What’s it like to move to Seattle from Kansas City after living here all of your life?
I recently had coffee with a friend who did just that. It was a big move for her, as she had never lived outside the Kansas City area.
It was fascinating to learn just how different things were in this west coastal community. Her initial concerns were rainy weather, cost of living and her ability to move her business.
After the spring we’ve had, she was happy to point out that it’s not as bad as you might expect. In fact, when people told her that we experienced a Seattle-rain spring here in Kansas City, she was quick to point out that even Seattle doesn’t get that much rain.
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The cost of living turned out to be a legitimate concern. The housing market is “especially crazy.”
“People are purchasing houses with cash for thousands of dollars over the asking price,” she said. “It’s extremely competitive right now.”
Transitioning her business turned out to be rather easy. But that’s due in large part because of Kansas City. All of her Kansas City clients have remained loyal and stayed with her though she’s halfway across the country.
Of course, with any move, unforeseen adjustments were necessary. That’s what I found most interesting.
Surely you’ve heard about the emphasis on recycling and conservation on the West Coast. But the level of this importance was a bit beyond expectations.
If you’re going to Target or the grocery, don’t forget your shopping bags. They don’t even have the little plastic bags that are ubiquitous in stores here. Annoyed glances from clerks or other shoppers after forgetting to bring your own shopping bag is the price you’ll have to pay, along with the cost of a paper bag.
In Overland Park, I try to remember to bring my reusable shopping bags with me, and my car is fully stocked with them. But when I forget to bring one in, the reaction from the checkout clerk is a smile and a friendly discussion about how new habits are hard to establish. And then, without adding any shame, my items are placed in 17 little plastic bags.
In Seattle, on nearly every kitchen counter sits some form of a composter. This cylindrical bucket is commonplace. When you are finished eating, all table scraps go in the receptacle. It’s just part of the norm.
This habit has become so deeply ingrained that during a recent visit back to Kansas City, my friend began looking for such a container after dinner. It seemed strange not to have a place to put food waste.
Everything that can be recycled is recycled. Everything. I took the following right off the Seattle resident recycling page: Keep Recycling Out of Garbage — Garbage containers that contain more than 10 percent of recyclables will not be emptied.
Haulers will leave instructions to remove recyclables before the following week’s collection. Carefully follow the instructions on the tag to avoid an extra garbage charge.
Free parking is something that we usually take for granted here. Seventeen dollars to park for a lunch meeting is not something we face every day.
And if you want to maximize your options parallel parking is a necessary skill. Is this a good time to mention tolls?
We don’t worry about that unless we’re headed to Lawrence, Topeka or Wichita. In Seattle, not only are the tolls high, they vary depending on time of day! Part of the reason for varying tolls is to help manage traffic, so you know that’s a problem, too.
But her biggest surprise by far was the difference in people. We always hear about how friendly we are in the Midwest, but I truly thought that was highly exaggerated. In my travels, there are many parts of the country that are even friendlier than Kansas City.
I recently traveled to Peachtree City, Ga., and every single person I met greeted me with a smile and a hearty “hello” or “good morning.” In fact on one walk I gathered up two hugs and a kiss on the cheek. (OK, that last part was from one elderly gentleman, but seriously, those folks are friendly!)
But according to my friend, her Midwestern hellos were met with West Coast stares that said, “Who are you, and why are you talking to me. I don’t know you!”
Welcome to the neighborhood.
So despite the adjustments and surprises in expectations, there is a lot to love about life beyond Kansas City.
“The scenery is beautiful — we go exploring every weekend, do lots of hiking,” my friend said. “Live the adventure life.”
She loves that they took the leap and are experiencing a change in perspective. And, more than ever, she appreciates the warmth and friendliness when she travels back to Kansas City.
Freelance columnist Lori Allen writes in this space once a month.