What to Expect When you Move to Seattle

Discovery Park Seattle

What to expect when you move to Seattle

Seattle. The Emerald City. The Jet City (our personal favorite). I’ve lived in 8 cities in the last 15 years, and Seattle isn’t quite like any of them. It’s a heady mix of progress, history, breathtaking natural beauty, soul-crushing gloomy weather, and pleasant livability that just feels…right. So what should you expect when you move here? That depends, of course, on where you’re moving from. Regardless, there are a few universal truths that newcomers to Seattle should know before you move here.

People will be friendly, but maybe not your friend

By now, you’ve read about the “Seattle Freeze.” You may be happy to learn, though, that people will be perfectly polite and friendly when you meet them. No one will block you out or refuse to acknowledge you. Rather, the difficulty is in taking a friendship to the next level. 

To get over this, you have to make the city your own. Be proactive about reaching out to new people and inviting people to join in activities. Join up with likeminded groups yourself. Take a class, join a gym, and just get out there.

Life is pretty laid back

You don’t meet many pretentious people in Seattle. Only a small portion of jobs require business attire. The majority of people you meet will be casual, both in appearance and personality. 

Part of this is West Coast culture, part is Seattle weather, and part is the changing job landscape in the city (read: jeans and t-shirts as the tech dress code).

If you let the rain stop you, you’ll never do anything

Seattleites run in the rain. We work outside in the rain. We go to the zoo, the arboretum, and the waterfront in the rain. We commute on bikes in the rain.

If you let the rain stop you, you will be forced indoors for the majority of the year. Buy a good rain jacket, rain boots, and maybe even waterproof pants, and go about your business. No one expects perfect hair, and the rugged weather contributes to the laid-back vibe we already outlined.

It’s not very diverse

Though I didn’t initially notice the homogeny of Seattle (probably because I’m one of the majority), when I travel just about anywhere else, I’m struck by many ethnicities I see and languages I hear. It’s a reminder that while Seattle is growing fast, its base is predominantly caucasian. 

Thankfully, Seattleites are a progressive bunch who aren’t afraid to embrace new ideas. Even so, you won’t get the melting pot of cultures that other metro areas provide.

Growing pains

There is a pronounced tension in the city as everyone grapples with the technology boom of the last decade. While we haven’t heard of outright hostility or violence, every week you hear stories of long-time residents who are being pushed out of their homes by rising costs. Affordable housing options have wait lists a mile long. Construction of office buildings and high-rise housing complexes are changing the skyline and clogging the streets.

Traffic is bad, and getting worse. 

As a newcomer, understand that while residents will welcome the prosperity you symbolize, they are wary of what all the transplants are doing to their beloved city.

It feels like a suburb

Aside from the downtown neighborhoods, Seattle feels like a suburb. Yet it has all the conveniences of a city. Individual neighborhoods are typically residential, with a core street or two that serve as the hub for restaurants, shops, and businesses. You don’t find congested streets and expensive parking unless you are downtown. If you are moving from a suburb or smaller town, you may be surprised at how homey it feels, even in the heart of the city.

There are so many more things to know about Seattle as you explore and settle in, but this list should give you a sense of what it’s like when you move to Seattle. What surprised you most about coming to Seattle? What would you add to the list?

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