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One of the most important tasks facing expats moving to Seattle will be finding a home. While expats are able to purchase property in the USA, most prefer to rent, at least initially.
While the cost of living in Seattle is generally low in comparison to the rest of the USA, accommodation doesn’t come cheap. In fact, rental costs in Seattle are some of the most expensive in the USA. Expats will find that with growing numbers of people moving to Seattle, from both within the country and abroad, there is a shortage of rental properties.
Types of accommodation in Seattle
Seattle has a good range of accommodation, from modern loft conversions in the city centre to larger family homes in the leafy suburbs, but expats will find that good properties are snapped up quickly. As is the case in most cities, properties in the suburbs will generally be more spacious and affordable than those found downtown. Most rental properties come fully furnished.
Finding accommodation in Seattle
It's best to start the process of finding a home as soon as possible. Those relocating to Seattle will find it easier to search for properties in the middle of winter because most people move to the city during the summer months of July and August.
It may be worth enlisting the help of a real estate agent who will be able to advise on suitable neighbourhoods and give house-hunters access to a larger number of potential properties in Seattle. Alternatively, expats can make use of listings in online property portals and local newspapers.
Renting accommodation in Seattle
Landlords and rental agencies usually carry out credit and background checks on potential tenants. Expats will be asked to provide references from previous landlords and their employer, so it is best to have these documents prepared beforehand. Most landlords will be looking for tenants who can commit to a contract for at least a year. As competition for housing in Seattle is high, landlords can afford to be selective about the tenants they choose to occupy their properties.
Utilities aren't usually included in the rental price, so expats will need to factor in the cost of electricity and water. It's important to consider the cost of setting up a telephone line and internet connection too.
Tenants will be expected to put down a security deposit, usually equivalent to a month's rent. The first month's rent will also need to be paid upfront. At the end of the lease, the security deposit will be returned as long as the rental property is in good condition.