Thinking of moving to Washington. Which towns should I check out? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 03-23-2011, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I grew up in Oregon, and even though they're right next door, I could probably count the times I've been to WA, on one hand.  

 

Dh and I are just looking for something new and he hates his current job, so the idea of moving to a new area has been coming up.  We still love the pacific northwest, so we're curious about Washington.

 

Are there any notable differences between Oregon and Washington?  (other than sales tax)

 

We're going to stay at a friend's house in Seattle, and I'm wondering which towns we should check out.

 

Here are some things we'd like:

 

-  We'd like to be close to the ocean.  Either a beach town or something no more than an hour a away.  (we both grew up in beach towns, so they feel like home)

 

-  Any areas that are warmer or less rainy?

 

-  A college town would be nice.

 

-  Other than that we're into art, saturday markets, natural food stores, coffee shops, camping, going to the beach, eating out (seafood, thai, indian, japanese, other ethnic foods), a good hospital with a nice birthing center in it, within a couple hours from the airport, good schools, maybe a montessori preschool.

 

-  We have a 13 month old son, (and plan to have more), so anything good for kids.

 

-  More liberal than conservative. 

 

-  Not a crazy amount of traffic.

 

-  Dh is a Programmer/Analyst/IT guy....but possibly wanting to get into the Earth Science field.  I am an artist.

 

-  Decent home & rental prices.

 

 

 

 

I know there's no perfect place with all of our preferences, but I thought it would be helpful.

 

 

Thanks so much!

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#2 of 21 Old 03-23-2011, 09:51 AM
 
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I currently live in Oregon but grew up in Washington.  When reading your post, the first town that comes to mind is Corvallis (we live in Albany, about 10 miles east).  It's a little further then an hour from the coast, but still a pretty quick drive.  It has the college town vibe, an awesome farmer's market, very biker friendly, lots of parks, etc.

 

I thought of Bellingham, too, in Washington, but having lived there for 4.5 years, I can tell you the climate is pretty different then Corvallis.  It's also got a pretty great location, college vibe, family friendly, closer to the water then Corvallis, but more rain, colder winters, etc.

 

I'm partial to Western Oregon over Western Washington for traffic, weather, affordability, etc.  My one big concern with Oregon is the schools.  I'm a teacher and I have school-aged kids, and we're seriously considering leaving the state, despite my deep love of it, because the school system is getting gutted.  On the other hand, if you are considering home schooling or possibly charter schools, you may not be too concerned about the public system.  There is so much to love about Oregon!  If the school system could stabalize, and my family didn't live 8 hours away (in Eastern Washington), I wouldn't consider living anywhere else!


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#3 of 21 Old 03-23-2011, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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spedtchr:  Thanks for your thoughts.  Corvallis has definitely been on my list of places to move.  I lived in Eugene for 5 years and I grew up in Tillamook, so I'm decently familiar with the area.  In fact, I go there about once a month to go grocery shopping at Trader Joes and Market of Choice.  (I'm in McMinnville now)  Sometimes I think Corvallis is too familiar...but I guess any place gets that way after a while.  (you know that feeling when you just want something new? ...or I we just have a serious case of "the grass is always greener"  ....maybe I could use a vacation.  :)  )

 

 Is it generally colder and more rainy in western washington....or just bellingham compared to corvallis?

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#4 of 21 Old 03-23-2011, 07:41 PM
 
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Ah - I wasn't sure where you had lived, but sounds like you are pretty familiar with this area.  I totally hear you on the "grass is always greener" - I love moving to new places, learning the area, meeting new people, etc.  I'm a little bias against Washington, though - I think because I've lived on both sides of the state and just prefer Oregon for so many reasons.  DH and I have talked about moving to the Seattle area a few times, as his family lives there.  We always come back to the horrible traffic, high cost of living, and yuckier weather there then here.  Not to say there aren't great places to live there - just not for us, right now.

 

I think Western Washington is generally colder and wetter then Western Oregon.  My SIL lives in the Tacoma area and they consistently get more rain/snow then we do.  Bellingham isn't nearly as wet as the Seattle area, but I had a harder time in the winters there then I do here (I really struggle with the gloom and dark of winters).  We didn't get snow very often, but it was definitely wet and grey most of the winter.  I do not like the feel of Seattle, as a big city, especially compared to Portland, so I liked that Bellingham felt removed enough from Seattle to feel really manageable yet close enough that you could go in to the city for concerts, museums, etc.  I liked even more the closeness to Vancouver, BC - now there is a fabulous big city!!  B'ham itself is pretty liberal, but there are a few nearby small towns that are quite conservative.

 

Other little towns near Bellingham that might be worth checking out could be Mount Vernon (just south of B'ham), Anacortes (just south of B'ham, and east of the San Juan Islands), and Whidbey Island (you can get there by land or by ferry).  I haven't spent much time in any of them since I graduated from college 15 years ago, so can't really speak to their amenities, but I liked them at the time I lived in the area. :)  I think Mount Vernon has gotten a bit crunchier since I was there - I've heard they have a decent farmer's market, and their location to agricultural areas would suggest good selection.  I do love Whidbey Island - there are several lavendar farms, a number of wineries, and several small quaint towns.  But it may be a better vacation destination then living destination.

 

Sorry I'm not much help! :)


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#5 of 21 Old 03-23-2011, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh no, you were plenty help!

 

That would be hilarious if we moved to Mt. Vernon......it's our last name.  (Vernon)

I'll definitely look into those places.  

....but you are certainly talking Oregon up....which is good, because staying would be a lot easier.  I don't think McMinnville is our permanent spot though.

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#6 of 21 Old 03-25-2011, 01:30 PM
 
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I would say if you were looking to move to WA... Bellingham is fantastic... spent all my 20's there.. it has seriously exploded though.  We left the 'ham to move to Western Oregon to go to school.  We were in Coos Bay... RAINED ALL THE TIME and I am from WA (Mukilteo) and know the rain.  I prefer the weather in Bellingham for sure.  It is colder but there is not much humidity as there is in Mount Vernon.  I currently live in the Skagit Valley in between Mount Vernon and Anacortes.  I think Mount Vernon is on it's way to being more crunchy but there are a ton of red necks (pardon the pun) here.  There are some great folks trying to get the farmers market on its way.  I was quite surprised it wasn't better than it is due to how much beautiful crops are around here.   We do however have one of the prettiest Co-ops I have ever seen.  It is generally cloudier here as the foothills sock in all the weather.  Anacortes on the the other hand is a fantastic place.  It always seems to be sunny there.. banana belt.  We landed in Mount Vernon when we came home to WA because I found a job in Anacortes and then learned I was pregnant, had my baby on the Tulip Route!  The rental prices in both Anacortes and Bellingham are pretty high now a days... but there are a few that are not so expensive, if you can find them.  We are ready to move to the San Juans as that has been our goal for a few years now.  Crunchy wise, Bellingham is where it is at, for sure.  I head up there a ton because we have a tribe of friends there and the children's activities fit us better.   When I meet new folks here in town I generally do not share the same views on birth, child rearing, etc.  "You had your baby where"?   Get strange looks on that one.   Not so in Bellingham.  Looking back.. .we couldn't wait to leave Oregon... mainly because Coos Bay wasn't crunchy enough for us.  We always headed over to Eugene.  I think it is more appealing now. 

 

We are Washington kids for sure... love it.  It is funny... almost all my friends that have left WA to check other places out almost always come home. 

 

 


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#7 of 21 Old 03-26-2011, 08:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input. Very helpful.  I'll have to check out Bellingham for sure.

My husband grew up in Reedsport, so he's knows the coos bay area.  I don't think I'd want to move there, but he's brought that one up from time to time.  What school were you going to there?

 

Tell me why you love Washington more than Oregon?  I really don't know anything about washington, so I'm curious.  ...or is it just because it's where you were raised?

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#8 of 21 Old 03-27-2011, 09:14 AM
 
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I would say it is a little of both.  Love WA because we have the water, then 20-40 minutes away you are in the snow.  Yep... I love it because it is where I was raised, no doubt .  I digged Oregon because it is truly beautiful as well.... lots of killer festivals and also the lack of police presence, slower pace... seemed that folks just figured things out without all the police drama, atleast on the coast.  

 

My Husband went to a culinary school there.  He received a good education but could have accomplished that elsewhere but we are grateful to have had the Oregon experience.  We just needed to get out of the party scene in Bellingham for a bit to breathe.  My DH worked at the brewery there for YEARS.  Needed a change of scenery.  We'd go out with friends (all prior to DS) and would have a few drinks and our tab would be like $6.... got a little out of control but a ton of fun!  dizzy.gif

 

I wanted to add.... if you do get up to Seattle, I highly recommend hitting the Seattle Public Library.  It is fantastic.  Also, check out Freemont, Wallingford, Greenwood and of course the Pike Street Market.  All a ton of fun.  The weekends are crazy at the market... may try on a weekday so you are not shoulder to shoulder with other folks.


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#9 of 21 Old 03-27-2011, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, I've been looking around online for other towns I might like...and my head is spinning.  It's confusing when you've never been to any of these places.  I know I need to check them out myself, but it would be nice if I could narrow the list down quick a bit, since we're traveling with a baby and all.  :)

Maybe just chime in with your thoughts on any of these towns if you'd like.

 

Oak Harbor

Marysville

Olympia

Poulsbo

Aberdeen

Gig Harbor

University Place

Silverdale

Port Angeles

 

I realize they probably don't meet all of my preferences.  I just trying to get a better feel for some potential areas.

 

Thanks!

 

 

 

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#10 of 21 Old 03-27-2011, 04:08 PM
 
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I thought of the Port Angeles/Sequim area when I read the OP and saw you'd like a place by the beach that's less rainy.  Sequim in particular is famous for being in a rain shadow and getting way less rain than other areas of western Washington.  Port Angeles is not quite as dry, but it's similar.  I once lived in Port Angeles and liked it.  You're right between the water and Olympic National Park, and a short ferry ride away from Victoria and Vancouver Island.  It's close enough to Seattle that you can go there for the day.  But it wouldn't be as easy to find a job there as in the Seattle area.  (On the other hand, you wouldn't have to contend with Seattle area traffic, which is horrible.)

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#11 of 21 Old 03-27-2011, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh cool, thanks for the info.  Yeah, I remember reading that there was an area that had a little more sun and less rain.  That would be great!  (is poulsbo like that too?)

I think we want to avoid working in Seattle.  I don't want to live there and I don't think dh wants the commute.  Coming from a smaller town, the traffic there is especial hellish to me.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuavaGirl View Post

So, I've been looking around online for other towns I might like...and my head is spinning.  It's confusing when you've never been to any of these places.  I know I need to check them out myself, but it would be nice if I could narrow the list down quick a bit, since we're traveling with a baby and all.  :)

Maybe just chime in with your thoughts on any of these towns if you'd like.

 

Oak Harbor

Marysville

Olympia

Poulsbo

Aberdeen

Gig Harbor

University Place

Silverdale

Port Angeles

 

I realize they probably don't meet all of my preferences.  I just trying to get a better feel for some potential areas.

 

Thanks!

 

 

 


Oak Harbor is SUPER military now a days.... busy but I LOVE South Whidbey Island... Coupeville, Freeland are great... cross the water from Coupeville is Port Townsend AKA PT.... fantastic little town.. lots of "old money" though. 


Marysville... I'd stay clear from there... urban crawl.

 

Oly is huge but has a good vibe, my Husband is from there (county kid), left for Bellingham in his early 20's.  We have fun downtown.  Fantastic farmers market... lots of art and his Aunt is a master gardener that works a booth/garden where you can ask questions. 

 

I have no info on Poulsbo, Silverdale or Port Angeles. 

 

I have a friend in Gig Harbor and she diggs it.  She is semi-crunchy. 

 

University Place is close to Tacoma... not  a fan.  Busy.

 

Aberdeen is coastal and has a depressed economy but a lot of Nirvana history there.....  fishing and timber industry. 

 

I too digg Sequim, another banan belt..  Lots of retired folks but a good vibe for sure.


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#13 of 21 Old 03-29-2011, 03:50 PM
 
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Olympia is also very crunchy.  Tons of attachment parenting, cloth diapering, babywearing, organic eating, etc, etc....open minded parents here.  It is VERY rainy and grey though.  But we do have 2 great co-ops, a Trader Joes, a cloth diaper store, an great toy store, a great herb/natural medicine store, and an amazing farmer's market here, and lots of trails around the area to walk and bike.


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#14 of 21 Old 03-29-2011, 08:31 PM
 
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Shelton (close to Oly) has less rain because it's in the Olympic Mtn rain shadow. That said, I think from your description of your family, Olympia would be perfect. Lots of arts, state jobs for IT man (Intel is also a short drive up I5 in Dupont), about 1-1.5 hrs to coast, on Puget Sound, much more affordable than Seattle. I grew up there so I'm a little biased- but my family also has a home near Bellingham and I think Oly would be a better bet for you!

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#15 of 21 Old 03-30-2011, 09:36 AM
 
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I live in Marysville.  Pros:  good local AP group (really based in Everett, but close enough), some options available in the public schools (co-op elementary, arts based middle school, a few high school alternatives), close to the water and easy access to the mountains, plenty of homeschooling families.  There is a fairly large ND practice that does primary care and pediatrics.

 

Cons:  terrible suburban gridlock, ugly downtown, WalMart and Winco rule the food market, public schools other than the above mentioned are really struggling, not much in the way of diversity.  

 

Personally, I wouldn't move here again unless I could move to one of the more remote areas east of town, and I'd really consider Arlington or Lake Stevens instead.  


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#16 of 21 Old 04-05-2011, 11:03 AM
 
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I grew up near Aberdeen and I don't think it is what you're looking for.  The economy is indeed depressed and while there are pockets of others, the prevailing mindset is rather conservative.

 


-  We'd like to be close to the ocean.  Either a beach town or something no more than an hour a away.  (we both grew up in beach towns, so they feel like home)

Aberdeen is about 20 minutes drive to Westport, which is a nice little beach town.

 

-  Any areas that are warmer or less rainy?

Grays Harbor County (where Aberdeen is) gets more rainfall than Seattle (80ish" compared to Seattle's 37").

 

-  A college town would be nice.

Not at all - there is a community college but it doesn't contribute to the "feel" of Aberdeen.

 

-  Other than that we're into art, saturday markets, natural food stores, coffee shops, camping, going to the beach, eating out (seafood, thai, indian, japanese, other ethnic foods), a good hospital with a nice birthing center in it, within a couple hours from the airport, good schools, maybe a montessori preschool.

You'd find some of these things in Aberdeen, though their ethnic food selection is quite limited; the local hospital is very medical.

 

-  Dh is a Programmer/Analyst/IT guy....but possibly wanting to get into the Earth Science field.  I am an artist.

Your DH would likely need to commute to Olympia (45 minutes) to find work.

 

-  Decent home & rental prices.

Home prices are much lower than in King County (where Seattle and suburbs are).

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#17 of 21 Old 04-23-2011, 05:38 PM
 
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I would cross Aberdeen and University Place off your list (curious as to how you came up with them).  I think you'd love Bellingham or any of the islands (Whidbey, etc).  There are lots of cool neighborhoods in Seattle (especially thinking of Wallingford) that meet your criteria.  Kirkland has a GREAT freestanding birth center so anywhere within 30 minutes of there is great.  I think within 30ish minutes of Seattle is best if you want to keep liberal.  Smaller towns further from the city can sometimes get conservative.  Being close to the water is super expensive in liberal areas.  Super cheap in southern areas but far from good jobs and not liberal in general.  I'd stick with King or Whatcom counties.  The weather is not a factor at all to me but I've always lived in various places up and down western Washington so am used to it - the price you pay for all the gorgeous green here! 

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#18 of 21 Old 05-02-2011, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all of the replies.  We're planning a trip the trip in a couple weeks to check some places out and I just wanted to give this thread a little bump to see if there's any more input.  The towns that have sifted their way to the top of the list are:  

 

Olympia

Bellingham

Sequim

Whidbey Island  (and/or other islands?)

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#19 of 21 Old 05-02-2011, 02:50 PM
 
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Bellingham!!!!  But the real question is, what type of jobs are you looking for?  A lot of the smaller places and especially out on the islands, it's not going to be the easiest to find jobs.  Think about your commute to get to other places, too.  Like if you live out in Port Angeles or on an island there's a lot of driving involved or ferries. 

 

I grew up north of Seattle in Lynnwood/Edmonds area.  Edmonds is cute little town on the water.  I also lived in north Seattle after college and there are a lot of great little neighborhoods (Fremont, Wallingford, Ravenna, Ballard-area, Queen Anne, West Seattle). Dh grew up in Bonney Lake, which is near Sumner- a suburb of Tacoma.  Quiet, mountain views, but still a lot of driving to get places- like your job- and less liberal.  Dh and I both went to Western Washington University up in Bellingham and LOVED it.

 

Yes, the birth center in Kirkland is awesome and Bastyr University in Kenmore is one of the nation's leading naturopathic schools.


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#20 of 21 Old 05-02-2011, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As far a jobs, we would only move somewhere if dh found a job there. (and we'd probably just live in that town itself)  (He's a programmer/IT guy)  We're just trying to figure out what towns to include in the regular job search....and which ones to scope out when we go visit a friend in a few weeks.

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#21 of 21 Old 05-02-2011, 04:28 PM
 
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Well, Redmond/Kirkland/Bellevue area is big for that- on the other side of Lake Washington.  There are nice communities over there.  Bill Gates lives in Medina.  :)


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