Living in Seattle: 12 Pros & Cons (With Prices)


Living in Seattle

From its flourishing economy to its easily accessible public transit network, it’s no surprise Seattle has become one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. With so many people flocking to the city in recent years, you might be wondering, “Should I move there, too?” While every major city in the country has its distinct upsides and downsides, Seattle’s unique characteristics make the city attractive to people from all walks of life.

Population Median Age Bachelor Degree or Higher
724,305 35.364.00%
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Pro: an above-average job market

Seattle residents make roughly 12% more than the average American. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, hourly wages and yearly salaries in the city are well above national averages. The minimum wage in Seattle is also significantly above-average.

Incomes for competitive jobs have increased in leaps and bounds due to the ever-rising demand for highly skilled and well-educated individuals in the city’s tech industry.

  • Tech giants in the city

There are plenty of tech businesses in Seattle, including everything from well-established tech giants to investor-funded startups.

Microsoft and Amazon are the biggest tech companies currently operating in the city. Other noteworthy employers in Seattle include Boeing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and the University of Washington. Other big tech organizations include Nintendo of America, Expedia, and Tableau Software.

  • Retailers based in Seattle

Seattle is also home to various retail, food, and service industries., including Nordstrom, Tommy Bahama, and Zulily.

According to data collected by IHS Global Insight, Seattle is one of the largest metropolitan economies in America. Both the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the Port of Seattle are major gateways for trade into Asia. For this reason, the city draws all sorts of retail conglomerates.

Other retail giants such as Costco and REI also have their headquarters in the metropolitan area, adding to its corporate diversity.

Con: Seattle is one of the more expensive cities to live in

The cost of living in Seattle is a whopping 49% higher than the national average. Here is a list of prices in the city:

Median Home PriceMedian Household incomeMedian Earnings for MaleMedian Earnings for Female
$863,058$92,263$82,801$65,358
Data sourced from Zillow Median Home Sale Prices and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Rent Per MonthAvg. Prices
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre2,087.84$
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre1,650.20$
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre3,866.22$
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre2,852.09$
Food NamesAvg. Food Prices
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)3.61$
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)3.10$
Rice (white), (1 lb)2.01$
Eggs (regular) (12)3.00$
Local Cheese (1 lb)7.30$
Chicken Fillets (1 lb)5.34$
Beef Round (1 lb) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)6.52$
Apples (1 lb)2.27$
Banana (1 lb)0.80$
Oranges (1 lb)2.04$
Tomato (1 lb)2.61$
Potato (1 lb)1.07$
Onion (1 lb)1.17$
Lettuce (1 head)2.09$
Water (1.5 liter bottle)2.20$
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)12.99$
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)3.12$
Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle)3.17$
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro)10.00$
Utilities (Monthly)Prices
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment 201.98$
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)61.36$
Service NamesPrices
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)2.75$
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)99.00$
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)5.00$
Taxi 1 mile (Normal Tariff)2.70$
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff)30.00$
Gasoline (1 gallon)3.31$
Meal/DrinkAvg. Prices
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant16.00$
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course80.00$
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)11.00$
Domestic Beer (1 pint draught)6.00$
Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle)7.00$
Cappuccino (regular)4.93$
Coke/Pepsi (12 oz small bottle)2.34$
Water (12 oz small bottle)2.03$
Service NamesAvg. Prices
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult58.52$
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend)35.33$
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat13.00$

Data sourced from numbeo.com – Jul 2021

Pro: Seattle has no state income tax

Washington is one of the few states with no income tax, which means that your pay stubs may look slightly different if you move to Seattle. You can make significant savings living in Seattle by making conscious financial decisions thanks to the zero income tax.

Con: traffic in the city is a nightmare

Living in Seattle
Seattle, US (Sourced: via twenty20)

Seattle ranks highly as one of the worst cities for traffic in the country. On the worst days, rush hour in the city can last five hours, costing drivers an average of $1,541 in the extra gas.

According to several studies, commuters in Seattle lost around 138 hours a year due to traffic congestion.

Seattle Median Commuting Time Median U.S. Commuting Time
27.9 Minutes26.9 Minutes
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Means of Transportation to Work/SchoolPercentage %
Car64.25%
Bus19.32%
Train/Metro1.93%
Bike3.86%
Walking6.28%
Working from Home3.38%

Data sourced from numbeo.com – Jul 2021

Pro: lush greenery and scenic landscapes

Living in Seattle
Seattle, US (Sourced: via twenty20)

Seattle is a beautiful city considering its small size and youth. 

The metropolitan area has nearly 500 parks that span 6,400 acres. You’ll also find hundreds of miles of trails to walk or bike along. You can stand on one of the city’s pristine beaches and still enjoy scenic views of the mountains. Seattle has majestic views of Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains but lacks notable architecture except the massive library, Amazon Sphere and Space Needle. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Seattle certainly ranks at or near the top in the US.

Con: the weather can be a bummer

Living in Seattle
Seattle, US (Sourced: via twenty20)

The weather in Seattle can be pretty dreary. It is usually cloudy and overcast from about the end of September to the end of May. The rain is consistent, but it’s not nearly as heavy as people assume. The rain is usually more of a drizzle or mist most of the time. The lack of sunshine can be depressing, especially if you’re coming from a sunny place. It’s always overcast during the winter months, and darkness starts to set in at around 4 PM. 

Seattle , WA Temperature Table

Best months to visit Seattle: April, May, June, July, August, September, October.

MonthTemp. Low. Avg.Temp. High Avg.
Jan37℉48℉
Feb41℉50℉
Marc43℉55℉
Apr46℉61℉
May52℉68℉
Jun57℉73℉
Jul61℉79℉
Aug61℉81℉
Sep57℉72℉
Oct50℉63℉
Nov43℉54℉
Dec37℉46℉

Pro: the food scene is exciting

Living in Seattle
Seattle, US (Sourced: via twenty20)

Seattle offers a fascinating array of foods, from eclectic fine dining options to sourdough clam chowder bowls on the waterfront. Whether you’re craving cheeseburgers, tacos, dolma, curry, or dessert, you can find a Seattle restaurant that serves exactly what you want. However, two of the city’s best and most notable culinary offerings are seafood and Asian fusion meals.

Seattle is bordered by the saltwater Puget Sound (an arm of the Pacific Ocean) to the west, which is why seafood is as popular as it is. From seafood chowder at South Lake Union’s White Swan Public House to tasty oysters at The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard, Seattle seafood is highly lauded. 

You’ll find some of the city’s most delicious food at the popular sushi restaurant, Maneki, or the Vietnamese pho bar, Dong Thap Noodles. Teriyaki is a favorite among residents, with some of the tastiest offerings at Ichiro Teriyaki.

Aside from the varied restaurant scene, Seattle is also known for its gourmet beverages. The Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room is a great place to indulge in the most luxurious and rare coffees that the Starbucks brand has to offer. Other prominent coffee options include Elm Coffee Roasters and Olympia Coffee Company locations in Colombia City and West Seattle. 

Con: the Seattle freeze

New residents in Seattle find a hard time making friends in the city, and the issue is more common than you may think. Almost half of Seattle residents don’t even want to talk briefly to people they don’t already know.

The finding is based on a recent survey that Seattle-based Pemco Insurance conducted. This seems to add credibility to the infamous phenomenon known as the Seattle Freeze: Northwesterners’ reputation for making it hard to form new bonds.

Pro: the city has the best public transportation network in the country

Living in Seattle
Seattle, US (Sourced: via twenty20)

Seattle has the best public transportation in the nation, ahead of metropolitan areas like Boston, Washington, DC, and New York, known for their state-of-the-art transit systems. Here are just a few of the options available to commuters:

  1. Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail

depending on the time of day, these trains arrive every 6 to 15 minutes. They take about 40 minutes to make 14 stops along with Downtown Seattle, terminating at the Sea-Tac International Airport. One-way fare for adults ranges from $2.25 to $3.25.

  1. King County Metro Transit

This bus service provides transit for commuters living in Downtown Seattle and outlying neighborhoods in King County. You can find timetables and route maps online to help you plan your journey. They are also available at the Transit Information Center, located beneath the Westlake Center at 4th Avenue and Pine Street.

  1. Seattle Streetcars

You can depend on the South Lake Union Streetcar to arrive every 10 to 15 minutes (unless there are unprecedented delays). It makes 11 stops through the South Lake Union area, running from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. Fare for adults is set at $2.50. 

  1. Seattle Center Monorail

These trains carry more than 2 million passengers a year. They travel between Westlake Center and Seattle Center. Regular operating hours for trains are between 7:30 a.m. and 11 p.m., running from Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Trains typically depart every 10 minutes, and the journey is only 2 minutes each way. One-way fare for adults is $2.50

Con: lack of diversity

The majority of the population in Seattle is white. Aside from an emerging Asian community, it’s hard to find racial diversity in the city. In 2016, the racial composition of Seattle was 65.7% white, 14.1% Asian, 7.0% black, 0.9% pacific islander, 0.4% Native American, 5.6% from two or more races, and 2.3% from other races.

Pro: Seattle is full of intellectuals and great school

Living in Seattle
Seattle, US (Sourced: via twenty20)

 Statistics indicate that four out of every five individuals who move to Emerald City hold a college degree. Three out of every five students educated in the city start college within a year of high school graduation.

There are 500 schools in Seattle, including a diverse mix of public and private institutions.

You’ll find seven universities and colleges within the city, with 14 others located within a 40-mile radius. The University of Washington is the largest and most prestigious institute for higher learning in Seattle. Over 80% of students consistently earn a degree from the university. Other notable schools include Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University, and Seattle Central College.

Con: homelessness is a real issue

Homelessness may be a growing issue nationwide, but Seattle ranks third among metropolitan areas in the number of total people experiencing homelessness, only behind New York City and Los Angeles. In 2020, Seattle and King County had 11,751 total people experiencing homelessness, 955 of which were unaccompanied homeless youth. Tent cities are a common sight in Seattle, and drug use is rampant.

Final thoughts

Living in Seattle comes with plenty of perks, and it comes as no surprise that the city has an inexplicable appeal to people looking for a fresh start in the Pacific Northwest. If you’ve made it through the list feeling confident that you can handle a little bad with the good, then Seattle might be the city for you.

Seattle compared to other cities (June 2021 rent price data from Zumper national rent report)

CitiesStudio1-BR Avg. Rent 2-BR Avg. Rent 3-BR Avg. RentMedian Home PricesMedian Household Income
Charlotte$1,282$1,277$1,477$1,762$296,603$62,817
Chicago$1,039$1,400$1,750$2,223$296,603$58,247
Columbus$677$901$1,091$1,525$208,768$53,745
Denver$1,203$1,446$1,935$2,583$543,544$68,592
Houston$1,265 $1,192$1,521$1,761 $222,540 $52,338
Indianapolis$864$921$993$1,399$187,628$45,670
Jacksonville$764$991$1,198$1,683$236,615$54,701
Philadelphia$1,070$1,341$1,693$1,882$221,996$45,927
Phoenix$962$1,103$1,392$2,046$350,077$57,459
San Antonio$893$950$1,184$1,572$221,886$52,455
San Diego$1,603$1,921$2,558$3,374$829,062$79,673
Seattle$1,195$1,594$2,056$2,923$863,058$92,263
Washington$1,663$2,129$3,033$3,499$692,178$86,420
Data sourced from Zumper national rent report and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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