C&Co10: 10 Years Since Moving to Seattle

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In June of 2009, Brad (my fiancé at the time) and I drove from Sarasota, Florida to Seattle, Washington in a little silver Saturn. We stopped to visit friends & family and do some sight seeing along the way. We stopped to see the Saint Louis Arch, Mount Rushmore, and Yellowstone National Park. Our road trip fell in the few short months between graduating college and getting married (which we did back in Florida in September). This was our first real road trip together, and we sure picked a long one! If being engaged is the time for making sure you can survive a life together, that road trip was the proving ground. We solved problems together, faced our fears, agreed on music choices, and had a lot of fun adventuring.

Our first two trips to Seattle had been important signposts in our relationship. The first was at the end of 2007, about a month before we started dating. I’m certain that without that trip, we may not have started out at all. Getting out of our college bubble and picturing our future in the big city really helped to push us in a new direction. I loved Seattle for that, right away.

Our second trip to Seattle was for spring break, during our senior year of college. One night during that trip, Brad suggested that we take a “date night,” away from the guy friends we were traveling with, to have dinner at the Space Needle. Midway through that dinner, as the restaurant slowly spun, Brad asked me to marry him.

As deeply introverted as Brad is, proposing in public was a huge deal. Apparently other people were excited too, because as soon as he kneeled down, a guy yelled, “He’s proposing!” And as soon as I had the ring on my finger, he yelled again: “She said yes!” It was hilarious and silly and wonderful. That night was perfection. The two of us planned our life together, while looking out over the city we dreamed of calling home.

And so, for our third trip, we’d packed up all our belongings in Brad’s little car and moved here for good. We didn’t know a single person in the city, and we didn’t have jobs lined up. We’d signed a lease for our first apartment in Belltown via fax, while still in Florida. It was one of the bravest things either of us had ever done, but it didn’t feel too scary (though perhaps it should!) because we were tackling it together.

This June, we’re celebrating 10 years of calling Seattle home! Some days felt slow, and many flew by too quickly - for example, every single summer. But I’ve learned some things along the way that I wish 10 years ago Sara would have known. I’ll share them with you now.

TEN THINGS I’VE LEARNED…about life in Seattle in the 10 years since I moved here:

  1. Community is super important, but it takes time.

    When we arrived in Seattle, we were in such a hurry to meet people and be part of a community. We threw ourselves into it completely, and got a little bit heartbroken when the first few friendships didn’t work out and stick around. It took a dose of patience to take the edge off that hunger to meet great people. The desire was good, but it probably won’t happen right away.

  2. Choose an affordable place to live and stick with it.

    We spent the first 4 years in Seattle living in 4 different places. It was ridiculous. All we did was move! It got super expensive, and totally wore us out. Finding an “affordable” place to live in Seattle now is kind of a laugh, but the idea is still a good one if you can manage to find a reasonable place. When we finally found a place that fit our budget and had enough space to functionally live, we stayed for 6 years. That really helped us feel at home and gave us time to dig into a neighborhood community.

  3. Take advantage of everything the city has to offer! (Preferably on foot.)

    The first few years living in the city we were in Belltown, which gave us easy access to public transit and was also really walkable to downtown. We were both kids from small towns/suburbs, so every new day in Seattle felt like an adventure. But honestly, after 10 years, when I walk around Seattle’s neighborhoods, it still feels like an adventure. Getting out of my car and onto my own two feet allows me to witness interesting things, check out local businesses on a whim, and otherwise experience city life that I would missed.

  4. The Seattle freeze is a real thing, but you don’t have to give in to it.

    People introvert hard in Seattle. You may never meet your neighbors or become a regular at your local coffee shop without some serious effort. I’ve learned that I have to push through the awkwardness and say hello/introduce myself if I want to build relationships. I can go with the introvert flow so easily, but when I get awkward and make an effort to meet people, my life is so much richer.

  5. People lose their minds when the sun is out in the best way.

    I remember the absolute shock I experienced on the first sunny day of spring, the first year I lived in Seattle. We were driving through the University of Washington campus, and girls were tanning in bikinis while boys threw frisbees, shirtless, in 50 degree weather! As two Floridians, we were still bundled up in coats at that point. 10 years later, I pull out my jean shorts on sunny days when the thermometer hits about 60 in the afternoon. Sunny days in Seattle are glorious, and it’s not unusual for people to call out sick from work when the weather is too nice. Seattle has taught me not to leave joy for tomorrow. When the sun is out, you go outside and soak it in. You never know when it will be back!

  6. Fall, winter, and spring are for productivity. Summer is for joy.

    This one goes hand in hand with number six. I plan all my big work projects during the cold, rainy months. As soon as the sun comes out and the warm weather rolls in, all my brain & body want to do is lounge around outside with an iced coffee. I’ve stopped planning work or home projects when it’s nice outside, because I absolutely will NOT follow through on them. Life’s too short not to be outside in Seattle’s insanely beautiful summertime!

  7. Locals don’t carry umbrellas, but they do invest in really good rain jackets.

    It’s a total Seattle stereotype, but it’s totally true. On most rainy days in Seattle, we just get a sprinkle (compared to the wild thunderstorms we’d get in the south). When you see someone carrying an umbrella in the Seattle drizzle, you know they’re a tourist. 😉 When we first moved here, I scoffed at the price of rain jackets. Considering how often I wear my rain jacket and waterproof boots, they’re worth every penny!

  8. We have sweeping views, water, city life, nature, and culture! Washington has mountains, rain forests, deserts, and islands. Why would anyone live anywhere else?

    I’m just kidding. (Sort of!) I love it here so much, I feel a little sad every time we take a trip and I watch Seattle getting farther away. I’m that obnoxious person that says “well in Seattle…” about everything, every time I travel. There are still days in which I drive up over a hill, and suddenly catch sight of a snow capped mountain range that takes my breath away.

  9. You should really be a Sounders FC supporter.

    Our close-knit soccer community is the most authentic, supportive, passionate community I’ve ever been a part of. The atmosphere for matches at CenturyLink Field is something you MUST experience as a Seattlelite, even if you don’t like soccer! I didn’t when we moved here, and I’m a total die hard fan now.

  10. Vancouver and Portland are just a short road trip away!

    The soccer fan in me must tell you that Seattle is (of course!) the king of Pacific Northwest cities. 😉 But really, it’s lovely to have 2 other big cities so close. My favorite way to access them is by taking the Amtrak train! I made a video about one of our trips that you can watch here. In my opinion, train travel is so much more comfortable and glamorous than flying, bussing, or driving. I get carsick during most travel, but I can read easily on a train, as well as write letters, work on my laptop, etc. You can also get up and walk around, take a trip to the observation car, and grab a beer or snack from the cafe car! It’s such a fun time.

So there you have it. Fellow Seattleites, is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!

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