seattle freeze


A recent article on reported that Seattle remains one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and that the population growth doesn’t show signs of slowing down.  In fact, Seattle is projected to grow by 200,000 residents within the next 20 years.  As a proud local of the Pacific Northwest, it comes as no surprise to me that so many choose to relocate to this area; however, I have recently become aware of a phenomenon known as “The Seattle Freeze” that makes relocating to the Emerald City difficult.  As our population increases, so does the need to make relocation to Seattle easier.  Use the following tips to welcome new employees to the area and make moving to Seattle a breeze.

What is The Seattle Freeze?

Before discussing how to prevent your employees from feeling The Seattle Freeze, it is important to define what it is.  Apparently, The Seattle Freeze is far from a recent occurrence; in fact, it dates back to an article from the Seattle Daily Times in February of 1946.  This article stated, “It was revealed what we had indeed suspected- that newcomers do not always find us altogether perfect; that we sometimes are neglectful of the stranger in our midst; that we seem unduly preoccupied with our own local concerns”.

More recently, Seattle’s local historian, Knute Berger, defines The Seattle Freeze as, “the surprising cold nature of Seattle residents towards newcomers”.

Being aware of the frosty welcome that many newcomers feel from Seattleites is only half of the battle.  The question remains: how can you, as an employer, combat the freeze that people have been feeling from Seattleites for 70 years?

How can you make relocating a breeze?

Review relocation package:  As a new employee prepares to uproot their life and relocate to Seattle, it is important to reach out and review your company’s relocation package.  From transportation to moving costs, it will set your new employee’s mind at ease if they know what is covered.  After all, moving to a new city is difficult enough without having to worry about unexpected expenses.  It is also a good idea to put them in contact with your human resources department in the event that they are able to get an advance on their relocation expenses.

Alert staff:  Beat the freeze and make a new employee’s transition easier by alerting your staff of any new employees, especially those who have relocated.  One idea that I have seen work in the office setting is emailing a picture and short bio of the new employee to their team members.  By doing this, your staff will be able to put a face to the newbie’s name and welcome them when they see them around the office.

Plan a visit: Chances are that before they start working, your employee will plan a home hunting visit to the area.  This is the perfect opportunity to invite them to swing by the office so that when they do officially start work, they already know a friendly face or two.

Invite them to social events:  One way to welcome a new employee to Seattle is to plan some social events outside of work hours.  Show them that not only are Seattleites friendly but that the Pacific Northwest is an amazing place to live.  Plan a companywide outing to a Seahawks, Sounders, or Mariners game, or a dinner at one of Seattle’s local restaurants (especially those with a view of the water).  You can also plan a few family outings to bring all of your employees and their families together.  These outings are important for people who have relocated so that their families also have the opportunity to meet new people in the area.

Temperature check:  After a few weeks, schedule a meeting and do a temperature check to make sure that your efforts are paying off and that they aren’t feeling the freeze.  During this time, find out how they are acclimating to the office and their life in Seattle.  Make sure to ask if there is anything that you can do to make this transition easier for them.


Although The Seattle Freeze has been a part of our area’s culture, there are many ways to make moving to Seattle easier and more welcoming for new employees.