Yes, living in Seattle means enjoying clear skies once in a while... especially in summertime.
What It’s Like Living in Seattle
BY ALANA MORGAN
Evergreen trees, rain, coffee, tech, grunge music, and plenty of plaid… Thinking of moving to Seattle and wondering what to expect?
Here it is, your unofficial guide to what it’s like living in Seattle.
LIVING IN SEATTLE: THE BASICS
One major perk about living in Seattle: plenty of outdoor and waterfront spaces right in the city.
SEATTLE’S VIBE IS…
…laidback. The city works hard, but it’s also very casual. People living in Seattle are more likely to take their dog to the office than dress up for work (you won’t see many suits or heels here).
THE WEATHER IN SEATTLE IS…
…not quite as rainy as you’ve probably heard, but it is pretty wet and cloudy. The region often sees light rain instead of downpours, meaning Seattle’s
average annual rainfall
is actually lower than many other cities, even though it technically rains much of the year. Throughout the fall, winter, and spring, you’ll get a lot of gray days, but the city’s weather makes up for it in the summer when it’s mostly dry and sunny with long-lasting light — 16 hours of daylight on the summer solstice!
YOU’LL NEVER SEE A SEATTLEITE…
…use an umbrella. Spot an umbrella and you can be fairly certain the person holding it doesn’t live in Seattle. Instead, the true Seattleite is wearing a GoreTex jacket, rubber boots, and walking through the drizzle.
COST OF LIVING IN SEATTLE
There’s no way around it — Seattle’s cost of living is higher than that of many other U.S. cities. Between a competitive housing market and an abundance of high-income jobs (Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, and Amazon all started in the area and have headquarters here), housing has long been driving Seattle’s cost of living up. According to
, while home prices are continuing to rise, rental rates are becoming more affordable. (Just another perk of renting instead of buying, especially when you can take advantage of
like those offered by Sentral.)
Though housing is on the high end, expenses for utilities, transportation, and food are
closer to the national average
. And, while costs can be relatively high, the quality of life is high too.
THE BEST NEIGHBORHOODS IN SEATTLE
The Emerald City is a very liveable city so the best neighborhood in Seattle to live in depends on your personal needs and, if not working from home, your desired commute. (This comprehensive list of
defines each hood in a nutshell.) Naturally, we’re partial to Seattle’s
, which has many of the city’s healthcare institutions as well as the modern apartments at
Sentral First Hill
; it's also just steps away from the eclectic Capitol Hill district, with lively bars, cafes, independent shops, and music venues. Meanwhile, the
South Lake Union neighborhood
, bordering the lake in the center of the city and close to Amazon, Google, and even more healthcare campuses — as well as
— is particularly good for those working in the area.
TRANSPORTATION IN SEATTLE
Yes, people do actually commute by ferry.
, Seattle has a walk score of 74, a bike score of 71, and a transit score of 60. The city’s central neighborhoods are very walkable and there are a number of dedicated bike lanes, especially downtown. For public transportation, Seattle has an extensive
as well as the
light rail system, the
(with South Lake Union and First Hill lines), and the
commuter train connecting the city to select suburbs. Additionally, though certainly popular with tourists, locals also use Seattle’s ferries, including a
walk-on water taxi
from the main Seattle waterfront to the West Seattle neighborhood,
to nearby Bainbridge Island and Vashon Island, and the Seattle Center Monorail (which drops you right at the Space Needle).
That all said, there are gaps in how Seattle’s different public transportation systems connect to each other, and people still heavily rely on cars, especially for going further than a couple neighborhoods away.
ART AND CULTURE IN SEATTLE
From Pearl Jam and Nirvana to Sir Mix-a-Lot (yes, that
Sir Mix-a-Lot) and Macklemore, Seattle’s pretty proud of its musical pedigree. (Can’t mention Seattle music without the world-famous
Sub Pop Records
, the most well-known music label out of Seattle that popularized punk and grunge!). Long gone are the grunge heydays, but the city still has an active music scene ranging from bare bones music venues to elaborate symphony halls. Want to see who’s coming to town? Look at the lineups at
The Moore Theater
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Asian Art Museum
are also institutions of the city’s arts and culture scene, along with a variety of museums covering the region’s history and different communities, like the
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Wing Luke Museum
. For live performances, national touring shows often run at the grand
5th Avenue Theatre
FOOD AND DINING IN SEATTLE
Is it even the weekend if you don’t go to a farmer’s market in Seattle?
Seattle isn’t really known for a specific type of food or cuisine. Instead, you’ll find a little (or a lot) of everything and often done really well. For example, Seattle’s been home to a dizzying number of Thai restaurants (there were already
126 Thai restaurants in Seattle
back in 2014) but recently even more
Southeast Asian cuisines
, including Filipino, Laotian, and Vietnamese, are readily available throughout the city.
Local produce, thanks to nearby farming regions, plays a big role in Seattle dining, and bountiful farmer’s markets are held weekly in neighborhoods throughout the city, including Capitol Hill, Ballard, West Seattle, and Columbia City. With Washington’s wine country just over the mountains to the east, you also are spoiled for choice, especially when it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, and Syrah.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN SEATTLE
Seattlites counteract time spent behind the computer by getting outside. Countless trails are available for walking, running, cycling, and hiking. Since it’s surrounded by water with the Puget Sound on one side and Lake Washington, a large freshwater lake, on the other, it’s also common to go kayaking or paddle boarding after work and on the weekends when temperatures allow.
Newer apartment complexes also offer comprehensive fitness facilities, like those at
Sentral First Hill
WHERE TO GET OUTDOORS IN SEATTLE
There’s always a trail to explore, both in the city and right outside.
People living in Seattle love to get outdoors, and you’ll often hear the close accessibility to Pacific Northwest nature as one of the main draws for out-of-towners. In less than an hour driving from the city center, you can find yourself hiking or skiing in Snoqualmie, exploring granola-y Vashon Island or brunch-y Bainbridge Island. Drive a little longer and you can reach two
, the Olympic National Park, home to the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula, and Mount Rainier National Park, home to the iconic, snow-capped — and active volcano — Mount Rainier. Needless to say, hiking, camping, and skiing opportunities abound.
Back in the city, Seattle proper boasts nearly
ranging from old growth forests to concrete jungles, sports fields to sandy beaches. The question isn’t where to get outdoors in Seattle, but where you’ll go first.
SPORTS IN SEATTLE
Seattle may not be known as a major sports city (aside from back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in the mid-2010s) but it offers a professional team for almost everything (RIP Seattle SuperSonics). There’s the
for baseball, NWSL team
and WNBA team
(yep, Seattle is home to the ultimate dream team of Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird), and
Seattle Sounders F.C
for men’s soccer. Plus, new to the scene is the
playing in the NHL.
APARTMENTS IN SEATTLE
A designer furnished apartment in Seattle at Sentral SLU. Photo by James Baigrie.
Ready to make the move and looking for apartments in Seattle? Sentral has two Seattle communities in highly walkable areas offering unfurnished and designer furnished apartments, flexible leases, dedicated pet-friendly amenities, and more.
Click through to learn more and book a tour at
Sentral First Hill
ABOUT THE WRITER
After a decade spent living in Thailand sharing local travel insight for outlets like Lonely Planet, Alana Morgan came back to her home city of Seattle. She’s now rediscovering the city and getting her fill of misty PNW walks and seeing the sun set behind the Olympic Mountains.
MORE TO EXPLORE:
An Insider Guide to Seattle’s First Hill Neighborhood
An Insider Guide to Seattle’s South Lake Union Neighborhood
5 Reasons Why a Month-to-Month Lease May Be Right for You