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Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 08-31-2005, 10:16 AM   #1
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Any advice / experience in Washington State

Greetings to all:

I've got a choice -- I can work for 5-10 more years here in out-of-sight expensive northern california, or I can move to somewhere less expensive and get out earlier. My presence on this forum makes it easy to guess which way that choice is going to go!

At the same time, a leap to one of the really inexpensive places (flyover states or the south) is daunting to someone raised here in the west. I was wondering if I could find something on the west coast.

I lived in Bremerton, WA about 30 years ago -- I have good but very faded memories of the area and, as I didn't have a cent to my name, there's not much to go on apart from fishing and hiking and riding the ferry back and forth. (Well, ok, there were the sailors, too, but I'm past all that now! ;-D

I'm thinking about a place within striking distance of Seattle and its amenities, but cheap enough to make a move from CA worth the effort. I checked out Ellensburg this summer -- nice little place and not out of the running, but I wonder what else there is worth a look-see.

Maybe Olympia? Maybe Bremerton is worth another look? Any other towns out there deserving of a visit?

I'd LOVE to be near the water -- maybe somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula. I also wondered about living north of Portland, instead, to take advantage of Oregon's lack of sales tax and Washington's lack of income tax.

I don't want to live too far out -- ideally I'd want a place in a cute town or area so I could walk / bike back and forth to the grocery store, etc. Seattle itself is too expensive -- housing isn't that much less than it is here.

I'm planning to spend a week in the area later this year -- any advice / experience from the folks on this forum would most appreciated!

Caroline
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 08-31-2005, 11:08 AM   #2
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Hi Caroline,

I just moved to Seattle earlier this year, I like it A LOT! I agree that the West Coast is a great place to be. Even though we think we have determined that we are cut out for the apartment living city life (and so will probably stay in Seattle) we have explored a little just in case we want to buy a house on the water some day.

I really like Olympia. It is the capitol, but feels like a small town in many ways. I think Vancouver, WA is a place where many people live to take advantage of the nearby sales tax free amenities of Oregon.

We will be headed to Bremerton/Port Townsend this weekend. I'll keep you posted if I find something special.
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 08-31-2005, 01:07 PM   #3
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

I have lived up here for many years. First thing to realize is the weather is really different, and to me inferior up here as compared to coastal California. The sun makes it up to a max of about 18 degrees above the horizon in midwinter.

Second is that it is beautiful, and the people are for the most part live and let live.

Traffic is bad. To live in Olympia would be fine, but IMO you wouldn't be coming to Seattle very often. I have thought about moving to Bremerton. The Seattle ferry goes right downtown. But if you want to stay for nightlife you are screwed trying to get back late.

Also, if you want to go anywhere but downtown, and lots of attractive activities are elsewhere- you are locked into bringing you car, which can get quite expensive.

Many Seattle neighborhoods to the north side of the city are safe, have good urban ambiance but are not particularly attractive. Renting is cheap enough, but purchase prices are out of sight. They may come down I suppose; it has happened before.

One good thing about Seattle is that it is very easy to get going socially. Many different groups are active and reach out for new members.

If you are already retiring you could live all the way out in Sequim for example. It is very popular with retirees of the quiet lifestyle persuasion. I lived in several places on the Olympic Peninsula. A lot of fun if you really like the outdoors, and are pretty rugged and duck backed.

You mentioned Ellensburg. I used to take my sons there every fall for Suzuki violin festivals. Nice but very small town. I don't know what the social scene would be like. I can't remember if you would have you mate with you, or if you would have to source locally.

You probably would not want to drive back and forth to Seattle very often and damn rarely in winter, as even though Snoqualmie pass in not very high, it gets pretty snowy.

If you aren't locked into Washington, Eugene/Springfield or Ashland/Medford OR have a lot to offer, in smaller packages.

Ha

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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 08-31-2005, 02:06 PM   #4
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

The ferry runs until 12:50am, and if you are staying out real late use the Baninbridge ferry which runs until 2:10 am on the Saturday nights, it doesn't slow down the social life.*

The traffic isn't bad if you don't drive in it* .* For that reason living in Bremerton could be a great choice.* Homes there are relatively inexpensive and there are a couple condo developments under construction.* Port Orchard isn't far from Bremerton.* Worth a long look.*

Port Townsend is cute but when you factor in transportation to Seattle probably not inexpensive.

What many don't know is that there are rain shadows in the northwest, that means that there are pockets of relatively dry weather (Sequim).* I am not saying that it's not cloudy (God forbid, folks might just move her faster).

Vancouver housing (buy or rent) is reasonable, BUT traffic to Portland is unreal.* Vancouver refused invitations to connect to Portland's light rail so they are stuck with two bridges south.

Tacoma is getting it's act together, although it is a work in progress.* They now have "Sounder" service to Seattle during commute hours. The Tacoma Narrows bridge is adding capacity,* Hgy 6 (between I 5 and the bridge) will be scary until the upgrade is finished.*

By the time you get to Olympia you are running out of navigatable water.

You could look at Brookings, the bananna belt of Oregon just north of the CA border.

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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 08-31-2005, 07:46 PM   #5
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

The Peninsula is nice: Sequim, Port Angeles (more sun there, close to the water).

My wife and I love the Long Beach peninsula: close to water, not over-run yet (although it is in the summer), some great restaurants, easy trip to Astoria (Costco) and the Oregon beaches if you want sales-tax free shopping.

Depends, too, on how much you want culture/city life and how often.

Good luck!

Richard (who lives in Puyallup)
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-01-2005, 01:23 AM   #6
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Will you be working in WA?* You can live in Bremerton and work in Seattle. Check out Bellingham.* It's a nice town and about equidistant to Seattle or Vancouver BC.* Convenient to the mountains, sound, and San Juan islands. It's a mid sized college town.* The Methow Valley in the North Cascades is gorgeous but somewhat remote.
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-01-2005, 07:25 AM   #7
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

What is the nice time of year to visit Washington state? We would like to take the motorhome out there. Is fall nice?
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-01-2005, 08:10 AM   #8
 
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

July/August for west of the mountains.* The climate is absolutely perfect:* dry 70-80's, clear deep blue sky.* The Pacific northwest is my favorite place in the world during these months.*

Caroline:* be sure to spend some significant winter time there before you completely relocate.* I lived there for five years, and most of my extended family is in the Seattle area.* The lack of light that haha mentions and the constant rain showers affect some people more than others.* As much as I love Washington, it eventually came down to me not wanting to spend 8 months a year with (literally) a black cloud overhead.* Oddly, I cope with the miserable New England winters better.*

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
What is the nice time of year to visit Washington state?* We would like to take the motorhome out there.* Is fall nice?
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-01-2005, 01:08 PM   #9
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
What is the nice time of year to visit Washington state?* We would like to take the motorhome out there.* Is fall nice?
I would narrow Tozz' window a bit more- the guaranteed perfect day is July 31! Two weeks on either side are pretty safe too.*

This gives you all the mountain passes open, including the North Cascades Highway, which IMO is one of the great spectacles of the US.

Haha
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-01-2005, 01:12 PM   #10
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Hi Caroline,

I didn't have time to read the whole thread (working ) but I live in Bellingham WA - 90 mi. north of Seattle, 60 mi. south of Vancouver.

I think it's ideal - but COL not necessarily very cheap.

Glad to tell you anything you want to know about the area.

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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-01-2005, 04:28 PM   #11
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

July and August are lovely, but September is usually nice. It seems that just as soon as the kids are back in school we have a week or two of sunny weather.. no guarintees any time of year.
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-01-2005, 07:47 PM   #12
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Further comment now that the work day is over...

Ha and others are right Martha, the summer sometimes seems not to last more than a couple weeks.* But thanks to global warming [ ] recent ones have been warmer and drier.* * This year it cleared up the middle of July and has only rained two days since.* August is your best bet for travel, unless you'd rather avoid the tourists and risk the weather - September is often very pleasant too.

I moved to WA in 1987 after living in OH, NY and WI.* The hardest things to adjust to were the short, dark gray winter days and the lack of real seasons.* *Some people suffer serious SAD, but after about 5 years I learned to adjust.*

I miss winter, and snow, although (a) you can always drive to the mountains and (b) it's great fun making fun of all the people who can't deal with it when it does snow.*

I love to travel but I also love the Northwest and would never want to give up my home base here.*

Everything is right in my backyard:
One of the best ski areas in the world (Whistler/Blackcomb) is 3 hours
Best kayaking and boating - San Juan Islands and Canadian sisters - 1 hour (3 if paddling!)
Seattle - culture, sports, shopping, etc.* 1 hour
Vancouver - ditto* about 1 hour
Cascade Mountains - backpacking, mountain climbing, glacier climbing, amazing scenery - 1 hour

Bellingham itself is a very liberal, laid-back town - lots of funky coffee shops, pretty good music scene, health/outdoor oriented people - probably more yoga schools than the entire east coast.* A fantastic parks and trail system....

Have I convinced you yet??

We are having a development boom that is out of control, IMHO, lately.* Too many scholcky condos are sprouting up all over.* *

And as soon as I can RE I hope to start spending 3-4 winter months somewhere else, but the rest of the time, I don't think you can beat this life!
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-01-2005, 08:55 PM   #13
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Sheryl, sush!!
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-01-2005, 09:21 PM   #14
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

I was just kidding! It really rains all the time, and there's nothing at all to do
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-02-2005, 10:57 AM   #15
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Martha ~ before we moved here, we visited several times in September and it rarely ever rained.

Come in July and August for near perfection, but for a lovely vacation with a spot of rain here and there come in the fall!
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-02-2005, 05:00 PM   #16
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheryl
One of the best ski areas in the world (Whistler/Blackcomb) is 3 hours
And another one of the best ski areas in the world (Mt Baker) is only 45 minutes away!!
I know shhhh...

My first winter in the Seattle area it rained 100 consecutive days. No kidding.
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-02-2005, 08:45 PM   #17
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Quote:
Originally Posted by JB
And another one of the best ski areas in the world* (Mt Baker) is only 45 minutes away!!
I know shhhh...
Yeah, if you can stand the "Cascade Concrete."
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-03-2005, 08:48 AM   #18
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline
I'm thinking about a place within striking distance of Seattle and its amenities, but cheap enough to make a move from CA worth the effort. I checked out Ellensburg this summer -- nice little place and not out of the running, but I wonder what else there is worth a look-see.

Maybe Olympia? Maybe Bremerton is worth another look? Any other towns out there deserving of a visit?

I'd LOVE to be near the water -- maybe somewhere on the Olympic Peninsula. I also wondered about living north of Portland, instead, to take advantage of Oregon's lack of sales tax and Washington's lack of income tax.

I don't want to live too far out -- ideally I'd want a place in a cute town or area so I could walk / bike back and forth to the grocery store, etc. Seattle itself is too expensive -- housing isn't that much less than it is here.
I am a fellow life-long West-coaster (1/2 OR, 1/2 LA) who will be retiring to WA
in a few years. I am looking to stay away from the Seattle and Portland areas
(26+ yrs of LA traffic is enough), and am concentrating on looking into small
to mid sized towns to live slightly outside of.

Yakima and Ellensburg are near the top of my list. I am also looking at
near the Columbia River and OR border, such as Walla Walla, Goldendale,
or Longview/Kelso. I initially looked at North Central and North East WA,
but the winters looked too tough (for year-round cycling), even though
the houses and land values were great.
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-03-2005, 09:21 AM   #19
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

I'd also take a look at Wenatchee, a bit farther up the Columbia in WA.

Dry, 4-season climate in the beautiful orchard country, great outdoor recreation nearby (incl. Mission Ridge ski area--ok, the coverage can be a bit thin but it's a dry snow), reasonable housing costs, within 1/2 hour of the quaint tourist town of Leavenworth with its faux-Bavarian village look but also arts and music festivals, etc. You are only 2 1/2 hours away from Seattle over US Highway 2, open all year, if you need something in the big city.
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State
Old 09-03-2005, 09:31 AM   #20
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Re: Any advice / experience in Washington State

We could start an ER commune in Washington state. UncleMick and "the women" could come. Brat, Sheryl, Carolyn, UncleMick's women, and I could live lives of leisure. Greg could cook.
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