A Guide on Cost of Living in Seattle

9 minute read

The city of Seattle in Washington, United States offers numerous compelling incentives for contemplating a move. Its exceptional educational institutions, thriving job market, distinct culture, and limitless outdoor pursuits are just a glimpse of what this gem in the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Renowned as one of the top 10 places to reside in the United States according to the US News, Seattle showcases its appeal through various factors. Surrounded by lush evergreen forests, the city embraces an environmentally conscious reputation while also providing its residents with above-average income opportunities. If you wish to know about the cost of living in Seattle, then keep reading. 

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Why Choose Seattle to Study Abroad?

Education plays a vital role in the vibrant city life of Seattle. It boasts the highest proportion of college and university graduates in the United States, with more than half of its population holding a degree.

Within a 25-mile radius of the city, there are nearly 60 colleges and universities. Seattle’s student-friendly environment and excellent facilities make it an ideal place to live and pursue higher education. Some of the top universities in Seattle are Northwestern University, the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University, and The University of Puget Sound. 

Seattle is renowned for its innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. As the birthplace of globally successful companies like Starbucks, Microsoft, and Amazon, it comes as no surprise that business, management, and marketing majors are highly sought after. 

The city also excels in scientific, technological, and medical research and breakthroughs, making programs in these fields particularly strong. With such a diverse range of universities and programs available, Seattle offers abundant opportunities to match your skills and interests.

Benefits of Studying in Seattle

  • Seattle’s universities provide unparalleled proximity to the world’s most innovative biotech, medical, and high-tech businesses. This close connection offers unmatched opportunities to engage with global health initiatives, cutting-edge technology, and groundbreaking research. 
  • In addition, Seattle is a hub for prominent corporations including Amgen, NanoString Technologies, Seattle Genetics, ZymoGenetics, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Expedia, Google, Tableau, and Uber, making job prospects within reach.  
  • The leading universities in Seattle also offer numerous advantages, such as learning in a diverse environment. Interacting with individuals from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and orientations provides unique opportunities to gain new perspectives and broaden one’s horizons.

Also Read: Cost of Studying in Germany

Cost of Living in Seattle

The cost of living in Seattle is 53% higher than the national average, with housing costs being the major contributing factor. Buying or renting a home in Seattle is approximately 109% higher than the state’s average. 

Overall, Seattle has a higher cost of living compared to many other places in the US, with a cost of living index of 172.3, while the state of Washington stands at 118.7 and the national average at 100. All aspects of living, including housing, utilities, food, healthcare, transportation, and goods and services, are more expensive in Seattle than in the rest of Washington state.

To help you assess if Seattle fits your budget, we have compiled a list of factors that affect the cost of living in the city. These factors include housing costs, transportation costs, utilities, food costs, healthcare expenses, entertainment, taxes, and other expenses.

Let’s have a look at the expenses you can expect to bear in Seattle: 


Transportation costs in Seattle can be significant due to the city’s heavy traffic. Owning a car in Seattle can cost around $4,938 (INR 4.05 lakh) annually or as much as $14,613 (INR 11.9 lakh) per year for two working adults with three children. 

Gas prices are higher than the national average, at around $5.44 (INR 446.48) per gallon. Seattle’s public transit systems, such as King County Metro and Sound Transit, offer alternatives, with a one-way ticket costing approximately $2.25 (INR 184.65), and a monthly pass priced at $99 (INR 8.12k). 

Food and Restaurants

Food costs in Seattle can be up to 30% higher than the national average, although visiting farmers’ markets can help find good deals on local produce. 

Prices at grocery stores include $3.51 (INR 288.06)  for a dozen eggs, $3.47 (INR 284.77) for a loaf of bread, $4.01 (INR 329.09) for a gallon of milk, and $6.02 (INR 494.04) for a pound of chicken filets.

If we talk about restaurants, a meal at a typical Seattle dining establishment costs around $30 (INR 2.46k) per person, against the $25 (2.051k) national average. 


Utility costs in Seattle, including electricity, gas, water, and garbage, amount to around $220 (INR 18.05k) per month for a 915-square-foot apartment. High-speed internet typically costs about $68.24 (5.6k) per month. 


Rental rates in Seattle vary depending on the neighborhood. Areas like Belltown, South Lake Union, and Denny-Blaine have the highest rental rates, while Lake City and Laurelhurst are comparatively lower. 

Here is what the average rental rates look like in Seattle:

Apartment TypeRent
Studio$1,37 (INR 11.24k)
One-Bedroom Apartment $1,919 (INR 1.57 lakh)
Two-bedroom Apartment$2,500 (INR 2.05 lakh)

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Healthcare costs in Seattle are lower than the national average, with a healthcare index of 85.2. Healthcare costs in Seattle can vary depending on factors such as insurance coverage and individual needs. On average, monthly health insurance premiums can range from $300 (INR 24.6k) to $600 (INR 49.2k) per person. 

Additionally, out-of-pocket expenses like copayments and deductibles should be considered. The city offers various health insurance options, including Kaiser, LifeWise, Molina, and PacificSource. 

Additional Expenses

Additional expenses in Seattle include sales tax, which is 10.25%, child care costs, and fitness club memberships. The average hourly wage across all occupations in Seattle is $35.74 (INR 2.9k), higher than the national average of $27.07 (INR 2.22k) per hour.

Entertainment costs should also be considered, with attractions such as the Seattle Art Museum, Woodland Park Zoo, Museum of Pop Culture, and Space Needle having admission fees ranging from $19.99 (INR 1.64k) to $35 (INR 2.87k) and up.

Despite the higher costs, Seattle offers a high quality of living, outdoor recreational opportunities, and a vibrant dining scene. By understanding the cost of living in Seattle, you can make informed decisions about where to settle within the city.

Also read: Cost of Living in Italy

Average Tuition Fees in Seattle

The average tuition fees in Seattle can vary depending on the university and program of study. For instance, Seattle University does not charge different fees for out-of-state students. 

However, to provide a general idea, undergraduate tuition fees at public universities in Washington State (including those in Seattle) for in-state students range from around $7,000 (INR 5.7 lakh) to $12,000 (INR 9.84 lakh) per year. For out-of-state students, tuition fees can be significantly higher, typically ranging from $20,000 (INR 16.41 lakh) to $35,000 (INR 28.7 lakh) per year.

Private universities in Seattle tend to have higher tuition fees. On average, undergraduate tuition at private universities can range from $30,000 (INR 24.62 lakh) to $50,000 (INR 41.03 lakh) per year or more, depending on the institution.

Let’s have a look at the average tuition fees you can expect to give while studying at a university in Seattle:

CourseAnnual Average Tuition Fees
Undergraduate$48,510 (INR 39.8 lakh)
Postgraduate $13,770 (INR 11.3 lakh)

Also Read: Cost of Living in London for Students

Things to Know Before Moving to Seattle

Seattle is renowned for being the coffee capital, a home base to big tech corporations, and the origin of grunge music. Home to iconic landmarks like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, the city is also famous for the food, wine, and beer it offers. 

Let’s have a look at some of the main things you need to keep in mind before you move to Seattle: 

Stellar Job Market

Despite the high cost of housing in Seattle, residents of the city earn incomes that are higher than the national average, making approximately 12% more than the typical American. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both hourly wages and annual salaries in Seattle are well above the national averages. This also includes a minimum wage that is significantly higher than average.

The demand for highly skilled and well-educated workers in Seattle’s thriving tech industry has led to a substantial increase in incomes for top-tier jobs. As a result, salaries for these positions have experienced a significant surge.

Best Public Transit

Seattle’s public transportation system has earned the top ranking in the United Nations. Despite this achievement, many commuters in Seattle still rely on cars. However, the public transit system in the Seattle area stands out for its diversity, safety, and efficiency, surpassing that of any other major city.

The average workday commute in Seattle is approximately 30 minutes, which is considered longer compared to national averages. One of the contributing factors to this lengthy commute is the presence of highway bottlenecks, especially as the city’s population has grown. 

However, as more people choose to utilize the various public transit options available, such as light rail, bus lines, streetcars, monorail, and bike-sharing, there is hope that overall traffic congestion will decrease over time. Additionally, opting for public transportation can help individuals save money by avoiding tolls on popular roadways, such as the 520 bridge or the SR 99 tunnel.

Great Museums

Seattle holds the distinction of being the most educated major city in America, and this commitment to learning extends beyond its college campuses.

In Seattle, you will find a multitude of opportunities to expand your knowledge. The Pacific Science Center is a prime example, offering engaging educational experiences for the entire family. Visitors can embark on interstellar journeys at the planetarium, explore immersive virtual reality adventures, and enjoy larger-than-life IMAX experiences.

Image Source: Crosscut

For aviation enthusiasts, the Museum of Flight provides an interactive museum experience centred around air and space exploration. Traditional museum tours are available, and the Boeing Academy for STEM Learning offers enriched educational experiences focused on space, flight, and robotics, catering to the interests of learners.

Seattle’s Puget Sound presents a unique aquatic environment that characterizes the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Aquarium provides an opportunity to delve deeper into the wonders of underwater life, allowing visitors to learn more about the diverse marine ecosystem.

Dining and Entertainment

Seattle offers endless opportunities for indulgence. Whether you prefer elegant high-rise restaurants or savouring sourdough clam chowder bowls by the waterfront, the city’s shoreline is adorned with a delightful variety of culinary options. 

Apart from its diverse dining scene, Seattle is renowned for its gourmet beverages. At the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room, you can treat yourself to the finest and most exclusive coffees offered by Starbucks. Indulge in espresso flights, artisanal small-batch cold brews, and speciality beverages like the Undertow—an exquisite blend of suspended espresso, chilled half-and-half, and vanilla-bean syrup.


Even for those who have called Seattle home for a long time, the city’s sights never lose their charm. The Space Needle stands out as the city’s most unmistakable structure, offering a mesmerizing view from its observation deck. At the top, you’ll find interactive digital features and a revolving restaurant, providing the ultimate opportunity to immerse yourself in the breathtaking Seattle skyline. 

Another renowned landmark in Seattle is the Seattle Great Wheel. Since 2012, the Seattle Great Wheel has become an iconic symbol of the city, gracing the vibrant boardwalk with its captivating presence. This recent addition to the city’s skyline adds a touch of beauty to the waterfront and leaves a lasting impression.  

Also Read: Cost of Studying in Canada


Q1. Is $80,000 a good salary to live in Seattle?

Ans. To live comfortably in Seattle, it is recommended to have an annual income of $72,092 (INR 59.16 lakh). The median household income in Seattle stands at $80,000 (INR 65.6 lakh), so any salary within this range can be considered satisfactory for living in the city.

Q2. How much does entertainment and recreation cost in Seattle? 

Ans. The cost of entertainment and recreation in Seattle depends on personal preferences. Activities such as going to the movies, visiting museums, or attending concerts can range from $10 (INR 820.67) to $50 (INR 4.1k) per person. Outdoor activities like hiking or exploring parks are often free or have minimal costs. 

Q3. How expensive is childcare in Seattle? 

Ans. Childcare costs in Seattle can be high. The average cost of full-time daycare for an infant can range from $1,500 (INR 1.23 lakh) to $2,500 (INR 2.05 lakh) per month. Costs for preschool or after-school programs may vary, but it’s important to research options and consider budgeting for childcare expenses.  

Many Indian students dream of pursuing education in the USA due to the exposure and career growth it offers. Consider joining a free counselling session with Leverage Edu if you are also planning to study abroad

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