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Olympic Peninsula
Old 06-11-2008, 10:29 PM   #1
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Olympic Peninsula

Considering a change in ER plans, have been looking at properties on the Olympic Peninsula. Making this move will entail working another year or so (difference in home prices between AZ and WA) but should get us closer to where we want to be in a few years. My wife's parents are moving to Sequim, we want to be fairly close, but not in their backyard...

We have spent some time there in the past, but don't know specific neighborhoods or communities, would appreciate hearing from anyone who has any local knowledge and is willing to share their insights with us.

We are looking for:
1. Waterfront property, on good water-not on a tide flat. Can't afford to buy a million-dollar mansion and ER, but wouldn't mind being surrounded by a few of them.
2. Views are more important than having a dock for a boat. I've owned a boat, at this point I'd rather sit on the porch and watch someone else enjoy all that work.
3. Ideally within an hour or so of SEA airport- especially important if we are going to continue working for a while.
4. Would like to find a place with a strong sense of community. We really miss that living in AZ where everyone has a 6' block wall around their property.
5. We don't need a Nordstroms or a Saks, but want a little more shopping variety than a Walmart.
6. Health care is (thankfully) not an issue now, but could be in the future.
7. Nothing downwind of a Paper Mill...I've experienced the "Tacoma aroma"

Searching online, we seem to be gravitating toward properties on Rocky Point in Bremerton, Silverdale, and possibly Seabeck or Poulsbo. Any of these offer good access to the highway around the sound. Anyone know anything about these areas? Or similar locations within, say 60 road miles of SEA? Any sleeper communities that we should know about? Areas to avoid?

Thanks!
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:34 PM   #2
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Sequim has a nice climate. Dry and fairly sunny, unlike Seattle and close proximity.
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:31 PM   #3
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We keep hearing about folks who retired to Sequim and moved back to town in a year or two. Too dull, it seems.
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:18 AM   #4
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We keep hearing about folks who retired to Sequim and moved back to town in a year or two. Too dull, it seems.
I've lived on the Peninsula. I concur with El Gitanos assessment of Sequim, Port Townsend, etc. Port Townsend is artsy, and a great place to sail to from Seattle for a change of scene. Sequim I think mainly is known for not raining as much as everywhere else.

There are many areas of the peninsula each one quite different from the others- Take the West End where occasionally it isn't raining. Used to be mostly loggers out there, but that business got spotted a while back. People who move there are not exactly sociable. Unbelievably beautiful if you can get beyond rain and cold and fog.

The area of suburban Tacoma on the Kitsap Peninsula, east of Hood Canal. Gig Harbor is one picturesque town quite near to Tacoma. Farther north on the Kitsap Peninsula is Bremerton, Port Orchard etc. These are all pretty heavily settled. I don't know what you mean by shopping better than Walmart, but I doubt you would find anything that fits that description here. About like any other suburban area in Puget Sound, but a lot more seashore.

To the east of Bremerton, Silverdale etc is Bainbridge Island, an upscale spot a reasonable ferry ride from Seattle. Going north and west you cross the Hood Canal Bridge onto the Olympic Peninsula. The eastern and northern parts of this pensinsula are very mountainous (Olympic National Park), with a fairly narrow strip of land bordering the Hood Canal and the Straits of Juan de Fuca on the north. IMO this is the best part, especially Port Angeles which is a real city and not just a collection of former Californians with more money than imagination. Going west along the Straits it is unbelievably beautiful, but you are getting more and more remote.

From my POV a great place to visit, but probably many places more fun to live.

Then the SW coast area of sandy beaches, sand spits and the mouth of the Columbia River. Also very beautiful. It's hard not to fall in love with the Columbia. But this is pretty remote, though fairly well settled by retirees as well as regular folks in older logging and mill towns like Aberdeen and Hoquiam. A lot of good fishing almost anywhere out here.

IMO, not bad would be a condo in Bremerton. Bremerton is kind of a run down seedy shipyard town, but it has or had cheaper real estate than Seattle. It is getting a makeover, not yet fully successful IMO. But, it does have a ferry that runs from downtown Bremerton to downtown Seattle at the main ferry dock. So, like Bainbridge, it is reasonable as a place to live for people who work downtown, as they don't have to take their cars on the ferry. Cars on the ferry are no longer cheap; and in summer especially there can be long lines and waits.

I was young when lived out there, did really fun things, escaped to Seattle on occasional weekends, and would never ever go back to live in any of these places.

By the way, the headline in today's paper was "Seattle colder than Siberia!" Also colder than Anchorage, International Falls, MN, Oslo, etc.

"If you want it, come and get it, better get it 'cause it's going fast..."

Ha
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:39 AM   #5
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Kitsap county - which contains all the cities/towns you mentioned - has been one of the fastest growing areas in the country with all that entails. It is getting crowded and traffic is worse every year.

In terms of access to Seattle you are relying on the ferries - either Bremerton or Bainbridge Island. If you are walking on, biking or on a MC you're OK, taking a car is expensive and entails long waits during peak times/seasons. You can drive but it is a long trip around the sound and the I5 corridor is gridlocked much of the time.

There is no way to get from the W side of the sound to SeaTac in 60 minutes - well maybe if you lived next to the BI ferry terminal, rode a motorcycle and didn't catch traffic on the Seattle side...

We live on Bainbridge Island which is expensive relative to the areas you listed but does have a sense of community and you can walk onto the ferry and be in downtown Seattle in 35 minutes.

Kingston, which is north of BI and Poulsbo, would be another place to consider. They don't have direct ferry service to downtown Seattle but may some day.

DD

+1 to haha's assessment of places south and west of Kitsap. I haven't seen the new condos in Bremerton but I have heard alot of talk by people considering moving there.
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Old 06-12-2008, 03:32 AM   #6
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The Olympic Peninsula is a temperate rain forest. The only month that rain subsides is July.

It is a great place to visit... It is beautiful. But I would not want to live there permanently... too much rain is not my thing.
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Old 06-12-2008, 08:00 AM   #7
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Chinaco,

That's why Sequim seems so attractive to Pacific Northwesterners.

You might consider Clinton or Coupville on Whidbey Island or Anacortes. Relatively close to Sequim but a little more lively. All of them a little isolated if you need emergency medical care.

We are in Bellingham. It is 2 or 3 hours from Sequim, but a better choice for my money. Small college town, beautiful setting (sea and mountains), easy access to Seattle (2 hours from SEA by shuttle, but I fly out of Abbotsford, BC, 40 min away) and Vancouver, BC, excellent health care, a mix of retirees from all over the world, hippies, rich bastards, mountain bikers, kyakers, gun nuts, boaters, Indians, bums, farmers, Dutchmen, Norwegians, serial killers, artists...something for everyone.

Our hippie government closed down the pump mill.

By the way, the only cheap property in Washington is inaccessible.
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Old 06-12-2008, 03:51 PM   #8
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Just to Clarify:



And it does vary alot depending on where you are in the rain shadow of the Olympics.

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Old 06-12-2008, 04:13 PM   #9
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By the way, the headline in today's paper was "Seattle colder than Siberia!" Also colder than Anchorage, International Falls, MN, Oslo, etc.


Ha
But not colder than Duluth where by the lake right now it is 46 degrees. Duluth, Minnesota (55701) Conditions & Forecast : Weather Underground
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Old 06-12-2008, 04:56 PM   #10
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Some areas appear to get less rain. But it appears to be an average of 15 inches to 140 inches. This is a wide range.

Rain or not... the place is beautiful.


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The annual precipitation on the Peninsula varies greatly upon location. The southwest portion of the Peninsula (Quinault, Queets, Hoh) is the wettest with an average rainfall of over 140 inches in the lowlands and over 200 inches in the higher mountain elevations. The driest area on the Peninsula is in the northeast corner (Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Quilcene, Sequim). In portions of this area, the annual precipitation is as low as 15 inches. The Wynoochee River Valley in the SW portion of the Peninsula holds the annual rainfall record at over 180 inches. The western side of the Olympic Peninsula is known for its temperate rain forests, an ecosystem consisting of high rainfall; dense understory of lush vegetation including ferns, flowers and moss; and an overhead canopy of towering evergreen conifer trees.
Olympic National Forest - Climate
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Old 06-12-2008, 08:25 PM   #11
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Searching online, we seem to be gravitating toward properties on Rocky Point in Bremerton, Silverdale, and possibly Seabeck or Poulsbo.
I'll let others more familiar with those areas comment, but here are some opinions on areas west of Sequim that might be worth investigating.

The very rough rule of thumb (plenty of exceptions), is one picks up 1"/year of rain for each mile you head west of Sequim. Sequim has great weather, and I make sure and mention that to every stranger I meet who is interested in moving out there...keeping the masses concentrated around these expensive and popular brown hills, helps preserve the nicer spots to the west. And I'm more than happy to let the Sequim sun worshipers foot a larger portion of Clallam County's tax bill.

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We have spent some time there in the past, but don't know specific neighborhoods or communities, would appreciate hearing from anyone who has any local knowledge and is willing to share their insights with us.
We fell in love with the place many years back, and will ER near Port Angeles in a little over a year. There are many, many hidden gems in the area - and finding them on your own is half the fun. For me, the best spots are all within 15 miles of Port Angeles - even though the town itself is nothing fancy. The wife and I affectionately refer to is as a "workin' man's town"...it has plenty of character, but can be rough around the edges.

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1. Waterfront property, on good water-not on a tide flat. Can't afford to buy a million-dollar mansion and ER, but wouldn't mind being surrounded by a few of them.
The bluffs between Sequim and Port Angeles might be a good place to look.

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2. Views are more important than having a dock for a boat. I've owned a boat, at this point I'd rather sit on the porch and watch someone else enjoy all that work.
We avoided waterfront...we looked at places that were uphill from high-bank waterfront homes, which provides excellent water views, as well as views of the Olympics - without the waterfront property taxes. And when the fog rolls in, there are many days where being up 500' puts you in the clear - making your views better than waterfront.

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3. Ideally within an hour or so of SEA airport- especially important if we are going to continue working for a while.
Kenmore Air flies into the local airport near Port Angeles - it's a 35 minute flight to Boeing Field, followed by a free 10 minute shuttle to SeaTac.

Quote:
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4. Would like to find a place with a strong sense of community.
Varies by neighborhood, but we've really enjoyed the people, and found most of them to be most welcoming. That being said, we leave the California car in the garage once we get there, and cruise around in our beater with WA plates...

Quote:
5. We don't need a Nordstroms or a Saks, but want a little more shopping variety than a Walmart.
Take the ferry to Victoria when you need your fix...excellent shopping, beautiful city and culture.

Quote:
6. Health care is (thankfully) not an issue now, but could be in the future.
Excellent health care in both Sequim and Port Angeles.

Quote:
7. Nothing downwind of a Paper Mill...I've experienced the "Tacoma aroma"
The mill in Port Angeles, is very clean, and the prevailing winds tend to blow things out over the Strait. I've spent plenty of time downtown, and don't find it to be a problem.

Enjoy your search.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:13 PM   #12
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Don't just look at the level of precipitation as it is a bit deceiving. Look at the number of overcast days. I grew up in Seattle and moved to Phoenix right after graduating college. Wow, what a difference! Someone once told me Seattle had 300 overcast days a year while Phoenix had 330 sunny days. I believe both numbers.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:34 PM   #13
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Don't just look at the level of precipitation as it is a bit deceiving. Look at the number of overcast days. I grew up in Seattle and moved to Phoenix right after graduating college. Wow, what a difference! Someone once told me Seattle had 300 overcast days a year while Pheoenix had 330 sunny days. I believe both numbers.
Moon Landru, at that time mayor of New Orleans, commented upon leaving Seattle, "This is the only town I have ever seen with indirect lighting."
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Rocky Point
Old 06-12-2008, 11:13 PM   #14
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Rocky Point

Hi,

I live on Rocky Point outside of Bremerton. Rocky Point is an isthmus about 2 miles originating on the northwest boundary of Bremerton (city of about 35,000).

One interesting point about property here is that cheap housing (less than 200K for a house and good-sized lot) is mixed in with pricey housing (even in the depressed market, homes have sold recently for as much as 900K). Properties facing west toward the north end of Rocky Point are gorgeous -- prime lowbank waterfront with amazing views of the Olympic range.

My partner and I bought toward the less expensive south end in 2000 - paid 200K for about an acre and decent small (1100 sq. ft.) house. We enjoy our waterfront although it is a mudflat for about four hours out of every tide cycle.

At one point, Zillow was valuing our place at about 400K. It has gone down a lot, though, per Zillow (about 30% - not sure I believe these estimates, pre- or post-bubble).

I grew up in Seattle, and never thought I would be happy in Bremerton, but I saw this shangri la, and fell in love. No regrets. You can't get this privacy and waterfront in Seattle at anywhere near the price -- no way, no how. There is no strong community I have plugged into, but people are friendly enough. My Seattle friends say, "It's so conservative!" Not true. It's a navy town, and blue-collar oriented. On Rocky Point, there are quite a few military/federal civil service retirees. If I were gay, I would not feel that there was much for me here. But there are a lot of interracial couples in Bremerton, a fair amount of ethnic diversity.

The public schools in Bremerton are not the greatest. But there is a community college (Olympic College), several decent restaurants, good medical facility (Harrison Hospital) ten minutes away in case you have an emergency, plenty of shopping (Silverdale Mall with Barnes and Noble, Kohl's, Costco, etc., ten miles away; Safeway and Kroger's within a mile or so of Rocky Point). What I love most of all, is that the ferry to Seattle is only three and a half miles from my house. Walking one mile to a Kitsap Transit Park-and-Ride, I can be in Seattle in about an hour and a half. Total cost, round trip (bus and walk on ferry fare), less than $10. No car required.

Weather in and around Bremerton is very close to Seattle except annual rainfall is about ten inches more. However, I've found number of sunny days to be about the same as Seattle's (not as many as one would like, but in July, August and September, it is usually spectacular, and sometimes nice and hot).

Bremerton has crime problems that in my opinion are closely related to a small subculture of methamthetamine users. If you look below the surface of violent crime statistics, you find that many crimes occur between people who are known to one another and are part of the drug world, i.e. drug deals gone bad. I feel safe here, and we have never had any problems. That said, Bainbridge Island (the upper middle class part of Kitsap County) is of course safer.

On the Fouth of July and Memorial Day, some homeowners across from us on "Mud Bay" (how the realtors must hate that name) spend thousands of dollars on fireworks (hey, it's unincorporated Kitsap County)!

Good luck in your consideration of various Olympic Peninsula retirement locales.
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Old 06-14-2008, 03:13 PM   #15
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Chinaco,


Our hippie government closed down the pump mill.
I worked a summer and Christmas break at that pulp mill. I worked 15 days over Christmas while they did their shutdown. I was an "operator" which meant that once the place was shutdown (by the real operators) I didn't do anything but open bleed valves to show the maintenance workers that the line had been drained. I spent my first day going around with the operator that shut everything down and he made sure I knew where all the work areas were. He also opened all the valves and showed me they were ok. I worked 12 hour days all at 1 1/2 or double time because it was a holiday period.

I was paid in a single check. It was more money than I'd ever seen at one time -- around $1900. It was more than the cost of an entire year at UW. It was also more than I had made the entire summer before over 14 weeks -- around $1700. From that day forward, I have been financially well off except for one very nasty scare in 1982.

Just for keeping with the thread, I loved Bellingham. My sister lives very close to there. Her property way out in the middle of nowhere has gone up over 500% in the last 10 years.

My other sister lives in "Braindead" (Bainbridge Island). It country chic. I don't think I have enough money to drive through the area. Mmost of the property isn't all that impressive by Texas standards but the scenery is beautiful.
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Old 06-14-2008, 11:33 PM   #16
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I live on Bainbridge Island, the photo was taken off my study deck. An hour to SeaTac, forget about it!!! If time to the airport is important Seahurst or Burian is where you need to be. Gig Harbor would be an option too. Southworth might work but I am not sure about the frequency of ferry service.

I love Bainbridge, but waterfront property is beyond the budget of most.

Send me a PM when you plan to be up our way. If I am in town let's meet for coffee.
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Old 06-15-2008, 06:17 AM   #17
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Brat - Your avatar make me homesick every time I see it. The water, the ferry boat, the mountains, the evergreens, the beautiful blue sky (when it shows itself)...it's all there! Unfortunately, the cost of living and especially the cost of housing don't make it a realistic choice as an ER destination for a 40+ year retirement. It's sad. Maybe I can go back in the later years when I can see better whether our savings can carry us through to the end with the higher cost of living. My girlfriends and I have talked about all living together after the men are gone since they tend to go first and most of our husbands are 8-10 years old than the us.
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Old 06-15-2008, 03:38 PM   #18
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Buckeye, the invite is open to you too. Come have a glass of wine on our deck. BTW, we are retirees (anticipated about a 40 year retirement), not a couple with substantial income, and make it work by managing our expenses carefully.
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Old 06-15-2008, 06:50 PM   #19
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You added the one thing necessary to complete the fantasy that was missing from your avatar......a good glass of wine! Invitation accepted.

I'll PM you when I am headed to Seattle from corn country to see if we can work it out.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:26 AM   #20
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For you I would offer one of our good bottles. Our vin ordinaire is Two Buck, which is one way we can afford to live in paradise.
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