Welcome to the Northwest. For proximity, any local agent can search a radius around SeaTac Airport and provide you all the rentals in the area. SeaTac is located south of the city and is surrounded by the cities of Burien, Tukwila, Renton, Kent & Des Moines.
The immediate area around the airport will bring issues of noise, traffic and potential crime as in all major cities, so are there other considerations? How close to do you want to be? Will you be driving or using the new light rail or bus? Are there community features you'd like to be near such as parks, waterfront or shopping & restaurants?
Let us know a bit more about yourself and what you would enjoy and maybe we can advise you better. Or even better yet, contact one of us and we can discuss with you in detail where you'd like to be.
When looking for a rental, I suggest Trulia, Craigslist, Zillow and Hotpads. Be careful of scams on Craigslist. If you have any questions about the rental process, feel free to post again on Trulia Voices and I'll do my best to answer. Good luck!
I agree with your decision to rent. Better to learn a city than to commit to a location.
That said, I do realize the limitations of the neighborhoods on the light rail line. Probably not much in the way of view properties, for example. There are some nice areas though. I sold a townhouse on Beacon Hill that would be "rolling distance" to the underground light rail station. I always thought that would be a great location for a pilot or steward(ess), and it's obviously great for anyone working downtown.
You have received great suggestions below for neighborhoods and areas with good commute times and options to get to the airport. A very important factor in your decision is what you would like to be close to - are you a person that wants a walkable neighborhood with a good proximity to neighborhood businesses or do you prefer to live a bit further out and to be away from the city? Each of the areas below have a different feel and personality so put together your wish list of what you would like in a new place and it will help you to zero in on places that will suit your needs.
Walkscore ( http://www.walkscore.com/ ) is a great online resource and you can use it to estimate travel times via transit, car, bike or foot. Just put in an address, zip code, or neighborhood and then in the upper right hand corner you can put in preferred travel time and mode - the map will show you options within that travel time and mode.
I wish you good fortune with your move and new home!
With kind regards,
I'll be out there next week to get the lay of the land and see what speaks to me. Thanks again :)