If you bring an International Drivers License, please note it only works if attached to the actual license from your native country. It is legal coverage for only three months, although there are many folks who do not get their Washington drivers license until much later. It is best to get this as as soon as possible.
Washington State Department of Licensing, www.dol.wa.gov
Nearby Drivers Licensing Offices
Bellevue: 525 156th Avenue SE Bellevue, WA 98007 Ph. (206) 649-4281
Seattle-Greenwood: 320 North 85th Street, Seattle, WA 98103 Ph. (206) 706-4269
Seattle-North: 907 North 135th Street, Seattle, WA 98133, Ph. (206) 368-7261
Do it at a suburban spot where it will be a little easier. Once you have passed the written test, do not wait around for the allocated time slot to do the practical. Ask for any earlier spots that have appeared as other people may have changed their minds. A practice test is available on the Washington State Department of Licensing website, www.dol.wa.gov.
The only other insurance you have to have is automobile insurance. It is worthwhile shopping around for different rates. A good driving record in another country, provided you have some evidence to back you up, will reduce your premium. An original copy of a letter from your automobile company outlining your good driving record may be helpful. Car insurance is VERY dependent on your driving record and will change if you get any driving tickets. Car insurance is required by law and can be quite expensive compared to overseas rates. Other insurance is up to you and really come down to house insurance, which is usually not very expensive.
Apart from private cars, Seattle has a very good bus system which has been often used by overseas faculty and residents. It is cheap and the University affiliation gets you a reduction in the fare as well. For information about public transportation in Seattle and King County, please check the website, http://tripplanner.metrokc.gov.
Many residents and staff use bikes in the summer months to get to work as many parts of the city have bike trails which are conveniently placed. There is also a shuttle which goes between the University of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center Monday-Friday every 15 minutes between 0600h and 1800h. This shuttle is free.