"Real life" for African Americans in Washington State (Seattle: rentals, how much)
Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
"Real life" for African Americans in Washington State
I am an African American single mother of a thirteen year old (in April, 2011) young man. For some reason, I have had a huge desire to live in Washington State since I graduated from High School nearly thirty years ago. Finally, I may have my chance since I am a recent (rather sizable) lottery winner! And I need help. I've done some research of the PNW on the internet, but I still have no idea where to live. I prefer a smaller community relatively close to the ocean. Key points: I love nature and I love open spaces! And I don't mind rain.
My primary concern is (obviously) how welcoming the people are overall to African Americans. My son and I are decent, God-fearing Christians, and I have taught him to see "people" not their color. My second concern would be the school districts. Which city in my preferred demographic area has the best? Of course I could look this up on the internet, but I don't want statistics and numbers; I want to hear from real people. And last, even though I don't have to worry about money, I am not lavish. I don't need a huge mini-mansion on a hill. I just want a decent home in a relatively safe community where my son and I and our two dogs can live happily, so what area of town should we consider? We are hoping to travel to Washington in the Spring and will check out all of your suggestions.
Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated! We are very excited!
First of all, congratulations!!! I've been playing the lottery since I was able, and I've only won like 3 dollars. Anyway, Washington is very welcoming to African-Americans, I'm not African American mind you, so this isn't first hand experience. Seattle is by far the most welcoming since it is the largest city and the most diverse. I would imagine your view of Washington to be that of western Washington and would recommend living there. However, we have the least amount of religious people in the country right here in Seattle, and the state for that matter. The suburbs of Seattle are also good choices. Western Washington also tends to be more expensive, because it's a little bit more desirable. I'm not sure how much your check was for and I'm not asking, but you should keep in mind that Seattle is quite expensive, but the burbs are less so, excluding the Eastside. Good Luck and congrats!!
Seattle prides itself on "celebrating diversity", but that is only partially true. I work with a lot of aging hippie, bleeding heart liberal types....but they are actually closet racists. I'm not sure how common that is, but it is there. I guess the good thing is at least no one will be rude to your face...
You will probably catch more flak for being a Christian. Seattle is notorious for their "don't push your gay bashing, woman oppressing bible on me". Again it won't be to your face (they are way to passive aggressive for that), but don't expect to meet a whole lot of like minded people.
I don't think you would have any problems fitting in any place in the Puget sound area. I live on the eastside and work on the Seattle waterfront, and
find that most of king county, especially Seattle is very tolerant of all races, religions and lifestyles, as long as people don't try to impose their beliefs on others. Despite the low percentage of church-goers, you'd be surprised at how many churches there are, those that do go seem to be very devoted.
If you are lucky enough to win a large enough pot to avoid working, I'd suggest looking across the water from Seattle, perhaps Silverdale, Poulsbo or Bainbridge Island where there are good schools, lots of water and woods.
By the way, there's no ocean in Seattle, we are on Puget Sound which is a bunch of bays that eventually connect to the ocean up by Port Angeles.
Congratulations and glad to hear you don't mind rain!
If you are looking to be near the city, but want to live in a 'quieter' suburb with excellent schools, check out Mercer Island. It is pricey, but all of Seattle is expensive - even the East Side. And be prepared for horrible traffic everywhere! If you need more city life, there are wonderful Seattle neighborhoods - Madison, Madronna, Leschi, Greenlake, and more but I don't know about the schools. Then their is Skagit Country and Kitsap, much more rural, slower life style, but unbelievably gorgeous.
This is a very large state and the diversity of terrain and peoples in Western Washington is impressive. I don't think being African American is something to worry about much here. Although we do have rednecks, especially in the rural areas.
Look around on craigslist at the rentals. Where do you live now? Seattle is a very expensive city - the entire area is.
Have you ever been to the PNW? It is wonderful country, but I suggest you rent for a few years before you buy a house. Many end up not staying. The weather is very hard to get used to.
Congratulations on making your long-time dream come true. There are a lot of communities for you to choose from. It would be useful to know if you prefer to live in a big, small, or medium sized city. What kind of amenities are important to you other than good schools (shopping, cultural, recreational, etc.)?
How far do you want to be from the nearest airport or major highway? Do you want to live close to the ocean, or Puget Sound?
Well, welcome to the candy person. Kudos to all of the above posters - you have received accurate info. A tip for you. If "God-fearing Christian" (like my family as well) means that you are rather conservative and traditional, may I suggest looking at Pierce county? This is where we ended up after years in Bellevue. We were snobbily told that in our price range, why would we ever want to move to Orting? Well, we are glad we paid no attention. We have a lovely home here - and this time on acreage. I do not miss my gated community at all! We surely feel at home. You also need not fear at ALL about being African-American up here in the Pacific NW. Like other posters said, you will notice right away that it is a devout Christianity that will engender more difficulty than race. Seattle is not the butt of jokes for their exquisite PC-ness for no reason. All kidding aside, welcome and you WILL find many more friendly God-fearing Christians up here than the media would have you believe.
It really just kind of depends where you are. There was one black family in the small WA lumber town I went to junior high and high school in. While I wouldn't have wanted to be in their position, I don't think it was as bad as it could have been.
What kept it from being worse was that the father was in management (he worked for my dad, and they were our neighbors). I once asked him if he'd encountered any overt bigotry, and he told me, no, probably because they're afraid they might have to work for me some day. Made sense. However, I know it was hard for the small children. I know that it was so because I babysat them, and one time I caught them having swiped their mom's makeup and tried to paint (more or less) their faces white with it. (Let's just say that I discouraged them from any future such conduct.)
That was the late 1970s/early 80s, so this is quite dated--places change over time. But here's something worth noting. One is an electrical engineer, one a nurse; either could live anywhere they wanted, and both elect to live in Portland or Vancouver. The third? He'd probably still live in Seattle, except that this would make his job difficult, being a professor at an Ivy League school and all. I guess my point is that whatever their experience in Washington was, two of three are still here in their thirties. And in case there's any question, none of them could do what used to be called 'passing' from an ethnic identification standpoint.
If it were me and I'd won the lottery, I'd reconnoiter on foot. I'd take my son and go for a meandering trip throughout the parts of Washington that sounded like I'd like them, and see how people were. If I got a lot of DWB stops from revenue-hungry, mentally retarded coastal county deputies (and that's a lot...don't feel bad, they're equal opportunity tax collectors), I might decide nah, not here. If I found a place that seemed nice, I'd hang around a bit, see how they reacted to the idea of us living there. Some of them are pretty ignorant, but not everyone who is ignorant is malicious, of course.
Not a black guy here, so I'm telling what I've been told and what I've observed. Black friends I had in Eastern Washington, where African-American folks were few and far between, have told me that they never had any issues--nothing ever overt, and only one thought there was some kind of incipient racism. The others' feelings kind of matched the conclusions I've come to...the PNW is about as race-blind as you'll find in this nation. I've never lived anywhere else (with perhaps the exception of San Francisco, for the most part) where race mattered less. 20+ years ago, Spokane elected a black man as their mayor, although at the time there were fewer than 2000 African-Americans total (and I'm sure fewer than that of voting age) in the entire city of roughly 180,000. I'm not sure too many other cities in this country would do the same, certainly not when Spokane did it.
Now having said that...I do know a couple of black men I've worked with in small rural school districts that didn't stay but a couple of years. Both told me that they felt pretty alone and isolated...both having come from cities back east that were the African-American population was considerably larger. Both were quick to assure me that it wasn't a race thing...more of a cultural thing.
I agree wholeheartedly with the advice to visit in person and see it for yourself. Personally, I hope you like it and decide it's a perfect fit. Good luck to you in your search and I hope your win is a blessing to you and your family!
The others' feelings kind of matched the conclusions I've come to...the PNW is about as race-blind as you'll find in this nation. I've never lived anywhere else where race mattered less.
Awesome post skinem!
Not a black man here either, but I can honestly say the same re: Spokane, and also greater Seattle.
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $53,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.
Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.