Moving to Seattle


Our rating

5 out of 5

  • Affordability 3 out of 5

  • Safety 4 out of 5

  • Healthcare 3 out of 5

  • Traffic Flow 4 out of 5

  • Property affordability 5 out of 5

  • Climate 5 out of 5

  • Environment quality 5 out of 5

Seattle, or ‘The Emerald City, is surrounded by forests and water, the result being that nature is never too far away. With an oceanic climate, Seattle is a fairly wet city; but true Seattleites don’t let a bit of rain get in the way of a good time.

If you are relocating to Seattle, just get a good raincoat and some hiking boots and you will soon fit right in.

The city boasts a lively and innovative cultural scene that includes world-class theatre and a wide variety of live music. People from around the world are also drawn by Seattle’s standout approach to environmental sustainability.

With a large Internet industry, good public transport, a burgeoning biotechnology sector and a progressive political climate, Seattle is becoming a very popular relocation destination. The city has a strong ex pat community with 17.5% of the population being foreign born.

LGBT communities will find a welcoming city. This year the state of Washington legalised gay marriage and Gay Pride in Seattle is celebrating over 40 years.

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Healthcare in Seattle

Before your big move to Seattle, it’s wise to think about medical cover for when you’re out there.

That way, you’ll be prepared for the US’s slightly labyrinthine system by the time you arrive.

Job market

According to last year’s census Seattle was the fastest growing major American city. From July 2012 to July 2013 the population grew by 2.8% to about 652,000. This is largely due to an established and increasing technology industry- famously Seattle is home to Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing.

This rapid expansion is creating some concern amongst residents, mainly over the cost of living, crime rate and population density. However rates of pay in Seattle are outpacing the national average and will continue to do so. The city of Seattle recently announced a $15 minimum wage, which is the highest in the US.

According to Forbes 2014 list Seattle and the wider Metropolitan Division is ranked 9th Best Place for Business and Careers.

The median disposable income is £2436 a month but the cost of living is 20.8% above the national average.

Transferring money to Seattle

If you’re thinking of moving to Seattle, you’ll probably need to convert some of your British pounds into American dollars.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Wise, an easy-to-use online international money transfer service which uses the real exchange rate, and charges low fees.

How much could you save? Well, its service can be up to 8x cheaper than high street banks.

Join more than 7 million people and start using Wise today.

Property information

The median sales price for a property in Seattle is currently around $465,400 (£285,271). Seattle home values have gone up 7.5% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 5.6% within the next year.

According to the Census Bureau Seattle is now ranked among the 10 most-expensive cities in the US for renters. The median rent price for a property in Seattle is $1,800 (£1,103).


Covering an expanse of over 20,000 square kilometres, Seattle provides a lot of choice when it comes to suburbs and neighbourhoods. It sprawls into the city of Tacoma to the south – there’s a forty-minute drive between the two city centres – and Twin Peaks-like mountain towns such as Lynnwood and Fall City to the north and east.

Family FriendlyBallard – Ballard has decent public schools, parks and play spaces with a low crime rate.

Hip and TrendyCapitol Hill – Young and vibrant- home to coffee culture and clubs as well as some of Seattle’s biggest events, like Block Party and the Pride Parade.

UpmarketQueen Anne – Queen Anne is a tree-lined oasis of high-culture and good food within walking distance of downtown.

Up and ComingCentral District – Cheaper than its neighbour Capitol Hill, Central District is undergoing a rapid expansion of bars, restaurants and shops.

Schools and education

There are two school districts in Seattle: Seattle Public Schools and Renton School District, with a total number of 130 public schools. Seattle Public Schools district contains six schools that received gold, silver or bronze medals in the U.S. News Best High Schools rankings.

Best Schools has rated Seattle 6 out of 10 based on its public schools’ test results.

The average private school tuition in Seattle is $13,468 (£8,291) for elementary schools and $12,729 (£7,836) for high schools.

Seattle is home to the University of Washington, which is highly respected and ranked 15 amongst the world’s top 500 universities. Other prominent universities include Seattle University and Seattle Pacific University.

Cost of moving

The average shipping cost of moving for a family of three from the following cities will cost approximately:

From Cost

A day in the life

The chances are you will start your day with a great cup of coffee. The home of Starbucks, Seattle is synonymous with the stuff. With the highest concentration of coffee houses in the US (2.5 coffee shops for every thousand citizens) you won’t have any problems finding your perfect cup.

Seattle is all about the water so a great way to enjoy the city is by strolling along the waterfront. Alki waterfront is a favourite spot of biking, skating or just meandering along the paved path.

Seattleites are fairly outdoorsy kind of people and in the winter many will drive out of the city Snoqualmie, Crystal Mountain or Mount Baker for a day’s skiing, boarding or sledding. Mount Ranier is 3 hour’s drive, a little too far afield for a day trip, but close enough for a weekend away.

The other great Seattle pastime is sport and the most popular spectator sport in Seattle is American football. The Seattle Seahawks are the current Super Bowl champions and you can support them at their stadium the CenturyLink Field. The stadium is also designed for soccer (or as everyone else calls it, football), so if you are a fan of the glorious game, you can get your fix there. The local team is the Seattle Sounders and they are champions of the US Open Cup.

For many Seattleites the way to wind down however is to listen to some great local music. Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana famously hail from Seattle and there is still a live music scene to write home about. Favourite venues include The Shoebox at The Market, and The Highline.

If this all sounds a bit much like hard work then you might just want to stay home and listen to KEXP radio, a local institution loved by Seattle’s alternative and indie rock fans.

Moving to Seattle from the UK

Those moving from the UK to Seattle will find a city with a metropolitan area much larger than any in their country of origin.

Covering an expanse of over 20,000 square kilometres, Seattle provides a lot of choice when it comes to suburbs and neighbourhoods. It sprawls into the city of Tacoma to the south – there’s a forty minute drive between the two city centres – and Twin Peaks-like mountain towns such as Lynnwood and Fall City to the north and east.

After a long and sustained period of house price rises prior to the financial crash in 2007-2008 Seattle property prices fell only slightly over the following three years before surging once more due to rising demand and limited housing stock – especially in more affluent suburbs.

The median sales price is currently at around $380,000 (£248,000), up more than 6% in the last year.

A three bedroom property in the city centre will cost around $600,000 (£392,000) whereas in Tacoma you’re looking at around $230,000 (£150,000) and in Lynwood about $290,000 (£190,000).

You can rent a two bedroom apartment within easy reach of the CBD for around $1,000 (£654) per month.

Comparing Seattle vs London

Seattle has an oceanic climate that is very similar to London’s. The temperature range is almost identical with average annual highs (around 15 °C) and lows (around 7 °C) falling within a degree of difference for the two cities. Seattle experiences more precipitation over the course of a year than London but has wetter winters and drier summers. Seattle experiences 47% more sunshine hours per annum, on average.

Living CostsLondonSeattle
Disposable Salary£1,992 GBPpcm£2,374 GBPpcm
3 Bedroom Apartment£2,590£1,634
Imported Beer 0.33cl£3£3
Bottle of Wine£7£8
VW Golf 1.4£15,943£14,383
Basic Utilities£160£112
Rice (1kg)£1£2
Meal for 2£50£34
Cinema Ticket (1)£11£7

The cost of living in Seattle is, on the whole, lower than in London. The cost of rent and property is much lower, transport is cheaper, utility bills are lower (except internet) and eating out won’t break the bank like it does in the UK capital. Groceries are more expensive though – particularly fresh fruit and veg.

Seattleites report greater feelings of safety on average than Londoners, as well as better standards in health care and less pollution.

Seattle has the second biggest theatre scene in the US after New York, is a hotbed of musical activity which spawned grunge and which incubates up and coming jazz, hip hop and folk artists. The range of museums and galleries on offer includes the Art Deco building of the Seattle Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park and the Frank Gehry designed EMP Museum of popular culture.