The horrible economy and huge spike in violent crime in NYC have me considering other places to live. I thought I would post here to see if any guys would be considerate enough to answer a few questions:
1. I hate having to drive - can you get by in Seattle without a car? Are there subways and busses like NYC?
2. Is there an active gay scene?
3. What part of Seattle is most desirable?
4. What would the rent be for an average studio or one-bedroom apartment?
5. Is the job market as dismal in Seattle as other places?
6. Are there any good Chinese restaurants?
Totally serious and appreciate any feedback. Thanks!
For shits and giggles, I figured I'd give answering a shot...see below...
There will be culture shock. This is the west coast, after all. Liberal out here does not, outside of a small hard core, mean the same thing that it does back there. Libertarianism (small "l") is a fairly constant undercurrent of the "just leave folks alone to determine their own damnation" variety outside of the aforementioned hard core.
That said, to your questions:
1) Bus-transit is a yes. Light Rail is limited and of questionable utility given the dramatically lower urban density of the region - many feel, based on that, that transit projects are just throwing money down a rat hole when you can drive most places in under 30% of the time you take on transit - and then find parking. We don't have subways - given the combination of being on the water *and* in a quake zone, many of us feel that "underground during quake w/ water nearby = bad".
2) Yes, there is an active gay scene, though it is somewhat in remission. Bring friends. Start two or three new bars. A restaurant or five. Re-invigorate Capitol Hill (our historically gay district).
3) What are you *looking for*? If you want to live in the LGBT district (granted, due to improved conditions, much dispersed in recent years), Capitol Hill. If you're going to go back to school, obviously near the school you want to go to. If you're looking for "snob value"...the gated communities, and then Magnolia and some portions of Capitol Hill (the old lumber baron mansions) and West Seattle (again, old lumber baron mansions) are rather nice. Central District is about mid-point in gentrification, Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill are sort of "ghetto-lite", the International District is a bit edgy (as is Pioneer Square), and Georgetown has an industrial/artsy mix going on.
4) Highly Variable. You should, with some effort, be able to find something in the 800-1000/mo range - PARTICULARLY if you stay out of Capitol Hill and the University Districts....
5) Depends on what kind of job you're looking for, but yes, our job market is mostly crap. If you can figure out a killer business plan and stomp in to implement it, all the sane folks will thank you.
6) Yes. It's the rain. We *are* the foodie city. Chinese, Thai, Ethiopian, Russian, French, Italian and more are all reasonably available, and with good quality more often than not....
Culture shock bits. We do have LGBT conservativish folks.
Open carry (and licensed concealed carry) of firearms is legal in Washington with four exceptions - the right response is to either ignore said individuals unusual equippage so long as it remains holstered or to compliment them on their tasteful choices. Screaming and running in circles is somewhat less desirable. This tends to startle folks from the NE, yet oddly enough, our violent crime per capita is consistently lower than that of those regions.
We don't have, and the voters get really irritated by suggestions of, a state income tax. Night life largely winds down, other than private parties, by 1:30AM. If you are a dirty naughty boy, many of the convenient naked fun parties you have available in NYC will need to be re-invented in Seattle (profit?).
You have Fire Island - we have Triangle Recreational Campground. Both are festive, but there are differences in *scale*. Within an hours drive we have skiing, hiking, ocean, and forest opportunities - and the outdoors gay scene is alive and well. There is a large gay sporting league (i.e., a mother ship spawning off leagues for many different sports).
Many NE stereotypes don't survive well out here. We have a lively civic arts scene in major, medium, and minor cities. Most folks are pretty accepting.
WARNING: NE folks are often a bit boggled when moving here by how simultaneously friendly and stand-offish folks are here - so going in, expect that it'll take a year or two to develop or break into a pre-existing group of close friends.
Conversely, NW folks are often put off by the more aggressive "bull in a china shop" hard-driving social approach of many NE Transplants - think of a more balanced and less amused version of the Cali Surfer stereotype....
It's not *bad*, just different, and to succeed requires a minor mental re-set.