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Oak Harbor, Washington

On Washington's beautiful Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor is a waterfront town about two hours north of Seattle. The rocky cliffs of Deception Pass and the Deception Pass Bridge are minutes away. Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is just outside of town.

The 1930s construction of the bridge, which links Whidbey Island with Fidalgo Island to the north, and the 1942 arrival of the naval station are what put Oak Harbor on the map. Today the town is Whidbey Island's largest incorporated population center.

The downtown is dotted with shops, eateries, historic buildings and galleries, as tourists come to enjoy the maritime culture and authentic, weathered charm. The Whidbey Playhouse has a full schedule. The town marina is busy with all kinds of pleasure craft.

The area has numerous beaches, many popular with vacationers, while Dugualla Bay's beach is mostly only known to locals and is often empty (except for local wildlife).

Cost of Living

Oak Harbor has an overall cost of living 13% higher than the national average.

The median household income is $55,677.

Real Estate

The median home price is $455,000. This is a 25% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $385,000.

Estimates are that Oak Harbor real estate prices will increase by 6% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,225 per month.


Oak Harbor has 24,000 residents and has grown by 9% during the last decade.

The median age is 30. For comparison, the median age of the U.S. population is 38.

Oak Harbor does not have a hospital, but Whidbey General Hospital is 10 miles away in Coupeville.

The crime rate is below the national average.

The earthquake risk is 128% higher than the national average.

Oak Harbor is popular with military families.


The combined sales tax rate is 8.9%.

Washington does not have an income tax so no retirement income, including Social Security benefits, is taxed.

The state offers a property tax exemption for people age 61 or better whose annual income is less than their county's threshold. For people who qualify for the exemtion, their property's assessed value is frozen as of their application date, reducing future taxes. They may also deduct up to $70,000 of their home's value if they meet certain income requirements.

The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Oak Harbor is .81%. The annual taxes on a $455,000 home are approximately $3,686, without a homestead exemption.

Mortgages for Retirees

As people live longer and mortgage rates are at historic lows, more and more retired folks are considering obtaining a mortgage rather than paying cash for a new home. You are never "too old" to get a mortgage, thanks to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act, as long as you have the means to do so.

Having said that, retirees face some unique challenges when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will look at the same criteria as they would for a young first time homebuyer, including your credit history, debt to income ratio and monthly income. The good news is that Social Security benefits and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts count as income.

However, because retirement accounts become depleted over time they have a defined expiration date. As a result, a mortgage lender will want to know that the distribution income will continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.

It is also important to keep in mind that if your retirement accounts consist of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or other "volitle" investments, mortgage lenders will only use 70% of the value in the retirement accounts to determine your mortgage qualifcation.

And while Social Security counts as income, if you are drawing on a family member’s record, such as survivor benefits or spousal benefits, then the income must be documented as payable for at least three years from the mortgage application date.

If you cannot qualify for a traditional mortgage, then a reverse mortgage might be an option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also have programs that can make home buying easier. Check with a reverse mortgage lender or these goverment agencies to see loans and programs available to you.



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