How to find a roommate in Seattle, WA

Michael Boateng @GoodMigrations

With Seattle’s gorgeous mountains and lakes, a bustling tech scene, and abundant coffee culture, it’s easy to want to call this the Emerald city home. However, with housing prices around all major US cities rising it can be difficult to live on your own. According to Zillow, Seattle’s average $2,000 rental price for a 1 bedroom home, is above the national average of just $1,200. So it’s no surprise that this competitive market has left Seattleites now spending 35 percent of their annual household income on housing, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How does Seattle compare to other major cities?

London is 4% more expensive
New York is 24% more expensive
Los Angeles is about the same
Toronto is 15% cheaper
Sydney is 11% cheaper
Singapore is 7% cheaper
Paris is 11% cheaper

Source: Expatistan

For many expats, temporary furnished housing is a great option while you wait for your freight furniture and other household goods delivery to arrive. Nestpick is one online platform where you can search Seattle for furnished rentals.

But if paying the $2000 or more is not in your budget, then maybe it’s time to find a roommate. Whether moving to Seattle for work or school, a flatmate could be a great way to meet new people and save some money.

Finding someone that syncs up with your living style can be difficult and frustrating.  You have to ask the right questions: when’s the last time you washed a dish that wasn’t yours, how often do you bring partners over, how loud do you listen to your music, have you ever secretly hidden a cat inside your apartment and pretended the noise was coming from YouTube videos? The list goes on and on.

Once you’ve settled on the questions to ask. It’s time to start looking. But where? Where and how can you as an expat, find a flatmate share in a Seattle? Here are some great resources to check out.

Online resources for finding a flatmate:

  • Craigslist – Yes, it may seem creepy to some but with Craigslist’s new “Rooms Shared” sub-category it’s easier to focus on those who’ve put the time to post rooms they already have.
  • Roommates – Has a Seattle section as well.
  • Spareroom -Spareroom lets you search based on what’s important to you, to make sure you find your perfect match.
  • Facebook – With over 56K members, join the Seattle Housing Group’s page to search apartments and roommates.
  • Internations – A social media site for expats has a Seattle Housing forum. Check here to see if any other expats posted about needing a roommate. Alternatively, you can also post requesting a roommate if you already have a place or apartment.

Apps to help you find a roommate:

  • Roomi – Say goodbye to yearlong leases. Roomi helps you find flexible, affordable housing and connect with roommates who make the big city feel like home.
  • Roomster – A trusted name for people to post & and search for accommodations around the world with other like-minded individuals. Roomster connects people at all price points, in 192 countries.

Our Seattle City Guide is also a great resource for navigating the city. It’s got information on how to get around Seattle, navigating the education system, and basics like getting a phone or setting up a bank account. Most importantly, you can use the Seattle neighborhood guide to zero in on the neighborhoods that are a match for you.  will help summarize information about costs of living, the average annual weather, safety as well as go into detail about each neighborhood.

Before we go, here are some apps to make roommate life waaaaaay easier:

Money/Finances

  • Splitwise – Keep track of your shared expenses and balances with housemates, trips, groups, friends, and family.
  • IOU – IOU (I owe you) tracks people who owes you money. It’s simple and fast.
  • Venmo – Make payments, get payments, transfer money to your bank account and stay connected to friends.
  • Cash – Request money and make payments as easy as using cash.
  • Roof – Share a home pleasantly with your roommates. Collect rent and chat effortlessly with your tenants.

Shopping and Chores

  • Our Groceries – simplest way to keep your grocery lists instantly synchronized on all the smartphones in your household—and it’s free!
  • Wunderlist – custom lists and to do’s that can be shared with roommates or part of a group.
  • Handy – Instantly book highly rated pros for cleaning and handyman tasks at a fixed price.
  • ChoreBuster – The ultimate family chore chart, ChoreBuster lets you manage and assign chores to each roommate member of your family, for free!

Expats Guide to Healthcare in the U.S.

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

When it comes to health insurance, it can be a bit of bore, but the truth may lie in its lack of transparency and understanding by many. When you hear the terms co-pay, premiums and out-of-network it can make the head ring. As an Expat, it’s important to understand the system, the terminology and what’s offered as it will most likely be different than what you are used to.

Health Insurance- US-style may seem confusing and downright mind-numbing but that is no reason to avoid it. It may be tempting to skip out on Healthcare or think you’ll rely on your local provider from your previous country, but when it comes to healthcare in the US, it’s a must. After reading this guide, you’ll be ahead of the 4% of US citizens who understand their own health insurance system.

Healthcare insurance is what allows you to trust that whether rain or shine, flu or pneumonia, cut or injury, you’ll be able to get professional medical help at a reasonable price. Health insurance is what you pay into, either monthly or yearly so that you don’t get hit with high medical bills. Whether you have a planned visit or unexpected accidents, health insurance can enable you to save big money.

Understanding the US Healthcare System

In the United States, there is no National Health Care system like what is found in most European countries. Individuals residing in the US, whether a citizen or legal resident, pay into a private healthcare system. On the flip side residents without healthcare insurance will incur large medical bills when illness or injury comes up. These high medical costs are the biggest factor that contributes to the 62% of bankruptcy filed in the US, according to the American Journal of Medicine.

The government does, however, fund two programs, Medicare and Medicaid, but these are intended for the elderly (65+), the poor, and the disabled. The World Health Organization noted that in 2012 the US had spent 17% ($2.8 trillion dollars) of its GDP on health care – which is more than the United Kingdom and Northern Irelands GDP combined. And the worst part, Americans aren’t any better off or healthier for it.

Many Americans and working expats have their medical insurance subsidized by their employers. Even with this employer subsidy, not everything is covered, and every plan is different. The devil is in the detail so read and re-read your plan.

Since 2010, The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was passed in the US, which reformed the health care system by allowing millions of uninsured Americans to now legally have healthcare. Obamacare also influenced expats by not allowing insurers to deny patients with pre-existing conditions and allowing them to see the doctors of their choice. You do not need to be a US Citizen to purchase US health insurance, but you do need to be a lawful resident or a green cardholder.

Costs for Healthcare

Read more…

Healthcare

Celebrating Halloween in London as an Expat

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

Back in 2010 my husband and I left the concrete jungle of New York City to move to Sydney, Australia and test it out for a few years.

It was a great experience filled with so much. But it also gave us the opportunity to learn about a new culture and celebrate new holidays.  We always loved Australia Day and playing 2 Up. On the flip side, it was equally as exciting being able to share our own holidays and traditions with Aussie locals that might not be familiar with those of our own. I remember hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner where the majority of our guests were NOT from America. And it was a hit! I mean, how can you not love stuffing your face with tons of delicious food while enjoying time spent with friends?

As Halloween quickly approaches, you may be wondering where in London can I take my kids trick or treating? Keeping in mind that this is not a local holiday celebrated by all. In fact, the British hate Halloween apparently. A survey done way back in 2006 found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights and pretend not to be home on Halloween. Yet another reason the United States is happy to be free from British rule. smiley

Here are a few tricks and treats to celebrating Halloween as an expat in London. 

Read more…

Activities Expat Life

Cost of living around the world- what will $100 buy you?

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

When living or traveling overseas, it still always amazes me how much, or how little, your money will get you in another country. Knowing exchange rates is very important to every traveler’s experience. Being wise in money will ensure you are better prepared but also help ensure you will not be taken for a ride during purchases. A good place to start would be on the internet with a quick XE currency converter search before you depart.

When I visited the absolutely beautiful Philippines back in 2013, I was amazed at how far my money went. I felt like a queen when a wonderful dinner out was the cost of a sandwich back home. It was just the opposite when I visited London during the spring of 2014. Doing the exchange rate math in my head, I was pretty discouraged, as my US dollar didn’t go very far there.

$100 USD- GoodMigrations

So we thought it would be fun to show what $100 USD gets you in different countries and cities around the world. Pretty interesting!

What will $100 USD Get You Around the World

India

You can purchase a fancy dinner for two at an expensive restaurant with starters, mains, sides, dessert, and wine. You will probably even have money left over. A good example is a restaurant in New Delhi that my friends recently went to, Indian Accent. Check out the prices! $100 is 6000 rupees and that can get you a lot! If food isn’t your thing then you could afford one month’s rent or give the gift of education to a child for an entire year!

New York City

We all know the Big Apple is pretty pricey but you will be able to afford a taxi ride to and from JFK airport. Dinner, dessert and a drink for one person at a nice restaurant is also an option. Just be careful because tax and tip will sneak up on you when the bill comes.

Philippines

Amazing how $100 in the Philippines will get you food and electricity for 10 days. You can also take a boat tour to different islands for two people.

Oman

323 litres of petrol, 380 litres of bottled water, a speed boat for a morning of wild dolphin watching for two, or six days of food.

United Kingdom

Hungry? Go to Macca’s and you can buy 24 Big Macs (without fries and drink). That’s the best deal you are going to get because $100 USD won’t get you a hotel room but at least you can fill up your car’s tank of gas.

USA

The USA is a big place and depending on where you are you can get a lot or a little. How about 100 McDonald’s cheeseburgers, 6 drinks at the Four Seasons, 6 months of streaming from Netflix, a days rent in San Francisco, two bags of groceries at Wholefoods, or 8 adult tickets to the cinema?

Bulgaria

While this country is known for having amazing feta cheese, there are still lots of other things to be bought for $100 USD. You could get 50 liters of petrol, 15 Big Macs, 12 months of high-speed internet, or 15 adult tickets to the cinema.

Sydney

As beautiful as Sydney is, your money won’t go very far. You’ll get 5 adult tickets to the cinema, 1 Apple mouse, or 25 cups of coffee at a café. Been thinking about doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb? Think again! Depending on the time and day of the week you are not even halfway there.

Norway

10 beers at a local pub or 6 packets of cigarettes. Or maybe you prefer admission for 12 into the National Museum located in Oslo.

China

What can you buy in the most populated country in the world? How about web hosting for 1 year, 36 Big Mac’s or better yet get you and 61 of your friends’ admission into the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Indonesia

Amongst the beautiful islands there is much to see and do but did you know you and 4 friends could play detective for the afternoon at The Escape Hunt Experience for $100 USD? Maybe you prefer one month of food for one person or 215 litres of gasoline.

South Africa

Safaris, wild animals and vistas that go on for miles are among the many things to see and do in South Africa. Here are some other things to consider: a month of groceries, three tanks of petrol,  23 Big Mac meals or 6.5 cases of beer.

Brazil

It’s a big country so better start off right and fill your car with 64 litres of petrol. Walk the famous Ipanema Beach all day long because that is FREE!

United Arab Emirates

To quote my friend, “that’s about 367 AED and you could purchase one of the following: – unlimited booze brunch at a hotel – sand tour jeep safari for 2 people – one way taxi ride to Abu Dhabi – 3 spin classes at Fly Wheel – 2 Platinum movie tickets – moderate shopping as long as there are sales – a shit load of gas cus it’s dirt cheap over here.” Awesome! Thank you Jose.

Did we forget something? Send us a message so we can add it to our list.

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*NB: calculations are rough estimates based on the exchange rate at the time of publication.

Humorous Money

An Expats Guide to Getting Setup in The UK

Sharon  @GoodMigrations

When you’re heading to the Queen’s country you have to have your finances in order. This includes understanding how to establish and build credit as a new expat in the UK.

Your credit score is a statistical tool to predict the likelihood of you defaulting on your credit obligation. There are a dozen different credit scores built with algorithms to predict the likelihood of default on a particular type of credit (credit card, car loan, car lease, etcetera). The credit score is a tool to allow increased retail consumption.

Credit in the United Kingdom is handled by three agencies cleverly called Credit Referencing Agencies (CRA’s). TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are the three most commonly used. Experian and Equifax give you a credit score that can range between 300 to 850 and TransUnion gives a rating between 1-5, depending on their specific criteria and system tracking.

Credit Score Table for TransUnion, Equifax and Experian Read more…

Building Credit

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