So you are about to relocate from Southern California to Seattle, WA? It’s not a very long distance to migrate, but there are several real estate differences and recreational activity differences that you might want to be aware of. Knowing these differences will help you prepare in advance and ease your transition from California to Washington.
Change in Property Tax Rates
When you have lived in SoCal for a long time, you get used to the lower property tax rates of .76%. It will be quite a shock when you go to pay the property tax bill on your Seattle home because the King County tax rate is currently sitting at .95%! Part of that has to do with the fact that residents in Seattle voted to raise the property tax rates recently to improve public transportation, education for children, and various other improvements. A $160,000 home in California usually results in property taxes of about $1,208, whereas a $160,000 house in Seattle and the surrounding county area results in $1,525.
Availability of Property and Housing Is Less in Seattle
Suppose you were able to snag a property in Seattle, congratulations! Seattle is a hot housing market right now, and it isn’t easy to find anything for sale. Attempting to make an offer before something sells before spending any time on the market is expected. Even though San Diego and the surrounding area is cheaper than Seattle, there are many more properties and apartments available in Southern California than in Seattle. The fact that you managed to purchase (or sign for a lease on) a property in Seattle deserves kudos.
Let’s Talk Sales Tax
While we’re at it, let’s talk sales tax too. The sales tax you pay on a pack of gum or other San Diego products is 7.75 cents. That same pack of gum or other product in Seattle nets ten cents on every dollar spent. Unless your relocation is job-related and the job is paying you a lot more than what you were making in California, it might not be a great idea to relocate after all.
Of course, there’s always a lot of positives to moving to Seattle. It is the hub of cultural activity, what with all of its art museums, music performances, annual celebrations of different types, etc.. The city has a very different feel to it than San Diego or any other Southern California city. The “pulse” of the city of Seattle is a little more laid back, calm, and reserved than California, which you might find appealing.
In terms of outdoor recreation, the weather is much cooler most of the year. This local company notes that you can hike through forests outside the city, camp out most of the year, go fishing, boating, and lots of water recreation activities because Seattle is right on Puget Sound, and even ski (downhill and cross-country) in winter. Hunting is also prevalent, given that a great deal of Washington state has preserved much of its forested lands. If you don’t have enough outdoor gear, you will probably make that one of your first shopping trips after you get settled there.
You will experience much colder temperatures than you are used to. You will experience a lot more rain, sleet, hail, and snow than you have ever experienced before. It may be the first time that you will need heavier winter outerwear than you had in California.
However, after a few years in Seattle, you will adapt well and probably not even notice the shifts in colder seasonal temperatures from summer to fall and fall to winter. Rain gear is highly recommended when living in Seattle, too, since the rainiest season begins in November and doesn’t end until March, with snow showers and blizzards mixed in here and there.