Bellingham, WA similar to Burlington, VT or Boulder, CO? (Seattle: appointed, best city)
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Location: Philadelphia, PA (Wanting to move) --Burlington, VT, Asheville, NC, Boulder, CO?
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Bellingham, WA similar to Burlington, VT or Boulder, CO?
Hi, I am considering Bellingham as a place to live. I have never visited there or ever been to the West Coast, but I have lived in Burlington, Vermont for the last 4 years and would like to find a place that's very similar only a little larger.
Burlington, a town with 38K has been known for it's vibrance, political atmosphere, liberal, progressive, educated, health conscious, organic, local/sustainability efforts, lake Champlain, cold and long snowy winters, and artists, writers, and muscians.
I am wondering how Bellingham compares?
*Also, would like to throw out the question should anyone know the major mental health agencies (for employment) in the area that outreach to youth and adults with mental health issues? Nonprofit, etc. Thanks!
Similar to Burlington, VT but larger; would be Olympia, WA.
There are also many more agencies dealing with at risk youth and adults there, and a very strong and growing need for more workers in this field.
Bellingham is considerably smaller than Olympia, and while it is a liberal leaning college town, it is in a 'blended' county and thus has a fairly balanced electorate. I would assume that would drive you nuts. Olympia is much closer to Burlington in being 'liberal and progressive', yet claiming to be 'objective and educated'
Actually B-ham is roughly 2x the size of Olympia. As far as politics go, the city itself leans left, but Whatcom county skews fairly right, so you end up with StealthRabbit's "blended county". Nice term for it btw, much better than "purple".
The major mental health agencies in Olympia are likely going to be state agencies, and the state budget is looking pretty dismal at the moment The state is more likely to be laying-off than hiring, and you could easily find yourself competing with dozens of laid-off state employees for jobs in the private sector in Olympia.
When times are good, cities that have lots of Gov't employment do well. When times are bad, not so much.
The economy isn't good anywhere right now, but I know B-ham is growing, and there may be more opportunity there.
Actually B-ham is roughly 2x the size of Olympia. ...
When times are good, cities that have lots of Gov't employment do well. When times are bad, not so much.
I usually consider Olympia to be composed of the areas within a 20 minute commute, (for job seekers) and there are LOTS of population centers in that perimeter. (Tumwater, Lacey, Puyallup, Lakewood, Ft Lewis, Centralia). AFAIK Olympia will be probably be losing their USDA 'rural' status with the most recent census, that will be REAL ugly for loss of funding.
I actually find the opposite employment to be true in times of trouble. Gov tends to keep a stable payroll and the private businesses go broke. Granted the Gov is starting to realize they are broke, BUT all they have to do is raise taxes. (which they are quite adept at doing... my property taxes in WA have gone from $800 / yr to $12,000 / yr in 10 yrs). I don't have a better house, fire dept or library, but there are about 10x as many government workers to make sure I pay my taxes; while most everyone I know who works for private industry or is self employed are now unemployed or going broke (largely due to paying increased WA B&O and workman's comp taxes).
The proximity to military medical facilities will help assure your future work demand in Mental health. (that would be Olympia / Tacoma) or Ft Sam Houston in SA, TX.
The current posture of WA gov in expending such frivolous spending as instituting CARB will assure plenty of state workers and their source of revenue (us) will need more mental health care. (And to think we could have exceeded the benefit of CARB for ZERO $ with proper allocation of renewables and forced conservation...)(and met results in 25 days instead of 25 yrs)
"Another day in paradise on the Big Island."
(set 8 days ago)
Location: Albuquerque, NM
4,730 posts, read 3,619,727 times
Bellingham doesn't have the charm or the atmosphere of Bulington, VT or Boulder, but it does have some very simalar elements. It's a college town and has a scenic waterfront. B'Ham's downtown is OK, not especially vibrant, but not bad. I'd give the downtown somewhere between a C+ and a B-. The Fairhaven section is cute and has some character. The city has all the ammenities and stores one could ever need and a fairly decent mall. The city does seem pretty liberal but I'm not familiar with country bumpkins in Whatcom County so I'll assume the other blended county descriptions are accurate. Don't let NW Republicans scare you. They're sorta like the libertarians you would find in New Hampshire, not like the far right ones in the deep south.
The best thing about Bellingham is location, location. location. You're a hop skip and a jump from the very best the Pacific NW has to offer. 90 minutes to Seattle and 90 minutes to Vancouver, BC (both are awesome and VERY liberal cities). Short ferry ride to the San Juans Islands nearby (they are beautiful!) Good skiing at Mt. Baker and the mountain itself is stunning. The North Cascades are nearby which offer excellent hiking and recreation. I'm willing to bet living in Burlington that you went up to Montreal and Quebec for a number of visits. Bellingham has a simalar advantage, Vancouver and all that British Columbia have to offer are very close.
You might like Olympia, but I prefer Bellingham as it is in a more scenic location. Olympia probably has an edge on the career move as others have stated. Go over and check it out. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. By the sounds of it the Pacific NW may be right up your alley.
Last edited by caphillsea77; 08-25-2010 at 06:10 AM..
The best thing about Bellingham is location, location. location. You're a hop skip and a jump from the very best the Pacific NW has to offer. 90 minutes to Seattle and 90 minutes to Vancouver, BC (both are awesome and VERY liberal cities).
A few added notes on Bellingham.
I agree with most of your post. Although Bellingham's downtown might be a tad busier than you're suggesting. As the home of the state's 3rd largest University, the undercurrent of youth can't be discounted here. Hard not to notice.
The often overlooked (no pun intended) Boulevard Park is one of the best city parks anywhere.
And the distance from Bellingham to Vancouver is actually about an hour. That of course is predicated upon timing the border in a reasonable manner. And even if you just want a quick dose of Canada eh, White Rock is but 30 minutes. And it's a gem.
As aforementioned, Bellingham isn't just close to the great outdoors, it is the great outdoors. As if the salt water and mountains bordering Belllingham weren't enough, three gorgeous lakes in the city offer great recreation. Whatcom, Samish and Padden are all beautiful.
And one other thing, you asked about sustainable living. Sustainable Connections is actually based here.
You should visit. I moved from Maryland to Eugene Oregon and now wish I had moved to Bellingham Washington. I did visit Oregon but in more of a tourist way than scouting for a new place to live. Try to stay at least a couple of weeks or a month if you can to really get an idea of what it would be like to live there. Try to stay in an area that you could afford to live in and be a local for the time you're visiting. Good Luck!
mentally prepare yourself for this: 8 months of 45-55 degree weather and constant rain/drizzle/overcast, its really no joke:
cost of living is about the same as burlington, so housing prices shouldnt come as to much of a shock, be aware though that bellingham has been at the top of the "most overpriced real estate" lists for a couple of years now.
"vibrance, political atmosphere, liberal, progressive, educated, health conscious, organic, local/sustainability efforts, cold and long rainy winters, and artists, writers, and muscians."
thats bellingham although keep in mind while the university influences the city its not overpowering like boulder. also public transportation here is being cut back and wasnt that great to begin with. I'm not sure i would feel safe riding my bike through town either. really need a car here.
mentally prepare yourself for this: 8 months of 45-55 degree weather and constant rain/drizzle/overcast, its really no joke
Awesome! I love that type of weather. I really do. It was a big part of the reason I decided to move back to western Washington. Then again, with how many people complain about the climate here I long ago realized that my viewpoint was in the significant minority.
Originally Posted by MGMT333
be aware though that bellingham has been at the top of the "most overpriced real estate" lists for a couple of years now.
How do they determine "overpriced"? To me, with how amazing the nature is there in addition to how close it is to cities like Seattle and Vancouver, I would have expected housing prices to not be cheap. Not to mention that, as somebody considering a move there, I am excited that housing costs are significantly cheaper than they are here in Seattle. Although I suppose it's expensive compared to the job market there and perhaps to similarly-sized cities, so perhaps that's what they mean.
"How do they determine "overpriced"? "
The general measures are:
1. Median home price to median household income ratio
2. Median home price to median rent ratio
For example, a place like Hot Springs, Arkansas, the median household income is something like 60 thousand per year, and the median home price is something like 135 thousand. The median rent is something like 800 per month, so the median home sells for about 140 times the monthly rent.
In Seattle, if you look at both of these measures over a long period of time, until the late 1990's, they were similar ratios to what Hot Springs currently is.
Nowadays, in Seattle the median household income is a bit over 70 thousand, i think, but the median home costs 350 thousand, and the median home price is more lime 250-300 times the monthly rent.
Some people expect that these ratios will revert to their historical norms, so, if that's going to happen:
Incomes will rise faster than home prices, or home prices will drop, OR rents will rise faster than home prices, or home prices will drop, or some combination thereof.
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