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Q: Living in the Northwest/Seattle ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   12 Comments )
Subject: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: tfederman-ga
List Price: $6.00
Posted: 05 Jun 2002 15:22 PDT
Expires: 05 Jul 2002 15:22 PDT
Question ID: 23089
I'm thinking of moving from San Diego to Seattle. I don't enjoy
California, I'm more the indoor type. So my question is, would I enjoy
living in Seattle, or is there another area in the Northwest suited to
my values? I'm 25, single, prefer bookstores to surf shops, variable
weather to constant sunshine, will be seeking employment in the tech
sector, I'm more liberal than conservative, but don't want to be in an
area dominated by the extreme left or right. I really hate traffic. I
prefer laid back and casual to formality.

Clarification of Question by tfederman-ga on 05 Jun 2002 15:51 PDT
Suggestions of other areas of the US or the world that meet my
preferences are also appreciated. 
Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
Answered By: chromedome-ga on 05 Jun 2002 17:43 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello, tfederman!

Although I've not lived in Seattle, I have spent nine years just north
of there, in the Greater Vancouver (BC, Canada) area.  Vancouver is
something of a cross-border twin to Seattle, very similar in climate
and topography.  Based on that, I'll venture to answer your question
based on a mix of 'net resources and personal experience.

Your question doesn't state whether you are a California native, or
"just passing through," but I'll start with the obvious contrasts with
most of North America.

The climate of the Pacific Northwest is very favourable, and very
moderate.  Seattle, for example, lays claim to only 15 days below
freezing in the average year.  In Vancouver, one of the long-standing
February traditions is to call friends and family back East and
casually mention your tulips being "almost done for the year..."  If
you are a California native that won't impress you, but it's a big
deal to the rest of us!  The summers are not excessively hot, either. 
One thing you will hear a great deal about is the rain there, but in
fact less favoured places like, say, New York City and Washington DC
get more average rainfall - a point the city is quick to make!

The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed of high-tech industries, so whatever
your specialization, you should have little difficulty finding work in
the area.

As for hating traffic, Seattle's transit system is very decent,
incorporating buses and light rail, with many dedicated bus lanes. 
The downtown also includes a ride-free zone, which is a great boon to
those who love to browse through a variety of shops and services.

Politically, although both left and right have been well-represented
over the years, the PNW has in the main leaned somewhat to the
liberal/social issues side of the spectrum.  It's no accident that the
anti-globalization movement hit critical mass in Seattle!  As for the
pace and attitude of the place, casual is definitely the dominant

One thing you did not ask about, but no discussion of the Northwest
would be complete without touching on this:  the place is unbelievably
beautiful!  Even for an indoor person (and I hasten to point out that
a good library or antiquarian bookstore is my little corner of heaven)
the coastal landscape is breathtaking.

I've since returned to my native East Coast, which I love beyond
words, but I don't regret a day of my time on the other side. 
Obviously, not being acquainted with you personally, I can't guarantee
that you will like Seattle or any other city in the PNW, but I'm
guessing from the points you raised in your question that you already
have a good idea you'll like it there.

Some Seattle-related sites to investigate:

Have fun!
tfederman-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
well-written and enthusiastic

Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: kaitou-ga on 05 Jun 2002 15:53 PDT
This web site tries to match your interests to any city in the contiguous U.S.

It's fun just to play with.
Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: tfederman-ga on 05 Jun 2002 17:08 PDT
Thanks, kaitou. That is a great site.
Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: cynthia-ga on 05 Jun 2002 17:47 PDT
Hi tfederman!

I was born and raised in Seattle and would be more than happy to
elaborate further if you have any more questions...

Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: robertskelton-ga on 05 Jun 2002 18:28 PDT
Hi tfederman, you sound a lot like me, personality-wise. I have lived
in many cities around the world, and my favourites have all been known
for their terrible weather. These cities tend to attract like minds,
and tend to have great cafes, restaurants, cinemas, libraries and
alternative culture...

Melbourne, Australia: Inspired the Crowded House song "Four seasons in
one day"

Wellington, New Zealand: 100mph winds

Edinburgh, Scotland: cold and drizzly

San Fransisco: Very un-Californi-weather

I only spent one day in Seattle, and it rained constantly.
Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: tfederman-ga on 05 Jun 2002 19:46 PDT
Thanks for the responses, all. Between these comments and my own
research, Washington seems like a good place for me. I'm thinking of
narrowing my focus to Seattle or Tacoma, Washington. Tacoma has
similar qualities and the cost of living is lower.

New Zealand sounds interesting, I wouldn't mind hearing more about
that. Except I think I'd have to put on some weight before subjecting
myself to 100 mph winds.

Cynthia - when it snows there, does it accumulate and stick around for
a few days, or does it melt right away? I've been away from
Massachusetts for 12 years and can't wait to see snow again.
Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: mvguy-ga on 05 Jun 2002 20:07 PDT
Seattle meets all the qualifications you mentioned, with one exception
-- traffic. Various reports have listed Seattle's traffic as the
second-worst in the country, although that statistic came under
question earlier this week (you might find articles on that subject in
the Seattle newspapers' Web sites). Best wishes on your possible move!
Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: chromedome-ga on 05 Jun 2002 20:26 PDT
On the subject of snow, I'll add that Tacoma and Seattle both enjoy
the best kind:  the kind you can drive to whenever you want
(mountains) and leave behind when you've had your fill!
Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: weisstho-ga on 06 Jun 2002 07:21 PDT
You know what city has impressed me SOOO very much is Portland,
Oregon. It reminds me of the Seattle of 20 years ago. Very artsy,
beautiful city, mountains, water, easy access to the Pacific. Young
and vibrant.

As to rain in Seattle:  I lost a bet a number of years ago - "what
city gets more rain, Seattle or New York?"  Well, of course I said
"Seattle". There went twenty (1980'ish) bucks. . .   :-/

And the above comments about Vancouver - talk about heaven on earth.
It must be the most beautiful city in north America. Water + mountains
+ gardens + lots of green space. Wow.

You are a lucky soul to be able to be in a position to consider such
wonderful places.

Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: authorshelper-ga on 06 Jun 2002 08:27 PDT
I've lived in the Pacific Northwest for 26 years, and have a couple
more suggestions for you as you consider this move:

1) The total amount of rainfall in Seattle may be less per year than
in other places, but if you check the number of clear days per year,
the historical average is a not too whopping 71.

This is typical of the coastal Pacific Northwest, and in my experience
many new residents find it hard to adjust to the short summers and
dark damp days during the rest of the year (if you're old enough,
think Twin Peaks!)  If a drier, sunnier climate is more to your
liking, look into the small, relatively booming cities east of the
Cascades, i.e. Bend, OR or Spokane, WA.

2) For the past several months, the unemployment rate for the Pacific
Northwest has consistently been the worst in the country.

Bureau of Labor Statistics website

You should probably study the local job market for your line of work
for any cities you are considering, especially if you are planning to
move first and then look for work.

Good luck, and I guess we'll all be interested in hearing from you
once you've made up your mind : )
Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: tfederman-ga on 06 Jun 2002 12:21 PDT
People here think I'm crazy because I complain about the amount of
sunshine we get. I love the rare precipitation we do get. This year,
we all but skipped what little rainy season we're supposed to have.
I'm sure I won't have the same enthusiasm for rain and darkness after
I've been living in it for a while, but I know I'm better equipped for
lack of sunshine than almost anyone, so I'll leave and make room in
San Diego for someone who will appreciate the climate more than I do.

I am checking to see what the job market is like up there. Tacoma is
supposedly "America's #1 Wired city." I'm sure that between Tacoma and
Seattle I'll be able to find a job, but I'll talk to a recruiter up
there and make sure they're not having too hard a time placing people.
I have enough savings to go 12-18 months without a job, so I'm not
stressed about that.
Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: cynthia-ga on 07 Jun 2002 06:29 PDT
Hi again!

I'm actually leaving for Seattle (from Las Vegas) in less than an
hour!  To answer your question, it [snow] usually sticks around for a
few days.  There is no snow there now but you will probably encounter
rain if you go at ANY time of the year. I have seen snow stay for a
couple weeks before turning to slush.

No one has mentioned yet that Seattle sells more books per capita than
anywhere in the nation, new book runs and fledgling authors send books
to Seattle to see if they will sell nationally, it's like a testing
ground. I would love to expound more but I must run.  Look for more
from me in a day or so, I'd love to tell you a bit more that others
have not touched on.

Have you considered Sequim?  Darn, no time! I'll tell you more about
it [why] when I get online in Seattle.

Subject: Re: Living in the Northwest/Seattle
From: tfederman-ga on 07 Jun 2002 15:15 PDT
I didn't know that about books & Seattle, that's interesting. I would
have guessed that about Boston. It's good to know. Any more info you
have to share is certainly appreciated.

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