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Old 03-25-2019, 08:01 AM
 
7 posts, read 7,099 times
Reputation: 11

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Hello everyone. I hope you're all doing great.

My wife and I will be moving to Whatcom County this August and are super excited about the change of scenery, especially because we love the mountains. I have been attempting to research Maple Falls/Peaceful Valley area as the real estate prices are lower than that of Bellingham, where my wife has accepted a job offer. That being said, I had a few questions about the area I was hoping some of you could answer for me:

1. How long is the commute from Maple Falls/Peaceful Valley to Bellingham? I could look at Google Maps all day, but my wife informed me that her new co-workers gave her all sorts of different commute times when she visited for the interview in February. I don't know how true any of this is (Off-Topic) but they said Seattle was closer to a 3 hour drive and Vancouver took 45 min from Bellingham.

2. How are the roads during the winter? Do they take good care of them up that way? I'm very much used to winter driving having lived in Western Massachusetts and have a four-wheel drive SUV will a few bells and whistles, none the less my wife is not as confident. I just wanted to see how the roads from Maple down to Bellingham faired.

3. How is the area? I am OK with slow paced. We are outdoor people and even though young, we mostly spend out time walking trails with our dogs and sitting outside beside the fire pit.

4. Which towns have the best view of the mountains as well as the easiest access?

5. Are there any other mountain towns you all recommend with a lower cost of living with reasonable commute to Bellingham? Wife is seeking no more than a 45 minutes drive, though I would ideally like to keep it less than this, consistent even in winter conditions.

I appreciate any help you all can provide. As far as any comments about "not moving here" or any discouraging responses, I appreciate the "warning" but it won't change our move. My wife has accepted a tenure-track position at Western and we've been seeking a mountainous state to move to, so we will be in Whatcom County long term.

Thank you for your help everyone. Stay beautiful.
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Out West
484 posts, read 317,786 times
Reputation: 1164
Scaiza,

First of all, there is much to love about Bellingham and the Pacific NW, so welcome, and good choice! Second, it would be helpful to know a bit about your housing preferences and budget. Maple Falls is quite a ways from B'ham, and I think there are better options that would be a much shorter commute. Also, will you work in Bellingham too? Remotely?
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:43 AM
 
Location: Embarrassing, WA
2,322 posts, read 1,623,145 times
Reputation: 2702
Oh boy.....here's another one that jumped before they looked....maple falls is not so great. Sounds like you're already on your way so I'm not trying to discourage, but not going to sugar coat anything either so at least you haven't committed to buying a place yet.

1. This is one of those roads where it could be about a 45 minute drive but toss in some trucks and school busses along with the all the other people that commute to Bellingham on the one-lane-each-way Mt. Baker highway and it gets much worse. I suspect that is why the average drive time is all over the place. Google directions is always pretty good and gives you average drive times for different times of the day. Some co-workers/relatives that have lived here had to be on the road by ~6:30 or earlier to assure making it to work in Bellingham before 8am.

2. There is a drastic change in weather when you exit Bellingham and head into the foothills and the "valley" once you pass Deming and the highway 9 interchange. More ice and snow than other places, but nothing that should shake you up being from Massachusetts. I'd worry much more about other drivers than I would having a good 4x4, etc. Since Meridian St. was widened to 4 lanes almost clear to Canada, Mt. Baker highway has moved up the "deadly road" list. Because there is a Ski Resort at Baker, they will typically keep the main roads plowed and open.

3. This area is much more woodsy with lots of outdoor opportunities, no disappointment there. There is much higher crime however, being about the lowest cost area in the county. There is also little to no cell phone service and spotty internet. Usually as I approach the roundabout near Kendal that's the end of my cell service. A lot of the valley area residents use wood for heat when it's cold, and the smoke tends to hang in there and result in "poor" air quality reports when there is no wind.

4/5. Sumas, Everson, Deming, and Nooksack come to mind for mountain views and easier access. Also give Glenhaven some serious consideration, it's south of Bellingham, about a 10 minute drive off of the Alger I-5 exit. This is also in a "valley" and has much of the same woodsy feel. It's a bit cleaner though, and has access to the south end of lake Whatcom as well as being able to take Park road to highway 9 if you want to head up to Mt. Baker/Mt. Baker highway or take 9 down to Highway 20. The development has an HOA here, but it's much more down to earth and affordable/less rediculous than Sudden Valley. I used to have property here and quite a few professors live there in a house for about the same cost as an apartment or condo in B'ham.
Sumas, Nooksack, and Everson are all along Highway 9 as well as a BNSF rail subdivision which all see a fair amount of truck and train traffic headed to and from Canada. When the dollar gets weak the export traffic will TRIPLE and you'll find your self behind slow moving trucks and listening to/waiting for trains several times a day/night. The commute from this area is only 18-22 miles but for an 8am job start in Bellingham you can expect the drive to be every bit of that 45 minutes or more. From Glenhaven, you're coming in from the south and are much closer to WWU, google maps shows it being a 23 minute drive with a 7am departure for ~16 miles. As a plus, you can also go south on 9 and pop into the Skagit Casino and stuff yourself in their buffet when you don't feel like cooking.
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Old 03-25-2019, 02:08 PM
 
1,196 posts, read 671,271 times
Reputation: 991
It's nice to see new people continue to move here. A Maple Falls to Bellingham commute sounds like a bit of drive time. I grew up in NJ and can say Whatcom County doesn't plow snow very well, not like the north east, so big warning there.

I also see Bellingham as overpriced, but there are deals outside of Bellingham. If you don't mind far out Maple Falls, why not the countryside in between?
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:08 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
87,830 posts, read 81,562,175 times
Reputation: 91674
rkcarguy, I couldn't find anyplace named "Glenhaven" just south of B'ham. Alger is on the map I saw, but not Glenhaven. What are all those little lakes, on the road north from Alger to south Lake Whatcom, btw?

Great info on lower-cost living outside of B'ham, btw. Thanks for posting.

edit: ok, I found Glenhaven. Are there some basic amenities down there? It looks isolated. Grocery & pharmacy, at least? Yeah, I gathered the Glenhaven development has its own recreational amenities, but I meant, what do people do for grocery shopping? Do they have to go to B'ham?

One more question, if you don't mind. Where was the fire last year (or was it the year before?), that was south of B'ham somewhere, during that big fire season in BC?

Last edited by Ruth4Truth; 03-25-2019 at 04:36 PM..
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Old 03-25-2019, 05:31 PM
 
Location: Out West
484 posts, read 317,786 times
Reputation: 1164
Ruth4Truth, I was in Bellingham all summer, and the smoke from fires was coming from British Columbia--there were hundreds of fires up there, and the smoke carried southeast through the prevailing winds. It was 2-3 weeks of real smokiness.
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Old 03-25-2019, 07:26 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
87,830 posts, read 81,562,175 times
Reputation: 91674
Quote:
Originally Posted by PartIrish View Post
Ruth4Truth, I was in Bellingham all summer, and the smoke from fires was coming from British Columbia--there were hundreds of fires up there, and the smoke carried southeast through the prevailing winds. It was 2-3 weeks of real smokiness.
Thanks. I guess 3 weeks isn't too bad. But I think it was last year (there were two summers in a row of severe smoke from BC, right?), that there was a fire south of B'ham, too, and one from eastern WA, all at the same time as the BC fires.

The reason I ask, is that I'm wondering if those areas south of B'ham that rkcarguy was talking about, might be at risk. I'm wondering how far south of B'ham the fire was, or maybe it was SE a bit. Those areas look beautiful, especially around those lakes, but it seems like no place can be assumed to be safe anymore. Nothing can be taken for granted.
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Old 03-25-2019, 07:29 PM
 
7 posts, read 7,099 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by PartIrish View Post
Scaiza,

First of all, there is much to love about Bellingham and the Pacific NW, so welcome, and good choice! Second, it would be helpful to know a bit about your housing preferences and budget. Maple Falls is quite a ways from B'ham, and I think there are better options that would be a much shorter commute. Also, will you work in Bellingham too? Remotely?
I hear there are so many positives to the city. My wife fell in love upon her campus visit and I can't wait to make my way out there. As far as housing preference we decided we will have to buy. We have two large dogs and a cat. Originally we were going to rent first before buying, but taking into consideration the very VERY heavy rent cost, not to mention virtually nobody there seems to accept pets, we decided it would be best to pull the trigger make a purchase. As far as housing cost, we haven't gone through the approval process but are certain we can get approved for $250-$300K, but that's really all we'd want to spend. Housing wise we would just like a little bit of land, fenced in or able to put in a fence, no HOA fees.

As far as Bellingham and my work, I am only working part time and remote at the moment, so yes I will be taking my job with me for the mean time and then looking for full time employment as well, most likely at the university as well. I have 5 years working for a university managing a departments funds and writing up state protocols, so I am fairly certain with my work experience that I would be able to fit into the university or find a job at a financial firm or bank. I don't want to do this the rest of my life, but as far as money goes and getting my foot in the door, this would be the most logical choice to start making ends meet until I find my passion there.
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Old 03-25-2019, 08:23 PM
 
7 posts, read 7,099 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by rkcarguy View Post
Oh boy.....here's another one that jumped before they looked....maple falls is not so great. Sounds like you're already on your way so I'm not trying to discourage, but not going to sugar coat anything either so at least you haven't committed to buying a place yet.

1. This is one of those roads where it could be about a 45 minute drive but toss in some trucks and school busses along with the all the other people that commute to Bellingham on the one-lane-each-way Mt. Baker highway and it gets much worse. I suspect that is why the average drive time is all over the place. Google directions is always pretty good and gives you average drive times for different times of the day. Some co-workers/relatives that have lived here had to be on the road by ~6:30 or earlier to assure making it to work in Bellingham before 8am.

2. There is a drastic change in weather when you exit Bellingham and head into the foothills and the "valley" once you pass Deming and the highway 9 interchange. More ice and snow than other places, but nothing that should shake you up being from Massachusetts. I'd worry much more about other drivers than I would having a good 4x4, etc. Since Meridian St. was widened to 4 lanes almost clear to Canada, Mt. Baker highway has moved up the "deadly road" list. Because there is a Ski Resort at Baker, they will typically keep the main roads plowed and open.

3. This area is much more woodsy with lots of outdoor opportunities, no disappointment there. There is much higher crime however, being about the lowest cost area in the county. There is also little to no cell phone service and spotty internet. Usually as I approach the roundabout near Kendal that's the end of my cell service. A lot of the valley area residents use wood for heat when it's cold, and the smoke tends to hang in there and result in "poor" air quality reports when there is no wind.

4/5. Sumas, Everson, Deming, and Nooksack come to mind for mountain views and easier access. Also give Glenhaven some serious consideration, it's south of Bellingham, about a 10 minute drive off of the Alger I-5 exit. This is also in a "valley" and has much of the same woodsy feel. It's a bit cleaner though, and has access to the south end of lake Whatcom as well as being able to take Park road to highway 9 if you want to head up to Mt. Baker/Mt. Baker highway or take 9 down to Highway 20. The development has an HOA here, but it's much more down to earth and affordable/less rediculous than Sudden Valley. I used to have property here and quite a few professors live there in a house for about the same cost as an apartment or condo in B'ham.
Sumas, Nooksack, and Everson are all along Highway 9 as well as a BNSF rail subdivision which all see a fair amount of truck and train traffic headed to and from Canada. When the dollar gets weak the export traffic will TRIPLE and you'll find your self behind slow moving trucks and listening to/waiting for trains several times a day/night. The commute from this area is only 18-22 miles but for an 8am job start in Bellingham you can expect the drive to be every bit of that 45 minutes or more. From Glenhaven, you're coming in from the south and are much closer to WWU, google maps shows it being a 23 minute drive with a 7am departure for ~16 miles. As a plus, you can also go south on 9 and pop into the Skagit Casino and stuff yourself in their buffet when you don't feel like cooking.
Hey hey hey......slow that roll my friend. First of all, I have looked extensively into Maple Falls/Peaceful Valley: Reddit, Facebook, Area Vibes, Sterlings Best Places. I came to City-Data hoping I could get more information because it's generally a little more thorough. I read one positive review, and a few negatives. I'm certainly not discouraged, and in fact, I really appreciate all the information you've provided. It's very useful.

If I passed on Maple Falls/Peaceful Valley it would be based on the commute. As far as the city or area being bad/crime ridden, I'm moving from one of the most violent cities in all of Georgia, Columbus, AKA Killumbus, AKA Mini-Chicago. Violent crime is really all I care to avoid, and of course I would get tired of tweekers always trying to break into my place. Honestly, if they can get in and out with anything, they've deserved it. I've got two large Pit Bulls and I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment. Not trying to sound like the ultimate BadA', just trying to emphasis that I'm not concerned with my own safety, not after moving from this human target range of a city, which I've still faired just fine. Also, my wife isn't white, so if Maple Falls/Peaceful Valley is a Triple K safe haven, again, probably would be on the annoying side, but we live near Alabama, which is a Triple K stronghold.

I was looking at Maple Falls/Peaceful for the lower real estate cost, the closer access to nature, and thought it might cater to my wife and I's interest. Really we just spend our free time gardening, hiking with our dogs, finding swimming holes and waterfalls, and spending our evenings drinking a nice dark beer while hanging out around a fire.

Again, I really appreciate all the information. You and the others have provided. I really can't wait to move out that way. I miss the mountains and the ocean. Any more info you all could provide it would really help.

Thank you for all the warm welcome. Ah, one more thing as I have read is an issue/non-issue, discussion/concern about moving to Bellingham or surrounding areas: I am a Libertarian. I'm all about small government and minding my own business. I'm not bothered by Liberals, Conservatives, Democrats, or Republicans, so the political landscape is no bother to me, I just don't wanna be taxed to crap or deal with HOA's like Sudden Valley.
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Old 03-25-2019, 10:00 PM
 
Location: Out West
484 posts, read 317,786 times
Reputation: 1164
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaiza View Post
I hear there are so many positives to the city. My wife fell in love upon her campus visit and I can't wait to make my way out there. As far as housing preference we decided we will have to buy. We have two large dogs and a cat. Originally we were going to rent first before buying, but taking into consideration the very VERY heavy rent cost, not to mention virtually nobody there seems to accept pets, we decided it would be best to pull the trigger make a purchase. As far as housing cost, we haven't gone through the approval process but are certain we can get approved for $250-$300K, but that's really all we'd want to spend. Housing wise we would just like a little bit of land, fenced in or able to put in a fence, no HOA fees.

As far as Bellingham and my work, I am only working part time and remote at the moment, so yes I will be taking my job with me for the mean time and then looking for full time employment as well, most likely at the university as well. I have 5 years working for a university managing a departments funds and writing up state protocols, so I am fairly certain with my work experience that I would be able to fit into the university or find a job at a financial firm or bank. I don't want to do this the rest of my life, but as far as money goes and getting my foot in the door, this would be the most logical choice to start making ends meet until I find my passion there.

That's helpful; I asked about your work because if you rely on strong connectivity, more remote place will pose an issue. It's just a fact of living near the mountains. Even some areas in B'ham are cellular dead zones, although wi-fi is fine. I agree with looking at Everson, Deming and Nooksack, and maybe even south of Bellingham in Sedro-Woolley. Best of luck to you in your search and your new home.
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