Is Seattle a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in the Emerald City

Is Seattle a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in the Emerald City

Published on February 23, 2023 by Julia Weaver @Redfin

Seattle is a vibrant city that is known for its thriving economy, beautiful natural scenery, diverse culture, and excellent food and drink. It’s a city that has something to offer for everyone, from outdoor enthusiasts to tech workers, so if you’re looking for a dynamic and exciting place to call home, Seattle might just be the perfect fit for you.

Whether you’re considering renting an apartment in Seattle or buying a home in the city, you can find plenty to love in Seattle. This article will explore both the pros and cons of living in Seattle, providing a comprehensive overview of what it’s like to call this city home. So, is Seattle a good place to live for you? Read on to find out.

Is Seattle a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in the Emerald City
Aerial shot of Seattle, Washington on a sunny day in summer, looking along the Aurora Bridge from the Fremont bank of Lake Union towards East Queen Anne and Eastlake, with the downtown skyline in the distance and, much further away, the snowcap of Mount Rainier.

Pros of living in Seattle

1) The incredible food scene

Seattle’s food scene is diverse and innovative, offering a wide range of culinary experiences, and exploring the restaurants should definitely be on your bucket list. The city’s location on the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound means that seafood is a major part of the local cuisine.

Seattle is known for its focus on local and sustainable food, with many restaurants using eco-friendly practices. The city is also home to countless independent coffee shops and roasteries, and has a strong farm-to-table movement. Seattle’s diverse population means that there’s a wide range of ethnic cuisine available, from Vietnamese pho to Ethiopian injera to Japanese ramen.

Local real estate agent Luca Nygren recommends Cafe Flora to anyone looking for a restaurant around the Madison Valley area. “The flavorful menu offers a few staples, as well as some seasonal dishes to make use of fresh local and organic ingredients, and interesting craft cocktails perfect for any occasion. Request a table in the light-filled atrium for one of the most relaxing meals you’ll ever have.”

2) Beautiful summers

If you can handle the gloomy winters, you’ll be in for a treat come summertime. Seattle summers are typically warm and sunny, with temperatures in the 70s and low 80s Fahrenheit. This makes it the perfect weather for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, or simply lounging in one of the city’s many parks.

During the summer months, the days are incredibly long, giving you more time to explore the city and its surroundings.

Seattle is home to a number of summer festivals and events, including the famous Seattle International Film Festival, the Capitol Hill Block Party, and the Bite of Seattle food festival. There’s always something fun and exciting going on during the summer months.

3) Seattle Neighborhoods

Seattle neighborhoods are known for their unique character and charm, and there’s a neighborhood to suit almost any taste. From Capitol Hill to  Queen Anne, each neighborhood has its own distinct personality.

Many of the city’s neighborhoods are designed to be pedestrian-friendly, with sidewalks, bike lanes, and easy access to public transportation. This means that you can easily explore the city on foot, discovering hidden gems like local cafes, boutiques, and galleries along the way.

Many of Seattle’s neighborhoods are located near parks and green spaces, including popular destinations like Discovery Park and Green Lake.

Is Seattle a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in the Emerald City
“An empty grassy lawn next to Green Lake in Seattle, WA.”

Nygren also shares, “for anyone looking for a more laid back Seattle vibe, with miles of waterfront and views of both the city landscape and the Olympic Mountains, West Seattle is the place to be. Although it feels tucked away, it’s just a short 15 min drive/water taxi ride to downtown Seattle.

The Alki neighborhood offers miles of waterfront to explore, and afterwards hit up Harry’s Beach House for dinner or drinks. Or, head down to The Alaskan Junction for a wide selection of boutiques, bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. If urban hiking is more your style, Lincoln Park has miles of trails that will wind through the forest and eventually land you down by the water where you can watch ferries dock and Harbor Seals play.”

Belltown is my favorite neighborhood because it’s home to the residential density that people think of when they imagine a large city like Seattle,” explains Condo Connection, a group dedicated to maintaining healthy, vibrant common interest communities in Seattle.

“Belltown includes an eclectic mix of buildings, both new and old, and a wide variety of food, beverage, and entertainment venues from pizza to Moroccan, from Rob Roy to Roquette, and from Vue Lounge to the Moore Theatre. The waterfront, Seattle Center, South Lake Union, and more are all within a 5 to 15 minute walk from Belltown.”

4) Entrepreneurship opportunities

“Washington and the Seattle metropolitan area offer a robust garden for entrepreneurship given the fact Washington is one of only eight states that does not have a personal state income tax,” states Gregory Kovsky, President at International Business Associates (IBA).

“Residents of the Evergreen state, whether business owners or employees, take home a higher percentage of their compensation after taxes as a result of their hard work than in over 80% of the United States. It is not a mystery why companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Costco, Starbucks, Dick’s, City People, and Ballard Consignment have their origin stories in this metropolitan area.”

5) Proximity to nature

“Seattle has many excellent parks that are lush in nature,” says Seattle Coffee Works. “We love taking a cappuccino and roaming around discovery park or, in the summer, taking a cold brew and hanging out at golden gardens beach. We are a quick drive from some fantastic hikes for the summer and Ski Hills in the winter. Nothing beats a freshly brewed Aeropress while gearing up for a day of snowboarding at Alpental.”

“My favorite getaway is always to the Olympic National Park. It’s an idyllic ferry ride away from Seattle and there is so much to see,” shares local photographer Meghann Laine Grah of M. Laine Photography. “If you’re overwhelmed by the number of scenic options to choose from — mountains, lakes, beaches, rainforests, or waterfalls — head to Lake Crescent to get a beautiful mix.”

“The best part about Seattle is the closeness to nature and the mountains in the winter and summer time, allowing for outdoor activities year-round,” shares Casey Krueger, CEO of PeerStorage, a self-storage marketplace in Issaquah, WA.

“In the winter there are several different mountain choices for skiing and snowboarding. I particularly like the challenge of Alpental and snowshoeing near Leavenworth to Colchuck lake. In the summer, you can’t beat any hike through the Enchantments, if you’re up for a challenge, you can do the Enchantments through-hike which is around 18 miles. You get to visit 3-4 different lakes, see mountain goats and other animals in their natural habitat, and a variety of scenery from forests, mountains, flowers, and views.”

Is Seattle a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in the Emerald City
Mother and Toddler Daughter at Sol Duc Falls in the Unique Scenery of the Sol Duc River Valley in the Beautiful Olympic National Park in Western Washington State USA.

6) Great schools

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is the largest school district in Washington state, serving over 54,000 students in 103 schools. The district is known for its high-quality education and commitment to equity and diversity.

In addition to the public schools, Seattle is home to a number of top-ranked private schools, including University Prep, Lakeside School, and Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences. These schools offer a rigorous and enriching education, with a focus on personalized learning and innovative teaching methods.

Seattle is also home to a number of world-renowned universities, including the University of Washington, Seattle University, and Seattle Pacific University. These institutions provide a wide range of educational opportunities, from undergraduate degrees to advanced research and professional programs.

Seattle is known for its strong sense of community and support for education. The city’s residents place a high value on education and are actively involved in supporting their local schools and universities.

7) Weekend getaways and staycations

“With Elliott Bay and Lake Union at our doorstep, Seattle offers easy access to ferries and seaplanes that can take you on a PNW day trip or weekend getaway,” states Seattle Crime Awareness & Prevention, a community that shares actionable information related to crime, safety, and security. “Check out Bainbridge and Vashon or venture out to San Juan, Orcas or Lopez Island. Take a speedy boat to Victoria, BC.

“The two best places to vacation near Seattle are Lake Chelan and Leavenworth, which are both around a two-and-a-half-hour drive,” suggests Casey Krueger of PeerStorage.

“The unique thing about Leavenworth is it’s a German-themed town so Oktoberfest is always a festive experience. You might want to go back for Christmas time to see all the Christmas decorations, experience the celebrations, and beautiful views of the snowy mountains, and get into the Christmas spirit. In the summer, check out Lake Chelan on memorial day weekend, one of the most popular weekends. You can bring your boat to take out on the lake, taste local wine at the local wineries, and even go put-putting in town.”

Is Seattle a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in the Emerald City

8) Endless activities 

“Seattle has an endless list of things to do that everyone can partake in – from the green of Discovery Park to the water of Elliott Bay and South Lake Union,” states Seattle Crime Awareness & Prevention. “We have high-end modern cuisine and comfort food and performance venues big and small, indoor and open air. You can sail the water on a ferry or jump on a street car and get from point A to B. Every resident and visitor can enjoy the diversity of over 40 unique neighborhoods.”

Seattle Coffee Works goes on to share that spending time outdoors is the most important thing to do. “But if the weather is too rough or we feel cozy, many great things occupy our time. Going to Ballard Coffee Works with a deck of cards or participating in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign is a great way to support the local cafes. If we feel more cultured, we might take a latte and roam the art and culture galleries, The Frye, or Museums of Museums.”


Cons of living in Seattle

1) High cost of living

Seattle is known for being one of the most expensive cities in the US, with a high cost of living that can be a challenge for many residents. One of the biggest contributors to this high cost of living is housing.

In fact, the median sale price in Seattle in January was $760,000, compared to a median sale price of about $383,000 nationwide. The city’s booming tech industry has led to a surge in demand for housing, driving up prices and making it difficult for many people to afford to live in the city.

The high cost of housing in Seattle also has a ripple effect on other aspects of life in the city. For example, food and other necessities can also be expensive in Seattle, as retailers and restaurants pass on the high cost of rent and other expenses to consumers.

Despite the high cost of living, many people still choose to live in Seattle because of its many attractions and opportunities. The city is home to a thriving arts and culture scene, a wide range of outdoor activities, and a diverse population that offers a rich tapestry of experiences and perspectives.

For those who are willing to pay the price, living in Seattle can be an incredibly rewarding experience. However, it’s important to be prepared for the high cost of living and to plan accordingly, whether that means finding a roommate to split rent with or adjusting your budget to account for higher expenses.

2) Rainy weather

Seattle is famous for its rainy and cloudy weather which can be a challenge for some people to adjust to. The city experiences rain for much of the year, with the heaviest rainfall typically occurring from October through March.

In addition to the rain, Seattle is also known for its cloudy skies, with many days seeing overcast conditions. Fun fact about Seattle: the city actually sees less rain than Houston, New York, Atlanta, and Boston.

The rainy weather is often cited as one of the reasons why Seattle is so green and lush, with the moisture supporting a wide range of plants and trees. Seattle is also home to many rainy day activities, including exploring museums, theaters, art galleries, and many cozy cafes and coffee shops, making it a great place to curl up with a book or catch up with friends in rainy weather.

Is Seattle a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in the Emerald City
Little boy walking outdoors at rainy autumn day

3) Limited parking

The city’s geography, which includes hills and bodies of water, makes it difficult to expand the road network and build new parking facilities. Seattle’s high population density and rapid growth have also contributed to the demand for limited parking spaces.

Seattle has implemented policies aimed at reducing the number of cars on the road, such as restricted street parking, time limits for parking, and permit requirements in some neighborhoods. These policies are part of the city’s efforts to promote alternative modes of transportation and reduce traffic congestion, which can have environmental and public health benefits.

Finally, the city’s high population density and rapid growth have contributed to the demand for limited parking spaces.

This is why parking and self-storage marketplaces like PeerStorage exist. PeerStorage allows local residents to quickly find the cheap parking or storage they need for their vehicles in major cities such as Seattle. PeerStorage is a local Seattle business that increases parking space throughout the city.

4) The “Seattle Freeze”

The “Seattle Freeze” is a phenomenon that refers to the perception that Seattle residents are aloof, unfriendly, and hesitant to make new friends or social connections. Some people who move to Seattle report feeling that it’s difficult to break into established social circles or make meaningful connections with others.

Despite its reputation for the Seattle Freeze, many Seattle residents are friendly and welcoming to newcomers. While it may take some effort to break into established social circles, there are many opportunities to meet new people and build connections in the city.

Whether through joining a club or organization, volunteering, or simply striking up a conversation with someone new, there are many ways to connect with others and build a sense of community in Seattle.

5) Traffic congestion

Seattle’s rapid growth has resulted in increased traffic and congestion, making commuting more difficult. The city’s aging transportation infrastructure has not kept up with the volume of traffic, leading to frequent delays and longer commutes for residents.

While the city has invested in public transportation and initiatives to encourage alternative modes of transportation, traffic, and congestion remain significant issues in Seattle.

Is Seattle a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Living in the Emerald City

6) The risk of earthquakes

Seattle is located in a seismically active region of the United States, which means that there is a risk of earthquakes in the area. It’s worth noting that while the risk of earthquakes in Seattle is present, it’s also important to keep in mind that earthquakes are rare events.

While it’s impossible to predict when an earthquake will occur, the probability of a damaging earthquake happening in any given year is relatively low. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for emergencies, and Seattle residents should take steps to be ready for earthquakes and other natural disasters.


Is Seattle a good place to live? Final thoughts

Seattle is a city that offers a unique blend of opportunities and challenges. While the city boasts major draws that make the Emerald City a great place to live, its cons like high cost of living, rainy weather, traffic congestion, and earthquake risk are also important factors to consider. Ultimately, whether Seattle is the right place to call home really depends on your individual preferences and priorities.

Go check out the article from Julia Weaver at Redfin, check it out here!


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