Cross-Country Move Considerations: The Northwest


The Northwest Is Green In Multiple Ways

Those moving to the Northwest might be looking to lush greenery, healthy food, and eco-conscious living. But, like most places, there is more to the Northwest than vegan restaurants and solar panels. In order to get by in the Northwest, you’ll need to ditch the umbrella, get a reusable water bottle, and take into account these differences. SEE ALSO: 6 Cheapest Packing Methods To Save You Money

The Culture

As you might guess, people in Northwestern cities like Seattle are much more eco-friendly and hip. That’s right—the stereotypes of people owning chickens and recycling everything from soup to nuts are true. Some characteristics of the progressive northwest culture include:
  • More greenery. In fact, Seattle, Portland, and Eugene all made Mother Nature Network’s Top 10 Greenest Cities
  • Increased feminism. Seattle was the first major city to elect a female mayor, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Washington also made the Center for American Progress’s Top 10 Best States for Women to Live In.
  • Decreased religion. Portland is the least religious city in America, and Washington is one of the least religious states, according to an article from Huffington Post.
  • Friendliness to animals. Portland and Seattle constantly top the lists of best dog-friendly cities in the US. And, in these cities, you’re also allowed to have farm animals, like chickens and pigs, in your backyard.
  • More eco-friendly. Seattle was one of the first cities to ban plastic bag use in stores. So, it’s not surprising that you can expect more than a few looks if you head to Starbucks without a reusable mug. Recycling is also really big in Northwestern cities.

The Costs

  • Average cost of gas for Seattle: $3.65 (US average: $3.38)
  • Average cost of bread for Seattle: $2.95 (US: $1.42)
  • Average cost of milk for Seattle: $1.92 (US: $3.86)
  • Average cost of energy for Seattle: $0.095 per KWH (US: $0.134)
Being a very eco-friendly area can mean a lot of things. For the Northwest, it means that gas prices will be high (to encourage you to take the plethora of public transportation available to you) and that energy costs will be low (because of the abundance of renewable energy projects in the area). At the same time, prices of common food items—like a loaf of bread—might fluctuate drastically due to local production yields. If you’re more likely to buy local and organic, you’re putting yourself at the will of Mother Nature, just like a farmer.


On the upside, you’ll also be getting faster internet and cheaper cable TV and utilities. This, paired with the fact that you’ll likely be spending less on your home than if you were to move to the west coast of California (Trulia map), makes Seattle a surprisingly affordable city to live in. Plus, if you start recycling, you’ll save even more on trash costs. SEE ALSO: Cross-Country Move Considerations: The Northeast

What You’ll Need

With the erratic weather in this region and the unique culture that comes along with it, you will need an interesting combination of items to survive. Here are just a few:
  • Hoodies and jeans. They are the dressing items of choice for a majority of Seattle residents.
  • Reusable items. From bags to Starbucks mugs and everything in between.
  • Animals. It could be a potbellied pig, a dog, or even a chicken. To fit in here, you’ll most likely need to take care of something in your home.
  • A bike. So you can seem eco-friendly and you don’t have to wait for public transportation. Or…
  • Running shoes. For the same reason you might want a bike.
  • Outdoor gear. For all your hiking/camping/kayaking needs.
But whatever you do, do NOT bring an umbrella. Bringing an umbrella out into Seattle rain screams to residents that you are either a tourist or new to the area. Plus, umbrellas don’t fare well in the Seattle wind, so there’s really no point. The Northwest is definitely not like other areas of the US. It’s unique culture and erratic weather is definitely not for everyone. But, with a little patience, the “Seattle Freeze” will warm up and allow you to truly plant roots in this interesting region.
Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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