Living in Seattle Washington in 2020 – Pros and Cons

If becoming a Seattleite is one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2020, then you are probably eager to find out everything about living in Seattle. Are there real emeralds in the Emerald City and what type of coffee do people prefer in Starbucks’ hometown, are only some of the questions will try to address. Besides, we will cover some of the basics, such as the pros and cons, as well as some burning questions that might be useful for all of you who are moving to Seattle soon.

Relocating here could be your best decision in 2020.

Living in Seattle, Washington – a Quick Overview

Before we jump into our comprehensive list of pros and cons, let’s go through some basics that you should keep in mind about your future home.

Located on the west coast, this seaport is the largest city in the state of Washington, but it is not its capital. With less than 800,000 residents, we could say that it is not too big or too small, perhaps the right size. But its growing metropolitan area now counts almost 4 million residents, so here you can find that perfect and often elusive mix of the urban and suburban lifestyle.

This place is ideal for all nature lovers because it is close to water, mountains, and forests. So if you’re into outdoor activities, we believe you’ll never have a dull moment.

The City and Its Nicknames, a Brief Guide:

We are used to knowing that every town has its own set of official and unofficial nicknames. Some of them are more or less iconic, while some cities change their nicknames frequently. But overall, a nickname is something that can tell us a lot about a particular place, whether it refers to its people, history, nature, or industries. Therefore, we created this list of all the nicknames commonly associated with SEA, starting from the oldest one that dates back to 1869:

  • Queen City of Pacific Northwest
  • Gateway to Alaska
  • Gateway to the Orient
  • Jet City
  • America’s Most Livable City
  • The Emerald City

If you thought that there is perhaps an emerald mine here, we have to disappoint you – there is not. The last nickname on our list does not exactly refer to the green-colored gemstone. It relates to evergreen forests that are surrounding this place.

Is SEA the right place to be? Take a look at our pros and cons list.

The Pros and Cons of Living in Seattle

The longer you live in a particular place, the more you become aware of its advantages and drawbacks. When you’re a newcomer, everything seems new and exciting, but after a while, you get to see the real picture. However, you cannot really become a Seattleite until you embrace both sides and vice versa. Something might surprise you positively, some prejudices will be broken, and you will definitely learn a few new things. So for all of you who want to become locals, here is a list of pros and cons of being a resident of the Jet City.

The Pros

According to a lot of people, this is one of the most beautiful places in WA and the entire Pacific Northwest. The Bay, lakes, mountains, forest trails, all give plenty of options for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. But we will tell you a little secret about the locals’ favorite activity: it’s cycling. So don’t forget to pack your bicycle for moving. Also, from here, you can easily visit the desert, a volcano, islands, and even a rainforest.

Seattleites are generally very kind and friendly, and we are sure you won’t have any problems meeting neighbors after you move or make new friends. Just try not to mention or make references to that one particular movie, we will explain it a bit later.

The unemployment rate here is slightly lower than the national average, and it currently stands around 3.2%. If you’re relocating for a job, this is a great place to be because many globally renowned companies, for example, Amazon, are situated right here.

Dedicated foodies will certainly not stay hungry for long. While you’re exploring the best restaurants in Seattle, don’t miss trying some of their seafood specialties.

If you are moving with pets, you will be happy to hear that this is one very pet-friendly metropolis, especially towards dogs. Believe it or not, there are actually more dogs than children in this metropolis, and it usually takes the first spot as the nation’s best city for dogs. Dogs are allowed in all parks, but also restaurants, shops, and in the majority of work offices.

If you are moving to a new city alone, know that this is a great place to start fresh. The median age here is 35, but almost 40% of the population are people between 25 and 44 years of age. And there is also a vast number of young adults who are moving here for college.

Although we can argue about whether this is a good thing or not, the fact is that smoking weed is legal around here. So if you are older than 21, you can purchase marijuana in specialized Cannabis stores. Keep in mind that it is not allowed to smoke it in public.

The Cons

The median home price in this metropolis is quite above the national average, currently being above $700,000. So if you are looking to purchase a property, prepare that it comes at a high cost, but at the same time, it could be a sound investment for those who can afford it.

You have probably heard about this particular downside since, for the majority, gloomy weather is their first association with this metropolis. Winters are particularly cold, so if you are hesitant whether or not to move during the winter, we recommend you to wait for sunnier days to avoid any change of plans or delays due to weather.

Ok, this is not something new, unless you are moving from a small town to a big city and you are used to getting everywhere on time. But in a thriving metropolis like this, you can expect to spend from 30 to 60 minutes stuck in traffic during the rush hours, so plan your time wisely.

The entire state of Washington has increased seismic activity, so if you are afraid of earthquakes, be aware of that. Seattleites also have a few volcanoes in their neighborhood that could erupt due to an earthquake.

If you are used to walking everywhere, prepare that here you will always be going uphill or downhill. A casual walk around Downtown will make you sweat, not to mention some neighborhoods that are hilly. But on the other hand, it will keep you in shape, so just stick through it.

This does not necessarily have to be a factor that should impact your decision to move here, but it is important to keep it in mind. Like in many other major cities, here there is also a noticeable increase in homeless people who live in tents all across the town.

If our cons didn't impact your decision, you are ready to call SEA your home.

What Is It Like Living In Seattle

After getting to know some of the pros and cons of living in Seattle, we would like to dig deeper into specific categories that every newcomer wants to know more about. From money to housing, we all have the same concerns when we are relocating, and especially those who are looking on how to move out of state on a budget.

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Seattle?

Money is always a sensitive and relative topic, as well as the cost of living in Seattle. To be honest, this is not the most affordable place to live, but at the same time, it is also not overly expensive. How much money you will need to survive from one month to the next one depends on your income, your appetites, and your lifestyle. According to AreaVibes, the cost of living index is here is higher than Washington’s average, and significantly higher than the national average, with 158 comparing to 100.

The data from Numbeo, a website that compares prices in different categories, shows that a single person needs around $1,100 on a monthly level, without rent. And the average rents are also rather steep.

If we look at the average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in a central location, you will pay around $2,100. And a similar condo in the suburbs will cost you around $1,600. However, keep in mind that the unemployment rates are not high and that many manage to find and keep good jobs. Therefore the average net salary after taxes goes around $5,700, which seems like more than enough for comfortable everyday life.

How Seattle’s Cost of Living Compares to Other Cities in Washington and West Coast

When looking at cities to compare with our Emerald gem, it seems like there’s no better choice than nearby Portland. However, Portland is not in WA, but the thing is, there is hardly any fair competition in WA. The capital, Olympia, is a significantly smaller town, even when we consider its metropolitan area.

Therefore, if you want to find a place to compare, you have to search in another state, for example, Oregon. When looking at population, location, and even the number of rainy days, these two cities look pretty much the same on paper. But if you go further down the Pacific coast, you’ll reach San Francisco, and that is already an entirely different story. So let’s take a look at some numbers.

DataSeattlePortlandSan Francisco
Average net salary
$5,700
$3,700
$7,700
1 bedroom apt in the center, monthly rent
$2,100
$1,600
$3,500
Utilities for 85m2 apt
$165
$175$150

This table includes some of the main categories that you will spend the majority of your income on, but it shows us that SEA is somewhere in the middle.

Besides, don’t be surprised if you hear from locals that they are planning to escape to Portland. They are not going anywhere. Now and then, true Seattleites go through a phase when they get tired of the moody weather and want to go somewhere where the skies are brighter. For them, the promised land is Portland, at least until they realize that the weather is pretty much the same and that everything else is better in their Emerald gem.

Is Seattle a Good Place to Live for Families?

Here is one question from the category of subjective ones. We already mentioned that this place has a very young population, and although it is a known fact that there are more dogs than kids, around 40% of residents are families with kids under the age of 18. So if you are relocating with children or you plan to raise a family there, don’t worry, there are plenty of things to do in Seattle with kids.

Although it might seem too expensive to stay here, if you don't try, you'll never know.

Addressing All the Weather-Related Questions

Not a single story about this place can’t go without mentioning its climate and moody weather. It became pretty much notorious, but trust us, it is not so bad as it may seem.

Non-Seattleites tend to think that it is pouring rain 24/7 here, but in reality, it rarely even pours. In fact, you will rarely meet locals carrying umbrellas because the rain here is usually so light and misty that locals don’t even bother to shelter from it.

There are 152 rainy days per year, and the rainy season lasts from November through May, and then surprisingly, comes the hottest and dryest summer of your life. But no one barely talks about it, so it is kind of a public secret that summers here are the real deal.

Is Living In Seattle Depressing?

Life here is far from depressing, but we understand why you might think that is not the case. Some are naturally more affected by the weather. If you are one of those people who need plenty of sun to recharge their batteries and feel good, know that there are 2,019 sunny hours per year here.

On the other hand, there are those who enjoy gloomy weather while they are reading a book or drinking their favorite hot beverage in a cozy cafe. It is all a matter of perspective.

Don't forget, the sun always comes out after the rain.

Where to Find the Best Home In SEA, WA

There are so many great Seattle neighborhoods to choose from that we are sure you won’t find your new place so quickly. The general rule is that the families are usually more concentrated in the suburbs while younger adults and students look to be closer to Downtown.

If you are planning on renting, the offer is vast, but it differs from one neighborhood to another. If it is possible, we strongly advise you to leave your stuff belongings in storage and take some time to explore all the communities around the town. Auto-transport is also something you should consider, especially if you are moving to the suburbs, although public transportation works fine. Pay close attention to neighborhoods such as Bellevue, Capitol Hill, Madison Park, Beacon Hill, and Ballard.

There are plenty of great neighborhoods where you can find a perfect home.

What Not To Do

There are not many things you can’t or shouldn’t do once you move here, but one thing is strongly not advised. Mentioning the famous movie Sleepless in Seattle. It will be a clear sign that you are not Seattleite, which is nothing wrong, but imagine how annoying it is when others continuously keep bringing up that movie. You will find plenty of touristy shops with T-shirts and other items that are related to the film, but think twice before buying. You live here now.

In 1971, the first-ever Starbucks store was established right here on Pike Street, making Emerald City Starbucks’ hometown. There are around 133 Starbucks stores all around the town, which puts in on the sixth place of cities with the most Starbucks stores. NYC is holding first place with 241 stores.

But if you are a real coffee lover, don’t go to Starbucks, even though there are literally on every corner. There are so many other great smaller craft coffee shops that offer unique blends and tastes. Some of them worth mentioning are Moonshot Coffee, Hood Famous Bakeshop Cafe and Bar, and La Marzocco.

You won't find many locals in touristy areas.

Best Things to Do in Emerald City

If you are looking for some unique things to do in Seattle, you won’t be disappointed. There are so many festivals, and pretty much every population group or a fan base has an event of their own.

Gamers, steampunkers, comic fanatics, and sci-fi fans all have at least one festival, and if you don’t want to join them, it is still fun to watch. Also, the music scene is pretty diverse, and Seattleites especially appreciate their locals like Quincy Jones, Jimmy Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. Still, you can find a music venue for everyone’s music taste.

Nature-lovers should go on a hike around Mount Ranier, the most cherished place of every Seattleite. That’s the mountain you’ll probably see from your window every day, it’s on your license plate, and pretty much everywhere else where they could place it. If you are looking for less crowded spots, take your bike and ride along the trails of Sammamish and Burke-Gilman river.

Local music scene is vivid and diverse, so we are sure you will enjoy it.

Things You Perhaps Didn’t Know

Here are some of the interesting facts about this Pacific gem from the north you might don’t know about:

  • The Public Library here is proudly a library with the highest number of residents who own a library card per capita in the entire US. So if you are a book worm, here they won’t look at you weird.
  • Locals don’t wear umbrellas. We mentioned it already, but to make sure you understand it wasn’t a joke, they really don’t. At the beginning of your adaptation process, you will probably insist on wearing it. But soon, you too will be over it and embrace the daily dose of rain like a true Seattleite.
  • Eco-friendliness. Seattleites take their recycling seriously and strive to live as green as possible. Therefore, if more than 10% of the stuff in your trash can is recyclable, for the first two times, you will get a written warning, the third time you pay a $50 penalty.
  • Locals don’t just drink coffee. Starbucks contributed to the reputation of a coffee-runed town, but another beverage is also highly popular around here, and that is beer. There are hundreds of microbreweries and pubs where you can try different beer flavors on a daily level.
Take a walk around Downtown in the evening to feel the vibe of SEA.

Relocating to SEA

There is one thing you will learn once you relocate here. Whether it’s gloomy or sunny, Seattleites love their town, and they wouldn’t change it for anything. And before you know it, you will feel that way too, so don’t stress too much about the rain and other things you can’t control, you will see it for yourself that it’s not so bad. Start packing on time, find reliable Seattle movers, and if you don’t want to leave your umbrellas behind just yet, that’s ok too.

Written By: Jane Davis