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The Truth About Olympia, Washington

The capitol city of Washington State

The capitol city of Washington State

An incredibly rare sunny day in Olympia

An incredibly rare sunny day in Olympia

Where most of us shop!

Where most of us shop!

A view of the world as we see it most days.

A view of the world as we see it most days.

Don’t you just love the word ‘debunking’? It’s one of those words that sounds exactly like what it does. When you debunk something it’s no gentle slap on the wrist but rather a full haymaker designed to leave you with a jaw badly in need of wiring!

If you are expecting an article about self-fulfillment and growth then stop right here. This is just some FF…for those of you who have not followed along, FF stands for funny fluff, a natural occurrence for me when I have been serious for much too long and I need to break free. Now that you have been warned read on if you dare.

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for sixty of my sixty-three years and I can tell you with no uncertainty that there are some serious misconceptions about our area of the world. Some amuse me; some just piss me off and it’s never a good thing when this normally peaceful soul has had enough and registers high on his Pissed Off Meter. Have you ever seen a former flower child completely lose it? Ugliness in motion my friends…ugliness in motion!

So in order for me to have a tranquil afternoon I am going to DEBUNK several of my favorite misconceptions about my town of Olympia.


Well get a map if you want to know bad enough! That’s what I used to tell my students and that’s what I’m telling all of you who have no clue where the capitol city of Washington State is. I am feeling a bit generous today, though, so I will tell you that Olympia sits at the tail end of Puget Sound, about sixty miles south of the only city in Washington anyone ever talks about, namely Seattle….and that is the first misconception we need to talk about…there are more cities in our state than just Seattle!

True, Seattle has the Mariners and the Seahawks and Bill Gates; true they have some great theaters and the opera and a Starbucks for every person who lives there (I made that up), but there actually are people living in this state who don’t wear clothes from L.L Bean and don’t sport five-hundred dollar haircuts and don’t drive SUVs.

See, I start talking about Seattleites and once again my Pissed Off Meter starts to spike. Sorry about that; a slight diversion but I’m back on track thanks to my Starbucks non-fat soy latte that cost six damn dollars and seventy-damn-five cents.


Well, that depends on your definition of rainy! Talk to just about anyone in the United States and quite a few in foreign countries and their first impression of Washington is that it rains a lot there. Well not so fast Bucko!

Olympia has on average 50.85 inches of rain per year. Sounds like a lot, right? You just might be interested to know that New Orleans has 62.7 inches per year; Miami has 61.9 inches per year and nobody ever talks about that. Birmingham, Alabama gets more rain than we do as does Memphis, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Florida and running neck and neck with us is Orlando, Florida.

I think someone needs to start a new ad campaign for Olympia explaining to the world that we get less rain than most of Florida! No, wait, we don’t want to do that; with our luck the campaign will be successful and more people will move here and most of them from California and that just would not do. The last thing we need is more transplants from Crazy Land!


Well, earlier I said it depended on your definition of rainy. The fact is that is rains quite often in Olympia, as in drizzle and light rain seemingly every damn day of the year. In fact we are sixth in the nation for most rainy days per year with an average of 149. Without a calculator handy I can eyeball that and tell you that we get rain about 40% of the year. No wonder Olympia residents act like their brains are waterlogged. It’s because they are! The only major U.S. cities that have more rainy days are Rochester, Buffalo, Portland, Cleveland and Pittsburg and seriously, who cares about any of those cities?

If that information wasn’t enough to keep you Californians from moving here then consider that in Olympia we suffer through 228 cloudy days per year. Let that sink in for a moment: 228 of the 365 days in our little slice of heaven are cloudy and the sun doesn’t shine. When the sun does shine we immediately crash into each other while driving because we are literally blinded.

Here’s a great fact for you, and you can look it up if you think I’m lying: Seattle, and by extension the Puget Sound area, leads the nation in the purchase of sunglasses. I will stop right here so you can laugh for awhile; get it out of your system and then I’ll continue.

Are you done laughing now? Can you figure out why an area that rarely sees the sun would have so many sunglass purchases? It’s because we forget where we put the damn things and we have to go buy new ones like ten times per year. We never find the old ones until the day we move and we are packing up the house…then all of a sudden we have ten pair of sunglasses and off we go to Goodwill to donate once again.

I never claimed that we were real smart here in Olympia!


People think because Olympia is so far north it must be cold all the time here with frigid winters and snowbound residents. Sorry, Bucko, but we only average eight snowy days per year here. I don’t even have to look it up to tell you that Flagstaff, Arizona and Taos, New Mexico have more snow days than we do in Olympia.

How can that be you ask? Well, we have this big puddle to our west called the Pacific Ocean, and that puddle greatly affects our temperatures. Air flowing over warm waters will become warmer and the Pacific Ocean, along our coast, is relatively warm. No, not warm like the Gulf of Mexico, but still warm enough to moderate any weather we do receive from the west. So no, we do not all walk around with goose-down parkas and ski masks; for the most part we wear whatever is on sale at Goodwill. We in Olympia take great pride in our ability to adjust to the rapidly sinking economy. That’s why when things really tank in the United States those of us in Olympia will rule this nation. We have a master plan and we will not share it with you. I can give you one small hint, though: when we take over, people in California will not be allowed to vote. Just sayin’. We will allow them to keep making movies down there but voting will not happen as long as they have this tendency to elect actors as their governor.


This is my favorite misconception about the West in general. We in Olympia really do look just like the rest of you. We don’t have six-shooters strapped to our waists and in sixty-three years I have never seen a gunfight at the old corral. I have seen guns in cars in Idaho but they really don’t count; Idaho is just a place you have to go through to get to Yellowstone. We have cars and trucks just like the rest of you; for the most part we leave our horses in our barns and we only chew Redman on weekends when the women folk are at church praying for our lawless souls.

Wait! We do drive Mustangs and Pintos! Does that count?


Well, only half of Washington deserves to be known as The Evergreen State. The other half is desert and wouldn’t know green if they were slapped alongside the head with it. We let that half of the state vote but their vote will never count for much as long as Seattle is on the western side of the state. Sorry, Spokane, but you are much too close to Idaho and you know what that means.

Our state bird is the goldfinch. I’ve never seen one of those little darlings in my life; I’m guessing the next time I go on a snipe hunt I’ll run into one, unless all of the wild Indians have killed them.

Hope to see you all soon. If you are planning on visiting for summer vacation make sure you book dates between July 5-10; we can almost guarantee sunny weather during that five-day stretch. Just remember to bring sunglasses because our stores will be sold out.

Questions & Answers

Question: I am truly considering moving to Olympia from California to be closer to my family there, and so I can finally afford a home. The last time I was down there, I saw a huge homeless population right downtown. How is the housing situation in your community? I am a housing professional and would really like to help.

Answer: I don't think Olympia is much different from other cities with regards to housing and the homeless. Affordable housing is a tough find in most cities. Olympia is finally addressing this issue, but change comes slowly.

Question: Do all Washington state residents hate Californians?

Answer: No, not at all. This was all tongue in cheek -- we just don't want to see millions move up here.

Question: I read that Olympia, Washington crime is well above national and state averages, but I was thinking of moving there with my son. Is that crime really that bad?

Answer: I wasn't aware of those statistics. Honestly, if crime is that bad here, I haven't noticed it. It surely isn't something we talk about as an epidemic or anything. Vandalism is about the worst thing most of us run into.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 27, 2020:

Pam, your line about walking into the wrong bathroom had me howling. Yes, I understand completely. It's amazing how you can drive a half hour out of Olympia and be in such a conservative and narrow-minded area.

If you want to chat more about Olympia, you can always email me at holland1145@yahoo.com. Good luck with the move.

PamTracy on June 26, 2020:

Hi Bill! Loved your article. We've been in Vancouver for 8 years now, Battle Ground mkre specifically, and we're planning our exit. If you've been here then you'll undersatand. Im a vegetarian atheist, so it feels like I'm always walking into the wrong bathroom here. Olympia is top of the list. We can't afford anything north of Tacoma and certainly not interested in moving there. 4 teenagers in tow, so we're wanting an area thats safe and easy to navigate for our teens on bikes, as well as our autistic daughter, 22. She'll never drive but loves to shop! Glad I found you. Waving from BG. Pam

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 19, 2020:

Thank you Peggy! Happily I did not offend anyone with this one.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 17, 2020:

Haha! Thanks for filling us in on some of the details about living in or near Olympia, Washington. I love your sense of humor!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 20, 2019:

Jan, as long as you stay in the Olympia School District, you will be fine. Stay away from Tumwater and Lacey schools. You can email me at holland1145@yahoo.com and I can tell you more.

Jan on January 19, 2019:

I am moving in July of 2019 with my two kids, ages 10 and 7 from Florida to be closer to family. I've been researching the public schools in Olympia. Which schools do you recommend? Also, my boys are big on baseball. Does anyone know about the Cal Ripken League?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 16, 2019:

Thanks, bbbj! All in jest, but obviously I missed the mark with you.

bbbj on January 15, 2019:

Regarding California as "Crazy Land" may be true. Yes, there have been two actors elected governor. Both were elected after their democrat predecessors failed. Schwarzenegger replaced Davis who was removed from office in a recall election. The other actor didn't do so bad either. After he righted Calif., he went on to be one of the most popular presidents ever.

No one ever seems to mention who controls the legislature. How many of the last 50 years have the democrats (liberals) controlled both the Senate and Assembly?

Go ahead take a guess. . . .

Not even close. How about 46 years! The last 22 in a row. Over half of that with a dem in the governor's seat also. In '69-'71 , '94-'95 only time reps. controlled one or both houses. So go ahead and slam California for being last or close to it in SQLI but notice who put us there-Liberals. Good luck Washington.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 31, 2018:

Well, Nancy, welcome to Washington! In another twenty years we will completely ignore where you are from, so hang in there. lol

Nancy on May 30, 2018:

Hubby and I recently bought a great home on acreage in S. Shelton. Where from? Yep, SoCal. We've only been here a month, but we really love it. We've already acquired WA plates lest anyone realize where wer'e from. Mostly we try and lay low and keep to ourselves. Enjoyed reading your musings though!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on May 25, 2018:

LOL...welcome, Kris! Give me a holler and I'll buy you a cup of coffee when you get here.

Kris on May 24, 2018:

I'm from CA and I'm moving to Olympia just to piss off Bill...ha!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 10, 2017:

Thank you Christine...I think they are real...LOL...is there something that bothers you about them?

christine on October 10, 2017:

hi Im 10 years old i just want to ask .is all these word you say is real and have a nice day bye

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 06, 2017:

Hi Lynn! That's pretty funny what your sister said. Maybe if she is a staunch Republican, her opinion is accurate. LOL This is definitely Liberal Territory. No, no real tips...enjoy the experience. I think he'll love Evergreen. It's a pretty safe city, but it helps that we are small. Bring a raincoat....fleece is the primary garment here....no umbrella (he'll be labeled a wimp if he uses one :))...if he has any questions, or if you do, you can email me at holland1145@yahoo.com

lynn on October 06, 2017:

Thanks for your input, my son is moving there in January this year. attending school at evergreen. he is moving from Wilmington NC, to finish his studies in Marine Biology. My sister is beside herself she thinks he is going into the temple of dome. I think its a good adventure for him. He is 21 and loves the outdoors. Any tips for him

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 09, 2017:

Rebekah, thanks for stopping by....I was actually being a bit silly, for the amusement of some friends in Spokane. I don't have anything against Idaho....really....why don't you like it?

Rebekah on March 08, 2017:

I'm curious as to what your opinion of Idaho is as you mentioned it towards the bottom of your article. "Sorry, Spokane, but you are much too close to Idaho and you know what that means." I am from Idaho, but I actually don't like the place very much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 01, 2016:

I don't think it's weird at all, Mary, and you would be welcomed here. :)

MarySmith58 on November 01, 2016:

Sounds like a good place to retire. I'm in Utah now and I really miss trees. Sounds weird I know, but I'd love to be able to smell pine trees after a rain again.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 21, 2016:

Jessica, why don't you email me at holland1145@yahoo.com and you can ask me specific questions....make sure you put something in the subject line or it will go to spam and be lost forever. :)

Jessica on October 21, 2016:

Hi billybuc! My fiance and I have been thinking of moving to Olympia from.....California! We can't stand it here either! I would love any information about Olympia and if it's changed since you originally wrote this awesome article :D.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 17, 2016:

Thanks Gg! I appreciate your candor.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 21, 2016:

AJoye, you seem to have the attitude we appreciate and embrace here. Come on down and join us! LOL Too funny...thanks for reading.

AJoye on July 20, 2016:

Well Billybuc this article just what I was looking for. I have a friend living here and I'm considering it as a retirement location. Since I hail from LA, by way of Virginia, do I have to sneak into Olympia undercover of darkness? Looking for a nice town to live in, volunteer my time for a useful purpose between traveling and visiting grandsons in Portland area. I'll keep reading your posts.


PS I didn't vote for any actor to be governor ... does that get me a pass on being from LaLa Land?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 15, 2014:

Cesar, I don't blame you for wanting to leave Los Angeles. I think you'll enjoy it here. You can email me with any questions you have holland1145@yahoo.com

Cesar Suarez on October 15, 2014:

Billybuc thanks for all the info here I enjoyed reading your article about Olympia. I live in the very overrated city of Los Angeles and I'm fed up with the expensive housing here and overall over population. Please let me know a bit more about Olympia as my wife and kids want to move there early 2015

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 01, 2014:

It is a good city, Matt. I've been here for 22 years now and greatly enjoy it.

MattD on October 01, 2014:

I've lived in Washington for almost a year and have been to Olympia a few times. It's such a pretty city. What I like most about it is that it reminds me of my hometown of Austin, TX (Before the boom). Very similar feel.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 23, 2014:

Very true, Brian. It is a geographical division as well as a political one.

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on July 23, 2014:

I lived for a few years in Moscow, Idaho, and got to know people in western Washington state. When they spoke of "going to the west side" and "coming back to the east side" they meant of the state, with the Cascade Mountains being the dividing line.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 27, 2014:

Luke, I'm glad you enjoyed it. We have to be able to laugh at it, right?

Luke Zoukauski on June 27, 2014:

I was born in Everett but lived most of my life in Olympia. I moved away in 03 at age 25. This article was real funny. Thanks for clearing up the mistreated of our city. It is appreciated.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 02, 2014:

Thank you Michael.

Michael on February 02, 2014:

A great read!

Julianna from SomeWhere Out There on April 24, 2012:

Funny along with interesting facts, I was not aware of. I did not know there was less snow in Olympia than there is in Flagstaff. As for the sunglasses that made me laugh so hard that I had to stop reading for a minute! lolo! Love the article. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2012:

Tom, what you say is true, but those of us in Olympia don't recognize Lacey and Tumwater as cities. :) A little jurisdictional jealousy in this area. Drop me a line when you come through and we'll have that cup of coffee.

Tom Koecke from Tacoma, Washington on April 18, 2012:

Hey billybuc, I thought you might mention that Olympia isn't that small of a town if you consider the Lacey and Tumwater towns on its borders. I'll bet with those three towns put together, it's almost as populated as Auburn!

We'll have to get a cup of coffee one day when I pass through on my way to the outlet stores in Centralia.

This was a fun read!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 18, 2012:

Audra, it really is lovely here with so much to see and do; it's just that nagging little problem of rain, rain and more rain! Hope you make it here soon; if so I'll buy you lunch and we will spend some time laughing.

iamaudraleigh on April 18, 2012:

I found my sunglasses Bill...lol!!! Great hub! I would like to explore the Puget Sound area! Learned new things today Teach!!! Thank you! Voted up!!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 06, 2012:

Mark my friend, thank you! I just have to get silly occasionally. I'll let you know if I run across any honest to gosh Indians with painted war face on.

Curiad on March 06, 2012:

This was fun to read Bill, I have spent a lot of time in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia during my engineer days.It is beautiful country and you are right, I never saw an Indian or a six gun there!

great writing!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 05, 2012:

Scurlock is somewhat of a legend here my friend, and when you do come visit you for sure have to let me know so I can buy you a well-deserved dinner!

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on March 05, 2012:

I'd love to go there, and damn near moved to some expensive coastal resort town a few hours away a few years ago...twas a domestic thing that didn't happen, not me having money, or anything like that...Port Townsend was the place.

I've a good friend I've not seen in years that used to live in Olympia, and whenever I get a vehicle again, I'm going to go visit the guy, he's not too far away from where I am.

I wrote a massive hub about William Scott Scurlock, the "Hollywood Bank Robber," who's probably a well known former citizen for lots of folks there, he had a three story tree house, tons of buried cash on the property, and robbed more banks than anyone in American history until his megalomania got too far out of hand, and he ended his life.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 05, 2012:

b. Malin, I guarantee that your hair would become ultra-curly after a week here...but in the process you would see some beautiful scenery. Thanks for taking the time to visit. I appreciate you following me.

b. Malin on March 05, 2012:

This was a Fun Hub to read and Enjoy Billybuc. Lots of Information to think about, so much I didn't know...Yes, I aways thought it Rained a lot there... and I Loved the Movie "Sleepless in Seattle"...And I had a cousin who lived in Seattle for many years, and LOVED it. Olympia, Washington sounds like it could be a nice place to live if you don't suffer from Depression, when it comes to the Weather...ONLY KIDDING! But it does sound like my Natural Curly hair would be extra Curly!

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