Should my girlfriend and I move from NYC to Seattle? ComplicatedFilter: I'd have my current job relocated, she would not.
July 24, 2010 12:55 PM   Subscribe

My (wonderful, amazing, perfect-for-me) girlfriend and I have been together 9 months (though we've known each other for several years), and are currently living together. Some background: I was born and raised in NYC, she's a transplant from Wisconsin (but went to college in Vassar). I'm 31, she's 28. Recently, my job has become frustrating and monotonous. Some of this is because the bulk of my department is located in Seattle. They recognize this, and have mentioned to me that it may be possible to relocate to the Seattle office and adjust my position. The gf and I are currently discussing the opportunity.

Some things we both like:
- A lot more nature and access to nature than in NYC
- Seattle seems like a size where it still has the conveniences of a big city but doesn't have as much of the fast pace and impersonal nature of, say, New York.
- Seattle seems to really support local businesses over chain stores
- Lots of little neighborhoods and shops to explore
- The weather is much less extreme than NYC. Yes, it rains, but summers in the low 80s beats 97 and humid in my book (and in hers too)
- Comparable music scene
- We've both always wanted to live in the PNW

Some things we're unsure about
- Everything seems pretty spread out. We got a tour of the various neighborhoods and it seems like we'd need a car if we wanted to explore outside where we live. Though it was kind of hard to 'put the map together' visually.
- NYC is SO walkable compared to most other cities (plus the subway can get you wherever you need to go relatively quickly), and we were unsure as to how this translates in Seattle
- Everyone seems polite (if not actively friendly/connect-y), but i have heard (both online and from people who live here) that folks aren't particularly into adding new people to their social circle (I've heard them referred to more than once as 'passive-aggressive'). Would it be really tough to make friends? (i have some work friends and a few others, but nothing like we both have in NYC. we're both friendly weird artsy geeky types, not particularly mainstream)
- She would be coming over without a job, in a rough job economy, and is unsure what the job market is like in seattle (she currently coordinates events for a museum in nyc, but is open and wiling to move into the for-profit space). this is the biggest concern, as I really don't want either of us to be in a situation where 'she moved for me and now cant find a job and resents the hell out of me', and she doesn't either.
- She may be worried about Seattle being too close to a 'boring midwest suburb' vs the excitement that is nyc. I find the excitement to be exhausting and would like to find a more balanced situation (though I'd be bored off my mind in a small town as well)

So, in our research to discover more data to support a decision one way or another, I'm asking you MeFiers, especially those who may have made a similar journey under similar circumstances. Did it work for you? Was it a mistake? What should NYC-ers know about Seattle before considering the big move across the country?
posted by softlord to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A few years younger than you, a long time ago, I packed up all my belongings into a ford van and moved from the East across the Continental Divide all the way to the West Coast, where I have now lived for 35 years. I consider it the best thing I did in my life. Now I can't stand to go east of the Continental Divide.

If you don't go you'll never know.
posted by nogero at 1:06 PM on July 24, 2010 [3 favorites]

Is there a possibility you guys could bike? I think that might make the sprawl issue a little easier, if you don't want to buy cars.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:09 PM on July 24, 2010

Response by poster: We could definitely bike, and to be clear we're not anti-buying-a-car, just dont want to always be reliant on it.
posted by softlord at 1:12 PM on July 24, 2010

I've lived in Seattle for two years, and in the NYC metro area for a summer, plus visited it more times than I can remember, and I'll try to address your concerns as much as possible. Where is your company's offices?

Everything seems pretty spread out. We got a tour of the various neighborhoods and it seems like we'd need a car if we wanted to explore outside where we live. Though it was kind of hard to 'put the map together' visually.

I don't really think this is true. I don't have a car, and I take the bus everywhere. I don't have much trouble this way. The bus system is incredibly good for a North American city of this size. It's not New York, though. Using OneBusAway (and its sweet iPhone/Android/Palm Pre apps) to get real-time bus information reduces my wait time to almost zero, and I can often get places faster by bus than I could if I drove and parked. Biking is also a good option, especially in Ballard and Fremont.

Sharing a car between the two of you might be a good idea. You are unlikely to need two unless you both commute. But depending on what you like to do, you might be able to get by, like me, with Zipcar, other car rentals, taxis, grocery delivery (AmazonFresh, Amazon's test-market grocery service), and everything-else delivery (Amazon Prime). It helps to think of how much you would spend on a car monthly (depreciation, insurance, maintenance, and fuel) and think of that as your transportation budget. If you spend less than that amount on cabs and car rentals you might otherwise think of as expensive, then you have still saved a lot of money.

NYC is SO walkable compared to most other cities (plus the subway can get you wherever you need to go relatively quickly), and we were unsure as to how this translates in Seattle

Nothing compares to NYC in its totality. The individual neighborhoods you will want to live in in Seattle are more walkable than some parts of the outer boroughs.

- She may be worried about Seattle being too close to a 'boring midwest suburb' vs the excitement that is nyc. I find the excitement to be exhausting and would like to find a more balanced situation (though I'd be bored off my mind in a small town as well)

Again, nothing is NYC in terms of excitement. Seattle certainly isn't. It ain't a "boring midwest suburb" either. Read the week's issue of The Stranger and see what's going on. Personally, I find myself lamenting that I have too little time to enjoy what this city has to offer. I've never complained that there wasn't enough to do, but it depends on what you like.

Depending on where you work, you would probably want to look into living in Capitol Hill, which probably has the most exciting lifestyle out of Seattle neighborhoods. It's a little more expensive and noisier than some other areas, but coming from NYC it should be an improvement in both of those departments.
posted by grouse at 1:18 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seattle seems like a size where it still has the conveniences of a big city

Emphatically disagree. Seattle is not a big city, and imo does not feel like one. Especially if you're coming from NYC. In the 1990's, I moved from Chicago to Seattle, and frankly found Seattle insufferably small and quaint compared to my home city which itself seems small and quaint compared to NYC. I stayed in Seattle for two (rainy, gray, rainy, did I say rainy?) years before returning to the Midwest.

Everything seems pretty spread out.

Yes, and without the public transportation options you have in NYC. Depending on where you live/work you'll probably need a car. Biking might work, but remember Seattle is somewhat hilly and you'll be biking in the rain.

The weather is much less extreme than NYC. Yes, it rains, but summers in the low 80s beats 97 and humid in my book (and in hers too)

Less extreme temperatures, for sure. But some people find week after week after week of steady, gray rain with nary an hour of sunlight kind of extreme. Would you and your girlfriend? Seattle summers are indeed mild and beautiful.

How wet and rainy is it in Seattle? Here's a phrase I'd never heard until I moved there: Salmon Roadkill
posted by applemeat at 1:19 PM on July 24, 2010

I live in Vancouver right now but have spent a bit of time in Seattle and Portland. (I did the Canadian version of your trip which is Toronto to Vancouver. How cute, it's like mini-New York to mini-Seattle.) Seattle's definitely the anchor of the PNW; it's the largest city, and has the most happening. If you want a bustling walkable urbanite lifestyle, you can find it in Seattle. It's no small town. However, it's also no New York. There is only one New York, just like there is only one Tokyo, London, and Paris; in terms of excitement, music, nightlife, cultural activities, diversity, and so on, other cities are not in the same league.

You really need to come to Seattle for a week or two to see and experience it. You might find it's perfect, or you might find it lacking. It's hard to say.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:22 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I lived in Seattle for about 7 years. The city itself has a bit more than 500,000 people in it; the metro area a bit over 3 million. It is a "big city", but nothing like you're used to at all.

It is true that the city is spread out, and of course you will not have NYC-levels of public transportation. That being said, you should not be quick to dismiss the public bus system (especially in conjunction with biking or walking). Pick the right district, and you don't even really have to travel much anyway.

Speaking of district, if you live within the city itself and pick a district that works for you -- say, Capitol Hill or Fremont or even Belltown/downtown -- it is not going to be anything like living in a boring midwestern suburb (that's where I've ended up post-Seattle!). But again, it is not going to be NYC. Your girlfriend is going to have to make an effort to look for and attend the "excitement" she wants.

As for the "Seattle Freeze", yes Seattleites are polite but distant to strangers. That does not mean it is difficult to make friends. I assume you and your girlfriend have interests, so get out there and participate! But don't expect your neighbor to be your new best friend after a few days of quiet smiling as you pass each other to pick up the mail.

You have to ask yourself if you can really deal with the rain and the grey. I can; I loved the weather and miss it just about every day now that I'm not there. But for a lot of other people, it is just depression city because of the long winters of rain (snow is a rare occurrence).

As for the job market, that is a tough question. I would suggest she ask her colleagues for leads in Seattle -- connections will make it a lot easier to transition. There are plenty of museums and the like in the area, but I don't personally know how the market is for new hires.
posted by asciident at 1:35 PM on July 24, 2010

I think you've grasped many of the positives. In addition the city proper is fairly environmentally forward and has been for a long time, so it's just part of the culture. There are weekly farmers markets in every neighborhood, many people keep chickens, and large veggie gardens.

It is more bike friendly than most and the city has many bike improvements in store. It also is a very bookstore, music, and bar friendly town. (though the liquor laws still have the echo of prohibition, bars close at 2pm etc.)

But yeah, there are some other issues. I mean comparing it to NYC in terms of walkability/subway access is a bit silly. NYC is sort of the extreme example. And yeah, a good portion of Seattle's growth was post-war. So it's more sprawled, in particular the outer neighborhoods.

However, I live in a fairly residential neighborhood, one of the older ones, and I'm able to walk to EVERYTHING in ten minutes. Movies, markets, drugstores, eateries, my local dive bar, coffee, etc. There are multiple neighborhoods like this: Capitol Hill, The U-district, Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford. I do have a car, but the only time I drive it is to get to the mountains to get my quintessential outdoors on.

If you want to get to out of the city, having a car is good. But before I had a car I used to bus and take the ferry system all over the damn state. It takes some time, but you can get pretty much everywhere if you aren't in a hurry. Or rent a car, as my friend does. I think it depends on how "outdoorsy" you are. You can befriend a local with a car, and join them on their next hike.

In terms of making friends. I hear that complaint sometimes....I guess I could see how it could happen, it being culturally a bit Northern European. I'm a native of Seattle, Scandinavian, and about half of my friends are from here, half are transplants. None of the transplants seem to have a hard time making friends with other local or transplants. The way to make friends here is to do something. Play a rec sport, volunteer, play music, go to book readings, get out, etc. I do notice that people here seem to have fewer, but less superficial, friends. It's a slow to warm situation, but more genuine. The people who complain about it in my vicinity all were in bad times of their lives (divorce, failing out of grad school, etc) and I think the "Seattle freeze" was a scapegoat for their misery.

Having spent months at a time in NYC I say I couldn't handle it long-term. I found the aggressiveness, the pursuit of success, the disposable fashion culture, and the pace overwhelming. I envied the subway system to no end. So I would say that is how I see the two cities. Good luck with your choice!
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 1:43 PM on July 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seattle does not feel like a Midwestern suburb.

It has more evergreen trees, more independent shops, more men in leather kilts with blue hair, more used bookstores, more mountains, more Vietnamese Pho shops, more Wagnerian opera performances, more open-air farmers' markets, more alternative radio stations, more mid-week music shows, more nude-bicyclers parading in celebration of the Summer Solstice, more community gardens, more women's health clinics, more open-to-the-public computers in the University libraries, more giant Asian grocery stores, more strange little museums, and more distinct neighborhoods than a Midwestern suburb. There is, of course, also more rain.

It does not feel like New York City either. That's kind of the point, right?
posted by colfax at 2:09 PM on July 24, 2010 [11 favorites]

As a Northwest native, I say you should move, but that's just me.

I just moved back to Seattle after being away for ten years (Hawaii and San Francisco), and, like any other place, Seattle has it's good points and it's bad points.

For one thing, you're going to need a car. The public transportation is still very much a work in progress, and believe me, in February, you're not going to be walking your groceries home. The upside is that generally speaking, parking isn't nearly that big of a hassle here as it is in other cities - with the notable exception of Cap Hill, which has atrocious parking. Also, people drive like complete boobs around here: slow-witted, fearful and passive aggressive.

The music and art scene here is stunning. OK, so a lot of my friends are musicians and artists ... but still, given the size of the place, the quantity and quality of art turned out is very impressive. The majority of people are fairly conservative and working class. You know the shows "Deadliest Catch" and "Axemen"? Say hello to the majority of my relatives and hi school classmates.

MeMail me if you'd like more specifics (or when you get out here), but overall, your situation could be a lot worse: What if your work wanted you to relocate to Gary Indiana or some place like that?

On review ... what Maude_the_destroyer said also (great handle Maude).
posted by Relay at 2:29 PM on July 24, 2010

Seattle does not feel like a Midwestern suburb.

An eerie thing that I noticed when I moved from Chicago to Capital Hill (early 1990's) was that while most Seattleites I encountered did seem more progressive, more (but perhaps ostensibly?) concerned with multi-culturalism; Seattle--and Capital Hill especially--was whiter and far less diverse than Chicago. In that regard, Seattle sometimes did feel like a Midwestern suburb. It really was refreshing to find a community where progressive values and leftish politics seemed a matter of course, but what I soon missed and had apparently taken for granted about Chicago and major cities like it was the racial, ethnic, religious, and socio-ecomonic diversity that was decidedly not a large part of my new daily world on Cap Hill, no matter how many colors the white kids dyed their dreds.
posted by applemeat at 4:40 PM on July 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seattle is pretty white, and a history of segregation means that some areas will be even whiter. Of course, this means that other areas will be less whte than Wallngford. If diversity in your neighborhood is important to you, you should live in the Central Dstrict, Beacon Hill, or Columbia City. But they are all gentrifying and whitening.
posted by grouse at 5:18 PM on July 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

In the end there's no substitute for personal experience. Can you manage to take a week's vacation and spend it in Seattle, so as to see for yourself?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:58 PM on July 24, 2010

(me: grew up in seattle, lived in nyc for a while, back in seattle, moving to bay area in a month)

Public transit in Seattle is good, compared to most cities that aren't:
  • on the eastern seaboard,
  • San Francisco,
  • or Chicago.
But coming back to Seattle from New York, I was struck by how utterly, completely wretchedly slow and infrequent the bus system is compared to transit in NYC. You will hate it and it will drive you crazy. You will have to get used to, for example, budgeting a half-hour to get between two neighborhoods that you could just walk between in 45 minutes. Or you will have to get used to biking up and down hills.

Even so, though, I've managed to get around on Seattle's bus system all my life — I've actually managed to avoid even learning how to drive, but I'm a real anomaly among native Seattleites.

I would strongly suggest heeding the advice of people telling you to look for a place on capitol hill, at least for the first year or so. Nearly every other neighborhood will trigger the "wait, I'm on to you! you're not a neighborhood, you're a suburb!" reaction once you get off the main commercial strips.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:01 PM on July 24, 2010

We made this exact move about five months ago and don't regret it so far. I lived in New York for 5 years, my husband for 2.5. There's a lot of good advice here already, and I'll be taking a lot of it myself.

Seattle is not New York. There will be things you'll miss. Nordstrom Rack and Ross are pale, pale substitutes for Century 21 and Loehmann's (the things you miss may vary, those are mine). However, I made the comment the other day that "Seattle doesn't have nearly as many things as New York, but the things they do have are slightly cheaper and slightly better." I mean, I can think of 6 or 8 pizza places here that are just as good as NYC pizza places, and I love New York pizza.

Cost of living is higher than many places in the country but can be much less than New York. Our Capitol Hill apartment is 300 sq. ft. bigger than our Park Slope apartment, and $300 less a month. Not to mention in much better condition, and with no drug dealer living downstairs.

Walkability: We got addicted to not having a car in NYC and we've done OK without one here so far. We can walk to anything we need in our Capitol Hill neighborhood. Multiple gyms, multiple grocery stores, multiple excellent bars and restaurants. We can take the bus to most anything else. If you have smartphones, the app "One Bus Away" is an AMAZING Seattle bus app. I almost wouldn't want to live in Seattle without it. Look into Zipcar if you haven't already, it's come in handy a few times. Walking plus bus plus Zipcar has been fine.

Weather: I looooooove Seattle weather so far. Granted, I haven't spent a winter here so I may be singing a different tune in January. But, like you, I find 80-degree summers infinitely preferable to 100-and-humid. There was a "heat wave" here a few weeks ago where temperatures reached all of 90 degrees, and everyone was complaining their asses off, and I thought "I have found my people." I have seen a few dozen days in Seattle in 5 months that were far more gorgeous than the best single day I saw in New York in 5 years. BUT I don't mind rain and grey and am fully preparing myself to embrace that in a few months. Apparently no true Seattleite uses an umbrella, so invest in a good hooded sweatshirt or coat.

My husband, who works in retail, says he has noticed the "Seattle Freeze," but I haven't really. Most of my friends were friends I had before I moved here, though, and are transplants themselves. I agree with the advice to "do" things to make friends. If you do move, especially if you end up in Capitol Hill, Memail me and you'll at least know one person.

The job thing is hard. I was the instigating force behind moving, and have a better job situation than my husband, and that has caused a little tension. He works for a national chain and was able to transfer, but doesn't like the new store, but at least he's working. I was able to work remotely for my New York job for a few months and managed to make some connections very quickly and will be starting a new job next month. I actually work in museums too, though not in the events end of things- feel free to Memail me about connections. She should definitely ask ALL the colleagues if they have connections here, that's how I got my new gig. I found there was a surprising amount of crossover between the NYC and Seattle museum worlds.

TL, DR; you sound a lot like my husband and me and we've been pretty darn happy with the Seattle move so far.
posted by doift at 9:50 PM on July 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'll agree with folks that Seattle is fairly white, yet the Rainier Valley and Columbia City are the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, as in the whole of the U.S.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 12:09 AM on July 25, 2010

I've lived in Seattle for 16 years; I moved here from Houston, TX. The weather sucks here, but the climate? the climate is FABULOUS. It rarely freezes for 24 hours straight; we get a week or so of weather in the mid to high 90s, where everyone lies around like limp lettuce and bitches, and then it's back to days like today where the high was 82 and the humidity was around a reasonable 40% and the sky was cloudless and everything was lovely.

It does rain 240 days a year. But it doesn't rain that hard; you can walk outside for 45 minutes in our "rain" without an umbrella and not really get soaking wet. It's like a very wet fog more than rain, most of the time.
posted by KathrynT at 12:55 AM on July 25, 2010

I think Seattle is a great city. I also a) love rainy weather and b) like outdoorsy stuff like hiking in the rain.

As mentioned, it's incredibly non-diverse. The people are perfectly nice, but you will have these weird moments where you do a double-take when you see a black or hispanic person (not out of racism, but because there aren't any).

And it's a cliche, but good coffee is easy to come by anywhere you go. It's a rain thing.
posted by bardic at 1:17 AM on July 25, 2010

I found Seattle tiny, unfriendly and dull after moving here from Dallas. Your mileage probably will vary. I also found it impossible to get a job here when I first moved here around ten years ago. And yes, the economy is pretty bad here, but that's not to say that it will be impossible.

Why doesn't your girlfriend send out some resumes and feel out the situation?

You will need a car, no matter what people tell you, or at least bikes. Public transportation here is beyond shitty. Although, if you don't mind the prices, you could do zipcar.

And a few more words about climate. This fourth of July it rained, all day. And it was ice cold. I had on two sweaters and I still spent the evening shaking in my boots. Usually it's gorgeous here for two months of the year, which is an awfully slim sliver to hang by the rest of the year. This year it's been cold and dismal much longer, so it looks like only August will be pretty. Last year we had a week where temps soared over a hundred degrees, and no one, and I mean *no one* has air-conditioning here. I don't think it's possible to find an apartment with a/c here, or a house.

There are a lot of hippies and artsy people here, so you might feel like you fit in. It is possible to make good friends here, just excruciatingly difficult.
posted by tejolote at 8:36 AM on July 25, 2010

I am a NY native who lived in Seattle from 1996-2005, and have lived in NYC ever since. I love Seattle, but people's perceptions of the city vary greatly depending on their involvement with their neighborhood.

I lived in Capitol Hill, which at the time was the hip, gay, music scene hood. I went out all the time, did a million activities, and had no problem making friends and enjoying myself. I in no way thought it was tiny, unfriendly, or dull. Of course, I was in my very early 20s when I first lived there, but even my friends who moved their in their 30s have good solid groups of friends. I have never experienced the "Seattle Freeze" and while Seattleites are more passive-aggressive and less confrontational than New Yorkers, that's not entirely a bad thing. Seattle has a terrific art and music scene, great movie theaters, awesome seafood and Asian food, and lots of great vintage shopping (all important to me).

On the other hand, I had friends who worked on the East Side (Redmond/Kirkland/Bellevue, where Microsoft and many other big companies are, very suburban, think Westchester/Long Island), had an incredibly difficult time making friends, and left after a year or so.

I would advise having a car to go from neighborhood to neighborhood and taking day trips out to all the ridiculously beautiful mountains, falls, hikes, etc, plus Portland and Vancouver, which are both awesome.

My BIGGEST caveat is the weather. It rains ALL WINTER LONG, EVERY DAY ("Winter" = October - June). The summers are amazing, the most beautiful place in the country, but my first winter there (1998-1999) it rained for NINETY-THREE DAYS IN A ROW. The radio would announce "sunbreaks" and everyone would dutifully leave their building and go squint at the sun for three minutes. It is very depressing. On the other hand, there is a lot of great music as a result of all that holing up inside and drinking all winter long.

tl;dr: Seattle is much more livable than NYC but lacks its energy and ambition. I love both places; I feel like you'd enjoy it as well.
posted by alicetiara at 12:52 PM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've lived in Seattle for 15 years (with a year in there where I lived in the UK). It's a bit silly to suggest Seattle in the 1990s is comparable to Seattle 2010. It's like suggesting that people shouldn't go to Harlem lest they get mugged, or that Times Square is all hookers and peep shows. (If in 1995 you told someone you were moving to Capitol Hill they'd ask if you were a naive or a drug dealer.)

Seattle is a lot less parochial than it used to be. It still is, but keep in mind that the early settlers came here to get away from everyone else, and you really are a long way away from anyone. NYC-Philly is a 3 hour drive, as is Seattle-Portland, but you pass by more people than there are in the states of Washington and Idaho combined on that trip. It's over two hours in the air to Denver or San Francisco.

So there's this sense in the Northwest that we're kinda on our own up here. The Other Washington and the East Coast is a long, long way from here.

Living on Capitol Hill works if you're younger than 35. I know a number of people who fled Capitol Hill when they hit their 30s because it skews towards a young, hip, club-hopping, show-watching, beer drinking sort of crowd. It's also very adult, not in the sense of hookers and strippers, but in the sense that there just isn't a lot for a kid to do in Capitol Hill. (Actually, this seems to be a problem all over town, though Capitol Hill is the worst for this.)

Also, the idea that Seattle is "sprawl" is hilarious. I have a 35x20 back yard, which in places like the Dallas or Houston suburbs would be "tiny" but here people have dubbed it "the back 40." Sprawl is when you get out beyond 405 into the Kent Valley or Mill Creek or South Everett. It's not NYC dense here, but it's not Houston or LA spread out, either.

The bus system has problems, yes, if you choose to live off a heavy travel corridor (Downtown-Capitol Hill, Downtown-Rainier Valley, Downtown-U District, Aurora). Case in point: If I walked or drove to the Northgate Park and Ride (1 mile away, roughly), I could hop a bus to downtown or my work every 10 minutes or so. But if I walked to the bus stop around the corner, I'd get a bus every 30 minutes. If you live close to a major route (7, 10, 44, 358 as examples), you'd probably never need a car and could rely on Zipcar. If you don't, you're driving. (Transportation and mass transit is the second most discussed thing in Seattle after the weather.)

I will say this: In the last 15 years, food in Seattle has completely changed. No, we don't have a Michelin Guide, but the restaurant scene is amazing here. It used to be overcooked salmon and overcooked vegetables everywhere, but now even the greyhair-packed fish houses are hiring Tom Keller and Tom Douglas apprentices.

The Seattle Freeze is what it is. Seattle breeds a high level of passive aggressiveness, and that bleeds into personal relationships. It takes some effort to break through here, but friendships seem to be more lasting.

I'm not ashamed to say that I'm always shocked to go back to Tulsa or fly through airport where there are blacks working everywhere. If you live in Capitol Hill, you might see one black person the entire time you're there (and tell Dante hello for me). OTOH, Seattle is 13% Asian. My daughter is attending a day camp right now where probably a third of the kids are Asian, and yet I think there are no black kids. Yes, if diversity is what you want, you want the Rainier Valley, but honestly, with the flight of middle class blacks to Renton the last decade combined with young whites discovering all the early 1900s homes there, it's becoming less and less diverse.

Some houses have AC. We looked at a few when we were house-shopping this year. You want to make friends in Seattle? Get central air installed.

The job market here is all over the place. I know people getting jobs in a hurry and some that have been out since the 2008 crash. It all depends on experience and luck. Unemployment right now is running about 8%, better than most of the country, though still pretty bad.

Seriously, though, Seattle is not NYC, and it's a little silly to compare them. This isn't some "Midwestern suburb" -- I grew up in one, and while I find the idea chauvinistic and stupid, I can tell you that Tulsa is much, much less exciting than Seattle, and all I heard at my high school reunion was from classmates who want to get out of T-Town for someplace exciting... like Seattle. However, if your girlfriend is all about NYC, Seattle will seem backwater and parochial. Anywhere not LA, San Fran, or Chicago is going to feel like that. Seattle is Boston without the history or a subway. That said, you could do worse.
posted by dw at 12:57 PM on July 25, 2010

Just another note on the weather, from a life-long Seattleite. It doesn't rain all that much at a time, or even that many days. But it is overcast most days of the year, so that you can never tell when it might rain or not, and you may not glimpse many blue skies. Whether that's important to you may be something you can only find out from living here. (And, in case you're wondering, we don't carry umbrellas in part because it is often sufficiently windy so as to make umbrellas useless, and it rarely pours, so a coat with a hood or hat is sufficient. Also, you don't feel dumb wearing a coat all day, even if it never rains, unlike carrying an umbrella around.)

While you can manage Seattle without a car, it is so much easier to have a car and choose to drive to some neighborhoods, and bus to others, depending on what's easy to get to from where you are. The neighborhoods are very distinct and you'll want to explore a bit just to decide where to live. This is definitely not NYC, but Belltown or the International District have a bit more of the apartment and lots of shops feel, so you might consider those areas.

As for excitement -- it's there, but you may have to work a bit for it. Or you can have your house near the edge of the city and just chill. As some others recommended, look at the Stranger's music and event listings, and try to decide if there are enough things that you'd like to go to. (You can even mentally pick which specific things you'd go to, were you here next week, and map them out. That might give you a sense of where you'd want to live, too.)

Good luck on your decision.
posted by Margalo Epps at 3:19 PM on July 25, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all. I'm wondering what people think of this "Seattle Chill" article, which basically states that the norm for Seattlites is to be polite and friendly, but generally not open to developing relationships further, and points to the large percentage of those living alone as evidence that people there are basically engaging in what they call "public isolation" rather than actively trying to connect and build friendships.

Obviously, coming from the east coast where theres a surface-level gruff but underneath people are interested in connecting, this is a worry (Especially since we'd be coming without a built-in social circle outside of my job) .
posted by softlord at 11:49 AM on July 26, 2010

I was in the same situation about a year ago ( In my (rose-colored view), every day here is a day in paradise compared to NYC. For my wife, she is liking it a lot more than she thought - she didn't once break out the UV light I bought her pre-emptively.
posted by nyc_consultant at 1:19 PM on July 27, 2010

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