1. An  Emerging Global  City

Seattle  was  added  for  the  first  time  this  year  to  the  ATKearney  Global  Cities  Index,  an  emerging  star  that  had  been  overlooked  in  previous  surveys.  The  fastest-growing  large  city  in  the  U.S.,  Seattle  is  a  rapidly  expanding  technology  powerhouse,  one  of  the  country’s  leading  cultural  and  entertainment  capitals  and  an  environmental  gem  with  a  lifestyle  and  climate  resilience  that  is  drawing  international  attention.  Already  #3  among  the  top  five  U.S.  cities  for  foreign  investment  (Association  of  Foreign  Investors  in  Real  Estate),  the  Urban  Land  Institute  chose  Seattle  as  the  top  pick  for  Overall  Real  Estate  Prospects  in  its  2018  Emerging  Trends  in  Real  Estate.  Seattle  is  also  fully  committed  to  upgrading  urban  infrastructure,  with  a  $54-billion  public  transit  plan  that  will  connect  the  region  by  light  rail  from  the  northern  suburbs  to  Tacoma  in  the  next  20+  years.

2. A  Vibrant  + Livable  Downtown

New  residents  are  flocking  to  downtown  Seattle  and  especially  to  Belltown,  a  thriving  urban  pocket  that  CNN  Money  has  called  “a  walkable  neighborhood  with  everything  you  need.”  In  addition  to  populations  arriving  from  California  and  China,  long-time  Seattle  residents  are  moving  back  from  the  suburbs  in  unprecedented  numbers.  With  only  33%  of  the  regional  population  and  15%  of  the  land  base,  the  City  of  Seattle  nevertheless  has  experienced  56%  of  the  region's  housing  growth  in  the  last  decade.  In  this  regard,  Seattle  is  a  U.S.  leader  in  rediscovering  and  refining  downtown  city  living. Belltown,  in  the  heart  of  the  theater,  gallery,  restaurant  and  boutique  district,  is  mere  blocks  from  Pike  Place  Market,  a  10-minute  walk  to  the  Space  Needle  and  museums  of  Seattle  Center,  and  not  much  farther  to  Pioneer  Square  as  well  as  the  sports  and  entertainment  district  to  the  south.  It  is  closer  still  to  the  central  business  district  and  to  the  innovation  center  in  South  Lake  Union,  where  one  of  the  world’s  leading  innovation  engines  has  sited  so  many  new  offices  that  even  life-long  Seattle  residents  can  now  be  heard  referring  to  the  neighborhood  as  “Amazonia.”

Livability  in  the  region  is  also  about  to  get  a  fantastic  boost  with  the  2019  demolition  of  the  Alaskan  Way  Viaduct,  allowing  for  the  reconnection  of  downtown  to  a  redeveloped  Seattle  waterfront,  for  the  first  time  since  the  freeway  was  built  in  1953.  A  great  neighborhood  is  about  to  get  immeasurably  better.

3. Regionally  + Globally  Undervalued

From  a  regional  and  global  perspective,  Seattle  real  estate  seems  somewhat  undiscovered:  average  home  prices  are  between  one-third  and  one-half  of  those  in  other  West  Coast  gateway  cities,  including  San  Francisco,  Los  Angeles  or  Vancouver  –  an  advantage  that  continues  even  though  real  estate  prices  rose  faster  in  the  Seattle  metro  area  last  year  than  in  any  other  U.S.  city.  With  unprecedented  housing  demand  and  a  post-recession  drought  in  the  constructions  of  new  condominiums,  Seattle  is  still  working  its  way  out  of  a  severe  inventory  crunch.  For  example,  Seattle  condo  listings  for  sale  in  December  2017  were  down  27.5%  from  the  previous  month  to  just  87  units,  the  first  time  the  number  of  available  condos  for  sale  in  a  month  had  dropped  below  100.  The  high  demand  and  low  supply  has  resulted  in  the  highest  rate  of  bidding  wars  among  large  cities  in  the  U.S.  In  April  2017,  88.7%  of  Seattle  homes  received  multiple  offers,  outpacing  hot  markets  in  Los  Angeles  (79.3%)  and  San  Diego  (77.5%)

Real Estate Value

Although  average  home  prices  in  Seattle  are  between  one-third  and  one-half  of  those  in  other  West  Coast  gateway  cities  like  San  Francisco,  Los  Angeles  or  Vancouver,  the  Seattle  metro  area  had  the  U.S.’s  fastest  growing  real  estate  prices  this  past  year.

4. Economically  Robust  + Expanding

Seattle  is  a  global  center  for  innovation,  and  has  been  for  more  than  a  century  when  the  still-powerful  lumber  giant  Weyerhaeuser  was  just  beginning  to  revolutionize  Pacific  Northwest  forestry.  Today,  Seattle  is  the  home  or  headquarters  city  for  Boeing,  Microsoft,  Amazon  and  Starbucks,  totaling  more  than  $2  trillion  in  market  capitalization.  Seattle  is  the  fastest-growing  U.S.  city  for  software  developer  jobs.  In  2017,  the  Seattle  metropolitan  area  accounted  for  more  open  software-related  job  postings  in  the  United  States  than  Silicon  Valley  –  including  the  San  Francisco  and  San  Jose  metro  areas,  combined.  As  of  the  end  of  2017,  31  Fortune  500  companies  now  operate  research  and  engineering  hubs  in  Seattle,  up  from  seven  in  2010.  This  critical  mass  of  innovation,  creativity  and  economic  activity  is  a  big  part  of  what  is  driving  housing  demand  in  downtown  Seattle,  which  is  growing  at  a  record  130%  of  historic  levels,  even  while  demand  in  the  suburbs  has  subsided.

A  Selection  of  Some  of  the  Top  Employers  in  Seattle                           

Boeing

Boeing  remains  the  largest  employer  in  Washington  State,  having  established  its  first  factory  in  Seattle  over  a  century  ago.  The  aircraft  manufacturer  employs  140,800  people  in  total,  including  80,000  in  Greater  Seattle.  Boeing  completed  more  commercial  airplanes  than  any  manufacturer  for  the  sixth  consecutive  year  in  2017,  setting  an  industry  record  with  763  deliveries.  There  were  an  astounding  5,864  planes  on  back  order  at  the  end  of  last  year,  guaranteeing  stable  employment  for  the  foreseeable  future.

Microsoft

Microsoft  has  committed  to  increase  the  number  of  buildings  on  their  Redmond  campus  over  the  next  five  to  seven  years  from  80  to  98,  for  an  addition  of  about  1.3  million  square  feet  to  the  10  million-square-foot  campus.  When  completed,  this  expansion  will  make  room  for  8,000  more  employees,  adding  to  its  current  47,000-employee  head  count  in  the  Seattle  region

Amazon

Amazon,  which  currently  occupies  9.3  million  square  feet  of  office  space  in  the  city,  is  planning  to  expand  to  at  least  12  million  square  feet  by  2022  –  which  will  comprise  more  than  20%  of  the  city’s  total  office  inventory.  Amazon  added  more  than  110,000  employees  in  2016,  for  a  total  of  340,000.  The  company  currently  has  more  than  40,000  employees  in  Seattle  and  it  is  expected  to  increase  that  number  to  more  than  70,000.

Bill  +  Melinda  Gates  Foundation

The  Bill  and  Melinda  Gates  Foundation  is  the  largest  private  foundation  in  the  U.S.,  holding  $38  billion  in  assets  and  a  trust  endowment  of  over  $40  billion.  It  is  controlled  by  Bill  and  Melinda  Gates,  and  Warren  Buffett,  the  most  generous  philanthropists  in  America.  The  foundation  currently  has  1,500  employees.  It  has  donated  $258  million  for  malaria  research  alone,  helping  to  support  advanced  testing  on  a  malaria  vaccine.

Starbucks

The  coffee  company  that  conquered  the  world  was  established  in  Seattle  in  1971,  and  named  for  the  tattooed  first  mate  in  Herman  Melville’s  Moby  Dick.  With  more  than  28,000  stores  in  76  countries  on  six  continents,  Starbucks  now  employs  nearly  240,000  employees  worldwide,  including  19,000  in  the  Seattle  region  and  more  than  3,500  in  its  head  office,  a  converted  Sears  distribution  center  just  south  of  downtown.  Recently  Starbucks  has  begun  an  aggressive  expansion  in  cities  opening  one  new  store  every  15  hours  in  China. 

Nordstrom

Nordstrom,  known  world-wide  for  the  quality  of  its  customer  service,  was  founded  in  Seattle  in  1901  by  John  Nordstrom  and  Carl  Wallin,  with  capital  that  Nordstrom  had  raised  by  selling  his  prospecting  claim  in  the  Klondike  gold  rush  (in  Yukon,  Canada)  two  years  earlier.  Beginning  as  a  shoe  store  (Wallin  already  had  a  shoe-repair  business),  Nordstrom  expanded  its  range  and  grew  across  the  country  in  subsequent  decades  under  the  management  of  Nordstrom’s  three  sons.  It  now  has  123  stores  and  72,000  employees,  including  more  than  9,000  in  the  Seattle  area.

Costco

The  second-largest  retailer  in  the  world,  behind  Walmart,  Costco  opened  its  first  members-only,  warehouse-style  store  in  Seattle  in  1983.  It  now  has  759  outlets  worldwide,  in  locations  as  far  away  as  Iceland,  France,  Taiwan  and  South  Korea.  With  more  than  230,000  employees  in  total,  Costco  has  kept  its  home  base  on  the  eastern  fringe  of  Seattle  in  Issaquah  and  employs  more  than  9,000  people  in  the  region.

Expedia

Founded  as  a  division  of  Microsoft  in  1996,  the  global  travel  technology  company  Expedia  was  spun  off  in  1999  and  has  since  become  one  of  the  dominant  players  in  the  online  travel  planning  and  purchasing  market,  earning  more  than  $625  million  in  2017.  With  almost  23,000  employees  worldwide,  Expedia  is  based  in  the  Seattle  suburb  of  Bellevue.

5. Favourable  Tax Environment

The  state  of  Washington  is  one  of  only  seven  U.S.  states  where  residents  are  not  required  to  pay  a  state  income  tax.  This  is  particularly  beneficial  when  comparing  Seattle  to  rival  markets  in  places  such  as  New  York,  where  state  income  taxes  are  at  8.8%,  or  California,  where  they  are  13%  –  resulting  in  some  of  the  highest  combined  tax  rates  in  North  America.  There  also  is  no  foreign  buyers'  tax  in  Washington  State,  such  as  the  20%  charged  in  British  Columbia.  And  investors  in  U.S.  real  estate  may  be  able  to  defer  all  or  a  portion  of  capital  gains  tax  if  profit  is  reinvested  in  the  U.S.  real  estate  market.

6. Pivotal  West  Coast  + Asia  Pacific  Location

Seattle  is  in  the  center  of  Cascadia  –  the  Pacific  Northwest  economic,  cultural  and  biophysical  region  –  and  is  increasingly  the  nexus  for  action  in  the  West  Coast  technology  corridor  stretching  from  Silicon  Valley  in  California  to  Vancouver  in  Canada.  As  the  mainland  U.S.  port  nearest  Japan  and  China,  it  is  also  a  critical  trade  gateway  from  the  U.S  to  Asia.  The  Seattle-Tacoma  International  Airport  is  the  fastest-growing  airport  in  the  United  States,  and  the  sixth  fastest-growing  airport  in  the  world.  In  2015,  a  record  42.3  million  passengers  moved  through  the  airport,  compared  to  the  Vancouver  International  Airport,  which  had  an  estimated  24.1  million  passengers  the  same  year.  Seattle  is  the  primary  hub  for  Alaska  Airlines  and  the  transpacific  hub  for  Delta  Airlines.  As the  closest  U.S.  mainland  airport  to  China,  Sea-Tac  is  the  West  Coast  global  hub  for mainland  Chinese  carriers  including  Hainan  Airlines  and  Xiamen  Airlines,  as  well  as  for  domestic  carriers  such  as  Delta.  With  rising  competition,  Chinese  businesspeople  and  travellers  are  finding  quicker  and  cheaper  flights  to  and  from  China.  There  are  now  a  record  six  nonstop  routes  between  Sea-Tac  and  major  Chinese  cities.  A  new  three-times-weekly  service  will  be  Xiamen  Airlines’  first  to  the  United  States.

7. Environmentally  Exquisite; Ecologically  Resilient

Seattle  is  cleaner,  greener  and  better  prepared  to  manage  climate  change  compared  to  other  U.S.  cities  and  most  other  cities  in  the  world.  Sitting  next  to  the  moderating  influence  of  a  prevailing  west  wind  that  blows  fresh  air  off  the  Pacific  Ocean,  the  city’s  climate  is  mild,  both  summer  and  winter.  From  kayaks  to  yachts,  from  lowland  hiking  to  the  most  ambitious  mountaineering,  the  lakes,  the  ocean,  the  forests  and  the  mountain  ranges  surrounding  Seattle  offer  every  imaginable  opportunity  for  outdoor  recreation.  You  can  step  from  a  sailboat  on  Lake  Washington  and,  in  little  more  than  an  hour,  be  strapping  on  downhill  skis  at  Snoqualmie.  Thanks  to  the  abundance  of  parks  and  greenspace  and  to  the  redevelopment and  reconnection  to  the  waterfront,  many  of  those  recreational  options  are  readily  available  within  the  city  limits  –  often  within  steps  of  Belltown.

Access  to  nature  is  also  one  of  the  reasons  that  Seattle  ranks  as  the  second-healthiest  city  in  the  nation,  based  on  factors  including  great  health  care,  fresh  locally-produced  food,  average  level  of  fitness  and  the  amount  of  green  space.  The  latest  research  shows  that  people  who  live  in  convenient,  walkable,  urban  neighborhoods  –  and  who  drive  less,  as  a  result  –  are  consistently  healthier  than  their  suburban  neighbors.  Put  those  people  near  parks,  lakes  and  ocean,  close  to  some  of  the  best  health  care  in  the  world,  and  mere  blocks  from  the  year-round  fresh,  organic  foods  of  Pike  Place  Market,  or  any  number  of  available  grocery  stores,  and  you  have  a  prescription  for  a  healthy  lifestyle.

8. World  Leading Education  +  Health  Care

Seattle  has  one  of  the  best-educated  and  most  literate  populations  of  any  city  in  the  U.S.  The  United  States  Census  Bureau  surveys  indicate  that  Seattle  has  one  of  the  highest  proportion  of  college  graduates  among  major  U.S.  cities.  This  is  a  reflection  of  having  one  of  the  strongest  education  systems  at  all  levels,  including  a  full  range  of  excellent  post-secondary  institutions,  including  the  globally-rated  research  powerhouse,  the  University  of  Washington.  Seattle  also  has  the  most  bookstores  and  libraries  per  capita  in  the  U.S.

From  a  health  perspective,  McKinsey  &  Company  ranks  Washington  State  as  the  second-best  in  the  U.S.  for  health  care,  as  judged  on  issues  ranging  from  general  wellness  and  rates  of  mortality,  infant  mortality  and  obesity,  to  having  one  of  the  lowest  numbers  of  hospital  readmissions.  Health  research  firm,  Vitals,  also  ranks  Seattle  within  the  top  five  American  cities  for  health  care,  pointing  out  that  it  has  some  of  the  lowest  wait  times  for  care  and  the  highest-rated  doctors.  It  also  has  a  healthy  environment,  with  bountiful  amounts  of  clean  air  and  water  and  easy,  all-year-‘round  access  to  the  outdoors  and  nature.

9. Ethnically  Diverse  + Welcoming

Seattle  is  known  as  a  tolerant  and  welcoming  center  for  new  residents  from  the  U.S.  and  around  the  world.  More  than  1,000  people  move  to  Seattle  each  week,  with  the  highest  proportion  coming  from  California.  Currently  coming  north  at  the  rate  of  more  than  30,000  people  per  year,  nearly  a  million  Californians  have  relocated  to  somewhere  in  Washington  State  in  the  last  25  years.  World-leading  firms  including  Amazon,  Microsoft,  and  other  tech  power  houses  also  draw  new  residents  from  across  the  country,  and  around  the  world. 

10. A  Center  of  Culture  + Entertainment

Food,  drink,  art,  architecture,  music,  dance,  fashion,  sports,  literature,  science:  all  these  (and  more)  combine  as  components  of  culture,  and  all  are  represented  at  a  world-class  level  in  Seattle  –  most  within  a  very  pleasant  walk  of  First  Light,  at  3rd  and  Virginia.  In  or  very  near  Belltown,  restaurants,  cafes,  brew  pubs,  galleries  and  boutiques  abound,  as  do  theaters,  old  and  new.  From  the  flower  stalls  of  Pike  Place  Market  to  the  parks  and  playing  fields  of  the  Stadium  District,  every  variety  of  distraction  or  entertainment  is  near  at  hand.  Seattle  has  earned  its  reputation  as  one  of  America’s  most  innovative  cultural  capitals  in  the  country.


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