Living in Seattle vs. Vancouver: Where Should You Live?

Living in Seattle vs. Vancouver: Where Should You Live?

Seattle, or the Emerald City, is situated in Puget Sound, Washington, and is surrounded by mountains, the sea, and dense woods. It offers stunning views and a wide range of outdoor activities. Moving to Seattle means becoming part of a unique community with hospitable people, fantastic food, magnificent natural beauty, and abundant activities.

Vancouver, in contrast, routinely ranks as one of the best cities in the world for livability and quality of life due to its political and economic stability, universal healthcare, diversity in the environment and culture, and top-notch infrastructure and education. Also, it is known for its stunning natural beauty, easy access to beaches and the great outdoors, mild climate all year round, and active public transportation. 

Choosing to move to one city or the other, as well as finding the right home, can be a tough choice. Vancouver is cheaper than Seattle in terms of rent with similar amenities. However, the housing market in Vancouver is very overpriced.

Our comparison guide will help you make the right choice for you between living in Seattle vs. Vancouver.

Seattle vs. Vancouver

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Public transit in Seattle vs. Vancouver

Public transport in Seattle

Seattle offers an extensive public transportation network, including buses, light rail trains, streetcars, and water taxis. King County Metro operates the main bus service, covering downtown Seattle and surrounding neighborhoods in King County, with fares ranging from around $2.75 to $3.25 USD for adults. The Link Light Rail provides a quick and efficient connection between downtown Seattle and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), with adult fares typically between $2.25 and $3.50 USD. 

Another popular transport option among residents is the Seattle Streetcar System, which comprises two lines: the South Lake Union line connecting the neighborhood to downtown and the First Hill line connecting to Capitol Hill, Amtrak, and Metro Transit buses. Additionally, a Water Taxi Service is available for exploring between downtown Seattle, West Seattle, and Vashon Island.

Public transit fares in Seattle

The table below lists the fares in the Seattle Streetcar:

Type of fare

Cost in Seattle (USD)

One-way ticket

$2.75

Monthly pass

$99.50

Seattle. Gov (Jan 2024) & Numbeo (March 2024)

How much is a transit monthly pass in Seattle?
The cost of the monthly pass in Seattle is around $99.50 USD.

 

Public transport in Vancouver

Convenient and reasonably priced, the Translink system includes the SkyTrain (an automated rapid transport system of trains that go above and below ground), the SeaBus (ferry service), and several bus routes. 

Over the day, customers are transported by a network of bus routes and smaller community shuttles. The city is split into three zones, each with its fees.

Tools for planning trips, schedules, maps, and fare information are available on the Translink website. There are also compass cards and concessions available. The fares for buses, SkyTrain, and the SeaBus are all the same. 

Public transit fares in Vancouver

The table below lists the fares in the Vancouver:

Type of fare

Cost in Vancouver (USD)

One-way ticket

$2.34

Monthly pass

$104.20

Translink (Sept 2023) & Numbeo (March 2024)

How much is a transit monthly pass in Vancouver?
The cost of the monthly pass in Vancouver is around $104.20 USD.

 

Cost of groceries in Seattle vs. Vancouver

The table below compares the cost of groceries for one person living in Seattle vs. Vancouver.

Groceries costs

Seattle (USD)

Vancouver (USD)

Milk (regular), (1 gallon)

$8.69

$4.57

Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)

$2.88

$4.04

Rice (white) (1 lb)

$2.09

$2.66

Eggs (regular) (12)

$4.49

$4.58

Local Cheese (1 lb)

$7.11

$6.87

Chicken Fillets (1 lb)

$7.06

$7.10

Beef Round (1 lb)

$8.13

$9.20

Apples (1 lb)

$2.18

$2.38

Banana (1 lb)

$0.62

$0.96

Oranges (1 lb)

$1.83

$2.23

Tomato (1 lb)

$2.24

$2.65

Potato (1 lb)

$1.54

$1.55

Onion (1 lb)

$1.30

$1.55

Lettuce (1 head)

$2.73

$2.50

Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)

$14.89

$15.00

Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)

$3.56

$2.60

Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle)

$3.51

$3.72

Average monthly cost of groceries for 1 person 

$299.4 per month.

$296.64 per month.

Numbeo (March 2024)

 

What to do in Seattle vs. Vancouver

When it comes to entertainment in Seattle vs. Vancouver, both cities offer a variety of attractions for their residents, let’s review it one by one:

Entertainment in Seattle

Seattle is renowned for its natural beauty, popular sports culture, vibrant arts scene, and more. Within the city limits, you can discover artisanal crafts, unique boutiques, exquisite artworks, lively karaoke bars, and diverse neighborhoods surrounded by nature.

As the birthplace of Starbucks, Seattle holds a prominent place in coffee culture. Iconic attractions like the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Chihuly Museum draw visitors from around the globe. The city’s appeal also lies in its lush parks and innovative culinary scene.

Home to top-tier stadiums and architectural marvels, Seattle offers a waterfront with attractions like the Big Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium. Notable eateries such as Pike Street Fish, Seven Star Pepper, Paseo, and The Pink Door contribute to its vibrant dining landscape.

Entertainment in Vancouver

Vancouver is a stunning city, surrounded by coastlines, beaches, mountains, ski runs, flat farmland, and plains. It’s an ideal destination with amazing sushi, some of the best Chinese, Korean, and Indian cuisine, and a variety of dishes from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Lebanon, the United States, South America, and the Philippines.

It serves as a hub for arts and cultural activities, with residents often engaging in sailing, skiing, and biking.Highlights include Stanley Park, Granville Island, Grouse Mountain, the Museum of Anthropology, and Kitsilano Beach, which epitomizes Vancouver’s carefree, joyful culture. 

For those less inclined towards climbing, skiing, or snowboarding, there are numerous family-friendly activities. Take the gondola up to Grouse Mountain, enjoy the tranquility of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden, or indulge in some pho fries at Richmond Night Market.

Cost of entertainment in Seattle vs. Vancouver

In Vancouver, a meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant costs around $89.31 USD, compared to about $100 USD in Seattle. Regarding sports, the monthly fee for one adult at a fitness club is approximately $45.17 in Vancouver and $60 USD in Seattle. Generally, entertainment costs are higher in Seattle than in Vancouver.

Entertainment costs

Seattle (USD)

Vancouver (USD)

Mid-range restaurant meal

$100.00

$89.31

Taxi 1h

$37.50

$28.62

1 cinema ticket

$15.00

$13.40

Total

$152.50

$131.33

Numbeo (March 2024)

 

Vancouver

Cost of housing in Seattle vs. Vancouver

In January 2024, the average home prices in Seattle increased by 1% compared to January 2023, with a median sale price of $769,900 USD. Meanwhile, on Vancouver Island during the same period, the average price was at approximately $667,200 CAD, reflecting a 4.7% increase from January 2023. Vancouver has consistently held the title of Canada’s most expensive property market for nearly 30 years.

CREA Vancouver (Jan 2024) & Redfin Seattle (Jan 2024)

Cost of Housing in Seattle vs. Vancouver

In the tables below, you’ll find two charts that display the average cost of renting an apartment, including two apartment types, and the average home price in Seattle vs. Vancouver.

Cost of rent in Seattle vs. Vancouver

Area/Neighborhood

1-bed apartment (USD)

3-bed apartment

(USD)

Seattle (Outside of Center)

$1,880.23

$3,326.36

Vancouver (Outside of Center)

$1,698.87

$2,875.29

Numbeo (March 2024)

Cost of buying a property in Seattle vs. Vancouver

Area/Neighborhood

Average home price 

Seattle (USD)

$769,900

Vancouver (CAD)

$667,200

CREA Vancouver (Jan 2024) & Redfin Seattle (Jan 2024)

The cost of living in Vancouver is cheaper than in Seattle in terms of housing costs and rent.

How much is a house in Montreal and Vancouver?
The average price of a house in Seattle is $769,900 USD, while in Vancouver it is $667,200 CAD.

 

Seattle vs. Vancouver Where should you live?

Job opportunities in Seattle vs. Vancouver

Seattle has a high employment rate and above-average pay, with thriving sectors including biotech, healthcare, maritime businesses, and tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, and Zillow. Demand is strong for web developers, data scientists, and cybersecurity analysts. Vancouver’s diverse economy features growth in green technology and creativity, alongside traditional industries like tourism and forestry. Located on Canada’s West Coast, Vancouver offers low unemployment rates and high demand for teachers, chefs, developers, and healthcare sales specialists.

Immigration.ca (Nov 2021), Real Estate (Jan 2024) & PCE (Jan 2024)

Salary comparison in Seattle vs. Vancouver

The table compares the most in-demand jobs in both Seattle and Vancouver and the salary expectations in each city: 

Professions

Average salary in

Seattle (USD)

Average salary in

Vancouver (CAD)

Cybersecurity Analysts

$136,430

$72,119.11

Data Scientist/Analyst

$142,810

$70,837.33

Web Developers

$142,200

$59,301.37

Editors

$96,090

$46,668.94

Business development officers and market researchers and analysts 

$98,210

$55,440.60

Seattle Employment Wage (2023) & Government of Canada Job Bank (Nov 2023)

 

Cost of living in Seattle vs. Vancouver

Seattle vs Vancouver

Generally, the cost of living in Vancouver is more affordable than in Seattle. Vancouver’s consumer prices are 13.4% lower than Seattle’s when excluding rent, and 13.2% lower when including rent. Additionally, rent prices in Vancouver are 13.0% lower than in Seattle, while grocery prices are 4.7% lower.

Numbeo (March 2024)

Average monthly costs to live in Seattle vs. Vancouver

In terms of living expenses, the cost of living in Vancouver is more affordable than in Seattle. The table below compares the cost of living in both cities, considering accommodation, groceries, transportation, and utility costs:

Category

Monthly cost in Seattle (USD)

Monthly cost in Vancouver (USD)

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$1,880.23

$1,698.87

Numbeo’s monthly grocery expenses

$299.4

$296.64

Utilities (Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage)

$253.16

$131.00

Internet with 60 Mbps

$69.90

$63.27

Transit pass

$99.50

$104.20

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$152.50

$131.33

Gym membership 

$60.00

$46.17

Total

$2,814.69

$2,471.48

Numbeo (March 2024)

 

FAQ – The most frequently asked questions about Seattle and Vancouver

What is the biggest difference between Seattle and Vancouver?

Vancouver is a cheaper city to live in than Seattle, but still, both have relatively high living costs. However, the biggest difference is that Vancouver is in Canada, whereas Seattle is in the United States. Seattle has a great nightlife. On the other hand, Vancouver offers nice walkability, which means a better quality of living for its residents.

Where to Live in Seattle?

Lifestyle

Neighborhood

Outdoor recreation

Capitol Hill, Madrona, Ravenna, The International District (ID)

Families

Lower Queen Anne

Accessible

Belltown, Fremont

Urban Lifestyle

Ballard

Where to Live in Vancouver?

Lifestyle

Neighborhood

Outdoor recreation

White Rock, North Vancouver, Coquitlam

Families

Langley

Accessible

Abbotsford

Urban Lifestyle

West Vancouver

Is tax cheaper in Seattle vs. Vancouver?

Income tax rates in Seattle vs. Vancouver

In the State of Washington, there is no tax on income. While in Vancouver, the applicable tax on the taxable income includes:

  • 5.05% from $0 to $47,937 of annual taxable income.
  • 7.70% on the next $47,937.01 up to $95,875.
  • 10.50% on the next $95,875.01 up to $110,076.
  • 12.29% on the next $110,076.01 up to $133,664.
  • 14.70% on the next $133,664.01 up to $181,232.
  • 16.80% on the next $181,232.01 up to $252,752.
  • 20.50% on the amount over $252,752.

Smartasset (Dec 2023) & Canada Revenue Agency (Feb 2024)

Federal tax rates in Seattle (USD) vs. Vancouver (CAD)

The Federal income tax for the US is as it follow:

  • 10% between $0 to $10,275
  • 12% between $10,276 to $41,775
  • 22% between $86,141,070 to $98,901
  • 24% between $98,901 to $120,094
  • 32% between $120,094 to $162,832
  • 35% between $162,832 to $227,091
  • 37% on the amount over $227,091

While the Federal tax rates in Canada are applicable to residents of Vancouver. These rates are based on annual taxable income and are as follows:

  • 15% on annual taxable income from $0.00 to $55,867.
  • 20.5% on the annual taxable income from $55,867 up to $111,733.
  • 26% on the annual taxable income from $111,733 up to $173,205.
  • 29% on the annual taxable income from $173,205 up to $246,752. 
  • 33% on the annual taxable income over $246,752.

Smartasset (Dec 2023) & Canada Revenue Agency (Jan 2024)

Sales tax rates in Seattle vs. Vancouver

Washington State has a 6.5% sales tax and Seattle has a 3.75% sales tax for a combined total of 10.25% sales tax. While Canada has three types of sales taxes that vary by province. In British Columbia, there are two separate taxes: the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which are set at approximately 7% and 5%, respectively. When combined, they total 12% and apply to purchases of goods and services.

Government of Canada (Sept 2023)

 

Conclusion

Both cities offer a wide range of activities and opportunities. Vancouver stands out for its natural surroundings and milder climate compared to Seattle. Additionally, Vancouver is known for its cultural diversity and vibrant art scene. However, while Seattle does have a higher cost of living, it compensates with its vibrant urban atmosphere and innovative tech industry, often offering higher salaries. Both cities are conveniently located on the West Coast and are just a few hours’ drive from each other.

If you’re considering a move, be sure to explore the best moving companies in Seattle and the best moving companies in Vancouver.

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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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