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Old 05-11-2015, 06:12 PM
23 posts, read 32,239 times
Reputation: 16



Due to a potential job change, I was hoping to get some local expertise on what would be a good fit for my family's living arrangements in the Pierce County area.

Here's a little bit about our situation:

1. We're a family of two married adults in our late 20's/early 30's with three pets moving from the suburbs of Toledo, OH. Both of us have lived our entire lives in the Great Lakes region (Indiana/Ohio) and have never even once set foot in Washington state. Needless to say, this would be a new world for us.

2. We currently own our home and would like to eventually purchase in the new area (after taking 6-12 months to make sure the job and fit is "right" by renting an apartment). Recognizing that costs and styles vary from region-to-region, we would still like to have a fairly similar living arrangement to our current condition (~1800 sq.ft. 3BR/2.5BA house built in 2004 w/ 2-car attached garage). We currently have a 1/3 acre lot and honestly wouldn't mind downsizing just so there's less yard to mow.

3. We are both politically progressive and I have previously held elected office and would love to potentially become involved in the local politics of my future region. I would also greatly appreciate being close to the local community colleges (Lakewood/Puyallup for Pierce and/or Tacoma for TCC).

4. Finally, we'd like to live in a safe area (who doesn't?), but we don't plan on having any children (outside of our aforementioned furry, 4-legged variety). Therefore, despite gladly supporting our local schools, we'd trade "amenities" (e.g., decent access to restaurants and parks) for any specific school district.

From this, here's a list of "wants/would likes":

1. A comparable house (again, willing to downsize some, but would like for it to be fairly new and under $180k) in a relatively safe neighborhood with a relatively short commute (15-20 minutes is fine) to the local area community colleges (Pierce in Fort Steilacoom or Puyallup or Tacoma CC).

2. Nothing near the water or across any large bridges.

2. A perspective on which areas to highly consider and/or highly avoid.

3. Any additional information you find pertinent to helping us feel if this is a good "fit" for us as we seek out our next chapter of our lives.

We have looked at Zillow/Realtor and found a few options in Orting, Spanaway, Bonney Lake, and South Hill that have interested us--any thoughts on these areas specifically would also be greatly welcomed!

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-11-2015, 08:19 PM
Location: Olympia
1,022 posts, read 3,586,260 times
Reputation: 829
Your price point will most likely drive your location choice. There won't likely be many decent and new housing choices for you in the Lakewood area. Further out places like Orting or Roy will allow you to buy more house for the money.
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Old 05-13-2015, 12:53 AM
Location: Independent Republic of Ballard
6,151 posts, read 4,364,514 times
Reputation: 3831
You should be able to make more money here - that should allow you to up your budget for buying, to more like $250,000, for instance. With that, you might actually be able to find the kind of place you've described in the areas you've mentioned.

It is worth checking out the school ratings, in that good schools and safe neighborhoods tend to be correlates.
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Old 05-13-2015, 07:06 AM
Location: Olympic Peninsula, Wa
154 posts, read 214,725 times
Reputation: 228
If you are progressive, you wouldn't be happy in Roy.
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Old 05-13-2015, 04:40 PM
23 posts, read 32,239 times
Reputation: 16
I appreciate the responses so far (but more are welcomed--so please don't hesitate!)!

I should probably add a few more notes based on the responses so far:

1. If I am offered the potential job, it will have a contractually-stipulated salary per CBA. I already have a pretty good idea that will mean a combined family income of $50-60k annually. Also, as the salary appears to require legislative approval for any increases, I'm doubtful that there will be many substantive increases in the future. In other words, I'm not expecting it to keep pace with the traditional inflation or CPI rates, by any stretch as it is my understanding that the COLA rate has not been increased since 2008.

2. Our current living arrangement was very similar in terms of income, though we were able to purchase our home at "near" the bottom of the housing crisis for $141k on a 15-year 2.75% mortgage. I'm not expecting to necessarily repeat that, but considering the proceeds from selling our house should also net us a better down payment than what we initially put down on our current house, I would like to keep a 15-year mortgage in the neighborhood of $1,350/month (excluding PMI for any months that might require it). As I figure it, a 3.25% 15-year mortgage for a $200k house with $25k down would be just slightly over that figure (~$1,365/month fluctuating based on final rate, property taxes, etc.).

3. In doing some research on various Realtor sites + Zillow, I have noticed a decent number of houses meeting quite a bit of our criteria in Spanaway, certain areas of Tacoma, and around Frederickson. Can anyone shed some light on any of these areas?

Again, I appreciate all the help as we are planning to tour the area next month and would like to know as much as possible before our trip.
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