There is no city like Seattle. Surrounded by mountains and water, it offers an irresistible mix of beautiful nature, laid-back lifestyle, and vibrant culture. If that’s not enough, it has jobs, a lot of jobs. A growing tech hub with a ton of career opportunities, and the great outdoors just around the corner, it attracts transplants from all over the nation. Although the cost of living in Seattle has been growing due to its increasing popularity among tech folk, it’s still relatively lower than in most comparable cities across the U.S. To help you figure out whether moving to Seattle is a financially sound idea, we put together a short guide outlining the cost of living in the Emerald City.
When looking at the cost of living in Seattle, pay attention to housing as it’s likely to be your biggest expense. This growing tech hub has seen an influx of engineers moving from San Francisco and the Bay Area around it in search of affordability. The increasing number of highly-paid professionals inevitably affected rent prices in the area. In the past five years, Seattle residents have seen a 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.
Currently, the median rent for a one-bedroom in Seattle stands at $1,340. For a two-bedroom, one would have to pay $1,660.
Seattle is a big city with a ton of fun neighborhoods that you will want to visit. Therefore, transportation is likely to be one of your major expenses. As a single adult living in the Emerald City, expect to spend $4,206 on transportation annually. If you are a family of two full-time employed adults and a child, you will be paying $9,011 a year to get around the town.
Don’t own a car? No problem! Seattle has a pretty 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.
According to the MIT estimates, a single full-time employed adult that cooks his or her own meals (including snacks) spends approximately $3,573 a year on food. However, Seattle is also every foodie’s dream. If you want to take advantage of all the fun and quirky restaurants the Emerald City has to offer, expect to pay on average $15 on a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. Having dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant will cost you $65. For reference, dining out in San Francisco costs about 23% more. So if you are moving from the Golden Gate City, you are winning both in terms of affordable housing and food options.
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 $1,955 a year. For a family of two full-time working adults and a child, it will add up to $6,827 a year.
According to Numbeo, a basic utility bill for a 915 sq ft apartment will average $152 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 $65 a month.
Fitness and entertainment
If you live in Seattle, nature is your gym. With all the outdoor activities the Emerald City has to offer, staying fit should be easy and inexpensive. However, if your workouts require equipment or you prefer the structure of group classes, plan to pay $51 in monthly membership fees. To compare, a gym membership in San Francisco will cost you $86 a month, and in New York City – $83.
If your preferred type of entertainment is watching the latest blockbusters, going on a movie date will cost you $14 a ticket, plus drinks and popcorn. Movie theater tickets in New York are priced the same, while in San Francisco, you’ll have to pay $1 more.
As a growing tech hub, Seattle residents have seen 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 $53,133 a year, or $26 an hour. The recommended household income for a two-bedroom apartment is $65,800 a year, or $32 an hour. The “living wage,” or the minimum amount of money needed to live above the poverty threshold, in Seattle is $15.05 an hour for a full-time employed individual. The living wage doesn’t include expenses on restaurants, entertainment, and vacations. Additionally, it doesn’t allow for savings or investment. The estimated median household income in Seattle at the end of 2018 was approximately $82,111.