Author Topic: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?  (Read 711 times)

FrozenBits

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PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« on: September 08, 2017, 11:32:24 PM »
Hello, fellow Mustachians!  I recently accepted a job in which I will be able to choose my location of work.  It will be 100% work from home and the only requirement is I need to be located in the PNW.  We were really set on the greater Seattle area, specifically somewhere close to the sound.  But after looking into it a bit more, we are now considering Vancouver Washington in order to be close to Portland and stay away from State income taxes.  The main reason for living close to Portland is to be able to have a shorter commute to a major city where my wife would most likely work and it is centerally located between many different family members.  I would also have some great future job opportunities in Portland so it gives me a fall back plan as well.  We are aware that if we were to work in Portland we would need to pay income taxes even if we lived in Washington.  So below are the current locations we are looking into.

Lake Stevens, WA
Lake Tapps, WA
Puyallup, WA
Bremerton, WA
Vancouver, WA

Our list of priorities is as follows.
Affordability
Good town/neighborhood
Easy access to outdoors
Reasonable commute to a major city
Access to professional sports venues. (We are Mariners/Seahawks fans)

We will be visiting here shortly to scope out some areas so any advice on locations would be great.  So tell me what areas you like and if you have any suggestions on what to do while visiting Portland.  We have been to Seattle several times but never Portland.

Thanks!

sparkytheop

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2017, 05:17:24 AM »
Many former coworkers live in Washougal, and they really seem to like it.  It's about a half hour drive to Portland.  I don't like big cities, so not much advice there...

The Portland Saturday Market is good for people watching, especially if you do photography.  I'd normally recommend a drive through the gorge and up to Mt Hood, but everything is on fire right now.

LateToTheParty

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2017, 07:04:56 AM »
Agree Washougal/Camas area is nice. The rush hour commute into Portland is terrible from WA - there is only 1 bridge over the Columbia River in the area. So if wife can work off-hours, that would be helpful.

One of my most favorite places in the world is the Columbia River Gorge - Washougal/Camas is at the gateway to the Gorge. Amazing hiking, waterfalls, water activities. WW Rafting nearby too.  The recent fires have wiped out some of the most popular trails (heartbreaking), but the area still has plenty of amazing places to explore.  Check out Hood River on the east end of the Gorge.

Portland is very walkable/transit friendly, and there are lots of fun places to explore.  No state sales tax in OR.

If you have not been to the Oregon Coast before, it is also breathtaking- but a couple hours away.

Congrats on your new job. Work from home sounds like an amazing opportunity.
 
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westtoeast

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2017, 11:30:56 AM »
I'm another vote for Hood River. Neat outdoor culture in the shadow of Mt. Hood, easy access to the Columbia Gorge, etc. Some of the towns south of Portland are really great too... like Eugene, Oregon.

The Oregon coast is beautiful, but you should be aware that there is a real risk of earthquake/tsunami that could devastate the towns on the coast. I'd be nervous to invest in property there.

In Washington, have you looked at Bellingham? It is a decent sized small city so there might be work for your wife there.

FrozenBits

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2017, 11:57:29 AM »
Many former coworkers live in Washougal, and they really seem to like it.  It's about a half hour drive to Portland.  I don't like big cities, so not much advice there...

The Portland Saturday Market is good for people watching, especially if you do photography.  I'd normally recommend a drive through the gorge and up to Mt Hood, but everything is on fire right now.

Washougal looks nice.  Seems to have more trees and some decent lots compared to Vancouver.  Thanks for mentioning it!



If you have not been to the Oregon Coast before, it is also breathtaking- but a couple hours away.

Congrats on your new job. Work from home sounds like an amazing opportunity.

Thanks!  It's going to be an interesting transition to working from home.  I'm already trying to plan out my day in order to make sure I don't go crazy in the house.

I actually lived in Oregon during my younger childhood years so I am familiar with the coast.  Usually windy but always beautiful!

I'm another vote for Hood River. Neat outdoor culture in the shadow of Mt. Hood, easy access to the Columbia Gorge, etc. Some of the towns south of Portland are really great too... like Eugene, Oregon.

The Oregon coast is beautiful, but you should be aware that there is a real risk of earthquake/tsunami that could devastate the towns on the coast. I'd be nervous to invest in property there.

In Washington, have you looked at Bellingham? It is a decent sized small city so there might be work for your wife there.

We did look at Bellingham and that is still a possibility for us.  The only thing with living in Bellingham is that most of our family/friends are South of Seattle and all the way down to Eugene Oregon.  It seems like the Portland area would be the perfect place to base out of when looking at its centralized location.

rbuck

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2017, 05:25:57 PM »
Just note that if your drives into work she will have to pay state taxes. If she is driving in during rush hour she should expect an hour drive.

bigalsmith101

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2017, 03:46:26 PM »
Lake Stevens, WA -- The distance from down town Seattle is not toooo bad. It's roughly 30 miles, depending on where you are located in Lake Stevens. The school district is highly rated, and the out door activities are numerous. However, the commute to Seattle is HORRENDOUS. That being said, there are many jobs in and around Lake Stevens. Depending on what your wife does for a living, there may be many opportunities that don't require such a terrible commute.

Disclaimer, I lived in and grew up in Lake Stevens, WA from age 4-28. I now live in Everett, WA, and am closing on a house in Everett this month. I would recommend you take a look in the Everett area, or Lynnwood, WA or Martha Lake area as well.

I think Everett is underrated and offers a lot of value as well.

Affordability -- This is relevant, and depends on your goals. Are you buying or renting? The rental markets are intense north of Seattle. However, there are still deals to be had. Of course buying in this market is also a process as well, and it's difficult to make a good buy.

Good town/neighborhood-- I think that the neighborhood where I live in Everett is awesome. There are always different areas of the city, and plenty I would rather not live in, but it's all semantics and dependent on your comfort level.

Easy access to outdoors-- You'll have to try hard to not have access to the outdoors when you're living in the Pacific Northwest. We are half a mile from the ocean, half an hour from hiking trails, and just over an hour from ski resorts.

Reasonable commute to a major city-- Distance wise, or time wise? Commuting into Seattle takes time. The distance isn't that bad.

Access to professional sports venues -- No problem, Everett Silvertips, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, etc. All pretty close. 

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clarkfan1979

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2017, 07:23:58 PM »
If you are choosing to live in a state to avoid state income taxes, you need to still be in the 25% tax bracket after maxing out all of your retirement accounts.

Are you going to have kids soon? If so, your state income taxes might be so low that it's not a big deal.

I recently moved from Florida to Hawaii and we now pay state income tax. However, our state income tax bill over the last 2 years has averaged around $3500-$4000. We love it so much more than Florida, even though we now pay state income tax.

Last year I interviewed at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, OR (30 minutes east of Portland). You could buy a house that needed a little bit of work for $250K-$275K or a completely finished house for 300K. Driving time to Timberline Ski Resort was only 55 minutes. State income taxes would have been $5,000/year. However, if you live anywhere near Seattle, your housing and commuting costs are going to be way more than $5,000/year.

I think the expression is, "Don't let the tail wag the dog."


Lanthiriel

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2017, 04:24:46 PM »
Bremerton isn't a terrible option if your wife plans were to work in downtown Seattle. The ferry is about an hour each direction, but at least the ride is gorgeous and you can get up and walk around. A lot of revitalization has been happening on the Bremerton waterfront lately, but most of the town is pretty run down. You might be happier living in Kingston/Poulsbo, which puts you about 20 minutes from Bainbridge Island, which is only a 30-minute ferry ride to Seattle. Bainbridge itself is spendy, but Poulsbo has an ADORABLE Scandinavian-inspired downtown area with good food and cute shops. In between Bremerton and Poulsbo is Silverdale, a town that is the textbook definition of "fine." This corner of the world is stupid gorgeous. You're close to the Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and the Olympic AND Cascade mountain ranges. Tons of outdoor activity potential and still a fair amount of land available for sale (I can sell you 2.5 acres near Seabeck if you want to build). If my family didn't live there (and I didn't need a job... the ferry commute would be soul sucking for me, but I know a lot of people who do it), I'd move back in a heartbeat.

I think you'll find getting into Portland from Vancouver too much of a hassle if you like the downtown environment. Your bridge options are limited and that commute is an absolute nightmare pretty much every weekday. They've killed the light rail project over the Columbia, so it doesn't sound like it will get better anytime soon. Vancouver is basically one giant strip mall, and the only possible advantage is that it's in Washington, so you don't have to pay Oregon's horrific income tax (which is 9-10% off the top no matter what... don't let other people fool you). Despite having just moved back and bought a house in the Portland suburbs, I can't really recommend Portland either. The traffic is horrendous. This summer has been insanely hot and then it's going to start raining soon. Housing prices are astronomical.

I grew up on the Kitsap Peninsula and have lived in Portland for 7 years (with a blessed 3.5 year reprieve in Alaska... I miss it every day). Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

SimpleSpartan

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2017, 04:54:09 PM »
+1 lake stevens

FrozenBits

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2017, 12:36:48 PM »
Thanks for the advice everyone!  Right now I think it's pretty split between Everett/Lake Stevens and Vancouver/Washougal/Camas but who knows what will happen when we actually get down there and start looking.  We have family that we will be staying with for the first bit while we make the transition.  This should give us some extra time to check out areas and really figure out our preferred location.  If my spouse gets a good job opportunity (with good pay) in a HCOL area this would also open the possibility to being closer to the city.

The plan right now is to be moved in early November and then go from there depending on when our current home sells, what areas we find that we like, and what job opens up for my spouse.

The next couple months are going to be crazy!

Undecided

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2017, 10:30:14 PM »
If you are choosing to live in a state to avoid state income taxes, you need to still be in the 25% tax bracket after maxing out all of your retirement accounts.

Are you going to have kids soon? If so, your state income taxes might be so low that it's not a big deal.

I recently moved from Florida to Hawaii and we now pay state income tax. However, our state income tax bill over the last 2 years has averaged around $3500-$4000. We love it so much more than Florida, even though we now pay state income tax.

Last year I interviewed at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, OR (30 minutes east of Portland). You could buy a house that needed a little bit of work for $250K-$275K or a completely finished house for 300K. Driving time to Timberline Ski Resort was only 55 minutes. State income taxes would have been $5,000/year. However, if you live anywhere near Seattle, your housing and commuting costs are going to be way more than $5,000/year.

I think the expression is, "Don't let the tail wag the dog."

But if it's a choice between (WA) suburbs around Portland and suburbs generally around Seattle, the housing difference isn't that crazy, and not that different than the Gresham area. Without knowing what the OP's income situation is (maybe I missed it), I wouldn't ignore tax differences in a comparison of what are otherwise relatively similar places. That said, I pay a huge state income tax bill (almost a quarter of the amount that I save), even though I don't have any job-specific reason to be here, because I like where I live, so I definitely agree with the broader point (but I sometimes wish that my family would fall in love with a town in a no-income-tax state).

seattlecyclone

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Re: PNW Mustachians! Portland or Seattle and why?
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2017, 10:36:20 PM »
I live in Seattle, but I think Portland is a very nice city. I haven't spent any time in Vancouver Washington. I'm generally not a big fan of suburban living in general, so I wouldn't be likely to consider a location where getting much of anywhere would require hopping in a car. Much of Everett is nice in that regard. It's definitely a smaller city with lower housing cost compared to central Seattle or Portland, but it has a nice walkable/bikeable core that I wouldn't mind living in at all if I could work from anywhere. Parts of Vancouver could also fit the bill from just looking at the map; the areas closer to downtown seem to have a nice street grid with a mix of housing and retail establishments.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 10:39:37 PM by seattlecyclone »
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