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New to Seattle? Here's how a pair of transplants got to know the city

Photo courtesy of the Neuman family


Are you new to Seattle or thinking about relocating? Presenting the first in a series of features on families that have made the move to Washington State in recent years and are navigating life with kids. First up: Ballard residents Steven and Yelena Neuman.

Steven and Yelena Neuman approach life in Seattle in a new way now that their almost 2-year-old son Henry is in their lives. “We still do a lot of the same things, but we do them differently,” says Steven.

Transplants to Seattle from California and Oregon respectively, Steven and Yelena took advantage of Seattle’s ample activities for younger folks when they first moved here five years ago. “We had a season pass to Seattle Rep when we first moved here — we really were living the double-income, no-kids” lifestyle, Steven says. Although they went out often and socialized with other young couples, the Neumans say that the mythical “Seattle freeze” felt very real. “When we first moved here, we worked really hard to get to know people and find a group of people, and it just took a little bit longer” than it might have elsewhere, says Yelena.

"What we realized is that the Seattle freeze is totally real, but it also doesn’t exist out of maliciousness."

Navigating a social world of people who grew up in the area was tricky at first, says Steven. “What we realized is that the Seattle freeze is totally real, but it also doesn’t exist out of maliciousness,” says Steven. “It exists out of the fact that people who live here [often] grew up here, [and] they have all their high school friends who they then become friends with as adults. It’s not that those people don’t want to hang out with you, but they already have their own patterns set, and when you’re new, you’re like, ‘I have no patterns set, I don’t know anybody,’ and then you have to break in.”

“I could see that if there wasn’t a massive influx of new people like there’s been, it would be a lot different,” says Steven. The birth of their son Henry in 2013 changed their experience of life in Seattle, both in regards to making friends with other parents and finding new ways to experience the city. “There are so many new people in Seattle now, and that changes the dynamic,” says Steven.

With Henry in their lives, the Neumans say that they’ve not only been able to meet more parents, they’ve also benefited from the wealth of community resources in the area. “Seattle in general does a good job overall as a city for parents,” Steven says. The Neumans relied on some of Seattle’s many new-parent programs like the PEPS program and the moms’ group at Swedish hospital.

They’ve also been impressed by Seattle’s wonderfully kid-friendly culinary scene. “One of our favorite things about living here is that the quality of food across the board is so good. We’re so spoiled that even kind of humdrum meals are really excellently done,” says Steven. “We have a lot of great pubs in the area, and you don’t have to feel like you’re stuck going to a ‘kid place.’ That to me is the huge acid test — you can go to any dining establishment and they’ll have a highchair.”

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