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Moving to Seattle?

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Jose Carreira

Living in the USA, from Portugal

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Living in the USA, from Australia

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Seattle at a Glance

Moving to Seattle

Expatriates considering moving to Seattle will be spoiled for choice with so many ways to enjoy this glorious city. Endless outdoors and indoor activities are held in one of most rainy cities in North America. Find out about getting there, the climate, and general info about Seattle in this guide.

About the City

Known as the cultural capital of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is famous for its music scene, museums and the arts. It's also a gateway for exploring the magnificent outdoors right on its doorstep, with hiking, skiing and boating all available very close by.

This coastal seaport city is situated in the US state of Washington, on the coast, close to the border with British Columbia. Seattle is the largest American city in the Pacific Northwest, and set in a stunning location surrounded by ocean, mountains and lakes. This is an excellent setting for expats wanting to experience something new, as life in Seattle allows a healthy balance between work, play, relaxation and family.

Around 652,000 and it is one of the fastest growing major cities in the United States. The wider metropolitan area around the city is home to about 3.6 million people.

While the city’s population is predominantly white American, it also has the highest percentage of self-identified mixed-race people out of the large American cities. The foreign born population grew by 40% between the 1990 and 2000 censuses. Seattle now has a large Asian population, particularly Chinese and Vietnamese, along with many other nations represented. It’s therefore a very welcoming, diverse and vibrant city, and expatriates are bound to get acquainted with others from their home country, and from all over the world.

Seattle has experienced rapid population growth in recent years and this is expected to continue, with 200,000 more residents estimated by 2040. The city is actively planning for this population growth, with expanding residential developments and height restrictions being lifted in the city center, to accommodate more downtown living.

Seattle is also proud to have a large lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the highest percentage of same-sex households in the United States.

The Climate in Seattle

Because of its location on the Puget Sound estuary and on Lake Washington, Seattle has a moderate maritime climate. People’s perception of Seattle is often that it rains a lot, which is true. The city has one of the highest annual precipitation figures in the United States, with most falling during the winter months, either as rain or snow.

The winters are cool but still pleasant. It's not unusual for the temperature to drop below zero for long periods, especially at night. The summers tend to be warm, dry and sunny, allowing residents to enjoy the outdoors. Average high temperatures are 24°C (75°F) in July and 7°C (45°F) in January.

This seasonal difference means that the same environment can be enjoyed in very different ways depending on the time of year. From skiing in the winter to boating and swimming in Lake Washington during the summer, the activities adjust to suit the climate as the seasons change.

Getting to Seattle

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, referred to as Sea-Tac by locals, is located to the south of the city and connects Seattle, Tacoma and the rest of Washington with destinations across the world. The airport has flights to cities across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, so wherever you’re coming from, you won’t find it difficult to arrive in Seattle, or plan visits back home.

To get an idea for travel times, flying from New York takes five hours and 40 minutes, Los Angeles takes two hours and 40 minutes, London takes nine hours and 40 minutes, and Hong Kong takes approximately 12 hours and 30 minutes.

Seattle is very well connected to other major cities in the United States via its road network. Interstate 5 passes through the city, traverses the entire north-south length of Washington State and is the main route between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver in British Columbia. The other main artery for the city is State Route 99 which serves the metropolitan area of Seattle, traveling from Fife in the south, passing through the airport at SeaTac, the city center, and then on to the Broadway Interchange in Everett.

There are also rail services that connect Seattle with other major cities, for instance the Coast Starlight service, which comes from Los Angeles and Portland, and Amtrak trains, which cover major cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis.

InterNations Expat Magazine