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What to Know When Moving to the Seattle-Tacoma Area

If you’re preparing to move to the Seattle-Tacoma area, keeping track of everything you must do during a move can be stressful. Fortunately, this blog aims to ease your mind and provide an easy reference list for things to know before and during your move.

You can treat this as a to-do checklist, so when you’re getting ready to move to the Seattle-Tacoma area, you can easily mark off everything you’ve done and stay on top of those necessary tasks.

The good news is, most of these can be completed online! Use the links below and get settled into your new neighborhood.

Change Your Address

After your move, you’ll want to get your mail forwarded to your new address and let several institutions know where they can contact you.

Start with the post office. The Change of Address Form can be filled out online and only takes a few minutes. Be sure to have the following handy as well:

  • Your old address
  • Your new address
  • When they should begin forwarding your mail

The United States Postal Service also has a full Movers FAQ to help navigate any additional questions, like moving a business to a household.

You’ll also need to notify the IRS of your new address since not all post offices will forward government checks. Try to do this early as a change with the IRS can take up to six weeks to be fully processed.

Also, let your bank, credit card companies, medical providers, and any other institutions send you mail to know that you have moved. This can help maintain security over sensitive personal information, as mail doesn’t always get forwarded correctly.

Related: The Importance Of A New Address

Get a Washington State Drivers License

When you become a Washington resident, you have 30 days to get a new driver’s license and register your vehicle. You can establish residency by:

  • Registering to vote
  • Use state benefits
  • Receive in-state tuition fees
  • Obtain a state fishing or hunting license

To apply for your Washington driver’s license, make an appointment with the Department of Licensing and bring your old ID for verification. You can apply for an enhanced ID, which requires more forms to verify your identity, which can be found here.

For your vehicle registration, your car has to meet a few standards. The state is stricter about vehicle emissions, so be aware of the different rules:

  • Vehicles 2009 and newer must meet California emissions standards
  • For cars less than 10 years old, you’ll need to submit an odometer disclosure statement
  • Recently purchased, out-of-state vehicles must show bill of sale at registration

If you’re a current state resident, you can use your online eXpress account to update your vehicle registration.

Related: How To Prepare Your Home For Buyers

Utilities in Seattle-Tacoma

We recommend that you start utilities in your new home the day before moving and stopping utilities in your prior residence the day after your move. That way, you’re not paying for services after you’re settled into your home.

Power Services

The good news is you have plenty of options across the Seattle-Tacoma area, including: 

If you’re looking to streamline your providers, Puget Sound Energy provides both electric and natural gas services.

Cable and Internet Providers

For your internet and cable needs, there are two main providers across the region:

If you’re looking for internet only, CenturyLink offers high-speed internet and fiber-based options.

Waste, Recycling and Water

Depending on which city you live in, different services are provided by each municipality.

Seattle collects food and yard waste for composting. Place leaves, lawn clippings and food scraps into the green bin for collection the same day as your regular pick up.

In the City of Tacoma, composting is placed into the brown bin for collection, while recycling is placed into the blue bin. 

The cities also manage water services for their residents. If you’re in the Seattle city limits, you can start or stop your water through this link. For Tacoma residents, manage your services here.

Related: Find A New Doctor or Dentist After A Long Distance Move

Schools Across the Seattle-Tacoma Area

Whether you need a school district for a younger child or are looking for colleges and trade schools, you have a few options to choose from.

Seattle School Districts:

  • Seattle Public Schools
  • Highline School District
  • Renton School District


Tacoma School Districts:

  • Tacoma School District
  • Franklin Pierce School District

Colleges and Trade Schools

  • University of Washington
  • South Seattle Community College
  • Seattle Central Community College
  • Bates Technical College

Seattle is known as one of the most educated cities in the United States, so you can rest assured that you’re getting a quality education in the area.

Related: Why Seattle is Losing Residents to Tacoma

Additional Tips

While the Seattle area is known for being rainy, the average rainfall is actually lower than Houston’s! A Seattle-Tacoma winter is mostly filled with grey, drizzle-filled days, but summer has high temperatures and low humidity for residents to enjoy.

The overall cost of living in the area is one of the highest in the nation due to high housing costs. Other utilities and necessities are comparable to the average across America.

Jobs in the Seattle-Tacoma area are booming. Between tech companies moving into the area and large retailers calling the city home, finding work at major corporations like Zulily, Starbucks or Nordstrom can be done.

Another major plus for the city is the public transportation that is widely available. Between busses, bike-sharing, streetcars and the light rail, the region is looking to cut down on emissions and traffic over the next 5-10 years.

Related: How to Safely Pack Up Your Home Before You Move

Moving to Seattle-Tacoma

When you’re looking for a mover to take you to your new residence in the Seattle-Tacoma area, choose a local moving company that is based in the city. Always be sure to vet your moving company and get three quotes from trusted companies.

Choose a mover that is fully licensed and insured, family-owned and operated, and has a long-standing reputation in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

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