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Cost of Living in Seattle, WA 2024

November 16, 2023
Moving and need to figure out the cost of living in Seattle? Find out how much housing, transportation, food and more will cost you in the Emerald City.

There is no city quite like Seattle. Surrounded by mountains and bodies of water like the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, we found that 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, and one of our favorite spots in the Northeast!

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.

Cost of Living in Seattle

What Is the Cost of Living in Seattle?

Seattle is a popular but expensive place to live. The average cost of living in Seattle is 58.1% higher than the national average. According to MIT's Living Wage calculator, 2 adults with 2 children would need to earn $43.85 to live in Seattle.

Cost of LivingSeattleWashingtonU.S.
Median Home Cost$823,900$534,700$338,100

Source: Best Places

Be sure to remember these figures provide an average across the state and that the cost of living can vary drastically.

Where is the Cost of Living in Seattle Highest?

The Seattle suburb with the highest cost of living is Medina, across the shore from Seattle proper. Home to the likes of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, the average cost of living in Medina is 58.1% higher than the national average with a median home value of $4,101,000.

Cost of LivingMedinaWashingtonU.S.
Median Home Cost$4,101,000$535,700$338,100

Source: Best Places

Where Is the Cost of Living in Seattle Lowest?

Bremerton, which lies on the across the Puget Sound from Seattle where locals often commute by ferry, is the most affordable place in Seattle. The average cost of living Bremerton is 10.6% higher than the national average and 11.3% cheaper than in Seattle.

Cost of LivingBremertonWashingtonU.S.
Median Home Cost$457,600$534,700$338,100

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 $64,720 per year or $5,393.33 a month. The recommended household income for a two-bedroom apartment is $78,240 per year or $6,520 per month.

The “living wage,” or the minimum amount of money needed to live above the poverty threshold, in Seattle is $21.48 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. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated median household income in Seattle at the end of 2022 was approximately $105,391.

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.

How Much Does Housing Cost in Seattle?

Seattle rents are down somewhat by 1.9% in comparison to the same time last year. Currently, the average rent in Seattle is $1,618 for a one-bedroom, and $1,956 for a two-bedroom.

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

The housing market has also seen significant growth. Today, the median home value in Seattle is $504,200.

South Lake Union Line Streetcar at Fairview Stop. The City of Seattle is building a modern streetcar system of which the South Union Lake line is the first segment - cost of living in seattle

How Much Is Transportation in Seattle?

According to MIT Living Wage calculations, a single adult living in the Emerald City, expect to spend $4,938 on transportation annually. If you are a family of four with two full-time employed adults and two children, you will pay $14,058 a year to get around town.

The good news is you don’t need a car to get around Seattle. 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 $4.50, depending on the distance you travel and the neighborhood you start from.

How Much Are Groceries in Seattle?

According to the MIT estimates, a single full-time employed adult that cooks their own meals (including snacks) spends approximately $4,686 per year on food. If you're dining out, expect to pay an average of $20 on a meal at an inexpensive restaurant sans appetizers and alcohol. Having dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant will cost you $100 on average. For reference, dining out in San Francisco costs about 20% less.

Keep in mind that Seattle is a dream city for foodies. So if you are moving from the Golden Gate City, we strongly recommend you set aside a little bit of budget to explore the culinary scene.

How Much Is Healthcare in Seattle?

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 $2,779 per year. For a family of two full-time working adults and a child, that number increases up to $8,971 per year.

How Much Are Utilities in Seattle?

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 $222.43 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 $67.62 per month.

Crowd in Victor Steinbrueck park with cityscape background, Seattle, Washington, USA - cost of living in seattle

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 $59.11 in monthly membership fees. To compare, a gym membership in San Francisco will cost you $100.28 per month.

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

Washington State Taxes

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.

Find Your New Apartment in Seattle

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 our 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 in 2023

How expensive is an apartment in Seattle?

A one-bedroom apartment in Seattle costs $1,618. A two-bedroom apartment in Seattle costs most renters around $1,956.

How expensive is it to live in Seattle?

Living in Seattle is relatively expensive. The average cost of living in Seattle is 58.1% higher than the national average, and the median rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $1,956.

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?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Seattle is 733,919. 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 currently cheaper than Los Angeles. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles sits at $2,171, while the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle sits at $1,867.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Sania Tran
Sania is a highly skilled content manager and author with a wealth of experience in the apartment rental and real estate markets. As a valued member of the Apartment List team, Sania brings her expertise and insights to a wide range of content, including blog posts, guides, and research reports. Read More
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