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Neighborhood Guide: West Seattle

By: William Booth and Emily Kho
August 30, 2021

If your job or lifestyle calls for a move to West Seattle, it’s time to consider the living opportunities. The area’s proximity to downtown Seattle makes it a convenient area. The water and surrounding islands make it an ideal spot for weekend activities and relaxation. It’s got a ton to offer. Here’s what you need to know.

West Seattle's History

West Seattle was first settled in 1851 at Alki Beach by the Denny Party. Despite the early discovery, this area was only very lightly populated for decades to follow. Then, in the late 1870s, when the industry began developing along the Elliott Bay area, multiple communities started springing up throughout the peninsula.

Through the 1880s and the 1890s, West Seattle Land & Investment Company began developing the residential community in the area. Although this company had a cable car servicing its neighborhood, public transportation did not enter the site until 1904. The first municipally-run network in the country was voted upon by the area’s residents and was completed in 1905.

In 1907 the three communities of the area, Youngstown, Spring Hill, and Fauntleroy, voted to join together to form the City of West Seattle.

What’s West Seattle Like Today?

Today, West Seattle is known for its leafy suburbs and close-knit neighborhoods. Making up only around 12% of the city’s overall population, here residents plant their roots in the unique suburbs of West Seattle.

The West Seattle of today has a blend of old and new, with state-of-the-art condominiums mixed in with craftsman-style homes and old cottages. And, of course, you can’t forget the stately manors overlooking Puget Sound.

With such close proximity to nature and beaches, West Seattle makes for a perfect home for young families looking to take advantage of the countless outdoor adventures readily available.

West Seattle's Location

There is a conglomeration of neighborhoods in Seattle that is referred to as West Seattle. Any part of Seattle that falls west of the Duwamish River, including thirteen districts, Delridge, and Southwest, can be found here. Historically, this area was an independent town in the early 1900s until it was annexed by Seattle in 1907.

West Seattle is home to countless attractions, including the saltwater beach parks along Puget Sound and Elliott Bay. Some of the local favorite seaside areas include Lincoln Park and Alki Beach Park.

In addition to seascapes, West Seattle also offers one-third of the city’s urban forest and urban space, mostly west of the Duwamish Greenbelt. The West Seattle area is east of the Olympic Mountains and west of the Cascade Range, offering unbeatable views that residents enjoy daily.

There are multiple neighborhoods within West Seattle, the most predominant ones including high Point, Alki, and the Junction. High Point has been appropriately named as it is the highest point in Seattle at 520 feet above sea level. The Denny Party, credited for founding Seattle, first stopped in Alki Point before moving across the bay to develop the Downtown area. The Junction is the area at the intersection of S.W. Alaska Street and California S.W.

West Seattle is home to countless historical sites, including the city’s oldest neighborhoods and the city’s birthplace. In all, West Seattle combines urban and suburban regions with most of the suburban portions found in the southwest end, includingArroyo Heights, Arbor Heights, Fauntleroy, and Gatewood.

West Seattle's Demographics

West Seattle is home to over 80,000 individuals, with a nearly even split of male to female residents. 48.91% of the residents are male, and 51.09% are female. Most West Seattle residents fall within the 30 to 40-year-old age bracket, with a median age of 39.

There are over 35,000 households in West Seattle, nearly equally split between families and non-families. 55.96% of the households are families, and 44.04% are non-families.

West Seattle is the 37th most walkable neighborhood in Seattle and has a walk score of 77. Although it is relatively walkable and bikeable, the preferred method of transportation is a personal vehicle. You'll also see college students scattered around who attend one of the 30 colleges and universities in the Seattle region.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle is $2,335, and the average for a two-bedroom apartment is $3,674. However, you should expect to pay less for a West Seattle apartment. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in West Seattle is $1,651, while the average for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,900.

While rent prices have steadily increased in the Seattle area since the beginning of 2021, they have trended the same way in West Seattle.

West Seattle's Transportation

From your apartment in West Seattle, you have multiple options for getting around. If you move with a car, it’s easy to find free street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. Downtown has affordable hourly parking compared to other major cities in the U.S.

If it’s a nice day outside and you would prefer to bike, there are plenty of bike lanes on the streets. There are cheap bicycles to rent on nearly every street, or you can ride your own and board a ferry to the nearby islands to go exploring.

To take the bus, all you need is an ORCA bus pass that you can preload with money and swipe on any of the bus routes in your area. They can take you North to downtown, the University, or East across Lake Washington to Bellevue and Redmond. Before moving to West Seattle, it’s helpful to scour the local bus routes to find one near the area you are looking to live in.

Is West Seattle Safe?

West Seattle has a very relaxed vibe and is generally safe. The average total crime rating is 25%, slightly above the national average. However, violent crime in West Seattle is at 22%, which falls below the national average. Property crime is the most prominent crime in the area, at 33%, which is above the national average.

While you are close enough to Downtown to take advantage of its amenities, while living in West Seattle, you are far enough away not to be bothered by the urban pollution. West Seattle provides its residents with a small-town feel that has a strong sense of community.

West Seattle's Major Employers

In West Seattle, many big-name companies make up the major employers. Some of the top companies in West Seattle include Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and the University of Washington.

Since West Seattle is still a part of Seattle, it is centrally located to six Fortune 500 companies. Aside from Amazon, already listed, the other Fortune 500 companies located in Seattle include Starbucks, Nordstrom, Weyerhaeuser, Expeditors International, and Alaska Airlines.

Like many other major cities in the country, Seattle has suffered a dip in employment due to the pandemic. Thankfully growth and development are still relatively strong as conditions continue to ease. Compared to similar-sized cities, Seattle has a more healthy job market with an index score of 7.9 out of 10 and an unemployment rate of 8.1%.

Things to Do in West Seattle

Local Shopping and Leisure

Take a walk down Alki Beach to soak up the sunlight nine months out of the year! Here you’ll find people taking in views of the Olympic mountains, dipping their feet in the water, and strolling the coastline. You can use the wide paved sidewalks for a scenic run or bike ride. Make use of the long beach for sand volleyball, lying out, or having a bonfire with friends.

If you’re itching to do some shopping, West Seattle Junction hosts a variety of stores to browse. Easy Street Records is a local gem with a diverse music selection. They even offer a bite to eat while you decide which records to take home. Looking for some fresh seafood? Seattle Fish Company sells delicious cuts of fish that you can take home or ship overnight to your friends and family outside of Washington.

If you get a bit thirsty after a day in West Seattle, stop in The Beer Junction. Grab a local beer and watch a Mariners or Seahawks game on the TV.

Eat, Drink and Pass the Time in West Seattle

California Avenue has plenty of exciting options for dining and drinks. Walk down the main stretch to explore the variety of options available to you any night of the week. If you’re in the mood for small plates, Itto’s Tapas has delicious tapas and cocktails. JaK’s Grill has traditional American dishes to satisfy any appetite. You can also try The Matador and Tacos Guaymas to satisfy those Mexican food cravings.

Off the main strip, you’ll find coffee shops full of character and delicious espresso beverages. Olympia Coffee has a roastery for take-home coffee beans, as well as a coffee shop with an ambiance ideal for working or studying. Make a stop at Uptown Espresso to learn about their “velvet foam” drink for a unique coffee experience.

Is West Seattle Right For You?

West Seattle is one of the best places to live in the Greater Seattle area. Young professionals will feel right at home in West Seattle, as well as families who are looking to settle into an urban lifestyle without compromising green space and safety.

Ready to find your next home in Seattle? Take our quiz to start apartment hunting today!

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William is a Seattle-based writer and editor. He holds a Bachelors degree in Advertising & Public Relations from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Read More
Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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