- Download our Moving to Seattle Guide (PDF)
Seattle is one of the most picturesque cities in America, where majestic mountains and verdant forests are always in the frame. Locals understandably love the pristine natural beauty on their doorstep. They're known for their calm, patient outlook on life, and most of them would rather chat over drinks, attend music concerts or go out to the theatre than have wild nights on the town.
That said, like every city, Seattle has a few negatives to go with its many positives. Below is a list of the pros and cons of moving to Seattle.
Cost of living in Seattle
+ PRO: High spending power
Seattle's booming economy means professionals can earn more than the average American salary, allowing them greater spending power.
- CON: High cost of living
While Seattle's job market remains relatively healthy, the current economic downturn has affected the city's cost of living. Healthcare and utilities in Seattle are above the national average, while groceries cost 25 percent more than they do in the rest of the country.
Accommodation in Seattle
+ PRO: Excellent standard of accommodation
Newcomers from all walks of life will find suitable housing that is constructed to a high standard in Seattle. Young and single new arrivals looking to be in the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle will find plenty of housing ranging from loft conversions to chic apartments. Families can find spacious and more affordable homes in Seattle's outlying suburbs.
- CON: Rent costs are high
Housing doesn't come cheap in Seattle. The cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment is almost twice the national average. The factors behind the high prices are a boom in the construction of expensive, luxury apartment buildings and an influx of young, affluent tech professionals who can afford them.
Working in Seattle
+ PRO: Job opportunities are broad
Thanks to its strong economy, Seattle's unemployment rate remains low (compared to the national average), and the number of jobs is constantly growing. Top industries include technical, business and scientific services, though manufacturing, healthcare, education, hospitality, retail and food services are popular as well.
- CON: The job market is competitive
While Seattle offers opportunities to skilled newcomers, its job market is exceedingly competitive. Many top employers are looking for the best of the best. Jobseekers who want to succeed in the city should commit to upskilling through frequent courses to stay ahead of the competition.
Lifestyle in Seattle
+ PRO: Outdoor activities are plentiful
There are vast acres of parkland in and around Seattle, meaning active newcomers can easily find superb hiking and biking trails. Climbers can visit Mount Rainier and the National Park, while Lake Washington is a must for bass, trout and salmon fishing. Camping, skiing, backpacking, kite surfing and visits to the ocean, volcanoes and different islands are on the menu too.
+ PRO: Great culinary scene
The city's food scene offers everything from expensive high-end fare to moreish fast food. Seattle's seafood options are particularly appetising. Seattle shares the Northwest's tradition of providing magnificent breakfasts of eggs, bacon and waffles. It also has a big reputation in the craft-brewing industry and is home to artisans who micro-brew beer, wine, tea and coffee – among other things.
+ PRO: Thriving music landscape
Seattle has a real pedigree as a music town, with renowned artists such as Ray Charles and Quincy Jones starting their careers here. The grunge genre of music traces its origins to the city through bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden. Newcomers can enjoy thriving rock and hip-hop scenes, as well as classical music.
Culture shock in Seattle
- CON: The Seattle Freeze
Many people who move to the city talk about the 'Seattle Freeze', which refers to the locals' attitude of not wanting to talk to people they don't already know. The claim is that while Seattle natives are polite, they can be cliquey and standoffish around newcomers.
Weather in Seattle
- CON: Gloomy weather
For all its virtues, Seattle only has 152 days of sunshine per year versus a national average of 205. It's also one of the rainiest major cities in America.
+ PRO: Comfortable climate
Though Seattle is exceptionally rainy, the city enjoys comfortable weather conditions year-round. Temperatures rarely go to extremes, and snowfall totals less than seven inches every winter – versus a national average of 28 inches (0.71 metres).
►To get a feel of living in the Emerald City, check our Moving to Seattle overview
"The locals are friendly. It’s easier to connect if the family has kids as there are a lot of extra-curricular activities to be involved in. But Seattle is known for ‘Seattle freeze’. Locals are comfortable with their established friendship and do not willingly welcome new social contacts immediately." Get some tips on Seattle life, accommodation and getting around in Padmaja's interview.
Are you an expat living in Seattle?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Seattle. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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