The majestic mountains and forests in Seattle make it one of the most picturesque places in the U.S. Seattle is full of greenery and hence the nickname ‘Emerald City’. When speaking of Seattle, one thing that stands out from everything else here is the city’s booming economy. No wonder the city has a very low unemployment rate as it has an incredibly diverse economy. There’s no shortage of things to do in this city. Right from a great food scene, bold architecture, and stunning parks to the best Starbucks coffee, the city has almost everything you could ask for.
Now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that Seattle has a high cost of living. After all, modern city amenities often come at high prices. Although Seattle is far from affordable, the city makes up for it with a high median household income. So, if you’re planning to move to Seattle, you need to know how much it’s going to cost you to live there. Here’s everything you need to know about what salary you’d need to live in Seattle. Let’s get started!
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Where Does Your Salary Go?
It goes without saying that Seattle certainly stands out as one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. The majority of Seattle’s population has a graduation degree and an entrepreneurial spirit that is helping the city grow into a popular metropolis in the state of Washington. Living in such a fast-paced city with so many amenities certainly guarantees a great standard of living. But, only if you can afford to live here. Let us help you understand where your salary goes in Seattle and what all you’ll be spending on.
In terms of your overall cost of living in Seattle, you need to first consider your expenses for your stay in the city. After all, your home is where you’re going to spend most of your time. So, you might want to invest in a place that best complements your and your family’s needs. As per the data shared by Zillow, Seattle has witnessed a rise of almost 16.4% from 2021 to 2022 in terms of its housing costs. The median house price in Seattle is around $958,027. So, unless you have a decent budget that allows you to buy a house, don’t bother checking out houses with sophisticated realtors as you’ll quickly get tired of deciding which neighborhood is good for you over the many cups of coffee.
If you’re moving to Seattle in today’s time, know that paying off the house price as a lump-sum amount is an unrealistic dream for many. So, for all such folks, the preferred option would be renting a house. There was a time in the past when Seattle’s residents had to worry about paying off their mortgages. Today, along with paying off the mortgage on their house, residents also have to worry about getting one in the first place. To give you an insight into the rental costs in the city, for a one-bedroom apartment in the city, the average price is around $1,895. If you’re a single person planning to live in Seattle, you can always rent a studio apartment. The average rent for a studio-size apartment in Seattle is around $1,330.
If you’re planning to enjoy all the luxuries of Seattle, there are many popular neighborhoods with opulent bungalows and apartments. Some of the most expensive neighborhoods in Seattle include Windermere, Madison Park, Denny-Blaine, Laurelhurst, and many more. And don’t you frown if you have a tight budget. Seattle also has many affordable neighborhoods like Pinehurst, Redmond, Bryant, and Mount Baker.
One of the most overlooked costs when planning a moving budget is transportation costs. It’s no secret that Seattle is a big city and there are many neighborhoods here. So, unless you’re counting on your own personal superhero to take you around, you’ll be needing transportation services for which you’ll be spending some amount of your income. To get around in the city, the King County Metro bus is one of your best bets here as it operates throughout the city. The cost for a single ride is around $2.75. You can also get a reloadable ORCA (One Regional Card for All) bus card. This will make life easier for you unless you’re in a situation where you’re pinching pennies.
Another affordable and widely used transportation service in Seattle is the Light Rail system that operates from the University of Washington. It can help you connect with other major downtown areas and suburbs of the city. Depending on your journey, a one-way travel ticket will cost you anywhere between $2.25 to $3.50. And if you’re an avid traveler who enjoys exploring, then you can avail of the Monorail in Seattle. There’s no doubt that your ride in the Monorail will be fun, as it runs through downtown Seattle and the center of the city. For a one-way trip, adults need to pay around $2.50 and for children of ages 5 to 12, the cost is $1.25.
It goes without saying that one of the best ways to get around Seattle is by car. However, something you can’t possibly ignore in this city is the traffic during rush hour. And if you’re planning to travel by your car, be prepared to pay some amount of money for your parking costs which, by the way, are around $50 in the city. You can always rely on taxis if you don’t own a car. But, to avoid getting in trouble with your boss for reaching late, make sure that you book your taxi in advance. Your taxi fare can be between $4.00 to $8.00, depending on the distance and location, of course. And don’t forget that reaching the downtown area from the airport is going to cost you a few extra bucks, so be prepared to pay around $40 to $50 for a taxi ride.
Seattle is known to have high taxes which, while a piece of cake for the rich, certainly burdens those with a modest income. No wonder living in Seattle is a fantasy for many as not everyone can afford the heavy tax rates here. Having said that, one of the perks of moving to Seattle, Washington, is that you don’t have to pay any state income tax here. But wait, don’t forget that you’ll have to set money aside for the other taxes that you’ll have to pay if you’re planning on making Seattle your home. Seattle has a combined sales tax rate of 5.5% in 2022. While it is not negligible, it is relatively lower than the Washington state combined sales tax of 7.25%.
Utility Bills In Seattle
When talking about what salary you need to live in Seattle, don’t forget to consider your basic utility costs in the city. So, see to it that you include your utility bills when making a moving budget. We’ve put forth your basic utility costs in the city as per the data shared by Payscale.
You don’t want to sit in your living room on a weekend to watch your favorite TV show just to realize that there’s no electricity in the house, do you? To avoid such a scenario, make sure that you keep aside around $206.39 on a monthly basis for your energy bills. When it comes to your monthly phone bills, you’ll have to pay around $220.00. Depending on your food habits and way of living, your utility bills will differ from other residents in the city. But make a mental note of the fact that your overall utility costs in Seattle are almost 23% higher than the national average, according to Payscale.
When planning your stay in Seattle and figuring out what salary you’d need to chase a good life in the city, don’t forget your food costs. One of the biggest perks of Seattle is that the Emerald City is known for its incredible food scene. Two things you can’t get over in Seattle are seafood and coffee. So, your inability to resist the delicious food here will also make you spend a few extra bucks on your overall food costs. With respect to groceries, Seattle has prices almost 27% higher than the national average, as per the data shared by Payscale. A gallon of milk, a carton of eggs, and a loaf of bread will cost you around $2.46, $2.29, and $4.22 in Seattle.
If you don’t consider yourself a Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen, you’ll probably be dining out with your family often. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost you around $20 whereas a meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant will cost you around $90. On your special occasions or weekend hangouts, you might splurge on some good wine, for which a mid-range bottle will cost you around $15. On days when you feel like relishing a hamburger from a joint outside, you’ll have to pay around $5.38 for it.
Some of our personal favorite food joints in the city are The Pink Door, Dreamland Bar and Diner, Holy Mountain, Samburna, Pizzeria Credo, etc. Seattle is regarded as the Coffee Capital of the United States, so if you happen to make this city your home, you can frequent coffee shops like Coffeeholic House, Sound and Fog, Fronte Cafe, Makeda and Mingus, Cafe Avole, etc., and fall in love with the offerings there.
Healthcare Costs In Seattle
Your health and well-being should be your top-most priority. And it’s always good to keep a certain portion of your money aside for your healthcare costs. The costs of all your routine check-ups, dental appointments, etc. will come under your healthcare expenses.
We hate to break it to you but healthcare costs in Seattle are almost 24% higher than the U.S. national average. To give you an insight into your basic healthcare costs in the city, we’ve listed the data shared by Payscale. You’ll be paying around $137.50 for a regular doctor’s visit in the city. If you need help with tooth sensitivity treatment, you would need to rush to the dentist for which you’ll be paying around $118.13 per visit. And if you have any four-legged friends who need to be taken to the vet, you’ll have to pay an average of $69.64 each time you take them.
Childcare Costs In Seattle
If you’re moving to Seattle with your entire family, the expenditure of taking care of your children certainly can’t be ignored. You need to be prepared to spend a considerable amount of money on childcare costs in Seattle, as you now know that the city has a high cost of living. For children between 4 and 8 years old, you’ll be spending an average of $20,426 which is higher than the average of $17,688 in Washington, according to the data shared by 24/7 Wall St. Just so you know, the national average cost for childcare stands at $15,853 for two children.
Don’t forget that you’ll also be spending on your child’s education in the city. If you have toddlers who need to be sent to preschool or kindergarten, your average expenses on tuition fees would come up to $1,770 per month. When it comes to the yearly fees for a single child in an international school, the average cost is around $32,000 in Seattle.
When you’re living in such an amazing metropolitan city like Seattle, you might as well explore all the amenities the city has to offer you. If you’re a fitness freak, your monthly fee in a fitness club would come up to $57. But, why not save that money and make use of the beautiful nature present in the Emerald City, hiking and biking along the trails in the city? After all, Seattle has some of the best parks and trails, a few of them being Discovery Park, Burke-Gilman Trail, etc. And if you’re a movie enthusiast, a single seat to watch an international cinema in the city will cost you around $15.
Understanding The Job Market In Seattle
Opportunities In Seattle
Seattle is the go-to place for all techies. This is because the city is a major tech hub in the state of Washington. Even apart from this, the Emerald City has a diverse economy with sectors of trade, business, retail, and aerospace dominating the major industries here. When it comes to your income in the city, you can breathe a sigh of relief as Seattle is one of the few cities in the U.S. with high income levels. Just so you know, the median household income in the city is around $67,365 which is higher than the national average of $53,482, according to BestPlaces.
Some of the top-notch companies in Seattle that assure great job opportunities here are:
Unemployment Rate In Seattle
Seattle’s robust and varied economy makes sure that the unemployment rate in Seattle stands at just 4.8% which is relatively lower than the national average of 6.0%. This means that you’d be able to land yourself a job of your choice faster than you would in some of the other cities in the country.
How Much Should You Earn To Live Comfortably Well In Seattle
Now, let’s address the question that will help you decide whether moving to Seattle would be the right choice for you or not. Since the median household income in Seattle is $67,365, you would need an annual salary of equal to or more than that – around $70,000 to meet your expenses in the city. But, if you’re someone who guards your expenses well, then even a salary of just more than $60,000 annually would suffice your daily living expenses in Seattle.
We’ve taken you through everything you need to know about the cost of living in Seattle. This should give you a fair idea of what salary would be sufficient for you in the city. And if you think that the Emerald City is too expensive for you, you can always choose to live in some of the more affordable neighborhoods here.
FAQs On What Salary Do You Need To Live In Seattle
What Is A Livable Salary In Seattle?
To live comfortably in Seattle, you’ll need to earn enough to be able to meet your housing, transportation, utilities, and other expenses in the city. A salary of $70,000 or above is a livable salary in Seattle considering it to be a bit more than the median household income of $67,365.
Is $100,000 A Good Salary In Seattle?
A salary of $100,000 is more than enough for you to live a cushy life in Seattle. With an income like that, you can easily afford a house in a good neighborhood and also cover all your other living expenses in the city, all while setting aside a significant portion as savings.
Seattle has a thriving job market and plenty of job opportunities that make it one of the best cities to live in the U.S. The city also has plenty of forests and recreational parks for its residents to explore. Let’s not forget the fact that Seattle is one among the American cities with a high median income. So, if this is what you’re looking for in a city, then it’s definitely worth moving to Seattle.
Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.