Taking a travel nurse assignment in Seattle is one of the best things you can do as a traveling healthcare professional. The travel community in Seattle is incredible, there are plenty of hospitals in the area that regularly hire travel nurses, the pay is high and the patient ratios are low, plus there’s so much to see and do in the area.
I was lucky enough to spend over a year (on and off) in the city getting to explore the major tourist attractions as well as off-the-beaten path attractions. Below you’ll find everything that you need to know to have a successful assignment in Seattle allowing you to acclimate quickly and see the best that the city has to offer.
Everything You Need to Know About Being a Travel Nurse in Seattle
Best Time to Be a Travel Nurse in Seattle
Located in the Pacific Northwest, this area of America is known for having long and rainy winters. While temperatures are mild all year round, never getting too hot or too cold, in my opinion the best time to sign a travel nurse contract is in the summer months from July-September. This is the “sunny” time of the year while October-June sees more consistent rainfall and cloudy days.
If you do sign a contract in the winter months, there’s still tons of things to see and do. Read this guide for how to spend a rainy day in Seattle.
Where to Live in Seattle
One of the most stressful things about being a travel nurse is figuring out where to live. Luckily, Seattle sees tons of travel nurses and therefore offers tons of housing options. I’ve seen prices range from affordable to exorbitant with everything in-between.
Below you’ll find a list of the best resources to choose from when searching for housing in Seattle as a travel nurse…
- Airbnb – There are tons of options on Airbnb when searching for housing. Keep in mind that prices can sometimes seem outrageous and this is because people that are placing their homes on Airbnb aren’t choosing the “extended stay” option which would give you a discount. If you find a place you like, message the host explaining your situation and see if they can offer an extended-stay discount.
- Facebook – I particularly like to utilize the “Seattle Travel Nurses” Facebook group to find housing in the area.
- Furnished Finder – Like Airbnb, Furnished Finder also has more affordable, fully-furnished housing options that are targeted towards traveling healthcare professionals.
- Motif Seattle – Motif Seattle is a hotel in downtown Seattle, specifically designed to attract traveling healthcare professionals working in Seattle. They offer an extended-stay program for travel nurses that comes with many perks like tax-exemption after 30-nights, a weekly cleaning service, 24/7 gym access, and more. Not to mention the hotel is within walking distance from major attractions like Pike Place Market and only 10-minutes from major hospitals in the city like Harborview, Swedish First Hill, Virgina Mason, and UW Medicine. If you’re interested in renting a room at Motif Seattle, contact the team here.
For a more comprehensive guide on how to find housing as a travel nurse, read Resources for Finding Housing As a Travel Nurse
WHERE TO LIVE
There are at least 28 neighborhoods to choose from in Seattle. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing where to live is whether or not you’ll have a car with you. If you have a car, your options are limitless! Just make sure to tell your host that you’re bringing a car so that you can gauge how parking is and if there’s a parking fee that you’ll need to pay.
If you’re coming to Seattle without a car, that’s okay too! The city is very walkable and there’s a train that can take you most places. I suggest choosing housing that is close to a bus stop or the Link light rail system.
The neighborhoods in Seattle that I recommend living in are…
- With a car – Ballard, Fremont, Queen Anne, West Seattle
- (Please note, the main bridge connecting West Seattle to the rest of Seattle is currently under construction as of 2022. Driving into the city can take longer because of this reason).
- Without a car – Belltown, Capitol Hill, Downtown, Pioneer Square
COST OF LIVING
According to Business Insider, compared to the national average, it is 11.8% times more expensive to live in Seattle. Perhaps this is thanks to Amazon and Microsoft and the big tech companies who are moving to the city? Or maybe it’s just that people are starting to figure out what makes Seattle so exciting and adventurous in the first place!
What You Need to Know About Transportation in Seattle
Seattle is a city that is easily accessible on foot, bike, train, or by car. Being a busy city, driving can be stressful and parking can be difficult so I suggest walking, biking, or taking the train when able.
TRANSPORTATION APPS TO DOWNLOAD
Before arriving to Seattle, I suggest downloading these apps so that you can easily get around the city…
- LimeBike – Biking app
- Lyft – For ride share purposes
- Transit GO Ticket – To purchase train tickets from your phone
- Uber – For ride share purposes and also to use the JUMP bikes in the city
LINK LIGHT RAIL
If you have further distances to travel or the weather isn’t suitable for being outside, an affordable option is to take the Link light rail that currently services Seattle north to south (and vice versa). The city is currently working on extending the Light rail to go further north to the suburbs and out to the Bellevue area, but the construction isn’t done yet.
Right now, the Light rail goes from Angle Lake to the University of Washington. Prices vary depending on where you get on and off the train but typically range around $2-$3 for a one-way ticket. The downside to the light rail is that it doesn’t go east and west. Therefore neighborhoods like Queen Anne, Fremont, and Ballard are all missed. If your main choice for transportation is the Link you can purchase an ORCA card and place a balance on it so that you don’t have to purchase a ticket each time you enter the light rail station. If you get an ORCA card make sure that you scan in AND out each time you enter and exit. This tracks how much money to charge you and if you don’t scan out then you’ll be charged the maximum amount. It’s important to always scan your ORCA card or purchase a ticket because there are fare enforcement officers on the trains at unpredictable times. Also, don’t forget to ask your hospital if there is a discount for an ORCA card for being a nurse.
Instead of an ORCA card, you can also download the Transit GO Ticket app to purchase tickets from your phone.
Hospitals in Seattle
There are tons of hospitals serving Seattle and the surrounding areas. The good news is because of the laws put in place to protect nurses and have mandatory safe staffing rations, plus with a few hospitals in Seattle being a part of a union, there will always be a need for travel nurses. And while Washington is currently trying to join the NLC, they aren’t a compact state yet so you’ll need to apply for a separate WA nursing license.
My experience: I worked at two different hospitals in Seattle, Swedish First Hill and Seattle Children’s Hospital. If you work at Swedish First Hill the closest light rail stop is the Capitol Hill station, which is 15-minutes away from the hospital on foot. If you have a car and you want to park in the parking garage on campus, the fee is $15/day or $5/night. The garage is located just steps away from the hospital. If you work at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the closest light rail stop is the University of Washington station, which is 1.5-miles away from the hospital. During the week the hospital provides a free shuttle – the Gold Line – which takes nurses from the UW station to the hospital and vice versa. There are also employee parking areas off-site that the Gold Line bus picks nurses up at. And on the weekends you can park in the hospital parking lot for a small price.
How to Spend an Assignment in Seattle
Whenever I arrive at a new destination, I sometimes feel completely overwhelmed by the number of things to see and do. I think to myself, how in the world do I accomplish all that I want to accomplish without wasting any time in 13 VERY short weeks? Because I was able to stay for over a year, I have compiled a comprehensive list of the best things to see and do in Seattle, where to eat, drink, and more so that you can thoroughly enjoy your time as a traveler.
Things to See and Do in Seattle
DAY TRIPS/WEEKEND TRIPS
I think that one of the greatest things about living in Seattle is the amount of things to do nearby. Within a few short hours drive, you’re in a new place, experiencing the best that the PNW has to offer. You can make these quick and easy day trips, going hiking and exploring the great outdoors. Or travel a bit further to spend a weekend in Oregon, or a more remote area of Washington.
Read more: 6 Day Trips and Weekend Getaways from Seattle
EXPLORING THE NEIGHBORHOODS
Seattle has such unique neighborhoods, each one feeling different than the last. Some of my favorite neighborhoods to hang out in are Ballard, Fremont, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, West Seattle, and Downtown.
Read about my favorite neighborhoods in Seattle:
An assignment in Seattle wouldn’t be complete without exploring the outdoors a bit. There are tons of great hikes near Seattle, and even better ones that are less crowded the further you get from the city. There’s nothing like waking up early, completely a long (but beautiful) hike, before returning to the city in the early afternoon to brewery hop or go wine tasting.
Read about the Best Hiking Trails Near Seattle and start planning your outdoor adventures!
GO WINE TASTING IN SODO
Located south of downtown (SODO), you’ll find an industrial type complex of wine tastings known as the SODO Urbanworks. At the time of writing, the SODO Urbanworks is occupied by 10 wine tasting rooms, one brewery, and one pizza restaurant. It’s unique in the way that it is located out of the Seattle tourist hot spots, and you can still escape to a type of “wine tasting region” within the city. (Make sure to visit Latta Wines while you’re there, it’s one of the best tasting rooms at Urbanworks).
PIKE PLACE MARKET
Visit the oldest public farmers market in America – Pike Place Market. While brimming with tourists and quite overwhelming at times, this attraction is a must-do in the city. The good news is that since you’ll be around for 13-weeks you can explore it at little intervals throughout the weeks! There are tons of shops, restaurants, and bars in and around the market to be discovered! Before going, read my comprehensive guide – Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Pike Place Market.
RENT AN ELECTRIC BOAT
One of the most fun things to do in Seattle is to rent an electric boat on South Lake Union. The Electric Boat Company offers three different boat options that you can rent year-round. During the winter and when it’s raining the boats have plastic coverings that protect the inside. And during the summer the plastic coverings can be removed or rolled up to allow for nice weather and a breeze. There are different options for choosing a boat ranging from seating for 6-12 passengers. Amenities include heating, Bluetooth, and enough room if you want to bring your food and drink or you can have your event catered for an extra fee.
The Best Restaurants in Seattle
Seattle is one of my absolute favorite foodie cities. Fresh seafood and twists on simple dishes, the only thing for certain is that the chefs in Seattle sure know how to keep you on your toes! Whether it’s house-made strawberry dip n’ dots on raw oysters. Or fried oysters dunked in buffalo sauce and placed atop deviled eggs… there’s nothing this city won’t try. For a guide on eating and restaurants in Seattle, check out A Foodie’s Guide to Seattle; or if you have a sweet tooth – Seattle Sweets Tour.
Out of the many restaurants that I’ve been able to try in Seattle, there are only two I wouldn’t return to. Skip the French-Vietnamese fusion restaurant – Stateside and the seafood restaurant RockCreek. While neither were bad, they just weren’t exciting. There are too many exciting places to eat in Seattle to settle for subpar.
The Best Bars in Seattle
While Seattle lacks clubs, upscale bars, and fancy cocktail restaurants… what you can find in Seattle is fun dive bars, loads of great breweries, and even some pretty great wine bars. For a comprehensive list of bars to visit in Seattle, check out this post
When all is said and done there’s no way to accomplish everything there is to do in Seattle in such a short timeframe! With hiking to do, tourist stops to see, and restaurants and bars to explore… you could spend years in the city and only begin to peel back the layers. Luckily, travel nursing jobs are hot and pretty easy to come by in the area. My hope for you is that you will have endless opportunities to sign a travel nurse contract in this Seattle.
If you’re looking for other ideas of where to be a travel nurse, check out these posts:
The Ultimate Guide to Travel Nursing in Austin
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to Boston
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to Chicago
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to Omaha
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to San Francisco
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Guide to Santa Barbara
Do you prefer visuals over words? Head over to my Instagram page/highlight reel for a visual look at my time in Seattle! Make sure to search #ppinwashington or look for the highlight “Seattle Eats”, “Washington”, “Seattle Drinks”, or “Seattle, WA”
Hi. Is there a way to find a traveling nurse I met at Swedish Ballard during my child birth? I only know her name, and she was the most beautiful person I ever met in my life, and I want to be able to write to her and thank her. I was looking for her ever since, but have failed.
Will you be able to help me in finding her? I only know her name, but is there a directory or association I can write to and ask about her?
Hi Sruthy, unfortunately, I can’t be of any help. Maybe she will see this comment and respond :).
Hi Kylee. I have an upcoming assignment in Seattle at Harborview Hospital. Is that area a pretty safe place to stay nearby? I have visited Seattle a few times and didn’t feel too safe. Which areas would you recommend as being safe? Thanks in advance.
Hi Nikki! I’m sorry about your previous experiences in Seattle! I agree that there are some areas that aren’t the best, but I think that Fremont, Beacon Hill, Ballard, and Queen Anne are all pretty safe! There are also places in Capitol Hill that feel safe (like upper Capitol Hill), I hope you find something that you feel comfortable in!
Which NICU did you like better? Trying to decide between Swedish and Seattle.
Omgsh I love, love, loved Seattle Children’s. It was my all time favorite hospital 🙂