Where to find cheap housing in Seattle area?
July 21, 2015 5:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering relocating to Seattle from the Midwest for a new job but am very concerned about affordable housing. Looking for a house or apartment rental within an hour's distance via public transit, if possible. Would like to spend between $1,000 and $1,500 if possible. Can go a bit higher. Would like a lot of space -- ideally, 1000 square feet. This would be for my wife, myself and our dog. Any advice about where I should be looking would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
posted by DougieGee to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure you're going to find that in Seattle.

You can try Renton or Shoreline. There tend to be more affordable options there. Just plan on sitting in traffic. A lot.
posted by guster4lovers at 5:09 PM on July 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

Look to the South near the light rail stations. You could be as far away as Tukwila and still be downtown in 45 minutes.
posted by Jawn at 5:12 PM on July 21, 2015

"Within an hour's distance"... to where? Downtown? If it's downtown, it might be doable. If it's outside of downtown, then you'll probably have to transfer downtown.

Public transit in Seattle is spotty. It's getting better, but it's spotty. Buses do not arrive on time and are often delayed. If you have a 30 minute bus commute, you might wait 20 minutes just for the bus to arrive.

Renting with a dog is going to be tricky. Many places do not allow dogs, or require that you pay a monthly pet rent if you have a pet. I really think this is going to be the reason this search will be near impossible.

I don't think you'll be able to find a place for the price point you're looking at. If you are going to, I would try looking at Northgate, near a bus line. Or south on the light rail stations.

Here's an example that somewhat conforms to your requirements. 900 sq ft house, under $1500. Near Northgate Mall so probably bussable directly to downtown in a reasonable amount of time. But no pets. Craigslist ad. (Northgate is also nicer than Tukwila/Renton. Generally, north Seattle is considered nicer than south of downtown, with some exceptions.)
posted by ethidda at 5:18 PM on July 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

as ehtidda mentioned, seattle-area public transit is indeed spotty. one way they are trying to improve is with a set of express busses under the name RapidRide. they are almost like a train, so looking at places along their routes may yield something interesting. and some RapidRide lines terminate in places other than downtown.
posted by bruceo at 5:30 PM on July 21, 2015

Where approximately would your new workplace be located?

I've never seen anything that low, especially that allows dogs, in North Seattle.
posted by k8t at 5:32 PM on July 21, 2015

Unfortunately yes, finding a place in that price range that also allows dogs will be tricky. We only have a cat, and had a hard time finding a decent place that would even allow that, and our building doesn't allow dogs at all. Definitely look north or south, and look for older buildings. You can still find places in very north Seattle and Shoreline that might fit your requirements.
posted by skycrashesdown at 5:37 PM on July 21, 2015

Tacoma? You can commute into downtown by train.
posted by matildaben at 6:19 PM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't know why everyone is pushing Shoreline as the community of cheap rents. Sure, look, but it's not a sure thing. The rent is too damn high! Keep in mind that when you are looking at the cost of rental houses many landlords require the tenants to cover utilities separately and that can go up quite high.
posted by stowaway at 8:11 PM on July 21, 2015

You can actually find a one-bedroom in North, South or West Seattle under $1500 (dogs may be tricky, though). It's a bit hard to point you to specific neighborhoods, because within any given neighborhood there would be places easily accessible via transit and places too far from it.
See what's out there on Craigslist and then put in directions to your work on Metro's tripfinder or google maps to see what transit's like. I'd start by checking out Maple Leaf, the University District, Sand Point and Northgate to the North - and Beacon Hill and Othello to the South. Best of luck, the rental market is a bit crazy, but it can be done.
posted by leitmotif at 8:48 PM on July 21, 2015

This is the site you want to search: PadMapper

Finding 1000 square feet for $1500 is going to be difficult, but it's possible if you go out all the way to your one-hour boundary.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:55 PM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you're ok with not living in a newer or nicer building, there are places in greenlake/aurora/"lichton springs", and northgate/meadowbrook/pinehurst, or the lake city to ravenna area that would be under $1500 and allow dogs. Hell, my friends live in a place in the greenlake-aurora sandwich area that's under $1000 and is large and allows dogs. It's not a super nice building, but the inside of the apartment is reasonable and dogs+space+on site parking. It also has cathedral ceilings, in the cheesy 1960s way.

I'd focus on those areas, especially lake city and north of greenlake right near aurora(in the sandwich between 99 and i5), and i think you'll have some success. My old roommates have done the "what's the cheapest possible place as close as possible in where i can still have a bunch of pets" thing 3 times now and have always managed to stay under, i think, $1200.

Their current place is probably 1000 sqft too.

I used to live in a ~1500sqft house in the central district for $1400. It was kind of a shithole, but it was a four bedroom house with a HUGE yard. Like, comically large yard. I'm amazed it hasn't been knocked down to build an apartment building sort of thing.

The "pick X" thing you're going to have to give up here is quality and niceness. $1500 will probably get you an entire house in lake city or maybe meadowbrook though. I'd also check out broadview, and maybe even shoreline, which is about a half hour by bus or an hour during commute time.

These sort of places go fast. You're going to have to go on a long, arduous craigslist hunt. Most of the people i know who have scored them are camped the fuck out but the good rentals always end up sold out from under them eventually.

The light rail recommendation above used to be a good call a year or two ago, but landlords down south have wised up and those places are NOT cheap anymore. Several friends either got slapped with enormous rent increases or booted out over trumped up bullshit(or the take the place off the market for a few months and then bring it back "remodeled" shuffle so they could jack the rent) so the landlords could crank up the rent. There's isolated pockets of cheap places north-central, northeast, and just north now more than south unless you're far from the train.
posted by emptythought at 2:54 AM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go way out on a limb here and suggest you look west - to Bremerton. You'll find rents are far cheaper, and we're exactly an hour by ferry from downtown Seattle. That hour, by the way, is delightful - gorgeous scenery, you can work, socialize (with your new-found "ferry-family" friends), read, or nap - what you won't be doing is sitting in traffic.
Bremerton is also really close to some of the best things about the northwest - water and mountains - we are a much faster drive to Olympic National Park, there are boat ramps everywhere, great kayaking, and good hiking trails (some right in town!). Check it out!
posted by dbmcd at 7:31 AM on July 22, 2015

Man, Seattle is exploding in growth, so...welcome?

Congratulations on your job and all that, but what your request is a bit steep. Do know if you rent pretty much anywhere within Seattle with a dog, it will be first and last month's rent WITH a pet deposit, which varies wildly by landlord/property management.

You know what? I'll just offer you me and my wife's services in researching this - memail me at your earliest convenience.
posted by singmespanishtechno at 8:21 AM on July 22, 2015

I moved to Seattle in November and I actually found it pretty dog-friendly! Maybe that was just in comparison to my old home of Vancouver...

Anyway, as everyone has said you are going to have a hard time finding the place you outline. I know my friends who need a lot of space for cheap seem to end up in Lynwood or Bremerton. Be ready to drop cash on the spot when you see a place that you like, or it will probably be gone before you get to your car. Also, most people I know have their rents increased every lease cycle, so be prepared to pay more in 12 months.

Honestly, given that Seattle is going through a boom right now and rents are on the rise, I would not move here unless my new job was compensating me appropriately for this market.
posted by jess at 8:55 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seattle rent is pretty dog-friendly in my opinion, so that's the smallest ask. Cheap, close to public transit, and 1000+ sq feet is a bigger feat. I'd suggest looking to the north or south edges of town. I'm more familiar with the north, so I'd suggest pricing out apts in Lynwood/Northgate/etc and be willing to walk a few blocks to the bus. I know friends of ours just moved from our apartments to apartments out in Lynwood and rent dropped by nearly $900 for a slightly longer commute. (Did you get hired by a big company? Many of the big ones in the city have commuter shuttles so that might be another option.)

Feel free to memail me if you need anymore advice from a fellow midwestern transplant! (Seattle can be intimidating to midwesterners on the rental front, but it's a great city. Welcome!)
posted by ninjakins at 9:09 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you can swing a trip out a few weeks beforehand (and you should, because summer in Seattle is a wonderful time), you might have some luck just pounding the pavement. You will see a fair amount of for rent signs and numbers of apartment buildings that never show up on PadMapper/Craigslist because frankly, they just don't need to. These places are generally older, but also tend to be slightly better in price than the big condo/apartment complexes that advertise online. Be prepared to make a decision on a place right then if it's available, because odds are that it won't be the next day.

With that being said, it's going to be tough, especially with your requirements. The real estate and rental markets are at historic levels of low inventory right now, and nothing stays up long (long being more than a week, and realistically apartments' vacancy availability is measured in hours and days rather than weeks).

Other than that, nthing South Seattle and far North Seattle (Lake City is one area I haven't seen listed yet that I think could get you downtown in an hour via public transit).
posted by chillin411 at 9:30 AM on July 22, 2015

One thing i forgot to say is walk away from any place that charges pet rent no matter how awesome it seems. It's NOT the norm here, vote with your wallet.

It's legal, but it's also BS and shouldn't be given the time of day.
posted by emptythought at 12:39 PM on July 22, 2015

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