The First Three Months
Today officially marks three months since we rolled into Seattle in our rental SUV; pets, houseplants, and 100 bottles of wine in tow. We made the long journey in just over two days, driving through the night to get across the country as quickly as we could.
Because of the chaos with my Turkey trip, and the need to change our move date for my grandfather’s funeral, our belongings made it before us and had been put in the mover’s storage facility here in Seattle. That meant we were “camping” in our new apartment for about a week. I was working from the Starbucks a block away because we didn’t have internet yet. Then I had to fly back to Indiana four times in the first six weeks for work. Then I went on a vacation to the Bahamas with one of my best friends. Things finally feel like they’ve stabilized a bit so I’m taking the opportunity to do some reflecting.
To help others who are also new in town (which is a lot of people!) and to document our experience for future us, I’m going to be posting lessons learned, new things I’ve tried, and general observations about living in Seattle, as well as a list of goals and places I’d like to see, things I’d like to do.
What we’ve been up to:
- We had our first house guest! Aubrey, one of my best friends from college, made it out for a weekend. It was our first time using the Murphy bed in my office and I had nightmares she would ended up folded into it. Rest assured, everyone is safe and sound and we had a great time. The house wasn’t perfect, we need to get rid of some furniture and a rug from our old house that don’t fit here, and we ordered some new stuff, but that’s life. If you wait until things are perfect, you’ll never get anything done.
- I bought some used Washington history textbooks and it’s been so helpful. I was getting frustrated because people were talking about cities nearby or famous Washingtonians or mountains that are supposedly easy to see and identify in the skyline and I never knew what they were talking about. I took Indiana history in 4th grade, which is where I learned the counties in Indiana, our famous residents, when we became a state, what kind of industry we had, etc. I went out and found old textbook lists from a school in Seattle and ordered a copy of this book: https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/washington-state_charles-p-lewarne/289287/#isbn=0295982888&idiq=6996562
- We made it out to Alki Beach for a walk and some lunch at Christo’s. It’s in West Seattle and was really pretty. It was probably a 15 minute drive from our apartment and we could also have taken buses if we wanted to.
- We went and explored for about a half day in Discovery Park. There’s another great beach there (Keep in mind that no beaches in Seattle are swimming beaches. They’re rocky and choppy and windy and kind of cold but they are stunning). The park is huge but was more crowded than I expected. We did the beach trail and there were lots of people around us all the time. I was pleased to see it was dog friendly! I will definitely be taking the puppycakes there for some walks once the rainy season slows down a bit. They would be giant mud-cakes if I tried to take them now.
- We took a seaplane ride with Kenmore Air! This was so much fun. The planes take off on Lake Union, and you can do a quick tour or actually use them to fly to destinations near Seattle. We did the tour and I loved every minute. We got some great photos of our apartment building from the air.
- I go to Pike Place market at least once a week. It’s walkable from our apartment and I love wandering around down there. The closest Target store to my apartment is at Pike Place so I can run all kinds of errands while I’m there.
- The Seattle Aquarium is expensive but fun. They have a famous Octopus who is great at escaping! Check him out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNHi2aocUOs
- I finally rode the Giant Ferris Wheel while Aubrey was in town! I am actually pretty nervous on Ferris Wheels for some reason. I always envision them just rolling off the frame and into whatever is near them. This one is right over the water, so it’s pretty freaky. But the view was great and I’m glad we went.
- Favorite restaurants we’ve tried so far: Garlic Crush (could eat this every day), Piroshky Piroshky, Palermo’s, Tacos Chukis, Roll Pod, the Five Point, Kell’s, Lowell’s, Hurry Curry, Miller’s Guild, Top Pot Doughnuts, Local 360, GH Pasta Company, and Biscuit Bitch. Have I mentioned that the food in Seattle is amazing?
- I went inside my first Seattle Grocery store! We’ve been hitting little corner stores and using Prime Now delivery since we got here so last week we finally got in the car and drove to the QFC in Capitol Hill. Turns out, QFC is owned by the same company as Kroger and felt exactly like a Kroger. It was nice to be able to find things we used to buy at home, and my Kroger card account worked here.
- The grocery trip to QFC was my first time going to Capitol Hill. We live in an area with mostly high rise buildings. Capitol Hill was a lot of smaller older buildings which a lot of character. I think it looks like a fun place to live because there were so many stores and restaurants and bars, but we’ve heard crime is kind of high there so will probably spend some time researching that. Here’s a link I found to the Seattle PD’s online crime maps. https://www.seattle.gov/police/information-and-data/online-crime-map
Observations on life in Seattle:
- The weather is not that bad, definitely better than Indiana weather. The sun is up for a shorter amount of time, currently we have about 45 minutes less daylight time than Indiana – but – it’s still hovering around 50 degrees in late December in Seattle. Indiana has been below freezing with snow for about a month. It also does rain frequently but its very fine misty rain. A lot of times, I don’t even feel the need to put my hood up because it’s so light.
- Seattle is SO walkable. When you look at a map, it seems like the city is sprawling and huge, but it really isn’t. It’s all very condensed.
- Neighborhood boundaries are disputed. We live in a weird little section of town called Denny Triangle. It’s disputed whether this is it’s own neighborhood or part of downtown or part of Belltown. We went to Brian’s company Christmas party this week and I listened to two people who were born and raised in Seattle debate whether the boundary of Belltown was 3rd street or the monorail (on 5th). We live east of the monorail, which would put us out of Belltown by both of those measures but they both said we lived in Belltown.
- I’ve yet to experience the Seattle Freeze. Supposedly, people in Seattle don’t like to interact with other people so people who are new in town feel frozen out. I’m from the Midwest, which is known for friendliness and hospitality, and I feel like the people of Seattle have been extremely warm and welcoming. Maybe it’s because we live downtown where lots of other people are also transplants, but people chat in the elevators, in bars, in stores. Everyone is really nice.
- We’re super glad we chose to live downtown. We have only “needed” to use the car a couple times and that’s been to take the dogs to boarding places. We love our building and great amenities and the staff. We’re very happy with our choice.
- It is SO nice to live in a city with an airport like Seattle. We can get anywhere! We have so many direct flight options. I love it.
Lessons learned, things we’re glad we did, and things we’d do differently:
- We went from about 3,000 sq. ft. in Indiana to about 1,200 sq. ft. in Seattle. This meant that we had to get rid of a lot of our old furniture and belongings. We kept a couch, two coffee tables, our mattress and box spring, my desk, a TV stand, and two small chairs. We got rid of everything else including couches, beds, tables and dressers. It felt like we got rid of everything at the time and I was worried we wouldn’t have enough furniture here. Turns out, our furniture doesn’t fit all that well in the apartment. We don’t have the right wall space for tables, we don’t have floor space for the chairs. If I were to do it all over again, I would seriously consider getting rid of everything and starting over here. Amazon offered two different relocation package options, one that was a lump sum of cash, and one that was a list of available services that they would cover, including things like movers, shipping cars, house hunting trips, etc. We took the package of services but if we had gotten rid of enough stuff, we might have been better off just taking the cash and using it to buy new stuff when we got here.
- We got rid of Kitty (my beautiful Chevy Silverado pickup truck) earlier this month. I officially do not have a car (Brian still does). So far, so good. The biggest worry we had was whether or not we could reasonably tote the dogs around in Brian’s challenger, but it hasn’t been a problem. They hop right into the backseat and sit there like gentlemen.
- The cost of living in Seattle is high, but I think it’s mainly only housing cost that’s higher. Fuel is higher but I don’t have a car (we got rid of Kitty earlier this month!). Food is pretty similarly priced. Goods are similarly priced. We have found that we offset the added cost of living quite a bit through the following:
- Renting out our house in Indiana is providing a few hundred dollars a month.
- We got rid of Kitty, my beloved truck, so we no longer have that car payment, fuel, insurance, and car maintenance cost.
- I buy less of everything because I have to carry it home in my back pack
- There is so much to do in Seattle that we don’t feel the need to pay for things to do. Why go to a movie when we can go check out a pier on the waterfront or go for a walk in a park?
- I don’t go out to lunch anymore, which I used to do almost daily with coworkers.
- We cancelled gym and fitness class memberships because our building has an awesome gym.
- There has been quite a bit of runaround with various companies and groups trying to get admin stuff squared away. For starters the condo association of our building (we’re renting a condo in a high-rise, it isn’t actually an apartment building). Things like getting our names added to resident lists, paperwork, etc have been a pain and from what I hear, it’s consistent for this building. It’s not enough to say that we would have lived somewhere else, but i would have done a better job of keeping copies of communications and getting things in writing. We’ve also had issues with Seattle Light Company, the company supposed to fix some furniture damaged in the move, etc. Lesson learned – I need to be more on top of it and more organized.
- I wish we would have done a better job training Winston to walk on a leash. Ernie is great, but we never took Winston to official training classes and he’s kind of a spazz here in the city. I am comfortable taking Ernie into businesses but not Winnie, which means I have to make the decision to take one dog and leave one dog, or walk them separately because I am so scared Winnie will somehow get off leash and I won’t be able to chase him with Ernie in tow.
- One thing I will be doing differently in the future is that I am going to make more of an effort to get out of the house. Working inside my home is amazing for many reasons. I would a thousand percent recommend trying to find a work from home arrangement if you can. Due to being home all the time, a couple of the things that I need to do a better job about is getting more exercise, and trying to meet people. I will go and walk around Seattle fairly frequently just to get to know the area and get some fresh air, but I haven’t formed any relationships that I would consider lasting, or met people that I would call friends. Just acquaintances I see around.
- I went to the Bahamas with my best friend Charlotte in November and it was QUITE a trip from Seattle. Since we’ve lived closer to the East coast our whole lives, we’ve always been able to pop down to the Caribbean or Florida for a weekend. It’s a few hours flight and the same time zone. We could get up at 6 am and be in the Bahamas or the Keys by 1 or 2 in the afternoon. We booked this trip before we found out we were moving, so I had flights in and out of Indiana. I just added a leg from Seattle to Indiana and back. Because of the time change, I ended up leaving Seattle around 10 am the day before the Indiana flight, arriving in Indiana around 5 pm (3hr time change), getting a hotel in Indiana, then Char and I got up and went to the airport the next morning for a 6 am flight. We had a layover in Atlanta for 3 hours, then on to the Bahamas. We got to the hotel around 4pm. With the time change, that was basically exactly 24 hours since I left Seattle. We were only there for three days and then I began the journey home, and it was basically another 24 hours of travel. While the trip was amazing and I had so much fun, it just isnt reasonable or practical for us to travel 24 hours either way for a 3 day trip. We will definitely continue going to the Caribbean, but it will have to be for longer trips and we are going to have to explore other flight paths that might get us there in one day.
Things we’re looking forward to doing in Seattle but haven’t yet:
- The Space Needle (I know, I know, I can’t believe we haven’t been yet either)
- Getting an Orca card and learning how to get around via public transportation
- Exploring the islands in the Puget Sound
- Hiking and all the national parks and forests
- Checking out Seattle’s sports teams (Mariners, Sounders, Seahawks)
- Exploring Seattle neighborhoods