Life in Seattle: how Avvo-ites roll

Tech hubs around the country are bustling, and Seattle is no exception. According to a recent Seattle Times article, Seattle ranks second out of 15 when it comes to “best-paying technical jobs, when housing costs are factored in.” At Avvo, many of us would argue that we also have the best quality of life around. We’re within driving distance to some of the most beautiful mountains, lakes, and rainforests in the country. We have world-class restaurants and a thriving arts and music scene.

But how do we actually make our lives here? Where do we live? What’s it like to be a renter? How do we get to and from work every day – bike, bus, ferry?

We set out to answer some of these questions, both quantitatively and qualitatively. To kick things off, we took notes from some of the work we do to support people around landlord – tenant issues. We figured that if we want to know what living in our city is like, thinking about our lives as tenants, landlords and homeowners was a good place to start. So like any good company that depends on data, we created a survey via Survey Monkey called “Avvo Life in Seattle – the best and worst,” and hit send to the team.

Of course, as soon as we hit “send,” all the qualitative conversations began, and usually centered around the juiciest of topics – tenant nightmares. Over beers during our bi-weekly Business & Beers, Chris Ziobro, creative director, brought up the creepy landlord factor. “My sister and I rented a unit inside a landlord’s duplex in Wallingford,” he said, “after a couple of sketchy run-ins with the landlord, I noticed that there were strategically placed mirrors around the property so that he could see into our apartment.” They moved almost immediately.

Matt Longman, social media manager, rents out the lower half of his house in West Seattle. “As a landlord who lives directly above my tenants, I’m very aware of the creep factor and do everything I can to eliminate it,” he said. “I always give 24-hours notice if I need to enter the rental for any reason and make it clear why I need to gain entry.”

Fortunately, most Avvo-ites like or are indifferent to their landlords, with less than 6% saying that they do not like their landlord. Almost 49% have Googled or Yelped their apartment or condo complex. And only 10 people have found cause to shame their landlord on social media.

“Anything feels above and beyond compared to New York City and D.C. landlords, who left us alone to deal with rat infestations and no hot water for months,” said Danielle Martin, content strategist. “So I’m constantly shocked when our landlord does things like fix a broken dishwasher, replace a musty washing machine, or replace our water heater just because it’s getting old and it’s the smart thing to do. I seriously love this man.”

Out of 179 respondents, or nearly half of the Avvo team, 102 rent and 78 own the property in which they live. Almost 42% live in a house, whereas condos, apartments, and townhomes house 58% of us. Almost 64% of Avvo-ites live with their spouse or significant other, 18% live alone, and 11% share their living space with friends. Thirty-four percent of us have kids in the household.

When it comes to pets, Avvo loves dogs. 23% of us have cats compared to nearly 32% who have dogs – and 22 people have completed the paperwork needed to bring their dogs into the office (look for a post on Avvo’s office dogs next week).

While we live all over Seattle and the surrounding area – 45% of us in the surrounding suburbs (led by North Seattle, at 21%) – 62% of us take the bus to work every day. Beyond some other means of commuting like bike, ferry, or train, we actually have more people who walk (14%) to work than drive (13%)!

Tim Ahlers, Director of Product Management, lives on a houseboat in Eastlake and walks to work everyday. “It’s a chance to get some fresh air,” he said, “although it’s not that fresh because I walk right by I-5 for a stretch of it. But it’s great to get some views of the city and Lake Union, and just clear my head.”

Traffic and skyrocketing rent prices are the main complaints that Avvo-ites have about life in Seattle. Andy Southworth, human resources administrator, commutes from Federal Way to downtown Seattle. “I have to be up around 4:30 to get on a bus that won’t get caught in endless traffic,” Andy said.  “But I love the time to read!”

Taj Bortz, product manager, rides her Vespa to the Park and Ride near Northgate because motorcycle parking is always available, unlike spots for cars. “My commute is my favorite time of day,” Taj said. “As a working mother of two young kids, this is the only time I get to myself, and I spend it reading articles on my phone or books on my Kindle. Sometimes I knit.”

Seattle proper is a city of neighborhoods, and Avvo-ites, like most Seattleites, are fiercely loyal to where they live. Almost 83% of us spend the majority of our time outside work in our own neighborhoods.

“I love how the Columbia City area neighborhood where I live feels like a smaller town within Seattle,” said Sophia Robinson, marketing insights analyst. “I love the diversity and actually getting to know my neighbors, who aren’t in the tech industry – a music teacher, a general contractor, and a fashion designer.  And I love being able to walk one block for beautiful fresh groceries at Mekong Rainier, and meeting awesome people who buy herbs I don’t recognize and will tell me how to prepare them if I ask.”

The bottom line of how many Avvo-ites feel was well-stated by Jennifer White, recruiting coordinator: “Seattle is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the country,” said Jennifer. “What I hate is that it is becoming too crowded. I guess everyone else got the memo on how great it is here.”