You’re more than familiar with LA’s clogged freeways and spread-out rambling city limits. If you’re ready to trade packed pavement and sprawl for a lush green environment, snow-capped mountain skylines, and four beautiful and gentle seasons, then you’ll love Seattle.
The epitome of West Coast Casual – bikes, breweries, bookstores, and Birkenstocks along with coffee, cannabis, and computers – Seattle is hip, progressive, savvy, and sometimes irreverent, but always classically Pacific Northwest.
But before you go shopping for the latest in Gore-Tex, find out more to see if relocating to Seattle is the right move for you.
What to Know About Moving from Los Angeles to Seattle
Housing and Cost of Living
The median cost of a Seattle home is $714,400 compared to LA’s median home cost of $689,500. A one-bedroom rents for $1,659 in Seattle and $1,545 in Los Angeles.
Even though Seattle housing is a bit more expensive than in LA, the cost of living in the two cities is almost equal. Based on an overall US average index of 100, Seattle’s cost of living is 172.3, and LA’s is 173.3. That puts both LA and Seattle at 73% more expensive than the average US city.
Your Seattle utility costs will be 36% lower than in LA, transportation costs will be 20% less, and health care costs will be 4% lower. Food and grocery expenses will be 4% higher.
Moving to Seattle from LA means you won’t pay state income tax as you do in California. Averaging 9.3%, you pay a California state income tax rate somewhere in the range from 1% to 13.3%. Wouldn’t it be great to pocket those savings?
Seattle’s sales tax rate is 10.1%, but since you already pay 9.5% sales tax in LA, the Seattle rate may not be that hard to swallow, especially since you won’t be paying state income tax.
LA property tax averages .793%, and the Seattle rate is a bit higher at .99%; both rates are lower than the US average of 1.19%.
Economy and Job Growth
Seattle is the Pacific Northwest’s commercial hub. The Seattle economy is diverse and robust with major industries that include aerospace, high-tech, health, education, and retail trade. LA, also a commercial hub, has an economy fueled by media, tech, international business, tourism, education, and retail trade.
The Seattle job growth rate in 2019 was 2.6% compared to LA’s 0.7% growth. The climate for future job growth in Seattle is forecast to be sunny and bright – over the next ten years, growth is forecast to be 43.8% compared to the nation’s 33.5% and LA’s 34.6%.
More good news – chances are you may be able to earn more in Seattle. The family median income here is $115,414 compared to LA’s $61,092.
Transportation and Traffic
LA has the 5th worst traffic in the nation, and without a great public transit system, you’re mostly dependent on your car to slog through miles of backed up traffic. Seattle is rated 9th worst city for traffic in the US, but according to bizjournals.com, it has the nation’s #1 public transit system. Moving from LA to Seattle means you’ll be able to save car commuting time, just like the 21% of Seattleites who use public transit.
The environmentally conscious Emerald City is very bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Seattle’s overall walk score is 73 compared to 67 in Los Angeles. The Seattle bike score is 70, but many neighborhoods score in the 90s. The LA bike score is 55.
Weather and Climate
Does pouring rain come to mind when you think of Seattle? In reality, Seattle gets about 37” of annual rainfall compared to the US precipitation average of 30” – really not all that much compared to Houston’s 50” or Birmingham’s 54”. What you really experience is about 294 overcast days, with precipitation ranging from a light mist to actual rain.
In Seattle, July and August high temps average a very comfortable 76 °F compared to LA’s hot 80s and 90s. LA and Seattle both have summer lows that get down to the mid-50s. December is Seattle’s chilliest month with an average high of 46 °F and a low of 36. The same month in LA sees average highs in the upper 60s and lows in the 40s.
Almost everyone gets a thrill from seeing a little bit of winter snow. ‘Little’ is the keyword. Seattle gets about 5” of snow annually – just enough to make snow angels – something you can’t do in the City of Angels.
Quality of Life
Now that you have a sense of Seattle’s climate, you’ll have a good idea why Seattle is rated the nation’s #1 Hygge city. Hygge (hue-guh) is the Danish word for ‘cozy living.’
Hygge is all about creating welcoming, relaxed environments that foster well-being and contentment. Whether at home, at friends’, in a café, wine bar, brewpub, or bookstore, Hygee is all about fireplaces, afghans, and blankets, reading or chatting, a pint of beer or glass of wine, coffee or tea, candles and comfort food . . . you get the idea.
Cities with high Hygge ratings have the kind of weather than promotes cozy living. Los Angeles, with its 284 sunny days and on-the-go, fast-paced lifestyle, isn’t a hygge-type of city.
Culture, Diversity, and Demographics
Seattle is about acceptance and takes pride in the ethnic and cultural differences and similarities of its residents. No matter where you come from, who you are, who you love, or how you dress, you’re welcome in Seattle.
Continual events and festivals honor and unite the city’s range of nationalities and cultures, but Seattle doesn’t have LA’s degree of ethnic diversity, especially between the White and Hispanic populations. In LA, 28% are White, compared to 65% in Seattle. Only 7% of Seattle’s population is Hispanic compared to LA’s 49%. Seattle has 14% Asian compared to 12% in LA, 7% African American compared to LA’s 9%, and 6% of two or more races compared to 2% in Los Angeles.
About 688,245 people live in Seattle’s 84 square miles, creating a density of 8,207 people per square mile. With 4,000,000 residents, sprawling LA covers 469 square miles with a density of 8,428 residents per square mile.
Seattle is one of the fastest-growing metropolises in the country, and since 2000, it grew 22% compared to LA’s 7%. Both cities share a moderately liberal perspective, and both voted Democratic in the five prior Presidential elections.
The overall crime rate in Seattle is higher than in Los Angeles. On a scale from 1 to 100, property crime is 76.9 compared to LA’s 35.1. Violent crime is 32.3 in contrast to LA’s 29. As you start reviewing neighborhoods, it’s a good idea to check online crime maps so you can be assured your future community is safe.
The Pacific Ocean heavily influences both Los Angeles and Seattle. Seagoing transport and commerce, climate moderation, recreation, and tourism are just some of the ways the Pacific affects each city.
Los Angeles sits in a basin on the eastern shores of the Pacific while Seattle sits on the eastern shores of Puget Sound, a vast, deep fjord that extends from the Pacific Ocean inland about 90 miles to Seattle.
While LA is relatively flat, Downtown Seattle and the close-in neighborhoods are built on steep hills. Even on cloudy days, the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west are usually visible with the 14,411 foot snowcapped Mt. Rainier looming majestically to the south.
Things to Do
You can hike in LA’s Griffith Park or the Santa Monica Mountains, sail on the Pacific, or spend four hours driving to the desert or Sierras, but Seattle recreation is wilder and easier to access. With Puget Sound’s calm waters, boating in and around the islands is a popular Seattle pastime.
If you don’t have your own seagoing craft, you can drive or walk onto a Puget Sound ferry that will transport you to magical island worlds in just under an hour. Head east, and also in under an hour, you can be exploring fern-lined wilderness trails while hiking through beautifully forested mountains.
Best Neighborhoods in Seattle
Here are some of the top areas to call home in Seattle.
Northwest of Downtown, Ballard has a population of about 16,700 residents who live in contemporary condos, vintage apartments, and single-family homes. Filled to the brim with cafes, coffee houses, trendy bars, and one-of-a-kind boutiques, Ballard gives off a distinctly happening vibe. Learn more here.
You can live in Belltown without a car, thanks to its location directly north of Downtown. Public transit is convenient, and Belltown is one of Seattle’s most walkable neighborhoods. Condos and apartments are the most common form of housing, and 81% of the 22,800 residents rent their homes. Belltown is a choice area for young professionals. Here’s where you can find out more.
About 37,490 people live in Capitol Hill, one of Seattle’s most desirable neighborhoods. Within walking distance of Downtown, a family-friendly vibe, parks, public transportation, and LGBTQ-friendliness, Capitol Hill has features that appeal to people from all walks of life. You’ll find corner grocery stores, bookstores, and other conveniences throughout the neighborhood. Here’s more info about Capitol Hill.
It’s true, Fremontians claim to live in the Center of the Universe. With a distinctly bohemian vibe, you can live a counterculture lifestyle in Fremont. Three parks offer popular public spaces for locals, and city busses provide easy access to other parts of Seattle. Innovative local businesses, cafes, coffee houses, and bakeries are within walking and cycling distance. Find out more about Fremont here.
Pioneer Square was Seattle’s very first neighborhood. Located southwest of Downtown, the area retains many restored brick buildings from the late 1800s – quite a few have been transformed into condos and apartments. About 7,800 people live in Pioneer Square and have convenient access to the light rail, corner groceries, galleries, bookstores, cafes, and coffee houses. Learn more details about Pioneer Square here.
North Queen Anne
About 15,540 people live in affluent North Queen Anne. The neighborhood sits on Seattle’s highest hill, so many homes have exquisite views of the Space Needle, Downtown, and ferries plying Puget Sound. Housing ranges from single-family homes, a few restored Queen Anne mansions, condos, and apartments. Here’s more info about North Queen Anne.
Cost of Moving from Los Angeles to Seattle
On average, it costs about $3000-$6000 to move from LA to Seattle. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 1135 miles up the coast. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination zip codes, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best Los Angeles to Seattle movers now!