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How Much Does Living in Seattle, Washington Cost?

The Emerald City has a reputation for being one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, as we have a very strong economy here offering higher average wages. It just means that living in Seattle, Washington equates to enjoying a better overall quality of life.

The high cost of living in Seattle, Washington is nothing to worry about when you know what to expect. Use this comprehensive guide to get a clearer idea of where your money goes when you own a home here.

How Seattle compares overall to the rest of the US

Leading data analysis website Sperling’s Best Places compares the cost of living of all cities and towns across the United States. Using a base index of 100 to reflect the national average, let’s see how Seattle compares to the rest of the country.

The cost of living in Seattle is still more affordable than many other coveted markets like San Francisco (304.7) and Manhattan (314.5). Living in Seattle is only slightly more expensive than living in Los Angeles (195.1).

Cost of housing

Real estate is the primary factor behind Seattle’s high cost of living index. On Sperling’s Best Places, Seattle housing is more expensive by 307.4 points.

In dollar terms, while the homes across the United States are sold at a median price of $226,800, Seattle residential real estate sells for $723,300 – roughly 219% higher than the national median. (This example uses the Zillow data as of April 2019, the most recent comparable estimates available at the time of writing.) This also means that you will benefit from this strong housing market when you sell your home someday.

Rent also illustrates how the Seattle housing market impacts the city’s cost of living. ApartmentList.com’s most recent (May 2019) data shows that Seattle has higher median rent rates compared to national figures:

Seattle, WA US
1-bedroom apartment $1,335 $951
2-bedroom apartment $1,663 $1,180

ApartmentList.com’s Seattle Rent Report states that the city’s rent rates have been steadily increasing since dropping off at the end of 2018. Compared to the same time last year, Seattle rent has increased by 1%.

Rent increases have also been recorded across the entire Seattle metro area according to the report. Bellevue has the highest rates at $2,370 for 2-bedroom units. The most affordable place to rent in the region is Lakewood, with 2-bedroom apartments available for $1,460. Note how this rate is still more expensive than the national median.

Cost of food

The thriving restaurant scene is one of the best things in Seattle’s sophisticated, urban lifestyle. So how do dining expenses factor into the cost of living in Seattle, WA?

Dining out will cost you a little more in Seattle. According to cost of living data aggregator Numbeo.com, a three-course meal for two people in a mid-range Seattle restaurant costs $65.00. The same meal would cost only $50.00 based on the national average. On the other hand, many areas of the country don’t offer similar world-class restaurant choices and fresh seafood choices from Alaska, etc.

Using additional data from Numbeo.com, the same trend applies to groceries:

Seattle, WA US
Daily recommended minimum amount of money for food per person $12.90 $10.47
Monthly recommended minimum amount of money for food per person (31 days) $399.76 $324.69

Click the links above to see how these totals are broken down to specific food items like eggs, milk, bread (per loaf), and cheese.

Cost of transportation

As a prolific and sprawling metropolis, Seattle also rates higher when it comes to spending for transportation. Public transport is covered by a light rail system but only to a limited extent, keeping private cars an essential part of the Seattle lifestyle.

Sperling’s Best Places gives Seattle a score of 156.5 for transportation expenses, covering the average cost of gasoline, car insurance and maintenance costs, and mass transit fare.

Numbeo.com provides data for this more detailed breakdown:

Seattle, WA US
One-way ticket (public transportation) $2.75 $2.20
Monthly pass (public transportation) $99.00 $75.00
Gasoline (1 gallon) $3.43 $2.73
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (or equivalent) $23,000.00 $21,895.00
Toyota Corolla 1.6l 97kW Comfort (or equivalent) $22,081.80 $20,505.14

           
Cost of utilities

Seattle residents get a slight break when it comes to essential utilities such as electricity, water, and mobile and internet services. Prices for these commodities do not differ much between the local and national levels, based on Numbeo.com data:

Seattle, WA US
Electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for 915-square-foot apartment $153.27 $152.06
Charge for local call on a prepaid mobile (per minute) $0.12 $0.10
Internet (cable or ADSL; 60Mbps or higher with unlimited data) $65.44 $62.60

Miscellaneous expenses

Here are a few other comparative prices for common items and services based on data from Numbeo.com:

Seattle, WA US
Movie ticket $14.00 $12.00
Pair of jeans $49.45 $43.17
Summer dress from a leading chain store $42.88 $34.64
Pair of men’s leather business shoes $114.46 $94.49
Domestic beer (0.5 liter bottle) $2.06 $2.03
Bottle of wine (mid-range) $15.00 $12.00

Learn more about living in Seattle with Mary Pong

Is Seattle a good place to live? Absolutely! In fact, it’s a GREAT place to live – and I’d be happy to show you why. Contact me today at mary(at)marypong(dotted)com or 425-829-3417.