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Cost of Living in Seattle | Is Seattle Affordable? 💰 [data, tips, info]

Last Updated on: 21st November 2022, 12:56 pm

Located in the scenic Pacific Northwest, Seattle is one of the country’s most iconic cities. Known for its coffee culture (and being the birthplace of Starbucks), the Space Needle, and being the headquarters of top tech companies — including Amazon — it is easy to see why Seattle is so popular.

Boasting a prime location, top amenities, and an unparalleled quality of life, Seattle is an expensive place to live. When compared to nearby Portland, Oregon, which is also an expensive place to live, Seattle is more costly (according to the Cost of Living Index). Explore cost of living figures, including the overall cost of living in Seattle, real estate, rent, grocery prices, and more!

Seattle Cost of Living Index

Wondering how much it costs to live in Seattle? A wide array of variables influence how much a person will spend annually in a given city. As an individual is planning to relocate to a brand new city, knowing the overall cost of living is a smart decision.

Seattle Cost of Living Index 

New to the concept of a Cost of Living Index (also referred to as COLI)? This index provides an easy, standardized way to compare the cost of living between cities across the country. The overall United States average is set at a COLI of 100. 

As you compare the cost of living in various cities, those that have a COLI below 100 are more affordable. Cities with a COLI greater than 100 are more expensive. Using this index, you can effortlessly compare the cost of living between two or more cities. 

The Cost of Living Index in Seattle, Washington is 167.8. This means that the cost of living is 67.8 percent higher than the national average. Seattle’s Cost of Living Index is 45.9 percent higher than the Washington state COLI. 

Looking at individual categories, there are a few spots in which Seattle comes in below the U.S. average. Utilities (COLI = 68.8) and health care costs (COLI = 88.2) are well below the national average.

In other categories, the cost of living in Seattle is significantly higher than the national average. This includes groceries (COLI = 108.7), transportation (COLI = 137.5), and miscellaneous expenses (COLI = 150.7). The highest cost of living category in Seattle is housing, which comes in at a staggering COLI of 291.9!

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Seattle has increased over the past year. Compared to 2021, overall prices have jumped 8.9 percent. Categories that have experienced the biggest jumps in price include energy (22 percent since 2021), and food (11.5 percent since 2021).

Consumer Expenditures Survey

What is the Consumer Expenditures Survey? It is a program from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that releases data on income, expenditures, and more in cities nationwide.

According to the Consumer Expenditures Survey, the average household in Seattle spends the following on an annual basis:

  • Health care: $5,140
  • Food: $5,986
  • Transportation: $10,766 
  • Housing: $30,007

Family Budget Calculator (Economic Policy Institute)

How much do you need to make to live in Seattle? According to the EPI Family Budget Calendar, the average household with two adults and two kids would have an average annual Seattle cost of living of $107,916. Expenses that are included in this estimate are housing ($1,906 per month), food ($941 per month), child care ($1,811 per month), health care ($1,032 per month), and transportation ($1,274 per month).

Cost of Household Items, Food, Gas & Groceries in Seattle

Seattle is an expensive place to live. Here is a sample of select consumer prices, average Seattle utilities, and more.

  • Steak, Ribeye, 1lb.: $16.53
  • Milk, Whole 1/2 Gal.: $2.21
  • Cereal, One box: $4.89
  • Ground beef, 1lb.: $5.63
  • Eggs, 1 Dozen, Grade A: $1.98
  • Potatoes, 5 lb bag: $3.32
  • Bread, Wheat, 1 loaf: $4.87
  • Orange juice: $4.23
  • Movie Ticket, 1st Run: $13.16
  • McDonald’s Burger, 1/4 Pounder: $6.26
  • Average Cell Phone Bill: $197.61
  • Average Cost of Gasoline, Per Gal.: $3.61
  • Average Cost of Utilities in Seattle, Per Month: $188.34

Public transportation

Fees for King County Metro Transit bus passes, the Link Light Rail, and Seattle Streetcars varies depending on the fare type you choose. One of the easiest and most cost efficient options for riders is the ORCA card, which can be used for all Seattle public transportation. The initial purchase of the card is $3 for adults (no cost for individuals 18 and younger, and those who are 65 and older). Once purchased, the card can be loaded with funds.

Average cost of utilities in Seattle

The average cost of utilities in Seattle is lower than the national average. As a new resident, you should plan on an average monthly Seattle electricity bill of $146. Additionally, the average cell phone bill runs $197.61 per month.

Average Seattle car insurance premium

The city in which you reside massively influences how much you pay in car insurance premiums. For comprehensive coverage, yearly vehicle insurance premiums in Seattle cost $1,518. This is slightly higher than the state average. Washington state minimum coverage costs approximately $901 per year. 

On top of your geographic location, vehicle insurance premiums are also calculated by variables such as your driving record, your age, the number of people who will be driving each vehicle, and how many vehicles you own. 

Seattle Real Estate Market

Seattle home prices have continued to rise since last year. The city’s median price increased by 5.8 percent year-over-year (since 2021). According to Redfin, the median home price in Seattle is $819,975

Graph of the median sale price in Seattle, WA

Demand for Seattle real estate continues to be high. Although the home buying market has cooled down nationwide since 2021, residential properties are only spending an average of 17 days on the market. With such high costs for houses in Seattle, this figure is extremely impressive.

Need to determine the city’s price-to-rent ratio? You can easily do so by dividing the median annual rent by the median home price. Higher ratios indicate a better market for renters (and vice versa). According to this formula, the Seattle price-to-rent ratio is 29.3. This ratio reveals that it is much better to rent than buy in Seattle

Some of the most expensive neighborhoods in Seattle are Denny-Blaine (median home sale price of $2.4 million), Laurelhurst, Madison Park, and Broadmoor The most affordable neighborhoods in Seattle include Blue Ridge, Wedgewood, and Arbor Heights.

Seattle Rental Market – Average Rent in Seattle

Average apartment rent in Seattle is $2,330 per month for a 691 square foot unit. Residents of Seattle pay significantly higher rent prices when compared to the national average of $1,628 per month. Rent prices in Seattle are also higher than in nearby Portland, where the average rent price is $1,746 per month for an even larger apartment.

Neighborhoods with the most expensive average rent prices in Seattle include Belltown ($2,868 per month), Pike Market ($2,868 per month), and Central Waterfront ($2,726 per month).

According to the 2022 Rental Affordability Report (released by ATTOM), it is more affordable to rent than buy in Seattle.

Average Salary & Household Income in Seattle

The median household income in Seattle is $110,781. According to Payscale, the average annual per capita salary is $86,000, and the average hourly income is $24.46.

Income, Sales & Property Taxes in Seattle

Another essential consideration to keep in mind when moving to Seattle are the taxes you’ll owe. Check out this full breakdown of income tax, sales tax, and property tax in Seattle.

Income tax

There is no personal income tax in the state of Washington.

Sales tax

The sales tax in Seattle is 10.25 percent.

Sales Tax Breakdown

Washington State
City of Seattle and King County

Regional Transit Authority———————–Total


Property taxes in Seattle

Determining the property tax you’ll owe is often a complicated process because of the many variables and calculations involved.

For residents of Seattle, property taxes are determined and collected by King County. The City of Seattle does not collect or assess property taxes. The current assessment rate in King County is 0.93 percent. In 2022, this figure was increased for all area homeowners.

Seattle vs Portland Cost of Living

Thanks to the widespread appeal of both cities, individuals who are moving to the Pacific Northwest can have a difficult time deciding whether to relocate to Seattle or Portland, OR.

If you are caught in this dilemma, one factor that can help make your decision is comparing the cost of living in both cities. Overall, living in Portland is less expensive than Seattle

The biggest cost of living difference is the price you’ll pay to buy or rent a home. Currently, the median home price in Seattle is $819,975, and in Portland, this figure is $522,000. This equates to an almost $300,000 difference. Rent is also significantly less expensive in Portland versus Seattle.

Despite Seattle being one of the nation’s most expensive places to live, residents feel as though the price is well worth it. Between the scenic parks, exceptional dining, and other top amenities, life here is outstanding. Want help with your relocation to Seattle? Our five-star Seattle movers at All Ready Moving are here to make your experience stress and hassle-free. Contact us now to reserve your services!

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