughly divided into north and south regions, with Silverdale marking the bottom of the northern region and Bremerton capping the southern part.
Tucked into an inlet, the largest city is Bremerton. Home to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, the 40,000-resident city has a similar climate to nearby Seattle, which commuters can connect to via two ferry lines, one that takes an hour and a faster option that takes just 28 minutes.
With good public schools and proximity to cultural events, the area is well-suited for families. Young professionals are also drawn to the area for its healthy lifestyle, easy access to outdoor activities, and thriving culinary scene. The cost of living is high compared to the other counties in West Puget Sound, but lower than Seattle’s King County, making it a good location for commuters or those who like to be near the amenities of a larger city but with a more suburban feel.
Size: 1,806 square miles
Major cities: Gig Harbor, Anderson Island, Artondale, Lakebay, Purdy
Median property value: $271,300
Gig Harbor has an attractive historic waterfront with shops and fine dining that make it a popular tourist stop. Within 20 minutes of Tacoma via bridge and an hour of Seattle, this quaint town is great for families who want to live near the water and be close to a larger city. Across Carr Inlet, the Key Peninsula is home to smaller towns, two state parks, and a single school district that feeds several elementary schools into one high school in Purdy.
If you’re considering building a new home in the West Puget Sound area, the experts at Adair Homes are here to guide you through the process. We have helped thousands of families move into their dream homes at a broad range of budget levels. Whether you want to maximize your water view, downsize to a smaller footprint, or make sure you have enough space for a growing family, we’ll help you find the right floor plan for your needs. Contact us today to learn more.