Tips For Newcomers To Seattle

Last Updated on September 29, 2020 by Estrella

Tips for newcomers to Seattle. Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

Seattle is a beautiful place. No wonder many move here. Whether you moved from another state or another country, there are helpful things to do to build your life here. This article is especially written for those who moved here from another country, and who may not be fluent yet in English. I hope these ideas help you feel at home sooner. Also, I have added a section for meeting friends virtually. Here are some tips for newcomers to Seattle.

New to Seattle

Depending on what time of the year you arrive, your first impression of Seattle may be different. Summer is the best time to be in Seattle. The weather is comfortable. And it’s the dry season. However, if you come in the winter, it can be a different story for some people.

Winter in Seattle

Some people love rain. If you are not one of them, winter in Seattle can affect your mood. There are many overcast days. At times it may rain for days. That is why people in Seattle are outside and smiling when the sun comes out. It’s like a treat to them.

For some people, the lack of sunlight can make them feel depressed. There are things you can do to help yourself. Check with your healthcare provider on the proper dosage of Vitamin D for you. And you can also buy full-spectrum light, which simulates sunlight. Your body chemicals will adjust accordingly and you’ll feel better. However, the lamp needs to have 10,000 lux, no less, to be effective for this purpose.

And even if it rains outside, make it a point to go outside for at least a little while. If you are affected by this kind of weather, even that little bit of time will help you feel better.

Make friends as soon as you can

If you moved here with your family, you have a social structure in place already. But if you came here by yourself, and you don’t know anyone here, it is important to make friends as soon as possible. Having a social circle will prevent you from feeling isolated in a new environment.

How do you make friends? is a good place to start. Look up groups that share your interests. There are groups in hiking, photography, cooking, language, business, technology. One of my clients joined a group that practice speaking Japanese for the first hour, and English the second hour. And they meet in a different restaurant each time. This helped him get to know different restaurants in Seattle at the same time.

The library is another place. There are often meetings for those who want to practice speaking English, story time for toddlers, etc. You get to meet people from around the world.

ELLA (English Language Learners Alliance) meet regularly so you can practice speaking English and learn about this culture. Their website is .

Meeting new friends virtually

During a time when many meetings have moved online because of social distancing, you can still meet new friends. I just did a search on for my zip code. Using the search term “English practice” I found 3 free groups. One is conversation practice. Two of them are language exchange.

Do a general search for “practice English conversation free” and see what comes up. Check out the different groups and see if you feel comfortable participating in them.

Also, if you can already communicate in English, check out online groups in areas of your interests. Sometimes just responding to a post can start a connection. And when you are new to a country, it’s nice to feel connected, even if it’s for a brief moment.

Work with an ESL tutor

If you need to improve your English fluency for work or daily conversation, hiring an ESL tutor can be a faster way to go. You can also take an ESL class. With a tutor, you get your individual language needs met, so the process is quicker. Another benefit of working with an ESL tutor is that often that person can share with you the local culture and resources. Teachers and tutors tend to be helpful people, and are often generous with useful information.

Enjoy nature in Seattle

Whether you like to hike or not, one of the reasons many people move to Seattle is its natural beauty. Even an hour in nature would feel like a mini vacation. There are many walking trails that are easy for children. So if you are not a hiker, you can go on one of those trails. You don’t even need to drive. The book Seattle Outdoors by Bob Dresbach lists trails reachable by bus.

Beaches are within 30 minutes of Seattle, including Alki, Golden Garden Parks, Car Creek Park, Richmond Beach, Mukilteo Lighthouse Park. I’ve seen volleyball teams playing at Alki, and sometimes at Golden Garden Parks. There are many dog parks if you have a furry friend.

These are some of the tips for feeling more at home if you are new to Seattle. If you have specific questions about the cultural adjustment process, feel free to reach out at, and I will do my best to find you an answer.

If you find this article helpful, here is one on How to help immigrant children make friends at school.

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a session with her, please email

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