New York Vs Seattle: Which Coastal City Is Better To Call Home?

As two of America’s iconic coastal cities, New York and Seattle both have their own unique energy and appeal. This comprehensive guide will compare every aspect of life in NYC and Seattle to help you determine which bustling metropolis may be a better fit.

In brief: New York has unmatched energy with higher costs, while Seattle provides greater access to nature and a relaxed vibe. New York boasts endless entertainment and dining options, while Seattle is known for innovation and technology.

Keep reading as we explore factors ranging from jobs, housing, transportation and weather to culture, diversity and the arts in New York City versus Seattle.

Economy and Job Market

When comparing the economy and job market of New York and Seattle, it becomes evident that both cities have thriving economies with numerous opportunities for professionals. However, there are some notable differences between the two coastal cities.

Top Industries

New York is known as the financial capital of the world, with a strong presence of major financial institutions such as Wall Street. The city is also a hub for media, entertainment, and fashion industries.

On the other hand, Seattle is recognized as a technology hub, with a significant presence of tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft. The city has also seen growth in the aerospace industry, with Boeing being a prominent player.

While New York offers a diverse range of industries, Seattle’s focus on technology has made it an attractive destination for professionals in this field. For those interested in finance, media, or fashion, New York provides a plethora of opportunities.

Unemployment Rates

Both New York and Seattle have relatively low unemployment rates compared to the national average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York’s unemployment rate was 4.7% as of 2021, while Seattle’s rate stood at 3.8%.

These numbers highlight the strong job markets in both cities, indicating a favorable environment for job seekers.

Fortune 500 Companies

New York boasts a higher number of Fortune 500 companies compared to Seattle. As of 2021, New York had 54 companies on the list, including JPMorgan Chase, Verizon Communications, and Citigroup. Seattle, on the other hand, had 12 companies listed, with Amazon and Microsoft being the most prominent.

Having a higher concentration of Fortune 500 companies provides New York residents with a wide range of job opportunities and potential for career growth. However, Seattle’s smaller list of Fortune 500 companies should not be underestimated, as the presence of tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft creates a thriving tech ecosystem.

Housing and Cost of Living

Rental and Purchase Prices

When it comes to housing, both New York and Seattle have their own unique advantages and challenges. In New York City, rental prices are notoriously high, with the average one-bedroom apartment costing around $3,000 per month.

However, the city offers a wide range of housing options, from luxury high-rise apartments to charming brownstones in trendy neighborhoods. On the other hand, Seattle’s rental market has also seen a significant increase in recent years, with the average one-bedroom apartment costing around $2,000 per month.

While this may still be expensive, it is relatively more affordable compared to New York City. Additionally, Seattle offers a variety of neighborhoods with diverse housing options, ranging from modern condos to cozy craftsman-style homes.

When it comes to purchasing a home, both cities also have distinct differences. In New York City, buying a home is generally more expensive, with the median home price being around $600,000. However, the city boasts a vibrant real estate market and offers a wide range of housing options to suit different budgets and preferences.

In contrast, Seattle’s median home price is slightly lower at around $500,000. The city’s real estate market has also experienced significant growth, making it an attractive option for those looking to invest in property.


Taxes play a significant role in the overall cost of living in any city. In New York City, residents face one of the highest tax burdens in the country. The city has a combined state and city income tax rate ranging from 6.45% to 12.68%, depending on income brackets.

Additionally, New York City residents are subject to a sales tax rate of 8.875% on most goods and services.

On the other hand, Seattle residents enjoy a more favorable tax environment. Washington state does not impose a personal income tax, which means that residents do not have to pay state income tax. However, the city does have a sales tax rate of 10.1%, which is higher compared to New York City.

It’s important to note that tax rates and regulations can change, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a tax professional for the most up-to-date information.

Transportation Budget

Transportation expenses can also impact the overall cost of living in a city. In New York City, the public transportation system is extensive and reliable, consisting of subways, buses, and trains. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates the city’s public transportation system, and a monthly unlimited MetroCard costs around $127.

However, car ownership in the city can be expensive, with high parking fees and the cost of insurance. Additionally, traffic congestion can be a challenge, especially during peak hours.

Seattle also has a robust public transportation system, including buses, light rail, and streetcars. The King County Metro operates the city’s public transportation, and a monthly unlimited ORCA card costs around $99.

Alternatively, residents can also opt for ride-sharing services or use their own vehicles. While parking fees in Seattle can be high in certain areas, overall car ownership costs may be lower compared to New York City.

Transportation Systems

Public Transit Options

Both New York and Seattle have well-developed public transit systems that make getting around the cities convenient and efficient. In New York, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates an extensive network of subways, buses, and commuter trains, allowing residents to easily navigate the city and its surrounding areas.

Seattle, on the other hand, has the King County Metro Transit, which offers a comprehensive bus network and light rail service.

While both cities offer reliable public transportation, New York’s subway system is known for its extensive coverage and frequency of service. With 472 subway stations and over 27 subway lines, it provides residents with a wide range of options for getting around the city.

Seattle’s light rail system, although smaller in scale, has been expanding in recent years and offers a convenient way to travel between downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Commute Times

When it comes to commute times, New York and Seattle have quite different situations. New York, being a larger and more densely populated city, experiences heavy traffic congestion during peak hours, resulting in longer commute times.

On average, New Yorkers spend about 40 minutes commuting to work each way. However, it’s important to note that the city’s efficient public transit system can help alleviate some of this congestion for those who choose to use it.

Seattle, on the other hand, has a reputation for shorter commute times compared to other major cities in the United States. The average commute time in Seattle is around 28 minutes, thanks in part to the city’s investments in transportation infrastructure and efforts to promote alternative modes of transportation.

The expansion of the light rail system has also contributed to reducing travel times for many residents.

Air Travel Hubs

Both New York and Seattle are home to major airports that serve as important hubs for domestic and international travel. In New York, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA) are the primary airports, offering a wide range of flights to destinations all over the world.

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), located in nearby New Jersey, is also easily accessible from New York City.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), commonly known as Sea-Tac, is the main airport serving the Seattle metropolitan area. It offers direct flights to numerous domestic and international destinations, making it a convenient gateway for travelers.

The airport is well-connected to the city by public transit, with a light rail station located on the airport grounds.

Food and Dining Scene

Both New York and Seattle offer vibrant and diverse food scenes that cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Whether you are a foodie or simply enjoy trying new cuisines, both cities have a lot to offer. Let’s take a closer look at the food and dining scene in each city.

Iconic Foods

New York is known for its iconic and mouthwatering foods. From the classic New York-style pizza to the famous hot dogs from street vendors, the city offers a plethora of options for those seeking a quick and delicious bite.

Don’t forget the iconic New York bagels, which are often hailed as the best in the world. If you have a sweet tooth, a visit to a bakery in New York is a must, where you can indulge in delectable cheesecakes and delightful cupcakes.

On the other hand, Seattle has its own unique culinary delights. One of the most famous dishes is the Seattle-style hot dog, which is topped with cream cheese and grilled onions. Another must-try is the fresh seafood, including the famous Pacific Northwest salmon and Dungeness crab.

Seattle also boasts a thriving coffee culture, with numerous coffee shops offering a variety of artisanal brews.

Variety of Cuisines

When it comes to variety, both cities excel in offering a diverse range of cuisines. In New York, you can find virtually any type of cuisine you can imagine. From authentic Italian restaurants in Little Italy to vibrant Chinatown with its delectable dim sum, the city is a melting pot of flavors from around the world.

You can also explore the bustling neighborhoods of Queens, where you can find incredible ethnic foods from various cultures.

In Seattle, you’ll discover a thriving food scene that showcases the city’s cultural diversity. From trendy farm-to-table restaurants to vibrant food markets, the city offers a wide array of global cuisines.

You can savor delicious Thai dishes in the International District, enjoy flavorful Mexican food in Capitol Hill, or explore the numerous food trucks that serve everything from Korean barbecue to Middle Eastern falafel.

Michelin Star Restaurants

When it comes to fine dining, both New York and Seattle have their fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants. New York, being a culinary capital, boasts numerous Michelin-starred establishments, including the world-renowned Le Bernardin and Eleven Madison Park.

These restaurants offer exceptional dining experiences and showcase innovative and creative cuisine.

While Seattle may have fewer Michelin-starred restaurants compared to New York, it still offers some exceptional dining options. Canlis, a legendary fine dining establishment, has been awarded with a Michelin star and is known for its breathtaking views of Lake Union.

The Herbfarm, located just outside of Seattle, is another Michelin-starred restaurant that is renowned for its farm-to-table cuisine and unique dining experiences.

Arts, Culture and Nightlife

When it comes to arts, culture, and nightlife, both New York and Seattle have a lot to offer. Whether you’re a fan of museums, live entertainment, or vibrant club scenes, these cities have something for everyone.

Museums and Galleries

New York City is renowned for its world-class museums and galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Guggenheim Museum are just a few of the iconic institutions that showcase incredible collections from around the world.

The city’s diverse art scene also includes numerous smaller galleries that feature emerging and established artists. From classic masterpieces to contemporary installations, New York is a haven for art enthusiasts.

Seattle, on the other hand, may not have as many museums as New York, but it still offers a rich cultural experience. The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is a must-visit, featuring a wide range of art from different periods and cultures.

The Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit showcases the stunning glasswork of renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Additionally, the city is home to several smaller galleries that showcase local artists and their works.

While Seattle may have a more intimate art scene compared to New York, it still offers a unique and vibrant cultural experience.

Live Entertainment

Both New York and Seattle boast a thriving live entertainment scene. In New York, Broadway shows are a major highlight, with world-class productions attracting theater lovers from around the globe. From classic musicals to cutting-edge plays, Broadway offers a wide range of options for every taste.

Additionally, the city’s music scene is legendary, with iconic venues like Madison Square Garden and the Apollo Theater hosting top-notch concerts and performances.

Seattle, on the other hand, is known for its alternative music scene, which gave birth to grunge in the 1990s. The city has a vibrant indie music scene, with numerous venues hosting local and emerging bands. The iconic Showbox Theater and the Neptune Theater are popular destinations for music lovers.

Seattle also offers a variety of live performances, including theater, comedy shows, and improv acts.

Club Scenes

When it comes to nightlife and club scenes, New York City undoubtedly takes the crown. The city that never sleeps offers an endless array of clubs, bars, and lounges catering to all tastes. From trendy rooftop bars in Manhattan to underground clubs in Brooklyn, there’s something for everyone.

The city’s diverse population ensures a vibrant and exciting nightlife experience, with DJs, live music, and amazing dance floors.

Seattle’s club scene may be smaller compared to New York, but it still has its own unique charm. The city offers a more laid-back and intimate atmosphere, with a focus on quality over quantity. Venues like Q Nightclub and Aston Manor attract top DJs and offer a more intimate clubbing experience.

Seattle’s club scene may not be as extensive as New York’s, but it still offers a great night out for those looking to dance and have fun.

Parks, Outdoors and Recreation

Both New York and Seattle offer a plethora of outdoor spaces and recreational opportunities for their residents to enjoy. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply someone who loves to spend time outdoors, both cities have something to offer.

City Parks

New York is famous for its iconic Central Park, spanning 843 acres in the heart of Manhattan. The park offers a variety of activities, including jogging trails, picnic spots, and even a zoo. In addition to Central Park, the city boasts numerous other parks such as Prospect Park in Brooklyn and the High Line, a unique elevated park built on a historic freight rail line.

Seattle, on the other hand, is known for its stunning green spaces, with over 400 parks scattered throughout the city. One of the most popular parks is Discovery Park, which offers breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

Other notable parks include Gas Works Park, located on the site of a former gasification plant, and Washington Park Arboretum, a beautiful botanical garden with miles of walking trails.

Nearby Nature and Day Trips

While both cities have plenty of green spaces within their limits, they also provide easy access to breathtaking natural wonders just a short drive away.

New York is just a few hours away from the stunning beauty of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson Valley. Residents can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse themselves in picturesque landscapes, hiking trails, and charming towns.

Seattle, on the other hand, is surrounded by natural beauty. Within a short drive, residents can visit the majestic Mount Rainier National Park, explore the stunning San Juan Islands, or venture into the Olympic National Park, known for its diverse ecosystems and breathtaking views.

Sports Teams

Sports fans in both cities have plenty to cheer about. New York is home to some of the most legendary sports teams in the country, including the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers. The city’s passionate sports culture makes game days an unforgettable experience.

Seattle is no stranger to sports fervor either, with the Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders, and Storm representing the city. The Seahawks’ famous “12th Man” fan base is known for their enthusiasm and loud support during football games.

Comparing the two cities in terms of parks, outdoor spaces, and recreational opportunities is a tough task. New York offers iconic city parks and easy access to nearby natural wonders, while Seattle boasts stunning green spaces and breathtaking landscapes.

Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to personal preference and what type of outdoor experiences you value most.


In summary, New York offers unmatched energy and entertainment with very high costs, while Seattle provides greater access to nature and a laid-back vibe for lower expenses. New York City lives up to its reputation with endless food, arts and culture, while innovation and technology thrive in Seattle.

Considering your career goals, budget, lifestyle priorities and more can reveal whether the Empire City or Emerald City is the better fit for your needs.

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