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Seattle: A Versatile, Flourishing “Emerald City”

Seattle, the 15th largest city in the country and one of the fastest-growing, is situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 100 miles south of the Canada – United States border. The West Coast seaport city is the birthplace of the famous brand Starbucks and in 1926 it was the first major American city to select a female mayor – these facts only begin to describe Seattle as a hub for progressive innovation.

What should I know before moving to Seattle, Washington?

As you assess Seattle as your potential next home, keep in mind that the city is family-friendly, affordable, safe and less rainy than is popularly believed.

Check out our guide below to find out more about what makes Seattle a particularly great relocation option.

What is great about Seattle?

Affordability

The City of Seattle is encouraging investment strategies to preserve and expand housing affordability, which will help ensure that people with low incomes can afford to stay in their communities. Included in the city government’s plan is to acquire and renovate existing affordable housing, to provide owners with tax incentives to keep rents low, and to build new affordable housing in neighborhoods at high risk of displacement. Seattle has also incorporated racial, social equity and anti-displacement policies in its Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

It’s important to note that the city’s government also supports Seattleites in their quest for affordability through free and discounted resources, such as low-priced child care, free adult education and after-school meals, and reduced fares for public transit.

Safety

The Seattle Police Department is doing an excellent job of keeping residents informed in regards to their safety and the services they can use to protect themselves and their families.

Transportation

If you like to get around without owning a car, Seattle is the place to be: the city has started moving away from the automobile and towards mass transit.

Seattle is one of the few cities in North America whose bus fleets include electric trolleybuses. Sound Transit provides an express bus service within the metropolitan area, Sounder commuter rail lines connect the suburbs to Downtown, and the Central Link light rail line links the University of Washington to Angle Lake. In addition, King County Metro provides frequent-stop bus services within the city and at its outskirts.

Bonus points: the city government offers 52 services and 25 programs to help Seattleites move around the precincts.

What is Seattle famous for?

Arts and Culture

Seattle may be best known for its iconic Space Needle and Pike Place Market. What you may not know is that the 600-foot tower was the brainchild of artist Edward E. Carlson, who sketched a design for the tower that would loom over the 1962 World's Fair on a cocktail napkin. The structure, which was built in just 400 days, can withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour and a 9.1 magnitude earthquake. On the other side of things, the Pike Place Market is the oldest continually operating farmer’s market in America, having opened in 1907.

However, there’s much more to Seattle. To begin with, the city has been a regional center for the performing arts for many years, housing the respected Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Opera, the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the 5th Avenue Theatre.

In addition, the city claims various annual fairs and festivals, including the 24-day Seattle International Film Festival; the art and music festival Bumbershoot; one of the largest Gay Pride festivals in the United States; numerous Native American pow-wows; and even an anime convention, Sakura-Con.

Music

Seattle is considered the home of grunge music, having produced artists such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, all of whom were internationally recognized in the early 1990s. On the contemporary music scene, Seattle is known as the hometown of hip-hop artists Macklemore and Sir Mix-a-Lot.

Lifestyle

Seattle boasts the largest houseboat population in the country, with plenty of people willing to pay big bucks to live on the water. Lake Union and Portage Bay provide plenty of space for houseboat moorage and they offer both the options of living withing walking distance of the city center and a little farther out in the neighborhoods.

Seattle's mild, temperate climate encourages year-round outdoor recreation, including walking, swimming, cycling, hiking, skiing, snowboarding and kayaking. While Seattle is rainy, it is not THAT rainy: at 37.7 inches of precipitation annually, the city ranks 32nd among the nation's 50 largest cities, according to the American Council on Science and Health.

Seattle is dubbed the “Emerald City” for its lush, evergreen forests, so it comes as no wonder that many people walk among the trees and along the bluffs and beaches of 535-acre Discovery Park (the largest park in the city), around Green Lake, along the shores of Myrtle Edwards Park on the Downtown waterfront and along the shoreline of Lake Washington at Seward Park.

Dining

Gourmands and coffee-lovers have plenty to celebrate in Seattle. While the city is the birthplace of the original Starbucks shop, it has so many more unique cafés to bolster its caffeinated reputation. We recommend the Seattle Meowtropolitan (a cat-lover’s heaven) and South Park’s Resistencia Coffee (late night coffee spot that features open mic nights and artist events and workshops).

Food-wise, you can indulge in everything from James Beard Award–winning restaurants to budget-friendly eats. It seems to be a general consensus that you should try Seattle’s Pike Place Chowder, oysters, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and Piroshky Piroshky’s signature piroshkies.

Sports

Seattle has three major men's professional sports teams: the National Football League (NFL)'s Seattle Seahawks, Major League Baseball (MLB)'s Seattle Mariners, and Major League Soccer (MLS)'s Seattle Sounders FC. Additional professional sports teams include the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)'s Seattle Storm, which won the WNBA championship on three occasions in 2004, 2010 and 2018, and the Seattle Reign of the National Women's Soccer League.

Why move to Seattle, Washington?

Education

Seattle’s education offerings are top-notch and educated people seem to congregate here. Forbes rates Seattle as #12 in education in the country, most likely due to the city having one of the highest percentages of college and university graduates of any major U.S. city. What’s more, Seattle is also considered one of the most literate cities in the nation.

Seattle is home to the University of Washington, as well as the institution's professional and continuing education unit, the University of Washington Educational Outreach. The 2019 U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Washington at #10 Best Global Universities. It is interesting to note that over the last 10 years, the UW has produced more Peace Corps volunteers than any other U.S. university.

Other smaller private universities include Seattle University and Seattle Pacific University; universities aimed at the working adult, like City University and Antioch University; colleges within the Seattle Colleges District system; seminaries, including Western Seminary; and a number of arts colleges, such as Cornish College of the Arts, Pratt Fine Arts Center and The Art Institute of Seattle.

Economy and Employment

Seattle’s economy is flourishing and that’s due mostly to a mix of older industrial companies and "new economy" Internet and technology companies – including service, design, and clean technology businesses. Five companies on Fortune 500's list of the United States' largest companies (based on total revenue) are headquartered in Seattle: Internet retailer Amazon.com, coffee chain Starbucks, department store Nordstrom, freight forwarder Expeditors International of Washington, and forest products company Weyerhaeuser.

Seattle is known for its growing economy, educated work force and large millennial population. On another, yet just as hopeful, note, the city passed a local ordinance to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour on a staged basis from 2015 to 2021. When fully implemented, the $15 hourly rate will be the highest minimum wage in the nation.

What are the costs of moving to Seattle, Washington?

As one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, Seattle welcomes many newcomers every year.

No matter where you’re relocating from, there are a few key steps to follow as you move to Seattle. First off, make sure to find your right apartment based on your budget and family-size, as well as your location, surface area and amenities preferences. The current average rent for an apartment in Seattle is $2,130, a 3% increase compared to the previous year and well-above the $1,467 national average.

However, there is some good news. There are many new apartment complexes that have been built to meet the increasing housing demand and there are plenty of neighborhoods that accommodate more inexpensive choices. The most affordable neighborhoods in Seattle are Innis Arden, where the average rent goes for $1,295/month, Richmond Beach, where renters pay $1,295/month on average, and The Highlands, where the average rent goes for $1,295/month. If your budget is not an issue, we recommend Central Waterfront ($2,522/month), Belltown ($2,623/month) and Pike Market ($2,623/month).

After choosing your perfect home, browse the market for a trustworthy, budget-friendly moving company. While in-state movers’ asking prices can start at a couple hundred dollars, be aware that moving from out-of-state can be more expensive. If you end up loving the moving services you’ve chosen, don’t forget to tip your movers.

What are the storage options in Seattle, Washington?

As a general rule of thumb, moving may be easier if you find a good storage space first. Seattle has plenty of options for anyone looking for extra space, which can come in various sizes and feature a plethora of amenities. You can find additional storage space in Seattle on RENTCafe.com.

Looking for a self-storage unit to rent in Seattle? Browse 64 storage facilities in Seattle, WA, that offer clean, dry and secure self-storage units.

Self-storage unit prices in Seattle start as low as $22 per month. Reserve your self-storage unit today!