If Tom Hanks in “Sleepless In Seattle” wasn’t reason enough to move to the Emerald City, we’re armed with more. Picture-perfect summer days with plenty of activities to fill them with, excellent coffee, home to the Amazon headquarters, parks and lakes… the Emerald City has plenty to entice anyone into moving there.
As great as Seattle is, there’s still loads more to think about before moving here. To begin with, the undeniable gloom of Seattle’s rainy days and its public transportation options. Then there’s also the more realistic side of whether or not you can land a job at Amazon or any of the other tech giants here.
From understanding the practical aspects to understanding the soul of the city and the figures that determine life in Seattle, our relocation guide on moving to Seattle covers it all.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Seattle?
Seattle is known as one of the biggest cities in Washington, but it is in fact the biggest city in the state, with a population of 783,137. The city spans over 142 miles, and has a population density of 9,338 people per square mile. Famously known as the ‘‘Emerald City’’, Seattle was officially bestowed upon with that name way back in 1981. It is a reference to the greenery that surrounds the city throughout the year. Even winter has its share of greenery, thanks to the evergreen trees.
This seaport city lies on the Puget Sound, and opens up avenues for anyone with an interest in water sports. Explore these waters however you please, by kayaking, water skiing, parasailing, or boating. Hikers have a number of trails to explore, all reachable with an hour’s drive from the city. Those fond of art, music and culture can choose between a range of festivals constantly setting the city abuzz with activity.
Seattle is also the birthplace of the gods of grunge rock: Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice in Chains all had their start here. Their influence is reflected in the music scene (which also has enough other genres of music to go around), and in the venues that have played host to events since the 80s and 90s. Lately though, Seattle is adding another feather to its hat by being recognized as a tech city. Seattle is home to a chain of Amazon Go convenience stores, automated for as much literal convenience as possible.
Crime Rate in Seattle
Overall, Seattle makes for an interesting city, crawling with coffee shops and farmer’s markets. If there’s one bone of contention, it’s the crime rate in Seattle. This big, bustling city has a crime rate of 60 per 1000 residents, making your chance of becoming a victim of one in 17. But before you change your mind, get a better look at the crime rates.
Rates of violent crime (rape, assault, murder) is 6.38 per 1000, only slightly higher than the national median of 4. The rate for property crime is comparatively higher: coming in at 53.45 per 1000, way over national median at 24. Looking on the bright side, a property crime is much less heinous in nature than violent crimes, comprising burglary, larceny, theft, arson, shoplifting and vandalism.
One of the most appealing aspects of Seattle is its summer: clear skies, plenty of sunshine, temperate weather with just the right amount of heat and low humidity. This weather that resembles a slice of heaven is complemented with tons of activities to do in and around the city. Temperatures rest at a comfortable 75°F and humidity is quite low, which means no balminess.
July is when this amazing weather begins to show up, and along with August, makes for the best time to get things done in Seattle. Mt. Rainier and the Olympic National Park are two great places to head to for treks and hikes, while the city itself is abuzz with live events happening around every corner. The weather lasts till September or early-October, after which the rain and fog starts.
The Seattle winter doesn’t have much snow. Fortunately for some, whenever it does snow, it is very light and disappears soon after. What’s unfortunate, however, is that even a slightly heavy snowfall is met with the city practically coming to a halt. Now that’s mainly because the hilly terrain makes for dangerous driving on slippery slopes. Though winter usually ends around February, the rain goes on up until late May, continuing through spring.
People moving to Seattle for its summer, be warned! While the summer is certainly worth it, the rainy months may be a steep price to pay for some, especially those with Seasonal Affective Disorder. The rain never comes down in hard downpours, but remains a soft yet steady drizzle. The sky is overcast and cloudy, with the sun peeking out on the rare occasion. When it’s not raining, it’s foggy or misty, and quite cold.
A running joke is that the tourists are the ones holding umbrellas, as Seattleites rarely use umbrellas, since the rain falls so lightly. But come June, the skies begin to clear, making way for those perfect months that remind you why you decided to move here in the first place.
Is It Expensive To Live In Seattle?
Seattle has so much good to offer, but naturally, all of it comes at a price that is quite steep. From the cost of living to the price of utilities, Seattle’s figures are all higher than their national average counterparts. Read on to crunch some numbers and figure out how affordable your life in Seattle could be. If it starts to sway you from your decision of moving to Seattle, remember that Washington has no state income tax, and there’s no local city income taxes either!
Cost Of Living In Seattle
What salary do you need to live in Seattle? Definitely enough to keep up with the costs! Seattle is increasingly being recognized as a great city to live in, which means ever increasing rates. So you better be hustling, because the average cost of living in Seattle is 49% higher than the national average. A family of 4 living in a house of their own in Seattle will spend around $4,2556 a month on expenses, while a single person owning their own house will spend around $1,186.
Grocery prices are a little more bearable, being 27% higher than the national average. A loaf of bread in Seattle costs around $4.22, similar to a bunch of bananas that costs $4.26. A gallon of milk costs less, at $2.46, and throw in a carton of eggs for $2.29 to make a complete breakfast.
Healthcare is also on the slightly higher end in Seattle, as a visit to the doctor will cost you $137.50, while a dentist’s visit will cost $128.85. Got furry or feathered friends giving you company? Well, you would have to bear a cost of $69.64 for a vet visit for their healthcare needs. Additionally, the cost of visiting an Optometrist isn’t really easy on the pocket either, with the price being $128.85
Buying A House
Housing rates follow suit, being a staggering 94% higher than the national average. The current average house value of a house in Seattle is $783,969, and is predicted to go through an 8.7% rise over the next year. You would surely have to break the bank to get yourself a good home here in Seattle. While not a massive difference, the median home price is slightly lower at $673,874.
Renting A House
The average rent for an apartment in Seattle is $1,988, a figure that is 7% lower than last year. This is calculated taking an average apartment size of 693 square feet. However, unlike other cities, the cost of rent for different sized apartments is fairly distributed. 38% of the apartments in Seattle are rented out for between $1,500 and $2,000, while another 38% are rented for over $2,000 a month. Only 22% are rented for between $1,000 and $1,500, while a mere 3% are rented for less than $1,000.
Utilities in Seattle cost 23% higher than the national average. Your energy bill can come to around $206.39 a month, while phone bills can be approximately $220 a month. Gas is $3.47 a gallon. Now that you know the trend with Seattle, you shouldn’t really be surprised to know that even the water bill here is a whopping $63.36 per month.
Seattle Economy And Employment Opportunities
Ever since the 1990s, Seattle has been on a steady rise to being recognized as a tech hub. Today, it is one of America’s greatest tech cities, having overtaken even San Jose at the heart of the Silicon Valley and second only to San Francisco. This began when tech giant Amazon set up headquarters in Seattle. Amazon is now accompanied by Microsoft, Boeing, Google, Adobe, Facebook… the list goes on and on. Together, these make the tech industry one of the largest employers in the region.
Healthcare is another big industry in Seattle, home to a number of large institutions, one of which is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Providence Health & Services, the largest healthcare system in Washington, is also located in the region, employing over 100,000 people.
In terms of salaries and jobs, software engineers are among the highest paid Seattleites, earning an annual average of $107k. One sense of respite that you can find is in the fact that the average yearly salary for people living in Seattle is $80k. So that does make it a tad bit easier to afford the exorbitant prices that come with living in Seattle.
With the tech boom and the availability of jobs in sectors like engineering, medicine and technology, Seattleites value their education a great deal. In fact, Seattle has some of the highest rates of college graduates in the country. There’s a vast range of regular and government-funded schools, as well as some privately run schools. No matter where you are, your community will be one that encourages the pursuit of education.
There’s an average of 18 students to one teacher, which means all kids can get individual attention when needed. Over 50% of the youth in Seattle have gone on to finish a 4 year degree. The University of Washington is the largest university in the Paciic Northwest region. They are accompanied by the Seattle University, the Seattle Pacific University and others to give you multiple options for tertiary education.
Getting Around Seattle
Seattle is serviced by 2 public transportation agencies, Sound Transit and King County. It also has a network of bikes, car rental services, and easy access to flights via the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Since it is located on the Puget Sound, there’s an extensive network of water taxis to get you from place to place as well.
SoundTransit’s Link Light Rail
Sound Transit is the public transportation service agency that is in charge of express buses, light rail, and commuter train services for the region around the Puget Sound. The Link Light Rail has 2 lines that run through the city, northbound and southbound. It makes 13 stops along the way, and trains run at a frequency of 6, 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the time of day. It also has a convenient connection to the SEA airport. Trains run from 5 in the morning to 1 a.m., from Mondays to Saturdays, and from 6 a.m. to midnight on Sundays. A ticket on the Link Light Rail costs between $2.25 and $3.25 for an adult.
King County Metro
One of the largest bus networks in the region, King County Metro buses make sure you can get to anywhere in Seattle. There’s 126 routes that crawl across the city, and tickets cost between $2.25 and $3.25.
There are 2 lines of streetcars that run through Seattle, with cars that arrive every 10 to 15 minutes. Though the lines themselves aren’t connected or intersected, they connect to Light Rail and bus routes so you can easily switch between modes of transportation.
The Seattle Monorail connects Westlake Center in downtown Seattle and Seattle Center near Queen Anne hill. The monorail runs from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays, and from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the weekends. It can run for even later on days when the Seattle Center has events. The monorail is accessible to wheelchairs, those who are disabled, and it also allows dogs and service dogs. The trains run at a frequency of 10 minutes, and it only takes you two minutes to make the journey. A one-way ticket for an adult is $3.
You can always hail a taxi in Seattle if you want to avoid the headache of driving and parking yourself. Taxi meters start at $2.60, and you are charged an extra $2.70 for every additional mile. You can also make use of the ever reliable ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber.
Seattle not only has several bike trails within the city, but its proximity to nature means you can level up with some ‘nature’ cycling each day. There’s also electric bikes available in the city, so you can even cycle to work each day if your commute distance allows it.
Best Neighborhoods In Seattle
How do you begin to narrow down on the best neighborhood for you in Seattle? Try to visit a few personally, and take into account how far it is from your office and your daily commute time. Till then, read up about these neighborhoods to get an insight into life in Seattle.
1. Queen Anne
This historic district is home to anyone and everyone, from families to young working professionals. Thus named after the style of the historic homes here, Queen Anne is one of Seattle’s largest neighborhoods, divided into two sections. Upper Queen Anne has the more stately historic homes, while Lower Queen Anne has a lot more recent developments housing young professionals and families. The home value of houses in Lower Queen Anne is around $771,616. Queen Anne has the Seattle Monorail, as well as great accessibility, alongside plenty of other activities, which is why young professionals flock here.
Located on the northern outskirts of Seattle, Ballard has interesting maritime and Scandinavian roots. It has loads to offer, and is wonderfully self-sufficient with micro neighborhoods flaunting their own character. There’s also a great school system in place here, apart from boasting of a thriving nightlife as well. But you know how it goes, with great neighborhoods come greater cost of homes. With Ballard, the average home price etches as high as $841,000 approximately.
3. West Seattle
A chill community, great restaurants, and more boutique stores than chain stores, all of this and more awaits in West Seattle. There’s no nightlife, but there are wonderful beaches to walk along for some peace of mind. The community is a mix of people: retirees, families, young professionals and empty nesters. While not cheap by any means, the median home price of $654,975 in West Seattle is still lower than the two other prominent and sought after neighborhoods we have mentioned on this list.
Is Moving To Seattle A Good Idea?
Seattle summers are promising, as is the proximity to nature, beaches and the Puget Sound. Just these are enough to convince many to move to Seattle. But when deciding, remember to factor in things like the cloudy days with the constant drizzles, the possibility of traffic, and the snow that brings the city to a halt.
Consider investing in a sun lamp if it’s the weather you’re weary of, or choose a location that offers the most convenience for your daily commute. It certainly takes some planning when thinking of moving to Seattle. But with the right research done, relocating to Seattle may just be the best thing you ever do.
Top Realtors in Seattle Share their Thoughts
1. Joey McCune & Amy Numrich
“Seattle is a constantly evolving city that feels like both a big city and a small city at the same time.
More people each year are making the leap to the biggest city in the Evergreen State. Seattle is truly one of a kind, with our natural beauty showcasing alpine mountains, the ocean, forests, rivers, and glacier-filled lakes that dot our landscape.
Our neighborhoods are eclectic and fun, with a vibe to go with every personality and need. Seattle is constantly evolving into a better version of its former self. The upside of Seattle’s growth is that there are plenty of neighborhoods to choose from, but because it’s still smaller than other big cities, you won’t be overwhelmed.
Don’t forget the view from I5 on a clear day –it’s a showstopper with glass skyscrapers and steel construction cranes encircled by deep-blue lakes, cedar-dotted hills and two soaring mountain ranges crowned by our jewel, Mount Rainier.
Undoubtedly, Seattle is pretty; while it seems that everybody would move here, given a chance, the one thing that holds most people from doing so is the weather. Although the weather isn’t all sunshine, it isn’t as bad as you might have heard. Overall, the temperature is pretty moderate, and all the drizzle has labeled Seattle as The Emerald City. Seattle has daylight patterns that most U.S. cities don’t. It gets darker early in the winter but stays lighter longer in the summer, sometimes not getting dark until well past 10 p.m. Summers are glorious!
Even those born and brought up here can’t stop admiring the breathtaking beauty surrounding them. The major parks here feel untouched, and the rainy drizzle contributes to cleaner air quality.
Seattle has fantastic career opportunities, especially in the tech industry. Seattle has constantly ranked as one of the top best cities in the country for jobs, and some of the global tech giants in the entire world are located in Seattle’s city limits.
Thousands are moving to Seattle every year, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Whether you’re looking for growing career opportunities in the tech industry, a friendly neighborhood, best schools, and universities, Moving to Seattle, WA, is a great choice!”
2. Karen Eddinger
“Moving to Seattle will possibly be the best decision you ever make. Not only is our job market robust, with a significant supply of tech companies offering a bright future for our fair city, but the scenery is magnificent. We have the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west, and the Puget Sound and Lake Washington are never far away from any location. Winters are temperate, and summers sublime. Our dry months of June through September discourage pesky mosquitoes and most bugs, and the number of scenic opportunities for short getaways will surprise you. Come check us out. We are bike-friendly, courteous to pedestrians, and allow you to change lanes on the interstate without any drama.”
3. Katrina Eileen Romatowski
“As a boutique real estate broker, I have had the pleasure of hearing many reasons people love Seattle. I personally have my picks of the reasons why Seattle is so special to me.
Seattle is proud to have the loudest football fans in the country winning the Guinness Book of World Records for Loudest Stadium twice! The number 12 has become an entrepreneurial dream from apparel to whiskey – throw a 12 on it, and you have your audience! From tailgates to sailgates, the baseball fans are loyal! Those that support the University of Washington are the same fans that love the Mariners, so they support the players feel is unlike other cities! Most recently, the city was taken over by their latest passion, the rebranding of the professional ice hockey team, the Kraken. Bars, apparel, and fans are flooding the area in support.
The suburbs in Seattle are as unique as the diverse culture. Head to Kirkland if you are looking for a Southern California vibe with boutiques, unique eateries, and scenic walks along the lake that is perfect for families. Or, for the bike rider, you just head into Redmond and experience the Bicycle Capital of the Northwest. Recognized as the Silver City by the American League of Bicycle Friendly Cities, this suburb has 59 miles of public trails that are great for riding and another 36 miles of roadway that includes bike lanes on both sides. Perhaps you are more interested in city life focused around nightlife, shopping, and healthy lifestyles. Bellevue, WA, would be your “go-to” and has taken one of the top spots of the best cities to live in, in 2023. If you are a laid-back professional or retiree and are inspired to relocate to a safe and chill part of Seattle to raise a family, then West Seattle would be our pick. Due to its vicinity to nature and beaches, it is the perfect place to mix the best of both worlds.
Seattle is ranked as one of the Top 10 Best Places to Live in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. They are national leaders in technology and business and are home to some of the largest tech companies in the country. From Amazon to Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, something about the breathtaking beauty mixed with outdoor recreation opportunities makes this city a force to be reckoned with. Entrepreneurs flock to this city, and Seattle boasts its ranking of one of the 50 best cities for young entrepreneurs and the 10th best city in the world for female entrepreneurs.
Dogs, Dogs, Dogs!
Seattle has more dogs than children living within city limits. The love of animals can be witnessed daily with dog-friendly cafes and incredible doggie daycare services. Amazon has its own dog park strictly for its employees to use during their workday and many companies are open to allowing our furry friends to join us in the office!”
Part of the research when moving homes, and an important part at that, is finalizing a moving company to haul everything across safely. Remember that you need a company that is just right for you, whether you’re moving into an apartment across the street or a condo across the country. Contact us for any moving company help to get a headstart on your move to Seattle.
See also: Best Moving Companies in Seattle