Whidbey Living FAQs Frequently Asked Questions by CAF families posted to Whidbey Island

Q: What is the time zone on Whidbey Island?

A: Whidbey Island is located in the Pacific Time Zone, which is the same time zone for the Canadian location of Victoria and Vancouver.  For more detailed information please click here.

Q: What is the weather like on Whidbey Island?

A: Whidbey Island lies in the famed rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains to the west, meaning that we do not get as much rain as you would think. We have the rainy season which is peaked in November, December and January. Then it starts to dry up. The skies remain grey for a while, but the rain soon subsides and the sun comes out in abundance in June, July and August. It is never too hot, or too cold here.  Goldilocks would love it!! The average rain fall is 20 inches.

Q.: What are the public schools in the area like?

A: There are a number of elementary schools in the Oak Harbor area and one high school. There are neighboring high schools in the communities of Coupeville and Anacortes amongst other elementary schools. Washington state follows the Common Core state standards. Common core are academic learning goals for grades K-12 in math and English language arts. Common Core sets goals or standards that focus on deeper understanding of basic subjects in order to better prepare students for success in college, work, and life. Common Core is part of Washington’s K-12 State Learning Standards and were adopted in 2011.  For more information we invite you to visit the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website here. Oak Harbor is very much a military town a number of parents chose to home school their children to help ease transitions from state to state. Due to this there are some great resources available to homeschooling families, our Canadians included.

Q: What is traffic and roads like on the Island?

A: Slow!! The saying island time applies here. On the island there is rarely a traffic jam unless an accident causes it. Jokes have been made that a Whidbey Island traffic jam is 5 cars sitting at a red light. In town the speed limit is mostly 30MPH. You can encounter line ups to get on and off the base at peak times, although they try and accommodate with opening of alternate gates to deal with anticipated volumes.  Traffic can build when going off island on approach to Deception Pass bridge and gaining access to the island again as everyone is going to same route. This can be impacted by time of day and tourist seasons.
Although Washington State rarely gets snow, icy roads can be common during winter months. The rain on the roads can also cause hydroplaning when you get on the highways and get up to higher speeds.

Q.: Are there any Natural disaster threats in Whidbey Island?

A: Washington State is prone to earthquakes; the State has an Emergency Plan for all residents in case of a massive Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.
 Washington has five major volcanoes: Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. These volcanoes are part of the Cascade Range and are located far enough from Whidbey Island.
Being on an island we are at risk for Tsunamis. If you reside close to the water you may see signs your tsunami evacuation route.
The most common thing we encounter here on Whidbey Island is wind storms. These can knock out power from time to time and bring down trees and branches causing damage.

Q.:  What is the crime rate like in the area?

A: There is a low crime rate on Whidbey Island. Our families reside in safe neighborhoods, and overall feel safe.  The major crime rates are VERY low, with most issues being theft and vehicle thefts. Whidbey Island is really a small town and comes with the charms like low crime rates. Once you venture off island and into higher populations crime rates increase.

Q.: How easy is it to find a rental property?

 A: Due to an increase of US Navy personnel in the last two years, a shortage of homes in the immediate Oak Harbor area has been an issue for previous families coming here. This can cause house hunting trips to be more stressful than they already are.  However, be assured everyone has found adequate housing.
Most families live in:
  • Oak Harbor: 5-10 minutes from the Base, close to all amenities, great schools, and very family oriented.
  • Anacortes: 25 minutes from the Base. Located off island so requires you to cross Deception Pass Bridge. Small town feel. Ferry to Victoria is located here.
  • Coupeville 15 minutes from the Base, on island, beautiful small town, great schools, short drive to amenities in Oak Harbor.
  • The rest of the Island 20-45 minutes from the base, variety of small towns down the rest of the island. Some people choose to live on the south end of the island for its proximity to the ferry to the mainland. Keeping in mind it is a dark one lane highway drive of 45-50 min from the end of the island to the base. Our members work a watch rotation so this can prove a challenge when working odd shifts. Not ideal

Q.: What do people do for activities on Whidbey?

A: Washington State is famous for its breathtaking scenery, Whidbey Island in particular. Canadian families enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, rock hunting, just to name a few. There are some great restaurants on and off island to discover during your stay here. There are festivals on island from January to December, always something to celebrate.  The Pacific Northwest welcomes tons of well known artists, and the residents are big time sports supporters. Let yourself be moved by the 12th man wave and experience sports like never before.