General Question

guitarhero1983's avatar

Boston or Seattle? Which wins for overall quality of life?

Asked by guitarhero1983 (135points) January 31st, 2012

I have job offers in both cities. Moving from Bay Area. Which do you think is better overall?

Assume I have no pre-existing ties to either city. Please consider cost of living, arts and culture, job market, feel/look of city, climate, activities, travel opportunities, ease of entry into new social group, and traffic/commute. Google has a lot of info and opinions, but I trust the Fluther community more.

Go! :)

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19 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Geez, that’s a tough one. They’re both so much like San Francisco. I think Seattle is a bit more of an “outdoors” city despite the rain. Seattle is newer, Boston has more of the traditional cultures like the Museum of Art and the Symphony.

Both are great for younger people, both have good sports teams.

The big difference may be cost, Boston is a lot more expensive, so depending on what you’ll be earning Seattle might be the better choice.

I would also consider that everyone should live on the east coast, somewhere between Boston and DC, sometime in their lives.

FutureMemory's avatar

If you’re from California, I think you’d like Seattle more than Boston. Boston is a very east coast city, so to speak.

Judi's avatar

Look at this website and you can compare the things that are important to you.

ETpro's avatar

I admit prejudice. I live in Boston, so that’s my pick. But I’ve visited Seattle as well, anmd it is a terrific city full of beauty and charm. If you prefer the distinct changes of season that we normally associate with Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter; Boston’s yuor town. If you like a climate with little change, Seattle is for you. Past that, there is always the factor of the location of the best (salary and promotion path) job offer.

gailcalled's avatar

Boston has wonderful public transportation, negating the need for a car.

Boston has fierce and long snowy winters.

One can drive to the Atlantic ocean easily and also to the New England ski areas.

In and around Boston are Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Tufts, Brandeis, Wellesley, and a slew of smaller colleges that all contribute to an intellectual and cultural “feel” of the area.

Boston has beautiful, old architecture and is a piece of American history writ large.

I lived in and around Boston for many years and loved it. When I visited Seattle, I thought is was charming but lacking in the east coast edginess. But I grew up with east coast edginess.

Addendum. Lucky lucky you to have such a nice choice.

jrpowell's avatar

If you have friends and family in the Bay Area it is a days drive away from Seattle to visit.

jerv's avatar

I grew up in the Boston area and currently live in Seattle, so I know both of them from experience.

Cost of living
Seattle hands down. Sure, it’s expensive here in Seattle, but Boston takes it to a whole new level.

Both have decent bus systems, but at least it’s possible to drive in Seattle if you are so inclined. It is also more bike-friendly if you swing that way. However, you are more likely to need a car in Seattle than in Boston; we are pretty spread out.
I have yet to be stuck in traffic more than an hour on my 25-mile commute. In Boston, it would often take me that long to go less than half that distance. Overall, advantage Seattle.

Both get cold and snowy. Seattle will get into the 20s-30s and the occasional snowstorm. Boston will go sub-zero and fucking bury you, and your little dog Toto too.
But Boston handles 18 inches of snow in a night better than Seattle handles 3 inches. People know how to drive in the snow, they have snowplows, and they salt the roads. (Granted, that will eat your car from the bottom up, but hey!) Seattle drivers get stupid, put chains only on the front of RWD vehicles, and generally shut everything down at the first snowflake.

Arts and culture
Seattle spawned Nirvana. My favorite local band, Abney Park is dong pretty well too; they just put out a novel and a twelfth album. Boston doesn’t have the Slut Walk. Last I knew, they didn’t have Hempfest or Bumbershoot (an annual 74-acre art/music festival). Boston does have it’s own things though, so that is really subjective.
One thing that still trips me out though; people here look at a building put up in 1910 and consider it old whereas I am used to living placed built closer to the Civil War, and Boston has many places a couple of centuries older than that. Education is better in Boston though. Harvard, MIT… well, we’ll just end there because Seattle has nothing on that level. UW is cool and all, but not on that plane.

Ease of entry into a new social group
The East coast is generally less friendly, and that is putting it mildly. I have lived in all four corners of the continental US, and visited nine countries on three other continents, and I have to say that New England has the rudest, most stand-offish people of anywhere I’ve been. Not to say that we are all bad, but if you are one of those cheery people who believes that strangers are merely friends you haven’t met yet, prepare to get dirty looks, fingers, and requests to perform odd sex acts.
People almost anywhere in the world other than the Northeast are more friendly and open. More importantly, they are more laid-back.

It’s late, so I will end there for now.

@johnpowell I visited Seattle years before I moved here. Trust me, the Seattle you see as a tourist isn’t the Seattle you see as a Seattlite.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I would definitely choose Seattle. Just thinking about Boston gives me a headache.

cookieman's avatar

Despite being a Bostonian my entire life, I can’t disagree with much of @jerv‘s assessment.

That being said, there is definitely an East coast sensibility that takes some getting used to. We’re not rude per se. We’re sarcastic, and cynical, and a little grumpy. I admit, just reading the idea of “strangers are friends you haven’t met yet” made me instinctively gag.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Seattle, absolutely. Transitioning to North Eastern attitudes is difficult. Boston is a great town, but you’ll feel much more at home in Seattle.

janbb's avatar

An interesting dilemma. You can do all the practical calculations and then I would go with your gut. Are you looking for a more comfortable West coast transition – then go with Seattle. Do you want a perhaps less easy “edgier” move – try Boston. I do think the climate could be hard for someone from the Bay area to adjust to and the people will be friendlier in Seattle, but Boston is a wonderful city.

Ela's avatar

Enlightening answers. Comparison lists are good references but they don’t tell you about the attitudes of the people. : )

marinelife's avatar

I love both cities so I am not sure that you can lose.

If you love that laid back West Coast vibe that you get in the Bay Area, then you may prefer Seattle, which also has that. If you love the outdoors, you will prefer Seattle. Seattle has a year-round mild climate. When the sun is shining, it’s just about the most beautiful place on Earth. But there is a lot of gray and rain (drizzle). We used to take long weekends or a week’s vacation someplace sunny in the winter to rejuvenate us. In Seattle, there is the highest per capita library use, but people are more likely to talk about outdoor adventures.

If you love culture and history, then Boston is the city for you. Seattle has culture, but it can’t touch Boston when it comes to museums and music. Boston is very hot and humid in the summer and very cold and snowy in the winter. Boston has the East Coast intellectual thing going on where people talk politics and issues of the day at parties.

Charles's avatar

What industry are you in?
Buying or renting?, What do you expect your housing budget to be?
Married? Kids? Ages?

You have your choices between two sets of Four Seasons:

Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, Bugs and Humidity and Road Construction


Rain, Rain, Clouds, Road Construction

Seattle has the advantages of earlier prime time sports and easier flights back to CA to visit.
I would also consider the industry you are in: Which city provides more “Plan B” opportunities should you lose your job?

gailcalled's avatar

“Ease of entry in a new social group” is really an amorphous concept, given the size and population density of both cities and their surrounding suburbs.

When I moved from one major city in the NE to another, I made friends through my job, the parents of kids in my kids’ classes at school, and my interests.

I grew up in a commuting suburb of NYC, went to college near Boston, and married a Boston boy from a huge family so I had important connections to kinfolk, which mattered a lot.

What’s your background? What field are you in professionally? What are your interests and hobbies? How’s your tolerance for really cold and icy weather?

auhsojsa's avatar

Seattle has tons of clouds, but ironically the exuberance and easy goingness of people surpass that. Also the names of their streets are very attractive. I think they’re Victorian inspired, very classy. Bostons history is one of segregation. The Irish came over and built that town essentiallly, and were not well recieved by the English Americans at the time. However, it has flourished to be well recognized as one of the most educated cities in America, a huge sports town and yes like many have stated, an overall “east coast” vibe kind of city. That means you have to know how to talk and have really thick skin. Seattle, you will be facing a lot of rain but it’s really majestic in my opinion.

I live in San Diego and the drive from here to Irvine to Los Angeles is not a hard one. I’d imagine the same would ring true for living in Boston, look at the proximity! You could be in Montreal or New York, whilst in Seattle you’d have to really commit to your given surroundings.

Both are win win for me.

Jeruba's avatar

As an ex-Bostonian and ex-Cantabrigian, I appreciate these deft summations of life in the Northeast.

I might add that if you are not cheery and outgoing yourself, it is such a relief to be among New Englanders who expect you to mind your own business. I have never found them rude and unfriendly, just slow to warm up. Which is utterly comfortable for me because so am I. After 35 years in California, I still feel like making some sort of retort when everyone from the manicurist to the Roto-Rooter man orders me to have a nice day.

Judi's avatar

I stood out like a sore thumb when I went to visit my niece and her children in Boston in my bright blue pants with matching stripped T shirt. On a positive note, her children thought a clown had come to play.
This was also the trip that inspired me to loose 80 lbs.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Boston if you hate to drive, Seattle if you love to drive.

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