Survived the one-year threshold and still lovin' Seattle

Yes, I know, it’s been an eternity since I’ve tapped on the keyboard – at least for RCG. I’ve now muscled past the one-year hump of living in Seattle, and honestly can’t say I adore it any less than I did when I first moved here in June 2007 from Naperville, IL. If anything, I have become too immersed in work – between full-time and freelance – and have not savored as much of the Pacific Northwest as I should have this past year, but plan to change that. Sometimes I ruminate on how I could have taken such a mammoth risk – moving from my cushy life in the Midwest to Seattle where I knew not a soul and had no employment.

It was a jump akin to something a person stricken by a mid-life crisis might embrace, but I didn’t have a carefully constructed rational for driving across the country and moving in with what wound up being an ideal roommate I had barely spoken to a handful of times, and never met. But not without diligent work and worry did things come together here. And so far, I have no regrets.

There’s something about the allure and challenge of finding another way in life that I could not resist. And sometimes when things are in disarray or not working out, that’s all you can do; grasp for that light in the dark, however dim it might be.

And if you peruse other comments on RCG, most notably in Dustin’s 10 things you should know before moving to Seattle post, you will find a plethora of people are yearning for a fresh change and new horizons to explore.

And I found that in Seattle, but now that I’m completely adjusted I would like to get myself involved in more volunteer activities and good causes. One of those I have already been involved with is Q Cafe, a nonprofit coffee shop which also hosts live music on Friday nights. So, bring on the suggestions, if you would be so kind.

My advice to anyone pondering a risky move is to trust your gut, even if you cannot completely justify your intentions. But also be realistic and ensure you have good chunk of savings to bide your time while you tread your way through what could be cumbersome times of transition. If I had put my move to Seattle off but a year, it would have been inconceivable. With the sinking economy, exorbitant gas prices and the floods ravaging the Midwest, it would have been near impossible for me to execute such a free-spirited move in June 2008, considering my situation prior to jetsetting.

As I enjoy Seattle’s picture-perfect summer, the following list is a small treat for all of you (some of whom have contacted me directly) considering moving to Seattle based on my experiences this past year, which I hope will give you a more clear-cut idea of what Pacific Northwest living is like.

A Snippet of Things I’ve Learned Since Living in Seattle

  • Yes, it rains, but not as much as people will make you believe. Chicagoland got 50 inches of snow this past winter, which would have been rain if it wasn’t so cold there.
  • The traffic won’t faze you (er… if you’re from the Chicagoland area).
  • Many mornings are cloudy in the winter, but the sun has a tendency to pop out in the afternoons. The color of the sky varies throughout a single day during the aforementioned season, so I can see how it is difficult to gauge the exact number of cloudy days Seattle experiences. It can often be cloudy and rainy in the morning, but rain often makes way for afternoon sunshine.
  • Snow is practically nonexistent.
  • The bus system is extremely efficient, you won’t need a car if you live within the city limits especially. I still have mine, but primarily use it to make grocery runs or trips to the bank.
  • Yes, it was still a bit chilly in May and June. Needless to say it is temperate here, but there were more than moments in May when I was envious of the humidity aplenty throughout the Midwest.

  • Don’t believe every word of the Seattle Freeze speculation – sure it can be difficult to meet friends, but that’s not any different than how it is in most bigger cities. And it varies by age group. People stay to themselves, but once you get to know people they are as friendly as ever – and will want to hang out with you.
  • If you live here, you play for Seattle’s team now, not L.A.’s or Chicago’s – so don’t whine or banter about how things were when you lived in another city. No one wants to hear it.

  • People are more laid back here. Don’t confuse laid back with lazy though. People know had to get their work done and enjoy life without stressing the small stuff. My roommate often comments to me now how much more laid back I am than when I first moved here – a bundle of nerves and too susceptible to stress.
  • The number of panhandlers? Let’s just say I’ve seen much worse.
  • Take advantage of the summer farmers markets in Fremont and Ballard. Amazing.
  • The wine and seafood throughout Washington State is amazing and you will never taste finer.
  • Coffeehouses and espresso stands are ubiquitous, but choose wisely. The coffee roasts here are top notch. Well, it is Seattle.
  • The time zone difference between the West Coast and the Midwest and East Coast bites if you have relatives or friends there that you chat with quite a bit.
  • Yes, most people here are transplants, but your accent will get noticed. Take it from me, Chicago.

20 thoughts on “Survived the one-year threshold and still lovin' Seattle

  1. Good points, but two comments.

    First–snow. One year is not enough time to judge snowfall in Seattle. We only have a decent snowfall maybe every 5 years or so. When it happens you’ll find cars abandoned all over the place.

    Second–traffic. The price of gas has had an effect. It’s not nearly as bad now as it used to be. Also, certain areas are worse than others, even today.

  2. Great article Karen, I’m a Seattle native, so if you ever need any translations, let me know.

    Ahhhh Kary, you know that the snow we get is rare, and that there is idiots driving out there who somehow missed the fact that our snow is wet and freezes nicely, thus making for a really fun skid-course on which to compete … Especially on our nice hills – the race isn’t who gets to the bottom first or top first on snowy dayts – the race is to see if you don’t get stuck at an embarassing parking angle and have to ditch your car and lose the race :-)!

    I’m with you on the traffic! Horrendous, but it does seem lighter, is everyone on vacation, or is it price of gas?

  3. With snow my practice is to simply wait for everyone else to get off the road or get stuck. And to try to avoid main roads which become stop and go nightmares.

    Once when I worked in Bellevue that meant waiting until about 8:00 at night to try to get home, but it was worth it. If I’d left earlier I probably would have been home about the same time–because I did have to cross a bridge back then.

  4. Karen, I’m curious what led you to the conclusion that “the bus system is extremely efficient.”

    I suppose if all you want to do is go to or from downtown Seattle or Bellevue then yeah, it’s pretty nice. But for just about anything else, it seems pretty useless in my experience.

    For example, I live in Kenmore and used to work in Redmond (which is obviously a fairly major employment center). Driving (even in traffic) took about 45 minutes. Riding my bicycle took about 45 minutes. Taking the bus from the large park & ride near my house would have required at least one transfer, and taken over an hour and a half door to door.

    Annoyances with the transit system inspired me to write this recent article on The Naked Loon: [url=]Navigating Transit in Seattle is as Easy as 1, 37, 12![/url]

  5. Thanks guys! Yes, traffic I’m sure can be worse, but only L.A. Or NYC Could compare to Chicago – construction is nonstop and its just not close to comparable to Seattle.

    Tim, agreed. But, yes, I meant if you are taking the bus strictly within Seattle. I.e. North Seattle to downtown or the like. Heard the bus routes to bellevue or elsewhere are not so grand.Hopefully, that improves someday.

  6. My husband and I are in our mid-20’s and thinking about re-locating to Seattle and plan to come out for a visit over Labor Day. We are currently living in Minneapolis. What tips can you give me about what to see and do while we’re there so we can get a good taste of what Seattle would be like as our new hometown? Thanks!

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