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Old 12-08-2012, 08:13 PM
 
28 posts, read 47,329 times
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Hi Everyone,
We are contemplating a job offer that will land us in Seattle by February. Husband will be working in South Lake Union and I will be at home with two little ones (son will be in Kindergarten next year). We have lived in the Bay Area for nearly one decade via the Midwest, so while we have grown accustomed to the weather of the Bay Area, we grew up with lower cloud ceiling, grey skies, rain-sleet-snow in winter and spring. We're also in our early forties and tired of the stress of making-do in the Bay Area. We would really appreciate honest replies to the following questions:
1. Is it possible to buy a 3 bedroom house in the city, with a reasonable commute to SLU, and close to a good elementary school for $500k or are we dreaming? (with a yard! we desperately need one!)
How far it is from say, Ballard or Green Lake, etc. to SLU during commute hours? Is Ballard too trendy and therefore, prices rising for housing? What neighborhoods are even somewhat diverse, have a good community feel, with kiddos running around at local parks? What advantages are there living in Seattle proper versus Bellevue?
2. Are there mom groups in the area? Something similar to the BPN for info?
3. Is the Seattle public school system similar to Oakland Unified and/or SF unified? Is it a great ball of stress to get into the school you most desire? Are class sizes huge and budget cuts inevitable each year?
4. We know that a 10 on greatschools.net does not necessarily mean it's the best environment for our kid. School culture, positive parent involvement, excellent teachers and leadership go a long way, and let's face it, school can be quite subjective. We are interested in multi-age classrooms, and would also consider homeschooling if a traditional setting isn't conducive for our son. What can people tell us about Salmon Bay K-8? Are there homeschooling groups (not faith-based) in the area?
5. What do you do to beat the blues, and watered down feeling from all the dampness? Seriously. I'm thinking about what little I know of Northern European cultures (fireplaces, light colored walls, sauna). Do these things help get you through the misty moisty times of year? Do you take a vacation to warmer, sunnier environs to break it all up? I can hardly imagine having a budget again for travel... we haven't traveled for fun in nearly one decade, well outside of camping, which is fun but not burn your feet on soft sandy beaches fun.
6. For any Bay Area people (and really anyone else): Did you move to the Seattle area, and life became much happier, lighter? I'm so tired of the conversation of "how much longer can we make it here?!"... it's killing my spirit!
7. If you had 3 or 4 days to sell me on the move, where would you take me?!
8. Can you spot NorCal transplants? Are they the ones always asking for a good taqueria?
Thank you, in advance for any help. I'm signing off as
~Going grey too early
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:25 PM
 
905 posts, read 1,103,935 times
Reputation: 1186
I can't answer most of the questions in specific on the local clubs/school-related stuff. I can say though, that for K-12 schooling, the eastside communities (Bellevue, Kirkland, etc), and some of the neighboring suburbs north and south of Seattle proper tend to be better regarded than some of the schools in Seattle proper. A lot of this will likely depend on the community you move to though.

As far as housing goes, you should have no problems finding a decent house in a good community/near good schools, and within a reasonable distance from work for that kind of money. The Seattle area is gonna seem real cheap compared to San Francisco! I haven't been to Ballard all that much, but it is one of many great, but gentrified communities. It'd be a very convenient area to live in if commuting to South Lake Union.

I would say that most of the Seattle proper communities will have more big city amenities to offer and fun things to do, as well as much better commutes to employers there. Bellevue will be more neighborhood-like. The downside of Bellevue though, is relying on bridges for commuting to Seattle. The traffic is bad on both, and they recently started tolling 520, which means it's probably worse on I-90 now, as people will try to detour to avoid paying the toll. There are now talks of tolling I-90 too though.

As far as "blues" and "damp feelings" from the cool, wet weather in the winter months, it's hard to say I really get those feelings from that kind of weather when I've lived around here my whole life! . But there's plenty of things to do around here without warm temps and sunshine. Lots of people like go hiking/skiing/snowboarding up in the mountains during this time of year. Others who can't stand it like to take vacations in warm, sunny places. And people like me tend to stay in and enjoy indoor hobbies, or hit up local restaurants/pubs for some good comfort food and a beer. If at all possible, it would be a good idea to visit soon - We've definitely been getting plenty of classic, rainy Seattle weather recently, and you'd get a good feel for things and the general vibe here.

As for your NorCal transplant question - The biggest giveaway that you're a visitor or newcomer is if you're caught in public with an umbrella! . (And I can't comment on the Taquerias, as I haven't had any CA stuff to compare ours too. I will say though, I seem to miss east coast pizza quite a bit since my last trip out there)
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:25 PM
 
Location: Portal to the Pacific
8,736 posts, read 8,675,377 times
Reputation: 13007
We might need to have a reciprocal conversation one day as my husband is applying for a couple jobs at UC Berkeley. Your comment of "how much longer can we make it here?" sounds so scary (did you mean that in the economic sense?) Yikes!

We moved here from the mid-west. I LOVE it here. Of course, part of that is due to having my husband's salary doubled That helps of course, but even with the major increase, we still went from a house and a yard to a condo and a porch. From what I gather though, SF is still more expensive than Seattle. Your house may not be new, but you'll be able to find a home for $500k in excellent areas. We looked at buying a (small) 3 bed/1 bath with updated kitchen in N. Ravenna for $350k (Wedgewood Elementary). It sold in 4 days.

I always thought I had problems with seasonal affective disorder. I'm from Texas originally, but when I lived in WI and MI I was always on the brink of a breakdown in March. MI actually gets a lot of cloudy days, but unlike Seattle, it's really cold and brown and economically challenged. I was preparing for something similar last year, our first year, but I was pleasantly surprised. First of all, the sun plays hide and seek sometimes. It'll pop out for about 2 minutes, go away and repeat. It's not much but it's still enough to make my day brighter, a reminder that it just didn't disappear forever. Secondly, I have switched paint colors to reflect more light and I use a lot more accent lighting. I always have one set of mini lights on my mantle (Ikea is great for that) and I religiously turn them on as soon as it gets darker. I'm meticulous with my household upkeep in these months. Having the Martha Stewart organization and cleaning approach keeps me comfortable and sane. I would go nuts if I spend too much time in messy house. These are just little coping mechanisms, and you'd probably develop your own.. We didn't travel last year but we are leaving for Cancun this Christmas. Usually it is a tradition to visit Mexico every year to visit my husband's family and conveniently, it takes us to the sun. I won't lie. I'm REALLY looking forward to it this year.

If you can get over the climate thing, I think you'll be happy to know that you'll at least afford a good home. If that's what you meant about a lighter life, than Seattle might very well work for your family.
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:23 AM
 
9,618 posts, read 27,353,923 times
Reputation: 5382
1. It is possible to buy a three bedroom home in Seattle for 500,000 or less. But: Inventory is really terrible right now for half decent houses in the sought after neighborhoods like Ballard and Greenlake, so there's not much to choose from. Inventory is a little better in West Seattle, and you get a little more house for your money there. The commute will be slightly longer, but there are three really good elementary schools there- Alki, Schmitz Park, and Lafayette.
2. There are mom's groups in many Seattle neighborhoods. My daughter in law was in a Columbia City mom's group, and since she and my son and grandson moved to Ballard she's in a Ballard mom's group.
3. My kids went to Seattle Public schools, and it can be a pain in the butt, but if you're in the right neighborhood, you're golden, as kids are assigned to neighborhood schools now. I have friends whose child goes to Salmon Bay, and they ( and their daughter) love the school.
7. Places to go to sell yourself on Seattle? Walk around Seward Park on a semi clear day( we get those), there are huge trres, and the view of Mt. Rainier and Lake Washington is magical. Walk around Alki in West Seattle, looking at downtown from the West Seattle side. Go up the Smith Tower, the 1914 skyscraper which was the tallest building west of the Mississippi when it was built. They still have live elevator operators, and a room full of Chinese antiques at the observatory level....We do have good taquerias. They tend not to be in the sought after hip areas, they tend to be in the areas with more Mexicans, like White Center, South Park, Burien. But Mexican food has vastly improved in the 35 years I've lived in Seattle. Pizza too has gotten lots better.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:18 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, 615' Elevation, Zone 8b - originally from SF Bay Area
44,585 posts, read 81,260,275 times
Reputation: 57826
Since Ira did such a good job on the others, I'll try for 4, 5 & 6.

4. Most of the home schooling is in the suburbs, we have several that we know here in Sammamish, others in Bellevue and several in the more rural areas like Clallam County,
and in the Monroe/Duvall areas.

5. It is good to take trips to warmer climates but never in summer. From July 5th through mid-late September the weather is normally so nice here that you would hate to miss it. Almost makes up for the rest of the year. Coming from the Bay Area too (East Bay) I used
to dread early September, as it got over 100. Here that would be rare, normally never over 85. It may take a few years to get used to the constant rain and cloudiness and some never do, but we spend just as much time outdoors. Except for the heavier winter rains
you just ignore it, because much of the year it's very light misty drizzle. Even when snowing people are out walking around.

6. It does seem more laid back here, part of that is just the number of people. We complain about the traffic but it's still only 2-3 lanes of freeway backed up, rather than the 6-8 in the Bay Area. I'm happy to see snow-capped mountains, forest and water rather than brown hills dotted with a few oaks from just about anywhere I go. When we go back to visit the sky seems too low!

Many of the recreational oportunities here are within 45 minutes, while in the Bay Area it was closer to 3 hours. That reminds me, locals rave about Lake Chelan, but it cannot compare to Tahoe. We still go there every year or two, fly to Reno and rent a car.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Capital Hill
1,599 posts, read 3,135,117 times
Reputation: 850
Quote:
Originally Posted by staelisei View Post
Hi Everyone,
We are contemplating a job offer that will land us in Seattle by February. Husband will be working in South Lake Union and I will be at home with two little ones (son will be in Kindergarten next year). We have lived in the Bay Area for nearly one decade via the Midwest, so while we have grown accustomed to the weather of the Bay Area, we grew up with lower cloud ceiling, grey skies, rain-sleet-snow in winter and spring. We're also in our early forties and tired of the stress of making-do in the Bay Area. We would really appreciate honest replies to the following questions:
1. Is it possible to buy a 3 bedroom house in the city, with a reasonable commute to SLU, and close to a good elementary school for $500k or are we dreaming? (with a yard! we desperately need one!)
How far it is from say, Ballard or Green Lake, etc. to SLU during commute hours? Is Ballard too trendy and therefore, prices rising for housing? What neighborhoods are even somewhat diverse, have a good community feel, with kiddos running around at local parks? What advantages are there living in Seattle proper versus Bellevue?
2. Are there mom groups in the area? Something similar to the BPN for info?
3. Is the Seattle public school system similar to Oakland Unified and/or SF unified? Is it a great ball of stress to get into the school you most desire? Are class sizes huge and budget cuts inevitable each year?
4. We know that a 10 on greatschools.net does not necessarily mean it's the best environment for our kid. School culture, positive parent involvement, excellent teachers and leadership go a long way, and let's face it, school can be quite subjective. We are interested in multi-age classrooms, and would also consider homeschooling if a traditional setting isn't conducive for our son. What can people tell us about Salmon Bay K-8? Are there homeschooling groups (not faith-based) in the area?
5. What do you do to beat the blues, and watered down feeling from all the dampness? Seriously. I'm thinking about what little I know of Northern European cultures (fireplaces, light colored walls, sauna). Do these things help get you through the misty moisty times of year? Do you take a vacation to warmer, sunnier environs to break it all up? I can hardly imagine having a budget again for travel... we haven't traveled for fun in nearly one decade, well outside of camping, which is fun but not burn your feet on soft sandy beaches fun.
6. For any Bay Area people (and really anyone else): Did you move to the Seattle area, and life became much happier, lighter? I'm so tired of the conversation of "how much longer can we make it here?!"... it's killing my spirit!
7. If you had 3 or 4 days to sell me on the move, where would you take me?!
8. Can you spot NorCal transplants? Are they the ones always asking for a good taqueria?
Thank you, in advance for any help. I'm signing off as
~Going grey too early
Here's my assesment of your situation: (1) Although Seattle may be more reasonable then SF for housing, you are not going to find anything decent for $500,000 anywhere near South Lake Union. You will be commuting in a real traffic mess from somewhere in a slummy distant suburb. (2) There are mom's groups in some neighborhoods, it depends on where you live. There's always a PTA. (3) Seattle Public Schools are not noted for being very good. They really like to tax you to death though, and never show any good results. Private schools proliferate. (4) ???? I guess that's why private schools proliferate. (5) We drink lots of coffee, or, if we can afford it, we have time-share condos in San Diago or Palm Springs to beat the cold, damp, dark days of winter. (6) Same people here as there are in San Francisco. You are not going to escape them by moving up here. Most of them already beat you to it. (7) Can't help you there. You are just going to hell and back. Can't figure out what you mean. (8) Can't help you out there either. As I said, we're all the same, as that's where most people here came from. 'Taqueria'??, what's that? or did you mis-spell 'Tequila'? Yes, we have Tequila, infact a local mexican resturant on Broadway serves the greatest, and my favorite drink, a Tequila Sunrise, better then they have in California or Mexico. But, as a Seattle coffee drinker, I really like Mama' Lucia's Licor de Caf'e, and keep a bottle of it in the pantry, along with bottle of old fashioned 'Kahlua' which also is a Licor de Caf'e. Both great for lifting the winter blues.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Portal to the Pacific
8,736 posts, read 8,675,377 times
Reputation: 13007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinylly View Post
'Taqueria'??, what's that? or did you mis-spell 'Tequila'? Yes, we have Tequila, infact a local mexican resturant on Broadway serves the greatest, and my favorite drink, a Tequila Sunrise, better then they have in California or Mexico. But, as a Seattle coffee drinker, I really like Mama' Lucia's Licor de Caf'e, and keep a bottle of it in the pantry, along with bottle of old fashioned 'Kahlua' which also is a Licor de Caf'e. Both great for lifting the winter blues.
Taqueria = taco shop If you end up on the Eastside I would try La Venadita. I also liked the fish tacos at the taco truck serving Home Depot on N Aurora up near Shoreline.
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:33 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, 615' Elevation, Zone 8b - originally from SF Bay Area
44,585 posts, read 81,260,275 times
Reputation: 57826
We actually have a number of great food trucks in Seattle now, and taco stands/trailers even on the eastside. I have yet to find pizza as good as some in the Bay Area, though.
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:13 AM
 
7,743 posts, read 15,879,329 times
Reputation: 10457
Seattle/Puget Sound area is a homeschool haven and offers a great variety as well. You even have public school districts offering homeschooling options with a space to meet up with other homeschooling parents/kids.

But there's also private schools in the area that serve homeschooling needs (meeting 2-3x/wk for a couple hours, field trips, et. c). There are plenty of homeschooling groups around... you'd just have to find the one that works for you.

Washington Homeschool Organization is a great place to start looking around on homeschooling in WA.
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Old 12-09-2012, 01:52 PM
 
1,314 posts, read 2,055,871 times
Reputation: 1995
We came from a homeschooling environment in SoCal, through a charter school that provided full-day classroom instruction 2X/week. I'm hoping now that the charter initiative has passed here in WA we'll eventually see some of these hybrid programs (which are fantastic, in my opinion!). here in Seattle we've more than doubled in class size, even in kinder, with no classroom aids. So just be aware of the ratios in SPS; they're way higher than what's reflected on Greatschools.
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