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Cost of Living in Seattle for Renters

What is the cost of living in Seattle, WA? 

All in all, one adult living alone in Seattle should expect to pay a baseline price of about $1,900 per month on basic expenses.

Here is the breakdown we have for the average cost of living in Seattle, WA:

Cost of living estimates can be measured in many different ways and vary based on the neighborhood, but overall, the region’s expenses are 24 percent higher than the national average.

It's important to note that housing costs drop significantly when roommates are in the equation. In fact, having just one roommate in Seattle can save you 25% on your rent!

cost of living in seattle

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Prices overall are fairly good for a big city, but they’re going up.

It’s more expensive to live in Seattle than in Phoenix, Dallas, or Miami but less expensive than living in New York, Boston, or Los Angeles. For the job market and the economy, this is a great city that’s not as costly as many others, though it does occasionally still reach top ten lists for most expensive cities in the U.S. to rent in.

Cost of Living in Seattle, WA
Cost of Living in Seattle

Prices in general have gone up 2.2 percent in the past year, according to the Consumer Price Index. All in all, the city has been experiencing a great deal of growth, with prices going up exponentially in 2014 and 2015. The problem is that rent has changed quickly, increasing 7.5 percent in the past year within the Seattle metro area and 11.8 percent in the city of Seattle. Cost of living prices will likely go up during your stay.

You must make at the very least more than $10.98 per hour if you plan to have a decent living in the region (more than that if you have kids).

The living wage for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region is $10.98 per hour for one adult. For two working adults with two children, it’s $15.08 per hour. A single parent with one child, though, would need to make $23.29 per hour to have a living wage. Right now, there’s also a big push in the region to lift the minimum wage to $15 per hour citywide because of the needs of parents and the cost to live in Seattle. Cost of living projections have risen well beyond the current minimum wage, which is $9.32 per hour, close to the poverty wage for a single parent with more than one child.

You’ll likely spend more than the "recommended 30 percent of your income" on housing.

Housing is the most expensive expense category, at 57 percent above the national average. The average rent is $1,959 per month for the Seattle metro area.

According to the Living Wage Index, a living wage for one adult for one year in this region is $22,844, with $8,861 being the average spent on housing. If you’re near that salary range and plan to have a roommate to cut the costs of your monthly rent to around $738 per month, that’s still 37.8 percent of your income spent on housing, which is far beyond the advised 30 percent.

On average, locals to the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton area spent 35 percent of their income on housing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014.

When you plan to move, understand that you’ll spend a great deal on rent because the average rent is so high. To spend less on housing, take the time to find the right listing, choose to rent with a roommate, pick the right neighborhood, and contact a rental agent to locate a more affordable apartment that’s within your budget.

cost of living in seattle

Image source: Northeastern University

Groceries can be pricey, but the quality is often worth it.

Groceries are 11 percent more expensive than the national average. But hurray for cheap seafood and an abundance of local farmers’ markets! Locals in the wider region spend between $300.58 per month (according to the living wage index) and $376 per month (according to the BLS) on groceries. About 12 percent of your budget will likely go to groceries.

Restaurants, though they can be some of the finest in the country, can be expensive, averaging around $30 per person. You may want a restaurant visit to be a rare treat.

cost of living in seattle

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Next in line is transportation.

Public transportation costs depend on your type of travel. An adult monthly pass is $45 for the monorail, and an unlimited monthly bus pass can vary depending on the cost of your daily fare between $18 and $189 per month. Most choose to buy an ORCA card, which can be used for most public transportation in the city and is good for one month. T

ypically, one trip on a public transportation option is between $2.50 and $3.25, and a monthly pass will average about $100. Gas prices are sometimes as high as in places in California. Take the time to look at the public transportation options. Ride-sharing is also a big deal here.

cost of living in seattle

Image source: Seattle Monorail

Taxes are a bit high.

The local retail sales tax in Seattle is 9.6 percent. Utilities are also taxed. Happily, though, the city has no personal income tax.

Utilities are fair.

Energy bills have actually gone down in the past year, and the area as a whole has very low rates. That’s possibly because there’s a focus on green energy in Seattle, Washington. Cost of living indexes say that those in the area will spend about $35 to $60 per month on utilities for an average apartment.

Internet-only service is $36.22 per month, averaging the cost for the top four providers. The city also offers assistance to low-income residents to ensure that they have access to low-cost Internet service ($10 per month).

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