You consider yourself to be an urban child, dressing in flannels and high-waisted Levi’s that Kurt Cobain totally would have worn. Your sneakers are smeared with the oils of the city streets and you feel at home in small, dark, and dingy music venues.
And yet, in the sunlight of summer, you find yourself crunching through crisp leaves on a bright trail. You’re unafraid of the deep blue water that hits your paddle as you canoe across Lake Union. Suddenly you’re a child of the Earth!
Living in Washington, you have access to the city lifestyle of Seattle as well as the natural wonders that surround it. If you want the urban rush of living in a city without losing the attractions given to us by Mother Nature, you might consider moving to this area.
McKenzie Nakamura lives in Kenmore, Washington, a suburb north of Seattle. She explains what it’s like living in this location and what she thinks recent graduates should know about making the Pacific Northwest their home.
Recent Graduate: McKenzie Nakamura
College, Major, Graduation Date: University of Redlands, Environmental Studies, May 2012
Current Gig: Inventory Processor at Nordstrom (lol. I find people’s online orders in our store)
What brought you to this area?
This is where I grew up. I had a hard time finding a job in my field of interest after college because I didn’t feel prepared. I didn’t do internships or volunteer. Honestly, while I was in school, I wasn’t thinking about my future. But now I’ve been taking time exploring what I might want to do and will hopefully figure out the steps to reach those goals.
What do you think are the pros and cons of living in this city?
Nature. The best part about living in the Seattle area is all of the natural beauty that we are surrounded by. Everywhere you look, there are forests, mountain ranges, and lakes. Just the view crossing the bridge into Seattle is amazing! You can see downtown and the Space Needle as you drive over Lake Union. The Cascades are on your left and the Olympics to your right. There are plenty of trails and parks to go to. My brother and sister go to Ross Lake every year. It’s a glacial lake in the northern Cascades and has amazing trails. Or if you want, you can do a little Twin Peaks tour in Snoqualmie and North Bend.
Baseball. One of my favorite parts of Seattle is going to baseball games at Safeco. If you’re a baseball fan, this is where you want to be in the summer months. Most people haven’t experienced summers in Seattle. They’re awesome! It’s fun to go to Henry’s on 1st to grab drinks outside before the game. We always grab hot dogs next to Century Link (the “Clink”) before games. They’re the best doggies and way better than the ones they sell inside Safeco.
Music. Seattle music venues and local music are the best. For example, I just saw one of my favorite Seattle bands, La Luz, for only $5 this weekend at a small venue.
Transportation. If you live in the city, it’s super easy to get around. But if you live outside, it can be a little less convenient. I live in a suburb north of the city so I have to take the bus in. The routes that I take are a lot less frequent than the routes within the city (a bus comes about every 30 minutes), such as Greenlake to Capitol Hill. It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the transit center and then I walk 10 minutes from there to my work. We do have Uber now and that makes going out a lot better. (One of my Uber drivers told me about his dreams of owning a big house and some land so that he could have horses and birds—best Uber driver ever!)
Cost of living. I couldn’t afford to live anywhere in the city on my own. Areas like Madison Park, Queen Anne, and Greenlake (neighborhoods in Seattle) are sort of expensive because they have things to offer such as nightlife, great restaurants, and access to parks and trails.
Meeting new people. Sometimes it’s kind of hard to meet people because Seattle natives tend to keep to themselves. Maybe it’s the weather half the year… it’s too cold and gray to expend our energy to make small talk.
What should recent graduates/twentysomethings know about living in the Seattle area?
There’s a lot of opportunity to be successful. It’s important to have experience as well as network. There are a lot of jobs in this area but almost everyone gets their jobs through networking. Connections with family friends or chance meetings with the right people. That’s actually how I got my job at Nordstrom. I was a buyer at Crossroads Trading Company and bought from the head of HR at Nordstrom in Bellevue.
The nightlife in the city is cool. The cost of drinks and going out isn’t so bad; it’s cheaper than LA and NYC (NYC is crazy expensive, right?). Most of the places to go out are bars. There aren’t any cool clubs like in Vegas or LA. But I like the nightlife in Seattle. The only thing is that it’s all in the city. There is absolutely no nightlife north of Seattle… so be aware that if you want to go out, you’ll be going out in the city.
Finally, make sure you take advantage of the nature that’s so close by! Whether its going on a hike or run, canoeing on Lake Union, or driving to the peninsula, do it!