If you tell people you are thinking of moving to Seattle, you probably hear two responses—the coffee is amazing and it rains all the time. While there is some truth to those statements, there are a lot more factors to consider before you make the big move.
Moving to a new city can be intimidating. Having an understanding of the culture and values of a place can help you make an informed and thoughtful decision. Before you move to Seattle, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
1. The cost of living in Seattle is much higher than the national average
When you think of expensive cities to live in, Seattle may not be the first to come to mind. However, the cost of living in Seattle is a little over 50% higher than the national average. With the standard rent for a 700 square-foot apartment sitting at $2,300, this makes it a pretty pricey place to live.
While you can certainly find great deals and reasonably priced hole-in-the-wall eateries, do expect to spend a little more on everyday items. A 2022 article in the Seattle Times comparing costs of general goods and services found that something as simple as a haircut in Seattle can run double the amount of the typical price in most American towns.
2. Seattle is a coffee town
Birthplace of Starbucks? Check. Home to a whole slew of amazing local roasters? You bet. The coffee scene in Seattle is anything but bland. There are options for everyone, from the rosemary lavender latte drinker to the no-frills black coffee aficionado.
If you need some ideas about where to start your coffee exploration, you might head over to Avole in the Central District for a cup of coffee imported by Ethiopian roasters. For something a little sweeter, you can head over to the Moore Cafe for a Taro latte (with a cute picture on top). Whatever your preference in coffee style, you can find it in Seattle.
3. It’s rainy, but not as wet as you might think
Sleepless in Seattle gave us the quote, “It rains nine months a year in Seattle”. While there is some truth to this, that doesn’t mean that it never stops raining. In actuality, Seattle doesn’t even rank as one of the top ten wettest cities in the country. This is because while it does rain frequently, it often doesn’t rain as hard as it does in cities like New Orleans or Miami.
The frequent rain lends a gorgeous green to the surrounding plant life. It also makes the summers even more shocking, when the sun stays out late and the temperatures rise into the 80s. A summer in Seattle is a perfect time to take advantage of all the lakes, hikes, and parks in the city.
4. There are endless options for beautiful outdoor exploration
The Pacific Northwest has some of the best hiking trails in the country. The best part? You don’t even have to leave the city of Seattle to find some luscious greenery and great views. Take Gasworks Park, for example, which provides a 360 degree view of the Seattle skyline (and an interesting look at an old gasification plant).
If you prefer to travel just outside the city, you can find everything from lakes to rivers to canyons. Snow Lake provides a lovely view of an alpine lake while Deception Pass grants a picturesque view of a suspension bridge and the option to explore as many tidepools as your heart desires. Prep for a little bit of rain or snow and you can hike just about any time of year.
5. Dogs are welcome almost everywhere
There are more dogs than children in Seattle, according to information from the US Census. This means that you’ll find dogs at almost any location, including restaurants, 14th-floor apartments, and bars.
Because people in Seattle love their dogs so much, there are many places that offer unique services just for pups. Take the Dog Yard Bar in Ballard, for example. This bar has a large yard in the back for your dogs to run around and play with other dogs. It even boasts a Halloween costume contest…may the best-dressed dog win!
6. The Seattle freeze can be very real
Another common thing you might hear as you research your move is that people in Seattle can be a little hard to get to know, a phenomenon often referred to as the “Seattle freeze”. This can prove true at times, with many Seattleites choosing not to engage in conversations or small-talk with strangers.
Maybe you’re all set with friends and aren’t looking to make new connections. If so, great! However, if you are looking for new friends in a new city, there are many ways to combat the Seattle freeze. You might consider joining a sports league or attending a meetup for something you’re passionate about. Seattle really is filled with great people once you get to talking!
7. There is a big and growing tech culture
Seattle is home to many large tech companies, a fact responsible for some of the population growth outlined by the US census over the past few years. With companies like Amazon and Tableau being headquartered in the city, Seattle has secured its spot as a tech-hub alongside other big cities like San Francisco.
If you’re looking for opportunities in the world of tech, Seattle may be a great place to find yourself. You can connect with other like-minded individuals and explore a range of different companies.
8. Each neighborhood is unique
Every neighborhood in Seattle has its own unique feel. If you’re looking for a specific type of food or shopping experience, you can filter your options by neighborhood. For instance, if you’re hoping to enjoy a day of shopping, you might head to the University District, where you will find a sprawling outdoor shopping center (U-Village). If you’re looking for a bustling nightlife scene, look no further than Capitol Hill, an iconic neighborhood filled with bars and restaurants.
Although Seattle is a very spread-out city, there are several different options for public transportation. You can take the bus, light rail, or train for a low price to your destination. You can even hop on a ferry (with or without your car) to visit one of the neighboring islands.
9. Seattleites’ fashion is very casual
Picture this. It’s Friday night and you’re getting ready to hit the town. You reach for a tight black dress or a button up shirt. Not in Seattle. Try your best flannel and favorite Carhartt beanie instead. Seattlites rarely dress up for a night out, opting for comfort rather than the latest style trend.
Because it is often raining, this also means that having durable rain gear is a must. There is nothing worse than trekking to your destination in wet socks and a soaked sweater. And make sure you have a waterproof jacket with a hood…Seattle folk don’t believe in umbrellas.
10. Beer is king
Seattle is overflowing with beer. There are an endless number of breweries and taprooms that get creative with their beer, turning tasting into a unique experience. Many of the breweries are packed closely together, making them accessible by foot. A great place to beer hop is in Ballard, where you can find a number of breweries in a district of their own.
With the plethora of beer options comes an abundance of outdoor patios. These provide perfect places to sip a cold beer in the sun during the summer months. If you enjoy the sound of the rain on the roof while you drink, most breweries offer covered outdoor seating options for the rainier winter months.
There is so much more to the dynamic and engaging city of Seattle, but these factors are a great place to start as you begin to gather information for your potential move.
At the core of the city is a great love of the environment, an embrace of the creative, and an appreciation for well-crafted food and drink. This makes it an excellent place for people in any stage of their journeys, from college graduates to families to retirees. There really is something for everyone in Seattle.