6.1 out of 10

South Lake Union

Ranked 52nd best neighborhood in Seattle
47.6267749706158 -122.336392230293
Great for
  • Internet Access
  • Public Transport
  • Safe & Sound
  • Resale or Rental Value
  • Parks & Recreation
Not great for
  • Parking
  • Cost of Living
  •  
  •  
  •  
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian

Reviews

4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Feb 03, 2016

"Amazon Headquarters"

South Lake Union is where my workplace Amazon is located. We enjoy the neighborhood for work. The streets are very clean and the buildings are new and nice. There is lots of construction, and many new apartment buildings.

The Amazon campus is also growing, with more than a dozen buildings. Amazon has been here since 2010. But it became more permanent in 2012, when 11 buildings were purchased from Vulcan Real Estate. This created the large headquarters, which are still growing more.

I commute from Shoreline, and take the E-line, a fast express bus. However, there is no stop directly on campus, the closest stop is at Denny Way and Aurora. This is a 10 minutes walk from work. I wish there was a closer stop, because the commute takes over one hour. But it is not bad, and the bus is clean and new. I have also taken the new tram to Westlake Center, though it was slow in the traffic.

There are no family activities in South Lake Union, it is a place for work, and for young single people. There is the Museum of History and Industry, but it is mainly for adults.

To conclude, it is a good place for work to be located. I would not want to live here though, it is not family friendly.
Pros
  • Close to Amazon
Cons
  • No family activities
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Jan 27, 2016

"The Tech Center of Seattle"

I’m a Seattle transplant, like most people, and I live, work, and play in South Lake Union. SLU has everything I need and everything else is REALLY close by.

I recently moved to Seattle and living in SLU is great. My office is walkable and that was a huge priority for me moving to a new city. A big plus is the South Lake Union Trolley, its super convenient. The trolley takes me to Whole Foods and Downtown. From Downtown I can jump on the light rail and head to the airport, and after March 2016 the light rail will take me up to Cap Hill and UW.

Nearly everything in SLU is new and clean, which is a HUGE change from where I lived in San Francisco. My building is less than a year old, is filled with amenities, really safe, and is cheaper compared to SF. The neighborhood is quiet at night, which I like, but nightlife is just a short Uber ride away.

The lake itself is awesome to run around and I love going SUPing on the weekends. I heard the city is about to put a bike path to Fremont, which is big plus. I really like how close SLU is to the highway because I can get out of town to go hiking, snowboarding, and camping. And love that the flagship REI is in my neighborhood.

I would say the biggest downside to living in South Lake Union is all the construction. The neighborhood changing, but I would say for the better. New bars and restaurants are opening all the time.

I fully recommend that anyone new to Seattle and who will work in South Lake Union or Downtown check out this neighborhood.
Pros
  • Close to downtown and tourist attractions
  • Close to Amazon
  • Easy access to Interstate
  • Great restaurants
Cons
  • Limited parking
  • No nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Jan 19, 2016

"Only suitable for a very specific crowd"

Quite a few Amazon colleagues are opting to live in South Lake Union, close to work, but I chose not to, for a few reasons.

First of all, the prices are unreasonably high here. As far as I can tell, it’s simply because there are so many Amazon employees nearby who are willing to pay for convenience more than your average Seattleite.

The prices certainly aren’t higher due to an abundance of amenities, because South Lake Union has far fewer services than most Seattle neighborhoods. There are a few restaurants, but many have limited hours. The same can be said for shopping. During weekday lunch hours, several food trucks set up shop, which is nice, but it doesn’t make up for having more permanent restaurants with extended hours.

Compared to most of Seattle’s other neighborhoods, there are also very few parks here. There are precisely two that are large enough to be considered decent: Lake Union Park, and Denny Park. Lake Union Park is actually quite nice, with access to the jogging trail around the lake. But it’s not that large, and often swamped with tourists in the summer. Denny Park is very urban, and I don’t feel safe walking there at night, due to the homeless population. This is problematic for much of the year, when it gets dark early. Overall, the amount of parks just isn’t sufficient for a dog-owner who enjoys spending at least an hour every day outside.

Finally, I decided against SLU because I was ready to buy, and nearly everything in this neighborhood is for rent. However, this may change, as there is constant construction going on—yet another reason I chose not to live here.

To conclude, South Lake Union suits Amazon employees that are not looking to buy, don’t have kids (or, probably, dogs), and are willing to pay a significant premium for convenience. For me, it's just fine for my work location, but didn't fit the bill for creating a home, so I looked elsewhere.
Pros
  • Close to downtown and tourist attractions
  • Close to Amazon
Cons
  • Limited real estate on the market
  • Limited parking
  • Expensive rent
  • Traffic congestion
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Jan 08, 2016

"New but is it Noteworthy?"

South Lake Union, or SLU for short, is going through the biggest transformation on any Seattle neighborhood. Which is crazy to think about because the city of Seattle is going through a construction boom right now. SLU is home to Amazon and more new buildings than I can count, some are apartments with a few condos here and there; but the majority is for Amazon. Living in SLU in a matter of convenience for most, and those residents are prioritizing convenience over price.

Let me share some number to really highlight the ‘construction boom’ happening in South Lake Union right now. As of Fall 2015 there are 13 new buildings in various construction and planning stages, each over 20 stories tall, six of which are 40 stories tall. Currently there are no buildings over 12 stories in height in the neighborhood. Those new buildings, if they are all approved will bring 5,000 new housing units, currently there are 3,500 housing units, and five years ago there was half of that.

When I first moved to Seattle 6 years ago, my apartment was on Dexter Ave on the outskirts of SLU. I moved here because it was cheap, in fact the building was giving a free month’s to new tenants. Fast forward to today and that street is filled with several new apartments and offices; including Seattle’s Facebook office.
So ‘boom’ is an understatement.

Chances are if you’re interested in living in SLU today you’re in the tech or biotech industry, you’re making an above average salary, and are moving to Seattle from outside of the state. These new residents want easy access to work, a few good restaurants, and everything else is just an Uber ride away. According to Zillow.com, studio apartments start as low as $1,650, but realistically the average for a studio is closer to $1,800. 1 bedrooms are around $2,000 on up.

These higher than average prices do have a few advantages. The South Lake Union Trolley cuts through the neighborhood and makes access to Downtown and Eastlake a breeze. There are lots of new eating and shopping options. Some of my favorite places in SLU are:

Portage Bay – They only do breakfast and brunch but they do it well. They use fresh local ingredients and have a fresh fruit topping bar. Yum!
Espresso Vivace – One of the best cups of coffee in Seattle.

Cactus – Texmex restaurant, it could be a chain but I think it’s pretty good.

Re: Public – Upscale pub vibe. Great for drinks.

Brave Horse – This is a Tom Douglas restaurant, which means it’s delicious and slightly overpriced, but man the burgers are good.

Nollie’s Café – This actually was here before Amazon. It’s a wonderful simple café for good breakfast.

REI – The outdoor sporting good’s flagship store is shopping destination.

The Lake – It’s great even if you don’t have a boat or sea plane! Running is great here. It’s also home to MOHAI and the Center for Wooden Boats.


The bottom line about South Lake Union is that almost everything is brand new, even the name is new. There are still old signs that say Cascade Neighborhood. Many of the restaurants, shops, and attractions that are new are not worth the trip, except for a few. The rent in SLU expensive and is only desirable for those working in the neighborhood.
Pros
  • Close to Amazon
Cons
  • Limited parking
  • Expensive rent
  • No nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Tourists
2/5
Dec 09, 2015

"Welcome to the jungle (aka Amazon)"

Simply put, most people who live in South Lake Union work at Amazon. I mean, who wouldn’t want a five-minute walk as your commute to work? And since Amazon is growing quickly, so are the buildings. A couple months ago I counted the cranes, and there were 31! So it’s a good time to be a construction company in South Lake Union (SLU). At the moment, the cranes are decorated in blue and green for the Seahawks and for the holidays.

Besides the construction, what else do you get when you add well-paid Amazon employees + new apartment buildings? You guessed it—very expensive rent. A good friend of mine has an “open one-bedroom” (halfway between a studio and a 1 bedroom) and it is $2500 a month, with no parking. Granted, it’s upscale and on the 10th floor with a small patio. But still, it’s small, and doesn’t have a view—it just stares into another apartment building. In her building, the ones that do have a view are close to $5,000 a month for a 1 bedroom. I kid you not.

Seattle has generally done a pretty good job with neighborhoods, making sure that each one has a downtown area where all the stores and restaurants are clustered. SLU is lacking this, probably because it’s so new or growing so quickly. There’s a Whole Foods on Denny, and a few restaurants on Westlake, but it’s not as well-planned as you’ll find elsewhere. My favorite spots are Re:Public, which has a great happy hour, and Kakao, which does luxurious sipping chocolates and coffee. Kakao is a good space to work from, and they rent out their space for events. There are also a few upscale restaurants on the Lake Union waterfront if you’re looking for something fancy. However, to find a good nightlife scene you'll have to head elsewhere.

Parking isn’t great in SLU, though you can sometimes find street parking in the evenings. But, since the location is so good, you can easily walk to Downtown, Belltown, Queen Anne, and Capitol Hill. And unlike most of Seattle, there’s a good east/west bus line that goes down Denny right next to SLU. There’s also the SLU tram, which isn’t very popular, as it’s quite slow and doesn’t even go all the way downtown. It’s the first of 4 planned tram lines in the Seattle Street Car project, which so far looks quite dubious to most Seattleites.

Finally, there’s the South Lake Union Park. The biggest feature is the Museum of History and Industry, which is one of my all-time favorite spots in the city. Don’t miss the exhibit on the great Seattle fire of 1889. It’s not what you expect, and you won’t be disappointed. Plus, the museum is free on the first Thursday of every month. SLU park also has a grassy area, which is nice in the summer, as well as the Center for Wooden Boats. One other Lake Union activity most people don’t know about is dragon boating. It’s a sport from South East Asia where a few dozen people sit in a very long, narrow boat and paddle together. Anyone can join the “Seattle Flying Dragons” and paddle with them, no experience required.

Overall, South Lake Union is very clean, quiet at night, and has lots of new skyscrapers popping up. But unless you work at Amazon and think that being able to walk to work is worth quite a lot of money, you may prefer to live elsewhere where the rent is much more affordable, and there are more amenities nearby.
Pros
  • Great park and museum
  • Close to downtown and tourist attractions
Cons
  • No nightlife
  • Expensive rent
  • Limited parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
DrewM
DrewM Rent in SLU is ridiculous... and there are so, so, so many new apartment buildings going up. All filled up by Amazonians.
Dec 10, 2015
Add a comment...
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
2yrs+

"Tons of Construction, with no fun"

South Lake Union is kind of an odd area that’s forcing itself into existence. Right now the big “new” thing is a lot of construction, with lots of condos and office buildings going up, with the economy the way it is the condos just might be an affordable real estate option, so probably a ton of deals are currently to be had. Thankfully with the some restaurants and other shops are popping up along with all the new constriction. The only close grocery store is Whole Foods, which is nice if you want to spend your whole paycheck on groceries.

The University of Washington Campus has a branch in the area as well for the School of Medicine and a lot of other medical type buildings line the area. Although once the Amazon compound is finished and occupied it might liven up the area. However, with all the tons of construction still going on, it’s an area that needs to develop past just residential & real estate. The area seems safe, but perhaps a bit boring.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
DrewM
DrewM Lots and lots and lots of construction. Still.
Dec 10, 2015
Add a comment...
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
2yrs+

"Busy neighborhood in the heart of the city"

South Lake Union is a trendy neighborhood with a great mix of urban convenience and lush green spaces. South Lake Union, on the shores of the beautiful Lake Union, is bounded by Denny Way to the south, Interstate 5 to the east, Aurora Avenue (or Highway 99) to the west and Lake Union to the north. There are many commuter thoroughfares cutting through South Lake Union, making this one of the busiest areas of the city. Though traffic can be heavy during rush hour, at other times of the day these streets make South Lake Union one of the most conveniently located neighborhoods in the city.

South Lake Union, known as SLU by residents, offers a convenient location close to everything downtown has to offer. Within South Lake Union, you'll find plenty of parks, a Whole Foods market, and plenty of new and stylish high-rise condo buildings to call home. This community offers plenty of outdoor activities, including Lake Union Park and Denny Park.

Some of the most creative businesses and organizations in Seattle are located here, including REI's flagship store, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Cornish College of the Arts. Recent development plans mean South Lake Union is poised to become a hub for science and biotechnology research in Seattle. Many of these companies are housed in landmark buildings constructed in the early decades of the twentieth century, giving much of South Lake Union a uniquely historical feeling.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Where East Meets West"

If you read my post on Westlake, you can recall me telling the story of leading friends from Queen Anne to Lake Union to watch fireworks. We had hoped to venture further north, but ended up at South Lake Union Park near the Center for Wooden Boats. Amidst the heavy foliage, we were able to observe most of the show.

The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) is a unique Seattle experience. We took our kids down a couple of years ago to pack onto a vintage fire boat (along with dozens of other children) for story time. CWB also offer a variety of workshops throughout the year for all ages.

South Lake Union neighborhood generally runs from the south side of the lake to Denny Way, paralleled by Interstate 5 and Broad Street. It is a high volume area with commuters bottle-necking the streets during the mornings and late afternoons. Hence, many wish to exit this neighborhood as quickly as possible due to slow west-east driving.

A lot is packed into this place. A few hotbeds are Blue Moon Burgers, Daniel's Steakhouse, and "I Love Sushi" located to the northeast. Don't forget about REI's flagship store to the southeast and Feathered Friends (REI competitor) for all your outdoor needs. The Seattle Times makes itself comfortable here, still pumping news in a diminishing paper market. Do not forget about Jones Soda (You know, the one that puts anyone's pictures on their labels).

A few upscale hotels are sprinkled about the area. However, if you are looking for an eloquent getaway (maybe parents seeking a night away from kids), check out the Three Tree Point Bed & Breakfast.

See the city from another perspective by riding the streetcar rail up Westlake Aveneue, along Valley Street and onto Fairview Avenue. The area East of Fairview Avenue has typically been called the Cascade neighborhood, with the playground, decorative churches and historic buildings.

At one time, before the economy suffered, there were almost more cranes than high rises in this end of town. Today, you can still find apartments or condominiums being constructed, but not to the degree originally anticipated by Paul Allen with regards to medical research.

You cannot go far in Seattle without running into distinguished coffee shops. Uptown espresso shines bright in this neighborhood. There are a handful of others, including the infamous Starbucks (Which just released free wifi usage on July 1st).

Similar to Westlake, the south end of Lake Union does not boast houses with spacious yards. If you choose to settle here, be prepared to sell your large possessions on Craigslist and scale down to fit into the high rise condos or apartments. These are the "foothills" to urban living in Seattle.

An outdoor area with space, on the other hand, is Denny Park. It is good size for this part of the city. If you want more than just green space for your dog, since Seattleites love their pets, bring them to The Barking Lounge where they can get full attention day or night. It is the perfect getaway for Fido, complete with private tutoring and anal gland expression (Don't ask me what this is).

Three major studios (KING, KOMO, and Northwest Cable News) for news reside here, along with a myriad of studios and music venues.

If you find yourself not wanting to walk on your tour, consider renting a scooter at "Scoot About". It is a great way to see the sites, save on gas and not drop half of your vacation budget on a rental car.

There is a lot to explore south of the lake, where buildings rise to meet the demands for square footage in this congested area of town. Do your research to view this community, because there is a lot you could miss by simply walking around staring at buildings and cranes.
Pros
  • Great restaurants
  • Close to downtown and tourist attractions
  • Easy access to Interstate
Cons
  • Traffic congestion
  • Limited parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
2yrs+

"Generally, this area is a commuter corridor"

While there are some shops and businesses in this area, most of them are not that old and probably won't stick around for long. Most of the South Lake Union area doesn't lend itself to shopping or socializing. There are a few motels in the area for business travelers, giving them access to downtown within a few blocks.

The best section is the extreme southeast corner of Lake Union, where some of Seattle's best seafood restaurants are located. Duke's Chowderhouse serves up award-winning clam chowder, the Blu Water Bistro offers dining with a view and Daniel's Broiler has private dining and a gorgeous bar.

Many of the streets in the South Lake Union area provide access to commuters who live in Ravenna, Queen Anne and Ballard or downtown workers using I-5 to and from work. Typically, Mercer Street is very busy during morning and afternoon rush hour and may take you up to 30 minutes to travel five blocks.

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Best Streets in South Lake Union

1

Thomas St

3.5/5
"Seattle Center, still pulls me in everytime"
47.6208738873488 -122.339110439442
2

Broad St

3.5/5
"King of the world! You can see amzing things here including the whole of Seattle!"
47.6239071654057 -122.343422352854
3

Ward St

3/5
"Typical beautiful Queen Anne street"
47.6276702970393 -122.330870953369

Unranked Streets in South Lake Union

"5th Avenue N in Seattle, Washington"
47.6187979999991 -122.347573500012
"Not a small street but nice"
47.6191329999988 -122.34239900006
"Noisy, right under I-5 but close to REI & some good restaurants"
47.6191012893052 -122.329114989281
"Lakeside Street Winds Down Water"
47.6190905000006 -122.33430100003
"Mostly a commercial, industrial area with attempts at gentrification"
47.6190854999932 -122.332247999956

Aloha St

3.5/5
"Quiet street with some decent views"
47.6271642275522 -122.339647819232

John St

2.5/5
"Difficult to Drive Around But Not Bad"
47.6197056963664 -122.339152966527

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