Tell me about Seattle!

I’ve got plans to move to Seattle with a friend in a few months. From what I’ve heard from family members and friends and various other acquaintances, it sounds like a great place to live. I’m pretty excited about moving, but I’ve got about three billion questions about what it’s like there. I’ve been looking up info on the city for about a week now, but it doesn’t feel complete. Books and websites can only tell you so much, after all.

So I turn to you, fellow Dopers. What’s Seattle like? How’s the weather, commuting, jobs, housing, shopping, food, music scene, etc. out there? And how about the Redmond and Bellevue areas? Anything you can tell me about those areas is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

I’m not a Seattlite, and I haven’t visited there often. BUT…(this is my half-baked opinion). It does rain more than a bit. One of my best email buddies is from Seattle, and he is always mentioning RAIN.

Also, Seattle (and probably a lot of other cities) is “hometown proud” (so my friend says, and so my friend is.) If you are not a native, and if you ever bitch or otherwise say “Back home we do it this way…”—they don’t like that. So I hear. A lot of Californians have moved up to Seattle, and they are not greeted with warmth. My buddy had a friend from S.F. move in with him, and this S.F. buddy was seriously worried about not finding a job after prospective employers found out he was from (gasp!) California. This is all second-hand information, of course, it could be bullshit. And I don’t know if this (alleged) animosity is directed towards other “outsiders”.

Other than that, I think that Seattle is probably the coolest of cities. It is pretty, with those lovely mountains. I’d sure love to visit there more often, and I sure would prefer it to the sub[/sub] Midwestern city I’m stuck in now. (I’m a native Californian, though, sooo…who knows how they’d receive me in Seattle! :slight_smile: )

Bookstores, microbrews, and some lovely parks. Kind of a soggy version of heaven. It’s one of my favorite places to visit, even if it is only a 3 hour layover. (Grab a bus, jump out at Left Bank, ok, you’ve got 10 minutes to shop…) I’ll be down there in August for the Poetry Slam Nationals (not that I’m getting excited or anything. woohoo!)

I moved to Seattle from northern CA back in 1989 and just recently moved to the other end of the state (Spokane).

Weather: The summers are GLORIOUS. Winter is solid rain. The rest is drab, gray overcast that sends people to their lightboxes. The place gets a brief snow every second or third year. Even a wimpy snow sends the city into paralysis.

Traffic: HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE. HORRIBLE. Seattle uses shitty traffic as a means of population control; people die of old age before they get home. The main route through town, I-5, is a parking lot from 3:30pm to 7:00pm each day. Traffic bottlenecks across a number of bridges. If one of those bridges is blocked, add an hour to your commute (even if you live six miles from your office, like I did). Commuting in Seattle? I’d rather have sex with a rusty toaster.

Housing: Apartments and condos? Doable but expensive. Purchasing a house in Seattle is even worse. Bellevue and Redmond? Obscene.

Arts & entertainment: Wonderful. There’s something for everybody there. They have a new world-class symphony hall and numerous stage theatre groups. Pro sports, too, and good college teams. Lots of concerts, too. And there are bars and nightclubs for every taste.

Food: Again, wonderful. There’s something for every taste, every ethnicity.

Bellevue & Redmond: Compared to the multicultural madhouse of Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond are mind-numbing monoculture. Malls. Conformity. Orwellian housing covenants. A guy in a mohawk may as well be from Mars. Thou shalt not stand out. Thou shalt buy into yuppiedom.

Outdoors: Whattya looking for? They’ve got ski areas within an hour of downtown. Great backpacking in the summertime. Great climbing on Mt. Rainier and other peaks. I used to SCUBA in the Sound. You can take sailing lessons. There’s also an extensive network of bike paths throughout the city.

Hatred for Californians: It’s still there but not as bad as it was ten years ago. The best tip is to replace your CA plates with WA plates as soon as humanly possible. Lose the CA driver’s license, too. I once got loudly chewed-out by a shop’s clerk because he saw my CA driver’s license. I was instantly the cause of the insane housing market and all the traffic jams. Damn them Callyforians.

And nothing pisses the locals off more than comparing CA favorably with anything in Seattle. Don’t pine for home.

The rain will not be a problem to me, as I kinda like rainy, soggy weather. I’m looking forward to the change in climate the most, to tell you the truth. It shouldn’t make much difference to my future roomie, either. He’s in Cali now, so the weather won’t be as different to him as it will be to me. Anyhow, I know how to swim, as does he, so we should be okay with all the rain. :slight_smile:

I’m glad to hear about the mountains, yosemitebabe. The two things I’m going to miss about Hawaii are the beaches (of course!) and the view of the mountains. I can see both the island’s major mountain ranges from my front door. So if I can see something even remotely resembling a pile of rock from where I am in Seattle, I’ll be happy.

About the hometown pride thing: I’ve heard (correct me if I’m wrong about this) that there are a lot of Hawaii transplants in Seattle. That should make the move and adjustment a little easier. Or at least I hope it will. If anything, it should help with any bouts of homesickness that hit us. Even if there aren’t a lot of us there, we’re not really ones to go on and on about Hawaii, so we won’t get beat up or kicked out… at least not right away. :smiley:

Hey Dr. Pinky. Looking forward to checking out the parks myself. We talked about finding someplace nice where we could go for walks. Any suggestions?

Though it’s still quite a ways off, I hope you enjoy your Poetry Slam Nationals.

They have the best sex shop I’ve ever been to: Toys in Babeland. It is friendly, the staff is knowledgeable, and I’ve never had so much fun perusing sex toys. A must see.

Just saw your post, OrcaChow.

How bad? A small three-bedroom home in my area here is about $350,000, give or take. We’re about 20 miles/25 minutes’ drive from downtown Honolulu. Rent in a cheesy downtown apartment is at the very least $800 a month. Is it about the same, or worse?

Once an orch(estra) dork, always an orch dork. I’m looking forward to seeing the symphony. Sports, concerts, and clubs? Awesome.

Cool, cool. Can’t wait to check out the cafés.

sigh Maybe we’ll just work there, and go to Seattle for our entertainment…

I don’t think Future Roomie’s big on outdoor activities, and personally, if I never ski again, I won’t miss it. I think our interest will mostly be in the local billiards places. Hiking, swimming, and the bike trails sound like fun, though. We’ll see where we settle, and then see what’s around us, I guess.

Thanks. We’ll keep that in mind.

I’ve lived in Seattle for 15 years. Don’t worry about the rain. It’s an excuse we give to people we don’t want to move here. There are plenty of rainier spots in this country. May thru September can be absolutely glorious here. It rarely get’s above 80 degrees. It’s hit 90 maybe 5 times since I arrived. As for housing, I live in a small house 20 minutes south of the city. Prices in my neighborhood run from 175,000 to 250,000. The homes are about 40 years old.

Everything mentioned earlier concerning arts, culture, etc., I would agree with. We sometimes miss out on one-time big events, but I don’t miss them. My family usually sees a play or such once a month.

It’s hard to go wrong. Have fun.

Two that I remember (I moved away four years ago). First there’s Jillian’s, near the south end of Lake Union. It’s part of a national chain, but still pretty good. Brass railings, music, food, that kind of place. But also check out the 211 Club in the Belltown neighborhood. It’s an honest-to-goodness pool hall, scoring beads over the table and no whistling allowed. If you want to play on a 100-year-old, ten-foot long, one-piece slate table, that’s the place.

Just downstairs from the 211 is a cool internet cafe called The Speakeasy. If you run into Mike or Don, tell 'em Robot Arm sent you.

I’ll second most of the opinions already posted. Bellevue is as bad as everyone said, except for Dixie’s BBQ. It’s tucked away under a freeway overpass so it has somehow escaped detection by the blandness patrols. Card tables, trucking posters, John Lee Hooker on the boombox and food so good the line goes thirty feet out the door.

The hall is called “Benaroya Hall,” and it’s a phenomenal state-of-the-art design (and designed for the particular accoustics of the Seattle Symphony alone). Because the hall is built over an underground train tunnel, they made the hall a building-within-a-building, with the inner shell mounted on $1.5million worth of neoprene rubber pads. All water mains and electrical conduits are gimbaled to account for movement, and during the actual performance, they pump water out of the gimbaled joints so no sound transfers into the hall. And it’s a visually stunning hall, too. The lobby will blow your socks off.

If you buy tickets at the ticket office at Benaroya and you deal with any of the older ladies, especially Judy the manager, tell them “PC Bob says hi.” I used to be the IS Manager there (pre-Benaroya Hall).

Try this: (I hope it works)

Hawaii-to-Seattle shouldn’t be much of a shock for you. Housing prices vary wildly in Seattle, depending on neighborhood. Rents are in the same range you’re used to.

BTW, in the Seattle area, 20 miles almost never translates to 25 minutes. For a number of years I used to commute from Seattle to Bellevue across the 520 floating bridge; the ten miles took me anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour and twenty minutes, but most often forty minutes. My most recent job entailed a six-mile drive from Fremont to near the Seattle Center; it took me anywhere from 15 minutes to 45. Bicycling to work was faster, but isn’t feasible in the winter.

Pretty much everything that ought to be said has been said (rain’s not as bad as they sell it, traffic is horrible) but I can toss out some more rent/housing prices for you, based on a quick poll of my co-workers.

2-bedroom in Redmond right across the street from MS: $1205
1-bedroom in Kirkland in an expensive complex: $810 (Kirkland is sort of north of Redmond)
Small 2-bedroom in downtown Seattle: about $700-$800, more expensive on Capitol Hill and in Queen Anne, which are just east and north of downtown Seattle IIRC.
4-bedroom house near Factoria: $1645 (Factoria is south of downtown Bellevue, on the other side of I-90)

We bought a house last month near Factoria for $280K. Four bedrooms on a decent-sized lot. For a three-bedroom house on the Eastside you will probably be looking at a range of $250K to $350K depending on how nice/new it is and where it is.

The transit system in OK but not great. I think it’s better in Seattle than it is on the Eastside.

Finally: there are some really great people around here, like Cervaise, katrina, ren, lissener, pluto, and farther north Scotticher, rjk, and Niggle. And those are just the ones I’ve been lucky enough to meet. Based on the responses in this thread it looks like there are a bunch more neat people I haven’t met yet.

One more thing:

When we moved here from out of state a year and a half ago, they told us we had to change our license plates and drivers licenses to WA state ones within 30 days.

So, is “a few months” more like April/May, or later? :slight_smile:

If you ever get a little homesick, Audrey, just go to a little hole-in-the-wall called Hoki’s Teriyaki on Leary Ave in the Fremont neighborhood. They do teriyaki Hawaiian-style. They’ve changed management (the prior owners were all 100%-Hawaiian refugees), but the food’s remained the same–excellent.

Hello. I live there. I mean here. Anyway, I live in the “bad” part of town and I love it…I’m far more comfortable here than in the “good” part of town which is so well-manicured as to resemble the set of The Stepford Wives (I refer here to Greenwood.) I rented here for, oh, 7 years and now I own, which is because of God and an organization called HomeSight…the market here is virtually impenetrable. I am seriously below the standard poverty level and now my mortgage is $605. For a house. I mean, damn. I have friends who just bought a house in New Holly a little south of me who got cut a great deal by the city. There are still units/houses there, too. You have to income-qualify, though. For renters, it is a landlord’s market. There is an organization called the Tenant’s Union who might be able to help; they also provide legal aid for renters.

I live in the most ethnically diverse neighborhood I have ever SEEN…and I’ve lived in Amsterdam, Paris, NYC, Minneapolis, Tampa, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lake Charles, Bennington, etc., etc. I’m a few blocks away from a VietNamese supermarket (K-Mart-sized) and I live among Cambodians, Southeast Asians, Ethiopians, Morrocans, Somalians, Laotian, Thai, native Hawaiian, Tongan, Samoan, African-American, Mexican, Native American, and so on. As a honky, I am in the minority. Now, I’ve got nothing against honkies. Some of my friends are honkies. But, I like this.

There is a serious color-line dividing North and South Seattle. I have a friend who teaches at the U of W and lives in the Wedgewood neighborhood. He went in on a house (renting) with friends and got a pretty good deal. That’s up north. The housing market here iis far more open to the idea of people sharing rent or even mortgage; this is due to the high cost, I think. People have to get creative.

I believe the hippest neighborhood is Georgetown. THat’s the latest refuge for artists. Long ago it was Fremont, but Fremont is way too chichi now. Also, Pioneer Square is too touristy now and the landlords priced the artists out of their lofts. Georgetown has cheap rent if you look for it. It looks real working class but in a funky dilapidated way.

I know a great pho place on Capitol Hill: Pho Than Brothers. All they serve is pho and cream puffs. It’s $3-$4 for a gigantic bowl plus 3 cream puffs on the side. It sounds weird, but it’s the best comfort food I’ve found in Seattle; Nellie’s Place on First Hill runs a close second.

I don’t recall what the statutes were, but I recall the hostility I caught until I got the WA plates.

I had people pull up behind me at night and put their highbeams on to blind me. Once, on I-5 near the Convention Center, a family pulled up alongside me and motioned for me to roll down my window. (Maybe I had a tire going flat?) As soon as I rolled down the window, they threw a couple of apples at me (not cores, but full apples).
Around that time, a TV news story detailed the experience of a touring CA couple waiting line line for a ferry; two parents were openly coaching their kids on how to throw rocks at the car from California. I seriously considered buying a handgun.

I had a salesperson at Ballard Computer (No longer in business, haha, may it burn in hell.) read me the Riot Act in front of a dozen other customers because I was an CA transplant.

Funny thing… once I got the WA plates on my beater truck, most people assumed I was a long-time native.

Like I said, it’s not as bad now, but still, Audrey, get S.O. to lose the CA identifiers asap.

What the heck- my $0.02:

I live a few miles north of downtown (10 min by car, 35 by bus- unless there’s a game in KeyArena), rent a great house with a view of the Olympics, and have been in Seattle 8 years. Have no desire to live anywhere else.

An hour to mountain wilderness, three hours to Vancouver B.C., three hours to the ocean, lakes and parks in every other block, artsy Fremont, eclectic Capitol Hill, the International Film Festival, sailboats, seaplanes, ferries, espresso stands on every corner- what’s not to love (I mean, besides the traffic)?

A few more tips, Audrey:

Refer to the University of Washington as “the U” or, better, “U-Dub.”

The main shopping/restaurant street in the “U-district” is University Avenue, but call it “The Ave.”

U-Dub’s hated cross-state rival, Washington State University, is WSU, or “Wazoo.” Wazoo is the butt of many jokes, mainly about alcohol, academic standards lower than the Earth’s mantle, and “animal husbandry” (if you get my drift). A clue to remember is that Ryan Leaf, the lowest-rated QB in the history of the NFL–despite being the #1 pick in the draft–is a product of Wazoo. He’s the poster-child for Stupid Living.

It’s also safe to make fun of the towns of Lynnwood and Fife.

Conversely, it’s also okay to poke fun at the expensive and insular community of Mercer Island, also known as “Poverty Rock.” (First make sure your boss doesn’t live there.)

The state fair is held in Puyallup. Stumbling over the name is a dead giveaway. It’s pronounced, “Pew-AL-up.”

Profess your hatred of “Sleepless in Seattle” (but mainly for its logistical impossibilities) and “Here Come the Brides.” Never sing, “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattlllllle…” unless you’re wearing Kevlar.

Any other shorthand she should know, folks?

Only that University Avenue is, in fact, University Way. But it is still called “The Ave.” That’s also where to find the Varsity Theater. Is that still the revival theater in town. They used to do a Hong Kong whupass double feature every Wednesday.

If given the choice Seattle it where I would go back to.

I don’t know how rents have escalated in the four years since I left, but I always found the U-District to be a pretty good compromise. Close to all the academic advantages of the university, reasonably diverse, and a good supply of bus lines to get you around the city.

Roosevelt neighborhood (just north of the U-District) or Greenlake are nice as well. If you have to work in Bellevue I would strongly consider just living there as well. As has been mentioned, if you have to use a bridge in your commute you are going to have problems. The bridges (across Lake Washington) are floating and low to the water, so they run the risk of being closed during wind storms (and Seattle gets one or two near-hurricane strength wind storms a year) that can blow water up onto them.

Another great thing about the Puget Sound area is that they have a great tradition of building big things that later fall down. It definitely adds to the excitement.

Most of Orca’s list in the previous post is completely accurate, but he forgot to mention the old people in Ballard. Also, in addition to Puyallup, another test word is Sequim. I’ll leave it to you to figure out how it is pronounced.

Is Almost Live still on the air? If so, watch this as you will quickly learn all the local prejudices.

Grew up in Bellevue, now live in Seattle.

What’s Seattle like?
It is wonderful.
How’s the weather,
Summer, which is beautiful, and mildly warm (between about 70 and 90), lasts from late July to Mid September.
The rest of the year it is gray, and mildly cold (30-50). A lighter gray in April-July, a kind of dark gray October - March. (It only really rains in November.) It isn’t necessarily raining - but there’s cloud cover. Nothing is actually falling on you, but you don’t see the sun. (We’re also pretty far north, so very, very short days in the winter, but very long days in the summer) We get a lot of SAD up here. People who move here in October can easily go 9 months without an actual sunny day, which convinces them that it rains all the time. It rarely never snows. When it does, it catches us by surprise, and we don’t take it very well.

Commuting is hell.
You need a car - there is no good public transportation, and everything is spread out. (If you happen to live AND work in seattle, you can probably ride buses, but if you’re living or working in Bellevue or Redmond, someone probabaly needs to drive or you will be completely inconvenienced.)
For your own sanity, if you work in Bellevue or Redmond, live in Bellevue or Redmond. Geography and bad traffic planning make the Seattle -> Redmond & back commute pure hell. (On the lines that people threaten to quit their jobs should their companies move from Seattle to Bellevue).

Depends on the industry - but not bad.

To buy, it is insane. But to rent about 800 for a 1 bedroom, so comparable to what you already mentioned.


Wonderful. Everything is here.

art scene,
Like everyone said, everything is here - Benaroya is amazing. Also, the suburbs are beginning to come up with their own Major Art Events. And supposedly, those are pretty good. (Haven’t been yet.)

And how about the Redmond and Bellevue areas?
They’re suburbs. Enough said.

The main shopping street in the U-district is University Way. But it is called “The Ave.” University Avenue is downtown.