Writen by Becca Headline & Stephen Ruby
We are Becca Headline and Steve Ruby; otherwise known as the awesome new studio assistants to the wonderfully talented Deb Schwartzkopf . We want to share with everyone a little about our experiences; the struggles, adjustments and everything else that we’ve encountered so far as we’ve started to settle into our new lives here in Seattle and begin to find our own way.
After packing our entire lives up into our cars and moving across the country I think it’s safe to say we both went through the initial panic of, “Oh shit, what the f*@# am I doing here?! Why did I just do that?” My first week there were a lot of panicked calls back home… sorry mom! But because of that it forced me to really throw myself into my work in the studio since that was really the only familiar thing for me here. Coming from the Minnesotan suburban lifestyle to the much larger, chaotic Seattle was daunting at first. I started making myself go out to new places; bars, café’s, parks, etc. and tried to meet new people. Then came the task of finding a second job to support my pesky art addiction. Spent a week or two solely working on my résumé and combing through the Internet to find a job. Eventually I got hired working for Argosy Cruises right in the heart of downtown as a deck hand/ bartender/ tour guide. So not only had I only lived in this city a month, but now I was being trained to be an expert on all things related to Seattle. As intimidating as that was, it ultimately was one of the best things I’ve done to feel settled in here! Learning all of the quirks and things that make Seattle unique made this crazy place feel like this is truly where I’m meant to be right now.
Growing up in the Bay area, CA and eventually living in San Francisco after graduating college had acclimated me to an urban style of living. I learned to accept the high energy, noise, homeless people, crazy people, poop on sidewalks and the prevalent street drug presence that are all too common in SF. Upon moving to Seattle, I was thoroughly ready for a change. Luckily I had a friend/ ex-coworker living in Seattle I could stay with while I looked for an apartment. After previously renting apartments in SF and NYC, the hunt in Seattle felt manageable. While my knowledge of the neighborhoods and Seattle in general was limited, I found a decent affordable place in West Seattle. Once I settled in there, the gravity of my decision fully dawned on me. I uprooted myself completely in a matter of a month and a half and fully moved myself to a new city and on top of that without having a paying job. Luckily I corralled a nice little savings before I left allowing me a cushion of adjustment. After a month or so of second-guessing myself, and feeling homesick, I got hired at the same restaurant my friend works at in Ballard. After living in the same city for so long, I had forgotten what it was like to start new jobs, make new friends, or even live by myself! I soon found myself noting differences between aspects of Seattle and what I was accustomed to in the Bay area.
Upon moving here we both had to make some adjustments to certain things culturally that were different from what we were used to. What’s really interesting is that both of us coming from two very different backgrounds noticed the same things except we noticed them for almost completely opposite reasons. So here are a few things that took some initial acclimation:
Top 10 Surprising Adjustments to Seattle (in no specific order)
10. Driving/ Road Conditions-
Traffic in San Francisco sucks and people suck at driving. In West Seattle, it seems that people are in much less of a hurry and a lot more passive on the road. Maybe it’s because there are a lot less cars on the road in general, but the pace in general is slower. On the other hand, the roads and driving here in Seattle compared to Minnesota is actually the opposite. In Minnesota there’s a little thing called “Minnesota Nice” where people generally let you merge and aren’t nearly as aggressive. From a Minnesotan perspective the roads of Seattle are much more narrow and drivers are much more aggressive and hurried.
9. Public transportation –
We both agreed that the bus system in Seattle is wonderful. Buses are clean and nice, with your occasional crazy, but knowing you can get where you need to go via bus is always a nice feeling. It’s also much more accessible and convenient here than compared to MN- especially coming from the suburbs where even to go a short distance you really do need a car.
8. Really into local things- gardening, beer, mini farms, canning
Driving around neighborhoods and areas of Seattle, we noticed a steady quantity of gardens and plant boxes out front and in back of peoples’ homes. Deb and George even have 7 chickens! Within two months being here, Steve built and planted his first plant box with sugar snap peas, thyme, and other tasty treats. So exciting!
It definitely rains a lot in Seattle, but for all the hype it gets, I think it might be an exaggeration. Maybe more accurately, you could say it always LOOKS like it’s about to rain most of the time because it’s overcast quite a bit. Overcast skies are reminiscent of San Francisco, but the big difference is that in Seattle, it manifests into rain more often…but not all the time. Compared to MN it’s been great to have weather that is pretty consistent, even if it is consistently overcast. In the last two months it’s actually been better weather here in Seattle than in MN where they’ve gotten a ridiculous snowstorm and over 2 feet of rain flooding half of the state!
6. Transplant city –
We have both noticed that good portions of the people we’ve encountered here in Seattle aren’t originally from here. It seems to be a pretty big trend of people choosing to relocate here, us included. This could be explained simply by the fact that there is a much larger population here, so you’re almost guaranteed to meet more people from out of state. Although in MN, most transplant people choose to move there to raise families, whereas more people would be motivated to move to Seattle for the larger more expansive creative culture. But we’d rather like to think it’s just simply because Seattle’s pretty darn awesome!
5. Flea markets/ farmers markets/garage sales/salvaging –
If you have semi-hoarder tendencies (like Steve) you may find yourself in a dreamland here in Seattle. At garage sales and salvage yards, stuff is generally pretty cheap! Lots of free stuff and be sure to mark your calendar for West Seattle’s annual garage sale day when there are something like 200+ garage sales happening on the same day throughout the entire neighborhood. Also if you’re a foodie (like Becca) be sure to check out the West Seattle Farmers Market, or any farmers markets really. It’s truly the best place to get any sort of produce and it’s a ton of fun walking through there!
We’ve both noticed that people in the service industry here are actually really nice and friendly. They don’t just brush you off like most. You’ll go to a coffee shop, the grocery store, a hair salon, pretty much anywhere and you’re bound to have someone that works there strike up a conversation and seem genuinely interested. Not only that, but if you tell them you’re new in town they’ll usually give you some tips on things to do and places to go. They’re real people being friendly, not just out of obligation.
3. More active lifestyle-
San Francisco does have a pretty active lifestyle, but the difference between there and Seattle is the level of spontaneity that goes along with it. Seattleites seem more likely to go on a camping trip just on a whim, whereas in SF it’s planned out pretty far in advance. On the other hand Seattle compared to the suburbs of MN is very different! There’s much more walking and biking as a form of commuting here and there are constantly people out on the water paddle boarding and being active for fun! In MN there’s only about 3 months (maybe 4) out of the year where you get to enjoy being able to do those things, so it’s more recreational than it is a form of daily life and commuting.
Seattle is interesting to both of us because it doesn’t have the feel of a big city unless you’re in the heart of downtown. It is spread out among many independent neighborhoods that are so separate they barely feel related at all. It’s a city without always feeling like you’re in the middle of a big city. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.
There’s so much natural beauty surrounding the city. There are the Cascade Mountains just south of downtown and on a nice day you can see Mount Rainier peeking through the fog. To the west is the Olympic Mountain Range, and not to mention all of the water! It can be easy sometimes to forget that the mountains and such gorgeous scenery surround you, but it really is a treat!
Our Favorite Places:
Lincoln Park - Make sure you go when its low tide to see all the buried mussels spitting water trying to clear their gullet
Golden Gardens- A popular sandy beach destination
Easy Street Café- Only here can you get great eats and your favorite tunes. Also really great for vegetarians!
Bakery Nouveau- Mouthwatering cases filled with pasteries, pizza by the slice and sandwiches. The cakes are devine!
Beveridge Place-Homey beer-focused watering hole. They don't serve food, but they do encourage you to bring your own or have some delivered from somewhere else! And you can bring your dogs inside with you
Antique Mall of West Seattle- More stuff than you could ever look at in a vist. Three floors of crap, but not crap.
Grand Central Bakery- Burien – definetly try the challah
Zippy’s Burgers- Local lunch spot. Giant burgers, great tater tots and the best black bean burger you'll ever find!
Other Helpful Resources:
-West Seattle Blog