Boston or Seattle?
May 4, 2006 4:25 PM   Subscribe

I've been offered a position in both Boston & Seattle. Help me weigh the pluses and minuses of moving to either place.

I've traveled to both cities, but I'm more interested the opinions of those who have lived in either (or both!) cities.
posted by bamassippi to Travel & Transportation (57 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't lived there, but I know a girl who moved to Seattle after struggling with rent too long in Boston (which she loved). She said she found people in Boston far warmer and friendlier. She had a really difficult time meeting people in Seattle.
posted by lunalaguna at 4:36 PM on May 4, 2006 [2 favorites]

Boston has the Red Sox.
Seattle has the Mariners.

I think that pretty much sums it up.
posted by 27 at 4:39 PM on May 4, 2006

I grew up in Boston and have lived in Seattle for 10 years.

It so completely depends on your preferences that it's really hard to answer this. Can you be more specific - like, do you care about weather? Scenery? Cost of living? Transportation? Culture? Ethnic diversity? Schools?
posted by tristeza at 4:40 PM on May 4, 2006

Seattle still has huge disruptive transportation projects looming in its not too distant future.
posted by Good Brain at 5:09 PM on May 4, 2006

Lived in Boston, only visited Seattle, so perhaps my opinion is slanted. But I'd rather live in Boston than any other city in the country (that includes New York, which I've also lived in).

The primary drawback of life in Boston is that you are, at least to a small extent, subject to the seasonal influx of students (and all that entails, both good and bad). And driving in Boston is hell, though slightly less hell than it used to be before the Expressway came down. On the flip side, walking in Boston is heaven. Boston is about as close to European sensibilities vis-a-vis pedestrian design as you'll find in the United States.

The biggest advantage I saw to Seattle is the vast array of "outdoors-y" activities available to you... weather permitting.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:16 PM on May 4, 2006

I agree with the above that we need to know more about what you're looking for in a city to answer this question.
posted by Hildago at 5:19 PM on May 4, 2006

Boston is tons of fun. Except driving there. But you also aren't required to drive, which is a plus.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:36 PM on May 4, 2006

haven't lived there, but I know a girl who moved to Seattle after struggling with rent too long in Boston (which she loved). She said she found people in Boston far warmer and friendlier. She had a really difficult time meeting people in Seattle.
posted by lunalaguna at 7:36 PM EST on May 4 [!]

My family has experienced just the opposite. Everyone in Seattle is from somewhere else, so being from Seattle is not a huge plus in integrating into business etc. Boston is the exact opposite. It is perhaps the hardest large city in which to make your mark if you are not native. OK, not the hardest, just pretty hard. The South has a bunch of contenders.

All that being said, I am extremely comfortable myself with Boston and think that breaking that native barrier is quite doable, even in the professions, when you put your mind to it.

Both are great cities in which to live, among the very best in the country. Seattle has the edge on outdoors activities and Boston has a big edge on culture. You won't go wrong with either choice. If only all choices in life were this nice.
posted by caddis at 5:48 PM on May 4, 2006

How much do you care about winter? Does the idea of having to dig your car out of the snow after the city snowplow has buried it in a five foot drift bother you? On the other hand, does an endless succession of gray rainy days leave you in a beaudelairean funk? Your profile says that you are in Alabama, so I'm guessing weather might be an issue.

You might want to refer to this thread for more opinions/generalizations.
posted by ambrosia at 5:49 PM on May 4, 2006

I've lived in Boston for 1.5 years and Seattle for a summer. They are, as others have said, both very nice. So you have that going for you. They are both major cities, with lots of options for food and eats and culture and sports and well, hey, everything that a *real* city has.

That said, they're pretty different. Seattle is by and large a car city. Boston is totally doable without a car. Your apartment will be smaller in Boston (or your house more expensive). Your weather will be better in Seattle. A Sox game will kick the shit out of any Mariners game. Italian in Boston (South End). Thai and Japanese in Seattle (all over).

posted by zpousman at 6:09 PM on May 4, 2006

I grew up outside of Boston and lived in Seattle for over 10 years. Here are things you'd want to think about. These are generalizations, naturally, but they're based on a lot of time spent both places. I left out all of the usual "I feel" and "it seems like" qualifiers, these are all just my impressions.

Accessibility: You can get around Seattle easily if you have a visual and/or physical handicap, good luck with this in Boston.

Barbecue: Boston barbecue is not very good and Seattle's is only marginally better.

Bookshelves, presence of: In Boston, everyone has a shitload of books in their house and everyone owns a dictionary. In Seattle this is hit or miss. I have never been to so many houses without books before or since living in Seattle. On the other hand, there is a huge bookish population in Seattle. I'm not sure how these things fit together.

Diversity: Boston seemed to me to be pretty segregated with a lot of not-very-well-hidden racial tensions. Seattle was more comfortably multicultural though it's still true that the more diverse neighborhoods are mostly in one part of the city. People also say "Seattle is such a WHITE city..." in a weird way considering that there are large populations of people from many different countries, they just don't live in the tony yuppie northern neighborhoods.

Escape route: Seattle is much closer to Canada than Boston is.

History: Boston has a lot, dating back several centuries. Seattle wasn't really populated by the current residents until about 130 years ago.

Hotties and Hipsters: I find the people in Seattle leagues more attractive than the people in Bosotn, on average. I have no idea why this is, but it's probably just because I grew up on the East Coast. I think Seattle has a larger hipster population and definitely feels like a place full of 20-30-somethings. Boston seems to have more of a representation of all age groups evenly.

Outdoorsiness: In Seattle it's right there, in Boston it's a bit more remote, or a bit more built-over. A larger percentage of people in Seattle are into outdoorsy things.

Pee, scent of: Boston has a lot more places that smell like pee than Seattle does.

Seasons: Boston has four, Seattle has three-ish. One of Boston's is bitterly cold winter. One of Seattle's is gloomy sun-never-shines greyish rainyish. If you get Seasonal Affective Disorder, Seattle is rough. If you don't like winter or find snow annoying, Boston is rough.

Transportation: Many people in Seattle bike commute and/or take the bus places. In Boston you can take the subway which only sort of connects to the bus. Seattle bus drivers are pretty friendly, give directions, etc. Boston, not so much. I found it somewhat easier to not have a car in Seattle than in Boston.

"Where did you prep?" In Boston some people tend to care about this, in Seattle this question makes no sense. There is more of an emphasis on who you are in Seattle, rather than who your people are.
posted by jessamyn at 6:17 PM on May 4, 2006 [5 favorites]

"Where did you prep?"

Having lived in Boston all my life and having gone to some upper-middle-class public schools, this question makes no sense to me. I assume it's about prep school, but I'm sure I've never heard anybody say it.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:10 PM on May 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

There's no heat+humidity at the same time in the Pacific Northwest, and virtually no snow. And even though it's rainy and gloomy a lot of the time, it's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. The summers are the best summers anywhere on the planet.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:26 PM on May 4, 2006

i live in boston. i've visited seattle several times. i find much of what jessamyn says to be NOT true or at least questionable.
posted by brandz at 7:39 PM on May 4, 2006

Boston seems to have more of a representation of all age groups evenly.

I dunno about that. It seems to me like there are college kids everywhere, all the time. Then again, I am one, so maybe I have some skewed sense of self-importance. :)
posted by danb at 7:44 PM on May 4, 2006

Response by poster: In response to tristeza:

I'm 25, single, with a Masters Degree and relatively little debt. Basically, I can move anywhere I want... but it's down to these two places.

I grew up in Central Alabama, so anything is going to be a major change...

I'm simply looking for a compare/contrast from wise folks who have spent a time in bother areas.
posted by bamassippi at 7:46 PM on May 4, 2006

Response by poster: ambrosia, I am from 'Bama, but weather isn't an issue... especially when it comes to cars vs. snow as I plan to sell mine if/when I move to Boston.

I will keep my car if I move to Seattle in order to do outdoors-y things.

FOLKS FROM SEATTLE - After having lived there, does Seattle begin to lose that "Outdoor/Chill/Community" feel after a while?

Or is that just something I picked-up as a tourist? :-)
posted by bamassippi at 7:53 PM on May 4, 2006

Best answer: I lived in Southern California my whole life and moved to Boston in January 2005. I've only visited Seattle a few times, but loved it when I visited it and had wanted to try and move there, except I didn't pursue it because of what seemed like a depressed job market and economy there. In my field it seemed like there were only a few viable places that I could work, and I was also worried that I might be subject to seasonal affective(ness?) disorder - since I have a tendency toward depressiveness, and really, how do you know if you have it or not if you grew up in SoCal?

Everybody's insights about Boston seem pretty right on to me. I Love Boston. I feel like I was predestined to live here for at least some amount of time. It's not all roses and New England charm, but the greats are so great that they mostly outweigh the things that drive me bonkers. So here's my list of pros and cons, if it helps:


- The spring and the fall are mind blowingly, jaw-droppingly beautiful. I can't say enough about this. There are trees everywhere.

- It is so wonderful to walk around in this town. There's so much to see, so many people to watch, and it never gets old. I'm from LA. I'm supposed to hate walking. But I prefer to walk when I can now. It's great.

- If you like rock music, the rock scene here is really great. It's a small rock scene, but it has tons of heart. The crowds are super enthusiastic and they get what it's about. They shout, they headbang, they spit beer, they get rowdy, but it never feels dangerous. Just boisterous.

- The vibe. I can't explain this fully, but there is just a great vibe about this town. You can see it in the way that people get incredibly superstitious over the Red Sox. It feels small, like everybody is kind of in tune with everybody else. I think it stems from the weather, and the fact that everbody in this city is bonkers about the sports teams. When it's a beautiful day after a month of crappy weather, everybody's out in the streets and in a good mood, and you just feel like you're part of a community. Hard to explain.

- Tradition. It's an old ass city with all sorts of weird, New-England specific thing that people like to do that you've probably never heard of. Like candlepin bowling. Obsessing over the Red Sox. Good-naturedly griping about the big dig.

- The public transportation. It's got it's idiosyncracies, but they make up for it by having a lot of busses and trains. I find the slight inconveniences to be more charming than frustrating. Unless I'm exhausted and want to be home NOW, but I think that's just public transportation in general.

- New York City, 4 hours away, baby!

- If you like hiking, or the outdoors, there are so many beautiful places to go that are a quick drive out of the city. I can't say enough about this. Tons of parks and nature reservations to check out.

- You can spend a few weekends over the summer in Maine blissing out in a beach house and have cheap lobster for dinner.

- Local businesses. There are so many here, and so few chains in comparison to where I'm from. I joke a lot that in LA, the only mom & pop shops that are left are donut shops, and in Boston, the only things that aren't mom & pop is donut shops (there is only Dunkin, there will only ever be Dunkin).


- The winter is soul sucking. If you're not used to winter, it's a hard one to swallow. It starts early, it gets bitterly, terribly cold, and it ends late. It lasts almost five months. This last winter was "mild" but I still found it brutal, and got a little depressed by the end of it.

- The summer is horribly humid and hot.

- The food blows, particularly your daily, cheap, grab some take-out tonight fare. Granted, I am used to the millions of options available in LA at any given moment, but it's all pizza and chinese, all the time.

- Driving is bonkers. It's like driving in Mexico. It doesn't make any sense. You will get SO lost, SO confused, and people are hilariously brazen about ignoring traffic laws. It's amusing if you don't have to be somewhere quickly, but horribly frustrating if you're in a hurry.

- It's not the cleanest city. There's trash all up in the streets. There aren't enough garbage cans. A lot of my friends live in Allston and say that it has rats. I live in Belmont, it's clean and there are no rats. But it bears a mention.

- From a diversity standpoint, it's a little depressing. It does feel a little segregated. My boyfriend comes from a hispanic family and he often laments that he has nobody to practice his rotting spanish skills with.

- If you love Mexican food, I hope you can make it yourself.

I just wrote you a novel about Boston. Sorry about that. But I hope some of this helps!
posted by pazazygeek at 7:55 PM on May 4, 2006

Barbecue: Boston barbecue is not very good and Seattle's is only marginally better.

Boston: Redbones in Porter Square.
Seattle: Dixie's in Bellevue. I have seen grown men cry after just a taste of the Man, the hottest sauce in the known universe. I am proud to say that I have met the Man.

I've lived in both cities for several years & if I had to recommend one for sheer livability, I'd pick Seattle. The people are friendlier, the scenery can't be beat, the winters don't suck. Boston's got a lot going for it, but Seattle wins out for me.
posted by scalefree at 8:06 PM on May 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

The food blows, particularly your daily, cheap, grab some take-out tonight fare

I don't know what you've been eating, but you're missing out. The food in and around Boston is delicious, and the only place I'd rather get cheap grubby food in the US is New York. Now, if you want to complain about how all the restaurants close by 2am, that's another story all together.

(Living in Cambridge for 8th year now.)
posted by whatzit at 8:14 PM on May 4, 2006

I should sleep, but here goes. Past three years in Boston/the Boston area, the three before that in Seattle/Bellevue. Here's a quote from my user page:

Location: A bit outside Boston and maaan fuck this city.

Seattle is totally doable without a car - the wife and I did it for two years with no problems. Taxi to airports and that's it. Boston proper is also doable without a car, but as soon as you're outside Cambridge it begins to suck really, really goddamn hard. Note of warning on Seattle: Seattle has very little violent crime relative to its size (outside of the odd rave shooting). However, it has an incredibly high crime rate as regards auto theft and carjacking. You will want to have your car tucked away safely at night.

Driving in general - they don't call Massachusetts drivers "Massholes" for nothing. There's amazingly few accidents given that the roads are one continuous game of suicide derby seemingly played by blind people on PCP binges. Major intersections and roads are simply unmarked, and trying to follow Map Quest directions for even a ten mile drive is a fucking joke. You will get lost on the, frequently, and it's very apparent the roads are based on ancient cowpaths. In Seattle the drivers are annoyingly polite, but the roads system was created by five farmers who hated each other and the town drunk. Quote from Sons of the Profits:
According to legend, when Maynard, Seattle's first bona-fide drunk, arrived with a proposal to set up a salmon-salting business those who already had land "gladly" moved their stakes to make room for Maynard, and he ended up with a claim running from King Street north three blocks to Yesler Way.

That's the legend I had always accepted--until recently when I checked ou the facts.

It is true that the south boundary of Boren's claim was moved from King Street north three blocks to Yesler Way, and it is true that this included almost all the level land in the city.

However, Boren had left Seattle a week before Maynard's arrival to pick up his cattle in the Willamette Valley. Just walking in the distance between Seattle and Portland would take two weeks, let alone driving a herd of cattle. So Boren was out of town when that great phenomenon of this city came into being. He was en route to the Willamette Valley.

The "Seattle Spirit" was born...

When Denny gave Boren's land to Maynard!
On diversity - different people find different cultures (not necessarily race) grating. In the Waltham area outside Boston proper there's a large and friendly Pakistani immigrant population, who were great neighbors. My experiences out a bit further west with the massive Brazilian immigrant population were without any exception impossible to accurately convey without sounding racist, so I'll leave it at stating that I will never, ever return to Marlborough as long as I live.

In Seattle the population is mostly white and asian, and could not possibly be more friendly. I was consistently amazed with the ease of just striking up intelligent and unfailingly polite conversations with random strangers on the bus - which often drifted towards politics. Think San Fransisco without the militance. Try doing that in Boston, or indeed the Northeast at all. There's a truism that people on the West Coast are easy to get to know, but difficult to REALLY know, and that the opposite is true for the East Coast. In my experience it's accurate maybe 75% of the time.

Over in Bellevue, the halfway point between Seattle and Redmond, the ground is literally crawling with white CEOs in their BMWs and their soccer-mom wives in SUVs packed with squalling brats. The best thing I can say about the people there is fire take the lot of them. Almost worth it for the cleanest and most crime-free city I've ever seen, though (nothing over fifty years old and six years during the 90s without a single homicide in a city of 150,000).

On hotties - Seattle, hands down, unless you're in the thick of Cambridge in which case Boston just has too many college students to compete with.

General impressions - Seattle is new, clean, and very very green. Boston is old, dirty, and gray. Not just ripe with history, but overripe. Pretty much the same as every other major city in the Northeast.

Food - both Seattle and Boston provide amazing hotwings with the Wingdome in Seattle's U District and Wings Express over in Waltham. If you like hotwings at all, go. Good Chinese delivery in Boston was difficult for me to find at first (the first four places made me sick the next day), but I eventually landed a top-notch delivery place that consistently beats out every other Chinese I've ever had whether fancy dine-in or delivery. Make sure you check out the Bamboo Garden in Seattle - all vegetarian Chinese so cunningly made that you will swear you are eating actual chicken. My wife was vegan for a few years so I'm well aware of how wretched fake chicken always is, but this is something different and special. To find a good Thai restaurant in Boston or Seattle, throw a rock at random - you'll hit one (either that or I've been very lucky). The pizza of both is 'meh,' but that may be a byproduct of growing up within spitting distance of NYC.

Weather - I was raised in the Northeast and I fucking hate it here as much now as I did growing up. Fucking freezing for a quarter of the year with unburying your car and shoveling frozen shit every morning while dodging ankle-deep puddles of half-frozen mud sitting in the holes in the shitty asphalt which predates the Bronze Age. Flip the calendar six months and you are slick with sweat 24/7, AC or no. The air smells like fried goat thick enough to hammer nails into. Fuck the Northeast's weather - fuck it forever.

The only positive note is Fall, which is amazing although that may just be the relief that summer's relentless Hell is over.

Seattle rains, which you may find surprising. What is difficult to convey is that the rain is nothing like rain on the East Coast - it is more like a perpetual hard misting than proper rain. Personally I love that cool, clean feeling that comes with rain, and cannot properly express my appreciation for sane outdoor temperatures year-round.

Both cities have a lot of culture, though Seattle's is more modern/hipsterly, but in the late hours in Boston there isn't one goddamn thing to do except drink, and if (like me) you don't then you're shit out of luck.

Music - Crocodile Cafe in Seattle, Middle East in Boston. Both are absolutely top-notch.

FOLKS FROM SEATTLE - After having lived there, does Seattle begin to lose that "Outdoor/Chill/Community" feel after a while?

No. The good vibes are persistent.

Not really sure what else to say other than I'm getting the fuck out of Boston as soon as humanly possible.
posted by Ryvar at 8:56 PM on May 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Y'all are awesome... I got some thinkin' over to do.
posted by bamassippi at 9:16 PM on May 4, 2006

I've only visited Seattle, but I grew up in Portland. I left when I was 32 and moved to Boston for 10 years. Then I left and moved to San Diego for 10 years, and now I'm back in Portland again.

Seattle and Portland are not identical but they're a lot alike. You can talk to strangers in the NW and no one thinks that's odd. On buses in Boston, no one says a word, not even to their friends usually.

The Boston area is quite segregated. In some places (for instance in Salem MA where I first lived) the neighborhood boundaries are quite distinct, running down the middle of particular roads, and people from each side don't go into the other.

"Southie" (South Boston) is white and very racist. That's where the riots happened when the courts ordered school busing, way back when. Back Bay is entirely too hip and Bohemian for its own good; blindfold yourself on Newbury street, spin around and throw a dart, and you'll hit a coffee shop.

Only crazy people try to drive in Boston itself -- which, unfortunately, includes about half the people of the Commonwealth at one time or another. Most of the time I lived in MA I lived in Arlington, and I never took my car into the city. I would drive to the Alewife station and park, and take the Red Line in.

The highways are insane. Boston is the only metropolitan area I've ever been in where the highways get narrower the closer you get to the city. State Route 2 is a perfect example: it's 8 lanes going through Arlington Heights. It collapses down to 4 lanes in East Arlington. And the highway ends at the Cambridge town line; the entire traffic flow gets dumped through two rotaries and proceeds all the rest of the way down into Boston on city streets, because the city council of Cambridge didn't want a highway messing up their pretty town.

Which brings up the first of three big problems in Massachusetts: "home rule". What that means is that city councils of the various townships can overrule any state action which might affect them -- and they do, all the time. Even if the money was there to do it, Massachusetts can't run the highway through Cambridge without permission of the city council, which it won't grant. That's one of the reasons why the highways are such a mess.

But the money isn't there because of the second problem: corruption. Preposterous amounts of money is drained out of the state budget through patronage and outright graft. Highway construction and other kinds of road work are expensive, slow, and ineffective because so much of the money gets stolen.

And why doesn't anything get done about it? Because it's a one-party state. That's the third big problem. There are 9 Democrats in Massachusetts for every Republican. (But maybe there's hope; even with all that, they finally elected a Republican governor, so maybe the voters are finally getting fed up with the Democrats.)

Most of the rest of the problems derive from the fact that so much of the state is very, very old. The main streets in Boston (e.g. Tremont, Boylston) radiate out from the Commons in all directions because they were originally cow paths used 300 years ago by local farmers to drive their herds to the common grazing area in the middle of the town.

Boston and many of the surrounding areas got pretty built up by the mid 18th century, when horse-drawn wagons were the preferred way of moving around, so too many of the streets are just too damned narrow, and they go every which way.

As has been mentioned, spring and autumn are gorgeous in Boston and summer and winter are intolerable. The climate there was one of the things that eventually drove me away. The last winter I spent there, we set an all time record for snowfall in February and it kept right on snowing through May. I moved away the next November, flying out just 12 hours before the snows began to fall. (The moving van with my stuff got caught in it.)

I'm glad to be back in Portland, where I can talk to people again.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:20 PM on May 4, 2006

I forgot something when I was listing neighborhoods: Roxbury and Jamaica Plains are where most of the murders happen. That's where the gangs run. When you're on the Orange Line going south, everyone who isn't black gets off at Mass Ave.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:23 PM on May 4, 2006

they don't call Massachusetts drivers "Massholes" for nothing

Indeed, while I was in Boston for Macworld one year (with a car, a stupid mistake I will not repeat) not one but two freeway drivers lurked in my blind spot until I forgot they were there, then honked and gesticulated at me when I inevitably cut them off. It had to have been intentional. Sure, I should have looked anyway, but what the hell kind of driver does that?

There are a fair number of actual nice people in Bellevue besides the CEOs and the soccer moms, but it's definitely not Seattle. But it IS quiet over here. :)
posted by kindall at 12:51 AM on May 5, 2006

I would still live in Seattle today, if I could handle the weather. Which I couldn't. People say, yeah, it's cloudy a lot, but it's not that big a deal. Well, no, to them. To some people it is, and if you're one of them, the fact that other folks don't mind so much will be of no consolation to you.

To be clear, I'm not talking about the rain. Seattle gets fewer inches of rain/year than New York. And I'm not talking about the cold. Seattle has warmer winters than Boston, I believe. I'm talking about the joy-sucking cloud cover which settles on the city like a wet blanket of doom for literally weeks at a time.

Other than that, one of the best cities on earth. Optimally you should live in Seattle June-August, Boston in October and Hawaii the rest of the year.
posted by zanni at 2:17 AM on May 5, 2006

If you've never lived on the West Coast, you might consider it even if only for a little while. I'm not entirely sold on it either, but I can see the allure.

People in Seattle have private hobbies that occupy them for the rainy season (computers, music, drugs, collecting Star Wars paraphanelia), and then they come out for the summers.

And no state income tax in WA.
posted by minkll at 2:24 AM on May 5, 2006

Boston is all nooks and crannies. When jessamyn said the food isn't good in Boston, i died a little inside. Well maybe, if you visited Boston for a week or something jessamyn, you didn't eat at some very good places. I am sorry to hear that. I, however, grew up in Boston. And I am still finding amazing places to eat. Places that make me go "How come nobody ever told me about THIS place?!". Stuff like that is all over in Boston. The roads are a mess. Things are scrambled. But as time passes you will discover the gems. And the gems are good. This goes for more than just food.

Seattle is more new. Well planned. Cleaner. Perhaps even safer. It will probably be an easier transition. The lows aren't quite so low, but the highs ain't so high, either. I only lived in Seattle for a few months, so I can only state my impressions. It is the difference between East and West, and to really understand this, you gotta check em both out.

How's it go again? Ah yes...
"Live in New York City once in your life, leave before you get too hard... live in Northern California once in your life... leave before you get too soft". The specifics might be slightly off, but the gist is the same.
posted by sophist at 2:33 AM on May 5, 2006

This thread reminds me a bit of when I taught English at East Boston High School. Everyone was telling me, "Oh no, East Boston!--you better be careful, better pack a gun, better watch your back" etc., etc. So I went with more than a bit of trepidation.

My initial reaction was: ooh, broken homes, gang colors, gasp! minorities! And about a millionth of a second later, it was... this is it? "Broken homes" == families having a hard time making ends meet. That's what happens when you get priced out of your city. Gang colors? More like ghetto-chic. These kids were just emulating what they saw on MTV. Minorities? Where have all you guys been hiding?

So all the worry-warts were just flat-out wrong with their preconceptions. The funny thing was that I told some kids in my class that I had been contemplating other schools because of East Boston's bad reputation, and they just laughed. "What other schools?" they asked. "Oh, a couple of schools in Dorchester."

"Oh! You don't want to go there! It's all gangs and fucked up families..."

In other words, a lot of what has been written above is a load of mung. Boston has plenty of diversity, plenty of Spanish-speakers and eateries (check out Allston/Brighton), not "bitterly cold" winters (Boston hasn't had a good, cold winter in a decade), extremely helpful and friendly people (in the New England whaddaya want?-sense), and I guarantee you that nobody, but nobody gives a rat's ass where you "prepped."

The problem is that you don't know what the posters here are used to, which explains a lot of their comments. Someone coming from LA is going to say, "Hey, this place doesn't have any sunshine" (May-August), while someone from Texas might ask, "Hey, where are the good burritos?" (Anna's Taccaria) and someone from the south is all, "Where the hell's the cornbread at?" (Bob's Southern Bistro). These people come to Boston for a day or a week and expect everything to just be laid out all obvious-like. Well sorry, it doesn't work that way. You may have to look around, but I guarantee you it's there... somewhere.

And since no one's mentioned the architecture, or rather, the look and feel of the two cities, I'll chime in: Seattle: houses subdivided into smaller "living units" loosely packed together. Small "downtown" area. New buildings. Vinyl siding. Boston: Townhouses. Everywhere townhouses. Brick. Stone. Medium-sized "downtown" area, packed extremely tight. Boston proper is the size of New York's central park. In that area you have the North End, the financial center, downtown crossing, the Fens, Back Bay, Beacon Hill and some left over. That's how densely packed the city is. Then you have Boston-minor (aka Cambridge) on the other side of the water. More townhouses. Some colleges you might have heard of. There are actually more than 40 colleges and universities in Boston.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:35 AM on May 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm going to be a typical Bostonian (well, Somervillian) and jump in with a nitpick. Tacos Lupita kicks the ass of Anna's Taqueria. So there. :-D
posted by mykescipark at 3:26 AM on May 5, 2006

kindall: The quietness of Bellevue is shocking. I remember reading one local paper that something like 6,000 out of the 150,000 residents actually lived in the downtown area. Midnight mile-long walks to Safeway for snacks straight through the center and you'd never see a single other human being on the street - just a few cars. Come 11PM Bellevue suddenly transforms into a ghost town and it's very easy to believe that it's been completely abandoned.

C_D: You're absolutely right in that any sort of "you'd better be careful!" warnings concerning either city are laughable (I didn't really touch on seediness in my rambling), but significantly moreso in Seattle. It's the difference between not being likely to get mugged in a hundred years, and not likely to get mugged in a thousand. They're both ridiculously safe compared to most major American cities. Just look after your car in Seattle.

Telling someone from Alabama that Boston's winters aren't cold, however, is nothing short of cruel not to mention just plain wrong. I say this as someone who grew up in upstate New York where the winters are equally bad (so there's where I'm coming from): Boston in the winter fucking blows. Maybe Minnesota or Buffalo, New York are worse, but who the fuck cares? Here's this year, and here's (that's two feet of accumulation on our third-floor balcony) the year before (the wind was so strong it blew the two feet off the cars).

Bang-on about the architecture. Maybe if I liked old brick buildings . . .
posted by Ryvar at 4:18 AM on May 5, 2006

Telling someone from Alabama that Boston's winters aren't cold...

Ah, I hadn't looked at the OP's profile. Point taken. Yes, they will be significantly colder than what you're used to. You don't really have to worry about this in Seattle, but then you've got the rain to contend with. If weather is a big factor, you'll have to pick your poison. For what it's worth, Seattle summers are wonderful, but still pale in comparison to Boston in the fall. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:33 AM on May 5, 2006

Also, note that a couple of pictures does not a winter make. Where I live (Maine) we got maybe two good snow storms all year. Had I gone out and taken some photos and said, "This is Maine" you'd get completely the wrong idea, as it wasn't indicative of the winter overall. But yes, it can get like the pictures. Usually the snow will stick around for a couple of days, then slowly turn into slush and muck. The snow part is pretty--the slush-n-muck part, not so much.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:37 AM on May 5, 2006

I grew up in the Boston area, went to school here, and currently live in Back Bay. I la-la-looove Boston! So here's my take on the city.

European feel - I walk everywhere, don't own a car (see below), love the architecture, love knowing how old the city is. I prefer the more "winding" urban setup over a more preplanned grid, so that doesn't frustrate me the way it might someone who lives in Beacon Hill and drives, say, an SUV. Ever tried navigating Paris? Even people who've lived there their whole lives carry around a small pocket map. Feel free to do so for Boston for a while, but you won't need it after a while.

Transportation - I don't have a car, don't want one, don't need one. I use Zipcar when I want to drive out to my parents' place in the suburbs and for the quarterly trips to Costco/Ikea/Home Depot/Target.

Red Sox - Sure, a game or two over the summer is fun, but you by no means have to join "Red Sox Nation" to fit in here.

Preppiness - I've encountered a few trustafarians and HBS-ers who went to Exeter, Andover, etc. and any attitude I got from them was more like insecurity about themself, not wealth-snottiness. Then again, they haven't invited me to any polo matches so maybe I'm missing something.

Influx of Undergrads - Summer is nicer in Boston, but I contend it's because of the weather and not that the undergrads return to where they came from. If you live in Allston/Brighton you'll notice the difference come September 1 -- loud parties, crowded B line (green). Just don't live there and you won't notice them. They never venture anywhere downtown past Landsdowne st (nightclub central) anyhow.

Dining - I eat out all the time, and consider myself a "foodie." I'm entirely satisfied with Boston's cuisine selection, and don't know how Jessamyn could have missed out on what the city has to offer. Mistral, B&G Oyster, Teatro, Clio, Uni, Rialto, Harvest, Cucci Cucci, Dali...I could name a thousand more divine restaurants.

Architecture/Real Estate - Brownstones are beautiful homes to live in. There are many luxury highrise buildings as well which offer great views; I prefer to be closer to the ground myself -- helps me feel more connected to my neighborhood anyhow.

East - West coast thing - I've found that people tend to have a preference for one coast or the other. Some Californians I've met pine for San Francisco; other West Coasters feel like they were destined to live here their whole lives and are just glad they found their way to their now motherland in time.

Friendliness - I don't know who is feeling Boston's rep for unfriendliness. It certainly depends on the kind of crowds you hang around in, but I don't find people cold. Maybe a bit wrapped up in their job/Ph.D. thesis/cancer research/etc., but it's easy to navigate around them.
posted by saffron at 4:38 AM on May 5, 2006

My girfriend moved from New England to Seattle, she said she expected the West Coast niceness, but was surprised by how parochial Seattle was. One time she mildly complained about some bus schedule and was told, "If you don't like it why don't you move back east!". On her first eco-mountain hike, her at that time boyfriend said to her, "Bet you don't have mountains like that back east!"

Having visited her in Seattle then, I can attest that there is a surprising amount of truth to that. I felt like a European visiting America in the fifites!

Maybe because you are not from the northeast you won't get that attitude.

Weather, while winters can be tough in Boston, they are variable, with bitter cold interspaced with Indian summer days, but according to gf, in Seattle, it is grey, misty and cool invariably for eight months out of the year. She said that invariability was tough to take. The summers in Seattle are, however, the most glorious on the planet. The summers in Boston are hot and humid. Being from Alabama you may think "So what, it can't get any worse than 'bama" or you may think, "No way am I going to move to a place where central air isn't the rule."

I think Boston has the attraction of not being like the rest of America, it still has a lot of local regional color, they don't talk like newscasters, whereas Seattle is more like what the rest of America would aspire to if it could. Both good, you can't go wrong.

Seattle is much, much, cleaner.

In Seattle they are very strict about jawalking. In Boston (like New York) jaywalking is a civic duty.
posted by xetere at 4:44 AM on May 5, 2006

bamassippi: You said you'd sell your car if you come to Boston, but keep it if you go to Seattle so you can do outdoorsy things. This doesn't make sense. I know that Boston has a reputation for being a horrible place to drive, and I'll be the first to admit, it can be pretty confusing to navigate. Boston drivers may be jerks, but they know what they're doing. They're much more attentive than their counterparts in Philly -- where I grew up -- or DC -- where I just had to drive a few days ago. It's really not that bad -- rush hour can be a little hectic, but I'd be willing to bet that the per capita accident rate is lower in greater Boston than in many other cities.

Anyway, if you're going to keep your car to do outdoorsy things in Seattle, you should also keep it in Boston. There are lots of outdoorsy places that are within a couple of hours of the city: Beaches all over the place, to the north and south; The White Mountains, which are closer than you think, and provide amazing hiking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, skiing, etc.; the Berkshires to the west; places to mountain bike and hike and so on. There's a vibrant outdoors community. Driving's probably tougher than it is in Alabama, but once you get used to it, it's not nearly as bad as everybody's making it out to be. And if you're into the outdoors, you'll be glad to have a car so you can get to all the amazing places that are just a short drive away.

And, for the record, I agree with Sophist: Boston is a little confusing, but it's a great city to explore. I moved away for grad school after five years there, but still find new places whenever I go back, still have neighborhoods I have to explore. That's one of the things that makes it a good place to live, but I realize that not everybody wants to live in a place like that.

By the way, I haven't been to Seattle, so I can't comment on that. But don't believe the hype about Boston and cars.

On Preview: Saffron's right about zipcar: an excellent solution if you just need a car once in a while.
posted by dseaton at 4:45 AM on May 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

There's a certain pervasiveness that good cheap eats have in LA that you won't get in Boston (all those Mexican and Vietnamese places in strip malls.... not too many strip malls around here) but aside from that, anyone who says the food is bad in Boston either hasn't lived here in 25 years or is an ignorant tourist. Every time I take a trip to NYC in search of the new, exciting stuff we don't have up here, I end up a bit dissapointed and have to re-realize that the food here is on par with any other US city, and better than many.

PS the BBQ at Redbones stinks these days.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:46 AM on May 5, 2006

One more thing: Boston's summers are certainly not hot and humid. It hardly ever gets to 90. Compared to the rest of the East Coast, Boston's summers are cool and beautiful. There are a few moderately hot days, but nothing compared to what you have in Alabama. And Boston's weather in the fall -- or New England in general -- is about as perfect as weather can be.
posted by dseaton at 4:48 AM on May 5, 2006

About New England hospitality:

People here aren't unfriendly or hostile. They're respectful of your privacy. Strangers don't generally stop to talk to you on the street because that's viewed as annoying.

The reason this is a good thing is that if someone is nice to you, you know it's genuine. I visit the West Coast frequently and I find people's incessive inquisitiveness confusing. Sometimes their idea of small talk is my idea of a deep personal conversation.

The upshot is, if you are of the "Southern hospitality" frame of mind, Boston will indeed feel unfriendly. But it's not really, just different.
posted by nev at 4:59 AM on May 5, 2006 [3 favorites]

A note on winter: I grew up in Southern California and moved to New England and then New York. The first few winters can kinda suck, but if you were meant to be an East Coaster (and Saffron is right, generally people were meant for one or the other), you will in time learn to love it. But it may take a few to really get it down: my first couple winters were very long.

And thank god for strangers not talking to you.
posted by dame at 7:09 AM on May 5, 2006

Culture is one thing, but money is another. Boston is one of the top 5 most expensive places to live. Rent or buy living expenses, Insurance and other car related expenses always seem to be near the top. So I guess what I am saying is unless you have the bucks you will most likely end up in a nearby suburb of Boston. (I live 15 miles out), and you won't get to enjoy most of the advantages listed above.
OTOH, You will be able to live within 30 minutes of downtown Boston, and be able to walk to a beach, bike to any number of bike paths/trails, hike the hills, buy food at a real farm...
posted by Gungho at 7:13 AM on May 5, 2006

Wow, amazing amount of people here with feet in both places. I grew up in Washington State, and spent about 9 years of that in Seattle (Capitol Hill, Leschi, Greenwood). I've now moved to the Greater Boston area (Hudson, a dinky town north of Marlborough), and work right in downtown Boston (on Congress St. By the Children's museum)

I have to agree with a lot of what Jessamyn says - it really did ring true. Steven Den Beste as well.

I have just a few generalized observations:

1) The people in Seattle tend to seem nice at first, but over time, you discover many are quite shallow and/or detatched. People in Boston come across as quite rude or standoffish, but over time, you discover they are quite friendly and loyal.

2) Transportation. In Boston, if you live in the city, you're okay once you get past cambridge things get bad, past that, it's horrid, truly, horrid in every possible way. In Seattle, downtown is okay without a car, but crossing the lake and getting out of town really calls for having one. And there is very little in the way of public transport. (The buses aren't terribly convenient, no commuter rail, no subway)

3) Seasons, Seattle has about two non-dramatic seasons, warmish and cool/wet. If you like that (and I do), then that's great. Boston has four very dramatic seasons, and I'm still getting used to that. The humidity in the summer just kills me, I hate hate hate it.

I stilll feel like a Seattle ex-pat, and get a lot of Bostonians saying "you're not from around here are you" even after being here almost 3 years now. Ususally, I feel pretty good when that happens. Also, if you are into sports, Boston beats Seattle hands-down. If you aren't into sports (like me), then a lot of ice-breaker conversational attempts are going to fall flat: "So did you see last night's game?" "No" "Oh... "
posted by kokogiak at 7:41 AM on May 5, 2006

Nev is very right about social norms regarding privacy. I see it as a function of population density, because I learned it in NYC. To say 'Good morning' to a stranger on the elevator is to impose yourself on their artificial space. If you want to talk to a stranger, go to a neighborhood pub, that's what they're for.
posted by Goofyy at 8:09 AM on May 5, 2006

kindall: The quietness of Bellevue is shocking. I remember reading one local paper that something like 6,000 out of the 150,000 residents actually lived in the downtown area. Midnight mile-long walks to Safeway for snacks straight through the center and you'd never see a single other human being on the street - just a few cars. Come 11PM Bellevue suddenly transforms into a ghost town and it's very easy to believe that it's been completely abandoned.

Yeah. To some that's a bug, to others it's a feature. However, just a couple years ago downtown completely died at 7 PM, so pushing it back to 11 PM is a big accomplishment. They're adding a lot of new housing downtown though -- the new Safeway will have apartments on top (like the horribly-named TriBeCa development on lower Queen Anne in Seattle) and two condo towers are going up where the Puget Sound Energy building used to be. In the next five years the number of people living downtown will double or even triple. So Bellevue is keenly aware of the issue and is working to develop a more vital downtown.

One thing I have found odd is that Seattleites, even those with cars, are curiously unwilling to venture out to the burbs, even though it's not really that far. I mean, from Seattle to Bellevue (assuming it's not rush hour) is 15-20 minutes. Back when I lived in Detroit I'd routinely drive that long just for lunch! The Seattle metro area is not really that big and Seattle itself actually covers less than half the number of square miles as Columbus, Ohio (though it's more dense). But people over on that side of the lake sure do like to stay there, except for trips to the mountains and the coast of course.

If you're considering moving to Seattle, here's an article you should read from the Seattle Times: Our Social Dis-Ease. People are friendly on the surface, but if you want to actually make a connection, it can apparently be a little tough. Not being all that social by nature, it suits me well. People generally stay out of my business unless I invite them into it. Most of the people I know well here, admittedly, are transplants from elsewhere.

I will agree that for all their attitude and aggressiveness, Boston's drivers are actually good -- knew a guy who used to be a cab driver back there, and he used to scare us all with the way he would just pull out into the middle of traffic, but he knew exactly what he was doing, never got into an accident, and got where he was going faster than I believed possible. Seattle drivers are polite, in that they will let you in ahead of them pretty much universally, and will often wave to let you go first at an intersection, even when they have the right of way -- but they have many annoying habits, such as not putting on their brakes until it is absolutely necessary, and then slamming them on. You'd better be paying attention and slam yours on as soon as you see brake lights, or else cultivate a following distance about three times further back than you might otherwise. The first day I was here I almost rear-ended three different cars.
posted by kindall at 8:32 AM on May 5, 2006

I know Boston well and Seattle only so-so, but my major comparison between the two is the amount of space and layout. Boston is America's Walking City; it's not very big and you can meander from one neighborhood to the next. Beacon Hill is across the Common from downtown and the Financial District, which are next to the Fort Point Channel and the North End. That walk just took 20 minutes and took you through several different types of history/architecture/shops/residential buildings/public spaces.

In Seattle, it seems like the neighborhhods are more independent and separated from each other. There are a lot of bridges and inlets that carve up the city into more clearly-defined districts, and I had to drive to get from one place to another. There are neighborhoods that are entirely residential, and areas that are wholly commercial. Seattle feels to me like a big collection of little suburbs, whereas Boston feels like one small city.

Both have their advantages - which is 'better' depends on what you like.

On the food issue, however, I'm fully in the Boston court.
posted by hsoltz at 8:37 AM on May 5, 2006

First of all, I must take issue with all the Mariners haters on this thread. They're a fine team with their best days still ahead of them. This is true for the Seahawks as well. Soon as Coach Holmgren reigns in their love of drawing penalties, Seattle will be the home of superbowl champions.

As for the matter truly at hand, I can only speak for Seattle. Public transportation is a mess, but the city is gorgeous. Barbeque is considered foreign cuisine, but the city's seafood will change your life. Futhermore, only Seattle diners enjoy access to Dick's Drive-In.

Seattle is as multicultural as Dave Cockrum's run on X-Men. Much is said of the weather, and while the better portion of the year is spent in the rain, some of us like it that way. The music is killer - why, even the hobos on Pike St. can sutn a fine tune.

As for Boston, you so stand a chance of developing that wicked cool accent.
posted by EatTheWeek at 8:42 AM on May 5, 2006

by "sutn", I mean "turn" - the is one spectacular typo
posted by EatTheWeek at 8:46 AM on May 5, 2006

incidentally, redbones is in davis square, not porter. there's also good barbecue at blue ribbon in arlington and belmont (I think?).
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:42 AM on May 5, 2006

i have never been to Boston but I have lived in Seattle for six years now, moving here from West Virginia. Two of the things I miss most: fireflies and thunderstorms.

Otherwise it is beautiful here, like a garden of eden in Spring, and the weather is lovely, as long as you don't take cloudy skies personally.
posted by macinchik at 1:59 PM on May 5, 2006

Speaking as a native Seattlite, I have two words:



Puget Sound is huge and right there. It's a constant. You can't drive 70 miles north or south without it being there. To get to the other side it's easiest to take a ferry. Lots of islands. Lots of boats. Oh, and there's Lake Washington to the east. If you don't want to go around it, you have to drive or ride across bridges that float.

The mountains are also a constant. When it isn't hidden in clouds, Mt. Rainier absolutely dominates the southeast skyline. And there's nothing to compare with the morning sun shining on the Olympic range to the west (and they make a great silhouette to the sunsets). It's a hour drive to skiing.

Buses aren't that bad...I've commuted in from the 'burbs on the bus for over 20 years. It's even better in town. But it's definitely a car town.

I can't speak about various scenes around town. But I love living here.
posted by lhauser at 2:52 PM on May 5, 2006

Boston drivers may be jerks, but they know what they're doing.

Absolutely. They are conservatively reckless.

I'd just like to add a final note about having a car in Boston: it's not the driving that will kill you, it's the parking. Parking in Boston is a shitstorm of suckitude.

If you've got enough dough, you can get a "commuter" parking discount at your closest garage. If you're a commuter. If you plan on leaving it there 24/6 (with the occasional weekend jaunt) it will get mighty expensive. Per square foot, parking spots are the most expensive real estate in the city.

If you instead decide to park in the streets, there's a whole 'nother can of worms to deal with, some of which are obvious (potential theft) some of which aren't on first thought. For example, if it does happen to snow a few feet, well, you've got to dig your own car out, sucka. And when you come back, expect that space to be taken. There's no "dibs" just because you dug the spot out. Also, the general "snow-plow rule of thumb" is to double the actual amount of snowfall to get an estimate of how much your car will be under. That is, if it snows 6", you'll have to dig out at least a foot of snow.

Then there's the soul-sucking "vulturing" for parking spots. You want to park as close to your apartment as possible, so you'll drive around in circles until one frees up. You could always park a few blocks away (maybe), but then you've got that extra walking to do, and you can't exactly keep an "ear" out for your car alarm. And since we're talking about Boston, and not (say) New York, you don't drive around in circles as much as you drive around in circuits, because invariably half the streets you're driving around are one-way. By the time you make a complete loop, three cars could have come and gone.

Your best bet (if you have plenty of time on your hands and feel lucky) is to double park with your flashers on and scope out a block until someone leaves. But then you've got to be ultra-aggressive when someone does leave, because chances are some asshole will try and quickly steal the spot by pulling up behind you while you're trying to reverse into a space. It happens, and it blows.

The other issue when parking on the streets is that you'll have to get a parking pass. Boston is subdivided into numerous neighborhoods (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, the North End, Chinatown, Bay Village, Allston, etc., etc.) Your parking pass is only good for your neighborhood, and some of these neighborhoods are just a few blocks large (like Bay Village). Oh yeah, if you have any parking tickets on your car, you can't renew your permit.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:10 PM on May 5, 2006

The other issue when parking on the streets is that you'll have to get a parking pass.

...Only if you want to park in resident spaces near your house, if you even have those near your house, and if you actually live in the City of Boston.

Most neighborhoods enforce "save your shoveled-out spot with a chair or orange cone" policies.

C'mon man, most of these criticisms are weak.
posted by rxrfrx at 2:53 PM on May 6, 2006

I think this is one of the best AskMe threads ever, and I don't even want to move.
posted by caddis at 3:59 PM on May 6, 2006

Only if you want to park in resident spaces near your house, if you even have those near your house, and if you actually live in the City of Boston

The title of the post is Boston or Seattle. It appears that a lot of MeFi members have a problem separating the concept of the city of Boston with the metro-area. If you park anywhere on the streets in the city of Boston, you'll find three kinds of parkings spots. 1. Parking metered spots. 2. Resident Parking spots. 3. Temporary non-resident parking spots. #3 is like the super model of parking spots: highly regarded, rarely seen in real life, and chances are someone else has already bagged it.

Most neighborhoods enforce "save your shoveled-out spot with a chair or orange cone" policies.

Most Bostonians will smirk at your orange cone as they move it to the sidewalk and take your spot. I think it's kinda cute that some people really think an orange cone is going to stop them from parking in a public parking spot.

most of these criticisms are weak

Uh, dude, did you miss the part where I said I love Boston? They're not criticisms, they're just the way it is. Every city has its foibles and rules to learn, parking in Boston has its own set of "understoods" that most non-Bostonians won't get until living there for a couple of years. I was only trying to kindly speed up the learning process.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:46 PM on May 6, 2006

C_D, your info page says you're in Maine. When did you last live in Boston (I missed it if you mentioned it in this thread).

My personal experience: Last year, for about 6 months, I parked in Allston with no resident permit. I usually went around the block(s) a few times when I got home from work, and only a couple times did I have to park really far away to get a spot. It wasn't a particularly difficult neighborhood to find a public street parking spot. Plus, if you're out and off to work by 8AM, you can park in the many metered spaces on weeknights.

There's no reason to separate City of Boston with Metro Boston, especially given how much cheaper it is to live in, say, Somerville and take the T into the city.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:50 PM on May 6, 2006

On the Mariners, EatTheWeak has it right on the head, Their best days have to be ahead of them, because there's no way they've seen anything close to good days lately ;-)

On the Food I'm not a vegetarian, but my girlfriend is. (INAVBMGI) EVERY single resturaunt in Seattle had vegetarian courses, and many have complete menus aimed at Vegan/Vegetarians. You cannot find a city more conscious of what it eats than Seattle. I'm from the midwest, and until I moved out here, I'd never seen a product labeled as "Organic" (When you buy a cow and have it butchered, saying it's "Organic" seems silly). That said, I've never had so many people comment about how unhealty my diet is. I'm not sure if I should be pissed because it's my food, or flattered that these people are trying to correct my (admittedly not the healthiest) diet. (FWIW, I'm not overweight, nor underweight.. I'm just right ;-) )

On Transportation Completely depends on which part of Seattle you're at, and where you want to go! If you're in the *Very* residential areas like Snohomish County or Edmunds, the busses are there, it's just a pain in the ASS to get anywhere. However, if you keep near the city itself, you can end up living in a cheap place without the need for a car (we have Zipcar and another car-for-a-day-or-two businesses, though I don't use either, my friends do).

On People Some say people here are friendly, others think you're invading people's privacy if you talk to them on the bus. Truth is, Seattle people think it's polite to strike up a conversation on the bus, and I think it has a LOT to do with the political/social mindset of the area. It's very hipster here, and everyone under the age of 40 wants to show that they are open minded about everything... Therefore people aren't afraid to start up conversations, and you'll be hard pressed to get into an arguement, even if you start throwing out racial slurs.

Oh.. The Seattle Chill. It's real, but it's fading as the .comers grow older.

On Living ConditionsI rented a (large) 2 bed/1 bath apartment for $620 in a not-run-down area (South Everett). I don't care where you live, that's cheap. Now we moved into a 3 bedroom house with 1 roommate much closer to town, in a *nice* area of town, and we're still paying the same amount for our portion. It's really expensive to buy a house, but the rent is still pretty low.
posted by hatsix at 6:01 PM on May 6, 2006

rxrfrx-- I left about 3 years ago. I've lived in Allston, Brighton, the Back Bay, and the North End. In every neighborhood, the meter maids took particular zeal in ticketing/booting cars. Either that, or they really, really didn't like me. I've had stints when I hadn't renewed my parking permit and done the "move your car every couple of days" thing, with varying degrees of success. I think most of the meter maids have particular areas they patrol, so if your car is anonymous-looking, and you park it in a different spot every day, you may get lucky. The longest I went (parking illegally) without getting a ticket was about a week.

I've had my car ticketted so many times in Boston that I've lost count. I've also had it booted, stolen, and booted and stolen at the same time. I speak from experience. Parking in Boston is a frustrating, wonderful game.

There's no reason to separate City of Boston with Metro Boston

But there is, you see. Because if you live in Somerville you don't have deal with this bullshit. This particular brand of Boston-inspired torture can only truly be appreciated by those living in the city. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:34 PM on May 6, 2006

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