67% of Seattle residents have considered moving out of the city, new survey finds

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The Seattle skyline. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Seattleites remain pessimistic about overall quality of life, with a recent survey indicating that 67% have actively considered moving out of the city due to affordability, public safety and other issues. 

The survey of 700 registered voters, commissioned by the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce and conducted by EMC Research from March 13-20, is the latest indication of the challenges facing Seattle as the city looks to rebound from the pandemic and address inequality issues sparked by a historic tech boom that’s generated massive amounts of wealth but left many behind.

Rachel Smith, president and CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber, said the report shows that Seattleites are largely unified in the approach to complex issues, but they are “running out of patience.”

“While some of the numbers in this research are tough to see, I have a great deal of optimism because the voters have laid out a clear path, one that rejects ideological binaries and embraces an ‘and’ approach to solutions,” said Smith in a press release. 

Key findings:

  • 76% of respondents said that Seattle is on the wrong track, with 81% indicating that quality of life in the city is worse today than it was four years ago. 
  • Of those who’ve considered moving out of the city, 35% cited cost of living/housing; 29% cited public safety/crime; 12% cited homelessness; and 9% citied government/politics as the main reason for their considerations in leaving. 
  • The overall quality of life index for March 2022 registered in negative territory, and was slightly below where things stood in August 2021. Democrats, which made up 61% of those surveyed, were nearly twice as optimistic about quality of life in the region compared to Republicans. 

On downtown Seattle:

  • Just 26% of respondents said they’d feel safe visiting downtown Seattle at night, with 73% saying that they feel less safe in the city than they did two years ago. 
  • 91% said that downtown Seattle can’t fully recover until homelessness and public safety issues are addressed, while 86% said they are worried about the future of downtown Seattle. 
  • 51% of respondents said they’d visit downtown Seattle less than they did before the pandemic for non-work activities, while 33% said they’d visit about the same. Just 15% said they’d visit more. 

The Seattle Metro Chamber’s survey comes just a few weeks after the Downtown Seattle Association issued its own State of Downtown report, which showed residents and tourists returning to downtown but office workers coming back at much slower rates. 

It also comes at a time when tech employers continue to re-evaluate office space — shifting permanently to remote work or implementing new hybrid policies that lessen connections to downtown Seattle. 

The Chamber’s survey results will be sobering for city leaders, especially Mayor Bruce Harrell who is looking to institute his “one Seattle” plan for reimagining the city. In his first State of the City address in February, Harrell said that the city is facing some of the biggest challenges in its history.

“The truth is the status quo is unacceptable,” said Harrell, who has been attempting to tackle homelessness and public safety issues in his first months in office. 

You can check out the full survey results here. 

Previously on GeekWire: With remote work here to stay and more apartments occupied, can downtown Seattle reinvent itself?

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