Author Topic: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley  (Read 22511 times)

KS

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Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« on: December 12, 2013, 06:55:01 PM »
There are a fair amount of Seattle folks on here, so I thought I'd seek out a little info. My husband recently had a first round phone interview in Seattle, and while it's way premature to worry about our decision yet, I wanted to be prepared for the financial side in case it ends up being a real possibility we need to consider. (Obviously there are also tons of other factors involved: quality of job, weather, friends/family etc. but I'm starting with the "easier" part!)

I know Seattle is a high cost of living area, but we currently live in the Silicon Valley area which is also plenty expensive so it sounds "cheap" in comparison. Anybody have a sense of how the two really compare? The stats I have so far:

According to online COL calculators, Seattle is ~25-34% cheaper than where we live now. (Primarily due to housing, I don't think most other stuff is that much different between the two places.)

Unfortunately, the salary range for this position is also lower than his current job, by about 15-23%

I'm currently not working, so that makes it a little easier... but this is definitely more of the main hub for my industry and it might be slightly harder to find my next position if I'm looking up there vs down here. (And presumably the salary will be a little lower up there for me as well.)

Since I don't know where I'd be working I don't know where specifically in Seattle we'd try to live... Hubby's potential job is north-ish (near UW vicinity) if that helps.

Anyway, per usual this was a longer post than I intended to write, but I guess my main question is this: for those of you in the know, how do the costs really compare between the two areas? Financially, does it only make a difference to move if his salary would stay the same or closer to his current one or is some amount of pay-cut still reasonable given lower housing costs? Thanks in advance for any insights!

madmax

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2013, 08:47:34 PM »
My wife and I are in a similar situation, debating whether to move out of the Bay to an area with lower cost of living (Seattle, Oregon, Austin).

Housing: Rather than relying on online COL calculators, maybe try looking at Zillow and Redfin listings for areas where you'd like to live in Seattle? Where I live in the Bay, decent houses go for 700Kish and the area we were looking at in Seattle (Bothell) was about 450-500K average. That alone is worth 200K Principal and about 250K interest (4.5% over 30 years) for a total of 450K ie ~ 15K per year

Taxes: No state taxes in Washington - California taxes work out to 7.5% for me.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 08:50:44 PM by madmax »

desrever

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2013, 09:27:08 PM »
I moved from the bay area to Seattle ten years ago. I love it here.

State income / capital gains tax: none in WA, 7-10% in CA.
Sales tax: the same
Property tax: higher in WA, but it's complex. Levy rates in Seattle range from about 1.05 to 1.38% of assessed value, and values are reassessed to market every year.  In San Francisco the rate is 1.1691%, but you have Prop 13 which means that there's not annual reassessment. However, houses are cheaper in Seattle.
Rents / homes: up to 50% cheaper in WA. Check out redfin.
Grocery costs: about the same AFAIK
Liquor: much more expensive in WA
Electricity: WA has the cheapest electricity in the state thanks to old hydro, costs half of what it does in CA
Natural gas costs: about 20% higher in WA
Gasoline: roughly the same, but you'll likely drive much less in Seattle, as sprawl and distances are less, and at a given price point it's easier to live a walkable/bikeable existence.


Empire Business

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2013, 09:35:17 PM »
I've never lived in your current location since I've been in Seattle my whole life, but a couple tips of things to look at.

There are bad traffic problems and the bus system as good as it is, is facing cuts, sucky route redesigns and other issues.  But, you still don't have to live right next to work.  I live a few miles north of the UW and used to bus commute through it for years, the ride always took about 15 minutes using surface roads and never got stuck in traffic.  Housing is much cheaper up here than right next to the U.  A two bedroom, one bath home 1350 square feet with 7000 square feet of land total sold a month and a half ago on my block for $255K, a short walk from transit and many amenities.

Though I fear the decline of the bus system, the light rail is on the rise.  It is nearly all grade separated (except for a couple of areas pretty far outside the core) and currently runs all the way from the airport to downtown, every ten minutes or less for most of the day.  (Late night and early mornings go up to every 15 minutes or so.)  As of spring 2016, these same trains will be running all the way through Capitol Hill and then to the UW.  In 2021, they will even make it up to my neck of the woods.  (I talk about the light rail a lot because I can't wait.)  You can take your bike on the train.  (I don't know how much of a cycling badass you are, but there are clearly people who bike year round everywhere here.)

When considering housing locations in Seattle, I would suggest to consider the different transportation options as a part of the budget, and not to overlook what will be in place only a couple years in the future.  Housing pricing is especially weird right near the U for obvious reasons, but only a few miles away you can find something totally frugal (for the city, anyway).

A couple other random notes:  weather is less temperate than SF, yet more temperate than most of the country.  You might use more heating but it's cheap thanks to our socialist electric company. Most people do not have A/C in their house, it's only hot for a week or two every year.  I am sometimes shocked by the cost of produce (many things have to be trucked from California, after all) but we also have many farmers markets (and many things being farmed in Washington) so it may all even out.

Let me know if you have any questions about Seattle neighborhoods and transit and such.  Welcome (possibly) to our fine city.

pac_NW

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2013, 10:02:17 PM »
We moved to Seattle from the Bay Area, where we lived in the city and later in Palo Alto. Seattle is expensive compared to many other NA cities, but a bargain compared to the Bay Area. This was 4 years ago so fairly recently. We investigated LA, Portland, MSP, NYC and various cities in Europe. Our criteria were urban+affordable+good public schools. It is a hard "and" combination to find. We have loved, loved, loved Seattle and still do.  We chose a neighborhood near downtown.  All expenses are lower; real estate much, much less so.  The savings in no state income tax was a huge surprise that we did not anticipate compared to CA. And the rain - not an issue for us. We actually find the 4 seasons fabulous, agree that while more cloudy days, the rain is not an issue. Grocery expenses are comparable. Dining out is less expensive; the food is great here. Gas is about the same. I cannot recall utility expenses in the Bay Area. Seattle is also fairly green - we even have to compost here. Bicycle paths abound. Cultural activities abound. Personally, the scenery of the Pacific NW is astounding, providing for low cost activities.  There is a lot to do here, and in close driving or biking range.

madmax

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2013, 05:19:06 AM »
Sorry to hijack OP's thread but any suggestions from the above posters for affordable neighborhoods with good schools in Seattle? Bothell and Lynnwood were suggested by a friend. Just for plugging numbers into Redfin/Zillow

_JT

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2013, 07:44:34 AM »
Understand that neither Bothell or Lynnwood are actually Seattle. They're bedroom communities north of the city. If you actually want to live in the city proper (to have easy access to the city's fun stuff to do, public transport, etc), you're going to need to go about 30 minutes south.

madmax

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2013, 08:09:42 AM »
Understand that neither Bothell or Lynnwood are actually Seattle. They're bedroom communities north of the city. If you actually want to live in the city proper (to have easy access to the city's fun stuff to do, public transport, etc), you're going to need to go about 30 minutes south.

Realistically, if we move from the Bay, our housing budget is going to be around 450K and given our family size, we need 3+ bedrooms. I know long commutes are unmustachian to say the least but given our budget, it is what it is.

_JT

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2013, 08:43:45 AM »
Hey, that's totally fair. Just wanted to let you know that where you're looking isn't actually in Seattle. :)

the fixer

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2013, 09:45:11 AM »
Realistically, if we move from the Bay, our housing budget is going to be around 450K and given our family size, we need 3+ bedrooms. I know long commutes are unmustachian to say the least but given our budget, it is what it is.
That commute is going to be terrible, the traffic here is really bad and unpredictable. I've been stuck in terrible traffic on weekends for no apparent reason. Evening rush hour is packed, especially northbound in your direction (but it seems to end early). The problem is there's only one major north-south road: I-5.

Can you afford something in Bellevue? It's a lot closer. Make note that there are two bridges that go across Lake Washington between Bellevue and Seattle, and the one to the north is a toll bridge. I-90 is the southern one, and there's talk of putting tolls on it but it hasn't happened yet.

The cheapest houses in Seattle that I know of are in the Beacon Hill area. Schools are decent, and let's face it you--the parents--matter much more than the schools for how your kids turn out anyway.

Also consider renting vs owning a house in Seattle proper; the housing market is up so that means you may be better off renting.

If you want REALLY cheap, I pay $900/month for an interior (no windows, just skylight) 1-bedroom apartment in the International District. There are studios nearby that rent for less. So, yeah, you can live pretty cheap here.

KS

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2013, 10:38:34 AM »
Wow so many responses already, thank you guys this will be a big help if he makes it through the next round of interviews! I also appreciate some of the things you've pointed out that didn't occur to me to think of but should have (taxes etc).

I have some family in Seattle, so I've been up there a bit and really like it, although I have been very spoiled and the last few years worth of visits I have had clear blue skies the whole time every time. Don't mind the cold and actually miss having 4 real seasons (lived in Boulder for my college years) but do worry a bit about 200+ days a year of cloud cover as I tend to hibernate if the sun isn't out. But with enough other factors in Seattle's favor, I figure I could get myself one of those light boxes or something if that ends up being all that holds me back from moving!

pac_NW

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2013, 11:41:20 AM »
KS, Philips makes a great blue light for those darker days. I would say though the dark days, at least for us, are not too many and not too awful.  On thing to also investigate is that Seattle, like San Francisco, has micro climates. The right neighborhood with the right micro climate can make a big difference, just like it does in SF.

msilenus

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2013, 11:47:43 AM »
I work at Microsoft in Silicon Valley.  It's a good vantage point from which to comment on this, because people move back or forth all the time.  They tend to move south as a palliative against SAD, and north as a palliative against absurd real estate costs when they think having a yard is important.  (Or to Gilroy --natch.)

You look pretty well-informed.  There will be a pay cut, and a COL cut, and the COL cut will probably be higher.

That's on average.  Particular situations can vary.  Our strategy for the first several years out of college was to live in small apartments.  We were able to park our entire housing budget within what I understand to be the COL-premium companies pay Silicon Valley employees.  (Similar to the numbers you're quoting.)  It's unlikely we would have been much better off in a lower COL area.  We might not have been much worse off, either.  California taxes are really high.

Note that there are no state income taxes in Washington.  That's a pretty big deal.  I'm not sure if people factor that into the raw COL numbers.

Net-net: I think most people will see an increase in spending power by making the move you're considering, but the particulars are important.

madmax

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2013, 11:48:31 AM »
That commute is going to be terrible, the traffic here is really bad and unpredictable. I've been stuck in terrible traffic on weekends for no apparent reason. Evening rush hour is packed, especially northbound in your direction (but it seems to end early). The problem is there's only one major north-south road: I-5.

Can you afford something in Bellevue? It's a lot closer. Make note that there are two bridges that go across Lake Washington between Bellevue and Seattle, and the one to the north is a toll bridge. I-90 is the southern one, and there's talk of putting tolls on it but it hasn't happened yet.

The cheapest houses in Seattle that I know of are in the Beacon Hill area. Schools are decent, and let's face it you--the parents--matter much more than the schools for how your kids turn out anyway.

Also consider renting vs owning a house in Seattle proper; the housing market is up so that means you may be better off renting.

If you want REALLY cheap, I pay $900/month for an interior (no windows, just skylight) 1-bedroom apartment in the International District. There are studios nearby that rent for less. So, yeah, you can live pretty cheap here.

Thanks! I just looked at Bellevue and boy, I have some sticker shock. Most houses are close to or above the seven figure mark.

Jamesqf

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2013, 12:12:47 PM »
That commute is going to be terrible, the traffic here is really bad and unpredictable. I've been stuck in terrible traffic on weekends for no apparent reason. Evening rush hour is packed, especially northbound in your direction (but it seems to end early). The problem is there's only one major north-south road: I-5.

Remember that 'bad' is relative.  To someone used to the Bay Area, it may come as a relief.  E.g. being stuck in terrible traffic on a weekend is the norm.

madmax

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2013, 12:14:10 PM »
Remember that 'bad' is relative.  To someone used to the Bay Area, it may come as a relief.  E.g. being stuck in terrible traffic on a weekend is the norm.

Agreed, my 21 mile commute takes me slightly more than an hour right now. 880 is a parking lot during peak hours

_JT

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2013, 12:36:09 PM »
But why not take the opportunity when you move to correct that, rather than pretending two hours a day in the car is a necessary part of working?

madmax

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2013, 12:43:13 PM »
But why not take the opportunity when you move to correct that, rather than pretending two hours a day in the car is a necessary part of working?

I'll readily admit this is unmustachian. However, we really want a house with a yard in a good school district without over-extending our budget. Given the current home prices, this doesn't seem realistic but if I see something on the market that ticks all the boxes, I'm ready to pounce on it. The bright side is that in my industry working remotely is pretty common, so I'd negotiate any job offer to let me spend at least a day or two working from home.

RobertBirnie

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2013, 12:47:29 PM »
Just chiming in to say thanks for a great thread. Wife and I are also thinking about this move in the next few years so its great to see the question answered.

dadof4

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2013, 01:19:21 PM »
Moved from Silicon Valley to Portland 7 years ago, and don't regret it. The main driving force was real estate cost. We wanted to buy our first house. Houses in SV were around $1MM (and we're talking about 60 year old houses with under 2000 SF). Houses in Portland were a third of that. The thought of working another 20 years just to afford a house made the decision for us...

Seattle is more expensive than Portland, but you get more employment options as well. If you plan on buying a home, I think it's a good choice.

If you plan on renting, the numbers are more complicated. When entering numbers in the COL calculators, use what you spend, rather than what you make (they are assuming that the average anti-Mustachian spends everything they make).

So, for example, if you net 120K in SV, but spend only 60k. And if salaries and COL are 20% lower in Seattle, you'll be down to 100k and 50k,  Under this scenario, you would be saving 10k a year more in SV.

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2013, 01:29:41 PM »
But why not take the opportunity when you move to correct that, rather than pretending two hours a day in the car is a necessary part of working?

I'll readily admit this is unmustachian. However, we really want a house with a yard in a good school district without over-extending our budget. Given the current home prices, this doesn't seem realistic but if I see something on the market that ticks all the boxes, I'm ready to pounce on it. The bright side is that in my industry working remotely is pretty common, so I'd negotiate any job offer to let me spend at least a day or two working from home.

Under $450k means you can have some buying opportunities in northern Ballard, Crown Hill, Greenwood, and maybe Fremont etc. Those are good walkable neighborhoods. I've got 2 grocery stores within walking distance, as well as a ton of bars/restaurants/parks. Bicycle lanes abound, and if you live in Ballard/Fremont, there is a bicycle path that goes all the way to UW. South of 85th street you will send them to Ballard  High, north of 85th they will go to Inglewood.

Single family houses are available, but they are older homes, and typically 1200-1400sqft. Most will need some work in the high $300's and low $400's. You can buy <10 year old townhomes for under $450k that need nothing. Downside to a townhome is very little yard (or none in my case), and the 3rd bedroom is typically on the lowest level. Sizes range from about 1200-1600sqft.

For school districts, Garfield High typically gets the highest ratings in Seattle Public system, followed by Ballard and Nathan Hale I believe. I don't have kids yet, but we bought in Ballard's current district area.

I personally would caution against living outside city limits. The traffic is pretty bad here if you work normal ~9-5 times. Your options to commute on are only I-5 or WA-99 for N/S, and I-90 and WA-522 for E/W across the lake.

Seattle is a VERY bike (and motorcycle) commuting friendly city.

I really really wanted to live in Issaquah or Kirkland when we moved here, but there was just no way we were willing to commute that much.

madmax

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2013, 01:46:58 PM »
Under $450k means you can have some buying opportunities in northern Ballard, Crown Hill, Greenwood, and maybe Fremont etc. Those are good walkable neighborhoods. I've got 2 grocery stores within walking distance, as well as a ton of bars/restaurants/parks. Bicycle lanes abound, and if you live in Ballard/Fremont, there is a bicycle path that goes all the way to UW. South of 85th street you will send them to Ballard  High, north of 85th they will go to Inglewood.

Single family houses are available, but they are older homes, and typically 1200-1400sqft. Most will need some work in the high $300's and low $400's. You can buy <10 year old townhomes for under $450k that need nothing. Downside to a townhome is very little yard (or none in my case), and the 3rd bedroom is typically on the lowest level. Sizes range from about 1200-1600sqft.

For school districts, Garfield High typically gets the highest ratings in Seattle Public system, followed by Ballard and Nathan Hale I believe. I don't have kids yet, but we bought in Ballard's current district area.

I personally would caution against living outside city limits. The traffic is pretty bad here if you work normal ~9-5 times. Your options to commute on are only I-5 or WA-99 for N/S, and I-90 and WA-522 for E/W across the lake.

Seattle is a VERY bike (and motorcycle) commuting friendly city.

I really really wanted to live in Issaquah or Kirkland when we moved here, but there was just no way we were willing to commute that much.

Thank you - really appreciate this. Exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2013, 02:04:40 PM »
Under $450k means you can have some buying opportunities in northern Ballard, Crown Hill, Greenwood, and maybe Fremont etc. Those are good walkable neighborhoods. I've got 2 grocery stores within walking distance, as well as a ton of bars/restaurants/parks. Bicycle lanes abound, and if you live in Ballard/Fremont, there is a bicycle path that goes all the way to UW. South of 85th street you will send them to Ballard  High, north of 85th they will go to Inglewood.

Single family houses are available, but they are older homes, and typically 1200-1400sqft. Most will need some work in the high $300's and low $400's. You can buy <10 year old townhomes for under $450k that need nothing. Downside to a townhome is very little yard (or none in my case), and the 3rd bedroom is typically on the lowest level. Sizes range from about 1200-1600sqft.

For school districts, Garfield High typically gets the highest ratings in Seattle Public system, followed by Ballard and Nathan Hale I believe. I don't have kids yet, but we bought in Ballard's current district area.

I personally would caution against living outside city limits. The traffic is pretty bad here if you work normal ~9-5 times. Your options to commute on are only I-5 or WA-99 for N/S, and I-90 and WA-522 for E/W across the lake.

Seattle is a VERY bike (and motorcycle) commuting friendly city.

I really really wanted to live in Issaquah or Kirkland when we moved here, but there was just no way we were willing to commute that much.

Thank you - really appreciate this. Exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

With any luck the real estate market won't be as nuts for you as it was this summer for us. One single family house we bid on, we bid $35k over asking price, and weren't in the top 5 offers.

gimp

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2013, 02:16:50 PM »
You're asking about the cost of housing, specifically. Apart from that, cost of living is about equal. But if you want a house, you will have a much better time in Seattle or Portland.

I worked in SV then Portland and am looking for SV again, but I'm young and childless so big grain of salt.

_JT

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2013, 03:13:52 PM »
I would even go so far as to recommend you rent for a year or two, learn which neighborhoods you like, and then pony up the extra dough to not have to deal with the commute. Ballard, Greenwood, and Fremont are all killer neighborhoods.

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2013, 03:51:28 PM »
I would even go so far as to recommend you rent for a year or two, learn which neighborhoods you like, and then pony up the extra dough to not have to deal with the commute. Ballard, Greenwood, and Fremont are all killer neighborhoods.

I don't think $450k will get you a lot in Fremont. At least it didn't this summer. The problem with Ballard and Fremont is they are already the big popular neighborhoods so the prices are high accordingly. If you head a bit further from the center of both to say Wallingford, Crown Hill, Greenwood then you can get a bit better for your money. Greenwood is definitely changing for the better right now. A lot of development going on now and more that is scheduled to start shortly.

lhamo

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2013, 04:19:48 PM »
I think you are going to have to move a bit further north to get a 3br for 450k.  Try Broadview/Crown Heights/Maple Leaf -- basically the rectangle that goes from the Sound over to Lake Washington North of 85th and South of 165th or so.  My brother lives in Blue Ridge and it is REALLY nice, but we can't afford it unless we want to keep working.  But the neighborhoods just north/east of there are more affordable.  Schools are highly rated -- Ingraham has an IB program, so we've got our focus on that neighborhood for that reason.

Further east, there are parts of Lake City that are ok, though much more run down than other neighborhoods.  A lot of people don't like it because of all the apartments/condos, but if you aren't prejudiced about that kind of stuff it is fine.  We lived in Lake City for several years while in grad school and the commute to the UW is really easy/fast.  Easy access to the Burke Gilman trail, too. 

Wherever you go, there you are

NW Girl

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2013, 04:20:59 PM »
We just moved to Greenwood and love it!  Great little neighborhood, easy access to downtown and other parts, and yes, we found housing much more reasonable than other parts of the city.

imustachemystash

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #28 on: December 13, 2013, 04:25:54 PM »
  I live in Bothell.  It's more affordable than Seattle and we are able to save 60% of our income by living here.  That being said, it's really boring and I can't wait to live somewhere more vibrant.  I'm thinking Portland someday when I'm FI.

madmax

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2013, 04:27:35 PM »
Thanks for all the replies - one observation from looking at listings on Zillow etc is that there are very few listings on the market as compared to here in Silicon Valley

lhamo

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #30 on: December 13, 2013, 04:39:41 PM »
It's the season -- due to the weather and other factors, the number of listings goes WAAAAAY down in the winter. 

Here's a cute one in North Ballard in your budget range (435k).  Kitchen a little small/dated and one of the bedrooms is in the basement/non-conforming (so they shouldn't really be listing it as a 3br), but looks like it has good bones and some great potential:

http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/7022-26th-Ave-NW-98117/home/166302
Wherever you go, there you are

madmax

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #31 on: December 13, 2013, 05:09:14 PM »
It's the season -- due to the weather and other factors, the number of listings goes WAAAAAY down in the winter. 

Here's a cute one in North Ballard in your budget range (435k).  Kitchen a little small/dated and one of the bedrooms is in the basement/non-conforming (so they shouldn't really be listing it as a 3br), but looks like it has good bones and some great potential:

http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/7022-26th-Ave-NW-98117/home/166302

Nice, so much greenery :)

seattlecyclone

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2013, 05:27:30 PM »
Thanks for all the replies - one observation from looking at listings on Zillow etc is that there are very few listings on the market as compared to here in Silicon Valley

Besides seasonal factors, the market is just really hot in Seattle right now. Houses get posted for sale and are snapped up within a week if the offering price is anywhere near in line with other houses in the area. I'll echo others who have named several neighborhoods north of the Ship Canal as good places to look. The schools are generally good in that part of the city. Houses get less expensive and tend to have larger yards as you go farther north, but you're also going to waste more time commuting.

One point I don't think anyone has mentioned is that a large percentage of residential streets north of 85th Street don't have curbs or sidewalks. People park their cars in gravel strips in between the road and a drainage ditch (storm sewers are a bit of a rarity there too). If you want to walk anywhere you have to walk down the edge of the street between the parked cars and the moving ones. For that reason you'll see houses just south of 85th sell for a bit of a premium over houses a few blocks north. People value walkable neighborhoods these days.

As to cost of living between here and the Bay Area, others have pretty much hit the nail on the head. Housing is significantly cheaper, the lack of state income tax is pretty huge, electricity is cheap, and most other things cost about the same.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 05:29:19 PM by seattlecyclone »
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ShortInSeattle

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #33 on: December 13, 2013, 05:43:27 PM »
For affordable places with access to the city I'd look south of the city (beacon hill, rainier valley, tukwila) particularly on the Link light rail line.

IMO the Bothell to Seattle commute is one of the worst out there. The I-5 commute north of downtown is the pits.

We used to live not too far from Bothell, and I spent 10+ hours a week commuting. Misery!




ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #34 on: December 13, 2013, 06:39:55 PM »
For affordable places with access to the city I'd look south of the city (beacon hill, rainier valley, tukwila) particularly on the Link light rail line.

IMO the Bothell to Seattle commute is one of the worst out there. The I-5 commute north of downtown is the pits.

We used to live not too far from Bothell, and I spent 10+ hours a week commuting. Misery!

The traffic going from South to North in the mornings is much worse than going North to South. At least on WA-99 it is.

As a whole, I think north of the canals tends to be better areas than south of downtown. I live north of the canals and work south of downtown.




Typically, the area a few blocks on either side of WA-99 (AKA Aurora Ave) isn't really that good, but it's not super ghetto. Housing is much cheaper accordingly.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 06:43:19 PM by ArcticaMT6 »

Shropskr

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #35 on: December 13, 2013, 07:40:34 PM »
I live on beacon hill and love it.  Just stay on north beacon hill.  I can see down town. Husband works there takes the bus, and light light rail.

 Hit the freeways in five minutes. 

the fixer

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #36 on: December 13, 2013, 08:23:12 PM »
Another option is West Seattle. I think you can bike across the bridge to downtown.

minnie1928

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #37 on: December 13, 2013, 09:19:25 PM »
I'm in issaquah and moved here from nj in 2011.  The savings were HUGE for us coming from northern NJ.  We live less than a mile from the transit station and there are tons of shopping, restaurants and places to hike. I drive a Camry hybrid and typically only need gas about once/month.

My husband works from home, which is relatively common out here compared to back East. 

Schools are excellent too.  The only weird thing is that schools operate weird schedules on Wednesday. My daughter's elementary school dismisses at 1 pm, high school starts later around 9 ish that day.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #38 on: December 13, 2013, 09:26:57 PM »
I would even go so far as to recommend you rent for a year or two, learn which neighborhoods you like, and then pony up the extra dough to not have to deal with the commute. Ballard, Greenwood, and Fremont are all killer neighborhoods.

This is a great idea actually. Rent and get the lay of the land.

PS: Hello fellow Seattleites on the thread!

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2013, 11:47:57 PM »
Another option is West Seattle. I think you can bike across the bridge to downtown.

You would have to take the Spokane St. Bridge on the Alki trail. The West Seattle bridge doesn't have a bicycle lane/path. You would then take E Marginal Way to the Elliot Bay bicycle trail.

lr

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #40 on: December 14, 2013, 04:33:03 PM »
Good to learn about cost of living, but you've already seen that job offers usually factor this in, or you couldn't convince people to move.

Almost all pricing differences are really lifestyle tradeoffs, so take people's comments with a grain of salt. You'll have a roof and food in either place. The lifestyle choices will matter way more, and have a way bigger impact on your finances. Do you like rain? Urban or suburban? Waking to the store? Driving to work? Owning or renting? Coffee shops? Diversity in your neighborhood? Public transportation? Schools with high test scores? Real estate investment? If you're a tech worker,  more competition between employers, or relative stability?

No Name Guy

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #41 on: December 16, 2013, 01:40:28 PM »
Saw this over the weekend, but this is the first I can chime in.....I'm in the north end myself.

If the potential job for the hubby is in the UW area, you DO have a viable option that hasn't been mentioned yet:  The Burke Gillman trail.  You can live in Bothell and bike commute direct to the UW area with no traffic.  If you live a bit north, you can drive to Logboom Park (on the north shore of Lk Washington) and bike from there to the UW, Ballard, etc - anywhere on the Burke Gillman, or cut off at the U District across the University Bridge down Eastlake into the south Lake Union area.

Also - with the caveat that yes, in fact, I-5 traffic in the north end is heavy - you do need to take into consideration the transit options.  Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood have P&R lots right on I-5 with direct, express bus lines to down town Seattle AND to the UW.  I bus commuted to both locations in the past - it was extra sleeping time for me - I trained myself to wake up when the bus slowed down from freeway speed.  These are relatively plush commuter buses - no bums.  ALSO consider the fact that the light rail system will be up to Lynnwood in about 10 years.  That'll take you from there to UW or downtown without traffic concerns.  Buy close enough to walk to the Lynnwood P&R for example and you can also walk to groceries, restaurants (not that any of us here ever go out), etc.  Expand to bike range to the P&R and you have a lot more options, and could bike to the same services.  Also note that practically all the buses around here have bike racks on them.  A hybrid bus / bike commute is an option.  Spend some time on the Sound Transit web site - note that ST ISN'T threatening to cut service like KC Metro (which is bullshit, since Pierce transit just increased service, but I digress).

In both Lynnwood and MLT, one can get a LOT of house for 450k.  If you go a bit toward Bothell Everett Highway, that would get you into the Northshore School District and you could still do the hybrid car - bike commute to the UW easily.

As for costs - run the numbers in your particular circumstances.  Look at overall costs of obtaining the minimum level of housing that suits your needs.  If you save 100k in housing costs by going to Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Lynnwood, MLT, etc, and spend an extra 1k / year in bus commuting, that's a win in my book (put the 100k at 3% = 3k / year pre tax. Knock down by 1/3 for tax and you're still ahead).

YMMV.  IMO.  Yadda, yadda, yadda......

Mustacheless in Seattle

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #42 on: December 16, 2013, 04:11:15 PM »
madmax - I currently live in the Canyon Park area of Bothell so if you have any questions just let me know.  A couple of things I'll mention though, since you asked -- you should have no problem whatsoever finding a home in the Bothell area for $450K.  My wife and I own a 3 BD, 2.5 BA, 1,600 sq. ft. home that was built in 2009, and it currently appraises for roughly $315K.  The downsides are that 1,600 sq. ft. isn't all that big, IMO, and the front and back yards are tiny.  That said, $450K in this area will probably get you 2,500 sq. ft or more with a good sized yard.

Obviously I'm biased, but the Northshore School District (schools in Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville) is renowned for being one of the best in the state.  My wife and I have a 3-month old and one of the main reasons we moved to this area was for his schooling.  I'm not an expert on the schools in Lynnwood, but I believe they are typically rated lower than the Northshore schools.  That's not to say they are *bad,* just not as highly-rated. 

I think the other commenters touched on a lot of the other bullet points.  Traffic is bad, food is good, tons of outdoor activities, people are friendly but reserved, if that makes any sense...

KS

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #43 on: December 17, 2013, 02:52:01 PM »
It's awesome this has turned out to be so helpful, and for others considering the same move too! I wonder if all the frustrated Bay Area migrants are partly the cause of the tougher housing market up there, if so it's extra nice of you Seattle-dwellers to be so helpful to us. :)

Great to know about the bike trails, I'm a super-wimpy biker right now but have been trying to get out on it more to build up my strength and confidence for more useful rides. Having dedicated trails that actually go between useful things would be awesome. We have a couple around here but everywhere I really need to go involves at least a few roads that are a little scary for a beginner. And I actually just got to try out the Seattle light rail a couple weeks ago, $2.50 ticket took me directly from the airport to ~1/2 mile from my uncle's house with no traffic or hassle, it was great!

ArcticaMT6

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #44 on: December 17, 2013, 03:14:48 PM »
Where there aren't dedicated bicycle trails, there are usually major roads with wide bicycle lanes. Couple that with drivers here that are used to lots of bicyclists and it makes for a bicycle friendly city.

Keep in mind that there is a helmet law, and also a law that requires you to have lights on your bike at night. While you can get away without, both are a good idea. I would also recommend getting a hi-viz jacket/vest as well. I wear a hi-viz vest on my motorcycle and it helps tremendously.

CanuckExpat

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #45 on: December 20, 2013, 01:33:18 PM »
Keep in mind that there is a helmet law..

I didn't realize this. Is this only for the city or the whole state? Seattle is losing some points here, but I already knew Vancouver was in the same boat. Too bad as otherwise they both seem like great cities
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the fixer

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #46 on: December 20, 2013, 01:41:55 PM »
Keep in mind that there is a helmet law..

I didn't realize this. Is this only for the city or the whole state? Seattle is losing some points here, but I already knew Vancouver was in the same boat. Too bad as otherwise they both seem like great cities

I didn't realize this either! I usually bike with a helmet, only once or twice have I not used it because of pure forgetfulness. I didn't have anyone give me a problem.

I'll second the experience that, downtown, cars are generally used to dealing with bikes. You still see silly passive-aggressive driver actions like speeding up ridiculously as they pass you.


KS

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #48 on: December 21, 2013, 12:03:34 PM »

imustachemystash

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Re: Cost of Living- Seattle vs. Silicon Valley
« Reply #49 on: December 21, 2013, 12:16:02 PM »
madmax - I currently live in the Canyon Park area of Bothell so if you have any questions just let me know.  A couple of things I'll mention though, since you asked -- you should have no problem whatsoever finding a home in the Bothell area for $450K.  My wife and I own a 3 BD, 2.5 BA, 1,600 sq. ft. home that was built in 2009, and it currently appraises for roughly $315K.  The downsides are that 1,600 sq. ft. isn't all that big, IMO, and the front and back yards are tiny.  That said, $450K in this area will probably get you 2,500 sq. ft or more with a good sized yard.

Obviously I'm biased, but the Northshore School District (schools in Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville) is renowned for being one of the best in the state.  My wife and I have a 3-month old and one of the main reasons we moved to this area was for his schooling.  I'm not an expert on the schools in Lynnwood, but I believe they are typically rated lower than the Northshore schools.  That's not to say they are *bad,* just not as highly-rated. 

I think the other commenters touched on a lot of the other bullet points.  Traffic is bad, food is good, tons of outdoor activities, people are friendly but reserved, if that makes any sense...

No way!  We are in the Canyon Park area of Bothell too!  PM me if you guys want to hang out sometime.  We have young kids too.