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Cost of living tops Puget Sound region’s dislike list

More people than ever are concerned with the central Puget Sound region's affordability problem. (File, Associated Press)

Even over the region’s frustrating traffic, affordability is what more people around Puget Sound are complaining about these days.

According to a survey conducted by the Puget Sound Regional Council, cost of living is what people like the least about the central Puget Sound region.

Of the 2,000 King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish county residents, 29 percent answered cost of living was what they dislike the most. Transportation/traffic congestion fell to 13 percent. Homelessness came in third with 12 percent. The survey was conducted as the Puget Sound Regional Council develops its VISION 2050 plan.

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In 2003, 52 percent of people surveyed by the council said transportation/traffic issues was what they liked least about the region.

What people want to see in Western Washington’s future has also changed this year. Over the next 25 years, 19 percent of the 2,000 people surveyed said they want to see a lower cost of living. The same number want reduced traffic congestion. Fourteen percent say they want more affordable housing. And 8 percent want more mass transit options.

The survey has changed quite a bit since 1993 — the first year that the council cites. For one, more people were surveyed — 580 in 1993, 863 in 2003, and 2,000 this year. Wording was also slightly changed for the question about what people like the least.

Earlier this year, the council released estimates that show the Central Sound region will grow to nearly 6 million by 2050. It will add an average of 55,000 more people. More than 1.2 million jobs coupled with an aging population that is sticking around will contribute to the growth.

Expensive Puget Sound

News from RENTCafe backs up the general sentiment in Western Washington. And Patch points out that it’s not just Seattle that is becoming expensive. It now costs more to live in Bellevue than in Seattle or other pricey cities such as San Diego and Washington DC. In fact, Bellevue is the 21st most expensive city for renters in the United States.

Average Rent in Bellevue in April was $2,100 — a rise of about .3 percent from the previous month (it’s a .8 percent decrease since April 2017). Still, Bellevue claims the highest rents in Washington state. Seattle trails at $2,000 per month rent.

Patch also reports that nearby cities are beginning to experience the rise in rents that Seattle and Bellevue has. Rent in Renton shot up by 2.4 percent over last year; currently $1,590. Tacoma saw rental growth of 6.3 percent to its current $1,200.

Everett is also up by 2.3 percent with an average rent of $1,352. Kent rent shot up 4.8 percent and is currently averaging $1,427.

If renters want to find cheaper costs in Washington, they can head out east to Spokane where the average monthly rent is $904. Plenty of other Seattleites have already settled east of the Cascades to escape the rising cost of living in Western Washington.

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