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It's True: Getting to Know People in the Northwest isn't Easy for Everyone

April 16, 2019 by Derek Wing

​The Northwest has a reputation for its somewhat cool reception toward newcomers. According to the latest poll by PEMCO Insurance, the "freeze" felt by many may not be a figment of their imaginations: the Seattle-based insurer found that a majority of Washington and Oregon residents admit that making new friends isn't a top priority for them.

The PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll found that 40 percent of residents say it's not too important, or even not at all important, for them to make new friends. That's almost double the number of respondents on the other end of the spectrum (24 percent) who say it's very or extremely important to make new friends.

For some, the reluctance to meet new people goes beyond the effort of investing in relationships. The poll found that almost half of Northwest residents (49 percent) aren't even interested in interacting with others they don't know, even if just through brief interactions while they're out and about in public.

"As a newcomer to the Northwest at one point myself, I can attest to the challenge of breaking the ice with people who live here. But I found that over time, through a lot of persistence and with the help of a few Northwest natives, I established a great circle of friends that has only grown," said PEMCO spokesperson, Derek Wing. "And that experience isn't mine alone. While the poll did find that many Northwesters aren't actively seeking new friendships, that doesn't mean they don't want them."

Despite the apparent cold shoulder, not all hope is lost for everyone. About two-thirds (68 percent) of people under 35 think it's at least somewhat important to make new friends. In Washington, 41 percent of parents value making new friends, too, and about one-quarter of Oregon parents said the same.

Any aversion to making new friends doesn't mean that Northwest residents prefer to spend their free time alone. When faced with the choice between spending time alone or socializing with friends, 49 percent lean toward spending time with others, and 60 percent of those with children prefer socializing with others, as well.

"Some might say that Seattle is a lonely city, and while there might be some truth to that, there is also hope that this reputation will soon change. The up-and-coming crowd wants to connect on a personal level, and newcomers are going out of their way to make that happen – it's just one of the many ways the Northwest is constantly changing," Wing said. "It is encouraging to see that the ice may be melting."

For a complete summary of PEMCO's poll results, visit, where you'll find the responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in January 2019.


About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey, conducted by FBK Research of Seattle, that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 600 respondents in Washington and 600 in Oregon, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range.

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