Houses in Seattle
Things to do
There’s no place like home, and a house in Seattle, the ‘Emerald City,’ is a precious gem
Seattle is a verdant cityscape and a Pacific Northwest mecca for technology, industry, and outdoor recreation. A city by the sea, Seattle’s mountain vistas and endless evergreens offer unparalleled views to its residents. It’s a good life in Seattle, enriched with arts, culture, and history, and is one where workers achieve liveable wages, have opportunities for growth, and are able to call a house in Seattle their own. After all, when you’re living in the Emerald City, there’s truly “no place like home.”
History of Seattle
History of Seattle
Seattle: From Rough and Tumble Logging Town to Massive Metropolis Seattle hasn’t always been called the Emerald City. As early as 1869, realtors from Portland, Oregon had dubbed the burgeoning city, the “Queen City of the Pacific Northwest.” Even way back then folks knew that a house in Seattle was a dream come true, and no matter what you want to call Seattle, its special sparkle is immutable. Since its early days, it was easy to see that Seattle was a diamond in the rough, and today it takes its rightful place in the crown of America’s best cities. So how did it get to where it is today? It was the shared knowledge of the First Peoples, the blood, sweat, and tears of the pioneers, (and ultimately, the Indigenous peoples too), and a relentless desire to not give up on the city, even when it burned to the ground. Seattleites are resilient and dedicated to their region—because they know a good thing when they see one. From Sealth to Seattle When the first white settlers began to trickle into the area we now call Seattle, they were met with a thriving Indigenous population of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes who had been stewarding the lands in this watery region since time immemorial. The Duwamish Chief, Sealth, was a friendly leader and is credited to have protected the early pioneers and helped them survive the first winter in a new climate. The Denny Party, a group that had crossed the United States by wagon train via the Oregon Trail, sailed up the Pacific coast making an eventual landing in Elliot Bay. They were among some of the first founding families to create the “Town of Seattle,” which was platted and filed in 1853, and named after the friendly Chief. (“Seattle” is an anglicized version of Chief Sealth’s name.) The party arrived in the dead of winter, 1851, to make a new life upon land that was rich and fertile, albeit unfamiliar. A member of their party, David Denny, had traveled overland in advance to build a cabin for his family’s arrival. When the party landed their schooner, Exact, at Alki Point, they found Denny worse for the wear. He was huddled in a roofless cabin, cut from the ax he was using to fell trees, and was feverish and soaked to the bone. The journals from the time tell of the women and children of the party weeping openly on the banks of the shoreline, distraught at the thought of spending the winter without shelter. By that spring, the party relocated to the eastern part of the bay, moving the settlement to a location with a more sound harbor. Seattle was growing from a logging town that started with just a handful of families to one that by 1889, had turned into a city that was attracting 1,000 new residents per month. The Great Seattle Fire The second half of 1889, however, was marred in tragedy when on June 6, 116 acres, 25 city blocks, of the city’s business district burned down to the ground. Seattle was a timber town founded on the exploitation of this prolific resource, and ironically, it was that same resource that nearly destroyed it. With no professional fire department and no building codes to prevent such a tragedy, the fire burned all through the day and night. Accounts from the event tell of the city’s leaders working to rebuild the city the very next day. 600 businessmen met in the streets to make a plan on how the city could move forward. There were no records of anyone being hurt in the fire, and most of the buildings destroyed were of commercial use, sparing almost all of the residential houses in Seattle. In the span of one year, 465 new buildings were built and most businesses were back in operation despite the city’s phenomenal losses of what have been estimated to be around 20 million dollars. The fire could have easily snuffed Seattle out overnight, but the city used it as an opportunity to create a better, even more grand city. Seattlites widened and straightened the streets, and in many cases built right atop the wreckage. They elevated the town, in some places by 22 feet, leveling out some of the hilly terrain. (Today’s residents will find this supposed flattening hard to believe—but it’s true.) Seattle's leaders also used the fire as the catalyst for creating a professional fire department. The department during the fire was made up of volunteers, and many of them quit afterward citing the horrible treatment they received from townsfolk during the blaze. The city also adopted building codes that dictated that new Seattle buildings were to be made of stone, brick, and steel in an effort to prevent such a tragedy from ever gaining a foothold again. Seattle’s residents were remarkable during this time, and continue to be so. Buying a house in Seattle today, or during any time in its history, is to stake your own claim in this city’s resilient, industrious, and enterprising inertia.
Things to do in Seattle
Things to do in Seattle
With so many places to go, people to see, and an absolute abundance of things to do, possibly the worst thing about owning a home in Seattle is deciding how to spend your free time. Perusing the stalls at Pike Place Market is always time well spent, as is getting out on the water via personal watercraft or even a Washington State Ferry.
Seattleites are known to be outdoorsy folk and love to get outside. In a beautiful city full of endless evergreens and mountain vistas, when ‘the Mountain is out,” (it’s a sunny day and Mount Rainier is on full display), then so are Seattle residents.
Dining out in Seattle is also a pastime residents indulge in quite faithfully. From cult classics like Dick’s Drive-Inn and Canlis to newer favorites that spring forth from food trucks and dimly-lit waterfront tables, Seattle is probably best-known for its plethora of Asian cuisine. With a robust Asian population, residents are spoiled with opportunities for authentic Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, and more—without ever having to stray very far from their house in Seattle.
A perfect day in Seattle can be spent in so many different ways, but if for you it starts with a cup of coffee, and ends with a Pacific Northwest craft brew, then head to the very first Starbucks at Pike Place, and end your night in Ballard, Georgetown, Belltown, or Pioneer Square at one of their nightclub hotspots.
In the Center of it All You may be surprised to learn that the City of Seattle is located upon an isthmus. With Lake Washington to the east and the Puget Sound, or the Salish Sea, (its Indigenous name that is more commonly being referenced) to the west, the strip of land Seattle is built upon connects two larger bodies of land. This unique geography limits its growth, however, so land in Seattle, and especially houses in Seattle, come at a premium. To the north, Seattleites can make it to the Canadian border in under three hours, and conversely, to the Washington/Oregon border to the south in nearly the same travel time. If Seattleites head west, they can see Ocean Shore’s wild Pacific Ocean waves in about two and a half hours, and if they head east over Snoqualmie Pass and across the Cascade Range, they’ll be in Washington State’s drier, more sunny region in the shortest travel time yet, in under two hours. If it seems like owning a house in Seattle would be equidistant to everything—it's because it is, and the great location in central Puget Sound is definitely part of the city’s magnetism.
It’s not a secret that houses in Seattle are among the nation’s toughest to secure. The Seattle housing market is intense, with the average price for a single-family home in Seattle starting somewhere between $800,000 to $900,000.
Seattle has built a name for itself as one of the nation’s leading tech hubs, and because of this attracts talent from all over the country and the world. 10 Fortune 500 companies call the city home, and giants like Amazon, Microsoft, Costco, Expedia, Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, and more are headquartered in Seattle, employing a lion’s share of the region’s workers.
According to the 2020 Census, the average household income in Seattle was well above the national average, with combined figures averaging around $97,185 per year. Not only that but Seattle workers are also afforded one of the highest minimum wages in the country, with workers clocking in at $17.27 per hour as of 2022.
It is these higher wages found in Seattle's robust and rapidly expanding economy that enables many Seattle hopefuls to realize their dreams of owning a house in Seattle. Is it your turn next?
Arts in Seattle
Arts in Seattle
Some people buy a house in Seattle specifically because it is known to be a vibrant city that takes pride in its music, arts, and culture. Whether it’s coffee culture or a celebration of its Indigenous people and their roots, history and art are commingled and the music scene especially is on full display.
Harken back to a sampling of the sounds of the 1990s and you’ll instantly recall the Grunge music or Alternative music genre that took the music industry by storm. These new sounds paired well with a cozy Pacific Northwest flannel and a steaming cup of coffee, and the sounds of four prolific Seattle bands were heard all around the world. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden are all from the Seattle area, as were other musical legends like Jimi Hendrix and Bing Crosby. Today, musicians like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Brandi Carlile, Death Cab for Cutie, Dave Matthews, and the Foo Fighters keep Seattle on the map of most musical American cities.
If you’re looking for a more quiet experience, but one that is uniquely Seattle, there are museums, galleries, and artistic and cultural showcases on nearly every corner.
A regional favorite is the Olympic Sculpture Park, a nine-acre park right on the waterfront and located a mile from the Seattle Art Museum. Admission to the award-winning outdoor showcase of some of Seattle's most massive works of art is free, and having this enormous greenspace preserved for the public right at the water's edge is priceless.
Schools in Seattle
Schools in Seattle
Seattle’s largest and most important school is a leading research university, the University of Washington. With nearly 45,000 students, pockets of Seattle are legit ‘college towns’ within a city and ensure that Seattle stays youthful and well-read. There are many other halls of higher learning around the city as well, and with 65% of the residents earning a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, Seattlites are known to be highly educated. Check out Seattle Pacific University, Seattle Central College, Bastyr University, Cornish College of the Arts, Antioch University, DigiPen Institute of Technology, and Seattle University for their industry-specific educational offerings.
A house in Seattle may not be easy to achieve, but it is certainly well-earned. Seattle residents may be career-driven and hardworking, but they make time to play too. With the natural world as their spectacular backyard, buying a house in Seattle, in Washington State’s Emerald City is a wonderful investment.
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