Live in California, want to retire in WA state

Asked by Martin Croskery, Belmont, CA Fri Dec 7, 2012

My wife and I currently live in the San Francisco bay area. We presently rent here but after a recent 17% rent increase decided to look at purchasing. However, we got very quickly disheartened with the prices and the construction quality of what was available here.

My plans for retirement had been made some time ago and that was to move out of California to either Vancouver, WA or Portland OR. Now that we have had a look at the quality and the price of what is available here in the Bay area we have decided that maybe buying somewhere and renting in Vancouver until we reitre is maybe the best option. So far, we prefer Vancouver as it is more retiree friendly

So, some questions. As residents of California, do we qualify for first time homebuyer programs in the State of WA? Is it easy to buy and rent an apartment or single family home in Vancouver?

Also, what areas of Vancouver are quiet but maybe 20 minutes or so away?

Thank you


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Paul W Thomp…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Vancouver, WA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
Martin, to answer one of your questions, a first time homebuyer is someone who has not owned a home for 3 years, so yes, you would qualify as a first time homebuyer. How is your credit and how much would you be comfortable with in terms of down payment? There are programs out there such as WA State Home Advantage that can be 0% down, FHA for 3.5% down, or you could look at Conventional financing for as little as 3% down, depending on credit score.

I agree with The Couv and blhart12 below in that Fairway Village is an excellent retirement community in Vancouver. It has a great golf course, in a good part of town, and is very well managed. I have lived in East Vancouver (Fisher's Landing to be exact) since 1999, and I cannot be happier living in this area. It has just about every amenity, restaurant, and major store close by with friendly people and is continuing to grow.

Call me or text me at 503-810-1119 and we can talk even more about your options.

Paul W Thompson
Mortgage Consultant
HomeStreet Bank
NMLS #404052
1 vote
Megan Paul, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Fri Dec 7, 2012

There are some great areas for active retirees in Vancouver plus nice communities within 20 minutes of Vancouver. You can have a brand new house for much less than you can rent in SFO. You already know the tax advantages, so won't bore you there, plus you have the joys of Portland without the headaches of gridlock like the Bay. I am very familiar with your area, my sons live in the Marina District. You will find lots of great Realtors here. Buyers Brokerage Inc is the only Exclusive Buyers Brokerage in Clark County, WA. We excel with people new to the area. Since we don't list any properties, our ethical responsibility is only to you, the buyer. Please check out my Trulia Profile and be sure to go to the website.

Hope to talk to you soon.

Megan Paul
1 vote
Great answer. It is imperative for one to find an exclusive buyer's agent to assist someone in their home search, especially one who is relocating out of state.
Flag Wed Feb 20, 2013
danadenes, Home Buyer, Bend, OR
Mon Nov 3, 2014
My husband & myself are retiring from Ca. To Bend,Or. Area. Need to know if we can apply for a loan here or if we must fly to Or. And do it there. Any help appreciated. We have $50,000 to put down but credit not so good as we filed bankruptcy due to housing crisis forced to short sell our home 3 1/2 yrs. ago.
0 votes
kleindesign, Home Owner, Vancouver, WA
Mon Feb 11, 2013
Look at Lake Shore area in Vancouver, Wa nice water views of Vancouver Lake. This area is less then 2 miles from I-5 in quite area of Vancouver and only 12 to downtown Portland.
0 votes
Matt Peebles, , Vancouver, WA
Wed Jan 23, 2013
Hi Martin,
A first time home buyer is defined as someone who has not owned a home in the last 3 years. Being a CA resident doesn't effect your options. Special financing can have income limits, loan amount limits, geographic restrictions and individual property restrictions.

There are several programs available in Vancouver / Clark County right now that may not exist in the Bay Area. If you're 10 years from moving the rules and requirements will be much different then.

The safest course of action would be to save a down payment and plan on a Conventional loan. I would recommend saving 5% down. When you're ready to move, see what kinds of special financing options are available at that time.

Matt Peebles
Home Team Funding
703 Broadway Street | Suite 640
Vancouver, WA 98660

Tel: 360-606-6100 / 503-534-6100

Mortgage Advisor | MLO 42418

A division of Pinnacle Capital Mortgage Corporation
WA CL-81395 | OR NMLS 81395 | Equal Housing Lender
0 votes
TheCouv, Home Buyer, Vancouver, WA
Wed Jan 16, 2013
Hi Martin,

How is your search going? You should check out Fairway Village off of S.E. 164th Avenue in East Vancouver. It is 55+ neighborhood but definitely not a "retirement home" atmosphere. It is technically a country club and the homes surround a 9-hole golf course. The homes are single family homes and some condos; it 20 minutes to downtown Portland (assuming good traffic) about half a mile to New Seasons (organic/local grocery) less than 1 mile to Whole Foods, and is probably one of the nicest neighborhoods in the entire city. If I were over 55, I'd buy in there myself.
0 votes
Brad Fix, Agent, Yacolt, WA
Mon Jan 14, 2013
There are many areas close to Vancouver I live north east of Battle. Ground on the Lewis river as I like to fish. some questions you need to ask yourself what do you want to do after retiring then look at areas where it is close to do what you like good luck
0 votes
home10415, Home Seller, Vancouver, WA
Mon Jan 14, 2013
Well the location of my home is rather quiet and yet close to just about any direction you may need to go in - be it to Airport, downtown Portland or DT Vancouver or business areas of Vancouver - stores are close, mall is less than miles - I live close to my job - about 8 miles, never face any traffic to speak of, I head out of town to the airport a lot and have no trouble - can get there in 15-20 mins.

0 votes
bhartl2, Home Buyer, Vancouver, WA
Mon Jan 14, 2013
I would like to suggest either Fishers Landing or Camas area,both east side of Vancouver.If you're into green style homes suggest you talk to Quail homes for that-only suggestion.I moved here in 2001 and rented for 6 months before deciding on a certain area of east side.
0 votes
Jirius Isaac, Agent, Kenmore, WA
Sat Dec 8, 2012

Isn't it amazing how many ideas people share on this forum. I live up in the Seattle area so do not know much about Vancouver except when visiting there and Portland, but what has been said is pretty much true. As to you qualifying for a loan, that should not be a problem & I would be happy to explain the advantages & disadvantages of different loan options. Feel free to contact me directly if you want to investigate. By the way, I am both a real estate broker & a loan officer.

Good luck to you in any case,
Jirius Isaac
Isaac Real Estate Team
Champions Real Estate Services
TriStar Finance #MLO-107799
Office: 425-483-6849 Cell: 206-841-9976
Winner of Seattle Magazines 5 Star
Real Estate Agent Best in Client Satisfaction Award
Mortgage Loan Originator Best in Client Satisfaction
Web Reference:
0 votes
home10415, Home Seller, Vancouver, WA
Sat Dec 8, 2012
Hello, Perhaps you could buy my house that is on the market at the moment - it is in absolute move in condition and is great for retirees - I am semi retired so I know this house works well as I have landscaped well so as not to overburdened every weekend with gardening. You can view the home at and listing ID is 23930537 and zio code 98682.

0 votes
Martin Crosk…, Home Buyer, Belmont, CA
Fri Dec 7, 2012
Just want to thank everyone that has replied to my original post. Really appreciate al the answers and thoughts.

Certainly not looking for retirement homes as my wife and I are very active climbers and cyclists and she is also a pilates teacher and will still want to work when I retire.

If you know the Bay area well, we live in Belmont, which is 30 miles south of San Francisco. Far enough away from the crowds but close enough when you want to visit. That is something like what we will be looking for. We both eat organic so it would be nice to have either a Wholefoods store/farmers markets or something similar close by, a gym or fitness club and access to cycle routes would also be a bonus. Wife wants at least two storey so two storey it is. New building would be great as I am not much into home improvements (neither the time or the talent!!)

I realise a lot can change in over 10-12 years but best to start planning sometime.

Again thanks to everyone that has taken the time to reply nd i promise hat i will get back to you as soon as I can.

Martin and Donesa
0 votes
Not only do we have miles of bike trails, so does Portland where you can ride your bike to the greatest farmer's market ever at PSU --start Googling. You can take your bike on the bus or the MAX just over the bridge. We not only have Whole Foods, we can do you one better: New Seasons--the local Whole Foods, better prices, better locally grown footprint. Check out Ridgefield, WA. Kayaking on the Columbia, bird santuary, brand new houses with bells and whistles. 10 to 12 years? Are you sure you want to wait that long? ; p
Flag Fri Dec 7, 2012
Brad Fix, Agent, Yacolt, WA
Fri Dec 7, 2012
There are some great homes just outside the Vancouver area more decided but close enough to make going to town easy lots of trees and water front properties makes retiring. to Washington a dream hope to hear from you thanks I live on the Lewis river near Battle Ground wa
0 votes
Philip Sutton, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Fri Dec 7, 2012
Good to hear you are moving out here to Vancouver! Where yes, tax requirements definitely favor retirees. If you do not own now you would most likely be qualified for the First time home buyer program. In years past it would take many years to qualify but now it is much easier. There is a 3.5% down on the typical FHA loan and there are some USDA loans in the out lying areas of Vancouver with 0% down.

There are so many wonderful and quiet areas surrounding Vancouver. Battle Ground, Brush Prairie, Camas, Washougal, and Ridgefield to name a few. Happy Home Hunting!
0 votes
Gloria Matth…, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Fri Dec 7, 2012
Hello Martin,

Yes, I have worked with many people choosing washington, and vancouver in particular, for their retirement destination.

As you probably realize, Washington has no income tax, which has been of benefit to many retirees in their consideration.

A first time homebuyer benefit, is available through FHA, which allows the 3.5% down payment, on approved credit to all home buyers, provided they have not owned a home for 2 years (i think its two, possibly 3 years), but a lender is best qualified to answer that question.

There are many new construction and existing home communities that would be a nice choice for you in vancouver. Some over 55 communities, if that is your preference. Having worked with many, I find that the neighborhood is important, but the over 55 designation, not so important for most, as long as a quality and/or established neighborhood is determined.

I have a website that you may find useful that DOES allow you to search specifically for senior housing, but you can also create an additional search, that would encompass the variety of homes and communities available here.

Let me know how I can assist you further.
Gloria Matthews

Advantage Realty Partners
0 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Fri Dec 7, 2012
Welcome to the Northwest. I don't work the Vancouver/Portland market, listen to the advice of the local agents for the best recommendations for neighborhoods, values etc. I can tell you that many people moving to the area prefer to live in Washington, where we have no state income tax but pay a large sales tax and shop in Oregon where there is no sales tax but they have a state income tax.
If you can swing it, buy sooner rather than later. Prices are starting to climb and rates are near all time lows. First time buyer's programs are not all they used to be, so whether you find one you qualify for or not, I wouldn't let that be the deciding factor. If you wait for a 3 year period to be in effect the benefits may pale in comparison to higher prices and rates that could kick in along the way.
We are much more affordable than the Bay area so you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Contact some of the Vancouver agents and interview them over the phone. You can also read their other responses, blog posts or check out their websites to get a sense of who you would like to represent you in your purchase. Once you select an agent, they can keep you up to date with the latest listings and changes in the market. I've done the same for other clients and it can work out nicely for all involved.
0 votes
Janine Hook, Agent, Battle Ground, WA
Fri Dec 7, 2012
Hi Martin--
The qualification for first time buyer status usually means that you haven't owned a home in the three years prior to purchase, without regard to where you were located. It is pretty easy to buy and rent out a single family home or attached home or condo and rent it until you are ready to retire. I have a client who did that a few years ago--they are still renting it out at this point. The homes that rent for a relatively high payment in proportion to the price of the home tend to be the smaller homes--not tiny, of course, but not huge either. A 3 bedroom/2 bath home in a good school district and neighborhood would be fine. Some of the quieter neighborhoods that are close enough for you are Felida, Salmon Creek, the Heights (mostly older homes and larger lots), Fisher's Landing, and Prune Hill. There are plenty of others to choose from, too, depending on the style and age you like. I'd be happy to help you investigate further!

Janine Hook
360-600-1050 cell or text
0 votes
Bardell Wagn…, , Vancouver, WA
Fri Dec 7, 2012
Hi Martin

We have a number of retirement communities in Vancouver for those that are 55 and older if that is a preference. Regarding your question about the first time home buyer, if you have not owned a home in 3 or more years, you are elligable for most, if not all programs. There are some excellent ones available, too. I would be extremely happy to answer questions about that, the area and much more for you. Please send me a message at either of my emaill addresses, text or old fasion phone call.

Very Best Regards

Bardell Wagner, Broker

Re/Max Equity Group, Inc
1301 SE Tech Center Dr. # 150
Vancouver Wa. 98683
office 360-256-5733
cell 360-606-4298
fax 360-256-6554
0 votes
Troy Jensen, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Fri Dec 7, 2012
Hi Martin

We did the very same thing, coming up from Santa Barbara about 13 years ago now and love the area, not wanting my pension taxed WA state right near the Oregon border was perfect. I am a Exclusive Buyers Agent and am happy to help from start to finish, give me a call anytime.

Thank you

Troy Jensen, Buyers Broker
Professional Realty services of WA
0 votes
Evie Hampton, Agent, Vancouver, WA
Fri Dec 7, 2012
Hi Martin!

My name is Evie Hampton and I am a full time real estate broker with Re/Max equity group in Vancouver, WA. My family and I also did the move but from Southern California 10 years ago. We have never looked back! We just love it up here as the quality of living is so much better in our opinion and nowhere near as expensive as California!
As far as qualifying for the first time home buyer program, you certainly will qualify! Also, I can help you with financing when the time comes. As far as renting, I can also help you with that! One of my favorite apartment complexes is in the city of Ridgefield, (20 minutes to downtown Portland) and it is close to shopping and restaurants and a very nice area. The complex is called Whipple Creek Village and you can google it to find out more about it. The apartments are clean and each one comes with a washer and dryer in the unit, as well as an attached garage or carport. They also look out to some wetlands. As far as quiet areas of Vancouver, most areas are fairly quiet unless if you live beside the freeway. If you would like me to send you any information, or if you would like to contact me, please know that I really love what I do for a living and would love to help you and your wife in any way I can! You can reach me by e-mail at or call me at 360-609-0086.
0 votes
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