How has Seattle's growing wealth impacted you and the city? Readers had a lot to say on that topic.

Share story

We asked, you answered. Here are just a few of the reader responses we received from our call-out last week asking how Seattle’s wealth has impacted your life and the city at large.


How has Seattle’s new wealth changed the city?

It’s made it way more crowded, it’s not the same Seattle I was born and raised in. The grunge, artistic music scene has been nearly replaced by all things tech. Seattle’s very character is not what I remember it. Not all the changes are bad, but a lot of them are hard. Parking for any activity is impossible on a weekend.

— Corinna Ren

It has pushed my entire community (black and brown folks) out of the main city. It has made living a stable life inaccessible unless you work for a major company in Seattle.

— Taejonae Mckenzie

I think the growth is great for the city. It’s obvious it’s bringing all sorts of opportunity to people in the area, as well as bringing in people from all over the world. Everyones ideas are widely accepted and it feels like anything is possible. However, it seems like Seattle doesn’t know how to handle the boom. It’s hard to keep up. There’s no where to park, there’s no room the the middle class and homelessness is becoming a very real and apparent problem.

— Emily Sharick

It’s unaffordable. We pay $2100 for a 700 Sq ft one bedroom apartment. This is on top of hundreds of dollars a month in parking fees (currently paying $690). My husband and I who are both over a decade into our professional careers and by most measures are considered “upper middle class” cannot afford a home within a reasonable distance. It is heartbreaking.

— Nina Devereaux

More businesses, more options, general quality of goods is great. From a daily perspective it’s incredibly nice to have choices.

— Josh Martz

The city has expanded and has gotten a lot taller. I would say the city also got a lot younger. Seattle used to be this gloomy city that no one ever talked about; now it’s “on the map”. I think the tech companies present in the area are doing what they can to recruit top talent while also investing in the city–making this place a top destination. Honestly, Amazon used to be known for being absent during civic matters but now they are providing spaces for FareStart’s apprenticeship program and Mary’s Place shelter. I’ve never read about a city that was so careful about how to handle growth. We have other cities to look to for what we do not want to end up like, but obviously displacement and affordability is a huge issue we are facing.

— Anna Liwanag


How has the city’s economic boom affected you personally?

I find that soon I will no longer be able to afford to live here. I work in non-profit arts, and can’t afford the rents that the techies can pay. My job is in the city. Do I retire early and move someplace more affordable?

— Sherri J Thompson

I can’t afford to even live in Seattle, where I go to UW because of the high rent prices. The housing is completely unaffordable for students & even housing that has affordable pricing program is not applicable to full time students living alone. Full time students are forced to live in dorm style housing for ridiculously high prices (1000-1200).

— Taejonae Mckenzie

I have experienced much more competition for jobs, of which I now have three to try to get by. My friends and I all live in constant terror of losing our places to live. My landlord is selling at the end of my lease & the rent on a 2 bedroom apartment is more than the mortgage for a half a million dollar home. You have to make $7,500 a month to qualify for either. It’s pricing normal people that are from Seattle out.

— Nicole Allred

Property taxes are going to run me out of my home and my home town. I’ve been here since 1969 and can no longer afford the property taxes on my home in Montlake. What is the county going to do about that?

— Damon Jorgensen

Personally, it’s hard to keep up. I work for a nonprofit and I can barely afford to live here. It makes it impossible for the middle class to survive. I’m being asked to pay $1,700 a month just to live and that’s just in rent (that does not include the $250+ utilities or any other type of bills.) I came to Seattle because it felt like an amazing opportunity for me to gain experience in a growing job market, but now I see that it’s only a growing job market for tech companies. No one else can afford to keep up. This type of economic growth doesn’t provide opportunity for the middle class.

— Emily Sharick

A larger paycheck – more wealth and disposable income for Seattle residents helps drive my business to greater heights.

— David Frick

I’ve lived on the top of Capitol Hill since 1989. I’ve had to move repeatedly over the years due to rising rents, but I’ve always managed to find a small apartment I could afford near 15th, our neighborhood main street, where I knew the salesclerks and shopkeepers, and felt I had made a home. Now the increased rents have forced the businesses I visited most to close. In the past few years landmarks like The Bagel Deli, On 15th Video, and the Teapot are gone, the Canterbury is now just another expensive sports bar with televisions everywhere, Chutney’s has been replaced by what appears to be some kind of upscale nail salon, and Ed’s Postal Plus has had to move. These were all the best businesses on 15th., some that had been here for decades.

— Lola Rogers

I was born and raised here. This city has become something I want away from. I don’t even think its the wealth, its just the sheer amount of people that have moved to the city. Our infrastructure, our roads, our geography makes it unbearable to get around anytime of day.

— Brock Reed

While there are some benefits with things like more varied places to visit due to attracting plenty of businesses, housing prices are absolutely insane. Currently looking to buy a place, and even out in the Bothell area houses are upwards of $500k for a 3BR.

— Josh Martz

I have been couch surfing for two years between Wedgewood and Capitol Hill. There is classism in homelessness and I’m “”blessed”” to be at the higher level of homelessness since I have not had to resort to the streets or tent encampments yet. When beggars ask me for spare change, I say I’m transient myself and they reply, “B—-, you ain’t homeless! You got a CAR!”

— Ava Zatanas

It has made my friends, family, and community disappear. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to purchase a home through Habitat for Humanity here in Seattle. In the last 8 years since that has happened my friends, family, and community has disappeared. Even before I got this home we were moving every 1 to 2 years. It seems it is a part of our conversation whenever we get together- fighting through traffic, limited time, relegated to the weekend if we have the energy- someone is always looking for housing, dealing with slumlords, stressed about trying to survive it leaves little room for connecting on a heart level, sharing memories, building our community. It has changed our community gatherings.

I am part of a Native Womens sewing group and to have community we have people traveling from as far north as Marysville to as far south as Olympia to have the community that used to exist here in Seattle. When I go to community functions here in Seattle they are smaller, there are no shared memories of living together, this has become a city of transplants who do not have the shared experience of growing together in this City. As property values rise I have to think will I be able to own this house forever as I originally planned? The taxes keep rising, the cost of living here keeps rising, my community keeps having to move farther and farther away, is it worth it to keep trying to keep a home that is nowhere near my community?

— Petaki Cobell


How has our region’s growth and development redefined your ideas about wealth, getting ahead and just getting by?

It has made me more aware of the importance of the arts, that money isn’t everything and Seattle is still a beautiful city!

— Sherri J Thompson

One thing I respect most of Seattle’s residents is their willingness to pay more taxes (in form of property taxes) in order to combat homelessness and fund transit expansion. I have repeatedly voted for those measures. I’m on the spectrum of “getting ahead” but I believe in “giving back” to those displaced and pushed out of Seattle. I also provide feedback to the HALA board and keep updated on the different measures regarding upzoning and the MHA program. I do think that the antiquated condo law needs to be loosened up so that we can have more developers making condo buildings instead of apartments to alleviate the dry housing supply.

— Anna Liwanag

It’s silly to try and think about buying a house in this market. Eventually I believe things will level out. In a city like Seattle, sometimes renting is the smarter move financially.

— Brittany Rosenau

“Getting by” has shifted upwards by quite a bit. While you can always find relatively cheap items and food for subsistence, actual housing is incredibly costly and I don’t know how anyone working a minimum wage job isn’t living with seven roommates or at home with their parents.

— Josh Martz

I want to pursue a career in education and non profit community work. I have come to terms with the fact that I can’t do that work in Seattle simply because I would not be able to survive financially. This city is pushing out all citizens who contribute to the greater good.

— Taejonae Mckenzie

I realize, despite the IRS believing we are well off our financial standing in this city very much disagrees. We are just getting by and each month further away from our goals. As people in their 30s and 40s would expect to be getting ahead. It is really disheartening.

— Nina Devereaux

The growth is great for those who can afford to keep up. For the rest of us, we’re just trying to scrape by. It’s sad that the middle class makes too much to be considered to low-income housing, but not enough to even imagine what buying a home would be like. It’s kind of a transient life-style. The middle class is just doing what they can, while we are constantly looking for an opportunity that would provide a higher salary . For this reason, I can see why people here are constantly looking for the next “new” thing to be, to invest in and to create.

— Emily Sharick

Well, I thought I would not have to worry after I retired, because I had a decent retirement income, I thought, in 2010. However, My income has not gone up, but my expenses certainly have, especially property taxes. I am a progressive, a generous donor to organizations, but I have come to the point I must re-evaluate all of my spending. I have had to go into savings to just make ends meet all of a sudden. I do not drive on the freeway or downtown anymore in my 1989 auto because of traffic.

— Sharyl Jackson

The city is growing into a large, world-class city versus its medium-sized, off-the-radar status of the past and that is a great opportunity. We are now challenged to include people of broader income levels. We need service and trade workers in addition to knowledge workers to be vibrant. Most big cities in my experience have both excellent subway systems and subsidized, densely built housing to make this work. London is one of the best planned cities in the world. Hong Kong has massive income inequality but manages to accommodate about 40% of its population living simply in subsidized housing who can access its efficient, clean subway system.

In my opinion, transportation is the #1 problem in the way of Seattle’s growth. I can’t believe what has happened to Seattle car travel in ten short years – getting people moving is absolutely critical. The city grew too quickly without the infrastructure to keep up, kind of the opposite of China. The second biggest issue is public schools. Families will continue to leave Seattle if the district can’t keep up with the remarkably better suburban districts, and those who stay and have the means will continue to opt-out (I hear the private education rate is 25%… in Magnolia when we tried our local school we were the only ones on our street doing so). Losing families will reduce vibrancy as well.

— Heather Ring