Moving Decisions: Is It Time to Leave Seattle, WA?

September 9, 2020

Despite the remarkable beauty of Puget Sound, the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Pike Place Market, and the iconic pull of the Space Needle, an exodus of residents has hit Seattle. Like other West Coast cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, residents can’t afford living there.

But other factors also play into their decision to leave Seattle.

These include concerns about the skyrocketing homeless population, endless weeks of violent protests, and local officials’ general ineptitude when it comes to managing the city. What’s more, Seattle’s cost of living prices push many out.

Keep reading to learn more about why so many residents are fleeing Seattle. If you happen to be a resident of the “Emerald City,” exploring these factors might help you decide if moving’s right for you.

The Top Reasons People Leave Seattle

When it comes to the reasons people are moving out of Seattle, there are many. These factors impact residents differently, yet most still cite them as vital to their decision to find greener pastures. They include:

  • The high cost of living
  • Exorbitant real estate prices
  • The shift towards remote work
  • The pandemic
  • Rampant homelessness
  • Crime and violent protests
  • Calls to defund the police

Are any of these factors making you reconsider Seattle living? If so, keep reading to find out more about what’s motivating people to leave and where they’re going.

Moving Out of the City: The High Cost of Living

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the violent protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, residents of Seattle were leaving in droves. Why? The number one reason remains the high cost of living.

Since 2010, Seattle (located in King County) grew by an impressive 22 percent. While this growth has led to vibrant city culture and many sophisticated amenities, it’s also meant greater demand for just about everything. As a result, residents have watched prices hit the roof.

In 2018, King County saw its first population loss in nearly a decade, with 4,868 citizens moving away due to out-of-control living costs. Everything proves more costly in Seattle, from food to medicine. Today, 100,000 leave King County every year.

These people don’t necessarily want to leave Washington, however. Many move to nearby Snohomish County or Pierce County. There, they find more reasonable prices on consumer goods and housing while still maintaining their Washington lifestyle.

Moving to Another City to Escape Seattle’s Real Estate Prices

Make no mistake, living in Seattle costs a pretty penny. The median home price sits at $699,500, competing with Los Angeles’s median home price of $650,000. For those willing to look past the glamor of life in the “Emerald City,” better options abound.

For example, nearby Tacoma, Washington, boasts a median house price of just $312,200. And Seattle residents are relocating there in droves. What’s more, places like Tacoma offer a wide variety of outdoor activities, making them attractive spots to move.

After all, why deal with the high cost of living and stress of Seattle when you can move to Tacoma and enjoy everything from beautiful hiking trails to biking and boating? Many one-time Seattle devotees are now making the move to the country and loving it.

Moving Out of State: The Shift Towards Remote Work

What’s another factor that has made residents of Seattle more comfortable with the switch to country living? The pandemic.

Social distancing and citywide shutdowns have forced Seattle residents to undergo an essential economic shift to work from home. Now, the vast majority of employees work remotely with no intention of going back.

After all, the cat’s out of the bag. Remote workers enjoy greater flexibility when it comes to where they live and work. It appears that a lasting impact of COVID-19 will be more remote workers powering the economy.

Many of these remote workers also have children involved in distance learning.  In a matter of months, they’ve gone from geographically tied to one location to unfathomable freedom.

They can now live, work, and learn where they like, and many people are taking advantage of this. These workers no longer feel compelled to stay in large urban centers where they deal with crime, pollution, traffic, and excessive living costs.

Many people are extending their work-at-home status indefinitely and causing significant demographic shifts in the US.

The Pandemic and Relocating

Washington was one of the earliest areas hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. Today, the state has 76,335 confirmed cases and 1,953 deaths. To say that coronavirus has put life in perspective for many people in Seattle is an understatement.

Residents of the “Emerald City” have been confined to dense apartment buildings for months, unlike their counterparts in Washington’s more rural areas. As it turns out, urbanity during a pandemic provides little relief from the ugly realities of social distancing.

Without backyards or access to parks and beaches, Seattle became far less exciting. It also brought with it higher risks of contracting the deadly virus.

As urban amenities evaporated before residents’ eyes (e.g., the arts, festivals, theaters), the harsh realities of city living made people start dreaming of new homes in other states.

The net outflow of homeowners leaving Seattle rose from 363 in 2019 to 6,007 in 2020. That’s an increase of 1554.82 percent!

The real estate brokerage Redfin has also reported an increase from 11.2 percent in 2019 to 13.2 percent in 2020 of people located in Seattle searching for properties in new cities and states.

Leaving Seattle: Rampant Homelessness

In recent years, homelessness has taken over the streets of downtown Seattle. With the rise in people without housing has come other problems such as crime and lower quality of life. Many Washington families long to get away from urban areas where disease and drug use prevail.

Annually, Seattle’s urban core spends $1 billion combatting homelessness. This massive figure translates into every homeless man, woman, and child receiving $100,000 in aid. Yet, the deluge of money has had little impact on the problem.

If anything, the increase in aid has only attracted more individuals experiencing homelessness to King County. Many residents are growing disenchanted with paying high taxes for social programs that perpetuate, rather than solve, the problem.

In 2018, the Seattle Times reported that the city had the third-largest homeless population in the US after NYC and LA. The influx has meant skyrocketing addiction crimes and tent encampments in residential neighborhoods.

Crime, Violent Protests, and CHOP

Many metropolises across the US have faced social unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death. That said, nothing rises to the level of what Seattle has experienced. Protesters there seized a section of the city, declaring it an “autonomous zone.”

In the blink of an eye, downtown residents and small business owners found themselves enveloped in a lawless movement fueled by vigilante-style justice. They had no access to essential services, such as law enforcement and emergency medical personnel. And all of this amid a pandemic.

Known as the Capital Hill Occupied Protest Zones (CHOP), it represented a Mad Max-style nightmare that residents likely never thought possible until it happened. Before being dismantled by Federal troops, thousands of protesters occupied CHOP.

The four- to six-block portion of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood experienced ongoing unrest, and local businesses and residents were left to the mercy of the mob. Shootings and other violent crimes occurred, many of which remain unsolved.

For residents already burned out by the high cost of living, a massive homeless problem, and the pandemic, CHOP represents another sign it’s time to get out.

Calls to Defund the Police

Like Minneapolis, Seattle is also dealing with relentless calls from a radical few to defund the police. These demands are considered both reckless and alarming by many residents.

While local officials continue to entertain this idea and give it new life, critics argue that Seattle leaders can’t even come to a consensus on what they mean by defunding. That said, they’ve talked about cutting law enforcement budgets by 50 percent.

What would the results of slashing police budgets be? It’s anyone’s guess. But many people believe it will embolden criminals, leading to increases in both non-violent and violent crimes.

In the aftermath of CHOP, when many residents desire more, rather than less police presence, local officials’ ineptitude is quickening their resolve to leave.

Big City Living Has Lost Its Charm

For all of the reasons mentioned above, Seattle residents continue to leave the Puget Sound area for smaller, more affordable locations. And they’re not alone.

Other big-city residents from New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston are making similar moves. One in four remote employees will continue working from home post-COVID-19, offering them newfound freedom to live where they like.

Where are big-city residents going? They’re considering smaller cities with more reasonable median sale prices such as:

  • Austin, Texas
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Sacramento, California
  • Other cities in Washington

In each case, median sale prices prove far more reasonable than those Seattle residents currently pay to live in the downtown area.

Did you know that Phoenix boasts a median sale price of $310,000? Or that Las Vegas, Nevada, has countless home options in a sunny location with exceptional weather year-round? The median sale price sits at $309,000.

Austin, Texas, has a median sale price of $341,795. Atlanta, Georgia, has also attracted thousands of new residents with an attractive median sale price of $296,900. When residents of Seattle start exploring their options, they feel compelled to consider a move.

Checklist for Leaving Seattle

Are you ready to bid Seattle good-bye and start a new life in a new city or even state? While this decision might come with an overwhelming sense of what needs to be done, here are some pointers to help you get organized:

  • Set a budget for your move
  • Travel to the city you’re interested in moving to
  • Explore the job market of that city and apply for positions
  • Decide on the neighborhoods you’d like to target
  • Seek out and buy a home
  • Find a reputable moving company
  • Transfer your utilities
  • Get your medical records sent over to a new doctor
  • Change your address
  • Hire a car shipping service
  • Establish a new residency
  • Get a driver’s license
  • Register your pet

Although an interstate relocation comes with many moving parts, you’ve got this. Just use the list above to help you organize your efforts, and you’ll be ready to go before you know it.

Car Moving: Seattle

Besides hiring professional movers to pack and transport belongings, many people also look into car shipping. After all, it remains one of the best ways to save money and ensure your vehicle’s safety.

Automobile transport protects your car from unnecessary wear and tear. When you leave your vehicle in the hands of a trusted professional, you can rest assured it’ll arrive when you want it, where you want it.

Get a free, no-obligation shipping quote for your car now.

Interstate car shipping makes sense when it comes to personal safety, too. Each year, 38,000 die in traffic accidents in the US. An additional 4.4 million face serious injuries requiring medical attention.

You’ll save yourself immeasurable time, stress, money, and risk by hiring a company to handle your car moving needs. Here’s everything you need to know about car transporters.

And if you have an investment-worthy vehicle that you’re nervous about shipping? Check out our article on the ins and outs of open versus enclosed auto transport.

Why More People Are Moving Out of Seattle

Life in the “Emerald City” is no longer safe, clean, or welcoming to families. As a result, it’s making many residents reconsider why they’re still paying so much money to live there. With the advent of remote work, traditional geographic ties have also dissolved, leading to an unprecedented demographic shift.

Local leaders’ efforts to defund the police and appease violent protesters have done little to help the situation. At a time when Seattle residents feel keenly aware of the dangers of losing access to police and emergency workers, efforts to defund such services offer few reassurances.

Are you ready to leave Seattle? If so, you’re not alone. While an interstate move can feel overwhelming, impeccable planning can help you ensure it goes off without a hitch.

Where should you start? Use the checklist above to craft a streamlined experience for moving to a new state.

Are you ready to learn more about how car shipping works? Keep reading for our top tips to get your car safely from one state to another.