Where to live- Seattle or the East Side?

I remember listening to a young Microsoft Intern about what had been recommended to him about living arrangments. To summarize what he said: “Redmond is the best place to live, because the rush hour traffic to Seattle is terrible!“

Every Microsoft employee has a strong opinion about the best location to live. It's one that I had been analyzing recently, and pre-empted my move from the Redmond suburbs over to Alki Beach in West Seattle. Here's my opinion on the Pro's and Con's of the two living arrangments- and yes, I am a 24 year old single male which influences my answers!

Pros of Redmond/East Side:

  • Short commute to work

  • More free time spent at home (important if you have a family)

  • Condensed Intern population in the summer

  • Possibility of going home for lunch

  • Closer to the Microsoft sports fields

  • More flexible work hours

  • Marymoor Park in Redmond

  • PRO Club in Bellevue

Cons of Redmond/East Side:

  • Limited Night life (though Kirkland has a small selection)

  • Minimal live music

  • Non-short commute times if you live in the Eastside perimeter

  • Long commute to Seattle

  • Poor public transportation on Friday and Saturday nights ($25 cab fare from Downtown Seattle to Redmond)

  • Fewer college age people

Pros of Seattle:

  • All the amenities of a great city!

  • Better nightlife, live music, etc.

  • Professional sports teams, etc.

  • University of Washington's campus 

  • Better access to non-Microsoft activity partners (check here)

  • Single bus routes connecting Downtown, Capital Hill, Greenlake to Microsoft Campus

  • Vanpool and Carpool options available for commuting in those H. O. V. lanes!

  • Great hang out areas, like Greenlake, Alki, Belltown, etc.

Cons of Seattle:

  • Traffic is a crapshoot, and often severe, especially across the 520 bridge

  • Less flexible work hours (7:30-9:30AM, 4:30-6:45PM travel times will leave you stuck in traffic)

  • Longer commute

  • Less likely to hang out with East-Side friends

  • PRO Club Seattle is inferior to the Redmond location

As a young person who likes to take advantage of the great offerings in Seattle, I've decided that it's the place for me. If you're not going to do “city“ activities several times a week, then you'll probably be happier on the East Side. But, for me, I'm going to happily be commuting to Seattle tonight!

PS: I'm sure I missed several important points, and I've omitted some prominent exceptions to all these rules. Feel strongly about something said here? Leave a comment!


Comments (12)
  1. Jason Salas says:

    Good thoughts, Greg! When I was looking for housing when I moved out to Seattle in 2000, by chance the first two places I found (completely at random in one of those "so you want to find a house in Seattle?" guides in the AM/PM were Mercer Island and Queen Anne Hill.

    Ouch. 🙂

    If I ever do get into MS (I’ve crashed and burned twice now), I’ll be staying in Redmond. Being from Guam, I HATE long commutes.

  2. Kirk Marple says:

    I worked at MSFT for 6 yrs – lived in Redmond (across the street from bldg 25 at first, later near Redmond Town Center), and then lived in Capitol Hill the last year or so.

    I’d suggest downtown way more over Redmond. Redmond’s pretty boring – no nightlife, no music, no personality – can’t really walk to things and it shuts down early.

    Look at Fremont, Madison Park, or even Capitol Hill for fun places to live, where you can walk everywhere and feel like you’re in a neighborhood not a suburban wasteland.

    The commute is a pain in a**, but if you time shift and work from 10am-7pm, you’ll be OK most of the time.

    Good luck!

  3. Why does everyone think the only choice for living on the East side and working at Microsoft is Redmond? Don’t forget about Bellevue. It isn’t Seattle, but driving over to Seattle for a meal or some music is a lot easier from Bellevue than from Redmond. And it’s possible to have short, quiet, easy, bikeable commutes from Bellevue to campus. We’ve been very happy that we chose to live in Bellevue rather than Redmond or Seattle.

    But then I’m not a 24-year-old single male, either….

  4. Jason Salas says:

    Isn’t Bellevue rather pricy? Moreso than in Redmond?

  5. Ricky Dhatt says:

    I would hazard a guess that Bellevue is no more pricier than Redmond, and just as dead at night.

    Greg, you neglected to mention if you were plaining to buy or rent.

  6. Greg says:

    I’m currently renting, with the intention of buying a house in the neighborhood that I’m in. Frankly, I was a bit intimidated by the commute to flat-out buy a house in Seattle, so I wanted to try out a rental first in case I wimp out. 🙂

    I’m taking some Donald Trump advice- live in the neighborhood that you want to buy first, and you’ll make a better purchasing decision when you do buy.

    PS: There’s something lacking about Bellevue, that I’ve never been able to quite describe. It just doesn’t have the same soul', or character, that you can find in Seattle. It's a veryokay’ city… Not bad, but not quite Seattle, either.

  7. Ed Kaim says:

    East side–hands down. After months of hearing about how boring the East side is from coworkers, they’ve begun the exodus across Lake Washington. The way I see it, I would rather deal with traffic because I choose to (such as going to a Mariners game) instead of not having the choice because I want to go home. I can’t remember the last time it took me more than 25 minutes to get from my home in Redmond to downtown Seattle (because I never have to deal with the many, many rush hours). Then again, I used to work in New York where my 16 mile consulting commute was never shorter than one hour.

    Whatever you do choose to do, be sure to look at as many homes as possible before buying. The realtors out here are sharks, so don’t let them sell you on an overpriced house (which many are) or a house that’s more than you need. There are four parties in a real estate transaction: you and the three who want you to pay as much as possible as quickly as possible. Don’t trust your agent. I went through three agents before finding the place I wanted to buy 🙂

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