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Unwritten rules of Seattle

Tell us you’re from Seattle without telling us you’re from Seattle.

A woman carries a plastic see-through umbrella through the rainy streets of Seattle, WA

Yeah, umbrellas aren’t really a thing around here.

Photo via @tek.tones

Whether you’re an Emerald City native or a relative newcomer, there are just some things every Seattleite understands to be true.

We asked our readers and Redditors to share Seattle’s unwritten rules, from common city knowledge to relatable trends and local lingo. You won’t find these rules in a handbook, but they are undoubtedly absorbed by the community — and if you’re not from Seattle, these might be a little difficult to explain.

The unspoken rules everyone knows

“Don’t ever use an umbrella. They just get in the way.” — u/Scienceneverlies

“The mountain is out today. (A sunny day with a clear view of Mt. Rainier).” — u/Various_Inflation_95

“Pike Place Market, NOT Pike’s Market. I-5, I-90, 520, NOT ‘the 5, ‘the 90...’ etc.” — reader Ashlii D. [ed. note: Pike Place or The Market also work]

A pedestrian shelter marked by a sign that says Pike Place Market, with buildings and the market in the background

Pike Place can surprise even longtime locals on every visit.

Photo by SEAtoday staff

We’ve learned a thing or two from commuting

“Honking is rude and not a method of communication.” — u/Objective-Ad5620

“Nobody jaywalks here. It can be an empty street and everyone will wait for the light to change instead of just looking both ways.” — reader Maya T.

“Mercer Street is to be avoided at any time of day, if you can help it.” — u/Travel_Cabbage

“No one signals before exiting roundabouts so the person trying to get in doesn’t know when is a good time.” — @shelter.besties

Look the part

“Wear shorts and sandals, then throw on a jacket.” — reader Sandra R.

“Boots are year-round footwear, as are Birkenstocks and socks.” — u/Witchy404

“A Seahawks shirt is accepted office attire.” — u/redfriskies

“Neckties are illegal.” — u/A_Kinsey_6

“No one dresses up here. Jeans and t-shirts are acceptable at most ‘fancy’ restaurants.” — Alina, SEAtoday City Editor

Sometimes you just have to laugh

“Telling out of towners, ‘Yes indeed it does rain here all the time.’” — reader David L.

“Children aren’t welcome, but dogs are.” — u/C0git0

“When standing in a line, don’t form an actual line, just stand around in a group.” — u/Reatona

“Don’t drive in the snow, but insist that you’re great at it and it’s everyone else’s poor snow skills that worry you.” — u/PMMeYourPupper


Have you called this event the Puyallup Fair of late?

Photo via the Washington State Fair

We remember when...

“This was a BIG one for years… NO custom orders at Bakeman’s.” — u/SsjAndromeda

“It’s still the Puyallup Fair not Washington State Fair despite all the rebranding work.” — u/dumbogirl1

About that so-called Seattle Freeze

“Be mindful of personal space.” — u/Extreme_Peach_614

“When courting someone, you bow/curtsy first. Eye contact is way too aggressive.” — u/WrongWeektoQuit“

“‘How’s it going’ is not really a question.” — u/nwmountaintroll

“‘Maybe’ is the Seattle ‘No.’ If you invite somebody to something and they say yes, they probably won’t show. If they say maybe, they’re definitely not going to show.” — u/MadisonPearGarden

But we’re kind to our neighbors

“Thank the bus driver! I’ve taken public transportation in other US cities and other countries, and I’ve noticed that we tend to thank the bus driver more than others. It’s a nice way to feel a part of Seattle.” — u/borealis_aurorae

“In heavier street traffic, if you need to change lanes whilst driving, and the driver in the next lane lets you in, it’s appropriate to give a quick ‘thank you wave’ after you complete the lane change. The opposite is also true.” — reader Michael N.

“Don’t use someone else’s street side garbage can.” — u/Yassssmaam

A view of a hot dog with onions, relish, ketchup, and cream cheese

What toppings do you prefer on your Seattle Dog, besides cream cheese and onions?

Photo via Monster Dogs

Eat like a local

You can always get a chicken teriyaki special with gyoza within three blocks of your current location.” — u/TendoninBOB

“Cream cheese and grilled onions on your hot dogs.” — u/larsfandom

“If you show up to a party of BBQ with Tim’s jalapeño chips and Rainier Tall boys, you’re one of us.” — mandance17

“Telling someone to go eat a bag of Dick’s is actually solid advice.” — u/Balor675

Seattle pro tips

“Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest will help you know how far away from Pine you are when walking north from Jefferson.” — u/smartasskicker

“Always carry a hoodie.” — kellyyz667

“Many indoor lots near the Amazon campus have free parking on nights and weekends.” — Gabe, SEAtoday Senior Editor

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