Author Topic: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?  (Read 1404 times)

ysette9

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3618
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • Insert Snappy Title Here (Journal)
Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« on: January 12, 2019, 09:22:59 PM »
My husband and I are starting to talk about the idea of relocating to Seattle to be FIRE faster (admittedly, I love the idea of green and not worrying about drought as well). As much as I know people in OR and WA resent us darn Californians moving up north and driving up housing costs, I hope some of you will humor me and share some of your thoughts on what it is like to live there.

We are looking at neighborhoods surrounding Beacon Hill Elementary and Dearborn Park Elementary for the littles. I'm curious to know general thoughts on what the areas are like, how reasonable housing is, proximity to outdoor activities, what the quality of life is like, and if there are any areas we should avoid. Any tips and tricks on being more mustachian that are specific to Seattle? Thanks in advance for anything you can throw at me.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8731
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2019, 09:54:54 PM »
Will you be working/commuting, and if so where to (most likely -- realize you might not know this if doing a job change rather than negotiating a transfer)?  Because I would say the #1 most awful thing about Seattle if you can survive the winter grey/gloom is commuting in our awful traffic.  If you are affiliated with one of the big tech companies that provides charter buses so someone else can drive you, that helps.  If you can work an alternative schedule and avoid rush hour, that helps too.  Otherwise, do whatever you can to get on a direct, no-transfer route from your home to your office so that public transit is at least an option, even if you don't want to do it daily.

I lived on far N. Beacon Hill for a very short time over 20 years ago, but haven't really been back. If DS hadn't been UW bound, I might have looked more closely at the south end, but as it was we ended up in the far NE corner of the city largely to give him a short/easy commute.  Will be interested to see what you learn about current situation.  I do have grad school friends who bought in Columbia City before it gentrified.  They couldn't afford it now.  It is a nice part of town, but they still do hear gunshots regularly.  That happens in the grittier parts of my neighborhood as well, though. I have another friend who lives in New Holly and loves it. Again, they couldn't afford their place now.  So yes, there will be people who resent you for driving the prices up but they should probably resent me, too -- I was returning "home" though so kind of get a pass.

Do be advised that the housing market has softened considerably here (we overpaid and have "lost" over 100k on paper compared to what we paid -- closer to 200k if you figure in selling costs) so you are coming in at a good time at least compared to the frantic/crazymaking market of 1-2 years ago.  We had a GREAT house inspector we worked with who I can look up for you if you get to that point.

fixie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 39
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2019, 11:28:28 PM »
Well I would welcome any mustache in and I don't care where you come from as long as you're mustachioed haha.  lhamo got it right and interestingly 18 years ago I lived in Beacon Hill and now I live in Northeast Seattle .  I really liked Beacon Hill but just know that it's difficult to get off the hill at times due to traffic . Public transit is getting better but it's a long time coming. We are going to have some of the worst traffic anywhere in the next three weeks. Then it will get marginally better .   A large part of the traffic problem is simply geography the second largest part of the traffic problem is the planning of the city grids and the hills making lots of bottlenecks. If you are coming here because you think it is affordable then you make a lot more than I do. I think it's fairly expensive to live here including high sales taxes high food prices, high gas prices, well everything is expensive.
 10 years ago I believe Seattle was very livable and I really liked it here for a long time. Now I don't think so much of Seattle and I think it has big city problems now.  We have serious issues with homelessness and the property type crimes that come along with that and drug use.
 Of course take all of this with a grain of salt from somebody who is lived here more than 20 years and is planning on moving away in one or two years in order to grow cider apples ha ha.
 ha.
 Best of luck to you and if you have more questions I'll keep checking this thread...
- fixie

big_slacker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1332
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2019, 07:52:31 AM »
10 years ago I believe Seattle was very livable and I really liked it here for a long time. Now I don't think so much of Seattle and I think it has big city problems now.  We have serious issues with homelessness and the property type crimes that come along with that and drug use.

This has been my impression of the city ever since I moved here, nearly 8 years ago. The city is flithy with tents everywhere, human waste on the sidewalk, crazy people shouting at themselves/everyone and the traffic is awful. Anything of value you let out of your sight is gone, especially bikes. Everything is overcrowded as well, seems like waiting in line for nearly anything is a hobby for a lot of people.

I really can't understand why anyone would want to live in Seattle proper, but I'm not a city person at all. I don't know about the job/commute situation but since you mentioned kids and outdoor activities I'm wondering if you know about the Eastside (Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Sammamish). Schools are nearly universally good to great. More greenery, closer to the trails, mountains and lakes. There is still traffic and if you have to work in downtown Seattle a commute to think about/work around. But in terms of lifestyle for a family I'd take it 11/10 times over anywhere in the city.

seattlecyclone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4575
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2019, 09:17:32 AM »
Counterpoint to the previous: I am a city person and think Seattle is pretty great. I love being able to use my feet as a legitimate form of transportation. Within a 10-minute walk of my house are two elementary schools, two convenience stores, a couple of coffee shops, a few bars, several restaurants, and two bus lines. Expand that radius out to 20 minutes and you add a couple of really nice parks, two library branches, several grocery stores, a hardware store, lots more bars and restaurants, a few more bus lines, a new subway station that will get me downtown in 10 minutes when it opens in two years, and more. You just don't get that in a suburban setting.

Yes, there are homeless people camped out down by the Interstate, and leaving valuables on your porch or visible in your car generally isn't the best idea due to risk of theft, but on balance I really like it here. I've spent most of my time here north of downtown so really can't comment too much on the neighborhoods you mentioned, but they seem like nice enough places when I have visited.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8731
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2019, 09:27:15 AM »
I agree with seattlecyclone -- if you are used to big city living then Seattle is a pretty good option.  Yes, we have our urban issues like any other big city.  But I think the people who prefer the eastside communities are not big city people.  Different strokes for different folks.

I grew up in East King County and attended Issaquah High School for a couple of years.  I like downtown Issaquah, but if you think you are escaping traffic by moving there you have another think coming -- rush hour can be worse there than in downtown Seattle.  The schools are good.  Redmond might be awesome if you can buy something along one of the bike trails (Burke Gilman, Redmond Connector, East Lake Sammamish trail = the latter is still not fully paved, though).  520 trail is still a bit glitchy with sections on very busy arterials, but it does give you a straight shot across 520 to the UW.

If you really want to be out in the country while still being close to the city, try the Snoqualmie Valley.  North bend has a lot going for it.

But I am guessing you guys are city people. 

DreamFIRE

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1552
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2019, 09:51:11 AM »
10 years ago I believe Seattle was very livable and I really liked it here for a long time. Now I don't think so much of Seattle and I think it has big city problems now.  We have serious issues with homelessness and the property type crimes that come along with that and drug use.

This has been my impression of the city ever since I moved here, nearly 8 years ago. The city is flithy with tents everywhere, human waste on the sidewalk, crazy people shouting at themselves/everyone and the traffic is awful. Anything of value you let out of your sight is gone, especially bikes. Everything is overcrowded as well, seems like waiting in line for nearly anything is a hobby for a lot of people.

I really can't understand why anyone would want to live in Seattle proper

Thanks for the warning.  Seattle doesn't sound like a place I would even want to visit.

fixie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 39
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2019, 11:22:20 AM »
Now allow me to say what is great about this place/region, since last night it appears my knickers were in a bunch:
We have really nice parks, many of them are pocket parks where you can plop down and read quietly or people watch.  The options for food of all kinds are very good, especially ethnic foods from Asia.  The summer weather is fantastic, and I don't mind the winter rain either but that takes some getting used to.  Just so you are aware, it isn't all rain here.  There is virtually NO rain in the region between ~July - late September.  This has climate change implications such as ocean acidification, water availability issues, and wildfire danger.  Climate models indicate an annual increase in precipitation, but it will still mostly fall outside the growing season.  There is good sailing, hiking, hot springs, national parks, kayaking, skiing, and cycling opportunities all around the region.  Drive out to the coast and you are virtually alone at times.  Watching winter storms come in from the Pacific at La Push is awesome.  There is still some wildlife left.  Portland is 3 hours away(on a good traffic day).  We are reasonably close to Canada, so Vancouver BC and Victoria(fun fast ferry ride) are great weekend getaways.  Also the San Juan Islands are wonderful.
Now, more to your questions...No income tax here, but fairly high property taxes and pretty high sales tax.  Seattle is neighborhoody, which is great if you like to walk to conveniences everyone appreciates.  Drivig is inevitable for some things, however.  Home price growth rate has slowed significantly, as lhamo indicated, so nothing like San ran r other Cali cities.
I hope this is more helpful than last night.  today is absolutely beautiful out and cool and sunny ad people actually smiled and said hello on my walk earlier.  We often have these types of days in Jan/Feb between Pacific storms...
-fixie


FIFoFum

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1756
    • Captain's Log - Mission to Puppy Waystation on Puppy Island
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2019, 11:41:52 AM »
I like living in Seattle/Seattle-metro & agree with everything said above - good and bad. I also think if your comparison is Bay Area, then you already know how you feel about the same things (traffic, HCOL, transient populations, outdoors stuff, high property/sales/gas taxes, etc.).

What I would ask is: If you are moving from the Bay Area to accelerate your FIRE timeline, why come up here? Why not move to another location that is a lower cost of living. There are medium cost of living places that would make a much bigger dent in your timeline, let alone lower cost of living places. The housing costs are not as crazy here as in the Bay Area, but they are significant, even in a softened market.

If you are moving to take a high paying tech (or other) job, then I understand why you'd choose Seattle. If you aren't, then there are likely far better options for you in achieving a faster path to FIRE.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8731
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2019, 11:43:19 AM »
Property tax rates are not all THAT high compared to many other parts of the country -- they typically total roughly 1% of assessed value, depending on what local levies and bond issues have been passed by the taxpayers (you will pay higher taxes if you live in an incorporated area versus out in an unicorporated part of the county like where I grew up -- but you get more services in the city, too).  But given the high cost of real estate in Seattle that means most people are paying 5000-10000/year in property taxes.

One huge plus -- we have some of the best libraries/library systems in the country.  And our libraries are typically BEAUTIFUL.  Seattle has a mixture of historic Carnegie era libraries, more recently built Pacific Northwest Modern style buildings (lots of wood and glass) and of course the iconic downtown main Seattle library building, which has won all kinds of architecture awards.

Our parks are great, and the regional trail system is awesome -- check out wta.org and browse the map.

Biking infrastructure is improving -- the hills and winter weather make it challenging, but ebikes and good weatherproof clothing from REI (another local institution) help address those issues.


FIFoFum

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1756
    • Captain's Log - Mission to Puppy Waystation on Puppy Island
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2019, 11:50:29 AM »
I will add:

Housing is NOT "reasonable." It is expensive to rent (though not at Bay Area level), more to buy, and almost every buy/rent calculator will highly favor renting from a financial/investment standpoint. Buying here is a consumption or emotional choice, not a financial one.

Quality of life is excellent IF you are not sitting in traffic all day or living beyond your means or stressed about a job you don't like.

Proximity to good outdoors stuff is neighborhood-specific, but does tend to be very good. There are excellent state and county parks, lots of green areas, and also bike trail infrastructure. There is also good access to water stuff (kayaking, stand up paddleboard, swimming if you like cold water). You are never that far away from excellent hiking/mountain hiking too.

I really like living out here. I just wouldn't view it as the fast path to FIRE.

Edited to add: It's easier to be Mustachian here because of the strong Buy Nothing communities. High wealth + recycling/reuse culture is good for a frugal person! Also, there are robust MMM and Choose FI groups and community out here, so you can find your "tribe" with that, if you like. There is also strong cycling community, if that's your jam. In general, even outside the Mustachian world, the PNW tends to be a lot less consumption-based or materialistic than some other regions (e.g., East Coast, deep south, SoCal). This too is shifting in the hipster/tech ways that you would have noticed in the Bay Area. But it still leans hard into being able to participate in community without having the need for status or materialism.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 11:54:44 AM by FIFoFum »

big_slacker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1332
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2019, 05:57:03 PM »
Counterpoint to the previous: I am a city person and think Seattle is pretty great. I love being able to use my feet as a legitimate form of transportation. Within a 10-minute walk of my house are two elementary schools, two convenience stores, a couple of coffee shops, a few bars, several restaurants, and two bus lines. Expand that radius out to 20 minutes and you add a couple of really nice parks, two library branches, several grocery stores, a hardware store, lots more bars and restaurants, a few more bus lines, a new subway station that will get me downtown in 10 minutes when it opens in two years, and more. You just don't get that in a suburban setting.

You get what you list above in a ton of suburban areas. Anyone who lives within a 10 minute walk of downtown kirkland for instance. Or anyone in the lake hills neighborhood in Bellevue. I even have all of that (except the buses and subway) in one stoplight farmtown Carnation. I know what your point is, that there are a lot of amenities right out your front door in an urban area and I'm not disagreeing. Just counterpointing that counterpoint, the eastside burbs are not car only miles upon miles of houses. They're neighborhoods with neighborhood stuff as well. Just not as densely packed, although they're getting there. 

I would think in making the case for the city you'd talk about lots more employers clustered together around downtown, the arts, museums, pike place market, the sports teams and so on. Those are the things that the burbs lack.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 05:58:53 PM by big_slacker »

SnackDog

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1278
  • Location: Latin America
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2019, 07:10:10 PM »
Tacoma real estate seems to be less than half the price of Seattle.  Not sure how grotty it is these days but couldn't be too bad. Sort of a working-class port city, maybe the equivalent of San Leandro in the Bay Area (only cheaper).  Less than an hour to Seattle if you need some culture.

seattlecyclone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4575
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2019, 09:01:43 PM »
Counterpoint to the previous: I am a city person and think Seattle is pretty great. I love being able to use my feet as a legitimate form of transportation. Within a 10-minute walk of my house are two elementary schools, two convenience stores, a couple of coffee shops, a few bars, several restaurants, and two bus lines. Expand that radius out to 20 minutes and you add a couple of really nice parks, two library branches, several grocery stores, a hardware store, lots more bars and restaurants, a few more bus lines, a new subway station that will get me downtown in 10 minutes when it opens in two years, and more. You just don't get that in a suburban setting.

You get what you list above in a ton of suburban areas. Anyone who lives within a 10 minute walk of downtown kirkland for instance. Or anyone in the lake hills neighborhood in Bellevue. I even have all of that (except the buses and subway) in one stoplight farmtown Carnation. I know what your point is, that there are a lot of amenities right out your front door in an urban area and I'm not disagreeing. Just counterpointing that counterpoint, the eastside burbs are not car only miles upon miles of houses. They're neighborhoods with neighborhood stuff as well. Just not as densely packed, although they're getting there. 

I would think in making the case for the city you'd talk about lots more employers clustered together around downtown, the arts, museums, pike place market, the sports teams and so on. Those are the things that the burbs lack.

I don't really consider downtown Kirkland to be much of a "suburban setting" these days. The core has a solid, walkable street grid with amenities and density similar to what you'll find in many Seattle neighborhoods. If I had to work on the Eastside, downtown Kirkland would definitely be a place I'd consider living. Much better than a commute over the lake, that's for sure! The difference between there and Seattle is that you go a little ways out of downtown and you're in a cookie-cutter American suburb with all the automobile dependence that implies. There isn't the continuous population density needed to support all-day frequent transit service at nearly the same level as in the city, and too few neighborhood-scale commercial centers for my personal taste.

The arts/museums/employers/etc. in downtown Seattle are a little bit more accessible from my neighborhood than they are from much of the Eastside, but not excessively so. It's still a bit of a trip either way. The new subway station might change that a bit, we'll have to see.

Paul der Krake

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4395
  • Age: 10
  • Location: USA
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2019, 09:45:51 PM »
Don't worry about people complaining about Californians. People bitch about newcomers on the internet but they'll never say it to your face. At worst you may get a mean-ish comment, followed by that person staring at their shoelaces.


Cressida

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2501
  • Location: Sunset Zone 5
  • gender is a hierarchy
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2019, 10:02:06 PM »
10 years ago I believe Seattle was very livable and I really liked it here for a long time. Now I don't think so much of Seattle and I think it has big city problems now.  We have serious issues with homelessness and the property type crimes that come along with that and drug use.

This has been my impression of the city ever since I moved here, nearly 8 years ago. The city is flithy with tents everywhere, human waste on the sidewalk, crazy people shouting at themselves/everyone and the traffic is awful. Anything of value you let out of your sight is gone, especially bikes. Everything is overcrowded as well, seems like waiting in line for nearly anything is a hobby for a lot of people.

I really can't understand why anyone would want to live in Seattle proper

Thanks for the warning.  Seattle doesn't sound like a place I would even want to visit.

I've lived in Seattle since 1978 (with a couple of breaks). It's no filthier than any other large American city. Homelessness is a problem, but there aren't tents "everywhere"; you'll see them clustered next to the highway in spots. (That's not OK, but I'm just trying to set the record straight.) I worked downtown for 15 years and never saw human waste on the sidewalk (which doesn't mean it never happened, but it's a pretty good track record), unless you're talking about getting a whiff of urine walking past an alley, and again, that happens in other cities. There are some blocks where people with untreated mental illness tend to hang out, but you can avoid them, and yet again, no worse than any other large city. I don't know why someone would leave out something of value. Yes, the traffic sucks, I'll grant that one.

big_slacker is free to dislike Seattle, of course. I'm presenting a different opinion, that's all.

As for the original question, I don't think I'd move here to accelerate FIRE. I agree with FIFoFum on that one.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3538
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2019, 10:43:53 PM »
I left the Seattle area for rural Idaho (farm country) a couple years ago and couldn't be happier being out of that circle of Hell.

My husband and I are starting to talk about the idea of relocating to Seattle to be FIRE faster (admittedly, I love the idea of green and not worrying about drought as well).

Yes, everything is green.  Including your car.  Moss grows on everything, including stuff you'd rather it not - driveway, sidewalk, car, house, you...

That said, drought is a risk - nothing there has a deep root system.  We had some good storms while I was there, and guaranteed, a good thunderstorm would knock out power (and one took out the fence of the place we were renting, very nearly took out a corner of the house) - the 100' tall pine trees have a root system that goes maybe 2-3' deep, so when the ground softens from rain and the wind blows, they just topple over.  Power goes out, roads become impassable, it's a mess.

Quote
We are looking at neighborhoods surrounding Beacon Hill Elementary and Dearborn Park Elementary for the littles. I'm curious to know general thoughts on what the areas are like, how reasonable housing is, proximity to outdoor activities, what the quality of life is like, and if there are any areas we should avoid. Any tips and tricks on being more mustachian that are specific to Seattle? Thanks in advance for anything you can throw at me.

Housing: Very expensive, though if you're from CA you might find $2k/mo in rent for a tiny place a bargain.

Quality of life: Sitting in traffic to stand in line to spend money was a good description, though everyone insisted that the proper way to do it was to take public transit to stand in line to spend money.  I gave up and just ebiked everywhere, which was at least faster than driving.  There are plenty of outdoor activities, but expect to see lots and lots of other people on them as well, if it's a tolerable day outside.

The weather is abusive.  It's grey for 10 months of the year, everyone has SAD, and there's a serious Stockholm syndrome going on - "The weather has stopped being truly crappy, isn't this place amazing?" - if you're used to sun, you'll likely have a very hard time adjusting.  Buy a happy light.

Anything of value you let out of your sight is gone, especially bikes.

I understand some of the tech companies had problems with people breaking into the (fenced) bike cage in their parking garage a while back to steal bikes.


If you do go to live there, just plan on doing everything within a walking distance or short biking distance.  The whole road system is a parking lot.

bbates728

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Age: 25
  • Location: PNW
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2019, 09:47:52 AM »
+1 for living on the eastside. I am over in the Renton Highlands where prices are cheaper, schools are great, and there is a lot less crime/homelessness. It is fantastic and traffic is easier to navigate.

I moved here from Oklahoma a couple years ago and have actually been able to save more money here than I did back in LCOL Okla (though this may be moreso due to finding FIRE and MMM). It is definitely doable as I have found my habits shifting more to free community events and outdoor activities.

Public transit is one of the main reasons I moved and continues to be my main transportation method. It isn't perfect and can be late some times but overall it is damn good.

I feel like the eastside is perfect for relatively mustachian people:
People complain about traffic being atrocious? Stop driving so much.
People complain about housing prices? Move to the eastside suburbs which are better.
People complain about high sales tax? Stop buying so damn much (+1 to great no buy communities and Craigslist).
People complain about having other people enjoying the outdoors? Time to build up a community and make friends!
People complain about rain for half the year? Get a jacket.

All of these complaints are trivial if a modicum of effort is expended. On top of it all, I make 20% more than Okla and my wife (teacher) makes almost double. This won't be the same for you, but my intent is showing how this all is very easily combated with some determination.

Good luck and let us know where you end up!

Telecaster

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1427
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2019, 09:56:38 AM »
I really like living Seattle.  But I don't like it as much as I used to.  Seattle is very neighborhoody, but a lot of those quirky, even strange, neighborhood shops and restaurants have been replaced by corporate (or at least well-funded), pre-planned stuff.   Nothing "wrong" with that, but the same feeling isn't there anymore.  At least not as much.  On top of that, everything has gotten really expensive, and the traffic is just soul sucking.

That said, there is still a lot that is great about Seattle.  There are tons of great bars and restaurants.  There is great natural beauty.   Despite what you may have heard the climate is pretty mild.  One could do a lot worse. 


BECABECA

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Huntington Beach, CA
  • Retired since July 2017, not bored yet!
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2019, 10:46:26 AM »
Not to throw this off topic, but is there a reason youíre focused on Seattle instead of Portland? Similar weather and city feel but with much lower COL (the below link has some cost comparisons, and you can click More Data to cycle through other comparisons like population demographics):
https://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/portland-or/seattle-wa/120000

(I moved from the Bay Area a few years ago but South instead of North, I moved to Huntington Beach, which has a similar cost index to Seattle, and subsequently retired early😁).

ysette9

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3618
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • Insert Snappy Title Here (Journal)
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2019, 11:21:37 AM »
hello all.

Thanks for all of the responses as well as your patience with me responding. I tend to post more frequently during the week and then ignore the forums on the weekend when I play with my family. ;)

Yes, coming from the Bay Area things like $2-3k rent and 1% property taxes don't seem expensive to me at all. :) In fact, I'd find $2k/month housing to be a kick-ass awesome bargain. :)

So we are considering Seattle proper for two reasons: one is that both of our tech companies are there, so the idea would be that my husband would try to switch groups and get his company to pay for a relocation. We'd ideally rent our current place and rent a place in Seattle as a test-drive before actually committing to anything.

As for the location itself, a very high priority for us is to have a Mandarin immersion public school program for our kids, the oldest who starts kinder in Fall. With that kind of value we are never going to move to a place that isn't fairly urban, fairly diverse, etc. There are three elementary schools with Mandarin immersion programs in the Seattle area: Bellevue, Beacon Hill, and Dearborn Park (not quite sure what neighborhood that is considered to be part of). Bellevue appears to be pretty expensive at first glance, so we've ruled that out because the main point of moving would be reducing housing costs, along with a hopeful improvement in the quality of living. My husband's potential new work location is within a couple of miles of the Beacon Hill elementary, so the rough idea there is that we could have a bike-able commute/life.

We booked a long weekend in Feb to visit some friends we know in Seattle as well as explicitly spend time near the two elementary schools to drive/walk the areas and get a feel for what it is like. My plan was to book an AirBnB close by so we can really spend some time there, rather than a hotel in the downtown area.

Thoughts?

Lanthiriel

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 761
  • Location: Portlandia
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2019, 11:22:06 AM »
I'm from the Seattle area and now live in Portland. The climate is absolutely horrible and the traffic is worse. I escaped for four years until a job loss brought me back to the area, and being away from it made me realize how bad things really are. I avoid downtown areas like the plague because they are so dirty and filled with homeless people. Portland's homeless used to be fairly benign, but now I get screamed at pretty much every time I'm downtown.

People say the best thing about living in the PNW is access to the outdoors. Sure, you can drive an hour and a half out of the City to recreate with several hundred other people who drove out on the congested roads with you and clog the trails.

Unfortunately, my husband and I are in a golden handcuff situation and are stashing cash while living a pretty luxurious lifestyle. But if one of us happens to lose a job again, our goal is to have enough stashed to move to a LCOL area and get by on lower paying, perhaps less prestigious jobs. We're targeting western North Carolina because we have family there.

ysette9

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3618
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • Insert Snappy Title Here (Journal)
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2019, 12:16:54 PM »
We visited Seattle maybe 5 years ago and spent a week near south lake union, doing touristy things downtown. Things may very well have changed a lot since then, but I don’t remember raging homeless or other issues some have described. We saw some grittier corners, but nothing approaching Sam Francisco. Are things different now?

I think our trip in Feb will be very educational. I appreciate the comments about biking and traffic. The bike trails comment is intriguing. I’ll have to look into that more. We both current bike to work here and I think it is awesome.

The rough numbers say we could be FI today if we moved to Seattle and would need another 2-3 years if we stayed. So we have this massive open question of what the hell we want, and how we are going to spend our time. Quality of life therefore is a big consideration. We are working on our list of activities and whatnot we like, and I’m doing some online research into outdoor activities, community music groups (symphony & choir), francophone and mandarin communities, maybe volunteering, what is it like to raise interracial and multi-lingual kids there, etc.

***


I have to say, this adulting thing is hard.
We find ourselves asking each other whether we kind of suck at it and don’t really know what we are doing in life. I think we don’t actually suck that badly but having the entire world of options available makes decision-making really hard.

Lanthiriel

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 761
  • Location: Portlandia
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2019, 12:34:22 PM »
We visited Seattle maybe 5 years ago and spent a week near south lake union, doing touristy things downtown. Things may very well have changed a lot since then, but I donít remember raging homeless or other issues some have described. We saw some grittier corners, but nothing approaching Sam Francisco. Are things different now?

It is different. I consider myself a pretty liberal person, but it's been hard for me to stomach the administrative decisions that have allowed the homeless populations to increase to the levels they have. Decisions mostly on the mayoral level have been made to reduce police interference with homeless people. While I appreciate attempts to improve access to mental health treatment and low income/transitional housing, people cannot be forced to use these services, and most don't. There are portions of both Portland (old town) and Seattle (Chinatown and Pioneer Square) where I just refuse to go. Which is sad because all of those areas are places I really enjoyed 15 years ago.

ysette9

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3618
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • Insert Snappy Title Here (Journal)
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2019, 12:38:52 PM »
That is unfortunate to hear. It sounds like similarly challenges being faced in the San Jose and San Francisco. There are no easy answers.

FIFoFum

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1756
    • Captain's Log - Mission to Puppy Waystation on Puppy Island
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2019, 01:03:50 PM »
The test visit sounds great. Seattle is a good quality of life choice for the items you listed, and you can find a house to rent for $3K/month, if you are location flexible.

I think transient population issues are worse everywhere on the west coast now compared to 5 years ago, as more people have been displaced with the rising housing properties and lack of affordable housing options. You're right - there are no easy answers.

For anyone whose personal perspective is that they don't want to "see" transient or marginalized people, San Francisco is hands down "worse" than Seattle on this, if you are comparing the two. People who talk about how horrible certain areas in Seattle probably aren't saying it is worse than the Tenderloin, for example. Politically, both SF and Seattle have struggled with policing and also providing social services. If someone is expecting east coast style aggressive policing to make transience criminal, they will be disappointed with west coast city politics across the board (Bay Area, Seattle, Portland).

The biggest difference to me between now and 5 years ago is just how much worse the traffic is, and how many more people are living here. The same tech jobs you are describing have brought in thousands of people every single MONTH since your last visit. There are growing pains associated with this type of rapid demographic change. The infrastructure was never meant for a population of this size, and everyone is playing catch-up, especially on transportation and public transit.

When you visit, it makes sense to put yourself through a trial of what you expect your school drop-off and work commute to be, at the hours they would be occurring.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8731
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2019, 01:09:25 PM »
Although the mayors have had some impact on choices surrounding how to deal with the homeless/opiod/mental health crisis, I think the problem is actually more related to the fact that Seattle Police Department is still operating under a Federal Consent Decree due to historic issues with biased policing -- mainly race-related, but it raises the whole issue about how the SPD does or does not respect citizens legal rights.  So under the guidance of SPD leadership and the City Attorney, there has been a major pullback on the enforcement of vagrancy laws, etc. because this is a huge area where they could get civil rights challenges.

Anyway, having recently been to San Diego and having heard what the situation in SFO is like, I don't think our homelessness issues are any worse than any other mild-climate west coast city.  And hopefully our Governor's recent pledge to focus more of the state budget on mental health and crisis intervention efforts will help, though slowly.

Re:  Mandarin immersion, you might want to verify that just moving into the cachement area for those two schools will assure you a seat.  And buy/rent a house in one of them FAST.  Because our school choice application period runs only from February 1-14, and if you miss that then you may be low on the priority list.  I recall that when those programs first opened, there was extremely high demand and I don't believe everyone in the cachement zone got seats.  Also, be advised that Seattle Public Schools just released its draft strategic plan, and it is focused 100% on improving test scores for low-performing minorities (which in our district does NOT include CHinese-American, though some other Asian subsets might be included). There is going to be backlash, because they have done nothing to disaggregate race from poverty (something like 70-80% of African American students enrolled in the district qualify for free/reduce lunch, so this would be a pretty easy switch to make).  But anyway, how it relates to your situation is that there has been pushback from the central administration on maintaining support for ANYTHING in the district that does not play to the race card.  This includes the gifted program (HCC = Highly Capable COhort) AND language immersion programs.  Your targeted schools MAY be safe due to their location, but I would look closely at enrollment statistics.  Another south-end elementary school with a long-standing Montessori program (that was fought for vigorously in the '80s and 90s) may get it cut because it is said to be creating segregation within the school (most of the montessori students are white, most of the mainstream students are minority -- SUPPOSEDLY, I haven't seen the actual statistics and have doubts about whether this is true).

Good place to beef up on local school issues:

http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/

Anyway, welcome to the politics of Seattle Public Schools.  Note that the author of White Fragility was raised and still lives here.  Yes, we are the capital of White Fragility. 

I hope I didn't just drive you to Bellevue!

Sailor Sam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4146
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Steel Beach
  • Semper...something
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2019, 02:10:46 PM »
I lived in N. Seattle for 3 years (2015-2017) in the View Ridge neighbourhood. My impressions were:

1. Traffic wasn't particularly bad in my neigbourhood. Almost everything I needed was within a 3 mile radius, so I very rarely left my 'ghetto', but when I did have to leave traffic was mind bendingly awwwwwful, particularly trying to go east-west. All major arteries are set up to pipe traffic north or south, with east and west relegated to smaller arteries, more traffic lights, and no freeway.

2. Even in N. Seattle, it's a fairly dense urban area, and things are crowded. Off-peak, going to the grocery store of the coffee shop was fun and the area felt vibrant without being overly crowded. On-peak the same activities were claustrophobic and sensorially upsetting. Too. Many. People.

3. The People Are Not Nice! The famous friendliness of the PNW is almost entirely a snow job. People are certainly superficially friendly, but damn it's a shallow layer.

4. Summers are amazing. Access to outdoor recreation is unparalleled and fucking amazing. But keep in mind, that the entire city wants to be out, enjoying the sunshine.

5. The entire downtown area smells like pot. Like, a lot. It is not subtle.

6. The metro area is NOT racially integrated. White and some Asian people are north of downtown. All other colors are south of downtown. Coming from Virginia, I found the extreme segregation uncomfortable, and in direct contradiction to the touted liberalness of 'Cascadia.' Even more bizarre and uncomfortable, no one really wanted to talk about the issue.

7. HOLY FUCK gas was expensive.

8. The rain patterns really do seem to be shifting from the 'drizzle' format of my childhood (in Vancouver, so on the westside, but not in Seattle), to the 'drenching fucking downpour' format that used to be the domain of the eastern states.

9. Availability of public transportation is solid, but is mostly busses which are victims of the same terrible traffic as the cars. The lightrail is excellent, but doesn't service much of 'every day' life. Airport and stadiums? Awesome! Going to the cool grocery store in Capitol Hill. NOT awesome!

Summary, I'm glad I got to live in Seattle. I had some great times in the city, and met some excellent friends through the MMM forum. But despite efforts to make a tribe, I was very lonely, and felt hemmed in by traffic and density. I was happy to move away.

palerider1858

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2019, 02:19:28 PM »
I've lived in Seattle and Ballard since 1992. I work in the city and have friends on the SPD. This city has changed drastically in the last 15 years. The homeless crisis and city sanctioned "safe" heroin injection sites along with the occasional feces on the streets have really affected the appeal of downtown. Limitations on law enforcement and the city doing everything possible to disarm it's citizens is now trendy. I can't wait to leave.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8731
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2019, 02:37:29 PM »
I've lived in Seattle and Ballard since 1992. I work in the city and have friends on the SPD. This city has changed drastically in the last 15 years. The homeless crisis and city sanctioned "safe" heroin injection sites along with the occasional feces on the streets have really affected the appeal of downtown. Limitations on law enforcement and the city doing everything possible to disarm it's citizens is now trendy. I can't wait to leave.

There are no official safe injection sites currently, though there is a strong drive to establish two -- one in Seattle and one in Greater King County-- on the part of King County Public Health and certain members of the city council.  Most likely we will end up with BOTH in Seattle (because other cities are passing laws to ban them, though this is being taken to the Supreme Court and might get struck down), one downtown and one in my hood.  Because it would look bad to put one south of the Ship canal and my hood has a lot of poverty.  And our local council member has been very cagey in her responses to queries about what is being planned.

There are several needle exchanges in Seattle, including the most active one in the University District.  The leader of that one is a drug user himself, and is probably running at least one unofficial safe injection site -- he has pretty much admitted to doing so in the press.  But it is not an official site yet.

Syonyk

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3538
    • Syonyk's Project Blog
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2019, 02:39:28 PM »
Don't forget the RV parks.

"Literally every street by the waterfront," last time I was out there.  Lined with RVs that may or may not run.

Telecaster

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1427
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2019, 02:58:55 PM »
6. The metro area is NOT racially integrated. White and some Asian people are north of downtown. All other colors are south of downtown. Coming from Virginia, I found the extreme segregation uncomfortable, and in direct contradiction to the touted liberalness of 'Cascadia.' Even more bizarre and uncomfortable, no one really wanted to talk about the issue.

Seattle neighborhoods were formally racially segregated until 1968.    Only whites were allowed to live north of the Ship Canal and north of Madison Street.   Those dividing lines are still very apparent today.   

ysette9

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3618
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • Insert Snappy Title Here (Journal)
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #32 on: January 17, 2019, 04:27:29 PM »
Reviving this a bit..

I called Beacon Hill and Dearborn Park elementary schools today and asked about admissions into the Mandarin immersion programs. The lady at Beacon Hill was very helpful and concluded by saying she thought we'd have a "good chance" of getting into the program even if we moved into the neighborhood later in the year, as that program is slower to fill up than the Spanish immersion one. The person at Dearborn Park wasn't able to hazard a guess at all about chances, only reiterated that open enrollment is now, and that they then take the list of enrollees and their preferences to work the magic of deciding who gets into what program.

If only my friend happened to live in one of those two neighborhoods instead of further north...

The info about Beacon Hill is helpful though.

Snd198

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Caling Seattle mustachians: can I pick your brain?
« Reply #33 on: Today at 04:03:43 PM »
Just wanted to add one thing to consider. If you are interested in Mandarin immersion, Bellevue is where most of the Asian community tends to live, not Seattle.