Why are Seattle U Students leaving the Emerald City?

As a chapter closes, another one opens, and many seniors are starting their chapter somewhere brand new. Flying away from Seattle, some seniors are choosing to leave the city that they called home. For many reasons, from the weather changing to rent increasing, staying in Seattle has become more and more difficult for many. But even if they could stay, some in the Seattle University Class of 2018 want to leave the Emerald City regardless.

“I wanted to leave Seattle two weeks after freshman year because I hate the cold and it gets [very] cold here. The cold goes into your bones and I don’t like that,” said Hailey Hackett, senior communication and media major. “Plus, I feel like there’s more opportunity in other areas, like Seattle is a pretty small city so it’s pretty easy to kind of get bored of it.”

Earlier this year, The Seattle Times reported that since 2014, Seattle has had more rainfall than any other four-year period in the city’s history. With 186.4 inches in the past four years, more than 44 inches a year, Seattle has been the wettest it’s ever been.

Despite warm, dry summers and stretches of sunshine between the rain, Seattle’s cold and rain has contributed to graduating students’ decision to leave the city.

Despite Seattle having the highest-reported growth in population according to The Seattle Times, it doesn’t hold a candle to cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. It is even smaller in population to its similar in size counterpart Indianapolis, Ind., according to the World Population Review.

Thanks to companies like Amazon and Microsoft, which have arguably exacerbated the housing crisis in the city, owning a home in Seattle has gotten more difficult as housing rates have gone sky-high. Seattle doesn’t have any caps on rent-control either, meaning market-rate housing in Seattle is incredibly difficult to afford for young professionals and students alike. These factors, among others, have led students like senior social work major Kristen Howard to find opportunities elsewhere.

“I have thought about just staying and working but I figured that it wouldn’t be the best option for me, specifically because a starting salary for a social worker is not fit to stay in Seattle,” Howard said. “Even right now it’s still difficult to be able to pay for an apartment when I have roommates and I’m only paying part of the rent.”

According to the Seattle Times, the cost of living in Seattle is 52.8 percent higher than the national average. Granted, this is less than other major cities but that still means that the cost of living in Seattle altogether is on the rise. From costs for transportation, grocery items, health care, utilities and miscellaneous goods and services, Seattle ranks above average in just about everything. To live comfortably in Seattle, with savings and healthcare, the Seattle PI reports that residents have to make over $60,000 a year.

For humanities for teaching senior Brinkley Johnson, she isn’t necessarily being pushed out of Seattle, but rather, pulled back to her home state.

“My original reasoning for leaving was all of my family is in Southern California, and so I want to be near them and as I was looking at opportunities for post-grad volunteering, I felt really called to go in the southwest region and so that’s why I’m ending up finding [an] organization in El Paso and choosing it,” Johnson said.

In the fall of 2017, 31.9 percent of first-years at Seattle U reported being from in-state. 10.2 percent of first-years were international students, which meant that about 58 percent of the accepted students were from out-of-state. Those 58 percent—the majority—will decide at the end of their college experience if they want to remain in Seattle or find their way back home.

Rania may be reached at
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