Are you wanting to move to Seattle, Washington, and you’re wondering what the cost of living is like for 2023 in Seattle? Well, in this article, I’m going to tell you all about the Cost of Living in Seattle in 2023.
Hey, everybody, this is Avnish Singh. I am a local real estate agent here in the Seattle metro area, and on this Blog, I tons of videos of what it’s like to live in Seattle, Washington. So if those are videos you want more of, go ahead and subscribe and click that Bell so you’ll be notified every time a new video comes on. We honestly get rich outs every day from people moving to the area. We love hearing from you, but we can’t help unless you call, so give us a call, email, text—we got your back when you’re moving to Seattle.
So today, I’m going to talk about the cost of living in Seattle for 2023. This year, I think no matter where you live, it’s no surprise that prices have gone up a lot over the past year or two. Seattle’s no exception. It’s always been kind of a more expensive city to live in, and I mean, it’s gotten even more expensive over the past couple of years. So these are prices trying to find the best info for 2023 or at least 2022 to get an idea of what it’s like to live here and the cost of living.
Overview of Cost of living in Seattle in 2023
Please note that these are approximate figures and can vary based on personal choices and circumstances.
|Expense Category||Approximate Monthly Cost (Per Person/Family)|
|Housing (Rent)||$1,800 – $3,500+ (Varies by neighborhood)|
|Housing (Mortgage)||Varies widely based on property and location|
|Utilities||$100 – $200 (Electricity, Water, Gas, etc.)|
|Groceries||$300 – $500+ (Varies by eating habits)|
|Dining Out||$40 – $150+ (Per person for dinner)|
|Transportation||$100 – $300 (Varies based on usage)|
|Childcare||$1,200 – $2,000+ (Per child, per month)|
|Education||Public schools are free, private costs vary|
|Health Insurance||$300 – $400+ (Per person, per month)|
|Car Insurance||$80 – $300+ (Varies by factors)|
|Renter’s Insurance||$20 – $25 (Per month)|
|Homeowners Insurance||Varies based on property and coverage|
|Entertainment||Varies widely based on activities|
Income and Minimum Wage in Seattle
The median household income in Seattle is about $105,000 a year. That’s household income, so it tends to definitely be on the higher side here. The minimum wage in Seattle is at $16.50 an hour. It goes even higher for companies that have over 501 employees, so the bigger the companies are, the higher minimum wage they have to pay. It’s like this weird staggered thing, so companies with 501 or more employees have to pay $18.69 for their minimum wage. Just based on like the federal minimum wage to what we see in the Seattle area, definitely a lot higher. Still, I mean, $16.50 is not much to live on, especially when the prices are what they are in Seattle.
Based on the most recent Consumer Price Index, Seattle has an inflation rate of 8.4 percent. So, we’ve seen huge increases in prices just even like going to the grocery store. You’re just like, ‘Oh, what happened? This cost way more than it used to. So, we’ve definitely seen those prices go up in kind of every aspect of life. So we’re going to break it down for categories of what the cost of living is.
This is kind of just general, trying to give you a good idea. These are not like hard and fast numbers. Everything varies for every person. Everybody lives differently. Like, you can absolutely live on less and live more frugally if you want. You can absolutely spend more on things too. So just trying to give like a general idea of what the general cost of living is here in Seattle.
First off, to just give it some perspective, the sales tax here is very high. It’s 10.1 percent in Seattle. Each City varies slightly, so some of the neighboring cities might be slightly less at like 9.5 or something, but 10.1 is what Seattle’s looking at for sales tax. So that just adds a good chunk on to some of your purchases, especially like some larger purchases, you know, like TVs or things that end up costing more. That’s just a good chunk, but that’s what we’ve got—10% sales tax.
One thing to note, there is no state income tax in Washington. So that’s a benefit. You’re not having to file an extra set of taxes every year. You just do your federal ones. Property taxes, if you own a home in Seattle, it really varies based on the city, but it’s about one percent, give or take, of your assessed value. That can change year to year based on your assessed value. Your values can go up, and that’s been kind of the case for the past few years in Seattle as values have been going up, and people are seeing these major increases in their property taxes. But still, based on other areas in the country, we’re kind of like mid-range. I know I have friends from the east coast, and they’re just like, ‘Oh, property taxes are ridiculous.’ They’re not as bad here. But I’d say give or take one percent about of the assessed value, and it can change too based on each year different levies are passed, and they tax usually like School levies going towards the property taxes that you pay. So, if there’s levies that have been passed, then your taxes can increase or decrease based on that too. So just something to keep in mind.
Housing and Rent
Housing is going to be your biggest expense here. Again, it’s no secret that it’s higher here than a lot of places. So, the average rent for Seattle, you’re looking at about $2,300 a month, and that’s for about a 700 square foot apartment. Definitely can vary. You can—the further out you live, if you’re not, like, right downtown or in some of these more desirable neighborhoods, it can be a little bit less. Smaller homes will be a little bit less. But, yeah, I’d say you can get less, like Studios, you can get for under $2,000 probably. It just depends on kind of what the amenities you want and just the lifestyle you want to live. But it’s a pretty good chunk.
As far as purchasing a home, median home price in Seattle for December of 2022 was at $875,000. That’s for about an 1,800 square foot home. So again, it’s pretty expensive here. You can definitely find homes below that, but they’re going to be a lot smaller, maybe in some of the less desirable neighborhoods with not as many activities or things to do nearby. But yeah, definitely, definitely a big chunk there.
Condos, you’re going to be seeing a little bit less. The median sales price for condos was $500,000. That’s for about an 863 square foot condo. So your money goes a little farther with condos, but just something to keep in mind too, condos have HOAs, so some of those HOA dues can add up really fast, especially if you’re in some of these bigger buildings that have a lot of amenities and a concierge and things like that.
Homeowners’ dues could be like a whole other mortgage payment too. So just something to keep in mind if you’re looking like comparing condos versus single-family. Sometimes single-family seems more expensive, but then if you add in some of those dues and stuff, it might kind of even out too. So it just kind of depends.
Food and Groceries
The next section we’re going to talk about is like food and groceries. So groceries have gone up quite a bit in 2022. Food prices in Seattle climbed by 11.3 percent. So that’s not nothing. I mean, that’s definitely affects people and their bottom line. Seattle, in general, I think tends to be more expensive with groceries just because there’s a lot of very health-conscious people here. People buy organic and local, and there’s all these specialty grocery stores, so prices here can be higher just in part due to fancier food and stuff that people like to eat.
So that’s something to keep in mind. You can—you know, there’s a Subway and KFC, which is like a Kroger brand grocery stores here, but there’s Whole Foods. There’s some fancier, like, Metropolitan Market is more like a high-end type of grocery store. So there’s just kind of the whole gamut. There’s a lot of farmers markets here where you can get fresh local produce, which is kind of cool. Our area doesn’t get super cold, so you can almost always find some sort of fresh local produce. I mean, in the winter, you’re mostly looking at, like, root vegetables and, like, apples, but you can almost always buy local throughout the year, which is kind of cool here.
Restaurants are pretty expensive too. For like an average two-person, mid-range restaurant, you’re probably looking at like $80 to $90 for dinner. That includes your dinner, maybe a couple drinks. If you get more drinks, it’s going to be more than that. Then you tip. One thing to keep in mind here is a lot of like nicer, kind of some of the fancier restaurants have started, instead of like people tipping on their own, they just add a service charge into your bill already. They tell you on the bill. They make it very obvious so you’re not tipping on top of that, but they charge like a 20% service fee that goes towards the 10% tip. So that gets included. Sometimes some of those—you know, like Applebee’s or something isn’t going to do that, but some of the more just like fancier restaurants have started to add that in, especially when they did the increased minimum wage here, then they just were like, ‘Well, we’re just going to include the service charge instead then.’ So just something to remember if you’re going out here to kind of pay attention to your bill when it comes because you may be tipping double.
One thing to note, like the grocery prices are more expensive here, but there’s no sales tax on groceries. Like prepared food, you get taxed at that 10% rate, but like raw groceries that you buy at the store, there’s no sales tax on them. So that’s, you know, kind of nice. I don’t know if it makes up for the higher prices, but you don’t have the sales tax.
Alcohol is taxed, I think what is it, like 20%? It’s taxed very high here. We have like sin taxes. There’s like an extra tax on soda too. So if you drink a lot of soda, there’s like an extra little tax on that. So some stuff gets taxed higher than others, but basic, like, straight-up groceries that are raw that you take home or prepare, there’s no sales tax on them. So that’s, you know, kind of nice.
I don’t know if it makes up for the higher prices, but you don’t have the sales tax. Alcohol is taxed, I think what is it, like 20%? It’s taxed very high here. We have like sin taxes. There’s like an extra tax on soda too. So if you drink a lot of soda, there’s like an extra little tax on that. So some stuff gets taxed higher than others, but basic, like, straight-up groceries that are raw that you take home or prepare, there’s no sales tax on them. So that’s, you know, kind of nice.
Monthly average for people spending on groceries is about $400 a month. That’s like a single person, maybe a couple would spend that much. If you have kids or a family, you’re absolutely going to spend more than that, especially if you’re shopping at some of the more boutique, like specialty stores and you buy everything organic, then that bill kind of gets higher and higher.
But like I said, there’s a lot of farmers markets that you can go to. There’s a company called Smith Brothers around here, and they, like, back in the day, they were like the milk delivery guys, and they still do that. You can order milk from them, and they deliver it to your door every week. You have, like, this little insulated box on your doorstep, and they deliver milk, yogurt, whatever—all of those kind of basic necessities, and there’s other things as well. So that’s kind of a cool thing that you can do. You don’t have to go out and go shopping every week. They just deliver it to your door, and the prices are pretty reasonable and comparable. It’s not like you’re paying way more money for that service. So it’s kind of a cool thing.
In Seattle, they have all the, you know, meal prep services here, like HelloFresh and all of that. People can do that too for getting some groceries or weekly meals. But some averages just for, like, prices of things, just looking at, like, the Subway website. I mean, a loaf of bread, you’re looking at probably, like, $3.29 for just your basic, you know, bottom-line bread. And then it can go higher from there. Like, once you get into the organic and, you know, free-range whatever bread, you’re looking at, like, $7 to $8 for a loaf. For artisanal, you know, grains from the mountain tops or something, then it gets a little bit more expensive. But I mean, maybe I’m just used to Seattle prices forever, but $3.29 for a loaf of bread isn’t too terrible.
Same with eggs, you’re looking about like $3.50 for a dozen eggs. Higher, you get into the free-range organic chickens, um, then you’re looking at like $9, $10, $11, $12 sometimes for eggs. So can really vary too depending on what your tastes are. Same thing with milk, for a gallon of milk, you’re looking at about $4 for a gallon of milk. The organic stuff, for a half-gallon, you’re looking at, what, $6 or $7 for a half-gallon of organic milk. So again, it just really depends on your taste, but there’s a whole pendulum of what grocery prices are in our area, for sure.
Internet: So our internet here—we have just a couple of companies. Comcast is the main one. They’re our cable company. People complain about them all the time, but that’s really all that we have. But you’re looking at probably about $50 to $60 a month on internet. There’s also CenturyLink here, and then another smaller company called Wave Broadband. But they all—you don’t get to pick. They all just either service one area or they don’t. So you’re kind of just stuck with whoever services where you live or what building you live in. So you don’t really—it’s nothing you can necessarily shop around for. But usually, that $50 to $60, you have to sign like a two-year contract and you lock in this rate, and then when that contract’s over, your bill will go up to like $80, and then you just have to resign another two-year thing. It’s just the way it is.
But I think that’s kind of standard for most areas, maybe not, but the one thing to note here, even like the lowest speed here seems to be pretty good and do like what you need it to do, especially just like if you’re kind of maybe just one person working from home and streaming video, you can get away with the lowest speed. The internet here is pretty good. There’s a lot of tech companies here. It’s a very—I feel like tech place. I mean, every restaurant or coffee shop that you go into has free Wi-Fi. The library, I feel like, is—there’s just Wi-Fi all over the place. So you can even—I mean, if you don’t watch streaming or anything and you just want to go to the coffee shop to work, like, you could probably get away without internet if you had to and just going around to places. So yeah, internet, maybe about $50, $60 bucks.
Utilities—we tend to be below the national average, apparently, just because there’s a lot of hydroelectric power here, which brings the cost down, I guess. Usually, I think they say like count on maybe $200 a month for your utilities: electricity, maybe gas if you have gas, water, sewer, garbage. That all varies. I feel like it can vary. If you live in a tiny studio, you’re obviously going to pay way less than that, especially in a newer building that’s insulated well. Your electricity bill is probably not going to be $200 a month. But it just all depends on how hot or cool you like it. Seattle does have a lot of really old houses that have really bad insulation and like original windows, and so those can just like suck the energy out of your house. So it just really depends on where you’re living or type of house you are. If you just crank the heat all the time, you’re cold, and you want it hot, like, you’re obviously going to be spending more. Probably a good range.
One thing to know if you’re moving here and you’re renting, typically water, sewer, garbage is usually paid by the landlord and included in the rent. Not all the time. It’s really up to the landlord, but a lot of times those utilities are included. If not, you might have to pay out of extra. So it just really depends, but rentals usually that’s included. If you’re buying your house, you do have to pay for that, and that can be—you know, I think garbage is maybe like $50, $60 bucks. Water’s the big one, probably costs maybe $100 bucks a month or I’m sorry, sewers the big one. Water sewer is, like, billed on the same bill, but maybe like $100, $150 a month. It just depends on what you do and how often you use stuff and how big your family is.
One thing to note as far as like electricity costs, we don’t get super hot in the summer or super cold in the winter. So it’s—it doesn’t typically freeze here. It’s pretty rare when it does. So your heating costs are not going to be quite as much as some other areas of the country that are full-blown snowy winters all the time. And same thing the flip side in the summer, it’s usually pretty pleasant here. AC is not a very common thing. Some places have it more and more people are wanting it and installing it in their homes, but it’s not very common. A majority of the people in homes in the city do not have air conditioning. So that does lessen your electricity bill. You can add it, and I know we’ve been seeing more forest fires and things that are happening in the summer, and it gets can get really smoky for like a good week or so, and it’s nice to have AC and keep those windows closed and I’ve got all the smoke in. So I know there’s been just more people that are wanting AC, but it’s not very common. So that does kind of save on your electricity bills also.
Gas and Transportation
Gas and transportation. Gas is more expensive here than other areas. We’re still—I mean, what, it’s January 2023 right now. We’re still about $4 to $5 a gallon. It really depends on where you are in the city or like the suburbs. The further out you get from Seattle, it tends to be more expensive or less expensive, besides the east side, which is like Bellevue, east of Seattle, which is more expensive. So it just really depends. If you’re in, like, one of those nicer neighborhoods, the more expensive neighborhoods, the gas is going to be more expensive there. If you’re in a less expensive neighborhood, gas will be less there. There are some areas I have seen it like below $4 in the threes for sure, but you’ve gotta, you know, get out of the city and find it. So is the trade-off, is it worth like burning a bunch of gas to go find cheaper gas? I don’t know. You gotta decide that for yourself, I guess. But yeah, gas is about, you know, $4 to $5 bucks a gallon right now.
Transportation, we do have a really good public transportation system. You can take the bus, and then we also have light rail, which is super helpful. So if you want to get to the airport, you can just hop on the light rail. It’ll take you straight to the airport. You don’t have to worry about parking or anything. We have a light rail that goes north and south too, and they’re expanding it more and more. So I think that’s helpful. You can also take the ferry if you want to get over to the islands. We have a ferry system that’s pretty great. You know, not a lot of other areas have that, I guess, but you can easily hop on a ferry. It’s just like getting on a boat, you know, for like 20 minutes, and you’re over to Bainbridge Island or Vashon Island. There’s some other islands that you can hop on over to.
Like I said, there’s—I mean, this is like, people take buses here, people bike, people do all sorts of transportation. The city’s definitely trying to make it more bike-friendly. They’re putting in a lot of like bike lanes. You’ll see scooters all around the city for rent. So you can rent a scooter. There’s a bunch of—you can’t—so, I don’t know, maybe you can have them in the city. I think you can only rent them in the city. You can’t just buy one. But you can rent scooters and scoot around the city if you want to do that. There’s just a lot of public transportation options. I think more and more people are trying to use the public transportation and do things like that.
Like I said, we do have—you know, when you drive, you have to buy gas, and gas is expensive here. So that’s something to keep in mind. One thing to note, if you’re looking at like, ‘Oh, I live in Seattle, and I want to go over to Olympia,’ or something, and you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s just an hour away. I’ll just drive over there,’ don’t do that because the traffic is terrible. So one thing I like to remind people too when they’re moving here is, like, it may only be like 10 or 15 miles, but the traffic can get really backed up, especially on the weekends when people are coming in and out of the city. So that’s just something to keep in mind if you’re used to being in an area that’s not very congested. It can take a lot longer than you think to get from place to place.
Going out to the beach or something, like on a nice summer weekend, it can take a good hour to get from Seattle to Tacoma, which is not that far. It’s like, what, maybe like 30 miles or something. But it can take an hour to get down there just with all the traffic that you’re going to hit on I-5. So just something to keep in mind when you’re moving here. I know that can be frustrating for people. It was for me when I moved here, but just something to keep in mind. You got to leave some extra time if you’re going somewhere. So yeah, gas transportation, just really, you know, that’s what it is.
Next up is Childcare, it is—you know, I think it’s expensive everywhere, but it’s definitely expensive here. On average, like a daycare center, you’re looking at probably about $1,500 to $2,000 a month, per kid. The rates vary, but it can get pretty pricey. Some areas or some childcare centers offer discounts if you have more than one kid. Sometimes it gets cheaper as the kids get older. But that’s kind of your average range, I think. I mean, like in home childcare, like you’re taking your kid to someone’s house, maybe looking at like $1,200 to $1,500 a month per kid. And some centers or, you know, caregivers are probably more expensive, so that just kind of depends on what you want and what you’re looking for. But childcare here can definitely be pretty pricey.
Education, if you’re looking at public school, which a lot of people do, Seattle has some really great public schools. It also has some not so great public schools. So, you know, like most cities, it really depends on where you live. If you want to live in like a really good school district, then you’re going to pay more money for your house. I would say property taxes here are probably maybe a little bit higher than other areas. It really depends on where you live. There’s different levies and bonds and stuff that get passed, and those can affect your property taxes too. But property taxes here can be a little bit higher. But the plus side, if you have a kid and you’re going to public school, you’re not paying tuition for public school. So, you know, that’s one thing that you don’t have to pay for.
But, you know, if you want to go to a private school, you’re looking at private school tuition. That really varies. You know, you can look on the website, but I think a lot of it’s probably comparable to other cities for sure. Maybe it’s more expensive than some other places. Maybe it’s cheaper than some other places. But you’re looking at private school tuition. You also have the option for, like, homeschooling or online school, which has been a big thing lately. I know COVID kind of put that more on the forefront, but there are some online schools that you can do if you don’t want to go in person or, you know, maybe you’re in an area that you don’t really love the public school, or it’s not really that great of a school, then you can look into some online options.
The University of Washington is here. So that’s great. We have a lot of—I mean, we have Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, University of Washington, you know, there’s a bunch of colleges here. If you’re wanting to go to college and get higher education, definitely a lot of options here in Seattle for that. I know UW has been, you know, in the news for sports and stuff and just kind of just one of the larger public universities here in Washington.
Insurance, you know, you got to have insurance. Health insurance is probably—I would say it’s maybe about, like, $300 to $400 a month per person. It really depends. It can go up from there, depending on the plan you get and what coverage you want. If you want family insurance, that’s more. If you want just individual insurance, that’s less. So just—it just kind of depends, but I think about maybe $300 to $400 a month per person for health insurance.
Car insurance, kind of same thing, it can vary so much depending on your age, your driving history, the type of car you have. I’ve seen car insurance from, like, I don’t know, maybe like $80 bucks a month to like $300 a month. So, it just kind of depends, but car insurance here can be pretty expensive. So it’s one thing that I think you should look into before you move here, because I know some people move here, and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I had no idea car insurance was going to be so expensive.’ So, just keep that in mind. If you have a great driving record and you’re over 25, your car insurance is probably not going to be that much. But if you’re younger or you have a spotty driving record, then you’re probably going to pay a little bit more.
Renter’s insurance is something that people—you know, if you’re renting, you should definitely get that. That’s pretty cheap, usually about maybe $20, $25 a month for renter’s insurance, and that just covers your stuff if there’s like a flood or, you know, fire, or someone breaks into your apartment, it covers your things. So that’s always a good thing to have. Homeowners insurance, I don’t know the exact numbers, but you’re probably looking at a couple hundred bucks a month for homeowners insurance. That’s, you know, something you have to get when you own a home, and it covers if there’s any damage to your house or anything like that.
One thing to know in Washington state, we don’t have state income tax. So that’s kind of nice. You don’t—you’re not paying a state income tax when you get your paycheck, but we do have some high sales taxes and then other little taxes that add up. We have like the gas tax, which is super high. Like I said, we have sin taxes. We have, like, liquor tax, cigarette tax. So those things are a little bit higher. But yeah, no state income tax, which is kind of nice. But you—you do pay for it in other places.
Entertainment, so we have—we have—I feel like we have a lot of—it’s a big city. There’s a lot of entertainment here. A lot of music venues, theaters, comedy shows, all sorts of stuff. A night out, I mean, you can do it on a budget or you can make it really expensive. But, you know, maybe like two tickets to a movie is probably like $30 to $40 bucks, and then if you want to get like popcorn and a drink, you’re probably looking at maybe $50 for two people to go out to a movie. If you want to go to a concert, concert tickets can vary a lot. They can be as low as maybe like $30 bucks for a concert ticket, or they can be hundreds of dollars for, you know, a really big act that’s coming to town. If you want to go to a sports game, same thing, that can really vary depending on the team and how good they are. You can—you can get tickets for like $20, $30 bucks or you can pay hundreds of dollars to sit in like, you know, the lower-level seats.
Dining out, like I mentioned earlier, dining out can be expensive. So I think if you’re—like I said, if you’re going to a mid-range restaurant, you’re probably looking at like $40 to $50 bucks per person for dinner, and that’s, you know, maybe one drink and, you know, one appetizer and a main course. So, it can add up. You know, if you’re going to some fancier places, like some of the nice steak houses and stuff here, you can easily pay $100 to $150 bucks a person, just depends on where you go and how much you want to eat and drink.
There’s a lot of like free things you can do in Seattle. You know, we have some nice parks. You can just go hang out at the park, go on a hike. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have fun here. There’s lots of festivals that happen throughout the year. Like I mentioned earlier, we have a lot of farmers markets and stuff like that, so you can just go, you know, check out the city without having to spend a ton of money.
Let’s see, what else? I mean, we have—we have a lot of like tech companies here, and so there’s a lot of people that are making good money. And so there’s—it’s a—like the economy’s pretty good here. I feel like there’s lots of job opportunities, and so that’s a plus side. But yeah, there’s definitely pros and cons to living here. You know, the weather’s not always the greatest. It can be a little rainy and gray in the winter. We don’t get super cold, but it can just be, you know, gray and kind of depressing. The traffic can be bad. I know we’re having a lot of issues with homelessness and stuff like that, which is kind of—has been a problem in Seattle. They’re trying to address that, but it’s definitely an issue. I know that people have concerns about.
So there’s definitely pros and cons to living here, like I said. So just kind of depends on what you’re looking for, but I hope that gives you a rough overview of the costs of living in Seattle.