moving to seattle

Moving to Seattle

Seattle is a widely respected regional center for culture and the performing arts. The city is a mix of older industrial companies and new companies in technology service and design. Seattle has also been ranked as “America’s Number 1 Smarter City” based on government policies and green economy. Seattle, nicknamed the Emerald City, is known for its vibrant arts scene, tech savvy inhabitants and evergreen forests. Here are a few things you should know before moving to Seattle:

Moving Advice

Timing isn’t everything. Don’t wait for prices to drop in the fall before moving to Seattle; renting a moving truck will cost you about the same anytime of year. Don’t worry about what day of the week you want to get started—the moving truck rental rates run the same whether they are picked up on a Monday or Friday.

Pack an umbrella. If you plan to move to Seattle in the fall or winter, be prepared to get wet. Though Seattle may not get as much rain as New York City (true story!), the months from November to January are the wettest of the year.

Prepare for traffic. Seattle traffic can be pretty bad; the I90/I5 interchange has been touted as one of the worst in the nation. Follow Seattle Traffic prior to moving to get an idea for which time is best to get on the road. Also keep in mind that traffic is at an all-time high on Fridays, sunny days and during sporting events due to the close proximity of the Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Sounders (MLS) and Mariners (MLB) stadiums to downtown.

Beat the heat. If you are sensitive to heat, keep in mind that most homes and apartments in Seattle do not have air conditioners. Though the weather in Seattle is mostly temperate, there is a small window in July when the weather can get extremely hot and humid.

Change your address. When moving to Seattle, as with any move, make sure to change your address. The USPS will forward all first class mail for one-year and magazines and periodicals for 60 days. You will also receive over $500 in coupons for companies in your new neighborhood after changing your address with USPS.

Park with precaution. Make sure your new neighborhood will allow you to have a storage container or moving truck parked on the street in front of your new home or apartment, and that you are not moving to your new home on a street cleaning day or time. Most parking meters in Seattle take credit card, but keep a stash of quarters in your car for the old fashioned meters you may find unexpectedly.


Get Organized

Check out our downloadable planners and checklists.

Moving-out-for-the-first-time Checklist

Last-minute Moving Checklist

Move Planner



Seattle has been called a “city of neighborhoods” and can seem labyrinthine and confusing to the newcomer. With a total area of 142.5 square miles, it can be a daunting task to learn your way around the city after moving to Seattle; however 58.7 of those square miles of Seattle are water. There is a wide range of neighborhoods to choose from when planning your move. Each neighborhood has its own charm and may or may not be right for you.


Cost of Living

Seattle is considered one of the more expensive US cities. The median home price in Seattle is $429,000, and while the rest of the country has seen prices drop due to the recession, housing prices have not dropped in Seattle. Homes tend to spend more time on the market due to this trend. About 46.87% of Seattleites own their homes while 47.28% rent homes and/or apartments. The vacancy rate in Seattle for homes and apartments is 5.85%. This low vacancy rate can mean higher rents and higher demand for housing. In January 2011, cost of living in Seattle index was 149, high considering the US average is 100.


Getting Around

Getting around Seattle is surprisingly easy for a city of its size. Seattle is ranked as the 12th most congested city in America and sure, there are the typical traffic jams and slow-goings if you drive a car, but the city’s mass transit is pretty amazing in its breadth and scope. There are even underground tunnels for busses in downtown to ease the gridlock on the surface streets. Additionally, Seattle is reviving the downtown streetcar lines in an effort to further ease the downtown congestion. Of course there are traffic areas that you will want to avoid at certain times of the day in Seattle and during construction phases.

Seattle rates as the 6th most walkable city in America. Seattle Mass Transit King County Metro is top notch, and will always get you where you need to go. After moving to Seattle you will find it can be a difficult city to navigate at first, but with a little exploring you’ll know the best route to take to avoid the stadium traffic and which street will get you to Dick’s Burgers (mmm, burgers).

For travel by air, Seattle’s international airport is SeaTac International Airport (SEA).


Relocation Resources

If you are moving to Seattle for a job then congratulations are in order! As one of the most walkable cities in the US, chances are you won’t need a car to get from your home to work each day. Keep this in mind when house or apartment hunting.

If you move to Seattle and are in the market for a new job, there are plenty of places to look. A surprising amount of corporations got their start in the Emerald City and many corporations have moved to Seattle, giving you plenty of places to search for your perfect job.


Media Outlets

If you’re moving to Seattle, investigating the local news outlets will bring you up to speed on local breaking headlines and keep you informed of the city’s diverse culture. Here is a list of some of the most essential sources available in Seattle.

The Seattle Times
The Seattle Times is the most widely circulated newspaper in the state of Washington. It’s printed daily and reaches more than 250,000 readers during the week. Its Sunday edition has a circulation over 340,000. Founded in 1891, the newspaper has garnered eight Pulitzer Prizes and is widely regarded for its investigative journalism.

Seattle Weekly
With a circulation close to 100,000, the free Seattle Weekly is the city’s principal source of information for local news and community events. With a focus on dining, nightlife, local music and culture, the Seattle Weekly is an essential print publication for residents seeking a balanced mix of local headlines and coverage of the city’s diverse arts culture. The newspaper was founded in 1976.

The Seattle Stranger
The primary competition of the aforementioned Seattle Weekly, The Seattle Stranger is published weekly and offers readers its own unique perspective on life in The Emerald City. It covers local news stories regularly overlooked by mainstream media and also offers insight into Seattle’s diverse music, art, theater, dining and nightlife scene. Launched in 1991 by co-founders of The Onion, the Seattle Stranger has an approximate circulation of 90,000 and can be found on newsstands and in bookstores throughout Seattle.

City Living Seattle
Providing weekly coverage of local news, city-related issues, opinion columns, and sections dealing with health, home and garden, City Living Seattle is every local resident’s guide to community awareness and involvement. The newspaper is published every Wednesday and has a circulation over 35,000.

Seattle Gay News
Seattle Gay News has been in print since the late 1970s and covers news stories relevant to the LGBT community of Seattle and the surrounding Puget Sound area. It has a weekly circulation of 13,500 and frequently reports on international and local news, and contains an informative section on the Seattle arts and entertainment scene.

Local TV and News Channels
Keep up to date on developing news by tuning in to the following Seattle TV stations:


When moving to Seattle, you will enjoy an oceanic climate. Seattle has, on average, 201 cloudy days, 93 partly cloudy days and 71 days of sun each year. You can expect 150 rainy days with an average of 37.17 inches of rain each year. The winters are cloudy and the average high/low temperatures on any given day vary little. The relatively dry summers are gorgeous with average temperatures of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures can, however reach into the 80s and 90s during July and August. In July of 2009, temperatures reached a record 103 degrees Fahrenheit.



Finding the right school for you and your family in Seattle is a must. Seattle public school districts are working to makie it easier than ever to choose the right school for your child with lists of the 90 elementary, secondary and high schools in Seattle. Here you’ll also find each school’s student-to-teacher ratio, unofficial API rank and diversity rank. The 2010-2011 School Report Card is also available for Seattle Public Schools, which includes any and all info you might need to choose and elementary, junior high or high school near your new neighborhood.

Seven of the top twenty elementary schools in Washington State are in the city of Seattle (According to the

  • Wedgewood Elementary School
  • Laurelhurst Elementary School
  • View Ridge Elementary School
  • Whittier Elementary School
  • McGilvra Elementary School
  • Bryant Elementary School
  • Hay Elementary School

The highest-ranking high schools in Seattle:

  • Aviation High School
  • The Center School
  • Roosevelt High School
  • Ballard High School



Seattle, like many cities, has an extensive network of online resources you can utilize to take care of important tasks such as voter registration, tax information and city permits needed for tree trimming and construction. Some online Seattle resources can be found at the following sites:

  • For tree trimming and removal permits visit
  • For building permits visit
  • For tax and IRS information visit
  • For voter registration and information in Seattle visit
  • Trash, recycling and other utilities information can be found at
  • You will need to apply for a new driver’s license within 30 days. Find out where by visiting