If you’re considering moving to Seattle, there’s more to prepare for than rain. And there’s so much to love once you get there!
A longtime haven for hippies, and now a town for techies — there’s a little something for everybody in the Emerald City. From sports to concerts, and art to adventure, few people get bored in this innovative town.
If you need some tips before moving to Seattle, grab your favorite flannel and keep reading our Seattle moving guide for some insider insight.
Image by Bryce Edwards
Moving to Seattle: Can You Handle the Weather?
Seattle has two seasons: summer, which starts a little after July 4 and lasts two to three months, and the rest of the year. Summer is wonderful. It’s the other nine months that may test your endurance.
Seasons Can Be a Little … Cloudy
Seattle averages 308 cloudy days a year, which is less than Buffalo but more than Pittsburgh. It rains, or at least sprinkles, 150 days a year. These are not torrential downpours; most Seattle rain falls in the form of drizzle and mist, with the occasional shower. If you don’t mind clouds and a few hours of rain a day — for nine months a year — you’ll be fine.
Image by Oran Viriyincy
Is the Mountain Out? (Mt. Rainier, That Is)
Occasionally, when the winter clouds part, the sun shines and Mt. Rainier appears on the horizon. When the ‘mountain is out,’ it seems like the whole city stops to have a look and soak in a bit of sun. Do a few hours of sun once a month or so sound good? Then Seattle may be right for you. Think about all the money you’ll save on sunscreen.
Seattle Summers Are Glorious
Early in July, the sun shines and you can see…everything. You may realize just how beautiful Seattle truly is. There are islands out there in Puget Sound. Beyond them is the Olympic Peninsula and Mount Olympus. Where have they been hiding?
Image by Rex Sorgatz
The city explodes with activity as everyone heads outside. Pop-up movie nights, the Bumbershoot music festival, farmer’s markets, the Mariners. What may be the best thing about Seattle summers? The people of Seattle never take a drop of that sunshine for granted.
Ecofriendly Seattle: It Is Seriously Green
There’s a reason Seattle’s nickname is the Emerald City. All of that Seattle rainfall feeds plants, including ferns and trees — enormous, awesome trees. The entire Northwest Coast is a temperate rainforest that stretches from Northern California into Alaska, and Seattle is right in the middle of it. Living so close to nature makes Seattle a lot different from most cities its size.
Image by karlnorling
Meet the Chickens of Seattle
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself next door to a rooster and some sitting hens, even in the middle of the city. Gardening, also known as micro-farming, in Seattle is kind of a no-brainer. You don’t have to water (obviously), and it rarely frosts or freezes, so you can grow crops year-round.
Recycle in Seattle (or Else)
Seattle is as politically green as its forests, and people are very, very serious about their environmentalism. By law, you can’t throw away recyclable materials in the normal trash. If more than 10 percent of your trash is glass, aluminum, paper or some other recyclable, the city won’t pick it up. Do it more than twice and you’ll get a ticket.
Seattle’s Economy Is Diverse and Resilient
In the 1960s, Seattle ran on timber, shipping and Boeing. Today, its economy spans tech, manufacturing, aerospace, apparel, the service industry and more. A short list of companies that got their start here reads like a wish list for any city hoping to build a modern economy.
Finding a Job in Seattle
If you’re a software engineer or developer, Seattle is filled with job opportunities. However, the city’s economy spans a huge range of industries, and most of the employers are global leaders. Retail, logistics, manufacturing, hospitality, tech — Seattle gives job seekers more options than they’ll find in many cities.
Living in Seattle: A City Short on Housing and Roadway
Seattle’s strong economy, specifically the tech economy, has drawn many people to the city. In the spring of 2017, a thousand new people were arriving weekly, mostly from Silicon Valley. That kind of growth is putting a lot of stress on the city’s housing market and transit infrastructure.
Image by Michael Allen Smith
Seattle Home Prices are Skyrocketing
If you just sold a house in Mountain View, California, Seattle home prices might seem reasonable. If you’re moving from just about anywhere else, they’re painfully high, especially if you don’t want a long commute. Home values have gone up more than 17 percent in just a year, and the average home costs more than in excess of $550,000 more than the national average, according to Zillow.com.
Image by Chris Schmich
More Seattle Apartments Coming Soon
Developers in Seattle have ramped up apartment construction to meet the influx of new residents. Many of the new units are on the luxury end of the scale, but vacancy rates have been slowly creeping up and rents may have peaked.
Seattle Income Tax, or Lack Thereof
The State of Washington gets by with no income taxes. The City of Seattle passed an income tax on high earners in 2017, but that tax is on hold as it works its way through the courts. The money you save on taxes when you move to Seattle might not cover the higher housing costs, but it definitely won’t hurt.
Seattle Traffic Is Rough, but Commuting Is Getting Better
Major bodies of water slice the Seattle metro area. Lake Washington separates it from Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond to the east, and Lake Union separates it from Fremont to the north. The four bridges that span these bodies of water have been choke-points for decades.
That’s why Seattle is investing mightily in infrastructure. Pacific Highway, which runs on a viaduct along the waterfront, is going underground. Light rail is expanding to Everett, Bellevue and Tacoma, and the bus system can get you all over King County. Yes, commuting is still painful, and you’ll want to live close to work if you can, but Seattle is well on its way to creating a world-class transit system.
What to Do in Seattle: Soak Up the Outdoors
You’ll notice that people in Seattle don’t wait for good weather to get outside and explore the beauty around them. If they did, they’d never do it. Yes, it may be winter, but that’s no excuse. Give yourself a few months in Seattle and you, too, will be kayaking, cycling and hiking in sprinkles, mist and sideways downpours.
Image by Support PDX
Big Outdoor Activities in Seattle
Seattle is ground zero for outdoor adventures. You can go kayaking in the San Juan Islands, ski Mt. Baker or Steven’s Pass, or learn to climb the glaciers on Mt. Rainier. This town gave Eddie Bauer and REI their start. Once you move, you’ll be able to have a different adventure practically every day.
What Else to See in Seattle
So, what is Seattle really like, besides the weather, the natural beauty and the booming economy? It’s pretty awesome. Here are a few more of our favorite things about Seattle.
Image by Seattle Parks