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Sketched Nov. 13, 2017

After more than a year and a half bouncing from micro-apartment to micro-apartment and a few rooms in between in Seattle, Caroline Collins couldn’t wait to settle into her new home, a $196,000, one-bedroom condo she purchased in north Shoreline last July.

My sketch of Collins preparing clam chowder in her kitchen is the latest entry in my series about Seattle-area renters and recently minted homeowners. Her story interested me because it’s different from that of other young newcomers who find jobs in the booming tech industry or dislike living far from the hustle and bustle of the city center.

Renting in Seattle: An illustrated chronicle

Seattle is experiencing one of the priciest rental and housing markets in years. If you'd like to be considered as a subject of my illustrated chronicle about Seattle renters, contact me at I'd love to hear your story and maybe make some sketches of your apartment before you get priced out.

“I had always wanted to move to Seattle,” said Collins, a 28-year-old native Tennessean who loves her job as a full-time nanny. “I looked at a map, saw water, saw mountains and said, ‘I’m moving there!’”

Collins’ life in Seattle started in a 150-square-foot apodment in the University District. Monthly rent for “a room with your own toilet, your own shower and a little bar sink with enough space to hold a bowl and a fork” was nearly $600, she said. “It was a rough adjustment … I couldn’t believe I was shelling that much money for that amount of space.”

Over the next year and a half, Collins lived in three other places, including a $950-a-month, 350-square-foot apartment in Greenwood and a couple of houses where she rented individual rooms.

Looking back at her quest to call the Seattle area home, Collins has no regrets. Life as a homeowner in the suburbs is better than living in Seattle proper and having to share a roof and fearing rent increases, she said. “I’m investing in my future.”