Tips For Newcomers To Seattle

Last Updated on June 16, 2024 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.

This blog was originally published on September 29, 2020, and has been updated on June 15, 2024.

When moving to a new country, build your support system 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.

So, how do you make friends when you don’t know anyone here?

Find groups online

If it is possible, even BEFORE you move here, search for groups on Facebook or other social media platforms that speak your native language. This way, you would have formed some connections already by the time you get to Seattle.

But if not, you can still search for groups after you arrive. This will get you into a ready-made community that knows your native culture and language. It’ll help you to feel a sense of belonging.

Another good place to meet new friends is 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.

If you do not find any group on that interests you, you can start your own group. A friend did just that, and today that group has become a supportive community for many immigrant women.

Libraries offer ESL and conversation groups

The library is another place.

There are often meetings for those who want to practice speaking English called Talk Time. You don’t need to register. Just show up. Volunteers run these groups. Sometimes there are many people in the group, and sometimes the groups are smaller.

If you have young children, there are also story time for toddlers. I have seen parents there with their children. You get to meet people from around the world.

Community organizations for immigrants

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

Another group is Turkcha. This non-profit offers a sense of community for immigrant women through events. Their website is

Another way that Turkcha support women who are immigrants or refugees is shown in this video.

Best time to come to Seattle

Depending on the time of 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.

How to deal with lack of sunshine in Seattle’s winter

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 when the sun comes out, people in Seattle are smiling and feel happier. It’s 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.

Another thing you can do is to use full-spectrum light, which simulates sunlight. Your body chemicals will adjust accordingly and you’ll feel better. The lamp needs to have 10,000 lux to be effective for this purpose. Companies such as Verilux sells full-spectrum light.

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.

For quite a few clients, I am their first friend in Seattle. Although they hired me for their English needs, often they talked about their transition to a new culture. It is a nice feeling to have someone regular to talk to when your children are at school, and your family and friends are half way around the world.

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 just a few tips for feeling more at home if you are new to Seattle. Build a support community for yourself as soon as possible. If you can, start building one online even before you move here. Go to some events tailored to immigrants. Choose the time of year to move to Seattle. Work with a tutor. Go out in nature.

I am sure you will think of more ways as you adjust to your new environment. Please share them with me so I can add your ideas to this list.

If you have specific questions about the cultural adjustment process, feel free to reach out to, 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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