Living in Seattle, WA – What’s It Really Like?

When considering living in Seattle, WA – realize that you are not the first to have to work out all the details of moving here! Only about 1/3 of the locals are native to the area. The rest have been imported – many from out of the country as well as out of state.

Seattle City Skyline
Seattle City Skyline – “The Bluest Sky’s You’ve Ever Seen Are In Seattle!” Note Mt. Rainier In The Background.

If you’re thinking about moving to the Seattle, WA area  and want to know more about what it’s like to live in the Pacific Northwest, you’re in the right place.  We’re going to talk about what it’s really like to live here – I grew up in this area and I’m going to tell you all my favorite things to do, plus you need to get oriented – to the food, the culture… what the people are like – how to act and what you can expect that might be different from other parts of the country, we’ll touch on  work and employment opportunities, and fun things to do on the weekends.

You’ll have the full picture of the Seattle lifestyle so whether you’re moving to Seattle, just visiting or plan on living here, you can get started on the right foot.

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Things to do in Seattle, WA
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For More Details on some of the most popular neighborhoods where you can live in/around Seattle, WA check these links!

I’m Emily, a local real estate broker and my goal is to help you enjoy where you live.  Whether you’re renting, buying or don’t know… I want to help get you started on the right foot so your Seattle Experience is a success.  Call if you have questions, or just leave them in the comments below.  I strive to answer every one!  I love you, man!

Living in Seattle, WA
I’ve lived in Seattle, WA all my life – can’t wait to introduce you to Sea-Town and let you know what living in Seattle, WA is really like!

Public Events Build Seattle Community & Help Provide Excitement Throughout The Year

From Summer Festivals like SeaFair – replete with pirates, hydroplane racing and the Blue Angels Navy display flights, to fireworks on the Fourth (and New Years), boating, waterskiing, fishing and hiking outside and cross-country and downhill skiing in the winter – there is a LOT to do in Seattle, WA and I think you’re going to love living here..

Who Is Living In Seattle, WA Right Now?

We are known as an area many people come to from out of state, and even out of the country.  Only about 30% of Seattlelites are natives to the area! 63% of the population is white, and 15% is Asian. No matter what your color or creed – Seattle, WA welcomes anyone living here. We consider ourselves a very welcoming, open community.

Living In South Lake Union
Living Capitol Hill is a great way to experience downtown Seattle, WA.

What Gets So Many People Excited About Living in Seattle, WA?

If you’ve never lived in Seattle, WA before, you may be wondering what draws so many people from out of town to our area? For many – the answer is JOBS.  We have a diversity of employers and high paying jobs.

The “Greater Seattle Area” which stretches from Everetty/Marysville to the North, Bellevue the East, and South to Tacoma  – has 9 of the State’s 12 largest employers.

Major Employers In The Seattle Area

  • These include the Boeing Airplane manufacturing company with locations in Everett and Renton.
  • Microsoft – Bill Gates’ alma mater… well his company – in Redmond, his Alma Mater high school is Lakeside in Seattle, where I also attended – and they have a math/science building named after him.
  • There’s Amazon, which has 75,000 employees in the Seattle region, at last check.  As well as large office for Google and Facebook.
  • Swedish Hospital in Issaquah
  • The UW Medical Center on Lake Washington, just north of downtown Seattle.
  • And also Virginia Mason and Harborview hospitals.
  • There’s also the Port of Seattle, which includes our Seatac International Airport and the port where huge container ships come in from China, trains and trucks carry the cargo out from here.

The Universities Offer Many Seattle Employment & Education Opportunities As Well..

There are also a number of Universities in the area, including the state’s largest public University, The University of Washington, with 50,000 students.  Go Huskies.  There’s also Bellevue College, Seattle U, and about 8 other community colleges and smaller schools.

Living in Seattle, WA Offers Hiking
Living in Seattle Offers Many Hiking Opportunities In Nearby Parks & National Forest Locations

The good thing about having so many employers in the area is that if you lose your job or an industry falters, there are other employers who can absorb the extra labor.

University of Washignton, Seattle
University of Washington, Seattle – When I Played Basketball In School, We Loved Coming Down Here to Watch the UW Women’s Basketball Team!

What Are Seattle Schools Like?

For Students and Families living in the Seattle Area, the question of schools and school districts is usually on the top of the list when deciding where to buy a home. Fortunately, Seattle has many wonderful public and private shcools. You can learn more about them at GreatSchools.org.

Seattle Events & Culture

When it comes to defining the culture of an area, some of the things that make the biggest impact are what kinds of events and entertainments are in the area.

In the 90’s we were known for grunge bands and skateboarding.  We had Bumbershoot – the big summer music festival and The Taste of Seattle.

Now some of those events have been curtailed, but there’s still a lot for folks living in Seattle, WA to do. Every weekend I publish a list of some of the ones that I think will be fun – based on what I and my family like to do – we include free and paid activities, highlight local businesses and select multi-generational activities as much as possible.  If you would like to see what this looks like – connect with us at Let’s Go Seattle – I’ll put a link in the comments/description below.

Seattle’s Got Pro Sports!

Okay – don’t forget our sports teams. The Seahawks, our NFL football team, won the superbowl a few years back and everyong stocked up on Seahawks gear. With this latest crop of die-hard fans, we saw trucks detailed with Seahawks logos, houses painted in the Seahawks blue and green colors, and an abundance of Seahawks Jerseys made to fit every man, woman and child. These Jerseys have become especially popular to wear on “Blue Fridays” before a game-day weekend and everyone from lawyers in the office to waitresses could be seen donning the Seahawks colors.

If fooball’s not your bag – we have plenty of other professional sports to choose from – baseball, womens’ basketball, soccer, and our new Hockey Team – the Kraken!

Seattle Culture: What is the VIBE?

  • Left-leaning politically
  • Lots of good jobs, especially known for tech jobs – Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Google – Also lots of hospitals, Universities.  A well-educated community
  • Lots of people are not FROM here, about 30% of the population is native to the Seatlte area, 30% is from out of state, and 30% is from out of country.  We have a lot of Canadians, Chinese, Indians, Chinese Mexicans, Vietnamese – all different cultures.
bellevue luxury home market
Hunt’s Point, WA – Bellevue, WA There are many nice luxury home neighborhoods in-and-around Seattle, WA.

Living In Seattle? Try This Food!

One of the defining elements of an area is sometimes the food that it offers.  New England is known for its clam chowder, Texas has Tex-Mex, and when I lived in North Carolina, they had Barbeque… in fact -here we use the terms bbq, grilling, and cookout synonmously, but in NC it was only a BBQ if you were slow cooking pork or beef.  In fact, they had barbecue restaurants with special sauces, where you could throw peanut shells on the floor (I’m not sure why that was popular), eat hush puppies and cole slaw, and you were supposed to be able to tell what part of the state you were in by the balance of tomato and vinegar in the BBQ sauce.

Well, I brought my hubby up here from North Carolina and he loves to grill, and smoke meat, so we enjoy a lot of outdoor cooking to this day, but I don’t think that’s really considered a Northwest Staples.

One of the types of foods that we are known for is Seafood.  Being on the Pacific Ocean – puget sound is open to the Pacific – we get a lot of seafood… and many of the fishing boats that go crabbing or fishing up in Alaska are moored here in the off-season, so if you’re visiting the area and want to eat something local – ask for the fish of the day… but be careful those “Market Rates” can be expensive

Of course we have all the usual chain restaurants like Chipotle, Red Robin, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Chipotle, Panda Express, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Chipotle… did I mention Chipotle?



But in addition, something that seems to have gotten its foothold here is a lot of Asian Fusion cuisine.    15% of the population is Asian – which obviously includes a lot of different nationalities – we love them all, and we love the variety of food they bring.  A couple of moms in my kids school group are Korean – and one of them is a great cook – she turned us on to a few Korean restaurants in the area.  There is Korean Barbeque, and there are also Korean restaurants which have lot of different plates of foods – relishes, vegetables, sauces – all sorts of flavorful, colorful foods, and those are in a line in the center of the table – you can have as many as you want.  You order your meat or another entree and then these condiment foods are mixed-and-matched so you can experience a whole variety of flavors in one meal.

Living in Seattle - Local Food
Living in Seattle – Local Food: So many restaurants, so little time! We share new places for you to try every week in our Let’s Go Seattle Weekend Update!

Another type of restaurant that has become popular in the last couple of years is Pho restaurants.  These are vietnamese Soup restaurants.  You get a big bowl of soup broth, and then they put in noodles, meat and other toppings garnishes of your choosing.    You can keep it lower carb and more paleo by forgoing the noodles, and then it’s almost like a fasting-friendly meal… if you’re doing any intermittent fasting because of course like everybody else in the country you might be worried about your weight.

But that brings me to another element of our culture here. Appearance.

The Look: How To Dress When Living in Seattle, WA

Seattle… I want to put this nicely… People in Seattle care more about what’s on the inside than the outside.  I wouldn’t say people here are ugly because – well, I’m from here and that would be a major self-dis.  But I would say they are more ‘au natural’ and ‘ready to go hiking” or clean, but not fancy…  Perhaps partly from our strong feminist influence – that doesn’t want women to be judged by their appearance… partly because we’re outdoorsy, and partly because it rains so much if you go out with your hair done in the morning, it might look significantly different by the time you get back… I”m not sure the reason why but people don’t seem to put as much time into their appearance.

I very rarely see women with full makeup, curled hair or high heels.  Maybe I’m just not running in the right circles, but women wearing LIPSTICK here is something of a rarity.

Going into the office, women might wear a dress or nice slacks and some chunky jewelery.  Men might wear khakis and a button-down shirt if they’re fancy.  Very few jobs require a suit and tie, and most don’t have much of a dress code at all.  Amazon has 75,000 employees here… and I know in the tech office jobs you can pretty much wear all manner of things.  My husband has his capsule wardrobe built around polo shirts and jeans.  He has every color of polo shirt they make.

I myself find the most important item to invest in for your wardrobe is your coat- especially if you’re going in-and-out of the office or car on a regular basis.  Because of the rain and mist we get through about 8 months of the year,   You may find that you want to wear a light weight rain proof layer that will keep you dry and warm enough about 80% of the time.  

Living in Seattle With A RainCoat
Got a rain coat? That’s all you need year-round for living in Seattle, WA!

We do occasionally get snow – and then you can stay home from work – but we don’t often need to wear boots, and we don’t often need to wear sun dresses.  Build your wardrobe around casual and business casual – and dress for 50-70 degree temps, and you should be covered for most situations.

And yes – in the past we were known for wearing socks with sandals – but NO, I don’t do that, and I think it’s mostly a thing of the past.  Remember the reason people were doing that were to keep their feet warm in their Teva’s even though it was 50 degrees and rainy… If you get all your clothes at REI, you’ll fit right in.  Men: Full mountain-man beard and flannel plaid shirts are encouraged for any occasion.

So, Seattle is a “judge not, lest ye be judged” type of environment, but this lack of uniformity can lead to a lot of social-signaling about what group you’re in.  Many groups tend to stick to themselves.  Also, with the amount of vagrancy and rambunctiousness downtown and a potentially busy and introverted workforce, you can get a lot of “keep to yourself” vibe… this is known as the Seattle Freeze.  You might feel people care more about their phones than smiling at strangers.  

When I was younger, I would go on a lot of walks and jogs with my dad as he was trying to train me for track and  cross-country.  Eventually I got good and he got old and we didn’t run together any more, but I remember he would always encourage me to smile and make eye contact with people that we’ve passed and say Hi to them.  I like to do this still, and I usually get a good response, but I have found that not many other folks in the area initiate contact in this way.  There’s also not an abundance of the common courtesies that I found more abundant when I lived in the South.  People are less likely to hold the door open for you, or give up their seat on the bus to an elderly person or pregnant lady.  So, if you’re already living here, I”m here to encourage that!  Let’s step it up, people!

Crime: Is Living in Seattle Safe?

CRIME – Now let’s talk about Crime in the Seattle area… is this a safe city?

I want to share with you a crime map from Neighborhood Scout. This site compiles a lot of useful data, and this is the crime map that they have.  You can also find out about Crime in any specific area you’re looking at by calling your local police station, and they will tell you what kinds of crime are being committed in your area.

Now I live in the ‘burbs – out in Lake Forest Park just north of Seattle, at the North End of Lake Washington.  We have property crimes like car prowls, packages being stolen from the front porch, and mail being taken out of your mail box.  I have never felt unsafe or been a victim of crime that I know of, but my neighbor on a secluded lot has been robbed twice in the last 40 years.  One time the robbers were caught by the neighbors.

Here on this map, you can see that the dark areas are bad – more crime is committed there.  The higher crime areas tend to be along busy streets where there is a lot of shopping and bus access, but maybe not a lot of wealth.  We tend to see higher crime rates along Aurora Aveneue – also known as Highway 99 where there is some prostitution going on, shoplifting and hold ups, and people can make their get-away on the bus.  Also similar in the Northgate Mall area – there are a lot of people there at the bus stop, light rail stop is coming and there are a lot of people passing through… this area should be nicer, they are currently working on re-vamping the mall to build a hokey practice arena.

We also see higher crime rates around the University of Washington.  This is a very urban campus.  There is a fair amount of pan-handling and drug use in the area which can create problems.

In Downtown Seattle by the tall sky scrapers is the most high crime area.  This is a high population density area with a lot of homelessness, drug use and some violent crimes have been committed here over the past few years.

Getting into South Seattle – this area has historically been a lower-property-value area, we have the port of Seattle, the stadiums, some industrial areas, etc. but is quickly being revitalized with a lot of new construction coming into the area, some as part of the high-density housing drive along the light rail track.

The lowest-crime areas tend to be in the high-rent districts along the water.  When you pay more for your house, one of the benefits may be a better, safer location.

I will say that I have never been troubled by crime or criminals in the Seattle area, and when I was in high school, I used to go down to some of these areas on Saturday nights with my friends, but I think as with every big city, it’s just good to keep your head up and your wits about you and don’t walk down dark alleys alone at night and you should be fine.

Okay – let’s switch onto a happier topic – some fun things to do around here, and then we’ll wrap it up!

Fun Things To Do While Living In Seattle, WA

When my kids were young, I spent a lot of time trying to entertain them, and I grew up as  kid in this area, so let’s just talk about some fun evening and weekend options.

Negotiating Your Home Sale
Seattle is pretty great about hosting a variety of fun community-baed events throughout the year. This is a chalk fish that was drawn on pavement of the Seattle Viaduct elevated highway at the waterfront in downtown Seattle, WA before the viaduct was torn down and replaced with a more modern tunnel.

First of all – it’s a great idea to look into after school sports – soccer is very popular around here and crew teams -rowing – is one of the unusual sports that we can take advantage of here with all our water, but that not everyone would be able to do in every state. There are all the other high school sports, but those are just a few local faves.

If you have young kids, its’ a good idea to think about how you might like to spend your time on the weekends during the winter months – think overcast skies with intermittent rain… will you like to go outside and hike?  Will you take your dog to the beach or dog park to run around?  Will you take up jogging or biking?  Cycling is actually pretty popular here amongst adults and a lot of people like to bike on some of the trails – like the Burke Gilman Trail and the Interurban trail on the weekends or bike to work if they work near Lake Washington.  There are also cycling clubs that like to ride on the north-east side of the lake – in Woodinville and Redmond on the scenic back roads.  We don’t have many equestrian activities, but if you are interested in horses or horse back riding lessons, that’s the part of town to head towards.

A lot of families find classes for their kids to be involved in – robotics classes, tae kwon do, chess club, gymnastics, board game nights or DnD – many of our school-year activities take place inside because it can be damp and dark during the school year, but when the sun shines it’s glorious and everyone heads to their go-to outdoor activities.  

It’s great if you can find a place to walk on the weekends, or during the day if you’re home with the kids – a lot of people get zoo memberships from the Woodland Park Zoo just so they can take the stroller and have a contained space to walk around while the kids run off their energy (and they won’t get hit by cars).  Other people like GreenLake, and there are other local parks with walking paths… just think about how much you’d like to be outside, and see what the walking options are in the neighborhood you choose.

Finally I’ll mention museums.  We have a lot of cool Museums – chances are your kids will eventually get to many of them due to school field trips, but some bear up well to repeat visits and you’ll like them well enough that you’ll want to go back.  I really enjoy the Pacific Science Center, which as a star-show, IMAX theater, butterfly house, dinosaur animatronics and a science show….they also have a rotating exhibit that has had really interesting displays over the years – the Chinese terracotta soldiers, art made out of Legos, a Sherlock Holmes mystery-solving exhibit and the BODIES exhibit that featured preserved bodily tissue so you could get a real anatomy lesson and see things like the difference between a smoker’s lung and a non-smoker’s lung.

Living in Seattle, WA Offers Hiking
Seattle Offers Day Camping, Hiking and Overnight Camping Opportunities Year Round In Our Nearby Cascade Mountains, Lakes, & Foothills.

If it’s summer time, a trip to one of our many beaches is fun – Golden Gardens near Ballard is wonderful and sandy out on Puget Sound, and Alkai Beach in West Seattle is good too.  On Lake Washington, Matthews Beach and the beach in Magnuson Park have a life-guard watching the swimmers and there’s also supervised swimming at Green Lake.

Greenlake is a 3-mile loop around the Lake – great for joggers, dog walkers, bikers, scooterers and roller skaters.  They have some green space and playgrounds here.  South Lake Union has a lovely walking trail which is in a more urban downtown setting, but you can look out on the Lake and see sea planes taking off… this is also a great place to rent Kayaks and go explore the house boats on the Lake.

If you really need some green space to get away from it all, the Arboretum on Lake Washignton at the 520 bridge is huge and beautiful.  We also have Discovery Park north of downtown on the Magnolia Bluff and you can walk in there for hours – go down to the beach, and really get lost in the different settings – trees, grassy fields, scenic overlooks and down to the beach.

Want To Find Out What’s Happening In Seattle Each Weekend?

We’re always featuring fun new things to do for people living in Seattle, WA – restaurants, weekend events, real estate, and more – so if you haven’t already, Subscribe to Let’s Go Seattle – and Let’s go have some fun!

Join Us!

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