What It Takes to Make It in Seattle

Can you survive in Seattle on a Seattle salary? We polled young workers, each at the beginning of their careers, to find out what “making it” looks like.

By Allison Williams March 16, 2015 Published in the March 2015 issue of Seattle Met

Restaurant Server, 
age 28

Income: $32,000

Monthly Housing Expenses: $635 for a studio downtown

Student Debt: $19,421

Savings and Retirement: $969  (“My goal is to save $10,000 by my 30th birthday.”)

Last Big Purchase: $383 for a 42-inch TV

Are You Making It in Seattle?  “I’m finally at the point where I can afford my life and can do the things I want to do. I feel like I’m making it, but I can see how someone with my life would feel like they’re struggling.”

What Do You Expect to Make in 2025?  $96,000 to $128,000

“If you asked me 10 years ago where I’d be now, the answer would probably be so far from reality that it seems like a moot point to dissect the variables of life in that way.”

Would You Leave Seattle?   “I’d rather starve and live in the middle of the city than move to Tukwila.”


Marketing Coordinator, age 31

Income: $48,000

Monthly Housing Expenses: $600 for a shared apartment

Student Debt: $102,926

“I plan to stay on income-based repayment until the balance [of my loan] is forgiven—only 27 more years to go!”

Savings and Retirement: $23,000

Last Big Purchase: $1,133 for a trip to Mexico 

Are You Making It in Seattle? “I feel like everything is balancing on a very tight rope and one tiny change—job loss, breakup, health issue, etc.—could send it all crashing down.” 

“My impression of Seattle is a city of well-to-do tech types who likely bring in a lot more than I do.”

What Do You Expect to Make in 2025?  $58,000

“I am terrified of the future and try not to think about it, lest I jinx myself. I hope I am still able to support myself.”

Would You Leave Seattle? “Cost of living doesn’t factor in very much considering my dream city is DC, which is just as bad as here.”

Attorney, age 34

Income: $80,000

Monthly Housing Expenses: $1,700 for a South Lake Union loft 

Student Debt: $76,000

Savings and Retirement: $21,000 

Last Big Purchase: $650 on updated work clothes 

Are You Making It in Seattle?  “I’d say I’m getting by. I’m not hurting to pay my bills, but I’d like to be able to save more and plan for the future.”

What Do You Expect to Make in 2025?  $150,000

“It freaks me out because I worry about end of the week/month/year, and 10 years down the road seems crazy to even ponder.”

Would You Leave Seattle?  “I love the city and would rather make a few cuts here and there than leave the Northwest.”


Tech Manager, age 32 

Income: $165,000

Monthly Housing Expenses: $3,200 for a Queen Anne town house. “I bought my place in 2012, so the home value has appreciated very well, considering.”

Student Debt: $0

Savings and Retirement: $200,000

Last Big Purchase: $2,800 for two kayaks

Are You Making It in Seattle?  “Sure. Everyone could always use more money, but I am comfortable.”

What Do You Expect to Make in 2025?  $300,000

“I don’t really have a goal. My goals are more around position, responsibility, and the impact I can have.”

Would You Leave Seattle? “No, not seriously.”

See our roundup of Seattle's Best Places to Work.


This article appeared in the March 2015 issue of Seattle Met magazine.

Filed under
Show Comments