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Cost of Living in Seattle, WA 2022

May 12, 2022

There is no city quite like Seattle. Surrounded by mountains and bodies of water like the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, the city offers an irresistible mix of beautiful nature, a laid-back lifestyle, and vibrant culture. It's one of the best places to live in Washington!

If that’s not enough to entice you, Seattle also has a historically strong job market plenty of jobs to choose from. Seattle offers a growing tech hub teeming with career opportunities that complement the great outdoors just around the corner. The city attracts transplants from all over the nation, making it a melting pot of food, art, and culture.

However, the cost of living in Seattle, Washington has risen thanks to growth and cultural transformation. The good news is the city is still less expensive than San Francisco or New York City, for now. To help you figure out whether moving to Seattle is the right choice for you and your finances, we put together a guide outlining the cost of living in Seattle.

Housing Costs in Seattle

When looking at the cost of living in Seattle, the first area to tackle is your rent, as it will likely prove your greatest expense. The city’s growing tech hub has seen an influx of engineers moving from the Bay Area in search of an affordable alternative. Along with a new batch of highly-paid professionals comes an inevitable cost of living increase. In the past five years, Seattle residents have seen a nearly 20% increase in rents, peaking in 2017.

The good news is that local developers have been investing in new apartment construction to meet the growing demand. In fact, between 2000 and 2016, Seattle had the highest level of per-capita spending on multifamily construction out of the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas. Since the new apartment units started hitting the market in 2017, the rent prices went down.

Seattle rents are up by 22.48% in comparison to the same time last year but have seen small declines in recent months. Currently, the average rent in Seattle is $2,325 for a one-bedroom, and $3,437 for a two-bedroom.

Before you start apartment hunting in Seattle, figure out how much rent you can afford.

Seattle Transportation

Seattle is a big city with scores of fun neighborhoods to explore. Therefore, transportation is likely to be one of your major expenses. As a single adult living in the Emerald City, expect to spend $4,900 on transportation annually. If you are a family of two full-time employed adults and a child, you will pay $11,186 a year to get around town.

The good news is you don’t need a car to get around Seattle, which will save you money. The city offers a reliable and continuously expanding system of public transportation. In fact, there are two public transit agencies serving the city of Seattle - King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit. One-way adult fares for LINK Light Rail range from $2.25 to $3.25, depending on the distance you travel and the neighborhood you start from.

Food in Seattle

According to the MIT estimates, a single full-time employed adult that cooks their own meals (including snacks) spends approximately $3,792 per year on food. However, Seattle is a dream city for foodies. If you want to take advantage of all the fun and quirky restaurants the Emerald City has to offer, expect to pay an average of $18 on a meal at an inexpensive restaurant sans appetizers and alcohol. Having dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant will cost you $82.50 on average. For reference, dining out in San Francisco costs about 4.66% more. So if you are moving from the Golden Gate City, you win both in terms of affordable housing and food options.

Seattle Healthcare

According to the MIT estimates based on the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the typical cost of medical services for a single, full-time employed adult in Seattle is approximately $2,206 per year. For a family of two full-time working adults and a child, that number increases up to $6,380 per year.

Utilities

Don’t forget to factor in utilities as part of your cost of living in Seattle. According to Numbeo, the average basic utility bill for a 915 sq ft apartment in Seattle is $228.97 a month. The estimated cost includes electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage. If you want Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL), add another $64.05 per month.

Fitness and Entertainment

If you live in Seattle, nature is your gym. You can keep your cost of living in Seattle down by enjoying all the outdoor and recreational activities the city has to offer. However, if your workouts require equipment or you prefer the structure of group classes, plan to pay $56.19 in monthly membership fees. To compare, a gym membership in San Francisco will cost you $99.44 per month.

If you are looking into saving money and have some extra space in your apartment, try setting up a small home gym.

If your preferred type of entertainment is watching the latest blockbusters, going on a movie date will cost you $15 per ticket, plus drinks and popcorn. Movie theater tickets in New York are priced at $16, while in San Francisco, you’ll pay $15.

Other Expenses Adding to Your Cost of Living in Seattle

Newcomers often forget to factor in the 10.1% sales tax to their cost of living in Seattle. It's one of the highest in the country and can tack on an added expense to everything you buy. The good news is that Washington does not have personal income tax, which could balance out your expenses. Your grocery and clothing bills may be higher, but you’ll keep more in your pocket.

What Salary Do I Need to Live in Seattle?

As a growing tech hub, Seattle residents enjoy a steady increase in wages to make up for rising rents. To comfortably rent a median one-bedroom apartment in Seattle, one would have to make $83,700 per year. The recommended household income for a two-bedroom apartment is $123,732 per year.

The “living wage,” or the minimum amount of money needed to live above the poverty threshold, in Seattle is $19.57 per hour for a full-time employed individual. The living wage doesn’t include expenses for restaurants, entertainment, and vacations. Additionally, it doesn’t allow for savings or investment. The estimated median household income in Seattle at the end of 2019 was approximately $92,263.

Keep in mind Seattle’s affluence is growing alongside its population. The number of Seattle families earning over $200,000 is actually greater than the number making less than $50,000. Don't let the numbers intimidate you from moving to Seattle. However, it probably means you’ll need to broaden your search among the best neighborhoods in Seattle and not settle on a single, dream neighborhood. You can still find Seattle Apartment options within your budget, as well as in areas a stone's throw from the waterfront, especially if you have roommates.

Now that you’re armed with information about the cost of living in Seattle, you can start your apartment hunt in the Emerald City. Start your Seattle apartment search today with this quiz! If Seattle is a little too pricey for you, check out the cities nearby Seattle and the cheapest cities in Washington.

FAQ: Cost of Living in Seattle

How expensive is an apartment in Seattle?

A studio apartment in Seattle costs $1,754. A 1 bedroom apartment in Seattle costs $2,325. A 2 bedroom apartment in Seattle costs $3,437. A 3 bedroom apartment in Seattle costs $3,927.

What is the cheapest rent in Seattle?

A studio apartment is the cheapest rent you can get in Seattle, with the median rent sitting at $1,754. The average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in Seattle is higher at $2,325.

How expensive is it to live in Seattle?

Living in Seattle is relatively expensive. In Seattle, rent averages $2,325 for a 1 bedroom apartment. Transportation costs in Seattle amount to $4,900 a year. Food costs $3,792 a year on average for a single resident of Seattle.

How far is Portland from Seattle?

Seattle is 174 miles away from Portland. It takes 2 hours and 54 minutes to get to Portland from Seattle by car, 17 hours by bike, and 61 hours by foot.

How far is Tacoma from Seattle?

Seattle is 34 miles away from Tacoma. It takes 37 minutes to get to Tacoma from Seattle by car, 4 hours by bike, and 11 hours by foot.

How far is Kennewick from Seattle?

Seattle is 225 miles away from Kennewick. It takes 3 hours and 29 minutes to get to Kennewick from Seattle by car, 21 hours by bike, and 72 hours by foot.

How far is Longview from Seattle?

Seattle is 128 miles away from Longview. It takes 2 hours and 9 minutes to get to Longview from Seattle by car, 12 hours by bike, and 43 hours by foot.

How far is Seattle from Spokane?

Seattle is 279 miles away from Spokane. It takes 4 hours and 16 minutes to get to Spokane from Seattle by car, 32 hours by bike, and 103 hours by foot.

How far is Vancouver from Seattle?

Seattle is 143 miles away from Vancouver. It takes 2 hours and 36 minutes to get to Vancouver from Seattle by car, 15 hours by bike, and 54 hours by foot.

What is the population of Seattle?

The population of Seattle is 737,015. It is the most populated city in the state of Washington and in the Pacific Northwest region of the country.

Is Seattle cheaper than Los Angeles?

Seattle is slightly cheaper than Los Angeles. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles sits at $3,947, while the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle sits at $3,437.

What is a good salary in Seattle?

The recommended salary in Seattle is $6,975 per month or $83,700 annually. This total reflects a salary that would allow a renter to live comfortably and afford to cover the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment which sits at $2,325.

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AUTHOR
Sania is a content manager and contributing author at Apartment List. Sania previously worked in marketing at Habitat for Humanity and Samsung Electronics. Read More
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