A few differences between Seattle and New York (as I see them)….

Posted on February 4, 2013


I’ve been told by several former New Yorkers that it’ll take 2-3 years of adjusting before I’ll be comfortable in Seattle. That sounds like a long time to me. What does adjusting mean to most people? Doesn’t it become obvious fairly quickly whether you like a place or not? If you don’t like a place, don’t you then just deal with it until a change is possible?

I’ve always thought I could live anywhere and I still think that’s true. The only thing that’s needed to live is food, clothing and shelter (1 Tim 6:8). The rest is gravy. It comes down to preferences and Seattle seems to suit me just fine. I live in a nice, airy apartment w a beautiful wife. There are trees everywhere and the neighborhood is quiet. The supermarket, bank, dry cleaners,etc. are all within walking distance and we have a car for errands. We belong to a solid church and there are several members/friends close by. I’m not working now so don’t have a real sense of commuter life but everything else has provided me w a comfortable transition. Living in industrial Queens and commuting on a packed subway train 1 1/2 hrs each day certainly has given me perspective as has living in a 270 sq ft studio apt in Manhattan. So, all that being said, some of the things I’ve noticed between the two cities are:

  • New York is a much denser city. Even Brooklyn’s sidewalks are more crowded than those in Seattle’s business district. The last neighborhood I lived in before moving was pretty quiet and hidden, yet it’s sidewalks always had people coming and going. Where i currently live doesn’t even have sidewalks and people walking anywhere are few and far between.
  • The drivers in Seattle are more patient, polite and stick to the rules of the road. This is usually a good thing, but sometimes blasting the horn or flooring it is necessary. My wife doesn’t love driving with me but I’m getting better.
  • Both cities seem to love dogs more than children (only 33% of the households in my zip code have children) and both are predictably progressive (O-bomber 2012 bumper stickers are everywhere).
  • Seattle is noticeably more white than New York although there are interesting immigrant pockets here that I’m not aware of in New York (Eritreans and Ethiopians?).
  • Seattle’s tech savvy reputation seems accurate, I’ve met many people who work at Amazon, Microsoft, or a cool new startup.  I’ve noticed a lot of tech geeks begin their conversation with “So….” as if they’re walking you through a how-to problem.
  • People dress more formally in New York….at church, parties, restaurants. Events are also less formal and RSVP’s are a lot more fluid.
  • New York weddings are a lot more lavish and expensive. It surprised me how much we were responsible for at our wedding here. Accordingly, New Yorkers, almost to a person, gave bigger gifts to us than Seattleites.
  • New York has beaches (or did before Sandy) which I made use of regularly and Central Park but Seattle (on clear days) has views of the Cascade Mountains…..stunning!
  • Seattle’s freeways are a lot better than the L.I.E., the BQE or the Belt Pkwy. No potholes here and extra express lanes that open up depending on the flow of traffic.
  • Sales tax stinks more here (9.5%) than there (8.75%). I thought there was a mistake in Hawaii when they only charged us 5.0%!

Now if only there were some way to bridge the distance between them…. 5 – 6 hrs on the plane is too long for my taste!

Posted in: Seattle