Real Estate in Seattle
Things to do
Real Estate in Seattle, the Emerald City, is Washington State’s crown jewel
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…” That’s right, Dorothy, you’re in the Emerald City. The Emerald City of Seattle, that is. You know the one, Washington State’s economic and cultural hub, a city full of lush greenery, sparkling waterways, and ever-present evergreens. A city like no other in the country, and one in which buyers snap up Seattle real estate as fast as it comes available, because in Seattle—there’s no place like home.
History of Seattle
History of Seattle
The “Queen City of the Pacific Northwest” You may be wondering how the Emerald City came to be? It wasn’t always so-called after the glittery green gem. Seattle adopted the Emerald City epithet in 1982, but as early as 1869, realtors in Portland, Oregon had coined the city the “Queen City of the Pacific Northwest,” proving that no matter the name, Seattle has always been beloved. So, what’s in its actual name, anyway? Good question. The City of Seattle was named after the Native American leader, Chief Sealth, the Lushootseed-speaking Duwamish Indian leader of the Coast Salish Indigenous peoples. The city that we now know today was built upon Indigenous land that the Duwamish and Suquamish Tribes stewarded for millennia. This was long before Seattle realtors, Seattle real estate for sale, and other property-buying jargon we are accustomed to hearing today. The Indigenous peoples of the land cared for the Puget Sound (Salish Sea) region in a more holistic way, one that was sustainable and fruitful. It was the local tribes’ extensive knowledge of the region that prevented some of the earliest white settlers from perishing. Seattle started out as a rough and tumble logging town. Henry Yesler’s lumber mill was one of the most important businesses in the city’s history. Not only did it supply lumber for the fledgling towns around the Puget Sound, but it also supplied San Francisco, California, a city that was growing at break-neck speed. Seattle was officially incorporated in 1869, 20 years before Washington became a state, and at the time, had more than 2,000 residents. Nowadays, you’ll find 2,000 residents in one of Seattle's smaller neighborhoods, a testament to the fact that Seattle real estate has always been coveted. By the 1880s, the City of Seattle was served by a railroad, and like most settlements in the West, once the railroads came, so did massive growth. Seattle recounts in its historic archive that in the first half of 1889, the city was gaining 1,000 new residents each month. This was an impressive figure for a Pacific Northwest town in what was considered to be a remote wilderness area. All came to a screeching halt on June 6th, 1889, however, when a massive fire tore through the heart of the city, destroying 116 acres of the business district. The fire was prolific because the entire city was made from lumber. Seattle residents began to rebuild immediately, vowing to build it better than before. They created a professional fire department, reconstructed wharves, streets, and municipal waterworks, and most importantly, built with brick or steel. The resulting structures were undoubtedly more impressive, but ultimately, they made for a more fire-resistant city going forward.
Things to do in Seattle
Things to do in Seattle
Things to Do in Seattle
There’s no shortage of things to do in Seattle, but let’s examine some of the highlights. A day well-spent would of course get started off with a great cup of coffee with some magical barista art in the foam and would end with taking in the city lights and the sunset from high up on one of Seattle’s many hills.
Of course, when “the mountain is out” meaning the sun is high and full in the sky and Seattle looks like the most resplendent place on earth, the awe-inspiring views of Mount Rainier are enough to wile a day away alone.
Here are some other fun Seattle tips:
Visit the famous (or infamous) Gum Wall in Pike Place Market.
Visit the entire Pike Place Market in general and all of its quirky shops, fine eateries, and handmade local art. Don’t miss the fresh fish stall where world-famous fishmongers toss some of the largest fish you’ve ever seen to one another like it’s no big deal.
Take in some live music at the Triple Door or The Crocodile, the latter being what Rolling Stone magazine calls one of the “Best Clubs in America”.
Get completely and utterly drunk in Pioneer Square, because that’s where the party’s at and has been since the city’s earliest days.
Air it out in Gas Works Park, a unique waterfront park that repurposes the unique equipment of the city’s former gasification plant.
Ride the monorail around town.
Take a day trip to Mount Rainier National Park.
Curl up in a cozy coffee shop and read a book as many Seattleites do. The city happens to be one of the most well-read in the country.
Seattle, the Land in Between In between the fresh waters of Lake Washington, and the salty Puget Sound, (whose Indigenous name is the Salish Sea) lies the City of Seattle. The city is built on a narrow strip of land and has carved out every usable inch. It’s land that, at times, seems to jut straight upward from the Puget Sound Trough. Seattle is a city of hills, like San Francisco, and many residents here who’ve invested in Seattle real estate have either switched to an automatic transmission with hill-assist or are wizards with the stick shift. Or, even better, have opted for a fully-pedestrian lifestyle to outsmart and outpace their movements around the city faster than the traffic-clogged streets can move them. Seattle is 60 minutes north of the Washington State capital city of Olympia and is two and a half hours from the Canadian border. It’s nearly the same travel time to the ocean waves out at Ocean Shores and in under two hours, Seattle residents can cross the rugged peaks of the Cascade Mountain Range to arrive on the drier side of Washington east of the mountains.
The Pacific Northwest stands out as a great place to invest in real estate, with Seattle real estate especially prolific. In a city that has one of the highest minimum wages in the country, $17.27 per hour as of 2022, the workers who live within the city (and greater King County) demand this livable wage in order to survive in this highly-priced city.
Home values continue to soar in Seattle, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to Seattle real estate. From downtown skyscraper living to the charming Craftsman architecture of Ravenna—Seattle’s got it all.
What it also has is what seems like an unfair amount of high-wage earners, with the city being one of the country’s foremost hubs for technology and industry. 10 Fortune 500 companies call Seattle home, from Amazon to Costco, Microsoft to Starbucks, and other giants like Paccar, Nordstrom, Weyerhaeuser, Expeditors International, and Alaska Airlines.
The average household income in Seattle, as reported by the 2020 Census, was $97,185, with the median value of a housing unit around $714,000. With over three-quarters of a million people now calling the city home, that’s a lot of cash flowing through the Seattle real estate market, and interestingly enough, (and perhaps related to the large number of high-profile jobs found in the city), more people live alone here than in any other city, save for San Francisco.
Arts in Seattle
Arts in Seattle
Music and Art are Alive and Well in Seattle
Seattle has a robust arts and entertainment scene. Drawing inspiration from coffee culture, the weather, and the lush vegetation of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle puts a high value on art and the many ways it improves Seattleites' lives. From stunningly beautiful and historic theaters to sparking an entire movement in music as the home of the Alternative Grunge style, Seattle has put itself on the map as an art and entertainment mecca and attracts visitors from all over the country.
Take in live theater, a concert, or a seminar from one of Seattle's three grandiose historic theaters. The Moore, Paramount, and 5th Avenue Theater all have inspiring architecture and acoustics.
For larger venues, there's the Seattle Repertory Theater or McCaw Hall, and there are smaller, more niche theaters tucked in and around the city like the Seattle Children’s Theater, the Village Theater, and the Annex Theater. In a city that gets flooded with precipitation, indoor places with things to do are pretty popular.
Who likes art? Seattle does. And the Chihuly Garden and Glass is a great place to take a deep dive into Seattle's art scene. Dale Chihuly, the nation’s foremost glassblowing artist, was born in nearby Tacoma and showcases the largest collection of his work here.
There’s always the Olympic Sculpture Park, too. This free exhibition has a beautiful view of the waterfront with works done by well-known contemporary artists who showcase the best of what the Northwest art experience has to offer.
The city is chock full of art galleries with too many to list, and most Seattle neighborhoods also feature a weekly, quarterly, or annual arts walk that shows off the uniqueness of each neighborhood.
There are big fancy art museums in the city, and other types of museums too, and it’s not uncommon for buyers to seek Seattle real estate just for the arts and entertainment scene—it’s a popular one.
And speaking of pop, Seattle popularized the antithesis of it in its exaltation of Grunge music with a nationwide explosion of the genre in the 1990s. From Pearl Jam to Nirvana, and Alice in Chains to Soundgarden, all four prolific bands hail from the Emerald City, with minor bands like Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, and the Posies all broadcasting their sounds from the Seattle zip code.
The city continues to pump out master musicians still to this day, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis representing Sea-Town and a large number of live music venues hosting prolific artists from around the globe.
Schools in Seattle
Schools in Seattle
Halls of Higher Learning In Seattle, we bleed purple. Or at least that’s what University of Washington Huskies fans want you to think. With the “UDub” being the city’s major university, there are also many other trade schools, private colleges, universities, and a number of highly-rated elementary and secondary schools for the kids. If your Seattle real estate pursuits led you to the city for education, you’re in good company, because over 95% of the city has a high school degree or higher with 65% of residents achieving a four-year degree or beyond. Other noteworthy learning institutions include Seattle Pacific University, Seattle Central College, Bastyr University, Cornish College of the Arts, Antioch University, DigiPen Institute of Technology, and Seattle University. A large number of trade schools, community colleges, seminary schools, and technical colleges round out the dizzying array of options.
Real estate in Seattle comes at a high cost. There’s no way to sugar-coat that. But the rich quality of life, recreation at every turn, abundant jobs, and unparalleled scenery make it worth it for most buyers.
No city worth its salt offers its abodes to its residents cheaply. Seattle experiences its own version of the “Sunshine Tax,” the unspoken rule that most sunny locales are more expensive to live in. Seattle may not have as many sunny days per year as Phoenix, but when the mountain is out, you can hear the electric buzz of the residents all over the city.
From the amazingly beautiful blue sky, punctuated by the white-capped stratovolcano of Mount Rainier, to the confoundingly-dense conifers that line the sparkling shores of the Salish Sea—that’s how you know you’re in Seattle, where there’s no place like home. And though the Yellow Brick Road that leads into the city may be paved with the golden hue of Amazon bubble mailers, it will still be a place that you’ll never want to click your heels together to leave.
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