Seattle :- “Where is Seattle in all this?” he said. “Seattle is at the absolute forefront. It’s the ideal birthplace for this.”Note: yes, the length of the post may be very irksome, but this post sure is a great source of information.
I have lived in downtown Seattle for just over a year, having lived all over the Bay Area prior to that. The experience of living in the Seattle metro area depends on the area in which you live and work. There is an “east side” e.g. Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, etc. and a “west side” e.g. downtown, Queen Anne, etc (not to be confused with West Seattle). For someone coming from the Bay Area, Seattle’s east side is like the South Bay and the west side is more like the peninsula/SF. Both are nice areas but it is partly a matter of taste and where you might have to commute. Since I live in downtown, my perspective will be colored by the urban and semi-urban west side experience, which is a pretty close analogue to San Francisco.
Some points of comparison between SF and Seattle that stand out for me, coming from the perspective of someone from the Bay Area:
– Seattle is a cleaner city with a lot of natural beauty. Even in the urban center, you are surrounded by mountains, water, and lush vegetation that creates a relaxing atmosphere. Few cities have the visual setting that Seattle does.
– Winters tend to be cloudy and gray but Seattle has better summers than SF. While Seattle gets more rain than SF, it also gets less rain than most east coast cities, contrary to popular reputation.
– San Francisco has a significantly higher cost of living. This primarily comes from two sources. First, real estate costs are much lower in Seattle, both renting and buying. Prices that would buy you something mediocre in SF will buy something very nice in Seattle. Second, Washington has no income taxes.
– As some other people mentioned, San Francisco has a richer, bigger, and more vibrant tech startup culture than Seattle. There are a lot of tech companies in Seattle but the community lacks the edgy vitality and churn of the Bay Area. The tech scene is less frenetic.
– I’m a big foodie and restaurant guy. At the very high-end, San Francisco has a slightly better restaurant scene primarily by virtue of the number of such restaurants. Seattle’s restaurants have excellent execution and diversity but they tend to have a slightly more casual ambiance even at the high-end, and high-concept food tends to be less expensive than SF. For eating out, Seattle is one of the best cities in the US in my experience.
– One thing that surprised me the most about Seattle is the fantastic markets and specialty grocery shops. No matter how obscure, exotic, or rare, it seems I can find fresh high-quality ingredients within walking distance of my apartment if I know where to look. The Bay Area is more limited. As a big plus, Seattle naturally has fresh/live seasonal seafood from the Gulf of Alaska and Pacific Northwest that is hard to get in the rest of the country. As someone that likes to cook, this place continues to surprise me in terms of what you can find.
– San Francisco has a more extroverted culture. People in the Pacific Northwest are very nice but they do not open up to strangers and new people as quickly as in the Bay Area. For people moving into town that takes some getting used to.
A health science research center is coming to Seattle to build new technologies introducing AI to human cells in order to better understand changes in bodies. https://t.co/74gmmIAcOr— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) December 7, 2023
– San Francisco has a more international, cosmopolitan, high-fashion feel to it, a bit like Manhattan. Seattle is a pretty international city in practice, it is one of the reasons the food is so good up here, but the image of being cosmopolitan is not an integral part of the city’s self-identity.
– Seattle is mad about soccer, and they have a very good professional team that sells out the stadium. If you like soccer then you will marvel at how big a deal soccer is to the local culture and be delighted by the enthusiasm. Like Seattle’s very visible obsession with coffee and beer, their very visible obsession with their professional soccer team is a memorable and infectious part of the local culture.
Those are most of the big differences that come to mind between SF and Seattle. For urban and semi-urban cities, Seattle is one of the most livable major cities in the US — most of the upside with relatively little of the typical downside. I know less about the suburbs further out, though some of the above would still apply.
Very, very real. Don’t believe these married couples (“my husband and I moved here 3 weeks ago and we love the people!”) who just landed in the city or folks who came with prior known acquaintances. They at least have each other and/or are too absorbed in writing about how wonderful the Seattle area is to notice.
I lived in Seattle off and on for 12 years between the mid/late 90’s through the late 2000’s. Here are three facts:
(1) Seattle is very cliquish. I don’t know why – but social circles are tough to break into and there is usually a ring leader in there somewhere you have to appease in order to make your way into the group. When you try to break in you usually have to run a social gauntlet of sorts to prove your clique-worthiness (usually by attending their events as a groupie). Seattle people love cliques – perhaps being in one fulfills prior insecurity/rejection. Cliques contribute to social isolation. Social isolation experienced is passed on to others as an outlet for the pain and to have others share in.
(2) Most Seattle relationships are flaky and superficial. Example: I had a friend leave the country after spending a few years in Seattle. He invited 20-30 acquaintances, what he perceived to be friends, to his going away party. 4 showed up. Some friends, huh? Sadly, flakiness and superficial relationships are not uncommon in Seattle. When you treat others this way, those affected remember and eventually “return the favor”. It becomes a cycle.
(3) There is a deep underlying tension between men and women in Seattle. The ratio is pretty out of whack in women’s favor. Lots of single successful 6 figure guys, far less available women. Women aren’t dumb! They date around and ‘trade up’ until they get the best deal. Men get their hearts broken, become resentful of women, and tiring of rejection they come to redirect their frustrations back at the populace. What starts out as sexual frustration gradually comes to permeate daily interactions. Women become frustrated men won’t approach them (men are worn down from rejection), men come to believe they’ll never find a reasonable date. And loop …
The freeze is a self fulfilling prophecy in Seattle. Cliques, relationship flakiness, women vs. men – it all contributes. I don’t think it’s any one factor but rather the combination and their perpetual presence. People on the receiving end pass it right along after getting bruised up a few times. Having others share in the pain makes it easier to bare, no? I moved to Seattle out of college, I thought it was me. Over time and after moving around a bit I realized it wasn’t. Like the gray skies, it takes a good 18-24 months to feel the full effects (which is why you should disregard any Seattle advice/thoughts about anything from someone who has lived there for less than 2 years) – but when it does you will know it. Can it be overcome? Yes, with much more effort than required in other places. I dealt with it by joining sports teams and through sheer statistics – I just kept trying to meet high quality people until a few eventually popped up and stuck. It was hard and riddled with rejection, but it is doable.
I never bought the weather or Scandinavian influence theories. I spent a lot of time in Vancouver BC (at least one/twice a month for 4 years) and Portland OR (similar frequency) and it was much easier to make friends, interact, etc. with people (bless those friendly Canadians and wacky Portlandians!). The women were actually approachable, also (my ex was from Vancouver). The weather? – it’s basically the same. It’s the social scene/culture itself in Seattle that is the problem. And it’s not going to change anytime soon, so if you are already there or are planning on moving to – accept and get used to it.
As an aside – to all the single men in or moving to Seattle, it’s not you. I moved to the Bay Area at the start of this year and I have already had multiple women approach me about dates, etc. Similar story when I was living in Boston a few years back. The fact is that it is a lot easier to meet single women in cities where the ratio is more balanced and the culture more social/accepting. Please don’t be upset with the women of Seattle though, they are just being smart given the situation they’ve been dealt and by venting you are only further contributing to the freeze.
We live in the world we create for ourselves – if you want to end the Seattle freeze start smiling at each other, stop being flaky and take relationships seriously, and for gosh sakes bring newcomers into your fold with no strings attached! Change starts from within.
I grew up in New Jersey and Southern California. Keep that in mind. I’ve lived in Seattle for 23 years:
One of the most beautiful US cities you’ll find, with lots of lakes, the bay, mountains and green stuff. When you can see it (see “cons,” below).
Thriving downtown. When I first moved here, downtown on weekends looked like a city after a noiseless apocalypse. Aside from a few people wandering around, it was deserted. Now, it’s got restaurants, movies, theater and actual real people milling about.
You’re an hour from hiking, skiing, mountain biking, etc. in real mountains. You’re three hours from some of the best mountain sports you’ll find.
Good football team. Cheap seats at baseball games.
In spite of complaints from the community, it is a very bicycle-friendly city. I’ve ridden in LA and around New Jersey. Trust me, Seattle is paradise.
A good arts scene. Seattle’s ballet punches well above their weight and is just spectacular. The museums are good.
Pike’s Market is pretty unique, and lots of fun to wander.
If you like weed, you can smoke legally.
I’ve found the people here to be really friendly. I haven’t experienced the Seattle Freeze. But again, I came up here from Southern California, so that may have made me a little more used to lots of “acquaintances” and a few good friends.
If you share my politics: Seattle is a little liberal game preserve in a very conservative state. You can say “free health care” and not get stoned to death, or even yelled at.
It’s very LGBTQ friendly.
There are lots of cool little semi-suburban pockets like West Seattle, Queen Anne and Ballard. They’re very close to the city, but separate enough. If you’re from the New York area, think Hoboken (only smaller).
Great, great seafood. As you’d expect. Once you have salmon here, you’ll be ruined forever.
The ferry system is damned fun and a reasonably solid public transportation network.
You’re 3 hours from Canada. Great for a long weekend. Or if you’re really unhappy with an election result.
One of the best gamer cultures I’ve seen. I’m a hardcore Dungeons and Dragons player going back 30 years. You can say “20 sider” and not get your ass kicked.
I’ve heard the clubs are good. I’m 49 with 2 kids and absolutely no sense of rhythm. I don’t go to clubs.
The Boeing Museum of Flight is a good reason to live here if you’re a nerd like me.
Good sailing. Make friends with someone who has a boat. Good kayaking. Go buy one. They cost less than a sailboat.
Really mellow rioters. Again: I lived in LA.
Very family friendly.
Easy travel to the rest of the world. It’s 11 hours to Japan, 8 to London, 5 to the East Coast of the US, 3 to Los Angeles.
The weather? I make it a question because, while it rains a lot in winter, the spring, summer and fall are amazing. It’s November. Here’s what it looks like right now: