Author Topic: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?  (Read 5792 times)

Hoosier Daddy

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Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« on: February 27, 2017, 05:03:02 AM »
Hey all.

My wife and I may have an opportunity to move to Seattle from our current town in the Midwest... we are very excited about the prospect of moving, but there are things to consider and I would really appreciate some Mustachian advice from those willing to give it....

Current situation:

We are living in a small and pretty boring town. We however are making huge salaries when compared to where we live. We live very comfortably on ~$35k a year and we make about $170k per year. This is obviously fueling our early retirement journey well, but we are bored out of our minds right now. We have about $100k in cash, which we were going to buy a house with but may now invest most of it, and about another $100k in pre-tax investments. With our current pace we should retire in about 6 years.

Move to Seattle?

I have an opportunity to move to a great company in Seattle and I would get a minimum $25k raise (and higher HCOL as well). My wife makes about $30k higher than her market rate would probably say she should be paid and so we are worried about losing that boost. Also, Seattle seems to be a very forward thinking city in terms of the skills required... from what I have seen on LinkedIn jobs, it seems like every job is "normal" job description + relevant programming. I am in Finance but have taught myself a lot about analytics and will fit better with the culture in Seattle than where I live in the Midwest. However my wife doesn't have any programming skills currently and works as an industrial engineer. I was looking for jobs for her there and couldn't find anything for her that doesn't require some knowledge of at least Python or something...

Thus we are both super excited about the prospect of living in Seattle but fear that if the wife cannot get a job, we may go from having huge excesses of money to barely enough. But if she did get a job, we could have a similar savings rate as we do currently but actually have a lot of fun things to do... it feels high risk high reward but maybe that's because I'm just scared lol... would you guys move or stick with the bird in hand and wait 5-6 years to retire?


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merlin7676

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2017, 08:47:39 AM »
I can't give you any advise other than moving here will be very expensive for you.
If you live in seattle proper, a one bedroom apt will cost you around 2K.  If you buy a condo, you're looking at 400-500K for a small one.
You can of course live further out in a burb but traffic is a nightmare here. Expect a 30 minute drive with no traffic to be at least an hour. We don't have rush hour as there is always traffic on the roads except very late at night and early morning.
Any little bit of rain or snow and traffic slows down even further.
It is expensive for utilities, groceries, car insurance, ect...but it sounds like you'll be making decent money.
There is plenty to do here but most of it will cost you. Very little in the way of free concerts or things like that but the views are wonderful and there is plenty of trails for hiking (traffic to get to them and usually busy, especially in nice weather) and beaches and the like.
There is a thing called the seattle frost (it's a real thing) so making new friends can be a challenge.

JoJo

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2017, 09:28:02 AM »
I moved from the midwest and have been in the Seattle area for 11 years.

I agree with everything Merlin said.

One positive is the 0 income tax - but that may not be forever as there seems to be growing support for progressive tax.

Traffic is really my #1 complaint right now - It's impossible to do anything social after work unless it's someplace between my office & my condo.

As a mustachian, you can avoid some of the other stuff.  It's so expensive to eat out due to high costs, tips & taxes, but obviously that can be avoided.


honeybbq

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2017, 09:30:18 AM »
I moved to Seattle from the midwest and received approximately a 30% raise.

The good:
Higher salary
No state income tax
Liberal state with family friendly laws, etc (e.g. sick time may be used for children, etc)
Low unemployment
Lots of opportunities for various types of work
Outdoor experiences - hiking, kayaking, etc.
Great place to raise children, family friendly, a zillion parks, etc.

the bad:
Extremely high COL in terms of housing. A small starter home in Seattle proper is 750k. Property taxes are very high as well.
Homelessness/drug addicts/etc
Traffic
Childcare is extremely expensive


I personally couldn't wait to get away from Missouri. It's not worth it to me for any amount of money to live in a place like that. I wanted to raise my child somewhere that is tolerant, has lots of outdoor opportunities, and has a better work/life balance for me. Even if it costs more, it was worth it 100 times over.

JoJo

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2017, 10:25:42 AM »
One more benefit - no mosquitoes!

There are crazy bad flies on some hikes but at home I can just keep my screen door open in the summer.

lhamo

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2017, 11:13:49 AM »
Cost of housing is very much dependent on size and location..plus family size.

I don't know what constitutes a "small starter home" in honeybbq's world, but you can definitely still find 1-2br condos and small homes for under 500k (I know this because someone I know is looking in this range and we have a spreadsheet). These are in areas that are either very central/walkable (e.g. Lower Queen Anne, Belltown --small condos with not outrageous HOA fees) or with good public transit options.

The housing situation is much trickier/more expensive when you have kids and need 3-4br, esp. if you want to be in reasonable proximity to a decent school.

Syonyk

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2017, 11:31:19 AM »
I left that hellhole (Seattle) and haven't looked back.  My wife and I are radically, radically happier out near the middle of nowhere near family (rural farm country) than we were out in Seattle.

The cost of living is stupid.  The traffic is worse.  "You can't get there from here" is basically a working description of getting around the whole area.  Electric bikes are literally faster than driving for a lot of trips.

The rain... is nine months of misery.  In the midwest (I've lived there, quite liked it), you get rain, it passes, and you get sun.  Seattle?  You get a quarter inch of drizzle spread into 36 hours of "It's just wet outside."  And if you do get actual heavy rain, things flood, trees come down, hillsides come down, and the place is a mess.

A $25k raise won't cover cost of living increases from a small midwest town.  Not by a mile.  Especially at your tax rate.

If your idea if a good time is sitting in traffic to stand in line to spend money, it's a great place to be.

honeybbq

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2017, 11:58:37 AM »
Cost of housing is very much dependent on size and location..plus family size.

I don't know what constitutes a "small starter home" in honeybbq's world, but you can definitely still find 1-2br condos and small homes for under 500k (I know this because someone I know is looking in this range and we have a spreadsheet). These are in areas that are either very central/walkable (e.g. Lower Queen Anne, Belltown --small condos with not outrageous HOA fees) or with good public transit options.

The housing situation is much trickier/more expensive when you have kids and need 3-4br, esp. if you want to be in reasonable proximity to a decent school.

Here's a screen shot of the available houses that are max of 500k, 2 bed 1 bath homes in the Seattle proper. Yes, there are cheaper ones farther out. Note that square footage in seattle also includes unfinished basements and basically unhabitable space as well. Anything within the exterior walls that you can stand up in is counted as sq footage.

https://ibb.co/mJ7tGF

These houses will probably have 10 offers on them by Friday and go for 100k over asking. There are no SFH in QA at that price point, 2 that are in the map, and 2 that are up higher in less desirable neighborhoods. I didn't look that carefully at the houses because at that price point, chances are you don't want to live there.

Bump your house price up to 750 k and you have 45 choices within the window I selected. South of downtown is typically cheaper as well. But again, you might live next to railroad tracks or a warehouse.

« Last Edit: February 27, 2017, 12:04:11 PM by honeybbq »

Syonyk

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2017, 12:04:03 PM »
These houses will probably have 10 offers on them by Friday and go for 100k over asking.

$100k over asking, inspections waived, cash buyer.

honeybbq

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2017, 12:05:39 PM »
These houses will probably have 10 offers on them by Friday and go for 100k over asking.

$100k over asking, inspections waived, cash buyer.

That too. Just google "Seattle housing" and look at the numbers.  It's a huge problem. But that's because EVERYBODY wants to live here (except Syonyk :) )

Heroes821

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2017, 12:14:42 PM »
Not my personal experience but a co-worker just got a job at Google and was given 4 locations to move to cali, seattle, new York, or Chicago.

Chicago was not looked at by her but New York city was only 2.0 times the COL from our current location vs the 3.4-4.0 COL cost of Cali or Seattle. And this is semi rural south US.

Syonyk

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2017, 12:49:25 PM »
It's a huge problem. But that's because EVERYBODY wants to live here (except Syonyk :) )

You're welcome to it.  I'm glad nobody wants to move to rural farm country - it wouldn't be an amazing place to live if there were tons of people.

Noodle

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2017, 05:14:10 PM »
As a "live-here forever" destination, Seattle may not be your best bet. As everyone else has pointed out, housing is very expensive to buy, so you might be looking at being a permanent renter...and due to limited space to work with, multi-family units are not being built nearly fast enough to keep up with demand, so rents are also going up. Traffic has been terrible for years and doesn't seem likely to improve any time soon, because so many people have to commute from cheaper areas.

However, Seattle can be a wonderful place for an adventure for a few years, especially if you don't have kids. It's a gorgeous city and has scenery and activities that are unlike any other place in the country. While you probably won't accumulate as fast as living in your current situation, if you are willing to go into a small rental close enough to work that you can use public transit to commute, and get rid of your car (or keep a paid-off old beater for Costco runs), at two high salaries you could still be saving. (I can't speak to your wife's job opportunities, but it might be worth seeing if she can find someone actually employed out here in her field to talk to about what kind of qualifications people typically have. Seattle employers often ask for the moon, but I don't know how often they get it.) So if you are in a position to do it for a few years and then move on, it might be worth making the change!

Note: (You also have to be OK with at least 7 months of grey, cold, rainy weather a year. I loved it, but some people just hate it (my dad, for instance, would never live in Seattle).

FIFoFum

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2017, 05:48:44 PM »
OP, why do you WANT to move to Seattle?

If you are thinking it is a faster way to FI, particularly because of a $25K salary bump, you are probably very wrong (see discussion re: housing + commuting costs).

If you are genuinely attracted to lifestyle differences, that's a big deal. But are you specifically thinking PNW? Have you been here? To visit? At different times of the year?

I live in Seattle now and have lived in Midwest and East Coast before. Seattle is not for everyone. The lack of sun/grey/short days throughout winter hit some people hard.

If the issue is that your town is small and boring, why not look for job opportunities in a city in the Midwest/plains/rust belt place with lower cost of living (e.g., Minneapolis, Pittsburgh)?

Lanthiriel

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2017, 09:57:31 PM »
It's a huge problem. But that's because EVERYBODY wants to live here (except Syonyk :) )

You're welcome to it.  I'm glad nobody wants to move to rural farm country - it wouldn't be an amazing place to live if there were tons of people.

I just moved back to Portland after 3.5 years in Alaska, and I feel like this too. Why are all these people clamoring to live in this wet, awful place? Oh, right, jobs.

Syonyk

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2017, 10:06:42 PM »
If the issue is that your town is small and boring, why not look for job opportunities in a city in the Midwest/plains/rust belt place with lower cost of living (e.g., Minneapolis, Pittsburgh)?

Or just do some vacation buy at work/take unpaid leave and travel more.

Or suck it up for a few more years and retire.  A $25k salary bump and "wife may or may not be able to find similarly paid work in her field" is not worth moving to Seattle for the money.

I just moved back to Portland after 3.5 years in Alaska, and I feel like this too. Why are all these people clamoring to live in this wet, awful place? Oh, right, jobs.

My wife and I learned, living in Seattle, that we're basically solar powered.  Where we live now, we get two months of grey with some scattered days of sun in the winter, and the rest of the year is basically pure sun.  We are so much happier with proper sunshine.  And not dealing with neighbors in close proximity.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2017, 04:01:19 AM »
I love living in Seattle because there is plenty to do and see, and it's beautiful and bookish and a bit nerdy. The concerns about weather and housing costs are spot on. Even though I enjoy the climate, we have a habit of taking a cheap flight somewhere sunny in February to bust out of the gloom. Vegas works well for that.

My enjoyment of Seattle is higher now that we live downtown and don't drive. The parks are your backyard and there is always something to do within walking or bus distance. Driving around here is truly the pits.

If you're willing to drop 2k/mo for an apartment near downtown, it's a really nice quality of life! Keep in mind that if you go from a rural area some expenses will drop, particularly if you lose the car. Electricity costs are pretty low. A smaller place is less expensive to heat.

If worse comes to worse, I imagine your wife could learn Python?

I'd suggest you come out for a visit. The weather is absolutely gross right now. You'll see the city without any rose colored glasses.

SiS

mbl

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2017, 07:32:02 AM »
Many good points from those who live/have lived in Seattle or the surrounding area.

As FiFofum suggested, you need to take a trip there.

I'm sure as many have said that there are innumerable things to recommend Seattle.

As you discover and assess the Pros and Cons,  consider how you live your life day to day.

Recreation and access to culture, outdoors, restaurants et al....are one aspect of your life.
But, the majority of your time is spent navigating day to to day living.

In the end that can be the most compelling things that will affect your happiness/satisfaction with where you live.

Go visit and take public transport.   Observe what biking around town would be like as a commute.
How much are groceries, gas, utilities, cable, internet, car insurance,  sales taxes,  property taxes...etc.

Are you going to be living knuckled in with a much denser population than you do now?   That can definitely make a difference is you're used
to having a bit of space.


KittyFooFoo

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2017, 07:46:19 AM »
Damn you guys really hate Seattle! :)

Syonyk

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2017, 09:29:15 AM »
Recreation and access to culture, outdoors, restaurants et al....are one aspect of your life.
But, the majority of your time is spent navigating day to to day living.

Yup.  And if you're not a huge fan of going out to different restaurants every night, or Chinese delivered at 3AM (apparently this is a thing that matters to a lot of people), those things aren't part of daily life.

I somehow don't imagine a couple moving to Seattle close to early retirement and then spending their evenings out at restaurants/clubbing/etc.

Recreation and access to outdoors are slightly less crowded than a shopping mall, but hiking up a mountain to find a few hundred people up there gets pretty old fast.  There's no wildlife to speak of around the trails.

JoJo

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2017, 10:15:24 AM »

Recreation and access to outdoors are slightly less crowded than a shopping mall, but hiking up a mountain to find a few hundred people up there gets pretty old fast.  There's no wildlife to speak of around the trails.

This is a huge complaint of mine too.  You better leave for your hikes at 7am or there won't be a parking spot at the trailhead. 

Snow lake on a busy day is incredible - there's got to be over 1,000 people on that trail some days.

The trails have gotten noticeably busier since I moved here 11 years ago.  Everyone is taking this as hobby + the increase in populations = hiking isn't as fun as it used to be. 

Syonyk

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2017, 10:37:48 AM »
Sounds about right. Sorry, hiking with 1000 people isn't my thing.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2017, 03:15:45 PM »
I moved to Seattle from the Midwest. At the time, I found I was able to save many more dollars here than there as a software engineer. The increased cost of living was more than outweighed by increased salaries and lack of state income tax. With our crazy increases in housing prices that's perhaps a bit less true now than it was then, but even so Seattle was named the number 1 city last year in terms of cost-of-living-adjusted salaries for software engineers.

I personally find it to be a beautiful city. It is a city though. If you generally do enjoy city life over suburban or rural life, Seattle can be a great place for that. If you're like Syonyk and find that you generally aren't happy in an urban environment, you probably won't like Seattle. Traffic can be bad, but you miss the worst of it if you can organize your life so you don't need to hop in a car to go to work. As to the weather, I find it to be better than where I'm from during every season. The summer is much more moderate and I prefer the winter drizzle to snow. To each their own though.

skeptic

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2017, 07:30:57 PM »
It sounds like moving to Seattle will have negative a negative financial impact on your life, possibly a very significant one. Your salary increase will be well offset by the cost of living, and the likely drop for your spouse -- plus the time it will take your spouse to find a job at all.

But you have the funds to afford it, so one question is: is it worth it?

But instead of just asking Seattle vs. status quo, maybe it makes more sense to explore what you really want in a location. Urban vs. rural vs. suburban vs. small/med-town? Close to family? Job market for _______? Etc.

It's possible that there is something else out there that is an even better fit for you than Seattle.

Good luck!

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2017, 07:52:15 PM »
Seattle proper is beautiful but stupid prices.  It gets a lot better if you can get out of the city a bit, like some place in Snoqualmie would be quite nice.

When we first moved to the U-district in 1996 we were renting a little 3bd 2bath 1940s house on about a quarter acre right across the street from the Burke-Gilman trail  In 1997 the owner wanted to sell it to us for around $170k.  Had we bought it I imagine it would be worth $600k or more today...just crazy.

All the cheap fun stuff to do is on the east side anyway, up in the foothills and mountains.  Hiking in Seattle proper is stepping over drug needles and squeezing between homeless tents.  The Cascade foothills are beautiful though.  So might as well live there and commute to the city during the week if you HAVE to work in the city proper.

lhamo

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #25 on: February 28, 2017, 08:14:05 PM »
Seattle proper is beautiful but stupid prices.  It gets a lot better if you can get out of the city a bit, like some place in Snoqualmie would be quite nice.

When we first moved to the U-district in 1996 we were renting a little 3bd 2bath 1940s house on about a quarter acre right across the street from the Burke-Gilman trail  In 1997 the owner wanted to sell it to us for around $170k.  Had we bought it I imagine it would be worth $600k or more today...just crazy.

All the cheap fun stuff to do is on the east side anyway, up in the foothills and mountains.  Hiking in Seattle proper is stepping over drug needles and squeezing between homeless tents.  The Cascade foothills are beautiful though.  So might as well live there and commute to the city during the week if you HAVE to work in the city proper.

I would not recommend Snoqualmie/North Bend unless you can telecommute.   The traffic on 1-90 during rush hour is horrendous....

Your estimate for 98105 properties is waaaaay too low.   Here is a 3br/2bath in that zip that just hit the market.   Maybe your old rental?

https://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/4008-NE-40th-St-98105/home/121831

Syonyk

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2017, 08:47:43 PM »
The Cascade foothills are beautiful though.  So might as well live there and commute to the city during the week if you HAVE to work in the city proper.

Sure, if you're good with 2-4 hours a day in a car.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #27 on: February 28, 2017, 09:51:49 PM »
That is a little nicer than our rental but the lot is smaller....dayumn.....$1.25 million?

So essentially we could have bought that $170k house, lived a ultra non mustachian lifestyle with credit card debt galore, and pretty much be in the same position today after selling the house and banking the profit?

Bubble

Syonyk

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2017, 10:02:24 PM »
Bubble

You can only say that after things burst.  Until then, it's the "New Sustainable Normal."

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2017, 10:11:02 PM »
Bubble

You can only say that after things burst.  Until then, it's the "New Sustainable Normal."

Is that like when the stock market reaches a "permanently high plateau"?

Syonyk

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #30 on: February 28, 2017, 10:17:43 PM »
Is that like when the stock market reaches a "permanently high plateau"?

Come on.  You know as well as I do that it never does anything but go up, if you zoom out far enough and squint! :p

Fifty years from now, obviously houses in Seattle will be selling for bazillions of dollars!  If you don't buy now at... $1M+, you'll miss out!

The new construction out there is utter and complete crap, though.  No lots, rubbish construction, "luxury" features like fancy countertops, ugly as sin, and selling for $1M+ or so.

katscratch

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Re: Move to Seattle from small town in Midwest?
« Reply #31 on: March 01, 2017, 12:01:39 PM »
OP, why do you WANT to move to Seattle?

If you are thinking it is a faster way to FI, particularly because of a $25K salary bump, you are probably very wrong (see discussion re: housing + commuting costs).

If you are genuinely attracted to lifestyle differences, that's a big deal. But are you specifically thinking PNW? Have you been here? To visit? At different times of the year?

I live in Seattle now and have lived in Midwest and East Coast before. Seattle is not for everyone. The lack of sun/grey/short days throughout winter hit some people hard.

If the issue is that your town is small and boring, why not look for job opportunities in a city in the Midwest/plains/rust belt place with lower cost of living (e.g., Minneapolis, Pittsburgh)?

Exactly what I was going to say. I've lived in WA, MN and job-shopped in Pittsburgh. Friends that have lived in all three have had lateral job moves so the job markets may be similar, whereas COL is quite different. I moved to Minnesota from Western Washington. Definitely do a recon visit in the off season and visit grocery stores (my personal must-do when scouting a city because that's the one budget line that varies for me).