Another 'Moving to Seattle' AskMe!
September 27, 2009 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Twenty-Something Gay couple making the leap to a new city with no connections and potentially limited job opportunities, in a down economy too! The man I'm in love with has fallen in love with Seattle, and after visiting and experiencing the mild climate, nice people, great public transit and relaxed attitude, I've grown partial to the city also.

Random point: We currently live in Tempe, AZ.

I currently work in the tech industry for 'The world's largest domain registrar' in a specialty position... Think of it as tech support for tech support, and any other job that no other department exists (or has the capacity) to handle. While I've established myself here pretty well, and am actually proud of what I've achieved considering the mistakes I made in my educational past. I know that because I don't have a useful degree and no certifications It's going to be a hard climb back up in a new environment.

My partner works in retail, management, but still retail. For a well known coffee company that is from Seattle. (and can transfer to

Our two incomes combine to about 70-80k after taxes, and this is a comfortable living for a couple with a small apartment and a couple cats. As long as we can find a decent apartment with rent + utilities that comes to less than $1500 / month, we can make it.

We took a trip to the city to scout neighborhoods recently, explored: South Lake Union, The area along Madison St. between downtown and Capitol Hill (OMG Hipsters!), North Downtown (Queen Anne ish) and Denny Triangle / First Hill.

I've also been exploring (via internet) areas like Greenwood, Green Lake and Phinney Ridge.

It seems like there are plenty of apartments that meet out needs and our current income levels.

1.Do the mefis have any suggestions for a place to rent/lease that is doable on an entry level salary, where the crime isn't bad and public transit to downtown/places to work isn't too bad? (I have a reliable car but usually prefer to bus around if I have the time)

2.Am I going to end up on the street? With my experience am I going to be able to find a comparable salary in Seattle? I'm willing to go back to technical support, entry level IT/support type jobs.

3.Any suggestions for places to look for such jobs? I would think that places like Microsoft are probably already overstaffed with overqualified people in those types of positions.

The fear:
I move to Seattle, fail to find a livable job, burn out my savings and end up on the streets. I'm too old to be a street punk, my boyish charms are all burned out.
posted by kzin602 to Work & Money (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Embrace your fear. Economically - now is not the time to strike out on outlandish leaps of faith.
posted by torquemaniac at 11:26 AM on September 27, 2009

Response by poster: Our lease is up in May, and that's when we plan on making the jump. I think he's going to go at that point anyways. So, it's not just a fear of ending up jobless but a fear of losing him.
posted by kzin602 at 11:54 AM on September 27, 2009

Fremont, Ballard, and points north are quite livable and busable (and have had a hipster influx in recent years in part because the rents aren't as bad as on Capitol Hill but they still have old-fashioned business areas at their centers).

You might look south to some of the neighborhoods that our new light rail reaches: Beacon Hill, Columbia City, etc. I've never lived there but they have a nice vibe. West Seattle is a nice place to live but is kind of separated from the city proper. There are some sketchier areas in the U District and some parts of the Central District and on south, esp. where the gentrification tide from Capitol Hill is rolling over existing low-income neighborhoods, but there aren't any parts of the city that I'd actually recommend you stay away from.

Many tech jobs will be on the East side of Lake Washington (Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, etc). I recommend against commuting across the lake if you can avoid it, but it is an option. IT employers on the Seattle side include Amazon, El Goog, and a bunch of biotech companies and small shops. Boeing and the University of Washington probably aren't good prospects right now.

As for whether you should do it— I'd say yes, but then again, it's not my livelihood on the line. How long can you survive on just your partner's income? Assume you won't get a job for a few months or more. IT jobs are kinda scarce but not nonexistent right now, judging from my friends' attempts at job-hunting.
posted by hattifattener at 11:57 AM on September 27, 2009

I think he's going to go at that point anyways. So, it's not just a fear of ending up jobless but a fear of losing him.

you fear losing him but he would make the move anyway, with or without you? do you really want to move your whole life and possibly lose your livelihood for someone who apparently has less fear of losing you?
posted by violetk at 12:06 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

If you are thinking of moving in May, you have plenty of time to do research and make a decision toward moving to Seattle (or staying where you are, or moving to a different city that is not Seattle) without having to act out of fear of becoming homeless OR losing your boyfriend.

This is a bit of a tangent from your original question, but it comes up a few times so I do think it bears saying: I'm realizing that what's really difficult for everybody in the current economic climate, even those with currently stable jobs and regular food on the table, is the feeling that there's no point in reaching for or trying to build a better life, one that looks more like the one you want. BS. Our economy still exists and is still alive. There is lots of beauty and community and commerce and work to be done. You can't take it for granted, it may take more patience and hard work to get to it, and it may take more sacrifice, but I disagree that you should "embrace your fear" -- if that means giving in to it. You should listen to it, give credence to things that might be more of a risk than you're willing to take, but the dream of living in a better climate and a city that appeals more to you and your boyfriend is not a bad one and it IS possible.

However, whether or not that city is Seattle is something you need to do a lot of research on. I would challenge your notion that it is a mild climate. It does not have the horrible desert heat that Arizona has, and its winters are... different -- but it's no secret that it rains alot. It's also much farther north. There is a lot of darkness during the winter. The popular lore is not really a joke - there is a terrible dearth of sun for a big part of the year. However, the summers are so beautiful it's nearly unbelievable. You should visit this winter, for sure. Check the almanac. Go when the weather is going to be terrible.

The entire Pacific Northwest is has been experiencing economic difficulty long since the entire country descended into it. Seattle has been hit really hard ever since the dotcom bust back at the beginning of the decade. It's better than Portland, but it's probably one of the last areas in the US I'd move without a job offer in hand, or at least six months savings to tide me through.

That is the bad news. The good news is that Seattle is an awesome city, with lots of fun things to do and lots of fun, smart, engaging people. If you're happy to be there, have a positive attitude, aren't in financial danger, I think you'll be very happy there. A lot of making a decision, of course, is making one and then choosing to be happy with it.

My best friend lives in Columbia City. It's basically a suburb, but the community there is pretty awesome. It's very tight knit, there are lots of local businesses that are well supported by the community. When I visit my friend I do take the bus into the city. It's not a breezy commute but it's not impossible either. I do believe it's pretty affordable in comparison to a lot of areas closer. You should check it out next time you visit.

Should you move with no job lined up? My feeling is that it's a pretty big risk. If your boyfriend really wants to move there and gets a job before you, could you entertain an LDR while you work to find the right job there? There are lots of ways, I think, to build the life you want in another city without having to toss all of your safety up in the air and hope it lands in a place where you can access it again.
posted by pazazygeek at 12:10 PM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]

Here is my "I'm moving to Seattle, Help!" question that I asked this Spring. It may be of interest to you!

I now live in Fremont. Because I am a picky snob with no useful skills, I remain unemployed. However, you seem to have useful experience on your side. I live within walking distance of Adobe and Google offices, with Amazon a short way away. This neighborhood is also *extremely* friendly to LGBTetc folks, if that's a concern for you, although in my short time here, I haven't noticed anywhere in the city proper that felt particularly unaccepting.

The bus system here is very good in comparison to the other cities I've lived in. You can get pretty much anywhere, on a regular schedule. If you're comfortable with taking the bus, you can live a little bit further out of the center of the city and still feel quite connected.

I'm sorry I can't help you with further specifics, but hopefully some of the very helpful people who answered my question before will pop their heads in here, too.
posted by Mizu at 12:13 PM on September 27, 2009

I think he's going to go at that point anyways. So, it's not just a fear of ending up jobless but a fear of losing him.

you fear losing him but he would make the move anyway, with or without you? do you really want to move your whole life and possibly lose your livelihood for someone who apparently has less fear of losing you?

This jumped out for me as well. You're contemplating a huge leap of faith where the move is concerned, so why not first take the smaller leap of confronting your fear of losing him? Get it out in the open and work it out together. You may find out your fears are unfounded. If not, it may help you to gain a more equal emotional footing in the relationship, and therefore help you become better-equipped as a couple to handle whatever Seattle throws at you when the time comes to make the move.
posted by gimli at 1:08 PM on September 27, 2009

Answering the question you asked: high tech jobs are thin on the ground, and highly competitive. Be prepared to throw elbows with fresh-faced college grads filled with shiny CS degrees, recently downsized employees from every level at Amazon/Google/Microsoft, and refugees from every start-up that's gone "splat" in the last 12 months.

If there are any certifications you can earn between now and when you move, earn them.

Most entry-level IT jobs are being filled by temp agencies, so I would suggest signing up with all the major agencies as soon as you hit the city. Tailor your resume to fit the position - just say you worked "escalated tech support" or "tier 2 tech support."

Between now and when you leave, save every scrap of money you possibly can. Cut out every expense, including cable TV and Netflix. I know this sounds extreme, but these are extreme times, and you are proposing an extreme plan, and you need to build yourself a safety net against the middle-ground to worst-case scenarios.

Be sure to leave on good terms with your current employer. You never know.

Answering the question you didn't ask, and please feel free to ignore, but I can't NOT say it: As someone who's worked in Seattle's high tech job market for about ten years now, AND as someone who once followed a fella to a new city under circumstances similar to what you describe... if I were in your position, I would stay put.

Here's a worst-case scenario: you give up everything for a guy who is choosing Seattle over you. You spend many months living off his dime, spending the entire day job-hunting or feeling guilty about slacking off. Meanwhile he is not only the bread-winner, he's also meeting new people and Living The Dream Of Having Moved To Seattle.

Resentments will build. You will try (unsuccessfully) to avoid tallying up all the things you gave up for him. He meanwhile has given up almost nothing for you, except a portion of his salary, and you make up for that by doing all the housework (since you're at home all day anyway). Cracks appear in your relationship, but what are you going to do? Move out? You still haven't found a job!

I was there. It sucked. My stomach hurts just having dredged up all the memories to type this. I'm not FORBIDDING YOU TO DO IT, because hey, everyone should do something stupid in the name of love at least once in their lives. I just want to prepare you for what you could face.

OR it could be happy super fun magic time, you find a job within a week of hitting the pavement, and puppies and unicorns appear from the wings whenever you step outside. That can happen.
posted by ErikaB at 1:56 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

May is an awesome time to arrive in Seattle. The weather will be on your side. I say go for it- I came here on a crazy adventure, in '92, alone in a $900 Cadillac (from Massachusetts) and made it work over time. Everything that you need is here. Even if you bottomed out and left your SO, you could survive on your own here with some gumption and standards-lowering, then build yourself back up over time.
posted by markjamesmurphy at 2:15 PM on September 27, 2009

...after visiting and experiencing the mild climate...

Did you visit and experience the mild climate during the summer? Because you should know that the mild climate is, literally as we speak, turning into the nine-months-of-clouds-and-rain climate -- just in time for your period of uncertainty and unemployment. SAD is real.
posted by The Tensor at 2:21 PM on September 27, 2009

Man, I'm in Ballard right now and it's gorgeous out and won't really be gloomy for another month or so. I guess if you're lifelong Arizonans the winter might be depressing, but I think this thread is scaring you unnecessarily. It's winter. Big deal.
posted by GaelFC at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2009

Seattle's a great place to live, and I'm for living in and experiencing new cities, so I say DO IT (I lived there between 7-8 years, got sick of the gray winters, however, and moved back to Austin.)

BUT..can you not wait until the economy picks up a bit before making a move like that? I have tons of very experienced unemployed friends there looking for work right now, so yes, I definitely think you'd have a tough go of it.

If/When you go: You said you were looking into greenwood. That was my neighborhood. Avoid Aurora avenue and a three to four block radius on either side. Seeeeedy. Stay south of 105th. THe area around Greenwood Ave/85th has lots of restaurants, pubs, easy bus access, a grocery etc. Fremont and Ballard are good neighborhoods but getting expensive.

As someone upthread mentioned, if you get a job on the east-side, expect at least an hour commute each way, which will make you very unhappy.
posted by delladlux at 5:26 PM on September 27, 2009

Like everyone else has said, the tech job market here is pretty rough right now. However, if you're leaving GoDaddy, you might have an advantage over other candidates when applying at eNom. Their presence here is in Bellevue, which would be an ugly commute, but plenty of people do it.
posted by hades at 8:09 PM on September 27, 2009

As long as we can find a decent apartment with rent + utilities that comes to less than $1500 / month, we can make it.

We took a trip to the city to scout neighborhoods recently, explored: South Lake Union, The area along Madison St. between downtown and Capitol Hill (OMG Hipsters!), North Downtown (Queen Anne ish) and Denny Triangle / First Hill.

I live in a two bedroom apartment on Pike St (Capitol Hill), which is $1300/month including utilities. A bunch of friends have recently moved into nice one bedroom places nearby for an average of $1000/month.

I work at microsoft and commute across the lake by bus everyday - I work slightly shifted hours so traffic isn't too bad, and I just read a book or play with my laptop/phone for the trip anyway. It's usually just under an hour from my kitchen to my desk. If you're going to rely at all on public transit I recommend going with one of the suburbs near downtown (Capitol Hill, Denny Triangle, Belltown, Space Needle) - it means you are a direct bus route from (almost) everywhere instead of having to catch a couple buses in a row.
posted by jacalata at 8:30 PM on September 27, 2009

Leaving aside the relationship and economy issues, I just moved to Seattle a few months ago and am loving it. There's definitely been a bit of culture shock moving here from the East Coast, but I don't know if that will be an issue for you coming from the Southwest.

You should definitely be able to find a decent apartment in that range pretty much anywhere you want to look. I'm living in a great little house in Ravenna (which is roughly north of the University District and east of Green Lake) with only two roommates. We have a front and a backyard, a nice deck, W/D, etc. and I only pay $450/month. I like my neighborhood although it's a tad quiet.

After I've been here a while, I think I will probably move to Ballard. Tons of great restaurants, coffee shops, etc, and the best farmer's market I've ever seen!

Not knowing what your educational deficits are, you might want to consider going back to school. Why put yourself at a disadvantage you don't need to have?
posted by lunasol at 10:55 PM on September 27, 2009

I think that anyone who is all, "I'm moving to Xville whether you like it or not, or come or not," is not terribly committed to the relationship. If he's really going to do it regardless of whether or not you come, just let him go. Don't upset your job situation for a guy who isn't 100% in there with you, because if things go bad, then you've just crapped up your living situation for someone who didn't have the balls to tell you he wasn't that into you any more.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:47 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you can work off-kilter hours (6-3, 11-8) on the East Side, the commute to deepest darkest Ballard is just under a half-hour. I do it multiple times a week.
posted by GaelFC at 3:26 PM on September 28, 2009

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