It’s been a year since Vanessa Torres packed up her studio apartment in San Francisco, the city she loved but could no longer afford, and headed north with Lola, her beloved Jack Russell Terrier mix. Like other millennials looking for cheaper rent with the same fun vibe, she settled in Seattle. And to serve new movers and longtime residents like her, Public Storage at 1200 S Dearborn St. Seattle, WA 98144 opened this week to accommodate increasing demand in this growing city.
How did Torres, and others like her, decide Seattle is a good place to live? “I wanted to find a city to live in that had the progressive and vibrant life of San Francisco that was more affordable,” she said. “I visited Seattle a handful of times and figured Seattle was worth trying since it has a good economy, has a lot of beautiful surrounding nature, and is way more affordable than SF.”
And Torres is just one of the many millennials – now the largest generation in the U.S. – to move to Seattle. The seaside city broke the Top 5 destinations on Apartment List’s recent study of where young people are moving in the U.S. The city’s appeal and population growth are pushing businesses like Public Storage to expand in the area – to 93 locations.
“New residential developments do not include storage and are getting smaller and smaller, so we’re expanding in these areas to provide customers the opportunity to keep their belongings,” said Bryan Miranda, Public Storage’s vice president of west coast development.
The newest Seattle Public Storage opened to provide 2,129 new, climate-controlled Seattle storage units and lockers intended for residents moving into the high-rise apartments and new homes around the First Hill, downtown and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.
In case you’re already packed, or thinking about heading to the Emerald City, here’s some pros and cons of living in Seattle. Perhaps like Torres you’ll come to see that the benefits outweigh the negatives for so many residents in their 20s and beyond.
Pro: New Development is Improving Downtown Seattle
Like many popular cities around the U.S., until recently the Seattle downtown area wasn’t a hotbed for residential complexes. Not since Baby Boomers migrated to the suburbs. But millennials are less likely to spend money and tend to be more mobile and more willing to move to urban areas.
“I feel like staying in the same place your whole life can be a disadvantage,” said Torres, who shares the common millennial outlook. “I am a completely different person and have entirely different opportunities because I’ve chosen to move. Obviously there are barriers to this, and I had the benefit of being young with no kids and unmarried, so I had more freedom than others to make a huge jump.”
To cater to this crowd of young urbanites like Torres, developers are making sure to build as many new, residential units as possible in sought-after neighborhoods. And Public Storage is here to help expand on closet space in apartments that are getting smaller as the city builds up!
There were 65 buildings under construction in Downtown Seattle this past summer, more than in nearly a decade, according to the Downtown Seattle Association, which also said the level of construction investment in the area is higher than ever recorded.
The Association, citing building permits, said 33,476 housing units were expected to be completed by June 2016. Seattle is also currently the crane capital of the U.S., according to The Seattle Times, because of skyscraper construction.
Con: Seattle Apartments Have Less Space
Apartments are being built in record numbers to make room for all the 20-to-30-somethings headed into Seahawks territory. But in order to build more, the units have fewer square feet.
The average newly constructed Seattle one-bedroom apartment is 681 square feet, which is below the 752 square foot national average of units built this year, according to statistics compiled by RentCafe.com.
“I don’t think people that aren’t used to city living would consider (my apartment) ‘big enough,’” said Torres, who lives in the University District. “It’s not huge by any means, but considering what I am paying, I think I have a good space.”
Finding space to build a new storage location in Seattle, especially so close to trendy Downtown and in the First Hill neighborhood wasn’t easy for the country’s leading storage company.
“It’s a growing market where finding available land is tough,” Miranda said. “That’s why Public Storage jumped through hoops to get a permit to make space.”
The permitting allowed Public Storage to bulldoze an existing, rundown building and cut into a hillside to make sure there was enough space to accommodate the storage need.
Necessary Seattle side note: No protected trees were harmed in the making of this property.
The new Seattle Public Storage facility, which is conveniently located near the 5 freeway and I-90 interchange, has 147,235 rentable square feet. That’s more than double the average storage facility nationwide, according to the Self Storage Association. It is also located less than a mile from CenturyLink Field, where the 2014 Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks play.
“This location is going to be a homerun for us and for customers,” said Miranda.
Pro: Millennials are Moving for Jobs in Seattle
Like many millennials and others in Seattle, Torres quickly found work in the abundant Seattle job market. Big companies like Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon love the brisk air and commonly overcast skies as much as Torres does.
“Finding a job (in Seattle) is pretty easy,” she said. “I think I read somewhere that Seattle has more educated people than any other city, and I think that’s apparent in the culture.”
The most recent stats show the Seattle unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, more than 1 percent lower than the nationwide rate, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Opening the new Public Storage in First Hill created seven new entry-level service jobs in the area, along with many more jobs during construction.
“The (new) property is managed by Allan Ajeto, a highly-regarded, eight-year tenured property manager who most recently ran one of the largest and highest-profile properties in the Seattle region,” said District Manager Kevin Bridges, who helped ready the property for its grand opening and first customers.
In areas previously known for attracting a young workforce, such as Los Angeles and New York, fewer job prospects and a higher cost of living are pushing thrifty millennials towns like Seattle, Austin and even Charlotte, North Carolina, for a better outlook.
“If I could financially afford it, I would move back to SF....that has always felt like home to me,” Torres said.
But she’s not missing everything about California.
“(Seattle) overall has a more laid-back vibe than California,” she said. “It just feels more relaxed and less rushed.”
And with an average entry-level salary of $42,000, 8 percent higher than the national average, according to Indeed.com, it’s no wonder new college grads and other young adults are headed to Seattle. That is, if they plan to rent.
Con: Seattle Home Prices Make it a Renter’s Town
The majority of Seattleites are choosing to rent, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. The high price of home ownership could be why.
In order to afford to purchase a home in the Seattle area, locals have to earn around $80,000 – nearly twice the average starting salary, according to HSH.com, which follows mortgage trends.
And since apartment living is the lifestyle of choice for many in Seattle, Public Storage continues to construct convenient locations for residents in the Evergreen State.
The new location on Dearborn Street has two drive-in entrances, and rows of cheap Seattle storage options on each of the six floors.
“If I could do three more of these in the area, I would,” Miranda said.
Which makes sense, because Seattle renters are turning to Public Storage in high numbers to keep their treasured stuff.
Many customers have already moved into the second-newest Public Storage 13505 Mukilteo Speedway Lynnwood, WA 98087, which opened July 29. But don’t worry, there are plenty more spaces!
If you’re headed to the Coffee Capital of the U.S., stop by one of our many locations and store some things to make sure you have the room for the fun stuff.