Imagine a paradise where wifi flows freely from the coffee shops adorning every corner and block. Imagine a place with expanding public transit, bikeability built into the infrastructure and dense enough that everything you need is within walking distance. As you are walking back from the grocery store, you see to your right a stunning city skyline. To your left, a gorgeous mountain range tantalizes your eyes. The people around you are polite, your day to day interactions are positive and your night to night interactions take place with live indie music in the background.
Generation Y: I’ve got your city right here. Welcome to Seattle.
Seattle is hip, fun, and gorgeous. There’s built environments and natural ones, and Seattle has both. I type this article watching an amazing sunrise, and from my balcony I can see the Olympic Mountains. If I lived on the other side of Capitol Hill, I would be watching the sunrise over the Cascades, or even Mount Rainier. I can see Puget Sound from the balcony, but there is also Lake Washington, and Lake Union. Did I mention the city skyline? Views are so common, and so valued here, that they are listed in the property titles. Stressful days are soothed with a view of the natural beauty. Did I mention that a three hours road trip could get you to an ocean, the mountains, the forests or a desert?
Seattle’s municipal policies are often on the cutting edge. Municipal composting? Urban gardening? Bike lanes and sharrows? Heck, King County Metro designed the bus bike racks that many buses everywhere have. Gay Marriage just passed in Washington state, and is expected to be affirmed by referendum. The city council has tossed around legislation mandating sick days for employees. Marijuana is the lowest enforcement priority for the city of Seattle, and it is legalized for medical use by the state of Washington. Washington is leading the way to get marijuana on the DEA’s schedule 2 drug list instead of schedule 1.
Seattle has something else that many cities struggle with: jobs. With a entrepreneurialism and a start-up culture that goes with it, you could find employment in a hip, fresh company. Alternatively, with Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, and Starbucks based in Seattle, you could find work with an established company. While having no income tax causes budgetary problems for the state of Washington, it also means that you tend to keep more of your paycheck.
More of your paycheck means more to spend on the local culture. Seattle is peppered with used book stores, used clothing stores, art galleries, music venues, and coffee shops. The neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and Fremont are artistic epicenters. Are you vegan? Eat a gluten-free diet? These alternative diets are almost mainstreamed in Seattle, meaning that you can go to nearly any restaurant or cafe and find something you can eat. Being on the West Coast means a calmer pace of life.
Any place has downsides. Seattle’s cost of living rivals Boston. It has a single family zoning problem: too much. This is the city where my husband learned what it was like to be cat-called by men. While the weather is very mild, and snow is really rare… the city cannot handle winter. Every year you get a surprise, the city is shutting down winter vacation.
All the quirky stuff you’ve seen on Portlandia is pretty much true here. It’s hard to tell the difference between hipsters and homeless folks. If you’re from the East Coast, you may feel like you are living in a foreign country for a bit. First, the people are polite, and secondly because they are very passive aggressive. Prejudice takes a liberal bent – meaning that everyone denies they have it. Oh, and one of Seattle’s most famous drug dealing spots is in the tourist district, but never mind that.