What kinds of culture shock did you experience after you moved to Seattle?
Cost of living
- Housing in particular is out of control. Buying a home is like attending a very high stakes auction. Renting? Better have 2+ incomes and plan on major annual increases.
- As a result, we have what some people call a "homeless problem." In reality, we have a culture of corporate profitability that has forced housing costs up and lower income families out. It's not a "homeless problem," it's a political problem.
- The infrastructure has deteriorated and is inadequate to handle the volume of commuters and residents moving into and out of (and around) the city every day, even on weekends.
- Most of my friends and colleagues follow a Rule of Two: That is - we figure out our average commute time and double it. So if my typical commute is 60 minutes, I plan on two hours and change. Shorter commutes are possible for people who can afford them, but even in neighborhoods on surface streets, best follow the Rule of Two.
Somewhat connected to #1: Regressive taxation
- For a state that is generally viewed as liberal (so folks tend to think high taxation - vast safety net), we have a really goofy taxation scheme. No income tax, but high sales tax and property tax. It needs to be reworked. our safety net is really worn, with huge gaps in mental health funding and other critical services, including education.
- Because of this tax scheme, folks who have to spend most or all of their paycheck on general life maintenance and goods and services bear the majority of the impact of the tax burden.
Stunning, stunning scenery
- I mean, grab the wheel if I'm driving because I need both hands to pick my jaw up off the floor. Mountains, water, wildlife, colorful vegetation, ferries, shiny sky scrapers, sailboats, sea life...and when the sun shines, the whole city glistens like a million diamonds dancing on crushed velvet.
- Speaking of sun, we are within 90 minutes of the Olympic Rain Shadow, but that's a trade secret. Please keep that between us.
So, so white.
- The Pacific NW in general is not diverse compared to other parts of the country. We do have some ethnic and racial diversity here, largely due to the tech culture. What I hear very often is a lot of very white, able bodied, affluent people bragging about their colorblindness, and preaching about The Racisim in other parts of the country. In many ways we as a group embody coastal elitism and ignorance. We have extreme economic diversity, but because (much like racial and ethinic diversity) non-agent groups have been pushed out of the city, we don't see it. Out of sight, out of mind. This breaks my heart on many levels.
- Though we have a complicated relationship with diversity, we were the last point of contact for white European and US American colonization. Thus we have not entirely destroyed all Native American and First Nations cultures, yet. Memories of boarding schools, tribal traditions, and genocide are somewhat fresh, and that's a painful but very good thing.
- It's not the same city I lived in from age 0–8. Returning in 2012 I was completely blindsided by the transformations, including the demolition of the King Dome (so sad), all the new skyscrapers, the intense population growth, and the cost of living. But, when I smell the tar and salt water on the piers, or catch a view of the Olympics on a clear day where my grandparent's ashes are scattered, or wade into the crystal clear water of Puget Sound because I must, or watch the sea gulls race the ferries to the dock, or hear the roar of Navy jets, I am settled in a way I could never have predicted.