Is Washington better than California?

Someone I know is considering moving up to the Seattle area and asked me about my Washington experience. Other friends of mine who are considering Microsoft actually ask me this a lot so I thought I’d write an entry about it.

Here are some general impressions after my summer internship in Redmond and after talking to some Washington people, though keep in mind I’ve lived in California over 20 years and in Washington only a quarter of a year.


  • No state income tax. This is pretty big chunk of change.
  • Much cheaper houses compared to California… like you can actually afford one. Though I suppose this is true of most of the U.S.
  • Gorgeous summers, even by California standards.
  • Very pretty green trees and foliage everywhere compared to California.
  • People seem nicer.
  • If you’re a Republican, your vote actually counts for something.


  • Weather – it rains nonstop fall, winter, spring… very depressing.
  • Horrible commutes. People mostly complain about having to cross the bridge from Seattle into Redmond during rush hour. May not be an issue for you.
  • Freeway speed limit is 60 instead of 65. Hard to get used to.
  • No In-N-Out.
  • Amazon sales tax.
  • I don’t know many people there compared to California.

Anyone with more Washington experience want to comment?

[Edit: Got rid of the green text that looks like a link.]

Comments (11)

  1. Jeff Berg says:

    You got me convinced. I will have my In-N-Out Shipped.


  2. Joe Newcommer says:

    Seattle traffic is much better than LA or Bay Area traffic (at least dot-com era Bay Area traffic.) The 520 bridge commuters are complaining about 30 minute to one hour rush-hour delays.

    Another up-side to Seattle is that it’s only 3 hours from Vancouver, which is even nicer to visit than San Francisco.

    Down sides to Seattle:

    – Winters can be very dark and dreary.

  3. Khmer says:

    Mr.Wayne thanks your information. I am also convinced to move there. I am tired of California pollution. And the house price is sky rocketting. Washington seems very beautiful and reasonable.

    Just a quick question.

    You said it rains in Fall, Winter, and Spring. Is there any sun shine at all or just dull gloomy? I heard Washington suicide rate is pretty high. SO people are not happy. That can be very boring.

  4. Wayne Kao says:

    I’ve only been up to Washington three times when it wasn’t summer, and all three times it was freezing cold and raining hard, with no sun. You probably need more than three days to get an accurate sampling though.

    I’ve rarely had traffic issues in California. I guess it’s because I try to avoid rush hour. Perhaps the same is true in Washington if you avoid 9 AM.

  5. Dan Crevier says:

    I’ve got similar experience. I moved up to Washington in December after living in California for 28/33 years of my life. I think your list is pretty accurate. One mitigating factor to the traffic is lower house prices, which let you live closer to where you need to go. My commute to work is now less than 10 minutes where it was a good 30 minutes in the bay area. Traffic really sucks in the bay area.

    I do miss In-N-Out, altough it’s probably healthier to be away 🙂

    One other plus to Seattle is occasional snow. It’s fun if you just have a bit. I also find it to be incredibly beautiful. There are lots of trees and lakes. Much of California is pretty dry. I’ve been very happy up here so far.

  6. Dawn Wright says:

    Although I’ve never been to In-N-Out, we do have Red Mill Burgers ( up here in Seattle, which is the best burger place I’ve been to anywhere. Apparently, Burgerville is coming soon, too (, which I’m told is good.

    As for the rain… I actually don’t find it as bad as people make it sound. I wouldn’t call it nonstop, and there are actually sunny days in between the rain (though there have been a few winters of barely a blink of sun). It’s more drizzly/misty than it is rainy, and as you said, the rain makes for lots of green. I’m sure it depends on who you are, but I find the rain soothing and a good excuse to make a fire and curl up with a book. The rain also means snow up in the mountains, so there’s nearby winter skiing and snowshoeing.

    Traffic, on the other hand, is a pain. If you live and work on opposite sides of the lake, it’s useful to find a ride-share of some sort.

  7. I was just in Seattle for the MVP Summit – 5 days – and it didn’t rain the whole time. The weather was actually terrfic (and so was the summit).