Why & How We’re Planning to Move to Seattle: Careers, Landlording, Renting, School & Budget

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THE WHY

After making a career change and getting a full-time job in Seattle, I knew I would have to move to the city.

But due to Covid, I have been working from home at the current company for almost a year. With vaccines being available, moving out of DC is becoming more like a reality than a possibility.

Is Mr. FAF on board with this?

This is a question I’ve been asked frequently by both my colleagues and friends. After all, moving from coast to coast is not an easy feat. We have to think about a myriad of things such as Mr. FAF’s job, our house, our friends, and the kids’ school.

And the answer is a resounding Yes. Mr. FAF has been getting tired of DC for a long time without specificilly telling me until now.

I studied public policy, so staying in DC was an obvious choice. One thing I like about working in tech is that I will become somewhat location independent, an important component of being financially independent.

That is, tech jobs are everywhere and much more available than a job in public policy, for example. Also, a lot of tech companies allow their employees to work remotely.

Mr. FAF and I have been talking about moving out of DC for a while. We thought about Austin, Atlanta, and Dallas – places with lower taxes, fewer regulations, and warmer weather.

One reason that held us back was that it would be hard for me to get a job given my previous career. Now that both Mr. FAF and I work in tech, we feel much more breathing room in our choices of locations to live.

Why don’t I ask to work remotely from DC?

This is a possibility I thought about. I could ask to work remotely from DC and travel to Seattle one week every few months or so. However, Mr. FAF is itching to move to start a new life.

Since Mr. FAF also works full-time, the thought of me being gone for a week every month and leaving the kids with him is not so comforting either.

Also, although we enjoy working from home every once in a while, we both prefer being in the office where we can interact with our colleagues and have a change of atmostphere at work.

Seattle

THE HOW

1. Mr. FAF applying for a new job in Seattle

Mr. FAF has been at his current company for almost four years. Most of his stocks have been vested, so he’s looking for a new opportunity (aka a better package).

These days, he is studying for the technical interviews early in the morning, late at night, and on the weekends. I take over most of the childcare and housework while working a full-time job so that he can focus on his preparation.

Some might say that we should just take it slow and enjoy our current jobs. But we think that if we have the potential to get a better position with better pay while working the same number of hours, we will try to do so for ourselves, our kids’ future, and our parents. The interview prep will only take a few months.

In different industries, promotion and better pay might mean more stress and more hours at work. But based on our experience in tech, it’s not so much the case if we work for the right team and the right company.

2. Renting our house out

We have paid off our current home in DC. When we move to Seattle, we won’t have to pay mortage on it. But the question is should we rent it out or leave it empty? Here are the pros and cons:

I. Renting it out

a. Pros

— A similar home in the area just got rented out for $2,500 a month ($30,000/year). Even if we have to pay 12% for property management, we will still get $26,400/year.

— The tenants will alert us if there’s any issue with the house such as pipes burting or water leak.

b. Cons

— Tenants might cause more wear and tear to the house.

— We will need to replace some applicances (i.e. the fridge) that have issues which we fix every once in a while but the new tenants might not be ok with.

— If we decide we don’t want to stay in Seattle and want to move back to DC, we won’t be able to move back into our house if the lease is still in effect.

— We will need to get rid of our furniture and anything we can’t take to Seattle. We got most of our furniture for free or from the curb side, so it won’t be too costly. But the thought of getting rid of our stuff is still a bit emotional for me.

II. Leaving it empty

a. Pros

The opposite of all the cons above.

b. Cons

The biggest con is that we will lose out on $26,400/year and we will need to hire someone to check on the house every once in a while.

Decision

After a long discussion, Mr. FAF and I decided we would rent the house out when we move. There are of course risks with doing so, but the monetary payoff is too big to brush aside.

Doing business and building wealth involves risks, and we are willing to take chances.

3. Renting

Yes, we will become renters again after five years of being homeowners! We will rent out a three-bedroom apartment or townhome in Seattle for six months.

During this time, we will decide if we want to stay in the area. If not, we might need to plan another move to another city. If yes, we will look for a house to buy.

The rent ranges from $2,500 to $3,000/month, if not higher, depending on the area. Mr. FAF said he wants to live in the downtown area to experience the city life for once.

When Mr. FAF and I were students, we rented cheap places to save money. Mr. FAF once paid $250/month to rent a garage-turned-bedroom.

Now that we have more wiggle room in our budget, Mr. FAF wants to experience something better. As for me, I just want a place that’s safe and close to work.

Over the cost of six months, we will pay $15,000-$18,000 in rent. This is one reason why we decided to rent out our home: to offset the rental fees we will pay in Seattle.

While I feel relieved to not have to worry about home maintenance at the rental, I am feeling a bit concerned about the high rent.

Mr. FAF said that we will be paying to experiment a different life. Plus, it will be covered partly by my relocation package. If Mr. FAF gets a new job, the rental payment will be covered 100%.

4. School 

Our son is starting first grade in September, so we feel that the summer is the best time for us to move. We will enroll him in public school and won’t have to pay out of pocket.

This is something we have been looking forward to after paying for daycare all these years. We will send our daughter to daycare and will probably pay roughly $2,000/month.

5. Budget

As you can see, the biggest expense in our budget when we move to Seattle is the rent ($2,500-3,000/month).

The living expenses in Seattle might be higher than where we currently live, so our expenses might increase as well.

However, we consider this to be a new living experience and an experiment to see where we want to live in the long run, so we are willing to pay for the increased prices.

Conclusion

That is our current plan to move to Seattle so far. We plan to move in June or July when our son is done with kindergarten and when the weather is the most sunny and beautiful in Seattle.

I look forward to meeting my colleagues in person and participating in the events at my new company when Covid is over. Mr. FAF is excited about living in a new city where there are a lot of Chinese restaurants and beautiful places.

Overall, this will be a new and exciting experience for our family.


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23 thoughts on “Why & How We’re Planning to Move to Seattle: Careers, Landlording, Renting, School & Budget”

  • I think it will be a good move for you. It sounds like the pace will be slower where you’re going. ( I don’t really know). I know I would rather live in Washington state than in Washington D.C. Your children are at a good age for change. Later they won’t want to leave their friends. It’s always a big hassle to move especially cross country, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do it.

    • We also talked about our kids and the move, and we came to the same conclusion as you just said. They are still young, so hopefully they can make new friends quickly in the new place! 🙂

    • haha good point. I meant we wouldn’t have to pay for it from our budget besides taxes and whatever comes with it 😉

  • That’s exciting! The whole northwest is a beautiful area. Funnily enough, we’re also thinking about moving to Seattle at some point – perhaps as early as the end of this year. We’re eying the Ballard area, but downtown has so much to do. I would love to live by Washington Park Arboretum or Discovery Park to be near somewhere green.

    • Hi Adam, I was just reading your blog the other day. 🙂 We are a bit concerned about the weather, but the scenery is indeed beautiful when the weather is nice as I heard!

  • As someone who lives in Seattle, I would somewhat caution against moving here for some of your aforementioned reasons. The tech scene is strong here, but if you’re looking to be able to interact with colleagues in the office, a lot of companies are shifting to a permanent WFH model. I’ve watched hoards of tech workers flee the area over the course of the past year. I’ve been watching the buildings of tech companies have contractors moving in and out of them and getting buildings repurposed from out my work building window and during my daily walking commute. Of course, there’s no crystal ball to tell exactly how much of the tech scene here will return to its pre-pandemic state. But I certainly don’t think it’ll be anywhere near the same.

    If you do move to Seattle though, I would DEFINITELY caution against living downtown, especially with a family and small children. Within Seattle city limits, sure, but not downtown. I am childless and personally live downtown for ease of commute, but not for city living. This is not the most pleasant city to live in a downtown area for. The homelessness and mental illness problem is out of control. It’s especially sad for those on the streets and who aren’t getting the mental help they need. My fiance is from New York but still was a bit taken back by the amount of screaming and confrontational homeless/mentally ill people on the streets. If you’re an adult with common sense, you’ll be fine, but I would be a bit more worried with a child. There’s a good reason why the vast majority of people living downtown are young and single (or young couples with no children). I would suggest higher-end neighborhoods outside of downtown, such as Ballard or Fremont, which would still give you easy access to all that downtown has to offer without being surrounded by it 24/7. I would at the very least start outside of downtown; if you are renting, once you are settled into Seattle a little more and have a better feel for it, then you can decide if you really want to move to a place downtown.

    • Wow thank you so much for your honest feedback! I will definitely tell Mr. FAF about your advice and will make decisions accordingly. Again, thank you!

      • Certainly! If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them. We’re an Asian couple who has lived in a fair amount of cities in the US, so we enjoy answering questions about living in different areas.

  • Be very careful who you rent to especially in this ever continuing eviction moratorium environment. Complete background checks, security deposits etc. I am in the business and it is getting to the point where it only makes sense for some units to rent them out month to month until the eviction moratorium is over due to tenants who were paying diligently before now not paying as no immediate penalties in place for non-payment. These include well-off professional tenants at leading tech and banking firms taking advantage of the eviction moratoriums (instead of for example downsizing). In such a case (month to month till the eviction moratoriums are over) the lost rent is 1 month instead of up to 1 year or more. The use of a professional well reviewed or recommended to you by friends Property Manager is worth the property management fees.

    • That’s valuable advice! I can only image landlords’ stress and frustration that comes with tenants not paying on time, especially those who have stable income. Thank you for sharing, Charles!

  • Congrats on your upcoming move to Seattle! It’s such a beautiful city. I’ve lived here for 25+ years and still marvel at how I can go see the ocean in 5 minutes (Golden Gardens) and then visit a huge forest (Discovery Park) just 15 minutes away. For people who love bring in close proximity to nature and also want all the amenities of a happening and modern city, it can’t be beat. That said, there are problems here with growing inequity, racist practices in law enforcement, and homelessness. Not that different from other bigger cities but disappointing when you see the potential of Seattle being a great city dissolving in some way with every passing year. I’ve lived all over the city and have been in Ballard for the last 13 years. There are serious problems with homeless encampments here. I think homeless folks have moved here from downtown and other neighborhoods because Ballard has lots of social services in a very affluent neighborhood. It’s a strange combo and I can’t blame people for wanting to go where the services are. That said, I recommend that you and Mr. FAF consider neighborhoods according to where you will work (make your commute short if you can!) and where your son might go to school. There are lots of great neighborhoods to choose from. If you want more tips and suggestions on where to live in Seattle, please feel free to email me. Happy to help and wishing you all the best with your move!

  • Hello,
    Best of luck on your move and job search. Another option to consider is downtown Bellevue, WA. IMO it has better public schools and there are plenty of tech jobs on that side of the lake. You still can visit Seattle and you are actually closer to exploring the mountains.

    • No, our parents are not here. My in-laws were planning to come last year but couldn’t because of COVID 🙂

  • Good luck with the move! I’ve been to Seattle a few times since I have family there and find it a nice city. People say it rains too much but I’ve mainly been in the summer months so the weather is pretty nice :). So for your house in DC, is there a reason you aren’t considering selling it?

    • With Amazon coming to Virginia and given the location of our house, we think our house will appreciate pretty nicely and is a great investment to keep. We might sell it in the future when the timing and the pricing are right.

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