My husband has been offered a contract position in Seattle beginning at the end of the month and lasting for 5-6 months. We are currently near Detroit and suffering the fallout from the auto industry. We have been planning a move to Portland or Seattle for a while now, and are excited to finally have a good reason to go. I have a bunch of questions about the area if anyone could offer some insight...
Can Seattle be conquered without a car? We will come out with one, but would love to get rid of our second car and my husband will definitely need one for work, which would leave me without one for a good bit of the time. I'm excited to walk with my son, but I've read mixed reviews about getting around the city without a car (or with one, for that matter :) is the traffic really that bad???). Also, does public transit go outside the city to suburbs at all?
Are there good up and coming neighborhoods still in Seattle? I'd read that most up and coming neighborhoods in Seattle had "arrived" and were not necessarily a good deal. We will be looking to sublet until we know for sure that we have a permanent job, and then ultimately would love a small old house in a cool neighborhood. Diversity, walkability, farm markets, good food, good music, good coffee are all big positives in my book. We also don't have a ton of money, so I'm ok with a grittier area if it's safe, kwim? Is it hard to find a place to live for a family of three for under $1000? Am I going to get laughed at for even asking that? Also, are there nice country feeling places near enough to the city that commuting would be possible?
Coming from Detroit, I don't even know if this question is worth asking because anywhere has got to be better than here, :( but is the economy pretty stable with a good amount of job opportunities? If we decide to stay in Seattle, my husband will be looking for a permanent job and I would like to wait tables or work in a shop a few days a week just to meet some folks. Ultimately, when my son is in school, I would like to re-start my career in interior design and have been stalking a bunch of modern pre-fab builders/architects/designers in the area who I hope to charm into giving me a job some time down the road. Pipe dream? Maybe... but a gal has to have some goals, right?
Also, I don't plan on homeschooling at this point, though I may change my mind about that, but I would really love to know if a nice alternative to public or high tuition private schools exists. We do a Waldorf co op here. I don't know that I would choose an exclusively Waldorf school for the long term, but would love to find a school that puts some unique methods into practice (free schooling, unschooling, Waldorf etc., without being dogmatic about any one thing). Does that even exist anywhere? I just want my son to go to a school where he will be nurtured and treated like the wonderful little individual he is. But I may not be able to pay for it, so it should be free, of course! ;)
Hmmm... can't think of anything else off the top of my head! Sorry for the inquisition, but I don't want to read any more conflicting articles or reviews on line. I just want to hear from real people! Any questions that y'all can answer will be greatly appreciated!
As an added bonus, if you want to volunteer to be my first Seattle friend and tour guide, I'll promise to cook you a good meal. If you love good music, even better! Thanks again, folks!
Yes, housing for three under 1000, particularly in Seattle, is hard to find. The cost of living is rather high here.
Where in the city is your dh's job? There are areas with decent public transportation in the city. Getting to/from the suburbs is where it gets harder. It exists, but it's not great, IMO. It really depends on where you live. Traffic across the lake bridges (in/out of seattle from areas like Bellevue/Issaquah/Kirkland) is a nightmare at rush hour!
As far as schools, I don't know a ton about schools in Seattle, but anything private you are going to pay for, that's pretty standard. There are less traditional schools in the Seattle district that fill by lottery and such, but you'll have to ask moms in that system for advice, it's been years since I was in those schools. There are also some really terrible schools in that district.
Come to Renton and be my friend! It is a suburb with a country sort of feel in areas of it. Yes, in the Seattle area cost of living and alternative schooling is very high and cheap housing will be hard to find. Yes, the traffic really is that bad, and our public transit to and from suburbia is woefully useless. Carpooling is your best bet for commuting if you want to reduce cars.
Thanks for the info, ladies. That's the conclusion I've been coming to, sadly. My husband will be working all around the city and suburbs, so no one area will be better then another, as far as a consistent commute. Unfortunately, car pooling will not be an option. He will be in different locations every day and also probably bringing equipment with him. Good thought though! That's why I was hoping he could have the car and we could just walk for our daily adventures around the hood.
A13xandra, how far away is Renton from Seattle? I know google says it's less than 20 minutes, but it also says that Bellevue is 12 minutes. Hoping the no bridge thing makes that a fairly accurate gage. Renton seems like it has a lot more to offer in the way of housing. Maybe we'll be neighbors! Let's catch up when I get out there! If your on FB and want to friend me, my name is Emily Ayres Maccombs. I'm hoping to be out at the beginning of March.
Thanks again for the tips! Any insight is helpful!
The traffic really does make calculating a reliable commute completely impossible. I used to commute from North Seattle (the farthest away part of Seattle) to Renton daily, and my trip there was 45 minutes in the early morning and 2 hours back in the evening rush hour. However, West Seattle really is 15-20 minutes away during daytime traffic, unless there's an accident, and then all bets are off. Yeah, you wanna' avoid bridges if at all possible.
Well thanks again for the tip. I just saw a beautiful and affordable sublet on Vashon Island on CL. Is that a really crazy idea? It sounds like a dream come true for me, but I only know what I've read on wiki about the island and it looks like it is a good hour commute to Seattle. For a midwestern girl, something about seeing a pod of orcas swim by from my backyard is just worth all the hassle. I need someone to tell me what a bad idea it is, because right now, I want to go for it.
Vashon is lovely but for example one of my professors lives there and his commute is 2 hrs door to door - if your DH is doing a lot of travelling for his job anyway, a very long commute involving ferries is going to get very old, very fast!!
I love Seattle - moved here from the UK over 6 years ago, but it is expensive. Having lived in London and DC I'd say the traffic isn't THAT bad but it has certainly got worse in the 6 years I've been here. The local government is trying to expand public transport but it's a slow process. In terms of cheaper areas to live, you've already heard about Renton and then there is Shoreline (slightly north of Seattle) which is a bit cheaper than the suburbs closer to downtown. I think there is Waldorfy preschool up there too? Anyway good luck with your search and feel free to PM if you want more info.
Widowed mummy to T 6/08 and a crazy blue dog
you may want to check out Columbia city or the Central area or Rainer beach there are nice parts and some rather scary parts . I'm in Madison Vally public transport is great here and pay 1500 for a 4 bedroom duplex it seems about average for here but I found a few for less a little further south
Vashon Island is beautiful but as others have said commuting on the ferry is time consuming and expensive. I know someone who commutes regularly to Pike's Place Market from Vashon, and it can be done, although she generally takes the passenger only ferry as it is cheaper. I think Everett is also cheaper than Seattle, but again you are talking about a long commute. Bothell can be cheap too but it's also a hike. South Park in Seattle is cheap but can be a bit sketchy. We pay a bit over $1000 per month for a two bedroom apartment in Redmond, so it's not really affordable here. North Bend is also a bit cheaper but it's way out there. Good luck!
Jen 47 DS C 2/03 04/29/08/ DD S 10/28/09 DH Bill '97.
mighty-mama and her sister Kundalini-Mama
Wow! Thank you all so much for the info. Unfortunately, the job offer fell through, but we just put in for a tranfer with his current company, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll make it out there in the next few months. This gives me so much to investigate. I really appreciate it!