Since I recently relocated to Seattle to work for Microsoft, I thought I would spin up a quick write-up on my initial impressions of both. First things first — Seattle, contrary to its overcast and rainy image, has been absolutely gorgeous! It has been sunny most of the time, with temperatures ranging from 60 – 80 F, with almost no humidity. Of course, this is the supposed to be the “best” time of the year to be in Seattle, so much more is yet to be seen as the winter approaches.
Now that the “rain” has been taken care of, let me get to some of the more exciting stuff. From what I have seen, if Denver, Cape Cod and San Francisco would somehow get married (forget polygamy for a the sake of this analogy), Seattle would be their child. It has this rare mixture of natural beauty, urban vibe and hip culture all at the same geographic location. I live in South Lake Union, which looks over the downtown skyline on one end, while harboring hundreds of boats/yachts and dozens of sea planes zipping on Lake Washington on the other end. It is also right by the I-5 and a quick drive to Medina and Mercer island, which sit picturesquely on the other side of the lake. Venture down the opposite direction towards downtown and it is easy to feel the city culture — shopping, music, theatre, food, and so much more. And then there are things like Pike Place Market which set a very different tone to the typically concrete downtown.
Not to mention, within a 30-60 minute drive are dozens of camping locations — in the woods or by the sea, ski resorts, amazing hiking trails, Mt. Rainier and many other wonderful places. Add another 60 minutes and you are almost at Portland on the South and in Vancouver, Canada on the North. All-in-all, I have been enjoying the city. Although there remains so much to be explored. And it is not just the city of Seattle, the greater Seattle area includes cities like Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland, all of which have their own unique feel.
Speaking of Redmond, that is where Microsoft is headquartered. Although it is about 13 miles on 520 from where I live, I don’t have to drive. Microsoft has shuttle service to every surrounding city (and possibly more) almost every 20 minutes, and it is completely free for employees. All FTE’s also get the city’s ORCA card, which means you can take any public transportation you like (also for free). So basically going to and back from work has been a breeze. In addition to commute, Microsoft so far has been a very pleasant experience. From the two weeks that I have been here, I have gotten the impression that Microsoft properly takes care of it’s employees, and unlike other companies, their families as well! I had heard that Microsoft’s health benefits were #1 in the country, but now I understand why — almost all your health expenses are covered, you get free memberships to premier health clubs whose monthly rates range about 200-300 dollars, you get the Prime Card which gives ridiculous discounts on almost everything in the greater Seattle are and most of the West coast … only to name a few, I could go on for a while.
In addition, there are countless learnings available for latest technologies, inside scoop at the latest software from Microsoft, access to countless books and resources from their massive library — so a lot of potential for growth. And all that, combines with the direction the company is headed (as a Devices and Services company), it is a very exciting time to be here — a lot of exuberance and buzz can be felt. And with the acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services yesterday, better things seem to be ahead.
All-in-all, it has been a good few weeks, both with the city and with work. I still haven’t had the opportunity to scope out the music and the bar scene properly, but I am sure that will happen as I get settled. 🙂