- Download our Moving to Seattle Guide (PDF)
Located in the Puget Sound region in the state of Washington, Seattle is a picturesque city surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and lush forests. Newcomers moving to Seattle will experience a lively arts scene and rich history, which make for an interesting and culturally rich lifestyle.
Living in Seattle as an expat
New arrivals to Seattle can usually strike a healthy balance between work, relaxation, entertainment and family time. Downtown Seattle is the city's economic and social hub, and the primary industries that make up its economy are internet and technology, service, design and manufacturing companies. The Port of Seattle is a major trade hub with links to Asia and Alaska.
Young professionals are drawn to the Downtown area as it provides a vibrant, fast-paced lifestyle and is in proximity to most office buildings. That said, there are plenty of neighbourhoods to cater for every taste and budget, along with a variety of housing options, from slick apartments and quirky loft conversions to family homes.
Most expats living in Seattle will find that a car is not a necessity. Buses, trolleybuses, light rail and commuter trains are at their disposal when it comes to getting around the city, not to mention the excellent ferry system (the largest in the US). It's also not uncommon to cycle or walk to work.
Cost of living in Seattle
The cost of living in Seattle is fairly high, and the city was ranked 31st in Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living Survey, which evaluated 227 global cities. Fortunately, Seattle's relatively booming economy means professionals can earn more than the average American salary, allowing them greater spending power.
Be that as it may, housing doesn't come cheap in Seattle, and this raises the cost of living considerably. The cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment is almost twice the national average. The factors behind the high prices are a boom in the construction of expensive luxury apartment buildings and an influx of young, affluent tech workers who can afford them.
Families and children in Seattle
The city offers plenty of exceptional schooling options, state-of-the-art healthcare and a safe environment. The city has plenty of sights to delight young and old. During the summer months, Seattle families love to get outdoors, and the city has many natural splendours to enjoy. From lush forests and crystal clear lakes to beautiful city parks and rich wildlife reserves, new arrivals from all walks will find something to enjoy in the city.
The Emerald City is bordered by lots of water, and this provides a unique way to enjoy the city. There are many ways to enjoy the surrounding ocean, including sea kayaking, spending a weekend on a houseboat or having sundowners on a yacht. Families often enjoy taking a drive out to Lake Washington to enjoy a picnic by the water.
Climate in Seattle
Seattle is well known for its wet conditions, and this might take some getting used to for newcomers. The rain does come with some perks, though, as it results in most of the city's landscape being beautifully green. Seattle does enjoy its fair share of sunny days, too. Temperatures are wonderfully mild, with July and August being the hottest months. The average summer temperature is 75°F (24°C), while winter temperatures rarely drop below 32°F (0°C), with little snowfall.
All in all, new arrivals moving to Seattle will discover it's a beautiful place to live that is constantly growing in its innovation and culture. Its cost of living might be on the rise, but most newcomers to the city report that it is well worth it.
►Planning your big move? Check out Pros and Cons of Moving to Seattle
"The locals are friendly. It’s easier to connect if the family has kids as there are a lot of extra-curricular activities to be involved in." Indian expat Padmaja shares her experiences of living in Seattle.
Are you an expat living in Seattle?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Seattle. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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