Seattle, Washington, is a beautiful city with a lot to offer. It's also one of the most expensive places in the United Staes to live in. If you're moving to Seattle from out-of-state, be prepared for significant lifestyle changes — especially if you're used to living in a town or city with lower housing costs.
The cost of living and your budget are the most important things to know before moving to Seattle. In fact, the cost of living in Seattle is about 54% higher than the national average, which will impact your budget.
Seattle is a beautiful city that offers many recreational opportunities, but it also has one of the highest costs of living in the United States. So, if you're thinking about moving there or have just moved there, this guide will help you understand your costs and give you an idea of what rental apartments, rooms and other necessities cost.
The Seattle area offers excellent quality of life. That, and the many attractions found in Seattle, is one reason people are drawn to the city. The climate is excellent, mountains and waterfalls are nearby, and there are lots of great food options (local and international) available at a range of prices.
The public transport is good, and there are many bike paths throughout the city and surrounding areas.
There are great universities both in Seatle and the areas surrounding it, including the University of Washington and Seattle University. The city also has a thriving economy, with many different industries and companies headquartered here, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks.
Seattle is also a very diverse city, with many different cultures represented here. As a result, the city has a rich cultural scene and is home to many great museums, theaters, and other art venues. There are plenty of coffee shops and bars where people socialize formally and informally. What’s more, there’s always something going on in the entertainment district of downtown Seattle, whether it’s live music at a local pub or theater performance at one of our many local theaters/performance spaces, such as Intiman Theater.
The cost of living in Seattle, Washington, is higher than the national average. The median home value here is $769,000, while the national average is just $348,079 — a significant difference. As you can imagine, this makes buying a house a pricey proposition.
Monthly rents are also relatively high across the board and have been climbing steadily over time. In fact, the city has been named one of America's fastest-growing rental markets every year since 2013. Currently, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle is $2,233 compared to the national average of $1,967, which makes the cost of living in Seattle proportionally expensive.
While the cost of living in Seattle is higher than in other cities, there are ways to save money. It's important to note that not every student pays the same amount for housing and utilities. Students who live at home with their parents will pay less for rent, and students who live in an apartment or house with roommates can share expenses. Location also impacts rent, with apartments for rent in West Seattle being significantly more expensive than apartments for rent in downtown Seattle. The cost of living in Seattle is high, especially if you want to live near campus.
According to RentCafe, the average one-bedroom apartment in Seattle rents for about $2,233 per month. This means that if a student lives alone and pays rent for an entire school year (about 18 months), they will spend upwards of $40,000 on housing.
The good news is that there are ways to save money on housing in Seattle. Students can find roommates or live at home with their parents. These strategies can help students save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their college careers.
Seattle has a lot of transport options, which is great for those who want to avoid car ownership. The average cost of public transportation ranges from $100 to $200+ per month, depending on whether you have a bus pass or not and whether or not you use your bike.
If you own a car, expect to spend around $400–$600 monthly on gas and maintenance. Driving around Seattle can be stressful because it's so congested. Whenever possible, it’s better to use public transport. You'll also need to factor in parking fees if you plan on driving into the city center at any point during your stay here.
Taxi fares are also pricey here. The average fare for an Uber/Lyft ride within downtown ranges from $15–$20, which means that taking an Uber/Lyft instead of riding Metro will typically cost about double what it would anywhere else in the country!
Estimated monthly costs are about 13 cents per kWh for electricity. This price can fluctuate depending on the season and the weather. The average energy bill for electricity in Seattle is around $148 per month, although you can expect to pay more if your home uses more energy than the average home.
If you have gas or oil heat, your energy bills will likely be around $100–$250 per month, depending on the time of year and how much heating fuel you use each month. Most people who use natural gas pay between 8 and 16 cents per gallon of natural gas, while those who use propane may pay closer to 25–30 cents per gallon.
Water bills are calculated based on usage. Sewer service charges are included in the metered water bill because they're considered part of maintenance costs rather than separate fees. Sewer service charges cover everything from the operating costs of maintaining pipes to removing blockages. A Seattle apartment's average water and sewer bill will run to about $75 per month.
Seattle has some exceptional hospitals, such as the University of Washington Medical Center and the Seattle Children’s Hospital, which means healthcare is efficient and accessible. It still doesn’t come cheap, however. It’s not possible to calculate healthcare costs as they vary per individual and institution, but generally, healthcare in Seattle is around 30% higher than the national average. The cost of visiting a doctor is around $153, and health insurance can cost anywhere from $200-$450 per month.
So what exactly does it cost to live in Seattle? Here are some concrete numbers for you to consider:
Monthly rent: $2,495.
Food: Up to $500.
Transportation: Using public transportation will run you around $100 per month with a monthly pass. A one-way ticket on public transport averages $2.75–$3.50. If you drive a car, gas will cost around $200–250 per month and insurance another $75–$200.
Other expenses: These include sports and fitness, health insurance ($200–$450), miscellaneous expenses such as clothing or haircuts, phone bills, and cable TV plans (if applicable).
As you can imagine, aside from rent, many of the normal and customary costs of living in Seattle are higher than across the nation. Housing affordability is the number one budgeting concern for those looking to live in Seattle.
Seattle has a lot to offer. It's temperate all year round, which means you can enjoy nature without freezing your tail off or catching a heat stroke. There's an abundance of hiking trails and beaches, giving you plenty of opportunity to get outside and enjoy the outdoors (or just relax while drinking coffee). There are great food options — Indian restaurants, Thai restaurants, Ethiopian restaurants and more! You'll never run out of places to eat at in Seattle.
Seattle is also a great city for someone who wants to have a career in the booming tech industry. Lots of tech companies are based here, and there’s a constant demand for employees with technical knowledge. If you're into coding or something similar, there will be no shortage of jobs available. The tech industry alone employs more than 100,000 people.
The most important thing to remember is that living in Seattle is worth it. It’s an amazing place with beautiful scenery and people who love their city. The cost of living may be high, but if you're willing to compromise on some luxuries, you can still live comfortably here.
If you take time to look around, you can find apartments for rent in Seattle that are within your budget.