Are you considering moving to Seattle? It’s hard to blame you.
I currently live in Seattle and can confirm that life in this robust city feels like a privilege most days.
There’s no denying that the city has an inexplicable draw on folks looking to start afresh in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
But, as with anything in life, there’s also downsides.
Sure, living in Seattle is great for some — but is it the right decision for you?
If you’re considering moving to Seattle, I’d like to share my personal list of the honest pros and cons of living in Seattle to make your decision process easier.
While reading this list, please keep in mind that this is my personal list of the pros and cons of living in Seattle, not everyone will feel the same way.
With that said, let’s jump right in!
Note: This post is part of the Local Living Series, wherein locals share honest insights of living in a specific city through comprehensive pros and cons lists. If you’d like to reach out to the author directly with questions, please do so in the comments below and our team will ensure it gets to the right person.
Pros of Living in Seattle
#1. Proximity to nature
Seattle’s nickname as the Emerald City is well deserved. The nickname is directly related to the nature and greenery surrounding the city year-round, even during the dreary winter months thanks to evergreen forests that enclose the city on all sides.
When considering moving to Seattle, the access to nature is possibly the biggest draw.
I think nature is a big reason so many people choose to live in the Pacific Northwest, in general.
Seattle is a mere two-hour drive from all three of Washington’s breathtaking national parks. Not to mention the plethora of hiking trails just a stone’s throw from the city’s limit.
All this to say, Seattleites take outdoor recreation seriously, and thankfully, there’s plenty of outdoor activities to choose from.
#2. Great career opportunities
Seattle has an astounding amount of career opportunities, especially in the tech industry.
In fact, Seattle consistently ranks as one of the top 10 best cities in the country for jobs, thanks to the strong job economy in this tech-centric city.
And since some of the biggest tech companies (in the entire world) are clustered into Seattle’s city limits, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that Seattle is considered one of the best cities in America for tech jobs.
Home to Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Nintendo and Microsoft. Over the past few years a handful of other notable companies moved to Seattle like Adobe, Google, Apple and Facebook.
But don’t let me fool you – competition is fierce. These renowned companies have a very large and talented pool of applicants to choose from, so folks that live in Seattle can’t help but take their careers seriously.
As such, Seattleites are sometimes considered workaholics.
#3. There’s no state income tax
Washington is one of only nine states in the country that doesn’t have a state income tax.
Which is actually a big deal when you think of it this way: The exact same salary in the neighboring state of Oregon would automatically bring in 10% less because of Oregon’s income tax.
Say you’re bringing in $50,000 per year, that’s a savings of $5,000. In fact, it’s not uncommon for life-long Oregonians to retire in Washington for this very reason.
But I’m all for transparency, what Washington lacks in state income tax it makes up for in sales tax (6.5%) and Seattle has an additional sales tax of 3.75%.
Essentially this means you will be paying a hefty 10.25% in sales taxes on anything you buy in Seattle. Which is one of the top 5 highest sales taxes in the country.
Hence, some Washingtonians head south to Oregon for large purchases like electronics and jewelry. Funny how that works!
#4. Seattle is a safe city
I’ve never felt unsafe living in Seattle. Like most folks my age (mid-30s), I wake up around 6am and drive to work. After parking my car, I walk 8 city blocks to my office.
Sometime I grab drinks with friends after work and wander downtown until 9pm. Other times I’m home by 7pm.
I’m definitely not living on the edge by any means, my life isn’t overly exciting but it works for me.
All this to say, I’ve never experienced anything eventful safety-wise, even while walking back to my car alone at 9pm.
I don’t want to paint a false picture though because Seattle is definitely experiencing a housing crises (like most overpopulated cities in America). As such, homelessness is rampant and very apparent.
Some people associate homelessness with crime, but that is not always the case.
Most of the homeless in Seattle don’t pose a threat and leave folks alone – I’ve yet to have a memorable interaction in that department, but wanted to mention it regardless.
#5. The incredible food scene
Seattle restaurants are all about quality ingredients and local produce and let me tell you — we are all better for it. Local reigns supreme and you can definitely taste the difference.
The seafood dishes in Seattle are some of the best you’ll find in the country but there’s also a great selection of Asian cuisines as well.
Seattle has the 5th highest concentration of restaurants in the country (per 10,000 households). Plus, both chefs and critics love partaking in the city’s diverse culinary scene here — for instance, Anthony Bourdain is quoted as saying:
“Seattle has one of the best and most interesting food scenes in America.”Anthony Bourdain
Anthony, you’re making us blush.
#6. Seattle is an intellectual city
Seattle is full of intellectuals, so much so, that is has earned the ranking of America’s smartest city in 2018.
In fact, 47% of Seattleites hold bachelor’s degrees — the highest percentage of degree holders in the country (and double the US average of 24%).
But we all know how it goes – for every true intellect there’s always two know-it-alls.
So take this pro with a grain of salt, because if you’re moving to Seattle you’ll be surrounded by folks who think they know best.
I will add that I enjoy living in Seattle because there’s never a shortage of interesting conversations to be had. You know how it goes, there’s pros and cons to everything.
#7. There’s no need for air conditioning
Seriously, apart from maybe two weeks a year, there’s no need for AC when living in Seattle.
#8. Seattle is downright beautiful
Seattle is genuinely a beautiful city.
Between the city’s famous skyline (looking at you, Space Needle), the jaw-dropping Olympic mountains looming in the background, swaths of healthy evergreen forests and the scenic Puget Sound – it’s hard to find another American city that compares to this level of beauty.
Living in Seattle feels like a treat because the city is a joy to look at. From the hilly city streets to the charming homes and quaint cafes. Seattle is a treat for the eyes.
Plus, the infamous rain keeps things green and fairly clean – always a perk!
#9. Seattle has phenomenal summers
Seattle has some of the best summers in the country. Humidity is nonexistent, temperatures are mild (seldom exceeding 75-80 degrees) and sunshine is reliable.
For many people, the nature is the biggest draw of moving to Seattle and the spectacular summers make it possible to take advantage of outdoor recreation without constant fear of oppressive heat.
I mean, just take a day trip to Mt. Rainier National Park in July and you’ll be hooked in no time.
What’s more, we don’t really have massive bug problems here, so you can easily spend time outside late into the evening — a perk of living in Seattle that is not to be underestimated.
And evening temperatures dip to comfortable lows, which make early mornings and late evenings rather enjoyable because you get a break from the summer heat.
Further Reading: 10 Jaw-Dropping Things to Do at Mt. Rainier National Park
#10. Seattle is a dog friendly city
When you live in Seattle you’ll notice that a handful of your neighbors, coworkers and friends will have a dog. It’s no surprise that the home of the beloved puppuccino caters to dog lovers in every way imaginable.
You’ll see dogs at restaurants, cafes, parks and even a handful of workplaces.
If you plan on moving to Seattle with a dog, you have a clear advantage of making friends because you’ll be meeting other people at dog parks or during your walks.
#11. Seattle is the best coffee city in America
Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks Coffee, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice by skipping out on the incredible local coffee shops while living in Seattle.
It’s no coincidence that Seattle is often ranked as the best coffee city in America. With one cafe for ever 2,300 residents, there’s no excuse to drink bad coffee while living here.
If you consider yourself a coffee-aficionado, pay homage to the company that put coffee on the map by visiting the original Starbucks store at Pike Place Market — or better yet, swing by the Seattle Roastery for an experience you won’t soon forget.
Cons of Living in Seattle
#1. High cost of living
As mentioned earlier, the cost of living in Seattle is a major con. We’re not even in the same timezone as affordable.
In fact, in 2019, Seattle was ranked the 5th most expensive city in the country – trailing behind Manhattan, San Francisco, Honolulu and Brooklyn. Ouch.
On average, a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown core area will set you back $2,200. It’s not uncommon for folks with well paying jobs to have roommates.
Sure, Seattle jobs pay more than the national average, but rent typically far exceeds 40-50% of take-home pay.
All this to say, if you’re moving to Seattle, expect housing to take a big bite out of your budget.
#2. The weather
As you may know, Seattle is known as a rainy city. And yes, it does rain in Seattle but not as often as some people think.
For instance, Seattle gets less rain than New York City and Washington D.C. In fact, Seattle isn’t even in the top 10 rainiest cities in America.
Based on firsthand experience, one of the biggest cons of living in Seattle isn’t the rain, it’s the forever-looming gray clouds taking residence above the city.
The sky is gray and gray most months of the year, which makes winter feel so long. It also doesn’t help that the sun rises later and sets earlier from November to February
Knowing this, it’s no wonder Seattleites are desperate to take advantage of the quickly-fleeting blissful summer months.
Hiking trails are packed during summer because everyone wants to take advantage of the sunshine.
The best way to combat Seattle’s dreary winter weather? This handy device. I honestly couldn’t live in Seattle without it during the winter months.
Also worth mention, Seattle locals take great pride in shunning umbrellas (similar to Portlanders). Oftentimes the joke is that an umbrella is a clear sign of a tourist. Heads up!
#3. The Seattle Freeze
If you find yourself having a hard time making friends after moving to Seattle, don’t worry, you are not alone.
Seattle’s cold shoulder is so infamous, there’s an actual term for it — The Seattle Freeze.
Life-long Seattle residents take great pride in their city and sometime dislike newcomers.
If you’re feeling the sting, I suggest befriending other newcomers but getting involved in your local community and putting yourself out there.
Attend work events, compliment someone at a cafe, join a book club or find a workout group.
I don’t want to sound naively optimistic, but I feel like the Seattle Freeze is slowly starting to soften because of all the recent transplants.
Seattle was considered the third fastest growing city in America by population in 2018 and I think we’re all better for it.
With so many new folks moving to Seattle, it’s easier to make friends than it was in the past.
The Seattle Freeze is real, just know it’s not personal and you’ll be able to find ways around it.
#4. The constant traffic
Time and time again, Seattle clocks in as one of the worst cities for traffic in the country. Rush hour lasts about 5 hours a day (yes, really) and the city is in complete gridlock during that hour.
It’s safe to say that when you live in Seattle, traffic is all but guaranteed in your daily life.
As Seattle grows, the aging infrastructure can’t keep up with demand. As such, plan to spend a lot of time sitting in a car practicing zen mantras over and over because you’ll need it.
Most locals prefer driving to taking public transportation… which probably tells you everything you need to know about public transportation in Seattle, but we’ll cover that shortly.
#5. The housing market
Seattle is considered one of the most expensive cities in the country to buy a home — which is definitely something to consider if you plan on moving to Seattle to settle down long-term.
If you’d like to live close to downtown, starter homes (requiring some work) start around $765,000 and increase annually.
The housing market in Seattle is nowhere near affordable. If I finally save enough for a down payment, my only option is to move out of Seattle proper to buy a home.
It’s unfortunate because I enjoy living in Seattle’s vibrant downtown core, but a long-term stay is just not realistic.
And yes, I understand that exorbitant housing costs are not unique to Seattle – but it’s still very unfortunate.
#6. Seattle lacks diversity
One thing I learned quickly after moving to Seattle is that the city is overwhelmingly white. Aside from a healthy Asian community, it’s hard to find diversity in the Emerald City.
I moved to Seattle from Brooklyn, so the lack of diversity was a brutal wake up call, to be sure.
However, based on what I hear from coworkers and friends, it seems like the the Pacific Northwest lacks diversity in general.
Here’s some data to back this up: The racial composition of the Seattle in 2016 was 65.7%white, 14.1%Asian, 7.0%Black, 0.4%Native American, 0.9%Pacific Islander, 2.3% from other races, and 5.6% fromtwo or more races.
#7. High rate of homelessness
Seattle has the third highest homeless population of any US city and I would be remiss to exclude this fact because it impacts my perception of living in Seattle.
Tent cities are quite common and drug use is rampant. It seems like homelessness gets worse by the day.
Homelessness is a tough humanitarian issue to solve and the city is working on it, but I personally have no idea what the solution is and doubt it will get addressed anytime soon.
#8. There’s a rise in wildfires
As of lately, the biggest con of living in Seattle is the constant threat of wildfires.
If 2020 and 2021 has taught me anything about living in Seattle, it’s that wildfires are becoming a part of my daily life.
It’s heartbreaking to see record-setting wildfires fill the city with dense black smoke during the summer months and the occurrences are definitely on the rise.
The wildfire smoke is so bad you can’t leave your house some days because of the poor air quality.
This is one of the biggest factors in my decision to potentially move out of Seattle.
#9. Public transportation is lacking
Public transportation in any city depends on where you live and where you work and play. Living in Seattle is no different.
Seattle has public transportation, but based on my personal experience it’s not effective enough to rely on. Service shortages, heavy traffic and delayed buses and trains are not uncommon.
People often ask me if they should get rid of their car before moving to Seattle and I say no, not until they’ve lived here for 3+ months and get a feel for the public transportation.
I know that most folks complain about public transportation and don’t get me wrong — I’m grateful that Seattle has options, it’s just that living in Seattle without a car isn’t a no-brainer.
Moving to Seattle (Post Conclusion)
In short, here are the honest pros and cons of living in Seattle, Washington:
- Proximity to nature
- Career opportunities
- No state income tax
- Seattle is a safe city
- The foodie scene
- Home to the best coffee in America
- Seattle is an intellectual city
- No need for A/C
- Seattle is a beautiful city
- Seattle is dog-friendly
- Great summers
- High cost of living
- The weather
- The Seattle Freeze
- Nightmare traffic
- The housing market
- Lack of diversity
- Rise in wildfires
- Public transportation is lacking
- Living in Seattle Vs. Portland (What’s the Difference)
Washington’s beauty is hard describe using pictures and words, if you’d like to see some of the beauty surrounding Seattle, the video below may prove helpful.
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Until next time,
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High cost of living. As mentioned earlier, the cost of living in Seattle is a major con. We're not even in the same timezone as affordable. In fact, in 2019, Seattle was ranked the 5th most expensive city in the country – trailing behind Manhattan, San Francisco, Honolulu and Brooklyn.Is living in Seattle worth it? ›
Seattle is consistently ranked among the 10 best places to live in the United States by U.S. News, and for good reason. Not only is Seattle surrounded by lush evergreen forests, but the city is famous for being environmentally friendly. Plus, its residents earn above-average incomes.Is Seattle a good place to live 2022? ›
By the numbers: Seattle now ranks 36th on the publication's best places to live list for 2022–23. That's 17 spots lower than where we ranked last year (19th). The rankings cover the 150 most populated metro areas nationwide.How much money do you need to make to live comfortably in Seattle? ›
|0 Children||3 Children|
|Required annual income after taxes||$35,451||$110,908|
|Required annual income before taxes||$41,198||$128,888|
- Social exclusion.
- Arbor Heights.
- Blue Ridge.
- North Admiral.
- Fremont. Perfect for families looking for a diverse and all-inclusive vibe with great public transportation and schools. ...
- Capitol Hill. ...
- Belltown. ...
- Ballard. ...
- Queen Anne. ...
- Pioneer Square. ...
- Beacon Hill. ...
- Columbia City.
"Typically, we have up to about 50 different species of mosquitos, even in western Washington and around the Seattle area. Even in the urban environments, you can expect to have an increase in mosquitos," said Riffell.Why are there no mosquitoes in Seattle? ›
In Seattle, we don't have the high temperatures to quickly pump out those generations, Collman said. Stagnant water – the swampier and steamier the better – also helps mosquitos thrive. In Seattle, waters moves through locks and canals, not soggy wetlands.Is Seattle good for retirees? ›
Choosing Seattle, Washington as your retirement community has many advantages. You get a walkable downtown with great public transportation. Many apartments and homes overlook harbors, lakes, parks, and mountains. Great boating, skiing, hiking are all at your doorstep, as are many cultural programs.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, census data showed Seattle lost population from 2020 to 2021. Several factors contributed to the nationwide population losses, but the rise of remote work probably had the most profound impact. It freed up many workers to live farther away from urban employment hubs.What is the coldest month in Seattle? ›
Seattle C.O.'s coldest month is January when the average temperature overnight is 36.0°F. In August, the warmest month, the average day time temperature rises to 74.9°F.What is the average electric bill in Seattle? ›
On average, electricity users in Seattle, WA spend about $146 per month on electricity. That adds up to $1,752 per year. That's 21% lower than the national average electric bill of $2,226.What is considered middle class in Seattle? ›
The median household income in Seattle is $110,781. Here, the middle-class income range is $73,847 to $221,562. Seattle also has the second-highest median income.
Ants—Ants are very common throughout the Seattle area. Some ants, namely carpenter ants, can cause structural damage to your home. Some ants can also create foul odors in your home. Cockroaches—Cockroaches can enter your home through very small cracks and contaminate food.Is homelessness worse in Seattle or Portland? ›
It's not. There are, according to HUD's point-in-time count of homeless people in Seattle 40,800 homeless in the aforementioned city, compared to 6,633 homeless in Portland. So the problem is almost seven times worse in Seattle.Why is there so many homeless in Seattle? ›
Some reasons for homelessness have been attributed to the cost of living in Seattle having significantly risen in the past decade due to gentrification, lack of publicly owned affordable housing, and the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.What part of Seattle is cheapest to live? ›
- Puget Ridge (West Seattle) This West Seattle gem is located just south of the West Seattle Bridge, east of Delridge Way. ...
- Upper Rainier Beach. ...
- Kenmore. ...
- South Newcastle. ...
- Pinehurst. ...
- Kingsgate (Kirkland)
Redmond. #1 Best Suburbs to Live in Seattle Area.Can I live without a car in Seattle? ›
It is possible to live well in Seattle without a car
Because parking in Seattle is so expensive, sometimes I paid less to get from Point A to Point B via a rideshare than I would have paid for parking!
The recommended salary in Seattle is $5,557 per month or $66,680 annually. This total reflects a salary that would allow a renter to live comfortably and afford to cover the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment which sits at $1,667.Are roaches a problem in Seattle? ›
Seattle has the same types of cockroaches as other big cities. The main roaches found in Seattle properties include: American Cockroach – The largest roach in North America. German Cockroach – The most common roach in Seattle.How common are cockroaches in Seattle? ›
Yes, there certainly are cockroaches in Seattle. There are the smaller German roaches which like moist areas such as drains, and the larger American roaches which prefer dryer areas with better food. There is also at least one type of Asian cockroach. They are all quite common downtown, especially in Pioneer Square.Are bedbugs a problem in Seattle? ›
Exterminators at Orkin ranked the top 50 cities for bed bug infestations. Seattle is unfortunately on the list.Are spiders a problem in Seattle? ›
“The Seattle area is rich in spiders,” he said. “They are just starting to get big now.” Big — like the giant house spider. That's what many people are seeing around their homes around this time — a brownish spider that is about as big as a person's palm.Why are there no birds in Seattle? ›
Joshua Morris with Seattle Audubon said one of the biggest causes in bird decline is the loss of habitat. That's mostly due to construction, climate change and a shrinking tree canopy. He said the losses are staggering. "This is indicative of wide-scale ecological collapse."Does Seattle have a rat problem? ›
Rats in Seattle. The rat problem has been growing in the Puget Sound area and it doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. Rats have been around in the Seattle area for as long as we have; in fact, we brought them here.Where do the happiest retirees live? ›
|Country||Happiness Index 2020||Happy retirement index|
Retirement Taxes by State 2022.
|State||Retirement Tax Friendliness||2022 Pop.|
In Washington, average retirement spending stands at an estimated $1,163,099 – the sixth highest among states. Goods and services in the state are 7.4% more expensive than they are, on average, nationwide, and life expectancy at age 65 is 19.8 years to 84.8, compared to 19.5 years to 84.5 across the country as a whole.
Of those who've considered moving out of the city, 35% cited cost of living/housing; 29% cited public safety/crime; 12% cited homelessness; and 9% citied government/politics as the main reason for their considerations in leaving.Why people are leaving Washington State? ›
6. Washington. Former Washington residents are finding refuge from the state's skyrocketing cost of living in places like Oregon and Idaho. Oregon's cost of living is 7% cheaper, while Idaho boasts the lowest cost of living among the western states.Does Seattle have a housing problem? ›
There simply aren't enough homes in the Seattle area. It's a long-standing problem here, as it is in other major coastal cities.What is considered upper class in Seattle? ›
Here's what researchers found about Seattle: Population: 724,305. Lowest Income to be Considered “Rich” (Top 20%): $186,063. Average Income of the Top 20%: $331,167.Is North Seattle or south Seattle better? ›
The north end has better elementary schools (higher income families and more parent involvement), but higher home prices. South Seattle has lower prices but struggling schools. Friends living there are weighing whether to send their kids to private schools. Best of luck to you as you make your decision.What are the worst months in Seattle? ›
Seattle Temperatures by Month. The notoriously rainy, dreary winters in Seattle can be jarring, so if you're going to the city between November and March, don't forget your raincoat and galoshes. Seattle's rainy season is generally expected between January and May and October and December.How do people survive winter in Seattle? ›
- Go skiing. ...
- Go for a walk outside while it's still light. ...
- Drink hot beverages. ...
- Also drink cold beverages. ...
- Get moving, even just a little bit. ...
- Eat pho. ...
- Think about how much worse it could actually be. ...
- Plan a vacation (for March)
November 2022 to October 2023. Winter temperatures will be milder than normal, with slightly below-normal precipitation and snowfall. The coldest periods will be in mid-November and early and late December. The snowiest period will be in mid-November.How much is gas in Seattle? ›
|Week Ago Avg.||$5.062||$5.301|
|Month Ago Avg.||$5.587||$5.752|
|Milk (regular), (1 gallon)||4.27$|
|Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)||3.81$|
|Rice (white), (1 lb)||2.40$|
|Eggs (regular) (12)||3.59$|
Most Seattleites pay around $203 per month for basic utilities, which covers electricity, gas, water, and garbage pickup. With internet costing an average of $64 more per month, this adds up to a total of almost $40 above the national average.
Seattle Migration & Relocation Trends.
|Inbound||Net Search Flow|
|10||Boston, MA +2||128|
- Population: 741,251.
- Lowest Income to be Considered “Rich” (Top 20%): $197,129.
- Average Income of the Top 20%: $345,093.
- Average Income of the Top 5%: $604,519.
Seattle is pretty mixed and one will find middle class and up types in most neighborhoods. Queen Anne, Admiral, Madison park,Broadmoor,Mercer island, seward park they all have lots of million dollar homes, and they all have some smaller bungalows and a few condos.Is it cheaper to live in Seattle or California? ›
Cost of Living Comparison Between Seattle, WA and Los Angeles, CA.
|City||Cost of Living Index|
|Los Angeles, CA||78.43|
|New York, NY||100|
New York City is a better option if you are after a melting pot of cultural diversity. But if you can handle the Seattle freeze and are considering a city with predominantly white residents, then Seattle might suit you better than NYC.Are groceries expensive in Seattle? ›
Transportation expenses like bus fares and gas prices are 35% higher than the national average. Seattle has grocery prices that are 30% higher than the national average.What is the cheapest way to live in Seattle? ›
- South Park. Located on the Duwamish River, South Park is a pocket of the city full of personality and much more affordable than the rest of the city — averaging under $1,400 a month. ...
- Columbia City. ...
- Pinehurst. ...
Seattle C.O.'s coldest month is January when the average temperature overnight is 36.0°F. In August, the warmest month, the average day time temperature rises to 74.9°F.Why Seattle is so popular? ›
Seattle is famous for Starbucks and overall coffee culture, grunge music scene, the Seahawks, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, headquarters of a lot of the tech industry (including both Amazon and Microsoft), hiking, kayaking, and general outdoors lifestyle (think REI).
The main difference between Seattle and Chicago is the weather. Chicago gets much colder and snowier in winters whereas Seattle is milder and rainier. They also have somewhat different cultures, with Chicago having a vibrant big-city culture whereas Seattle is more of a sleepy city.Is Seattle cheaper than Texas? ›
The cost of living in Seattle, Washington is 60.6% more expensive than the cost of living in Dallas, Texas. You would need a comparable salary of $48,184 in Seattle, Washington to maintain the same standard of living you have in Dallas, Texas.