New survey highlights the reason thousands are relocating to Seattle

SEATTLE -- Every week, a thousand people relocate to the Emerald City, making Seattle the fastest growing big city in America. A survey released Thursday gives insight into these “new Seattle” residents.

Researches at Quinn Thomas said they wanted to answer several questions about the changing face of Seattle -- learn their likes, dislikes, and see if there is anything long-term and newcomer residents can agree on.

“I absolutely love it,” said Ryan McClure, a new Seattle resident. “The opportunities that are afforded through the tech movement here are absolutely incredible for one’s career, plus you can’t get over the nature side of things.”

McClure is part of the “new Seattle” researches talked to. He’s between 18 and 34, and moved here within the past five years.

“Two years,” he said, to be exact.

But unlike other newbies, McClure said he plans to stay in Seattle.

“At the moment I am looking at potentially doing grad school at UW,” he said.

Forty-eight percent of new residents polled by Quinn Thomas state they will most likely leave within the next five years.

“There are young people here, they are not necessarily tied down to the area yet with a family and they could potentially move for other opportunities,” said Zach Knowing, vice president of Quinn Thomas.

His firm developed the study with DHM Research and the University of Washington Continuum College. They polled 800 King County residents from May 31 to June 12 for their findings.

“New residents tend to be young, almost half of them are between the ages of 18-34, whereas people who have been living here long-term, like me, tend to be 55 or older,” said Knowing.

Age was a major difference, and so was the reason people cited for moving -- it’s not work, like many long-term residents assume.

“People are moving here because they want to be here in Seattle, take advantage of all the great things about the area, the natural beauty of the water, the mountains. A job is almost secondary,” he said.

“It reflects a strong city and desirable city,” said Hank Koerner a long-term Seattle resident. “It’s not necessarily all bad or all good. I mean, obviously, it means we are going to have to put up with other things, but it means the area and the city are successful,” he said, regarding the survey results.

Peter Harris, who moved to Seattle in 1980, said the growth has been surprising.

“I think it’s going to stress the city in ways that we’re feeling it right now. In terms of obviously housing affordability and traffic and the like,” he said.

The survey found 73% of Seattle newbies think the growth is a good thing, compared to 52% of long-term residents. It’s a similar spread when asked if Seattle is headed in the right direction, with newcomers feeling more positive.

In general, new and old residents identified as liberal, and both groups said the Seahawks are their favorite sports team.

“Even though people are coming in from different parts of the country, they root for the Seahawks at the exact same rate. So that was heartening,” said Knowing.

The take-home message is that we’re more alike than we think said Knowing.

“They’re just not so different than those who lived here long term.”