Relocating to the Seattle area from Chicago
February 18, 2014 8:53 PM   Subscribe

We are considering relocating to the Seattle area from Chicago after living here for 4-5 years. What should we know beforehand?

My girlfriend and I are considering relocating soon, and our top choice of destination is Seattle for various reasons, mostly having to do with jobs and weather. She has better odds of landing a good job there, and there seems to be enough work in the area for me. Also, we have spent lots of time around the Pacific Northwest (Portland and Vancouver) and we love it, though we have not visited Seattle. I will be making a trip this summer for a writing workshop, and I'll likely have a few extra days to check out the area, so suggestions for places to visit would be appreciated.

Of course, I have a few questions/concerns. I'm just going to brain dump here, and you can pick out whatever portion of this question you care to answer.

- I currently work for a software company doing a combination of programming and design work with web applications. Am I going to need to work on my resume to find a fit in Seattle, or are there jobs like this in the area?
- My girlfriend works in education, particularly in digital/online courses. Are there education companies in the area that she should look into?
- I bike a lot. It is my general impression that Seattle is bike friendly, but I don't know how this translates to my everyday biking activities. In Chicago, I have a ~20 minute, 6 mile bike commute which I can do about 8 months a year, weather permitting. Is Seattle, by comparison, better or worse than Chicago for biking to work?
- Is it possible to live without a car? In Chicago, I mostly bike or take buses/trains. My girlfriend has a car which she uses to commute and get groceries, so we do drive, but we like having other options.
- I am a nerd. I get the impression that Seattle is a more geek friendly city than Chicago. Is this just because of the proliferation of Amazon/Microsoft culture, or is there more to it?
- Currently we live around the Logan Square/Humboldt Park area in Chicago. We are quite happy with our proximity to unique cocktail bars and coffee shops, and our relatively inexpensive rent. I also like the diversity of Logan Square. I know neighborhoods aren't interchangeable, but what would be an analogous area in Seattle that we should look into?
- How does cost of living compare? Online calculators are telling me Seattle is slightly cheaper than Chicago, but I don't know if that's actually the case, particularly as it seems that Seattle has been getting pricier in recent years.
- We are pretty used to Chicago at this point, and I am a bit concerned that wherever we move, it will feel less like a city to us. I love that i can drive in any direction in Chicago and end up in a totally different place without ever leaving the city. I think a small town vibe would drive us batty. Is Seattle metropolitan enough to make us feel at home?

I know these are somewhat vague questions, so I will try to respond to follow ups. Right now we're still in the "grass is greener" phase so hearing about some of the relative merits of Chicago over Seattle might also help to reign in our wanderlust a bit.
Thanks in advance!
posted by deathpanels to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are a lot of available tech industry jobs in Seattle right now. The market rises and dips, but right now it's good for job-hunters. The geek culture is a lot more than just Amazon and Microsoft. There are so many startups founded by people who used to work at those companies, and there are a million tech meetups (look on for a list of meetups). There are also lots of geeky activities to do, anime cons, indie comics, film festivals, gamer cafes, Metafilter meetups, name your poison. I know tons of people who bike commute, but I'll let someone who does it themselves weigh in on that (it's probably hillier here than in Chicago). As far as neighborhoods, I think Ballard might be a good match for Logan Square, although I wouldn't call rent inexpensive at all. Maybe somewhere more southerly like Columbia City might give you a better mix of local small business and affordable rent, but I am not as familiar with neighborhoods in South Seattle. Good luck!
posted by matildaben at 9:03 PM on February 18, 2014

I've been in Seattle for a year and a half I visited Chicago a month ago for like, half a weekend, but I liked it a lot. Some of this might be "grass is greener on the other (your) side".

In Chicago, you don't worry about the buses not running when you're getting /back/ from an event.

In Chicago, fewer massive hills.

In Chicago, middle-upper class black people exist, and can be found in the hipsterhoods. Seattle is /very/ de facto segregated, class / race.

In Chicago, actual street grid. The lake stays calmly off to one side. Seattle has these weird 2n + 1-way intersections and other weird grid disruptions, like a lake and an interstate (I-5).

I think people jaywalk more in Chicago. There's some video of our drunken revelers waiting patiently at a crosswalk post Seahawks win.

Seattle does have these parks within city limits, that, to me, feel like wilderness. (People raised in actual wilderness may feel free to scoff.) A lot of it doesn't fit my mind's concept of "a real city": there are too many neighborhoods of mansion-like houses with yards, and strips of road that just feel like "general american suburb". I try to stay where blocks are small.

Bad food manages to stay in business in Seattle, or I forgot to be selective here. There's a lot of $14 over-buttered brunch and $25 modern american. It's nice to be around cocktail and coffee experts, though.

There's not a lot of ballroom dance within city limits.
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:21 PM on February 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seattle is much milder weather than Chicago. When I moved in December I experienced record lows of...26 degrees.
posted by hellojed at 9:25 PM on February 18, 2014

Seattle is substantially hillier than Chicago and from a biking perspective that was quite an adjustment for me as a cycle communter coming from Columbus OH. You will be biking in drizzling mist to light rain as often as not, but it does not regularly thunderstorm or have the driving rain that the midwest has-and it snows quite rarely in the city, only once or twice a year. Many, many people bike to work and I felt substantially safer than I did even in Columbus, which I believe to be somewhat more bike friendly than Chicago.

(I no longer bike to work, choosing to claim time on the bus for reading that I don't otherwise get to do and pursuing fitness goals that biking didn't fulfill, but I did 8 miles each way daily for more than a year)

This recent question is about moving to Chicago from NYC and you can refer to that thread for more of my thoughts on some of your other concerns; that user had some similar questions and worries and there were a lot of good answers in that thread.
posted by Kwine at 9:30 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

In Chicago, you don't worry about the buses not running when you're getting /back/ from an event.
Got to disagree with you on this one. Most CTA bus routes stop running in the "late evening" (deliberately vague wording on the signs). Maybe this is just a universal complaint about bus schedules, I dunno.
In Chicago, middle-upper class black people exist, and can be found in the hipsterhoods. Seattle is /very/ de facto segregated, class / race.
That is very interesting. Chicago (and the rest of the Midwest, for that matter) has always seemed horrifyingly segregated to me. Most of the black middle class lives in the south 'burbs in Chicago, and the north 'burbs are basically 100% white. I suppose Seattle is more white on the whole, though.
posted by deathpanels at 9:31 PM on February 18, 2014

Hey, I live in Seattle! Well, outside of Seattle. My husband commutes to work via bicycle from Bothell down to Redmond, and my brother does the same from South Seattle up to Pioneer Square. Both of them do so nearly year-round; my husband takes more time off his commute because of getting his bike maintained than he does because of weather. The big problem is the hills! I deal with steeper hills getting to the grocery store than you have in all of Chicago, and even if you're in pretty good condition, you will find it a pretty strenuous adjustment. But plenty of people do it, so it must be possible.

Seattle weather is terrible but the climate is excellent. We had two bad spells of cold weather here, one in early December and one in mid January, where it got all the way down to 14 or 15 degrees Farenheit, and that was cold enough that people were PISSED OFF about how cold it was. In both cases it lasted for four or five days and was all anyone talked about. In the summer, we usually have about two weeks where it goes over 90 and everyone bitches all the time about how horrifyingly hot it is. But mostly, it's very mild; it was like 54 degrees today. The rain and the gloom will seriously get to you -- do not underestimate the effect of being 400 miles north! but it barely snows, and you don't have to shovel rain.

Seattle is nerd central. I am a giant nerd. I met my husband here and he is an even bigger nerd than I am. The Microsoft Millionaire phenomenon brought a lot of cachet to being a giant nerd, so you will find that nerds are very, very much not marginalized here.

Living without a car is entirely dependent on where you live. I live in Bothell, a bedroom suburb north of Seattle, and in my exact location, I only have to get into the car when I drive to rehearsal on Queen Anne once a week or go grocery shopping at Costco -- I can walk to the grocery store, the drug store, my dentist, the gym, my kids' schools, our doctor, a handful of restaurants, and the bus stop that will take me into town. If I were literally one half mile north? I wouldn't be able to get off my street without a car. It's definitely possible to live a largely car-free lifestyle, but you have to plan carefully.

I know nothing about Logan Square but from what you're describing, it sounds like you want Columbia City, in South Seattle. Or thereabouts. Unless by "cheap rent" you mean "$1400 for a one-bedroom apartment," which is what the new building in my part of town (an hour's drive from downtown!!) is renting for.

Seattle is definitely a small city. You could drop it into Chicago and not even see the splash. It suits me very well, though; it doesn't feel like a small town to me, and I grew up in Houston. And the fact that you get to rainforest or glaciers or islands or truly alpine skiing in just a couple of hours makes up for it.
posted by KathrynT at 9:36 PM on February 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I made the move a couple of years ago, from the palmer square corner of Logan/Humbolt. Some observations:
- At 8 months a year of biking, it's hard to say if you'd bike more or less in Seattle than in Chicago, because while there's probably less than a month of the year where it's above 90 or below freezing, it can be rather persistently damp and chilly over the winter. But do keep in mind there are hills - big, big hills. Suffice that I see far fewer people bicycling in the parts of town I haunt than I did in Logan Square.
- If you want diversity, and maybe lower rents, I'd second the forgotten South quadrant of the city. But it's a lot less botiquey and fancy drinky/foody than Logan Square.
- Dining is not necessarily less diverse, but it is very differently diverse. I can't for instance find a decent felafel to save my ass, and while there must be a passably interesting Indian place tucked away somewhere in the region, I haven't found it yet. The african diaspora on the other hand is richly represented in South Seattle, and Vietnamese food is EVERYWHERE.
- Cost of living is definitely higher here. Rents are higher and restaurants are more expensive. Not viciously so, but you'll notice it. Notably your first 200 kwh of electricity each month are half the price that ComEd charges - which is handy because you may well end up heating with electricity.
- Seattle might not be quite metropolitan enough for you. But you can push it the other direction and be in the mountains in under an hour, which has its own virtues.
- People jaywalk WAY more in Chicago, but the drivers are far more respectful of pedestrians. I found the whole thing quite disorienting.
- It rains roughly the same quantity of water in Chicago and Seattle, but it takes a lot longer to do it here. The minor Chicago rain storm transposed to Seattle makes a major impression on the locals. I found I really miss the thunder storms. But not the snow and the cold.
- That said, the rain thing is probably overrated. It rains a fair but not absurd amount here (ymmv - Seattle has a number of microclimates, due to the hills, lakes, etc). Clouds on the other hand can get rather oppressive. And while it's unlikely, each time you see the sun in the winter and spring might be the last for weeks. That hasn't been a (major) issue in my most recent residency, but I have some nasty memories hanging around.
- Interesting note: Seattle is sufficiently farther north that the shortest day is almost an hour shorter, though in turn the longest day is about an hour longer, which does serve to make the temperate summers here even more special than the might otherwise be.
- not perhaps a big thing, since Illinois is already a low tax state, but thus far there is no income tax in Washington. Sales tax is roughly a wash, and from what I can gather, property taxes are at worst no worse. Which does make up for some of the up front expenses of living in the city.
- If you drive, outside of rush hour, traffic isn't quite so shit here.
posted by wotsac at 10:00 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've recently been to Seattle and Chicago, trying to decide if I should move to one of those places instead of Los Angeles. In the past I've spent a lot of time in Chicago and a few weeks in Seattle.

Rents in Chicago and Seattle are very similar. CoL is generally the same. Maybe 0.5% higher in Seattle. However, buying a home is way more expensive in Seattle. Like double what you'd pay in Chicago.

Public transportation is better in Chicago.

Seattle has a larger Asian population than Chicago. Chicago has much larger African American and hispanic populations. Chicago also has more 'ethnic' white people, like Ukranians, Russian and Polish. Chicago feels more diverse, and I think mostly is more diverse.

Seattle is much smaller than Chicago, and feels much smaller.

Chicago definitely feels more "URBAN." It is hard to describe what Seattle feels like. I almost feel like I'm in Canada or something when I'm there. Kinda weird vibe if you're used to the industrial midwest.

I personally do not feel that Seattle is very bike friendly. It has many steep hills, and you have to hit some dangerous routes to get from where people want to live, to where people actually work. It's not Portland or Minneapolis. I even prefer riding in NYC. I don't like riding in Chicago, either, though.

The tech industry is much better in Seattle. There are way more jobs, and cooler jobs.

The opportunities for outdoors stuff are way better in Seattle.

The night life, art and music scenes are better in Chicago.

If I were to choose at this point in my life, I would pick Seattle, but mainly because I kind of just feel worn out every time I go to Chicago these days.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 10:16 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, one more thing: the sky is bluer here. I'm not going to claim that it's often properly clear, but the thick haze that blankets most of the country tends to be quite a bit thinner here, even on a bad day. Since we've switched to LED street lights, when you look up at a clear night sky you might see a few stars.
posted by wotsac at 10:16 PM on February 18, 2014

I miss Seattle.

It's possible to live without a car, but it takes either careful planning or a wilful indifference to how much effort and time it takes to get the things you need. Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Wedgwood, are all places that are pretty central, have funky restaurants and bars, neighborhood character, amenities, and are bikeable, but the rent is maybe a bit steep? I don't know how Chicago compares. If you want to go whole-hog with nightlife, Capitol Hill - and you are better off without a car in Cap Hill, because parking is a nightmare and landlords charge a premium for housing that has parking spaces. We considered living in Columbia City years ago - it was charming, walkable, had all the amenities I need - but I don't know much about it these days.

I think Seattle is metropolitan. It's a city made of a lot of different neighborhoods strapped together. You can get a meal after 10 PM outside of the theatre district. It's a physically beautiful city, too. Trees and water and hills and boats and gardens. But if a monster skyline with lots of skyscrapers and a bustling downtown are part of what you need from your metropolis, Chicago's got Seattle beat. The central business district is compact, and most of the art, shopping, and nightlife is in the regions surrounding it rather than at its heart.

That doesn't mean there aren't tons of amazing views of the city, though.
posted by gingerest at 10:22 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

our top choice of destination is Seattle for various reasons, mostly having to do with jobs and weather

I've been in Chicago since 1986 (well, there was a 9 yr stretch in Oak Park, due to the quality of CPS), planning to leave by the end of 2014. Weather is a make or break issue for me, so I've been checking weather reports for the cities on my short list several times/week for the past few months and I've been disappointed re how frequently Seattle is "cloudy". Naturally, I had heard this about Seattle, but just reading the reports day after day has truly underscored the point for me in a way that might not happen during a short visit.

BTW, there was a 1960s television show set in 19th century Seattle. Bobby Sherman sang the theme song, which began: "The bluest skies you'll ever see are in Seattle." How did THAT happen?

On preview, I see that wotsac addressed this.
posted by she's not there at 11:02 PM on February 18, 2014

He lied, that's how. Or maybe he just meant that on those days when the sky is blue, you really appreciate it because of the contrast. I forgot to say: Seattle is cloudy. And gloomy, in the winter. And you really can go long stretches of time without seeing the sun. It rains less than popular culture would have you believe, but it's overcast, with low skies, a great deal of the time.

On the other hand, you can rent a car (or take Amtrak) and go to the eastern half of the state if you really need a sunshine fix.
posted by gingerest at 11:07 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seattle has no flying insects to speak of. Case closed.
posted by bruceo at 12:00 AM on February 19, 2014 [12 favorites]

"What should we know beforehand?"

You really need to visit in the winter because your citation of "weather" as one of the positives of Seattle left me very puzzled. There are only about three months of good weather in Seattle (July, August, September) and the rest is overcast and drizzly almost every day. Not to mention super dark in the winter months because it's so far north -- lots of people end up developing Seasonal Affective Disorder.

If the dark and wet don't put you off, I've heard from a few insiders that Amazon is currently hiring like crazy and will be for the near future.

And yes, Seattle is a very geeky/nerdy city. In addition to the tech industry stuff there's also a huge sci-fi/fantasy/gamer culture. Be sure to check out Norwescon and the other area conventions (outdated list but you get the idea), AFK Tavern, and Wayward Coffeehouse.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:29 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree -- probably everyone wishes that buses ran longer, more frequently, more reliably. And I'll admit that I chose Wicker Park and Rogers Park as my nightlife centers on my visit, so the fact that the Blue and Red lines ran 24 hrs stuck in my mind. It also looks like the CTA night owls come every half hour, which is better than some daytime Sunday service.

For comparison, all regular buses in Seattle end by 2am, even important routes go to half-hourly on weeknights and Sundays, and our night owl service runs with a 75 minute gap. It's mild here, but 74 minutes is a long time to wait! Finally, people still take cabs to the airport for early morning flights because the single rail line we have doesn't start running early enough.

Seattle's segregation is worse due to its software-dominance. Yeah, there aren't a lot of women in STEM. But there are even fewer people of color from lower-income socioeconomic strata in STEM (and I think people don't talk about this because it is such a hard problem to solve). Seattle is basically sampling from STEM --- but YAY the nerd culture is awesome and active. Also, burlesque.

You also get 23 year olds who did not take / actively avoided the liberal artsy courses in college, earning six-figure salaries, (handing their money to abominable restaurants), so go figure where the level of civic / social engagement lies: my school friends threw out their ballots as /spam/ before I started haranguing them.

[Poor people have been priced out to the burbs. It almost makes one nostalgic for white flight.]

(Huge perk: they mail out ballots here, along with a pamphlet of candidates with position statements. You do not have to stand in line (though you do have to buy a postage stamp or know where your local ballot drop box is)! You can register to vote online as long as you don't procrastinate!)

Liquor is taxed a lot, but Trader Joe's is allowed to sell it. (TJ in CT is not.)

I do love the climate. It is moist and mild, just what my existence as a giant evaporative plant requires, and I swear that the clouds are prettier here.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:10 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Polish your CV, as they're used to seeing a lot of them here, but expect to find lots of open tech positions.

Biking is common here and there are some great routes. There are also some terrible ones (east-west can be particularly bad hills). Totally depends on where you're headed to/from, so google the city bike maps when you're making decisions. You can ride all year, but between late October and early May, expect that any given day could be wet (coming off the ground, if not out of the air). Buses all have bike racks on the front, so you can easily do a hybrid commute.

Totally possible to live w/o car, but usually in central neighborhood locations, roughly outlined by the Central District, Downtown, Freemont, Greenlake, University District.

Seattle is very nerdy and very hippie compared to the East Coast. We tend to be polite and pleasant, but a little distant (the 'Seattle Freeze' is kind of real). Passive aggression and the silent treatment/non-response is much more common than naked anger or explosive reaction to things that trouble us. Blue jeans outnumber slacks and khakis by a wide margin. Lots of dive/hangout bars have games like Cards Against Humanity or Settlers of Catan. Tech industry types are thick on the ground. Our political systems are mired in Process (vs what we hear about your Machine-based politics in Illinois). We have an establishment which is not as economically progressive as we're reputed to be, but we do spend lots of time making sure everyone is heard, if not actually considered.

Housing prices kind of suck in the above areas I mentioned, as lots of people want to live there, but new apartment blocks are going up all the time. We tax booze at the highest rate in the nation (30-odd dollars/gallon). We have no income tax, but King County has a 10.6% sales tax.

Most people I know who come from large cities tend to pooh-pooh Seattle's designation as a big city. It's more a collection of overlapping neighborhoods that share borders and a single political unit.
posted by cult_url_bias at 5:13 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

You really need to visit in the winter because your citation of "weather" as one of the positives of Seattle left me very puzzled

Seattle has months of damp and gloom, but it never has the extended bitter cold of a Chicago winter. The last time I was in Chicago it was -10F with a howling wind off of the lake, for example. So as long as you are ok with extended periods of no sunshine, I'd definitely say Seattle has better weather, but that's a matter of taste -- some people don't mind the cold and hate the gloom.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:45 AM on February 19, 2014

It's definitely possible to live without a car in Seattle. I lived there for 7 years without a car and took the bus to work every day and walked to the grocery store and restaurants/bars. Parking can suck in Capitol Hill, Fremont, and Queen Anne, so it's actually preferable to not have a car if you live in one of the close-in neighborhoods.

I have a friend who bikes everywhere, unless you're going up and down Queen Anne Hill (the Counterbalance) biking is OK. If you don't mind riding in the wet, you can ride year-round.

I found the darkness was a huge issue, I had to take an antidepressant to get through my second winter there (because the first was so depressing). When I moved to Portland I tracked the sunrises and sunsets and even just a couple hours south of there we get an extra half hour of daylight in the winter and it makes a huge difference. Seattle is DARK.

We left Seattle for Portland because we couldn't afford to buy a house ANYWHERE in the Seattle area. Housing is not cheap. Rent was pretty cheap back then, but I hear it's gotten way more expensive.

We lived in Queen Anne and Ballard, which I liked a lot, QA is walking distance to downtown and easy to get to Capitol Hill. Ballard is farther from Capitol Hill but has so much stuff that it's easy to never leave that area. Really, there are plenty of fine neighborhoods in Seattle, I think the most important thing is picking a place that's a good commute to work.

Seven years after I left, I still miss Seattle a lot. If it weren't for the darkness and steep housing prices, I'd move back in a heartbeat.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:42 AM on February 19, 2014

Living car free is very possible, I do it. There is a huge bike commuter culture here and there are ways to get nearly everywhere and minimize the impact of big hills. Also, big hills and constant drizzle are character building.

Seattle is tiny compared to Chicago. It seems even more so, because it is tightly neighborhood oriented. I realize that Chicago is also neighborhood oriented, but our neighborhoods are divided by 600 foot hills, waterways, and urban greenbelts that go on for miles. Because I work, live, and shop in the same neighborhood, I sometimes go weeks without leaving it. And beyond the limits of my neighborhood, I still run into people I know everywhere and within a couple years I felt that I had checked out every corner of the city. That having been said, Seattle is cosmopolitan, highly educated, and wealthy -- as a result, it has many of the cultural attractions of a much larger city and I've never felt bored. all the great Indian food is in Redmond. All the great Mexican food is south of the city

Ethnically, I never think of Seattle as segregated, rather it is much more homogeneous, we have our "ghetto" but it is nothing like a big east coast city. It's rather small and rather safe.

The Seattle Public Schools, if that is important to you, are really great as far as big city school districts go.

The big advantage seattle has over Chicago, IMO, is it's connection to the surrounding natural landscape. There are bald eagles that nest on Lake aWashington that fly over my house. I used to work on Vashon Island and would take a ferry and see an Orca swimming in the water 20 minutes after walking out my front door. In 45 minutes, you can drive to alpine wilderness, in 2 hours, you can stand on a glacier. Waterways are everywhere and every single resident of the city has been kayaking. It is often wet and cold, but there exists clothing for this and you learn to revel in that that aspect of the weather.
posted by Random Person at 8:28 AM on February 19, 2014

Background: I live in Seattle and have previously lived in larger cities like SF. One of my best friends moved from Chicago to Seattle a few years ago.

Tech Jobs:
You should find it very easy to find a job here (depending on the type/extent of your work experience, of course). You'll just want to do some thinking about what type of environment you want to work in, as there are a lot of options. Amazon would probably snap you up immediately (depending on your coding experience), but they have a reputation for being churn-and-burn, so I'd suggest investing the time to look around at all your options.

Seattle has a strong biking subculture - there are large groups who go biking together, do biking pub crawls, etc. Biking is going to be more intense in Seattle (we have serious hills), but people definitely do it. In terms of biking to work, that just depends on where you work and where you live. If you make that a priority in your house/job search, it's definitely doable. It might rule out jobs in the suburbs (e.g. Microsoft) unless you want to live out there, though.

You can live without a car here, but it's harder than in Chicago. Our public transit isn't as good and the hills make walking-while-carrying-groceries less fun. If you really want to live without a car, your best bet is to live somewhere with a dense neighborhood (Capitol Hill being the obvious choice) that's well-connected to bus lines. Living with one car is easy. You could also do Zipcar if you want the option sometimes, but don't want to maintain a car. Do keep in mind that many Seattlites really like hiking/snowboarding/etc. and if you're into that kind of thing you pretty much need a car or Zipcar.

Nerd Culture:
Yes. It's super nerdy. We always come in near the top of those "Top Nerdy Cities" lists. It's partly about the big tech companies, but it extends well beyond that. We also come in at the top of smartest/most educated cities, so nerdiness extends well beyond the tech sector. This is one area where I can definitely say you'll feel at home.

-I loved Logan Square/Humboldt Park when I visited Chicago last summer! It's always tricky recommending parallel neighborhoods, but here's what I'd suggest:
-Capitol Hill: Pros - All the bars/coffee shops/walking that you could want. Cons - Doesn't have as much diversity, cheap rent, or that up-and-coming feel.
-Columbia City: Pros - More diverse (for Seattle - keep in mind that it's not as diverse a city), great coffee shops and restaurants, neighborhood vibe. Cons - Maybe a bit quieter than you're used to, a bit far from some of the other cool neighborhoods in Seattle.
-Central District: Pros - More diverse, some good coffee shops and the amazing Central Cinema, close to Cap Hill and downtown. Cons - Some parts are not as nice, not many restaurants.
-If you want to give up on diversity in favor of more places to go out: Ballard or Fremont.

Cost of Living:
Rent's been going up sharply in the last couple of years, so you may find things to be roughly comparable to Chicago, but with perhaps more cheap options ~30 minutes from downtown. My friends from Chicago tell me that things are about the same, but they're teachers and teachers get paid less here. I'm not sure if the online education sector is the same.

I really think that being here for a while would give you a better sense of Seattle's city-ness than anything we could tell you. For tips on what to do, I'd refer you to a previous comment I posted here, and also suggest renting a bike to explore the Burke-Gilman trail, Cafe Mox if you're into gaming, and Columbia City so you can check out neighborhoods you might like.

Good luck - let me know if you have any other questions!
posted by leitmotif at 9:13 AM on February 19, 2014

(Aside to wotsac: for felafel, have you tried any of the joints in the U-district? Cedars of Lebanon on 43rd (not to be confused with Cedars, on Brooklyn) is good.)
posted by gingerest at 3:07 PM on February 19, 2014

(biking) might rule out jobs in the suburbs (e.g. Microsoft) unless you want to live out there, though.

It shouldn't rule them out: Microsoft runs a bike shuttlebus from Montlake and 520 to work, I know a fair few people who ride to there from Ballard/Cap Hill/etc. There are also bike lockers available if you just want to ride to Montlake and jump on a bus across the bridge (although that is the full extent of my knowledge on the subject).
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:06 AM on February 20, 2014

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