Which Fans Have It Better, Boston or Seattle?


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Boston or Seattle: Which Fans Have it Better?

From the Seattle Seahawks’ astonishing fourth-quarter comeback, to the “Deflategate” scandal plaguing the New England Patriots, this year’s NFL playoffs have certainly been dramatic. The rivalry between Boston and Seattle has already started to heat up, perhaps most notably with a Twitter feud between Chris Pratt (aka Star-Lord from “Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Chris Evans (Captain America). Even Redfin real estate agents are getting into the spirit:

“Seattle is a beautiful city with water and mountain views, and our evergreen trees keep the air so fresh and pristine that none of our footballs ever deflate,” said Collin Horn, a Redfin agent in Seattle.

“Boston is where America began! Boston is the home of Paul Revere, the Boston Tea Party, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, The Kennedys and the bar from ‘Cheers,’” said Liane Parness, a Redfin agent in Boston. “We also have world-class universities and hospitals, prestigious museums, crazy drivers and lots of historic homes. To sum it up, Boston is Wicked Awesome and Boston Strong!”

But what is life like off of the field in these cities? We looked at Census data, information Redfin gets from the multiple listing services in each city and a few other sources to find out what it’s like to live in Boston or Seattle.

Getting More Home for Your Money: Seattle – 1, Boston – 0

Boston and Seattle are close in population size, but Boston is smaller geographically. Seattle fits 629,359 people within 142 square miles, while Boston fits 598,309 within 89 square miles. It comes as no surprise then that the majority of Boston homes are condos or townhomes. According to data that Redfin pulled from the multiple listing services in each city, 82 percent of Boston homes sold in 2014 were condos or townhomes, while only 37 percent of homes sold in Seattle were.

Since most Seattleites live in single-family homes, it makes sense that those homes are larger; the data revealed that the median square footage for Seattle homes is 1,611 square feet vs. Boston’s 1,107. Seattle homes also have much bigger yards, with a lot size of 5,300 square feet vs. Boston’s 1,317. Even though Boston homes are smaller, they’re more expensive, with a median sale price of $469,250 vs. $432,000 in Seattle. That’s probably why fewer people own homes in Boston (34%), than in Seattle (46%).

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Affording a Home in the First Place: Seattle – 1, Boston – 0

According to the latest Census data, the largest industry sector in both cities is “educational services, health care and social assistance,” comprising 19.7 percent of the jobs in Boston and 17.1 percent in Seattle. But Seattleites get paid more, with a median household income of $70,172 compared with Boston’s $53,583. The unemployment rate is slightly higher in Seattle, at 5.1 percent vs. 4.5 percent, but considering how much more Seattleites make and the lower cost of homes there, we’ll give this one to Seattle.

Getting an Education: Seattle – 1, Boston – 0

The public schools in Seattle have a GreatSchools ranking of 6, and the public schools in Boston have a GreatSchools ranking of 4. The ranking is based on test results, and are out of 10. While neither score is stellar, Seattle comes out on top. In addition, according to the Census there are more people in Seattle who obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher (45% vs. 33%), so Seattle takes this round.

Getting Around: Seattle – 0, Boston – 1

It looks like Boston beats Seattle all around when it comes to Earth-friendly transportation options. Boston has a Walk Score of 80, which is higher than Seattle’s 71. Thanks to the subway, Boston also has a much higher Transit Score,  75 compared with Seattle’s 57. The Bike Scores for each city are closer, but Boston still comes out on top, with a score of 68 vs. Seattle’s 64.

Dating & Marriage: Seattle – 1, Boston – 1

Census data shows that in both cities, the largest age group of residents is 25 to 29 years old, with 13 percent of Bostonians and 12 percent of Seattleites falling in that range. The second-largest age group for both cities 30 to 34 years.

Since the two cities are similar when it comes to age, you’d expect the marriage rate to be about the same, but that’s not the case. The data shows that 53 percent of Bostonians have never married, while 26 percent are currently married. In Seattle, 40 percent have never married, while 35 percent are currently married. Since we’re real estate experts — not relationship experts — it’s not our place to say which lifestyle is best. Tie.

Enjoying the Weather: Seattle – 1, Boston – 0

Both cities have a surprisingly close average temperature: 51.4 degrees in Boston and 51.95 in Seattle, according to USClimateData.com. Seattle is known for being rainy all the time, but in fact Boston gets more rainfall each year, with 43.76 inches on average vs. 34.1 inches in Seattle. Seattle’s reputation stems more from the clouds that persist all winter; the city gets 2,019 hours of sunshine, while Bostonians get 2,615 hours of sunshine.

So the temperatures are about the same, Boston gets more rain, but also more sunshine. The tiebreaker will have to be average snowfall; in Boston, it’s 44 inches, while in Seattle, it’s less than 7. We’re giving this one to Seattle.

Boating, Cooking and Drinking Coffee: Seattle – 1, Boston – 0

At Redfin we like to have a little fun with all of the data that we have on hand. Last year we published reports on the best cities for coffee snobs, boating, vampires, home cooking and toilets. Yes, toilets. In each report, Seattle beat Boston, which often didn’t even make the top 10 list. There’s one exception: Boston came in fifth on our list of Best Cities to Be a Vampire, while Seattle was 10th. So if you enjoy boating, cooking, drinking coffee and quickly finding a loo after all that cooking and coffee, then Seattle is your city. If you enjoy being a creature of the night, head to Bean Town.

Final Score: Seattle – 6, Boston – 2

Below is a summary of all the data we looked at to arrive at this conclusion. Are you ready to move to Seattle now? Head over to Redfin.com to compare homes for sale in Seattle and Boston, or get in touch with a Redfin real estate agent today to book a home tour in either city.

Seattle Vs Boston Chart

Share this report and tell us which city you think is the best on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or in the comments below!

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If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

Christin Camacho

Christin covers a variety of topics for Redfin Real-Time, ranging from “best places” lists, to Redfin client stories, to celebrity news and everything in-between. Her dream home would have an enormous walk-in closet, a home theater and a room dedicated to her cats. Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster. For more information about working with a Redfin real estate agent to buy or sell a home, visit our “Why Redfin?,” page.

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