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Cost of Living in Seattle


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Whether you want to move to a neighborhood with a thriving and trendy arts scene, surrounded by serene parks, or with sweeping views of Puget Sound, there are many diverse neighborhoods in Seattle, Washington.

Some of the benefits of living in Seattle include the high quality of life, the opportunities for outdoor recreation, and the fabulous meals. In order to help you decide which part of the Emerald City to move to, it’s important to understand the cost of living in Seattle. Use this guide to understand the cost of living in Seattle, Washington.

Seattle cost of living index and comparison

Large Seattle-headquartered companies like Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks, and Microsoft offer plenty of job opportunities. The median annual income in Seattle is $ 93,481, one of the highest in the United States. On average, Seattle lands on the high cost of living, with 49% more than the national average. The housing cost index is around 94% higher than the national average, with utilities 23% higher, grocery stores 27% higher, transportation 33% higher and health care on average 24 % higher.

Cost of living in Seattle: Average rental price

If you’re new to Seattle, consider renting an apartment to see which part of the city is best for you. In general, rental growth in popular cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston has fallen since March 2020, which is ideal for new apartment hunters. Consider these comparisons of rental costs for an average one-bedroom apartment in various cities in Washington. Bellevue comes with the highest rental rate at $ 1,860. Kirkland at $ 1,740, Seattle proper at around $ 1,600, Oak Harbor at $ 1,030 and one of the cheapest, Port Angeles at $ 950.

In Seattle, rental rates vary by neighborhood, with Belltown, South Lake Union and Denny-Blaine being the highest and Lake City and Laurelhurst the lowest. If you want to live in more expensive areas, you may want to consider hiring a roommate to lower your rental costs. Keep in mind that while you may pay less in some of Seattle’s more remote areas, you will need to factor in transportation costs for your commute if you are working in the downtown area.

Cost of living in Seattle: Average costs of utilities

As mentioned in the Cost of Living Index, Seattle’s utility costs are on average 23% higher than the national average. Basic utilities like electricity, gas, water, and garbage will cost around $ 185 per month for a 900 square foot apartment. Of course, these rates change seasonally as you will be using more electricity during the cold months to heat your apartment. High-speed internet, which is essential if you work from home, costs on average around $ 65 per month.

Cost of living in Seattle: Transport costs

Whether you’re heading to work or school, exploring the city, or taking day trips to beautiful places like Mount Rainer National Park, you’ll need transportation. Unfortunately, Seattle has some of the worst traffic in the country, with many commuters spending at least 30 minutes stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology salary calculator, if you have a car in Seattle, expect to pay around $ 4,094 per year and up to $ 11,564 per year for two working adults with three children.

However, you don’t necessarily need a car to get around Seattle with its robust public transportation system. The two major transit systems, King County Metro and Sound Transit, can get you around various parts of Emerald City without hassle. Sound Transit, officially known as the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, serves the Seattle metro area with the LINK light rail system, the Sounder commuter train, and the Sound Transit Express bus service.

You can buy affordable tickets ranging from $ 2.25 to $ 3.25, depending on which region you are heading to. The King County Metro also has a light rail system, bus services, and a water taxi. If you use the King County metro system, expect to pay around $ 2.75 each way or purchase the ORCA card to get discounts for passengers.

Cost of living in Seattle: Sales tax and personal income tax

Washington does not have personal income tax, so you can take the money you would typically pay for that tax and use it for your dining and entertainment budget. However, Washington has a 10.10% sales tax, the highest in the United States. Every time you buy anything from a pair of jeans to a warm winter coat for your child, you have to add this 10.10% tax to the overall sale price.

Cost of living in Seattle: Food budgeting

With so much fresh produce, locally caught seafood, and specialty foods, you’ll need to budget around $ 4,000 to $ 13,000 per year for essentials. Visiting the many open-air farmers’ markets can help you find great deals on quality local produce, homemade bread, cheeses, meats and seafood.

However, with so many fabulous world-class restaurants, bistros, cafes, and beer bars to visit, you’ll want to add these costs to your budget. Average meals out cost around $ 17, and when you drink alcohol that bill goes up. Decide what you need for your basic budget for cooking at home, then save for special restaurant tours as you want to experience Seattle’s food scene.

Things to do for free around Seattle

You can easily save money for your rent, utilities, transportation, and dining out by taking advantage of these free things to do in the Emerald City. Pikes Peak Market is free to walk around and see all the fishmongers and flower shops, and it’s a great way to people watch. Meditate at Waterfall Garden Park tucked away in Pioneer Square, watch fish leap up the ladders of Hiram M. Chittendon Locks, or enjoy artistic walks around the neighborhood during the hot summer months.

With so much beauty, so many job opportunities, and fabulous food, it’s no wonder people love moving to Seattle. We hope this guide to the cost of living in Seattle will help you find the perfect neighborhood to rent your apartment in so that you can settle into your new home.

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