Author Topic: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at  (Read 5564 times)

NorCal

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Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« on: March 01, 2016, 10:34:35 PM »
I just got an invite to interview in-person with Amazon in Seattle.  While I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, I'm starting to make a list of potential neighborhoods to scout.

Situation:  We're in our mid-thirties with a two year old, and potentially a second kid in another yearish.  It's assumed (so far) that my wife will be able to transfer to Seattle (downtown) within her current company.  We will both have high-pay, high stress jobs that allow us to save at a substantial rate.

Here's what we're looking for:

-A minimum 3/2, 1,300sqft single family home.  A fourth bedroom would be nice, but not required as long as we can find someplace to put visitors.  Woodworking is my non-mustachian hobby, so an actual garage and parking is important to me as well.

-Given the hours we'll be working with kids, we're prioritizing proximity to work over lowest possible housing price.  We would ideally have no more than a 15-20 minute commute to Amazon/Downtown.  Public transit would be ideal, but isn't truly required.

-It's important to have good daycare close to where we live, as well as decent schools.  We don't need "best in country" type schools, but we are looking for schools where parents are engaged, teachers truly care, etc.

-We can justify spending up to $1M, although less is certainly preferred.

Any thoughts on which neighborhoods I should scout out while I'm there?  I currently have my eye on North Seattle neighborhoods such as Fremont, Woodland Park, Phinney Ridge, etc.  Other ideas include Queen Anne, Magnolia, or Madison Park.  Any of those I should skip?

jeromedawg

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2016, 10:38:38 AM »
If you want like more of the remote/suburbia feel, Poulsbo might be a good choice. My wife's relatives live there and it's got a peaceful and quiet vibe to it, if that's what you are into. I'm pretty sure you could find a home of that size for well under $1M but I guess if you want a larger and waterfront (or closer to the water) home you could easily spend around $1M. The only catch is that you'll have to ferry over to downtown, which I guess isn't such a bad thing... especially if your companies are willing to comp you on transportation. Even better if they allow you to work from home once or twice a week.

Now, I'm not a native of Seattle but just have a few friends and acquaintances who live there. Poulsbo is kind of its own little world...

Dusty Dog Ranch

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2016, 10:51:14 AM »
We used to live in Cedar Park, which is a sub-neighborhood of Lake City. Lake City often gets a bad rap, but we loved it. Quick 20 minute bus commute downtown for my husband, on express buses. We had a big yard and easy access to the Burke Gilman trail. Lived right around the corner from a great little neighborhood park designed with young families in mind. There has been a boost lately in urban amenities like brewpubs, bakeries and the like. The farmers market and library are great. Cedar Park is defined roughly as 125th St. north to 145th street, and between 35th Ave NE and 42nd ave NE.

Fremont has become quite the frat boy haven, in the shopping district at least. I wouldn't want to live anywhere within walking distance of the bars there for fear of what (or who) I'd find in my yard in the morning!

Your most important factor for commute time is not necessarily how close the neighborhood is to work, it is what bus routes serve that neighborhood. Check the Metro website and look for the express schedules in your target 'hoods. Driving in Seattle has become steadily more awful, so unless you want to live within 5 miles, you are unlkely to get a car commute of 15-20 minutes. I used to drive 6 miles to work on surface streets which took 20-30 minutes.

The north Ballard area might be a good fit for a South Lake Union commute...Loyal Heights, Crown Hill neighborhoods.

Homes will be more affordable in the neighborhoods north of 85th St. than the neighborhoods you've listed, which are among the most expensive in the city. The difference? No sidewalks on most side streets.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 10:54:56 AM by Dusty Dog Ranch »

freeatlast

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2016, 11:01:11 AM »
Greetings! Good luck with the job! I agree Poulsbo is nice, but it is a heck of a commute - you would need a ferry and then a bus or car or bike I guess if you are brave, and it is a slow process.  I know, I commuted to Kitsap County for many years.  If you are willing to take a ferry and are looking for good schools and have $1M, Bainbridge Island is a better option.  More space than Seattle and one of the best school systems in the state.  I really like living in White Center near West Seattle. It is south of the city. Its a great commute to downtown, but a little further from Amazon's campus. Close enough though that my neighbor bikes there.  Real estate is lower priced, but you would likely want to look at options for private school. It is considered a less desirable area but in my opinion it is changing for the better. Good luck!

SailorGirl

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2016, 11:17:57 AM »
Poulsbo is out unless you work very off hours.  The traffic crossing the bridge slows down about 3pm and crawls for the next four hours.

Almost anywhere on Bainbridge would be good.  There's a bus system that's timed to the ferry and it's very bike-friendly.  Lots of buses on the Seattle side from the docks to Amazon.

If looking in Seattle, keep in mind that the North-South bus lines are much better/more frequent than the East-West lines.

SeanMC

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2016, 12:01:54 PM »
Not an answer to the question about neighborhoods, but given your goals and interests in priorities, you might be a case where rent house (with garage) makes more sense than buy. I'd at least do some scouting based on where you actually would want to live, not the city metrics more generally.

PowerMustache

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 12:14:55 PM »
I second the recommendation to skip Fremont based on your criteria. Queen Anne, Magnolia, Phinney Ridge, Greenlake, Greenwood, and Maple Leaf would all be good choices. Queen Anne is the closest to Amazon, also probably the most expensive. Farther north as others have suggested (north of 85th) you will find better prices for a longer, but still ok, commute. Also to the south you could try Mt. Baker, Beacon Hill, and Columbia City. West Seattle is cheaper but comes with the cost of having to commute across the bottleneck of a very small bridge. Bainbridge Island is also a fine idea, but not if you want a 15-20 minute total commute.

SeattleStache

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2016, 12:35:22 PM »
I'd check out Madrona as well as the Central District. The CD is rapidly gentrifying (take that how you will) and Madrona is very cute and full of kids. It would be an easy commute by bus to both downtown and Amazon from there.

slugsworth

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2016, 01:50:09 PM »
A 15 minute commute door to door is pretty short. I think Queen Ann could get you there, especially if you were OK with commuting via bike. I like Phinney and a number of other areas mentioned, but don't know if you cold get that commute time.  Most of the buses (and the light rail) stop downtown and SLU is a bit north of that, so it would be easier for your wife's commute than yours.

3/2ba house with garage in many of the areas you are talking about could easily cost the $1m you can justify if you want to be within 20 minutes of South Lake Union during rush hour.  If you are OK with a townhouse, the price could be much closer to $400k and that is what I would recommend personally.

There are a number of places where you could rent space at a wood working shop - and if you have one toddler and another on the way, you might consider it. A quick google search can turn them up.

Regarding schools, most of them in Seattle are pretty decent http://www.greatschools.org/ you can take a look there are a lot of 10's

Tester

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2016, 04:40:20 PM »
In terms of commuting, I have a 30 minute bus ride or a 25 minute bike ride to SLU from Ballard - around 15 ave NW and Market St.
I have a 4 year old child.
I like the area as it has a lot of parks relatively close, I don't need a car to get to Trader Joe, Fred Meyer, QFC, Safeway, Walgreens, Bartells, Ballard market, Farmers market...
I don't know house prices here, but I know a townhome across the street is listed at 480,000 USD for one month... and not sold yet :).


There are also restaurants, breweries (although I did not visit them). I did not have time to get to know the social life part as I don't have local friends yet (except one family who lives close).
There is a beach (Golden Gardens), the Chittenden Locks, Discovery park is close. I visited them all before having a car, either riding the bus (to the Golden Gardens) or just walking (with a stroller too) to the other locations.
I have a bicycle again after 10 years without one as here I feel safe enough to ride it.
My wife learned to ride a bike as there are enough trails to allow her to ride it without getting on the streets.

What I don't like is that a lot of houses are sold, demolished and big apartment buildings are built/or townhomes.
While I understand that I am part of the problem with increasing housing costs (I also work for Amazon) I still don't like it :).
So from this point of view you might want to go to the North as far as I understood from some work colleagues.
Shoreline has good schools, but you have to use your car and I still don't know if you will get the commute below 30 minutes.

A note: I am new to the USA (only one year) so my definition of "I like the area" might be different from yours :).

seattlecyclone

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2016, 06:02:07 PM »
You'll probably need to relax your restriction of living in a single-family home with a 20-minute transit commute to Amazon land. Take a look at the "Travel Time Map" on this page. It will highlight an area you can get to within a given time period via the given transportation method. 20 minutes from SLU can get you downtown (no single-family homes), Capitol Hill (some single-family homes left but they're extremely expensive), parts of Queen Anne, and a small area in Fremont. Not much to choose from that would meet your requirements.

Switching from bus to car (at rush hour) expands the radius a bit, but not by as much as you might expect. I firmly believe that everyone who regularly drives to their downtown Seattle office job is insane. Not only is parking super expensive, but the traffic is absolutely maddening, and getting worse with every new office tower that features a multi-level underground parking garage.

What I don't like is that a lot of houses are sold, demolished and big apartment buildings are built/or townhomes.
While I understand that I am part of the problem with increasing housing costs (I also work for Amazon) I still don't like it :).

Imagine how much worse the costs would be if we didn't build new housing! We have a housing shortage. As much as I hate to see cute, old homes demolished, I hate even more seeing people priced out of the neighborhoods where they've spent their lives.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 06:13:34 PM by seattlecyclone »

Telecaster

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2016, 06:21:56 PM »

-We can justify spending up to $1M, although less is certainly preferred.

Any thoughts on which neighborhoods I should scout out while I'm there?  I currently have my eye on North Seattle neighborhoods such as Fremont, Woodland Park, Phinney Ridge, etc.  Other ideas include Queen Anne, Magnolia, or Madison Park.  Any of those I should skip?

Magnolia is very nice, but it can be surprisingly hard to get in and out off.  Expensive too.  Otherwise, anything north of the the ship canal will probably work for you, in addition to Queen Anne and Madison Park (which are south of the ship canal). 

One thing that isn't obvious about Seattle from looking at the maps, is that while Seattle appears to be on a grid system, the grid has lots of holes in it due to the terrain.  So what appears to be a perfectly fine street that seems to lead right to your destination, will suddenly dead end or become a narrow alley or something.   That means you can't totally trust geographic distance as an estimate of your commute time. 

For that reason, what Dusty Dog Ranch is saying a lot of merit.  While Lake City seems to be farther north than the other neighborhoods you mentioned, you might actually have a shorter commute time up there because it is easier to get in and out.  Similarly, Maple Leaf is an often over looked neighborhood, but it is easy to get in and out.   You'll save a bundle on housing too (it will still cost a bundle, don't get me wrong.  Just a smaller bundle).     Ballard is pretty good too in that it seems like it is far from SLU, but commute times are less than you might expect based on the distance. 

We live in Wedgwood (technically Bryant) and my wife works at Amazon.  Her commute times are all over the map.   Using transit it typically takes 45 minutes, but can be as little as 15-20 if she drives in light traffic. 






Tester

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2016, 06:27:46 PM »
Switching from bus to car (at rush hour) expands the radius a bit, but not by as much as you might expect. I firmly believe that everyone who regularly drives to their downtown Seattle office job is insane. Not only is parking super expensive, but the traffic is absolutely maddening, and getting worse with every new office tower that features a multi-level underground parking garage.

I agree, this is why I searched for a location where I could just use the bus or bicycle.
And even the bus reminds me of my bicycle sitting at home when I can't get in the first 3 buses because they are full when returning home.

What I don't like is that a lot of houses are sold, demolished and big apartment buildings are built/or townhomes.
While I understand that I am part of the problem with increasing housing costs (I also work for Amazon) I still don't like it :).

Imagine how much worse the costs would be if we didn't build new housing! We have a housing shortage. As much as I hate to see cute, old homes demolished, I hate even more seeing people priced out of the neighborhoods where they've spent their lives.

I agree here too and I understand that more efficient usage of living space will happen as more people move in Seattle. Still, seeing those nice homes demolished and replaced with cubes makes me sad.
And I can live with the cubes being apartment buildings... but when I see the new style of townhomes I can't understand why they won't build them to match the old houses.
I think I know one of the reasons - making them cubes allows them to use the roof too for different purposes... but still I see townhomes which are integrating in the house area and which are not very old. They could build townhomes but make them mix nicely with the older houses...

By the way, thank you for the map, I was looking to find an area within 30 minutes drive where we could possibly move in one year, this will help a lot.

Back on topic: OP, as you already found out you will have a hard time to find single-family home within 20 minutes of SLU and/or downtown.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2016, 07:08:29 PM »
And I can live with the cubes being apartment buildings... but when I see the new style of townhomes I can't understand why they won't build them to match the old houses.

The answer is pretty simple: it's cheaper that way. The old craftsman houses were built using the most cost-efficient building techniques of the time, so too are the boxy houses that are being built today. These box houses are a bit visually jarring when there's just one or two of them on a block, but I actually think they look pretty nice when there are several of them together.

lhamo

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2016, 07:25:16 PM »
If you are planning to stay for awhile, the schools in the north end are generally considered to be good.

If I were you, with two intense jobs and young kids, I would probably be looking on QA. Expensive, though.

Agree that Maple Leaf/Lake City are a good place to look to get more bang for your buck.  If you have the ability to flex your work start/end times, you can drive from Maple Leaf to S. Lake Union on totally clear express lanes in 10 minutes between 10-11am  -- try it during rush hour and you're going to be stuck in the same traffic as everybody else, though.

The UW light rail station will open on March 19th, and they are supposed to be improving transit connections to the station, so that could be a commute option for your wife.  The close-in neighborhoods are all incredibly expensive already due to the proximity to the UW, though.  But worth looking (along with a million other people) in Bryant, Wedgwood, View Ridge, etc.

Montlake and Eastlake are close to SLU, but very dense and a lot of young urban types -- not sure how good for young kids.

Wallingford is lovely but also very expensive.

Madrona and Madison Valley might also be worth looking at.  Also expensive.

Get the common denominator?  Expensive....  EVerything is these days.  It's even getting hard to find anything decent in Shoreline for under 500-600k.

 

NorCal

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2016, 09:36:10 AM »
Thanks for the feedback everyone!  This is very helpful in understanding the trade offs between neighborhoods.  I at least have a better idea which neighborhoods I should spend some time in when I visit.  It's also good to know what tradeoffs each neighborhood can come with.

Now I just have to come to terms with being one of those Californian's driving up property prices.  That'll be a change from rolling my eyes at the East Coaster's driving up CA prices :-)

jcrites2

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2016, 10:15:30 PM »
I would just retire if I were you !

NorCal

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2016, 03:45:26 PM »
I would just retire if I were you !

Not quite ready for that with family considerations.  But assuming we continue the dual income track in a comparable to slightly lower COL situation, we'll be there in 5ish years.

lhamo

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #18 on: March 07, 2016, 04:31:25 PM »
One thing you might want to check as you start looking/preparing to make an offer:  how much over list price recent sales have been going for.  I did a quick spin through the listings in my zip code (98125) on redfin yesterday and found that many of the nicer houses have recently been going for 100k over list.

Have your escalation clause ready....


pirate_wench

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2016, 09:19:05 AM »
My neighborhood (Ballard, Whittier, Greenwood/Phinney area) is extremely popular with the Techies, and specifically Amazon. You guys have sent the housing market soaring here! I wish I could sell out right now as I think it's an Amazon bubble that is surely going to crash...I could almost retire if I did, but I'm about to pop with our first child, and I love my neighborhood and neighbors, so not a good time and extremely painful decision to make. As other posters said, houses are going for well over $100,000 asking price right now. Some recent sold houses in my zipcode, 98117, similar to what you posted you are looking for, 3 bd/2ba type basic remodeled older homes on city lots are going for $800,000-900,000+ with asking prices of $650,000-800,000 .....Put it in perspective, we bought our 2 bd/1ba 100-year-old house 6 years ago for $375,000 and it would go for $650,000 now. Surely this is unsustainable? Anyways, Ballard (and it's sub-neighborhoods of Whittier Heights, Loyal Heights, Crown Hill, Sunset Hill, etc...), Phinney/Greenwood, these NW neighborhoods may be what you are looking for. Easy busride to downtown, great schools, friendly people, good restaurants/business districts, child friendly activities, the zoo, beaches, parks, greenlake, etc...

Shropskr

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Re: Seattle Move- Neighborhoods to look at
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2016, 10:21:25 AM »
Beacon hill. It's kinda a forgotten neighborhood.  It's super close to downtown totally bike able with an electric motor.  Light rail stops there. Way way cheaper than Queen Anne or Fremont.  Lots of God houses have views.  I lived there for 10 yrs moved just last summer.