Getting a Job in Capitol Hill Seattle, Where To Live
November 21, 2009 6:44 PM   Subscribe

I might be getting a job in Seattle soon, the job being located near Lakeview Cemetery. I'm going to be apartment hunting from a distance so I won't be able to really check things out in advance. Help me find a place to live.

Here's the thing:
-I'd like to not spend too much more than around 800 a month in rent.
-I'd like to be in a fairly safe place.
-I don't need much space, I'm thinking a studio in the 600sq ft realm.
-I'd like to live someplace 'interesting' with grocery stores, restaurants within walking distance, fun stuff.. (I'm a single 30 year old)
-I'd like to be able to walk to work. This is a "would be nice, not necessary" the other things are more important assuming I can get there fairly quickly via public transportation.

What parts of town should I be looking? Places to avoid? What sort of things should I be looking for (both good and bad) when looking at apartments? I'm in the midwest so all of our apartments are about 10 years old, most the ones I've seen in Seattle tend to be around 100 - I'm just not sure what I need to be wary of. Any good sources to get the lowdown about a potential place?

Thanks for the help!
posted by Gideon to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Lakeview Cemetery is on the very top of Capitol Hill. The hill has two distinctly different vibes going on:

1) The top and east side of the hill (roughly 14th Ave - 20th Ave) are mostly single-family homes, with a few apartment buildings scattered around. There's a small business district clustered around 15th Av and John St, with a couple of upscale restaurants, a hospital, and (I think) 4 grocery stores. Volunteer Park is enormous and very pretty. There are some newer apartment buildings over by the park, and some older ivy-covered brick ones over by the businesses; I think it's mostly expensive single-family homes in between.

2) The west side of the hill (roughly 14th Ave down to I-5) is a lot younger and more fun. The main business district is around Broadway and John St, which has a good 7-8 blocks of quirky restaurants, independent shops, and events practically every night. There's a community college, an indie movie theater, a weekly farmer's market, and a grocery store. There are a lot of apartments on 12th Ave, many of which are meant for students. Unlike over on 15th, you'll encounter plenty of homeless people on Broadway -- but I don't think safety should be a problem there.

Even though they are less than a mile apart, walking from Broadway and John to Lakeview Cemetery would probably take about half an hour -- the hill is very steep!

Unfortunately, getting a studio anywhere on Capitol Hill for $800 a month may be a bit of a challenge. You could also consider living in the Central District (the neighborhood centered around 23rd Ave and Yesler). The CD is a historically low-income high-crime neighborhood, but it's gotten a lot better in the last few years. It would only be a short bus ride from there to your work.

(I moved out of Seattle almost 10 years ago, maybe someone who currently lives there can chime in if I'm wrong about anything)
posted by miyabo at 7:29 PM on November 21, 2009

Lakeview Cemetery is on Capitol Hill on the #12 bus route. Capitol Hill is full of great studios under $800 (I live in one and my building has vacancies), is incredibly walkable, and has a really vibrant nightlife. Many buildings in the area use Craigslist to find tenants so I'd recommend that as a first stop.

The most convenient parts of the hill are probably between Melrose Ave and 19th Street from west to east and then between, say, Aloha and Union from north to south.

There is a big hub for bars and restaurants are Pike/Pine between Melrose and maybe 12th, and a smaller commercial district on 15th Ave between Thomas and Mercer. There's a pretty decent density of apartment buildings in both those areas. I'd mention that the area around Broadway and John (which is right where I live) isn't quite as much of a nexus anymore as the Pike/Pine corridor, though there are more apartment buildings around these few blocks.

If you have any specific questions about the neighborhood, feel free to memail me. I've lived on the hill for 9 years and it's a great area.
posted by girlstyle at 7:36 PM on November 21, 2009

Several years ago I lived about two blocks east of the cemetery. It's a beautiful neighborhood, mostly houses, and relatively expensive. $800 per month on Capitol Hill will be tough to hit if you want to live by yourself.

As far as restaurants and fun stuff, there are two such clusters in the immediate area: 15th, between about Aloha and John, and Broadway, which is much bigger and sprawls from about Mercer on south. It's just about entirely residential on 15th North of Aloha and on Broadway North of Mercer.

I lived in a house with roommates and never looked for studio apartments in the area, though, so I'm may have missed places that would work for you. Craigslist is your friend. That said, I would be quite surprised if you find something that is within walking distance of Lakeview Cemetery AND near the interesting commercial areas AND less than $800 per month. Two out of three just might be possible.

Substituting buses for walking opens up the options quite a bit. The north end of Capitol Hill is mostly posh houses, but further south towards the heart of Broadway there are more apartments. All of it is expensive, though.

Research specific bus routes if that's going to be your plan for daily commuting (e.g., the 49). Getting one place to another is hit or miss--if they're on the same bus route, it's easy, if not, it's a real pain.

Data point: I live in lower Queen Anne in a studio apartment for $775/month, I love the neighborhood, but commuting by bus to North Capitol Hill would be miserable--a 12 minute drive turned into a 50+ minute bus ride, since I'd have to transfer downtown.

Good luck, and welcome to Seattle!
posted by kprincehouse at 7:37 PM on November 21, 2009

I don't know Seattle all too well, but having moved to a new city I didn't know once, and now embarking on another move to a new city (in this coming January), I've decided to short-term lease a furnished apartment for one month while I figure out exactly where I want to live. I know it's not a direct answer to your question, but I only bring it up because the thought never occurred to me before, and I wish I'd done it last time. This will afford me some time when I get there to find a place that's more suited to my needs. Craigslist has a short term rentals and sublets section.
posted by pazazygeek at 10:52 AM on November 22, 2009

Thanks for the feedback everyone! I really appreciate it!
posted by Gideon at 7:55 PM on November 23, 2009

My studio apartments on capitol hill were $600, large, and included parking. However, they were also not ones that you'd find on craigslist. My strong suggestion would be the same as pazazygeek's - sublet an apartment nearby for a few months and spend that time looking for your permanent home. You'll be so much happier than getting stuck in a lease in a place you've never really seen.
posted by groovinkim at 11:01 AM on December 3, 2009

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