What isn’t so cool about Seattle is that it’s not always safe. Some of its areas are pretty rampant with crime and get a lot more dangerous after dark, and it experiences a growing homeless population.
To help you with getting around this northwestern city like a pro we have created this epic insider’s guide to staying safe in Seattle. We’re all about smart travel, which isn’t just about knowing how to avoid pickpockets and petty crime, but also about picking the right sort of accommodation if you’re travelling as a solo female traveller, or coming to the right time of the year.
Whether you’ll be reading our in-depth guide from start to finish, or if you’re just looking for a few tips for your next backpacking adventure to Seattle, you’re going to find all the information and tips you need to help your adventure to this city go super smoothly!
Table of Contents
- How Safe is Seattle? (Our take)
- Is Seattle Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- Is it Safe to Visit Seattle Right Now?
- Seattle Travel Insurance
- 18 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Seattle
- Keeping your money safe in Seattle
- Is Seattle safe to travel alone?
- Is Seattle safe for solo female travellers?
- Is Seattle safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in Seattle?
- Is Uber safe in Seattle?
- Are taxis safe in Seattle?
- Is public transportation in Seattle safe?
- Is the food in Seattle safe?
- Can you drink the water in Seattle?
- Is Seattle safe to live?
- How is healthcare in Seattle?
- Final thoughts on the safety of Seattle
How Safe is Seattle? (Our take)
Seattle is a very cool backpacking destination. It’s chilled, it’s diverse, it’s pretty liberal – all good things when it comes to a pretty open-minded city to explore and discover.
It’s not without its issues though…
There’s a sizeable homeless population in Seattle, which isn’t great whatever way you look at it. Panhandlers, as they’re known, live in large communities and can get a little aggressive.
Overall, however, Seattle has a pretty low crime rate. The normal stuff applies for cities though: after dark, you probably shouldn’t go wandering around by yourself. Especially not in quiet and/or poorly lit areas.
Basically, we’re going to say Seattle is pretty safe – much safer, in fact, compared to other US cities. But don’t just take our word for it; let’s get into the cold, hard facts.
Is Seattle Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
Known as the “Emerald City”, Seattle is the most populous city in Washington state. Only 725,000 people live here though, which puts it at medium-sized city level.
It’s pretty compact and is made up of various neighbourhoods, most if not all home to distinct cultures; for example there’s a Chinatown here, a Little Saigon, and a significant population of Japanese Americans, too. Though multiethnic, the population of Seattle, on the whole, is predominantly European.
Statistics show that, so far in 2019, there have been 12,439 crimes – of all kinds. This is not so bad at all, compared with other major American cities. That’s considering that the USA as a country is rated 121st on the Global Peace Index (which lists 163 countries), just above Myanmar (122nd).
Don’t worry though: it’s safe to visit Seattle.
It’s a pretty popular tourist hotspot. Whether they’re here to see the Space Needle or just because they used to watch Frasier, 39.9 million tourists made their way to Seattle in 2017 (up 2.6% on 2016).
Is it Safe to Visit Seattle Right Now?
With plenty to see and do in Seattle, which draws loads of tourists, it is less of an unsafe place and more the sort of place where, if you go looking for crime, you will find it.
A recent poll showed areas of the city in which Seattle residents don’t feel safe.
- The area surrounding Pike and Pine Streets are known for violent crime – especially at night time
- South of Dearborn Street, all the way to Yesler Way (near the I-5 and I-90 Interchange), is where you’ll find “The Jungle”; with its sizeable homeless camp, it’s not a nice place to find yourself at any time of the day.
- The area between Blanchard and Bell in Belltown is known for drugs, robbery, and assault
- The road that runs between Lake Washington and Puget Sound, on the I-5, has been the scene of homicides and robberies as well as assaults
- Then there’s the M L King Jr. Way all the way to the South Boeing Access Road, where you’ll find issues surrounding violent crime (high crime statistics)
But that shouldn’t scare you. This is where even residents themselves won’t be hanging out, so why would you? Just be aware that these issues do exist in Seattle and keep yourself well away from them. It goes without saying that you should steer clear even more (if possible) after dark.
Other than that, there’s nothing pressing about Seattle that’s going to keep you away from it currently. It gets pretty rainy, and pretty cloudy – and pretty windy, too – but nothing like a tropical storm or hurricane, so you’ll be fine!
Get insurance! Even if you are only going on a short trip, you should always travel with insurance. Have fun while visiting Seattle but take it from someone who has racked up thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.
As a wise man once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t be traveling – so be sure to get your backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure! We highly recommend World Nomads.
To find out why we recommend World Nomads, check out our World Nomads Insurance review.
If you want to shop around a little, then read up on competing travel insurance companies and what they can offer. There are lots of insurances out there, so don’t feel limited.
Seattle is one of the safest cities in the US. People here are pretty chilled (and reserved) but are, basically, friendly. There’s a cool alternative scene here, a huge LGBT community, and a lot of different races living together; 20% of Seattle’s population is foreign-born. When it comes to danger, parts of Downtown might be shady after dark, but there’s not too much to worry about. We’ve got a few tips…
- Don’t walk around with large sums of money – if someone sees a big wad of cash every time you pay for something, you’ll be more of a target.
- Photocopy your passport – and keep your passport safely locked away. It’s not worth the headache of losing that…
- Stay somewhere with secure, lockable doors – and always make sure you lock your door when you head out for the day.
- Don’t leave your bag(s) unattended anywhere – it could very easily go missing.
- Keep belongings close to you – around tourist sights and on public transport. Here’s where you’re most likely to encounter a pickpocket. Wear a money belt to hide your cash.
- Know about distraction techniques – overfriendly strangers, someone bumping into you, dropping something in front of you – often a precursor to petty crime.
- Be aware of your surroundings – be vigilant; know what’s going on around you; don’t be oblivious to shady characters.
- Walk with purpose – looking like a lost tourist is just going to make you stand out like a lost tourist – and an easy target.
- Ask for directions if you’re lost – but ask someone official: a police officer, a bus driver, someone like that.
- Careful when withdrawing money from ATMs – take note of who’s around you, who’s watching, and make sure the machine itself hasn’t been tampered with.
- Don’t look flashy – especially at tourist sights, it will attract the wrong sort of attention.
- Avoid giving money to panhandlers – It’s up to you, of course, but Seattle police advise against it. If someone gets aggressive or intimidating, cross the street, and find a police officer to report the incident.
- It’s legal to buy marijuana – from licensed places if you’re over 21. Know your limits though…
- And don’t drive when you’re high – it’s illegal and unsafe.
- Don’t take shortcuts at night – stick to well lit, busy streets, even if it’s longer to walk.
- Get yourself a sim card – you can get around without worry, find nearby food and drink, call people. All the benefits.
- Notify people if you head into the mountains – make sure you check in; don’t go off-grid.
- And be prepared – the landscape and weather can get pretty drastic out there.
So that’s it. Basically, it’s all about using your common sense when travelling. Not walking around with loads of money, not looking like you’re the richest person on earth, generally keeping track of your surroundings and not taking risks with your safety are all things you should be doing in Seattle. It’s the sort of place where, most likely, YOU will be the one to put yourself in danger – travel smart and you’ll be fine!
Keeping your money safe in Seattle
One thing that’s pretty much guaranteed to suck is losing your money. Trust us, it’s not fun. Losing a wallet or something means all sorts of headaches, calling banks, getting new cards, and not having any money!
So if you find yourself on the receiving end of a pickpocket or some other petty thief in Seattle, and you actually get your pockets picked, it’s bound to put a dampener (if not worse) on your trip. We’ve got a simple solution though…
This thing is all about simplicity: it looks like a normal belt and just has this one simple zip pocket. Affordable, functional, sturdy. What’s not to like?
The number one way to keep your money safe in Seattle (or anywhere for that matter) is to make sure that your pockets don’t have anything in them, to begin with. You could be the most careful traveller in the world, but sometimes you can’t help being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or letting your guard down – so wear a money belt! You can check out our Active Roots Security Belt in-depth review here.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
We’re definitely all for travelling by yourself. There are the obvious things, like getting to see the world by yourself at your own pace (for you, basically), but then there’s other stuff – like having to do everything by yourself, challenging yourself, overcoming obstacles and so on.
It’s pretty much a great way to travel. Of course, it’s not always awesome, though. For example, cities like Seattle can get pretty lonely by yourself and can be overwhelming if you’re not used to cities. But we’re here to help with a few cherry-picked tips for solo travel in Seattle!
- A good place to stay is where you should start. Choose somewhere that will suit you, in a decent, non-sketchy area that’s close to stuff you want to see and do. It goes without saying that you should read reviews to find somewhere that other solo travellers have recommended.
- Seattle has its fair share of good social hostels. These are, obviously, somewhere you can get to know other travellers who are doing what you’re doing. A much better option for a solo traveller than an Airbnb. Talking to people and having actual human interaction is something that will help keep you grounded and alleviate the ‘solo travel blues’.
- Know what “Seattle freeze” is. It’s a reputation for Seattle residents not being very open or friendly to strangers. Don’t let that put you off though. People are welcoming and kind and won’t hesitate to help you out. That said, you may have to initiate the contact, so get your best conversation starters ready!
- Get yourself booked on a tour. A walking tour, a food tour, a day trip to somewhere like Rainier. The likelihood is you’ll meet some people, if not for the day, then maybe even a new mate.
- Walk around the city! Seattle is a super walkable city – being by yourself shouldn’t put you off having a stroll. You can walk along the waterfront, Green Lake in the north of Seattle, or even Broadway up on Capitol Hill – which is where you’ll find the LGBT community. Basically, it’s all fair game; just heighten your awareness after dark.
- Don’t ghost your friends and family. Tell them if you’re going out for dinner, or if you’re on a day trip, update them about the hostel you’re staying in, what you’ve seen – anything! It’s nice, keeps you sane, and safe too.
- Keep an eye on your money and bank cards. You may want to stash them in different places. Trust us: having everything in one bag is a nightmare if that bag goes missing. So spread it around. And consider getting yourself an emergency credit card, just in case, you know.
- Don’t pack too much. Since it’s a city, one bag will probably do you fine anyway. Having loads of stuff is not a good look in a city – plus you end up feeling pretty out of place lugging a load of baggage around when no one else is. Heavy luggage is also not recommended.
- Ask at the reception of where you’re staying for advice on the local area. A cool bar to have a few drinks at, a restaurant recommendation, or just a hidden gem of sight that they might know of. It’s here you’re going to find actual, interesting, cool stuff that probably won’t be in your guide book.
So there you have it. Some pretty simple tips and information to keep in mind if you’re planning on a solo travel trip to Seattle. We think that choosing a top place to stay is important – if where you’re staying isn’t so good, you won’t have your own comfy space to return to after a day of pavement pounding. Ensure your bed for the night is in a cool hostel, guesthouse or hotel that suits your way of travelling and the rest will follow!
Is Seattle safe for solo female travellers?
Seattle is a cool place for solo female travellers to visit. It’s a big city with a ton of stuff to see and do. Then again, it’s a big city. That means it’s not only got all the benefits of a big city but the hazards and outright dangers that come with it, especially for lone travellers.
Most of the time though, that’s at night. And if you’re used to a city any way you’ll have your own safety routine down to a T anyway. Even so, we’ve got together a handy list of our top tips for solo female travellers in Seattle to help you stay safe and have an awesome time!
- Before you travel, make a few contacts. Get online and ask for some advice. We’d recommend a Facebook like Girls Love Travel. Even hitting up hashtags like #girlsabroad on Instagram will uncover some cool lady travellers who will more than likely respond positively to a DM. Go for it!
- Make sure the accommodation you’re booking comes highly reviewed by other solo female travellers. If other people like you like it and felt safe and secure there, chances are you’ll like it there, too – and feel safe and secure, as well. Doing your research is a big part of choosing somewhere to stay; don’t just book the cheapest option.
- As a woman in Seattle, it’s pretty easy to blend into the background. It’s a big, modern city, obviously. We would say, however, to avoid looking like a traveller. Avoid hiking shoes, Day-Glo daypack, windproof raincoat, you’ll just look out of place. Try and look like you belong in the city and you’ll end up having a more comfortable time in Seattle.
- As a woman, Seattle’s large homeless population may worry you. And we get it. You’ll most likely see people begging, and the tents that house the cities homeless dotted around. It can be daunting. Know that it’s ok to say no. If someone turns nasty, cross the street, go into a shop, tell somebody (even a police officer) if you’re really freaked out about it.
- Take extra caution after dark. When everyone goes home after the business day (and happy hour) is done, the Downtown area actually gets pretty quiet. It seems everyone clears out. You may want to take extra caution wandering around here after dark, though we’d say it’s best avoided if you’re by yourself as a woman.
- Don’t be afraid to go out by yourself. Somewhere like a sushi restaurant would be good for that since you can just take up a single seat at the bar. You could easily strike up a conversation with someone – if you want to, that is. It’s fine to eat alone!
- You don’t have to tell people everything about yourself. If someone’s asking too much, don’t tell them. A complete stranger does not need to know your full name, where you’re from, where you’re staying, or even what your travel plans are.
- Trust your gut. If a situation feels a little bit like it’s getting weird, then it most likely is. And if a person seems like a bit of a weirdo and you don’t like it, then trust your gut and remove yourself from their company. It’s better safe and possibly impolite, than sorry.
- Be careful if you’re going out hiking. Not in the city, obviously, but in one of the National Parks like Rainier for example. You can’t always get good phone service and things can go wrong. Inform people that you’re going, be prepared, or – if in doubt – take a guided tour. You’ll learn more that way, anyway.
Like we’ve said already, Seattle is actually a pretty safe city. As a solo female traveller, you’re going to feel secure in this city. In fact, it’s a GREAT place to go by yourself. For one thing, there’s an amazing food scene to get involved with. That’s reason enough to go to Seattle!
It’s a comfortable place to walk around by yourself – yes, even as a solo female traveller, it’s fine to wander the streets by yourself, checking out the sights and seeing what the city has to offer. Hang out in a coffee shop, go to the cinema by yourself, literally there’s loads to do.
There’s also plenty of opportunities to meet other travellers, too. Head online or stay in a social hostel for that! And whilst there are a few things that may worry you as a woman about visiting Seattle, just keep our tips in mind and you’re bound to have a blast here!
Is Seattle safe to travel for families?
Of course, Seattle is a safe place to travel for families. In fact, it’s a great place to go with children in tow.
There’s a cool waterfront area to run around, fun boat trips to take, an interesting aquarium, and even a cool music scene, plus some baseball and American football, to take older children to. There’s a ton of stuff to do here and to add to your Seattle itinerary!
Obviously, Seattle might not be your first thought for a family destination (it’s no Disneyland), that doesn’t mean there are not opportunities to enjoy yourselves in the city.
Hit up Discovery Park with its nature walks and environmental learning centre. You could take a Seattle Kids Tour around the city, or go check out Seattle’s sandy beach at Alki Beach Park.
When it comes to accommodation, you’ll be spoilt for choice. It’s a big city and there a ton of options. For budget-minded travellers, you’re in luck: children stay for free in family rooms! They often get free meals at the hotel, too, which is pretty cool.
We’d say avoid staying in the downtown area however, as a lot of the hotels here are not so family-friendly and geared towards those on business.
Food shouldn’t be an issue (like, at all) in Seattle. A lot of the bigger, maybe chain restaurants are child-friendly, plus a lot of places down at the waterfront will have children’s menus, too. Keep in mind: some bars and pubs have “no minors” policy, whilst other establishments have a “no kids” policy after 10 PM.
The best time to travel to Seattle with your family is probably around September to October. The summer is the high season in the city, which means hotel rooms will be booked up; the winter is pretty cold. Autumn is the best time – the weather is still decent, the streets are less full of tourists, attractions have fewer rooms and you’ll actually be able to get a room at a hotel.
Basically, Seattle is safe to travel with children in tow. 100%.
Is it safe to drive in Seattle?
Like with most cities in developed countries, it’s safe to drive in Seattle, but why would you?
There’s some pretty heavy traffic going on here for such a small city. Parking, as you might imagine, can be a real headache as well.
You will also have to contend with a confusing mix of grid-system, hills and one-way streets that can make navigating your way around Seattle frustrating, to say the least; especially around Downtown.
That said, the best way to get to see what’s on offer in the area around Seattle is by car.
Getting out of the city (and back in) should be done outside of rush hour since this is obviously when the traffic is going to be at its worst. You should plan your route when you’re out in the surrounding area.
Day trips by car from Seattle are, we’re going to be honest, very cool. You get some picturesque drives: spectacular lakes, cute towns, winding forest roads… This will all be your scenery.
If you do choose to hire a car in Seattle, you should make sure it’s up to scratch – especially for mountain driving. You should probably avoid driving after dark as, especially on country roads, you won’t know where you’re going and night driving isn’t even that fun at the best of times, anyway – let alone in a country you don’t know along unfamiliar roads. Make sure you also purchase solid rental car insurance before you pick you your car!
When you’re back in the city, there are a few safety concerns. Make sure your doors are locked and your windows are up when you come to a stop at traffic lights; opportunist thieves will spot an opportunity a mile away. When you park leave nothing on show, as it will more than likely get taken – even if you’re just stopping for a few minutes.
We wouldn’t recommend driving in Seattle itself; though it’s safe to drive in Seattle, the traffic and parking just make it kind of not worth it. Then again, if you’re planning on renting your own wheels to drive around the surrounding and quite stunning nature that’s on offer just on the doorstep of the city, then go for it!
Is Uber safe in Seattle?
Yes, Uber is safe in Seattle.
In fact, you have a choice: Uber or Lyft. You should have no problems at all, with either.
It’s generally cheaper to get one of these than a taxi (except during surge times) and you also won’t have to worry about tipping. Wait time for your Uber/Lyft to actually arrive is between around 8 to 15 minutes, so you’ll never have to wait for ages for your ride.
You can’t get Uber from the airport, but you can get UberBlack, which is cheaper than a cab.
Are taxis safe in Seattle?
Taxis in Seattle are, aside from Uber, the best way to get around quickly without too much hassle.
The drivers have in-depth knowledge about the city, including the best routes to take when the traffic is bad, how to navigate all those one way systems. So if you don’t really want to drive, but you prefer to get around by car, getting a taxi is a good option.
You can hail a taxi on the street, but it can be a little tricky sometimes, mainly if there aren’t any going by where you are. The best bet? Call one.
All taxis in Seattle have the same rates, which are set by the county. But one good company to use is Seattle Yellow Cab. Yes, the cars are bright yellow. The company is in operation round the clock, 24 hours a day, and some of their cabs can even take up to 10 people, which is great if you’re in a big group.
The Downtown area has a whole load of different companies operating, including Farwest Taxi and Orange Cab.
If you’re unsure about getting a taxi, you should ask at your hostel, hotel or guesthouse for a recommended company you should use. You could even ask them to call your cab for you if you wanted.
In short, the taxis in Seattle are safe. You’re going to have no trouble with scams or being shortchanged, or anything like that. The only thing is being able to find one when you want one.
Is public transportation in Seattle safe?
If you don’t want a taxi, there is a selection of comprehensive public transport options to try out, most of which are safe and stress-free. On certain parts of this system, however, you will have to watch out for pickpockets – and shady characters – at night time.
However, that’s pretty much the norm when it comes to using public transport, in any city, late at night.
First of all, let’s take a look at Seattle’s buses. This comprises a county-run service that has a flat rate across the city; there is a peak and an off-peak price. To pay, you will need exact change or get yourself an ORCA Card.
Most buses will also let you take your bicycle aboard (there’s room for 2-3 bikes), which is handy.
Be careful not to miss your bus at night: they stop running at 1:30 AM and don’t start again till 5:00 AM.
Then there’s light rail. The light rail system in Seattle runs from the airport all the way to Seattle University, with stops also in the Downtown area and other busy neighbourhoods.
There are only 15 stations, but it’s still a decent system, although there are plans to extend the lines by 2021. Plus it’s affordable too, you don’t have to worry about traffic, and it runs from 5 AM to 12:30 AM.
Then there’s the really exciting one: the Seattle streetcar. This was a historic way to get around, but it went away only to come back in a revived form in 2017. It’s got two lines, with more planned for the future. It runs from 6:00 AM to either 11:30 PM or 1:30 AM. The streetcar stops every 15 minutes, making it pretty convenient.
Then, there’s the iconic Seattle monorail. If you like monorails, it’s a fun way to get around. It dates back to 1962 and runs from the Seattle Center to Westlake Center Mall. It’s just a mile-long but still, a pretty quirky way to get from A to B.
Ferries play a part in Seattle’s public transport scene, too. You can catch these to the various islands and outlying communities of Seattle; you can even take a car on some of them.
Finally, there’s the train. The regular old train provides a commuter service that runs north and south of the city. The trains are clean, convenient, and pretty safe to use.
Basically, all of the public transport in Seattle is safe. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is being on alert late at night, when you may have weirdos riding the light rail with you.
Is the food in Seattle safe?
Seattle is known as a top destination for foodies and it’s not hard to see why. Its location close to lots of freshwater lakes and rivers, as well as the sea, means you get a ton of fresh fish and seafood going on here. And that’s not even mentioning the Asian influence here.
There’s some very authentic food to be had here, from Japanese to Vietnamese and much more besides. Let us also not forget that Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks: coffee is king here. So to help you traverse the food and drink landscape of Seattle, here are a few tips…
- If you’re travelling on a budget head to one of Seattle’s many bakeries. Pair with a take-out coffee and enjoy the coupling in a nearby park. This is an easy (and very tasty) breakfast option.
- For more bargain advice, we’d say head to somewhere Italian for a lunch deal. Not only is the Italian American food here very tasty, but it’s also affordable. You could truly get your fill with a pasta bowl for under $10, or otherwise eat cheaply with a salami sandwich.
- Eating your way around Seattle doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, a lot of the time, getting to grips with the culinary landscape of the city can be done very cheaply. Enjoy a pretzel streetside and fill up on all sorts of snacks from all over the world as you see the sights.
- Don’t be afraid to try Chinese food in Seattle – it’s amazing. You won’t have to worry about food hygiene at all because a) it’s a developed city with rules and regulations and b) Chinese food is often cooked hot and fast, which is good for you. Find a good one and go for it.
- Be aware that portion sizes can be huge. If you’re travelling as a couple (or more) you can order just one dish, and maybe a side salad, to share. Easy – and cheap.
- Don’t get stuck in tourist traps. These sorts of restaurants are to be found around the Space Needle and just won’t be offering up the same sort of quality that you’d find in, say, a normal restaurant not geared towards charging tourists over the odds what you can get a couple of blocks away for much cheaper.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed of just what you should be trying, book yourself onto a food tour. There are a whole lot of places to try out, so getting a tour around when you first arrive will put you in a better position to explore the food scene afterward.
- Wash your hands. Exploring a city all day, touching handrails, opening doors, your hands can get pretty grubby. Wash them before you eat and avoid you being the one who upsets your stomach.
Eat, drink and be merry: Seattle is pretty much a foodie’s dream. There’s not a lot to worry about in terms of getting ill from the food, or drink, in this city, so we’d say just enjoy it all. However: don’t go too crazy. Portions here are going to be way bigger than you’re used to!
Go easy on the food when you first arrive because you probably will want to eat everything. Be kind to your stomach, otherwise, it won’t be kind to you. Discover different street snacks, avoid gaudy tourist restaurants, explore different international cuisines – it’s awesome.
Can you drink the water in Seattle?
You can drink the water in Seattle!
It’s treated with chlorine and fluoride even though Seattle water almost exclusively comes directly from the Cedar River and South Fork Tolt River. But it’s pretty good!
If you’re in a house older than, say, 1910, lead pipes could slightly contaminate the water. Check with your accommodation and ask if the water’s potable. Chances are they’ll have a water filter anyway.
To conclude: the water is safe to drink in Seattle. You might want it filtered, but we don’t think it’s necessary. Bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up wherever you want. If you don’t have one, we’ve put together a list of the best travel water bottles to help you out.
Is Seattle safe to live?
We have mentioned it quite a lot already, but one thing you probably won’t have to worry about in Seattle is crime. This city has a pretty low crime rate and as a result, has a ton of safe neighbourhoods to choose from.
Some of the areas where you’ll be least likely to be involved in any crime include View Ridge, Green Lake, Puget Sound, as well as other places near the city’s beaches where you’ll even feel pretty safe walking around at night time.
You’re more likely to experience crime to do with property, rather than violent crime, in Seattle. Things like car break-ins are not uncommon. Residents of the city are often told to lock their car doors, keep valuables hidden and park in well-lit parking spots. However, cars even get broken into in broad daylight.
The homeless population, which we’ve already spoken about, and the panhandlers, are not altogether dangerous and will mainly leave you alone if you choose to live in Seattle.
Hassle can occur, but it’s not usual. However it is illegal, so you can choose to report to the police.
There’s also the “Seattle freeze” that we mentioned for solo travellers earlier. People may thaw to a traveller passing through, of course, but the “freeze” – apparent unfriendliness – is a thing and you’ll notice it if you live there. However, you’ll also notice that it stems from people just getting on with their lives. Make friends with people, and they’ll be as friendly as anybody else.
The city itself is a very liberal city. It has the 6th largest LGBT community in the US. A lot of activists, of all kinds, are based here, as is a form of progressive, socialist politics. Not only that, but there is a whole ton of incredible scenery you can drive to from the city if you’ve had enough of skyscrapers for the day: the sea, the desert, the mountains.
To summarise there’s a pretty low crime rate, some quirky locals, some amazing food, a great location for getting out into nature. Not only is Seattle a safe place to live, but it’s also a pretty awesome place to base yourself, too!
How is healthcare in Seattle?
Healthcare in Seattle, like many big cities in the US, is pretty top-notch.
For example, the University of Washington Hospital is literally one of the best institutions for medical research in the country.
There are a ton of medical centres you can rely on in the event of an emergency. Harborview Medical Centre, for example, is the public county hospital for emergencies. Three of Seattle’s big medical centres are located on First Hill in town (leading to the nickname “Pill Hill”).
If you just need to see a doctor, and you’re on a trip to Seattle, no problem: go to a walk-in clinic or an urgent care clinic. These are often open 7 days a week. You can ask at your hotel where the nearest one of these to you is. Upon arrival, check yourself in and wait – you’ll be seen in order of urgency.
Pharmacies, of course, can help you much more cheaply – these are often open 24 hours a day. Asking questions over the counter about a minor ailment is normal, though the pharmacist won’t be able to prescribe you any medicine. They can offer advice, however.
Healthcare in Seattle is basically very good, world-class stuff. However, it comes at a price. American healthcare is exclusively private and isn’t cheap, either. You will definitely need travel insurance for Seattle. And check that fine print: sometimes private healthcare isn’t covered; make sure it is!
Final thoughts on the safety of Seattle
The United States may not exactly be up there when you think of safety (it ranks pretty low on the Global Peace Index, right?) but some of its cities are definitely safer than others. Seattle is one of the safer of America’s larger cities. It’s a pretty walkable place where you’re not likely to encounter a high level of violent or even petty crime. However, that sort of statement always needs to come with a “but”…
Which is that crime can happen anywhere. Seattle can get a fair few pickpockets and strange individuals on public transport, and travelling around late at night can be a good way to attract the attention of oddballs and potentially dangerous characters. There’s also its big homeless community. The best way to avoid all of this stuff is to go nowhere near “The Jungle” and avoid travelling late at night.
That’s the main thing about Seattle. Danger, or more to the point petty crime, is only likely to come to you if you choose to put yourself in a more risky situation. After dark = sketchy. Homeless areas = sketchy. Busy tourist areas = maybe pickpockets. Be smart with how you travel around. Keep our safety guide for Seattle in mind, be aware of things that can happen, and most likely you’ll be 100% fine!
That said… Travel insurance is necessary, so definitely get some.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.