How Much Money Should I Save Before I Move to Seattle?

Apr. 18, 2016 Moving to Seattle


If you’re reading this, you may have decided that moving to the Emerald City might be in the cards for you… and we think that’s awesome! Though you can’t pack up and move to Seattle tomorrow, you can certainly put the wheels in motion by doing more research and starting to save up (if you haven’t already).

Due to Seattle’s higher than average cost of living (made up for by higher than average wages), in order to get here, it’s important to strive to put together a little nest egg of savings… But how much is enough? How much money should I save before I move to Seattle?

To answer this question, we reached out to our client and long-time Seattle-based credit union, Salal. A few of their experts, including Digital Media & Communications Specialist, Terrell Meek were on the case and ready to help us figure out just how much is enough to save before making the big move.

How Much Does it Cost to Move to Seattle?

Terrell tells us that how much people need to save really depends on key factors and choices. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Is there a job waiting for you in Seattle? Or are you working with a recruiter to consider your employment options?
  • Are you packing yourself and U-Hauling the trip, or are you considering movers?
    • How much stuff are you actually moving?
    • Are you able to sell any of your furniture to consolidate and add to your moving fund, or are you taking every piece with you?
  • How many people (and pets) are moving?
  • Will you drive or fly to reach Seattle?
    • If driving, will you need to take pit stops at hotels/motels? If so, how many?
    • If flying, will the day – or time of year – of flight affect your cost per ticket?

Terrell tells us that moving costs could be $7,000 or more, depending on the answers to these questions. If you know your path, consider looking up quotes to provide you with a rough estimate needed before you make your way here. The more prepared you are, the smoother your move to Seattle will be.

If Possible, Build an Emergency Fund with 6+ Months of Your Average Salary

Obviously moving is expensive, and finding a job in Seattle (though a lot easier now due to a hot market) can still be a long process. To be on the safe side, Terrell suggests having 6+ months of your average salary put away in an “emergency fund.”

If you can’t wait for six months of salary to build up, consider this, says Terrell: “An average 1-bedroom apartment in Seattle runs around $1600/month… You should [at least] have enough money for first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit.”

Utilize Tools like Mint or a Simple Notebook to Keep Track of your Moving Budget & Savings

Saving money can be fun. No, really! Free budgeting resources, like Mint, can be available right on your smart phone! If you’re not app savvy, Terrell recommends keeping “a notebook or simple spreadsheet to track your spending and saving.”

“If you’re feeling completely lost putting a budget together,” Terrell says, “most credit unions will help you develop a budget or spending plan for free. At Salal, we offer our members a service called Balance which gives them access to free financial counseling and other resources.”

But What if I am Bad at Saving Money?

“There are common ‘tricks’ that can help you save money,” advises Terrell, “like using cash instead of credit; however, the most effective way to overcome an aversion to saving is to pay yourself first. All you have to do is set up an automatic transfer from your checking to your savings each month for a specified amount of money. An even better option is to have a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into your savings.”

If you haven’t spent it yet already, hold onto that tax return! You can start the foundation for your savings account by sticking as much of your tax return as possible into it. Terrell says this can apply to things like raises, bonuses and other windfalls, too. The goal, she says, is to make your money as off limits as possible. Out of sight, out of mind.

Feeling Anxious About Starting at Absolute Zero? It’s Going to be OK.

Terrell offers some sage, encouraging advice to people starting with a savings account balance of $0:

“Don’t be discouraged or intimidated. Everyone has to start somewhere, and even just putting $5 into a savings account every week is better than not saving at all. If you need help or support, talk to someone at your local credit union. They can take a look at your overall financial situation and work with you to determine the best way to start a savings plan.”