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Old 08-05-2010, 08:21 AM
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My family is relocating to Seattle soon. We have 2 kids, one in middle school and the other in elementary. We have heard many good things about Mercer Island, schools, community, etc. Our main concern with MI is the bridge, and traffic on and off the island. Also, bridge safety in the event of an emergency. We are also considering Kirkland, the Lakemont area of Bellevue, and Medina or just Bellevue. As I mentioned we are most interested in finding an area with great schools, and a walkable community with parks for running and walking dogs, plus easy commute to Bellevue or Redmond. We are moving our kids from a small private school and want to mainstream them into a public school, so school size is important. Not too big or overwhelming. Can any one give me a list of pros and cons of some of these neighborhoods? Thanks.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:16 AM
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Mercer Island: Island residents have their own lane/exit from I-90. I-90 doesn't usually get traffic nearly as bad as 520 does, has a great school district, is a very easy commute from both Bellevue and Seattle. It's a pretty place, and has places to eat, drink, and shop. It's a safe place. Has accessible water and parks, including public lake access for dogs at Luther Burbank Park.
The Roanoke is a bar/restaurant that's been on Mercer Island since the 1920's. They allow children with parents I think until 9 PM. A few years back a neighbor complained about the fact that it was a busy business in a largely residential neighborhood. Bad move. Many of the Roanoke's loyal customers are attorneys and judges who live on the island. The move to see them shut down didn't get very far, and the neighbor who complained ended up moving.

Cons: depending on where on the island you live, it can be pretty hilly. I did a half marathon there a few years ago, and it was painful. Housing costs are high.

Medina: lake Washington is awfully nice, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor Bill Gates, Medina's most famous resident. Great access to downtown Bellevue, and close enough to Seattle.
Cons: Some people don't like the fact that Medina has so many trees, and in a place like oft cloudy Seattle , bright spots are at a premium. Medina is closer to 520, which can get really bad traffic.

Lakemont: What's not to like? Lots of large, newer homes in a pretty setting. close to the " Issaquah Alps" hiking trails such as Cougar Mountain.
Cons: It's a bit further out. While there is shopping in Lakemont, there's not a lot of it.

Kirkland: There's Kirkland and there's Kirkland. The waterfront is great, and downtown Kirkland is a pretty, lively, and vibrant area. The Rose Hill neighborhood is nice, and Juanita Beach is also nice.
Kingsgate and Totem lake are far less nice.

Bellevue: Physically large with lots of different neighborhoods. One neighborhood that you might like is a neighborhood that seems to be in Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond all at the same time and that's Bridle Trails. Many of the homes there have larger lots, and some folks have horses
Another area of Bellevue I particularly like is just north of I-90, encompassing Chism Beach, Enetai, and Beaux Arts. These areas have been very nice for a long time.
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:20 AM
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The traffic on and off Mercer Island is pretty good most of the time. There are exceptions, like this weekend when the I-90 bridge to Seattle will be closed for the Blue Angels show over Lake Washington. You can still drive East to Bellevue during the closure but it's something we try to plan around.

If you have a daily commute to Seattle or Bellevue then Mercer Island is about as good a location as you can find. From the North end of the island it's about 10 minutes to either place.

There are Mercer Island neighborhoods that are an easy walk to almost everything you need on a daily basis. Other neighborhoods are farther away from shopping and it wouldn't be practical to try and walk to the store for a loaf of bread.

The island has a dog leash law but it's pretty lenient. Most places dogs are allowed off-leash as long as the dog is under voice control. The only exception I know of is Luther Burbank Park where dogs are allowed off-leash only in a special area. Dogs are not allowed on school grounds, children's playgrounds and sports fields.

If there is an emergency then you should plan to hunker down until the dust settles. Many keep supplies on hand for earthquakes but in over 20 years we have never needed to do anything with these supplies except throw them out because they get too old. What is more common are power outages and every five or ten years a big snow that shuts everything down for a couple days.

You might want to visit some of the places you are interested in before making up your mind. Check out things like the parks, grocery stores and schools to see if you get a good feeling.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:05 PM
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Thank you all very much for your responses. I will take all the info into account. Hoping to visit very soon to be able to make a decision. We are moving from Costa Rica, so it will be a big move for us!
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:26 PM
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Hi Annie.

I live on Mercer Island and it's great. Great schools, parks, etc. My husband works in downtown Seattle and it takes him 12 minutes with mild traffic. He has several clients in Bellevue and it's about the same commute.

I am biased, I love it here.

As far as the commute to Redmond, that may not be as desirable. Honestly, after living here I probably would never leave. As my children say, "Mercer Island is close to everything"

I would recommend you visit the area first and really see the areas on your list. Only "you" will know what home feels like.

Good Luck!
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