Chicago vs Seattle (First Impressions)

When we announced that we were moving from Chicago (where Tim and I are both originally from) to Seattle, everyone asked us if we were sure we wanted to move because the weather in the PNW is so terrible in in the winter.

At first, I was a bit scared of what we would encounter upon moving. But now I have to wonder… what winter was everyone referring to?!

We’ve lived here since October, and at this point the flowers are starting to bloom… so I guess that means we survived winter, but I don’t know when it happened. I mean, consistently 40’s and rainy?! Sounds like a few extra months of spring to me. I’ll take it any day over the frigid temps of the Midwest, thankyouverymuch.

Moving from Chicago to Seattle four months ago was quite the adventure, and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions we’ve made. These two cities are very, very different.

Chicago vs Seattle

Here is how I would compare living in Chicago vs Seattle:

  • Chicago: Sidewalks and buildings and the beautiful lakefront.
  • Seattle: Trees, lakes, green space, neighborhoods.
  • Chicago: The news always focuses on corrupt politicians, unions, and shootings.
  • Seattle: If any shootings happen it’s a BIG deal.
  • Chicago: People are friendly but very, very busy. It’s hard to make plans with people because getting together is so inconvenient.
  • Seattle: Community has been easy to find and people seem to get together frequently. Outdoor (free!) activities & bigger home sizes have made it easier for me to get together with other moms and their toddlers.
  • Chicago: We spent all of last winter indoors and miserable.
  • Seattle: We can go outside every single day, whether it’s a walk to the library or to the park or around the zoo… even when it’s rainy, we go outside.
  • Chicago: Within a short drive are the suburbs. Or Wisconsin. Or Indiana.
  • Seattle: Within a short drive are the mountains (and snow) with skiing and hiking and snowshoeing and plenty of other options for outdoor activities.
  • Chicago: Parking is so expensive that I either preferred to use public transportation, ride my bike, or walk to get anywhere.
  • Seattle: Parking is readily and cheaply available so everyone drives places.
  • Chicago: Housing is expensive.
  • Seattle: Housing is expensive but (in my opinion) you get more for your money. The housing market is nuts, though, and houses are routinely sold for $100k over asking.
  • Chicago: Everything in the city is 15-20 min away, without traffic.
  • Seattle: Everything in the city and suburbs seems to be 15-20 min away and I honestly can’t tell where the city ends and the suburbs begin.


  • Chicago: People (generally) tend to be on the more unhealthy end of the spectrum in terms of food choices and activity levels.
  • Seattle: I swear everyone seems to be in-shape and are constantly talking about all of the activities they’re interested in – like rock climbing, jogging, mountain biking, etc.
  • Chicago: In childbirth, labor and delivery is handled strictly, with a lot of rules. Doulas aren’t a popular option and ‘natural’ deliveries are very rare.
  • Seattle: There are plenty of options for at-home births, birth centers, midwives, doulas, etc.
  • Chicago: The best food. Just the best. (Which explains the obesity.)
  • Seattle: We haven’t gone out to eat very much here… so I can’t comment. But I’ll probably always be biased in favor of the food in Chicago, although the seafood options are great here!
  • Chicago: The most gorgeous skyline in the world.
  • Seattle: On clear days the views of the mountains and water are breathtaking.
  • Chicago: Driving is SO stressful because of traffic and maniacs.
  • Seattle: Driving isn’t stressful. People say that people here can’t drive, but I think everyone drives like me, so I actually love it! Also, people can park on either side of the street so I always feel like I’m going the wrong way down a one-way road. Also, there aren’t always stop signs at intersections… people are just supposed to know to look out for each other. It’s kind of bizarre.
  • Chicago: Wonderful (and infrequent) thunderstorms in the spring, summer, and fall. Snow in the winter.
  • Seattle: Yes, it rains. It rains a lot. I can’t speak for the summer weather but I hear it’s going to be glorious.
  • Chicago: Flat.
  • Seattle: HILLY. I had a hard time adjusting to driving and parking on hills and also walking with a stroller uphill! It’s been hard work and my glutes are getting more of a workout, for sure.
  • Chicago: People tend to work in a variety of jobs in a variety of sectors at some big name companies or at small start-ups. A lot of people have jobs in finance or management/consulting or at law firms.
  • Seattle: People work in tech jobs and everyone assumes that recent transplants have a job with Microsoft or Amazon.
  • Chicago: Apartments or duplexes or townhomes.
  • Seattle: Single family homes.
  • Chicago: Pizza and hot dogs.
  • Seattle: Pho.
  • Chicago: Really diverse.
  • Seattle: Not as diverse.

Have you been to both of these cities?! What did you notice?

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