Whether you are moving to Seattle for work, school or play, you want to be able to fit in when you get to your new home. Seattleites are an eclectic group of people that are unlike any other region of the country. To blend in with the locals, here are ten of the peculiarities associated with the unique people who live in Seattle and the Puget Sound area that you need to know.
#1 – Get Your Tech On
Way before the rest of the country was on board with smartphones and high-tech gadgets, Seattleites were already embracing all the new technology. This city is known for its tech-loving residents, primarily because of the high number of tech companies that are based in the Puget Sound. Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia and dozens of other tech and communication companies have headquarters in this region, bringing the best and the brightest of the tech world to this incredible city.
If you want to fit in the high-tech culture, you better not be pulling out a Blackberry phone or something else that is equally ridiculous to locals here in the Northwest. If you already love your tech devices, then Seattle will be a great fit for your love of technology.
Once again, Seattle has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to drinking espresso and lattes. Maybe it is the cool, wet weather, but a steaming cup of good coffee is an absolute necessity for those who live in this city. Obviously, Starbucks are everywhere in Seattle, but don’t expect all the locals to be flocking to those neon green signs. Stand at the corner of Pike and 4th downtown and there are literally a dozen or more coffee stands within a block or two of you. Don’t bring in a can of coffee to your new job – you may get laughed out of the building.
“I can wax all day about Seattle coffee shops and which ones I like, which coffee I like, and why, says Gregory Heller, Secretary/Treasurer of FORKS, a unique association of Seattle chefs and local food producers. “My current coffee fetish is True North Roasters Nitro Cold brew available at Joebar and Barjot on capitol hill. SO GOOD!”
#3 – Bring Your Walking Shoes
When it comes to living in Seattle, you better like to walk. Although there are some people that choose to drive, most Seattleites would never bother on a daily basis. Parking is at a premium in this city and only getting more scarce as developers add more condos and apartments, with no place for those residents to park. Get ready to learn to take Metro and walk in the rain; no umbrellas, please!
#4 – Weather on the Brain
Everyone knows it rains in Seattle, but what you may not know is how much the locals like to talk about the weather. Or more succinctly, complain about the weather. Rain does not phase these webbed-feet locals – however, a day or two below 20 degrees, a little snow or too much sunshine, and you cannot shut them up about the atrocious weather. Don’t bother trying to tell them that 90 degrees is not hot or that an inch of snow is nothing to worry about – just smile, nod and agree that it IS way too hot or too cold, too dry or too slippery.
As for the rain, it is not as bad as you might think. Heather Bryant, the Communications Manager for Visit Seattle gives this advice to newcomers, “You don’t have to become as waterproof as some people will lead you to believe. Measuring in at approximately 38” of rain a year, you can leave your ark behind, invest in a good rain jacket and boots and you will be perfectly fine. Umbrellas optional.”
#5 Be Green
Another hot item in Seattle is living green. From commuting on bikes and recycling, to eating sustainable, organic foods and buying local, fitting in with locals means caring for the environment. One of the great ways to do this is to become a regular at the Farmer’s Markets around Seattle.
There are 15 neighborhood markets in addition to Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, according to Chris Curtis, the Executive Director at Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets. These markets are a shining example of the green movement in Seattle. Chris goes on to say, “These neighborhood markets all prioritize local farmers and local foods. The majority of farmers who participate (at last count – 215 Washington state farmers are driving into Seattle neighborhoods every week to direct market) are certified organic or using sustainable growing practices. Most are farming within an hour’s drive of Seattle and make the majority of their annual farm income from direct selling to Seattle residents.” What better way to be green and fit in as a local than by eating fresh, locally grown foods?
#6 – 12 Is a Magical Number
Nothing is more apparent in Seattle than the love for the Seahawks. It makes no difference whether it is football season or not – Blue Fridays is a thing all year round in this city. The 12th man flag is flown proudly throughout the city, and come September, you will notice many people ending all interactions with “Go Hawks!” While you may already have your own team (let’s just hope you are not a 49er’s or Steeler fan), you may still want to invest in some 12 gear to fit into the crowd on Fridays and game days if you’re moving to Seattle and plan to stay.
#7 – Talk the Talk
Every area of the country has their own local speak and Seattle is no exception. Of course, according to locals, no one has an accent in the Northwest, and they love to make fun of newcomers trying to pronounce local words. Puyallup, geoduck and even the beautiful Mt. Rainer can be horribly massacred by those not from the Puget Sound. Make friends with a local and learn how to say these words correctly so that you sound like you have those webs between your toes.
#8 – When Not to Talk
Seattle is known for being extremely liberal. When it comes to politics, religion, civil rights and hot topics like marijuana, Seattleites have plenty to say. However, these are very controversial topics and rarely are you going to find a room of people that will agree on the finer points. Consider your audience before you decide to casually mention that you are a Republican or your thoughts on the latest trending news story – you may want to just stay out of that conversation!
#9 – Leave Your Road Rage at Home
There is another very good reason you should love to walk when moving to Seattle – the traffic is horrendous. For decades Seattle has consistently been in the top five cities for the worst traffic. While you can easily get around the city without a car, when it comes time to go to the beach or head to the mountains, take a deep breath and get ready for nasty traffic. It is a fact here, so take a cue from the locals and just deal with it without laying on your horn and letting your blood pressure go through the roof. Take in the nice view and listen to some of that great local Seattle music.
#10 – Embrace the Melting Pot
The best news about trying to become a local in Seattle is that most people you meet have done it! Seattle is full of transplants from other areas of the country due to the lure of the tech industry, the many military bases and its reputation as a young, lively city. Jeff Silva, owner of The Flying Apron, a gluten-free and vegan bakery and cafe in Freemont, says he “…came here from Boston 23 years ago, just to visit, and never went back! What kept me here in Seattle was the climate and proximity to any outdoor activity. You can travel any direction in a relatively short period of time and go hiking, biking, skiing, swimming, boating, etc.” So as a newbie in Seattle, don’t fear. You are among the converted. Just give it time, and you’ll blend in just fine!
There is a good reason many people visit Seattle and decide to move here for the long haul. It has unsurpassed natural beauty, mild weather and fantastic culture. Welcome to the Northwest!
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