Moving to Seattle, WA

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Seattle At-A-Glance

So, you’re thinking about moving to Seattle? The Space Needle might be the poster child, but the reason people love this city is for its blend of tech, coffee culture and sense of neighborhood spirit that is hard to describe until you’ve walked its streets.

While U.S. News places Seattle among the Top 10 mega-cities to live in for 2023-2024, the real city story is about the parks. With a ParkScore that ranks it 8th in the country, almost everyone in Seattle lives within a 10-minute walk of some green space — 99 percent of the people, to be more exact. Guess that explains why they call it the ‘Emerald City.’

Indeed, if you think that the perfect home is where the city and nature meet, living in Seattle will check that box for you. With Puget Sound whispering on one end and the Cascades standing tall on the other, you are in for a unique vibe. Do you want to really get to know it? Stick around.

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A City of Sips, Sights and Surprises

Moving to Seattle exposes you to more than just your average latte and tall buildings. Step inside and discover a mix of yesterday and today, all with that laid-back Pacific Northwest feel. Start with the music roots. Think Jimi Hendrix and his killer guitar solos. And if you wander around town in the evening, don’t be surprised if a local band brings back memories of grunge-filled nights.

Coffee-wise, sure, there’s Starbucks, but the real magic is in the countless local cafes where baristas might know your name and order. Living in Seattle, you will soon find that every corner seems to offer a new flavor, whether it’s a fresh pastry or a bold espresso.

Hungry for more? Seattle’s food scene is a dream. Fresh seafood? Straight from Puget Sound. World cuisines? Absolutely. And if beer’s your thing, local breweries keep things interesting with brews that are as unique as the city itself.

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From Happiness to High Employment

Behind Seattle’s tech glow lies a city bursting with joy. Ranked as the 11th happiest city in the U.S. by WalletHub, here, cheerful faces meet with heavier wallets. Seattle shines bright at 4th place when it comes to income satisfaction and takes a bow at 5th for income growth. No wonder smiles come easy here.

Amazon and Microsoft? Sure, they’re the big tech talkers, but Seattle’s employer chat goes beyond the well known names. It hums tales of biotech wonders, healthcare strides and waves crashing onto boats — be it from a shipping dock or a fishing pier. Then there’s the roar of engines and manufacturing melodies thanks to titans like Paccar and Weyerhaeuser.

Peek into the University of Washington’s crystal ball and the city’s job future glistens. Cybersecurity buffs, data whizzes and crafty web developers are the talk of the town. 

Looking at the job scene, there’s a buzz in the air. Eateries and hotels are opening doors wider with a 10 percent jump in roles since June 2022. Even the ground beneath rumbles as the mining and logging industry boasts a 9 percent growth.

Unemployment rate: 3.4 percent (as of June 2023)

Average weekly wages for all industries in the Seattle area: $1,837 (Q4 2022)

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Real Estate

Value Meets Demand in Seattle’s Housing

Home sweet home — that’s what they say. In Seattle, it seems more people prefer the flexibility of renting, though homeowners certainly stake their claim. Specifically, 45.2 percent of Seattleites can call their abode their very own, which is just shy of Washington’s state average and the U.S. average of 64.6 percent. There’s no right or wrong; it’s just the rhythm of the Emerald City.

But let’s talk bricks and bucks. Seattle houses, with their stunning views and unique vibes, sport a median value of $767,500. Now, here’s a fun fact: That’s almost double the state’s average. How does that compare with the U.S. average? Seattle homes are over three times pricier. Which mirrors the magnetic pull of Seattle and the race to grab a slice of its story.

For the nomads and wanderers, or maybe just those who love a change of scenery now and then, Seattle’s rental arena offers choices aplenty. With a median gross rent of $1,801, living here might feel a pinch heavier on the pocket compared to Washington’s $1,439 or the country’s modest $1,163. But then again, waking up to views of Puget Sound or the Cascades? Some might argue that’s priceless.

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Seattle Neighborhoods Go From Hilltops to Waterfronts

Seattle is a big place with lots of nooks and crannies. So, let’s talk neighborhoods, shall we?

Capitol Hill: This place has heart. It’s a spot where young go-getters and artists come together, and there is a strong sense of community for the LGBTQ+. Oh, and the eateries? Delicious.

Ballard: It’s like stepping into a storybook. Once a fishing village, now you can find both echoes of the past and trendy shops. And yes, the historic Ballard Locks are as cool as they sound.

Fremont: They call it “The Center of the Universe” and you’ll quickly see why. It is quirky, artsy and those boutiques are bursting with creativity.

West Seattle: Think sandy shoes and city views. With local dining spots and the inviting Alki Beach, this neighborhood is laid-back yet lively.

Queen Anne: Rolling hills, charming homes and some of the best views of Puget Sound. This is a snapshot of history, just a hop away from downtown.

Belltown: If you want to be in the thick of things, this is your spot. Think high-rise living and a stone’s throw from the famous Pike Place Market.

Columbia City: A neighborhood that feels like a global tour. From shops that tell tales of the past to diverse dining and frequent cultural shindigs, it is a burst of life.

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Seattle Moves From Morning to Midnight and Beyond

When you look at the numbers, Seattle’s traffic can raise an eyebrow or two. Taking the 7th spot on TomTom’s not-so-coveted Traffic Index, especially when its population size sits at 18th, it’s evident there’s room for improvement. And with an average daily commute of 27.7 minutes, just a tad over the national average, it’s clear that Seattle roads see their fair share of busy moments.

But where roads might sometimes falter, Seattle’s public transit steps up to offer alternatives.

Buses: The King County Metro, with its range of options, is often the go-to for many. RapidRide buses, designed to bypass some of the traffic with dedicated red lanes, and the inclusive Night Owl service, ensure the city stays connected round the clock. Seattle ensures nobody’s left behind. The Downtown Circulator offers free rides, so everyone can move about, no matter the wallet size.

Rail: For those who prefer to avoid the road altogether, Sound Transit’s Link light rail and Sounder train are solid choices. Then there’s the iconic Seattle Center Monorail, a direct connection between Westlake Center and Seattle Center.

On the water: Why stick to the roads when you can embrace the waves? With Washington State Ferries and the King County water taxis, places like Bainbridge Island, Bremerton and Vashon Island are but a scenic journey away.

Biking? Oh, Seattle’s on the map for that too. It is right up there, third among the large U.S. cities, after Minneapolis and San Francisco. According to PeopleForBikes, Seattle is also rubbing shoulders with the best biking spots worldwide, making the 95th percentile.

And if you’re looking to stretch those legs? With a walk score of 74, Seattle is the 9th most walkable large city in the U.S.

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Seattle Stands Strong in Education 

When Seattle folks chat about education, it’s with a good amount of pride. A cool 95.5 percent of the city’s folks have their high school diplomas, which nudges ahead of the U.S. average. And bachelor’s degrees? Two-thirds have one, which is almost double the national figure.

Tesla STEM High School in nearby Redmond is leading the pack in Washington and impressively sits at 12th across the nation. As for future college goers, they should know that the University of Washington is a big deal — one of the old-timers on the West Coast, and it is packed with around 36,000 undergrads every year. Then there’s the smaller Seattle University and the Seattle Pacific University, each adding its flavor to the city’s college scene.

Now, on a broader scale, Seattle is pretty brainy. Ranked as the 9th most educated city in the U.S., it’s clear that when this city commits to something, education is no exception.

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Seattle Keeps Calm, Even When Windy

Those moving to Seattle often hear about its infamous rainy reputation but are soon pleasantly surprised by its temperate climate. In fact, the city’s climate rides the steady rhythm of the Pacific Ocean. Even when most cities brace for drastic shifts, the Emerald City enjoys temperate and consistent vibes, thanks to the ocean. But occasionally, the continent’s chilly breath sneaks in, dabbing the city in ice or sprinkling some snow.

Summers? Think laid-back sunny picnics. As for winters, the cold does visit, with frosty mornings and a snow day or two. Seattle, however, has its unique weather tales. While Puget Sound is rather sheltered, windstorms still come knocking. They aren’t tropical but have a knack for rustling the trees and sweeping the streets.

Summer average (June – Aug): 75℉ high, 56℉ low

Winter average (Dec – Feb): 48℉ high, 37℉ low

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10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Seattle

Living in Seattle means having endless urban adventures, historic tales and nature’s wonders right at your doorstep. Here are ten standout chapters from the city’s book:

  1. Space Needle: It’s more than just an icon. Go up, way up, and see the whole city sprawled out. On a clear day, even Mount Rainier gives a wave.
  2. Pike Place Market: Fresh produce, artisan crafts and the irresistible aroma of baked goods — Pike Place has it all. And don’t forget to watch the fishmongers toss the catch of the day!
  3. Chihuly Garden and Glass: Bright, bold and out of this world. Here, glass comes alive, mimicking flowers, waves and flames in Chihuly’s brilliant hues.
  4. Elliott Bay Ferry Ride: Fresh sea air, views of the skyline and the feeling of leaving the city behind, even if just for a bit.
  5. Seattle Aquarium: On the waterfront, this place lets you come face-to-face with the marine life of Puget Sound. It is a deep dive into the world below without getting wet.
  6. Seattle Underground Tour: It’s a trip to the past, right under your feet. Listen to tales of the city’s old days, hidden from today’s hustle.
  7. Seattle Japanese Garden: A quiet corner in the city. Trees, water and paths that ask you to slow down and take it all in.
  8. Seattle Seahawks Game: At Lumen Field, feel the roar, the energy, the tension and the joy. The city’s pride and passion for football echo in every cheer and chant.
  9. Northwest Folklife Festival: Celebrate the sounds, steps and stories of the Pacific Northwest. A festival where every beat and bite invites you to explore anew.
  10. Mount Rainier National Park: Close enough for a day trip, but it feels worlds away. Tall trees, crisp air and those mountain views! Pack a sandwich and some good company.

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