This post was written by Seattle expert Andrew Wandola. It is part of a larger moving away series, where local experts are giving top tips on how to move to a new city or country. You can see all of these blog posts here.
If you are planning to move to Seattle, you have probably already heard some fascinating facts about this city. You may also have heard about the great weather, amazing people, and countless opportunities for new residents. While all these are true, you are about to find out even more interesting things about living in Seattle, nicknamed the ‘Emerald City.’
Living in Seattle: Things that you should know
Seattle has countless career opportunities
The city is home to several fortune 500 companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing, Alaska Air Group, and Costco Wholesale. Such high-profile companies provide endless opportunities for both existing and new residents.
Whether you are into tech, sales, transport or any other career field, there is always an opportunity waiting to knock at your door once you move to Seattle.
Traffic in Seattle is unbelievable
Seattle residents spend up to two hours a day in traffic during the rush hour. To avoid this, other alternative modes of transport, such as the Sound Transit service, King County Metro, and Monorails are becoming increasingly popular.
The Park and Ride option is also recommended for commuters who do not wish to ride public transport all day. They simply drive their vehicles to the Park and Ride location of their choice, and then connect to their destination via a public bus or rail system.
The rain in Seattle is not as bad as claimed
Rain is one of the first things that most people think about whenever Seattle is mentioned. In reality, most of the time when people talk about the ‘Seattle rain’, they usually mean the unpredictable drizzling, which everyone gets used to after a while. Plus, there are plenty of free things to do in Seattle come rain or shine.
So, if you had an umbrella in your ‘moving to Seattle’ travel checklist, you may want to cross it out unless the weatherman advises otherwise. It is quite rare to find people carrying umbrellas in this city, unless they are first-time visitors, or extremely allergic to a little bit of wetness.
Summers in Seattle are the best
Forget the rain for a moment; summer in Seattle comes with unforgettable experiences. The best thing about spending summer here is the fact that you will not have to worry about excessive heat or high humidity.
Seattle summers are warm, dry, and come with low humidity and lots of sunshine, making it the perfect weather for outdoor activities.
The only unfortunate thing about summers in Seattle is that they tend to start late and end early. For the best experience, start planning your summer activities early enough and make the most out of it before the resumption of the city’s default settings of rain and cold.
You will love the local culture and diversity
There is always something for everyone in Seattle as far as culture is concerned. Most people do not struggle to fit in after moving to Seattle; this is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the United States.
This is particularly helpful for non-US citizens who plan to move to the city. In King County, the home of Seattle, there is a huge population of immigrants from India, China, Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines, Korea, Canada, Ukraine, Ethiopia, and Taiwan in that specific order. Asian, Mexican, and Ethiopian restaurants are also popular among both the locals and foreigners.
To experience the city’s true diversity, the Pike Place Market is one of the best and renowned farmers markets to go grocery shopping. It is Seattle’s most prominent tourist attraction and the 33rd most visited site by tourists in the world. The market receives an estimated 10 million visitors every year from all corners of the world.
Seattleites and coffee are inseparable
Seattleites also love their coffee; according to a recent study, there are approximately 35 coffee shops per 100,000 residents in the city. The study further reveals that every coffee lover in Seattle spends at least $36 a month on coffee, more than any other city in the country. This translates to around $432 per person every year!
However, it is not a surprise that the locals love coffee considering that the city is home to Starbucks.
Seattle’s dog obsession is a national phenomenon
Still on culture, there is always this popular joke about how there are more dogs than people in Seattle. One thing you will notice as you take a walk around the city is the love for dogs by the locals.
According to the Seattle Times, Seattle was named the best dog city in the nation in 2019. The study also revealed that there were at least 14 off-leash areas on city property. If you plan on moving to this Pacific Northwestern city with your dog, it is never too late to break the good news!
Accommodation in Seattle is quite expensive
Renting an apartment in Seattle is expensive compared to most cities in the Pacific Northwest region. City residents spend an average of $2,087 on rent for a 698 square ft. apartment. While this may seem a little bit expensive, it is not as bad as other cities in the country such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
One of the first things you will notice in Seattle is the problem of homelessness, a true testimony of the city’s rent problem. According to US News, there are up to 12,112 homeless people in Seattle and King County, the third-highest rate in the country behind San Diego and San Jose in California.
How to find accommodation in Seattle
The internet offers the easiest and fastest way to find apartments, hotels, or houses to rent in Seattle. Several reliable websites provide apartment listings based on price, number of bedrooms, location, and more.
Apartments, houses, or hotels located at the heart of the city tend to be more expensive than those in the outskirts. Also, the cost of renting apartments in Seattle rises in the summer and drops in the winter.
No internet? Seattle’s public Wi-Fi got your back!
Life without internet is unimaginable, right? That is why Seattle has about 70 locations across the city where you can easily access the internet without having to pay a cent.
All you need is a laptop, tablet or other internet-enabled device and you should be able to access the public Wi-Fi. If you do not have any device to access the internet, there is no need to worry; you can access a computer at libraries, parks, community centers, and customer service stations free of charge!
Seattleites are loving and welcoming
Moving to a new city is not one of the easiest decisions to make, especially if you do not know anyone around. But that is never the case when moving to Seattle; the city is famous for being one of the most welcoming in the country.
You just need to take a walk around the Capitol Hill area, and you will make new friends within no time. This specific area is usually frequented by Seattle’s artists, hipsters, and other free-spirited residents ready to mingle and make new friends. If you are an extrovert, Capitol Hill would be a great place to start making new friends.
However, if you are an introvert and you prefer a more private setting, there are hundreds of coffee shops, art galleries, museums and sight-seeing areas around the city that you can take advantage of to meet new people.
Melting the ‘Seattle Freeze’
First of all, if you are hearing about the ‘Seattle Freeze’ for the first time, keep in mind that it has nothing to do with the cold and rainy weather. This term refers to the misconception that it is difficult for non-locals to make new friends in Seattle. This is not necessarily true considering that Seattle is also one of the friendliest cities in the US.
You are probably wondering how such a welcoming city would also be considered ‘cold’ to newcomers. Here’s why:
Seattleites are extremely friendly; you just need to pop the bubble first. In almost every city in the world, there is always that awkward moment of silence and uncertainty when hanging out with new people for the first time. A simple greeting or compliment is all it takes to burst the bubble and initiate a conversation with a Seattleite. Try it; it works!
Seattle’s safety index
On a scale of 1 to 10, Seattle’s safety index is around 7. Just like any other urban city going through industrialization, it is not rare to hear about criminal activity every now and then. Some neighborhoods are relatively safer than others, but in general, there haven’t been any significant crimes worthy of national headlines for quite a long time.
Seattle offers some breathtaking views
Nicknamed the ‘evergreen state’, Washington has some breathtaking views that can be seen from several iconic landmarks in Seattle. These are popular stops on any Seattle itinerary, but if you’re living here, you’ll have the chance to take them in on a regular basis!
The Space Needle, for example, offers amazing views of Mount Rainier, Elliot Bay, Mount Baker, Cascade Mountains, and the Puget Sound islands. Douglas Fir trees are also common all over Seattle; they can be seen from apartments, offices, and other buildings.
Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners in that order
For sports lovers, Seattle offers several sporting teams to support. The Seattle Seahawks are the most popular football team in the city and the entire state of Washington. The 2013 Superbowl champions play their home games at the 68,740-seater Lumen Field, formerly known as Century Link Field. Seahawks games are usually full to the brim; their fans have set the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd noise at a sporting event, twice.
As a new resident, one proven way to start a conversation with the locals in Seattle is by wearing Seahawks merchandise. But of course, you will have to do your homework quite well in advance to learn a thing or two about the mighty Seahawks. The city and the entire state of Washington is obsessed with their beloved team, and you will always come across the famous college navy, action green and wolf grey colors everywhere you go. The colors are even more conspicuous during game days.
The Seattle Sounders are also popular among the locals. The two-time Major League Soccer champions play their home matches at the Lumen Field. Just like the Seahawks, Sounders games are usually filled to capacity. Other popular sports teams in Seattle include the Seattle Mariners (baseball), Seattle Supersonics (men’s basketball), Seattle Storm (women’s basketball) and the soon to be launched Seattle Kraken (ice hockey).
As you have found out, living in Seattle is not only fun, but also fulfilling. The list of opportunities and possibilities is endless and the adventures to look forward to are limitless. This is one of the few cities where the locals feel like one big family.
About the author
Andrew Wandola is a full-time dad, freelancer, web developer, and a proud resident of Seattle. When he is not hanging out with his beautiful daughter, he is probably writing blog posts or building websites.