If you’re thinking of moving to Seattle, the Emerald City offers a vast array of professional opportunities as well as a vibrant creative scene, great food, entertainment, stunning natural beauty, and of course, coffee. Cups and cups of coffee. The university town bustles with lots of energy, and thousands of new students every year, but is equally a place where one can find quiet, natural tranquility along the shores of the Puget Sound. As is generally true, visiting a place is different from living there, so if you’re looking for new opportunities in this Pacific Northwest city, here are a few things to know before you move.
The cost of living is on the rise.
West coast cities are known for their high rent and food costs, and Seattle is no exception with costs running 50 percent higher than the national average. When it comes to rent, Seattle is 36.5 percent more expensive than its neighboring city, Portland. However, when compared to San Francisco, you’d need $933 more to maintain the same standard of living that you could have in Seattle. With its famously stunning skyline, Seattle offers the feel of a big city with all the perks of a place that loves all things local. Just be prepared to pay a little extra for it—or get a roommate!
Invest in a public transit pass.
Seattle is the kind of city where you can easily get around without a car, and as traffic grows steadily worse, locals often find it preferable to use the various public options. The bus and monorail get you to and from the airport and around the city and the monthly ORCA pass allows you access to most public transportation. Ride-sharing is taking off and is a great way to get to know people in a new city. But, nothing will say you’re a Seattlelite more than commuting and enjoying the city on your bike—yes, even in the rain.
Prepare for rainy days.
Speaking of rain. Yes, it really does rain as much as you’ve heard—152 days out of the year, on average. There are plenty of grey, cloudy days which means Vitamin D and a light box should be among your first purchases. Invest in some quality rain gear too—there’s nothing quite as miserable as soggy feet. Being prepared and protected from the elements makes it easier to acclimate and you’ll probably be used to it before you know it. Just don’t bring an umbrella—that’s a surefire way to look like a tourist. If all else fails, you can always comfort yourself with the fact that you have more clear days than Portland.
Explore natural wonders.
Seattle has a reputation for its music scene, drawing thousands of tourists a year to visit the grunge mecca of the world. But, it’s the city’s stunning natural scenery that makes it unlike most urban areas. With the view of glorious Mount Rainier as its backdrop, Seattle has all sorts of hiking options, and numerous local parks dotted across the city, including its largest—Discovery Park which overlooks the Puget Sound. And if you’re drawn to the water, you can easily enjoy the thrill of white-water rafting or the breathtaking beauty of whale-watching. You’ll be hard pressed to find as much access to natural beauty in another city.
Big names are here to stay.
Seattle is headquarters to some very well-known names such as Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks which draw professionals from around the world. This has created a vibrant and growing tech industry with numerous opportunities for careers in cybersecurity, cloud computing, and data analytics. If you’re moving to the city for this reason, be ready to network your way into this competitive field. While the big names attract lots of talent, it’s the local connections you make that will help you stand out.
Coffee is part of the culture.
You can’t talk about Seattle without talking about coffee and while Starbucks is perhaps the most famous brew name in the city, there are literally hundreds of other options to explore. From tiny holes-in-the wall, to large, futuristic spaces with coffee robots—yes, robots—you’ll have no problem finding the perfect spot to enjoy your favorite brew.
Thaw the “Seattle Freeze.”
With all the attractions Seattle has, it’s not without its downsides, one of which has become known as the Seattle Freeze. Newcomers have described that it’s hard to get to know people in the city, that people are friendly enough on the surface, but that’s where it ends. Making long-lasting friendships is essential to thriving in a new place, so knowing ahead of time that it may take some time is important to know. It’s true that Seattleites may prefer to keep to themselves, but the key to building a community—like most things—is perseverance. Taking up a new hobby, finding a meet-up in your area or volunteering are just some of the ways you can meet people and, they’re an excellent way to build your professional network too.
Scout the neighborhoods.
Downtown Seattle is great for tourists and hotels and you should definitely check out Pike Place Market—but you’ll soon discover that it’s really all about the neighborhoods. Straying from the main roads is definitely a must when it comes to the city. Capitol Hill and Belltown are where locals go for great food and a vibrant nightlife.
Seattle is a Fido-town.
There are more dogs living in Seattle than children. So, if your best friends are furry, bring them with you and you’ll find an instant community of dog-lovers. The countless urban parks and hiking trails make it an easy city to keep your pets happy and you’re more likely to be happier yourself with your faithful companion at your side.
Seattle has tons to offer and if your job search is taking you there, keep in mind that every city has its pros and cons and that’s what makes it unique. As is true for both a job search and in general, building a strong network might take time but it’s definitely worth it. Make that your top priority when moving to Seattle and hopefully you’ll want to stay forever.