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Old 12-05-2013, 10:36 AM
 
33 posts, read 54,363 times
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Hi everyone! We are a family of five with 3 young children ages 1,3,6. We currently live in Santa Rosa, CA. Is anyone familiar with this area? It's the largest city north of San Francisco. A typical, poorly made, 3 bedroom suburban home rents for $1800. A 3 bedroom nice craftsman home rents for $2400. We have lived here for 10 years. We have bought a house and lost a house, had jobs and lost jobs, and have now determined that we are sick of fighting for the outrageous cost of living in this area. I lived for a few months in Seattle and Longview when I was in my late teens, and my husband and I have taken a few trips to West Seattle to visit a friend before we started having kids. All that said, we are familiar with the area, the weather, and are excited to finally trade our CA address for a WA one.

My husband is a self-employed architectural drafter and landscape designer. I am a stay at home mom with experience in restaurant and retail work. We would like a town/city that is family friendly, artsy, musical, with good schools. Unfortunately we only want to pay around $1100 to rent a 3 bedroom home. We have friends in Bellingham who say it is wonderful but I feel that it's economy is close to what we live in now. High house prices, with a small job market.

We are open to the islands surrounding Seattle but are not sure which island would be affordable and still close enough to the city to commute.

The eastside of Seattle shows some really good schools (probably because of money) but seems out of our price range.

I don't have a good feeling about the Tacoma area but if someone thought there was a place that fit our needs we would be open to it. I have read a few blogs about Renton that seem interesting.

I have been reading tons reviews on this website over the last week and am so thankful to everyone who participates. It's wonderful! And I appreciate any wisdom you can share with us!
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:40 AM
 
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Seattle's (and the broader area's) cost of living is not superb, and the job market is exceedingly hit-or-miss depending on your profession. I mean, if seeking lower col is your primary reason for moving, you could do a lot better. Have you considered AZ/NM, the Denver area or portions of the northeast? I assume you don't want to move to the Midwest or deep south, so I didn't even list those.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:03 AM
 
33 posts, read 54,363 times
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Thanks so much for your honest opinion and suggestions.

We have family that live in Prescott and Scottsdale, AZ. We have considered Prescott plenty of times but we have never found an area that sits right with us. I feel like if we moved there we would be "giving up" because it's a small community without a big city nearby. Also Scottsdale and Phoenix are too dry and hot for us. I have heard that NM is nice but only parts of it. I have been to CO when I was little and remember it being very beautiful. There is a ton of nature and good liberal communities but my husband say's the state is being "fracked" all over and so he will not consider it. And yes we are not interested in the Midwest or Deep South. But my husband in from upstate NY originally and has family in Maine as well. There are definitely some affordable places in those areas but we are scared to move all the way across the county.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:12 AM
 
33 posts, read 54,363 times
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I should probably add that we are your typical Northern Californian's. Meaning that we are deeply interested in sustainable living, but love having a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods within city limits. We love the country but want a decent music scene downtown.
Also the school situation is very important to us. We have a 6 year old who is extremely bright (all parents think that, I know) but he is in K passing all 1st grade testing. He loves math and is teaching himself multiplication. So although we would live in a small country town, we really need to know that there is going to be a strong enough education system to support his needs. I am aware that most education comes from home, but having a supportive school community for socialization is just as important.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:22 AM
 
7,743 posts, read 15,905,697 times
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$1100/mo for a 3 bedroom home with good schools in artsy areas is a fantasy around these parts. Just not realistic.

Probably the closest to that you'll get is Olympia which has a bit of a better economy than Bellingham (because of the gov't jobs). Olympia has a lot going on for the size it is, and yet still peaceful and nice.

You could try looking into University Place which is relatively affordable with good schools, pretty safe with easy access to Tacoma DT and its amenities (zoo/aquarium, museums, restaurants, etc).
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:33 AM
 
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OP I think you will find a lot of what you are looking for here with the exception of $1100. rent. I would recommend looking at places further out with the understanding you will have a bit of a commute. You could either get an apartment, which would not be fun for a family of five, or you could look at places like Monroe, Carnation, Maple Valley, etc. and possibly find something slightly rural. Island living would require ferry costs and if you're looking at $1100. rent, you're probably limited in how much you could afford taking the ferry. Look at the map and search Craig's List for towns further out and see what you find.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:38 AM
 
33 posts, read 54,363 times
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Noooo! I don't want to hear that it's a fantasy to live in the Seattle area! Just kidding, we need some reality checks and these are all good ones. We definitely need to consider ferry costs and commuting. Thanks for pointing me to some areas.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:44 AM
 
21,989 posts, read 15,767,479 times
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You can live in the Seattle area, with emphasis on area. Lots of people live further out. Duvall used to be considered "way out in the country" and now people from Microsoft live and commute from there, taking backroads. I'm not familiar with Maple Valley but posters have mentioned that the school system is pretty good there. Another poster chose Monroe and seems to really like it. Good luck!
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Old 12-05-2013, 12:17 PM
 
Location: PNW - Greater Seattle Area
50 posts, read 210,051 times
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By "the Seattle area", I think you could come close to what you're looking for by looking to Snohomish County, particularly closer to the Snohomish, Monroe, Lake Stevens area. A decent 3bd home up here rents for around $13-1400/mnth. It won't get you a palace or water views, but your odds of ending up in a clean neighborhood with great schools increase significantly. Many areas in SnoCo have - or area at least close to - awesome water and/or mountain views or access and generally have above-par schools.

I'm not sure what you're looking for by "a music scene", but several cities in the vicinity including those mentioned above have annual festivals with various musical events incorporated. I can't stand the immediate Seattle area (or King County as a whole), but if you want to get to downtown Seattle it's about 45 minutes away from Lake Stevens with average to below average traffic. Rush hour obviously mixes that up quite a bit, but if your husband opts for a job in Seattle there are a variety of great public transit options available to include the Sounder commuter train which is about the single greatest way to commute to downtown Seattle ever devised. Basically a waterfront ride for a almost a solid hour with no rush hour traffic woes.
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Old 12-05-2013, 12:35 PM
 
719 posts, read 990,788 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiniExplorers View Post
Thanks so much for your honest opinion and suggestions.

We have family that live in Prescott and Scottsdale, AZ. We have considered Prescott plenty of times but we have never found an area that sits right with us.
Have you looked at Flagstaff? Great little city and college town, and completely different vibe (and weather) from the rest of the state. It's worth a bit of research if you're so inclined. To me, on the times I have visited Phoenix in recent years, it's always felt like 'southern California light.' Flagstaff, on the other hand, is a completely different bird (Santa Fe in NM is the same way, but with a bit more desert, though good mountain views).

Quote:
I have been to CO when I was little and remember it being very beautiful. There
is a ton of nature and good liberal communities but my husband say's the state
is being "fracked" all over and so he will not consider it.
Ooookay. Well, how does he feel about Hanford in Washington State and the potentiality of massive coal exports occurring here? Love it or hate it, heavy industry is pretty much everywhere (I also always find it a little hypocritical for anyone form San Francisco to judge somewhere else based on environmentalism, considering that most of your water comes from the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which flooded the Hetch Hetchy Valley [once comparable to Yosemite]).

Quote:
There are definitely some affordable places in those areas but we are scared to move all the way across the county.
I've made that move myself in reverse (well, from D.C., but it's basically the same drive) and it's not all that bad. Just 4-5 days on the road and you're there. There are good parts of New England and bad parts for cost of living. You'll want to avoid eastern MA and RI at all cost (the price of living in and around Boston is as high as anywhere, and RI is bankrupt and virtually devoid of employment). Having said that, portions of New England are still modest when it comes to SOL, and very pretty.

Similarly, COL is fairly low in eastern WA. It's in and around Seattle where stuff gets insane. I don't think you're going to see significant improvements here over the Bay Area, particularly in housing, which is in very short supply within spitting distance of Seattle. If you want to live in the sticks, you can do better... but it also rules out being close to the city.

Last edited by PrincessoftheCape; 12-05-2013 at 12:47 PM..
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