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Old 07-11-2017, 01:35 AM
 
Location: Cali
162 posts, read 139,705 times
Reputation: 280

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Or going about this right. We're looking for a new hometown. I was born and raised in Seattle, lived all around the Puget sound, but actually never ventured out much to other towns. We are moving back to Washington soon and I wanted to know if my impressions from googling and research are correct or not as to if a town will be a good fit. Much of that will be decided when we travel back there (currently living in California but coming home soon!) but I thought I'd ask opinions. Even maps online aren't always accurate, they show distances but not always accurate distances when factoring in traffic or construction changes that recently finished etc, thus why I need help. I am so thankful to this forum, I would've had no idea about JBLM traffic, so thanks!

We are looking primarily in Thurston County but are open to other areas, we just want to avoid the coast and the main Seattle metro area. Tiny towns are fine as long as it's an easy trip to the nearest bigger city with amenities. Our dream area has an interesting downtown area and has coffee shops, pet store(s), and a Target or mall within around a 30 minutes drive. Any area must have a fire department/ Ambulance service

Main things I need in a new town:

1. Not huge. I lived on Capitol Hill in Seattle before moving here, I am now using a wheelchair so any area like a really hilly big city wouldn't work now.
2. A decent hospital within say a 20-30 min drive at most in case of emergency.
3. Grocery/gas/ the basics. I am okay with not being right next to shopping.
4. We want an area that doesn't flood horribly. Looking at flood plain maps online is a little confusing and since I don't have addresses to check it's a bit futile.
5. Reasonably safe. I know crime happens everywhere to an extent, I just want to avoid historically bad areas that I may not know about.
6. A downtown core area. I am okay with NOT having a downtown if it's very close to another city that DOES.
7. Bonus points if there is an Amtrak station! (so far on my list Olympia, Lacey, Rochester, Centralia, and Yelm have indicated online they have train stations but I'm not sure how accurate all that is.)
8. It must have a fire department/ police presence. I am okay with being fairly self sufficient but in an emergency I want to know an ambulance can get to us!
9. I'd like neighbors. Not on top of us or anything but not a mile down the road either.

I made a spreadsheet and checked each box for what we need, but online reports only go so far so yes we will be traveling up there fairly soon. My impressions so far, tell me how off base I am please. No offense intended to any town or occupants!

- Olympia Tumwater Lacey; Intertwining borders to an extent.. Downtown Oly has some homeless issues but is okay. Has most of the amenties I listed. Lacey is more strip malls and shops, and Tumwater a bit more laid back then Lacey...am I right?
- Rochester: TINY. Not much to do. Seems to have the basics (grocery and gas, but not much else).
- Chehalis: Has the basics of what we need (gas, grocery, shopping) but some areas do flood. I don't know how regularly they flood though, any idea?
- Spanaway: Looks...older. Some small strip mall type stores but otherwise not much to do.
- Morton. Looks cute but older, downtown looks primarily vacant.
- Buckley: Nice but very quiet downtown area, largely deserted but does have shops. Small.
- Centralia; Has the basics we need, but floods. Older downtown with a mix of mom and pop type shops, High vacancy I think. From reading online crime may be an issue?
- Winlock: TINY town. Perhaps too tiny? I know VERY little about this area.
- Rainier: It looks too far from any hospital but I'm not sure if that's correct, otherwise it has some stores and a main street, thought not exactly a "Downtown"
- Yelm: Has shopping, gas, grocery etc but mainly scattered stores, no actual "Downtown". Has police etc. Bonus: A potential cult.(kidding)
- Bucoda: Way too small, not much there that I'd need. Scattered homes in primarily rural lots.
- Grand Mound: Really small and not much there


I have family and friends in Mill Creek, Kent, Seattle, Puyallup, Burlington...you name it in Western Washington. As soon as we narrow down the city list they are really happy to go do recon work for me so when I tell our realtor what we want she'll have an area in mind that would suit us.

I guess what I really need is impressions, how does each town FEEL? Is it deserted? Dangerous? Interesting? Pictures online can only tell you so much about how a place is. If you got through this long rambling list, THANK YOU! I don't need long involved replies, I just need to know how off base I am on my assumptions and research. My spreadsheet is much more involved then the factors I listed above but I thought it was more important to ask about the basics.

Last edited by wmweeza; 07-11-2017 at 01:36 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 07-11-2017, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Seattle
512 posts, read 335,080 times
Reputation: 1331
I'd vote Olympia for your criteria. It's a cute little city.
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Old 07-11-2017, 12:54 PM
 
Location: Shelton, WA
329 posts, read 342,510 times
Reputation: 442
We are moving there this Fall .. while Olympia is top of our list, you should also look into Gig Harbor and Silverdale area.. ♥
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Old 07-11-2017, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Rochester, WA
8,226 posts, read 4,885,063 times
Reputation: 21719
Quote:
Originally Posted by wmweeza View Post
- Olympia Tumwater Lacey; Intertwining borders to an extent.. Downtown Oly has some homeless issues but is okay. Has most of the amenties I listed. Lacey is more strip malls and shops, and Tumwater a bit more laid back then Lacey...am I right?
Lacey is a bit of a long strip mall, but there are some good neighbhorhoods too. Don't rule it out. Any searches you do, should include all three areas.
Tumwater was always smaller, but recently, many of the state office buildings have moved to Tumwater, so it's developed a bit of a business district.


Quote:
- Rochester: TINY. Not much to do. Seems to have the basics (grocery and gas, but not much else).
- Grand Mound: Really small and not much there
I live in Rochester, and I moved Grand Mound up here, because they're basically the same and nearby.
You're right. This is a small town. A few restaurants, a nice grocery store, post office, small clinic, banks, schools, and the tribal casino (nice buffet!) and Great Wolf Lodge.


Quote:
- Chehalis: Has the basics of what we need (gas, grocery, shopping) but some areas do flood. I don't know how regularly they flood though, any idea?
- Centralia; Has the basics we need, but floods. Older downtown with a mix of mom and pop type shops, High vacancy I think. From reading online crime may be an issue?
As above, I have moved Centralia and Chehalis together. If you consider one, no reason to rule out the other the search should include both.

And here is where I'll address your flooding concerns, though any place with a river will likely have a flood plain, The Chehalis River flood plain is perhaps our most flood prone river. It will flood at least the lowest areas, nearly every year. But the good news is, water follows a predictable path, and the flood plains are not a mystery.

If you see a river that curves and snakes back and forth along a wide, flat, green valley that looks like it grows hay and crops, it probably floods. A good eye can spot the flood plains on Google earth, when you know what to look for, and the county flood maps will confirm the boundaries. You can know if a house is in the flood plain. Look it up for any home that is not on a hill, that is near a creek or river. Have your realtor do this. In Western WA it's usually not far to a river, but it's also not far to high ground. All areas will have both.
Quote:
- Spanaway: Looks...older. Some small strip mall type stores but otherwise not much to do.
- Morton. Looks cute but older, downtown looks primarily vacant.
- Buckley: Nice but very quiet downtown area, largely deserted but does have shops. Small.
These are out of my area a little.

Quote:
- Winlock: TINY town. Perhaps too tiny? I know VERY little about this area.
- Bucoda: Way too small, not much there that I'd need. Scattered homes in primarily rural lots.
Winlock is pretty tiny, but has some rural appeal.
Other little towns not listed might be Tenino, McCleary, Elma. Many of these are old timber towns. Since the downturn in the timber industry, some have done a good job of finding a new life with less dependence on timber, like Tenino. Shelton too, is a nice town. Bigger than all these small towns, commutable to Olympia for anything else.


Quote:
- Rainier: It looks too far from any hospital but I'm not sure if that's correct, otherwise it has some stores and a main street, thought not exactly a "Downtown"
- Yelm: Has shopping, gas, grocery etc but mainly scattered stores, no actual "Downtown". Has police etc. Bonus: A potential cult.(kidding)
These two, Yelm most particularly, have grown in recent years. Largely a bedroom community for both Olympia and JBLM, it has shopping and restaurants. My personal complaint about Rainier and Yelm is their distance from I-5. In this area, if you are less than 10 minutes from I-5, then getting anywhere seems easy. The highways out to Yelm make them feel like a long ways from anywhere, and worse, the traffic on those highways is bad, particularly during commute times. Not many alternates.

And no kidding, Ramtha is a real thing that is present in Yelm.



That's my two cents so far on these little towns! Would be happy to answer any questions you still have.
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Old 07-11-2017, 03:50 PM
 
Location: Cali
162 posts, read 139,705 times
Reputation: 280
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana Holbrook View Post
Lacey is a bit of a long strip mall, but there are some good neighbhorhoods too. Don't rule it out. Any searches you do, should include all three areas.
Tumwater was always smaller, but recently, many of the state office buildings have moved to Tumwater, so it's developed a bit of a business district.


I live in Rochester, and I moved Grand Mound up here, because they're basically the same and nearby.
You're right. This is a small town. A few restaurants, a nice grocery store, post office, small clinic, banks, schools, and the tribal casino (nice buffet!) and Great Wolf Lodge.


As above, I have moved Centralia and Chehalis together. If you consider one, no reason to rule out the other the search should include both.

And here is where I'll address your flooding concerns, though any place with a river will likely have a flood plain, The Chehalis River flood plain is perhaps our most flood prone river. It will flood at least the lowest areas, nearly every year. But the good news is, water follows a predictable path, and the flood plains are not a mystery.

If you see a river that curves and snakes back and forth along a wide, flat, green valley that looks like it grows hay and crops, it probably floods. A good eye can spot the flood plains on Google earth, when you know what to look for, and the county flood maps will confirm the boundaries. You can know if a house is in the flood plain. Look it up for any home that is not on a hill, that is near a creek or river. Have your realtor do this. In Western WA it's usually not far to a river, but it's also not far to high ground. All areas will have both.
These are out of my area a little.

Winlock is pretty tiny, but has some rural appeal.
Other little towns not listed might be Tenino, McCleary, Elma. Many of these are old timber towns. Since the downturn in the timber industry, some have done a good job of finding a new life with less dependence on timber, like Tenino. Shelton too, is a nice town. Bigger than all these small towns, commutable to Olympia for anything else.


These two, Yelm most particularly, have grown in recent years. Largely a bedroom community for both Olympia and JBLM, it has shopping and restaurants. My personal complaint about Rainier and Yelm is their distance from I-5. In this area, if you are less than 10 minutes from I-5, then getting anywhere seems easy. The highways out to Yelm make them feel like a long ways from anywhere, and worse, the traffic on those highways is bad, particularly during commute times. Not many alternates.

And no kidding, Ramtha is a real thing that is present in Yelm.



That's my two cents so far on these little towns! Would be happy to answer any questions you still have.
Thank you so much! I am mainly familiar with Seattle, Lynnwood, Everett, and Snohomish. Anything further south I am fairly lost about

Last edited by wmweeza; 07-11-2017 at 04:13 PM..
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Old 07-11-2017, 04:33 PM
 
Location: Cali
162 posts, read 139,705 times
Reputation: 280
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana Holbrook View Post



That's my two cents so far on these little towns! Would be happy to answer any questions you still have.
One question: Are any of them too far away from a hospital to be safe in an emergency? As in it would take about 45 minutes for an ambulance to get to you in one of those towns?
Thank you again
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Old 07-11-2017, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Rochester, WA
8,226 posts, read 4,885,063 times
Reputation: 21719
Lots of nice areas down here.
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Old 07-11-2017, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Rochester, WA
8,226 posts, read 4,885,063 times
Reputation: 21719
Quote:
Originally Posted by wmweeza View Post
One question: Are any of them too far away from a hospital to be safe in an emergency? As in it would take about 45 minutes for an ambulance to get to you in one of those towns?
Thank you again
Hospitals with ERs In Olympia (Lacey and West Olympia) and Centralia/Chehalis.

Most of these towns, even Rochester here, has a manned professional Fire Department with Ambulance that is closer... to get you there.
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Old 07-19-2017, 11:34 PM
 
Location: Cali
162 posts, read 139,705 times
Reputation: 280
You are awesome Diana
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Old 07-19-2017, 11:58 PM
 
Location: Old Hippie Heaven
21,171 posts, read 9,883,596 times
Reputation: 13078
When I read your email, I immediately thought Chehalis/Centralia.

Olympia is darn nice too. But C/C still have a traditional town structure, while Olympia is sprawling out.
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