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Transplants' Impressions Of Seattle: Natural Splendor, 'Smugness,' And The 'Freeze'

"Seattle" by Tiffany Von Arnim is licensed under CC by 2.0.

An average of 236 people a day are moving to the Seattle region amidst a historic economic and population boom. That means thousands of people are getting an outsider's perspective on the city.

We asked a few relative newcomers about their first impressions of Seattle, for some insight into how the region looks to the rest of America.

They came from as far as North Carolina and as close by as Battle Ground, Wash., drawn here by college, spouses, jobs in tech, or dreams of breaking into the city's jazz scene. 

Many said they felt the chill of the famous "Seattle freeze," a (supposed) cultural aloofness that (allegedly) makes it difficult for transplants to forge meaningful relationships and break into established social circles.

They wondered why Seattleites don't invite friends into their homes, even after hanging out regularly for months, and marveled at what they saw as the troubling passivity of Seattle drivers.

Others said they sensed a singular "smugness" in the face of political views that fall outside the city's progressive mainstream.  

It was all a bit negative.

So we returned to South Lake Union to talk to some more transplants about what made them happy they moved here.

Seattle transplants Nisa Penland, Joey Hunter, and Alexandra Greenwald talk about some things they like about their new Northwest home.

They spoke about how Seattle had the best qualities of a small city and a metropolis, and how the Northwest landscape stays green even in winter, when their hometowns have turned dead and gray.

Then there was the city's location tucked between Puget Sound and the Cascades. Seattleites may take it for granted, but newcomers said the nearness of both the mountains and the ocean was a pleasant surprise. 

Will James is a former KNKX reporter and was part of the special projects team, reporting and producing podcasts such as Outsiders and The Walk Home.