Things to know about moving to Seattle, WA

As you know, I left Seattle in 2016 to move to Los Angeles and in 2017, I made the move back to Seattle.  As part of the move, there’s a lot to do when you’re expecting to make a new city your permanent residence.  I definitely had a rough time trying to figure it out all out when I moved to LA.  I wrote a post awhile back about making that move and some of the things that I needed to do.  Now that I’ve officially made the move back to Seattle, here are a few things that I have figured out as part of this.

  • Seattle is a booming city and has grown to be drastically different compared to what it was when I first moved here. Come prepared knowing that the city is surrounded by water on all sides.  You have the Puget Sound on the west, Lake Union in the center and then Lake Washington to the east of the city.  This means that you have three major highways/freeways that you can use to get north and south which would be Highway 99 which is on average two lanes (occasionally three lanes) and is currently under construction.  Be prepared.  I-5 which runs through the center of the city.  It gets into a bottleneck right at downtown as most lanes became exit only and people have to merge into two lanes to continue moving along the I-5 corridor and 405 which has fast track lanes that you get charged for.
  • You have two major highways going east and west which would be 520 which is a tolled bridge and I-90 which is not a tolled bridge.  Be prepared that if it’s super rainy or windy, the water from Lake Washington can splash onto either bridge.
  • If you use a Pod or some sort of container to send your belongings to the city, you need a street permit to put the pod there.  You can go to the Seattle Department of Transportation to apply online for the permit.  That being said, once you have the permit, you need to contact a third party company to get No Parking signs.  I used the National Barricade for my no parking sign but there’s also Northwest Barricade.  You can either save some money and pick up the signs, place them, return them on your own or pay a fee to have someone else do this for you.
  • The Seattle DMV is typically separated from the vehicle licensing departments.  The DMVs for a new driver’s license are open on five days a week and some locations are open six days a week.  You can’t make an appointment like in California but it moves relatively quickly.  You do not need to take a driver’s test if you already have a license and it’s a relatively easy process to get a license.  I managed to only spend about 40 minutes there on a Saturday right when it opened (I was not the first person there).  To get your vehicle registered, you can go to a licensing office to get a license plate.
  • Get a Good to Go Pass.  These are stickers that go on your windshield and it’s how you pay your tolls when you cross the 520 bridge or the Tacoma Narrows, or if you are in the fast track lanes on 405.
  • Parking in Seattle is difficult.  For the street parking that requires payment, you can also pay via your phone using the pay by phone app. It’s totally worth it.
  • Finding a home in Seattle is actually quite easy.  Finding a home in price range could be more difficult. Craigslist is actually a very common way to find places to rent in Seattle.  I know that in LA, Westside Rentals was the more common way but Seattle landlords will list on Craigslist.
  • In King County (where Seattle is located) some companies are required to give you additional benefits like sick leave.  Keep that in mind if you’re working in the city.
  • Public transportation is easy and relatively easy to navigate. If you are taking the bus, make sure to have exact change.  But if you plan on taking the bus more often, get an Orca card which allows you access to all the public transportation including the ferries.
  • Seattle composts and recycles. Keep this in mind for where you live and changing your habits.  All the local restaurants are required to have either compostable or recyclable take out containers.  Most restaurants will have compost bins and try to minimize their garbage.  Be prepared that in some buildings, there are rules that may result in fines if you throw compostable items in the garbage.
  • Seattle experiences all types of weather and be prepared.  The first rain is always a difficult day to drive but rain is a thing.
  • Downtown is full of construction. So the city is constantly in flux and changing.

Overall moving here is relatively easy and the city is relatively easy to navigate.  I would definitely say it’s a lot easier to move here than it was to move to LA in terms of the logistics and overall coordination required.


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