Into the Silicon Forest
Techies, foreigners and savy buyers alike are all following the yellow brick road to Seattle—the Emerald City—lured by growth, the arts and natural beauty to boot.
By: Kevin Daniel Dwyer
Known as the “Emerald City,” Seattle is enveloped by natural beauty from sea to sky. Centered between two mountains, Seattleites enjoy panoramic vistas as an everyday occurrence—notably Mount Rainier, the jaw-dropping peak situated 14,411 feet above sea level. Landlocked (no municipal annexation), the city is surrounded by large bodies of water including Elliott Bay, the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, which is the second largest lake in the state with some of the most prized waterfront in the world. It’s this diversity of landscapes and natural splendor that define Seattle’s true beauty.
Seattle’s economic prosperity and love for the arts has fostered more cultural offerings per capita than any other U.S. city. It’s home to the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Art Museum, numerous performance halls and two new professional sports stadiums drawing dedicated fans of the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders and of course the Seattle Mariners. Additionally, popular attractions like Seattle Center and Pike Place Market, one of the nation’s largest and longest running public markets, draw more than 10 million visitors annually. Most notable are the celebrity chefs of renowned restaurants, scores of music lounges (the home to Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Pearl Jam and Modest Mouse) and of course, more coffee shops on a given corner than any other city its size.
Some of the world’s most famous names in business have made their home on the shores of Lake Washington, including the founders of Microsoft, Starbucks and Costco, to name a few. A short cruise along Medina’s waterfront on the Eastside, in from of Denny-Blaine’s lakefront or pretty much anywhere around Mercer Island, will reveal numerous family compounds of a global scale—some so private they were designed not to reveal anything at all. Good hedges.
Among the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., Seattle is home to an abundance of urban corporate campuses and the majority of Seattle’s job growth, drawing in residents who want the convenience of a “live, work, play” lifestyle. Many locals within the tech industry are attracted to the long-urbanized downtown areas where high-rises and mid-rise developments are found, along with the highest prices per square foot in the city.
Some say Seattle has become the Manhattan of the West Coast. It has all the right attributes including a landlocked existence, an established economic base, a vibrant cultural scene, and natural surroundings that make people want to be a part of it. The diverse economy is drawing some of the brightest minds from around the world already. Seattle’s anatomy is what makes it special—the heart of a small town but the mind of a global city destined for greatness. Ultimately, it’s Seattle’s unmistakable spirit of place that makes the Emerald City glimmer.
San Francisco Bay Area residents are increasingly following the yellow brick road, so to speak, thanks to the tech effect; some have already coined the city “Silicon Forest.” Both cities share a likeminded sensibility, as Seattle and San Francisco are both driven by thriving tech industries. Though Seattle is starting to face the rising cost of housing that the Bay Area has already experienced, it is still relatively affordable in comparison. The impact of the tech boom is undeniable in the city’s well-diversified economy with multiple corporations fostering a healthy level of competition and innovation.
Seattle’s population is growing quickly and the city added more people in 2016 than all of King County’s suburbs combined. Gene Balk, Seattle Times columnist, reports that the century-old trend of King County suburbs growing at faster rate than the city of Seattle, has reversed. Last year the city added 20,847 people versus 14,867 in the rest of King County. That’s a 3.1 percent population growth helping Seattle stake the claim as the fastest-growing big city in the nation on top of ranking the fastest-growing median home prices in the U.S. for the past eight months in a row. For more explicit proof, one need only look to the skyline—as of June, Seattle had the most construction tower cranes in the country.
Foreign investment is also booming. It’s clear that foreign buyers have figured out the Seattle metro area offers a matchless combination of affordable home prices, immediate access to Asia, nationally-ranked schools, a lack of state income tax and extraordinary prospects for economic expansion—all within a moderate climate. G
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