Seattle, WA, United States of America Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Seattle, WA, United States of America

Seattle, WA, United States of America 02/22/07

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Saudi Arabia 13 years.

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2. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Goverment (DOJ).

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

All flights lead to Rome (Seattle).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

VERY EXPENSIVE! We moved here from Alabama and I was in sticker shock when we house hunted. We ended up buying 35 miles north of the city where we could afford it, but then the commute SUCKS for my husband.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Much more expensive than in the Southeastern US.All groceries are available. Milk is about $4.00/gallon and up. I thought that was high.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

You can get everything here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All (except Carrabas and Sonics!)

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

You can get a weekly maid for about US$55/week or every other week for US$75 or so.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problems.

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3. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes. All denominations. People are not near as religious here as in the southeastern US, however

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4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

No more problems than usual.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes (downtown trains, not anywhere near as good as DC or the like, mostly used by tourists), buses go everywhere and homeless people ride for free.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Something that gets good gas mileage would be best. They do have an HOV lane for motorcycles and carpools. That would speed up your commute a little.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes, many.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

More formal downtown, but generally people dress VERY casually.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None more than any other big city.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Rain in the winter (the kind that you can still go and do stuff in, not pouring rain), lots of grey skies in the winter too. Temperate though (Rarely snows and is mostly in the 40s). Summer is high of 80, mostly in the 60-70s and sunny. Plants grow awesome here because of the long days.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

All public schools are decent.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes. I have found the most success using home daycares. They tend to have a lot fewer kids.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Obviously large :)

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Lots to do. We have enjoyed the Pacific Northwest Ballet and various museums.

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3. Morale among expats:

Middle of the road (some poeple never want to leave, some are going to kill themselves over traffic concerns).Police are not thought of as family here as in other places. They are thought of as big brother and a necessary evil.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes to all.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Excellent (especially Capital Hill area). Many bars, theaters and gay neighborhoods

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not really. I teach in Lake Stevens, WA (35 miles north of the city) and it is the whitest place I have ever been. Minorities that we do have include Native Americans and Asians.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Touristy stuff (Zoo, Aquarium, Space Needle), Sno-isle libraries are AWESOME (they have a great book exchange with other libraries so you can listen to books-on-tape during your heinous commute).

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Art from Pike's Place market, salmon, TULIPS in April are WONDERFUL, don't miss the tulip festival

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9. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Better than LA, Detroit or Chicago, but VERY expensive with hideous traffic (about 2 hours to go 30 miles).A smaller office would be better.(Probably why I'm headed overseas!) :)Yes if you're very liberal, no for the conservatives.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bathing suits (You are NOT moving to the beach, even in the summers it is fairly cool 70ish) The kids like swimming in the lakes, but they are too cold for me. The ocean is about 40 degrees. Brrrr. Beautiful though in the summers

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3. But don't forget your:

Raincoat. No one really uses umbrellas here, like you'd think, but a sturdy raincoat that goes with everything will be well used.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Sleepless in Seattle.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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