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Living a Beach Lifestyle in San Juan Islands, Washington

If you are one of those people who has always wanted to live on an island with the great beaches and coastline you would expect, the San Juan Islands are your chance (actually you have 450 chances, although only 4 of the islands have ferry service). Located off the coasts of Washington and British Columbia, the islands area popular tourist destination.. The setting, the tranquility, and the scenery are world class. The water might be cold, but the beaches and coasts are very pretty.

Orcas is the largest of the San Juans at about 57 square miles and a little over 4,400 residents. Eastsound is the largest town on this island. Other hamlets there include Orcas, West Sound, Deer Harbor, Rosario, Olga, and Doe Bay. Nearby San Juan Island has slightly more residents (6,800). It has the only incorporated town in the islands, Friday Harbor, a quaint and historic fishing village. Life in the San Juans is quiet and tends to center around outdoor activities like hiking, bird and whale watching, kayaking. There is one golf course that we know of.

Where to Retire in San Juan Islands and Home Prices

The real estate market and development is very active, although we are not aware of any specific 55+ or active adult communities. Many of the people who live on the San Juan Islands are retired or just come on weekends or for vacations.

According to one real estate company, it is very hard to find a home for less than $300,000, and most go for a half million or even over a million. Use this link to see some listings on Friday Island.

What Is Special about San Juan Islands

Being able to live on an island; incredible scenery and outdoor activities; small town charm; Mount Constitution; Moran State Park; Obstruction State Park; Madrona Point Park; Rosario Resort and Spa (on National Register of Historic Places); outstanding boating; whale watching; Aproximada (the Boat Builder); San Juan Island National Historical Park

What Is Not Special about San Juan Islands

The towns are small and these are islands – you have to want to live in a small world, or have another place to escape to. No one wants to see these islands become too developed. It is expensive to live here.

Climate and Physical Environment

San Juan Islands (there about 450 of them, 4 have ferry service) are located in Puget Sound on the east coast of Vancouver Island and to the west of the state of Washington, north of Seattle. The climate is temperate; it rarely gets above 70 degrees in summer, it occasionally snows in winter. The islands get about half the rain of nearby Seattle.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

There is a summer arts fair in July .The event is located outdoors in beautiful Friday Harbor, along historic Court Street. There is also an active senior center. Movies are shown at the Palace Theatre. Check out the San Juan Island Artists Community.  Visit the Whale Museum.


Crime here is very low.

Medical Facilities

The nearest hospital is in on the mainland in Anacortes (29 miles).


The Washington State Ferry provides daily service to the mainland at Anacortes (WA), with limited service to Sidney (British Columbia). There are daily commercial flights from Orcas Island Airport (Eastsound).

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