Is It Safe in Seattle?

Space Needle and Mt Rainier at dusk in Seattle
Space Needle and Mt Rainier at dusk in Seattle. aaaaimages / Getty Images

Seattle is one of the United State's most modern cities and although it can be very expensive, it's also considered by most travelers to be very safe. While Seattle does get a bum rap from the website Neighborhood Scout, which states that it is only safer than two percent of other cities surveyed, most tourists can feel comfortable walking around Seattle. As long as visitors are aware of their surroundings and stay in highly-populated and well-lit areas, Seattle is very safe.

Seattle is experiencing a housing crisis and there is a significant population experiencing homelessness in the city, which is growing due to the skyrocketing cost of living. Most of them do not pose a threat to visitors and will leave you alone. However, if you'd like to volunteer some of your time while you're in Seattle to help, you can find opportunities listed on the United Way of King County website.

Travel Advisories

Seattle is typically a very safe city, but there are a few things travelers need to be cognizant of due to the recent events of 2020 like the ongoing global pandemic and social unrest in the United States.

  • Due to COVID-19, many Seattle businesses are still closed or operating at half-capacity. It is also mandatory, as of July 2020, for every person in Washington State to use a face-covering in public. For the latest updates about the virus, consult the Washington State website.

Is Seattle Dangerous?

Most areas of Seattle, especially areas with tourist attractions, are safe to walk around in, but you should still avoid walking around after dark in an unfamiliar area, particularly if you're in South Seattle, which tends to be an area with higher rates of crime. You’re much more likely to experience property crime in Seattle than violent crime, but even this is rare among residents, let alone tourists.

Is Seattle Safe for Solo Travelers?

For solo travelers, Seattle is an incredibly safe city that you can feel comfortable exploring on your own. Solo travelers can get around easily via cab, bus, or monorail and women have little reason to worry about walking on their own, as long as the area is well lit. It also happens to be a great city to explore solo with plenty of things to do and ways to stay entertained.

Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Washington is one of the more progressive and liberal states in the U.S. and Seattle has long been home to an active LGBTQ+ community that dates back to the 1930. The vast majority of Seattleites are very accepting and LGBTQ+ travelers should generally feel very safe here. That being said, reports stay that hate crimes are on the rise , but some speculate that this could be because more people are coming forward to report their experiences.

Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers

Generally, Seattle is a progressive and tolerant place for BIPOC travelers and like many other cities across the country, protests against racial discrimination and police brutality are still ongoing in Seattle. However, even with so many people moving to Seattle from all over the world to work for the big technology companies headquartered there, BIPOC only makes up a third of the city's population.  According to the Seattle Police Department's data, approximately half of the hate crimes in 2019 were motivated by race, with the majority of those incidents targeting African Americans.

Safety Tips for Travelers

It's rare that you'll be a victim of a crime while visiting Seattle, but even if you are, it's most likely to be a property crime. Here are some general tips to avoid being targeted:

  • Like most cities, Seattle’s safest areas are outside of the downtown core and tend to be residential areas or residential with light commercial. Among the safest neighborhoods are Sunset Hill, Ballard, Magnolia, Alki, Magnolia, Lower Queen Ann, and Wallingford.
  • Don’t leave valuables visible inside your car. If you’re parking for the day, look for well-lit lots or parking spaces. If the parking space has low visibility for any reason, that’s all the more chance someone might feel comfortable breaking into your car while you’re out for the day.
  • Always keep your purse or wallet on you, either secured by a zipper or in your front pocket.
Article Sources
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  1. Seattle pi. "Here's how homelessness in Seattle has changed over the decade." January 6, 2020

  2. Neighborhood Scout. "Seattle, WA Crime Rates" July 21, 2020.

  3. Depts. Washington. "A brief history of LGBTQ Activism in Seattle." Retrieved December 22, 2020.

  4. Crosscut. "Reports of hate crimes and bias have surged in Seattle since 2012." May 9, 2019.

  5. Office of Planning & Community Development. "Race & Ethnicity Quick Statistics." July 21, 2018.

  6. "Bias/Hate Crime Data" July 21, 2020.