Who Are New Seattle Residents? Quinn Thomas, DHM, and UW Did the Research

They’re creating new opportunities! They’re the cause of all this traffic! They’re all from California!

We’ve all heard the opinions about new residents to the Seattle area and the benefits and challenges they bring. But no one has yet taken up the challenge to dive in and learn more about them, their values, and their true impact on those already living in our region.

Are your values aligned more with Seattle’s new residents or those already here? Take the Quiz!

We wanted to learn more about this growing population, who they are, what they value about living in the Seattle region, why they moved here, their attitudes about the community, and how they consume news and information. So we conducted the first ever original research to help local leaders connect with new residents, while also maintaining their connection with long-term residents impacted by rapid change.

Click to read the report. Merge Ahead: Seattle’s new and long-term residents adapt to change

In 2017, Seattle was once again named the fastest-growing big city in America, with 1,000 new people moving here every week. It’s no wonder that Seattle has the most construction cranes in the country for the second year in a row. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This report peels back additional layers to build audience profiles of new and long-term residents, including the ways both populations are affected by regional growth, what they value about living in the Seattle area, how they consume local news and information, their level of community engagement, and their expectations from business and civic leaders. Here’s a look at what we found:

What to make of all this? You’ll have to read the report to find out (or at least the summary on page 6). But here’s a starting point:

Values and politics unite new and long-term residents – New Seattle-area residents choose to live here for the same reasons long-term residents do.

Age and attitudes on growth divide them –New Seattle residents are much younger than long-term Seattle residents. Age plays a big role in attitudes about issues.

The environment is something both new and long-term residents value deeply – If organizations are attempting to connect with these audiences, they should think through how to leverage the deep affinity new and long-term residents have for the natural beauty of the region.

Local marketing and communications are more important than ever – Our new and long-term residents may consume news at different rates, as is typical of young and older age cohorts. But new residents are still consuming news from a variety of different sources, even if it’s with less frequency.

Local news is still a powerful way to reach Seattle residents – Consumption of news and information is significantly determined by age, and the age difference between our new and long-term Seattle residents shows up in how they access news and information.

Brands can lean into growth and change – Despite the popular narrative that long-term residents are opposed to the region’s growth, they are not. In fact, a small majority believes growth is good.

Transit is a winning issue – Both new and long-term residents believe the Seattle region is way behind in building transit infrastructure to meet the needs of a “world class” metropolitan area. Our audiences equate quality of life with the ability to move in and out of the city, and transit is what they say is missing.

Melt the freeze – Employers would be wise to bridge the clear gap new residents feel between liking where they live and feeling welcome in their community.

Converting new residents to long-term residents – New residents, by definition, are mobile. Our research indicates that 48 percent of them are likely to move out of the region in the next 5 years. What is it going to take to reduce that number?

Entice talent with uniquely Seattle amenities – The Seattle area is growing, but employers here still must compete nationally to attract the best talent.

This is Quinn Thomas’ third Insights Report, which was conducted in partnership with DHM Research and the University of Washington Continuum College. This research series is intended to provide business leaders, elected officials, non-profits, and communications professionals with insights that can be used to navigate emerging challenges in shaping public opinion.


Seattle Times: Seattle’s newcomers vs. longtime residents: At least we both like the Seahawks

Q13: New Survey highlights the reason thousands are relocating to Seattle

KIRO 7: New Seattle v. Long-Term Residents

KOMO: Seattle’s New Arrivals — who are they?

KNKX:  New Seattleites: We Didn’t Move Here Just For Work