Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, which is largely the result of its growing population. Many people have chosen to relocate to Seattle for the high-ranking universities, job opportunities, or just a better quality of life. The cost of living in Seattle generally doesn’t deter people because the city offers pristine natural landscapes, waterfront properties, tons of arts and culture, and so much more.


Finding an apartment

Which neighborhood you choose to live in is a big factor when trying to determine the average rent price. As a general rule though, rental prices rank high in this city. In fact, Seattle ranks in the top ten most expensive cities in the nation according to The Census Bureau of Seattle.

A furnished living room in a Blueground apartment

The neighborhoods like Rainier View, Central Des Moines, and Marina District are known to have median rental rates in comparison with the rest of the city. Although if you’re looking to live in Central Waterfront, Belltown or Pike Market you can expect rent to be upwards of $2,500 per month.

With the many apartment options in Seattle, it will help to have some experts on your side. Furnished apartment providers like Blueground can help you settle into a turnkey apartment with all utilities included in one monthly price. Their flexible lease terms also allow you to change apartments and explore other areas all on the same contract.


Getting around

Due to the steady increase in Seattle’s population, there are more drivers on the road, and the trains and buses have become more crowded. As a new resident of Seattle, what’s the best option for commuting to work? Well, let’s see. Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities. In a recent study by Geotab, five years of transportation data were analyzed for the 20 most populated cities in the U.S. These are the results for Seattle.

The average commute time for drivers is 32 minutes compared to 47 minutes when traveling by public transit. Although it may take longer to arrive at work by train or bus, Seattle’s commute public transit commute time ranked better than 15 of the other cities in the study, including Chicago and Los Angeles.


If a car is your preferred mode of travel, expect to pay a premium for gas. According to AAA, Seattle gas prices average $3.54 per gallon, which is considerably higher than the national average of $2.62 per gallon. To save on the cost of gas, download the GasBuddy app on your phone to locate gas stations with the best prices.

gas pump filling up a car on empty at the gas station

As far as parking goes, the lowest hourly rates start at $0.50. Certain neighborhoods, such as First Hill and Pioneer Square charge $5 an hour for parking.

Out of the 10 largest cities in the United States, Seattle’s parking costs rank seventh. However, if you’re commuting five days a week, a monthly pass can save you some money. For instance, monthly parking in areas like Seattle’s business district, range from $125 to $375.

Public transit

Seattle has a robust public transportation system. It consists of buses, trains, a light rail, monorail, the Seattle Streetcar, ferries, and water taxis. Here are some of the costs for these transportation services.

  • Bus: a one-way adult fare costs $2.75 to $3.75
  • Light rail: a one-way adult fare costs $2.25 to $3.25
  • Sounder train ride: a one-way ticket for adults costs anywhere from $3.25 to $5.75 depending on the length of the trip (a good option when you want to attend a Mariners or Seahawks game)
  • Ferry: a round-trip ride for an adult costs $5.20 to $8.65 and a monthly pass costs around $112
  • Water taxi: a one-way trip for an adult costs $5.00 to $6.75

If you live close to your office or school, consider walking or using a bike share. Downtown Seattle is very easy to get around on foot. Fortunately, this is really not a bad place to live if you don’t own a car.



According to PayScale, the cost of groceries in Seattle is 27% higher than the national average. Meaning, a dozen eggs and a loaf of bread cost about $0.50 more. Also, you’ll end up paying about $4.22 for a regular-sized cappuccino whereas the average price for a cappuccino in the U.S. is $4.11. A pound of apples cost more here too, which is surprising considering the state of Washington is one of the leading producers of apples.

Seattle has a great food scene, so you’ll find an endless number of restaurant options. Along with variety and high-quality, comes high prices. A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant averages around $70 (compared to the national average of $50). On the bright side, this isn’t as expensive as a similar meal in San Francisco, which goes for $80.



According to Numbeo, Seattle utilities average around $156 per month. This amount covers electricity, gas, water, and garbage for a 900 square-foot apartment. Overall, it’s not much different than the national average of $152.



No matter where you live in the United States, unfortunately, healthcare is pricey — even if you’ve got good coverage. Seattle is no exception. Here it actually costs 24% more than the national average. The average doctor’s visit will set you back $138 and to fill a prescription it can cost you as much as $547. Read up on your private or work healthcare coverage to be sure that medical treatments won’t account for an overwhelming portion of your Seattle living expenses.


Compared to other major U.S. cities

house boat on the Elliot Bay harbor in Seattle with sailboats nearby

So clearly, it’s more expensive to live in Seattle than other major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. PayScale reports than the cost of living in Seattle is 49% higher than the U.S. average.

A major contributor to this stat is the astronomical housing costs. Even though the average salary in Seattle is $77,000, it doesn’t stretch as far when you factor in high rental prices.

Rental data obtained by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that median rent in Seattle (including utilities) was $1,555 during 2017. This stat reflects the median rent for all types and sized rental units. Only renters in San Jose, San Francisco, and San Diego pay more than this amount.

Compared with San Francisco and New York, however, Seattle’s living costs are considered affordable. It’s all relative! You just have to determine what works best for you, your lifestyle and of course – your budget.

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