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Thinking of Moving to Washington State...Looking for Ideas


Harold
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We're getting ready to retire and are looking at Washington State because our son lives in Seattle. Seattle itself is too pricey for us so the goal is to be under 2 hours driving time from him. Lacey and Olympia look promising, but we're open to other areas as well. Any suggestions (including places to keep away from) appreciated. Thanks!

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A friend lives in Gig Harbor, which is across

the Narrows from Tacoma (south of Seattle)

and a pleasant small town unto itself. 

 

I also visited Snohomish, which is north of Seattle

and which I thought was a pleasant small town.

 

I don't know about real estate prices, however.

Parts of the state have a $15 minimum wage which,

depending on your perspective, is praiseworthy or

is inflation-causing.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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I am 75 years old, and have lived in Washington, mostly Seattle, since 1955. I went through the 2 hour from Seattle decision maybe a dozen years ago. I can help you quite a bit, Harold. Where are you moving from.? How old/healthy/strong are you ? What cultural/outdoor activities/weather conditions or other relevant preferences are important ? Hmmmm.............. Might be worth a phone call if you like.              -   Carl    206-790-6912 or 408-621-8261. It often takes 2 or 3 attempts to get through.   Oh : here is where I bought. Not everyone's cup of tea, but 12 miles NNW from Ellensburg. Home of Central Washington University. Population a little over 17,000 when classes are in session. I have made it to my high gate, just off the right side of this picture, from where Interstate 90 begins, splitting off I-5 in downtown Seattle in 1 hour 38 minutes. Traffic light and fast. Left lane all the way, never exceeding the flow speed. Maybe 75 in 70 zone. No stops for anything. By the way, Olympia through Lacey to and from Seattle may be the most congested drive in the state. You must pick your time for driving accordingly...........  

 

This was taken at wide angle. To get a better idea of what this really looks like, click into hi res, and zoom in until Jack White's pasture,(flat area just in the center), goes from edge to edge of the picture, and pan back and forth  :

 

 

 

 

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Edited by C Carl (see edit history)
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The Seattle metro area has been an expensive place to live for much longer than any $15 minimum wage. Tech drives real estate and it is through the roof. Some cities took matters into their own hands.

 

As someone who grew up on the dry side of Washington, I recommend the wet side, although the dry side is popular with some folks as a place to retire. Snohomish, Gig Harbor, etc. sounds better to me. One issue could be traffic from Snohomish if you intend to drive into Seattle much. Highways 9 and 522 are notorious bottlenecks. YMMV.

 

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6 hours ago, Harold said:

We're getting ready to retire and are looking at Washington State because our son lives in Seattle. Seattle itself is too pricey for us so the goal is to be under 2 hours driving time from him. Lacey and Olympia look promising, but we're open to other areas as well. Any suggestions (including places to keep away from) appreciated. Thanks!

Harold, Like C Carl states more information would help. Where in Seattle does your son live? The word SEATTLE covers many miles of surrounding strata. I have lived in Tacoma for over 40 years and although Seattle proper is a mere 30 miles north it may take  1 hr to 1 1/2 to get to downtown. There are, as suggested, several surrounding areas 'Close' to Seattle depending on the Son's particular area therein. There are many friendly Antique Car people in the area as well. Also as C Carl asked where are you moving from? I also am retired and you may call  253-752-7901.

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I have two brothers who have lived in WA.  One of them who now lives in Hawaii, big island, lived in the Puget Sound area for a whole 12 months almost 40 years ago.  I talked to him lately to ask how did he like it.  Being from the San Diego area, he said he couldn't stand the cold winter there, but I think he was living in a tent or truck or something.  I have another brother who just moved there, to Centralia, south of Olympia.  He said the place has just become a seller's market with prices way, way up over just a couple years ago.  A lot of retired people moving in, I guess.  It looks like a nice, quaint little town.  

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I checking out a move too.  Different perspective on the winter - I see the winter in the coastal areas as fairly mild with little snow.  My interest is in the  wet side, as I'd like to be on the water.  Any thoughts on north ( LaConnor/Bellingham/Ferndale/Blaine vs south (Olympia/Hood canal)?

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Well, I lived in Tacoma from birth till mid high school when the family moved to Oregon.

I make the trip to Gig Harbor, Federal Way and even Snohomish several times a year.

One can take a ferry from not to far out of Gig Harbor that lands you in South Seattle.

Personally like Oregon better, but its only a few hours depending on traffic.

Yes, the Centralia thru to Seattle traffic can be a bear. So plan accordingly.

It is not uncommon for me to make that round trip in a day.

 

If I were to ever move back it would probably be out on the Peninsula somewhere on the sound. But doubt I will ever do that.

One of the rare places on earth where you can hear the sea and see the sound.

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Anacortes - Orcas Island - Oroville

 

Oroviille has Gold

 

Orcas Island has a relatively mild climate year round and is more affordable than you would think

 

Anacortes is the Gateway to The San Juan Islands and far enough away from Seattle 

 

Seattle is worse than Los Angeles- Denver - Atlanta - Miami to navigate around.

 

 

Jim

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I've been to Orcas, beautiful area, but the problem is unreliable power and a ferry connection to get to airport (related to wife's work needs).  Anacortes is a possibility.

 

It is strange to drive in Seattle.  Busy but very laid back, which kinda adds to the slowing. 

 

Can one of you residents comment on this business of a lot being permitted for a certain limited size house due to the water and sewage infrastructure?  This is not something I've seen before.

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You probably would want to rethink Anacortes if getting to the airport is a priority. Southbound traffic through Seattle via I-5 is bad, all day, every day in recent years. It is unlikely to get any better.

 

There have got to be many ferry rides that would be way easier and faster than a drive on the interstate from Anacortes. Vashon to West Seattle and Bainbridge to Downtown are a couple that come to mind. I love Anacortes, but driving from Anacortes to Sea-Tac on anything close to a regular basis sounds hellish to me. YMMV.

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Harold,

 

There is simply no place on earth quite like the Pacific NW. I've lived here for seventy five years,  but have traveled a good deal, and have never seen anything quite like it. I love it, but it's not for everyone. You have to see it first hand to believe it, and you have to live here to understand. Nothing that I could say could possibly do justice to the beauty or the experience of living here. Since your son lives here he has probably clued you in on some of the aspects of NW living, but here are a couple of things that may escape notice. But we really don't know much about your likes and dislikes-city, town, rural, water, mountains? Type of housing required, acreage, out buildings like garage space?

 

The climate is mild with little snow and maybe the most beautiful summers imaginable-hyperbole, I really don't think so. Check it out. It's all about mountains and water.

Weather is dominated by micro-climates. As little as ten or fifteen miles, can  can make a huge difference in the amount of rainfall-be aware.

Seldom more then a hour from salt water or the mountains.

It's often easier to go east and west, then it is north and south, within the Puget Sound corridor.

 

The Seattle times the other day, commented that the most often looked at destination for people looking to move from Seattle. Seattle is he second destination in the area, still a highly prize destination, but it's expensive.

An area that you might look into is the Port Angeles/Sequim. You're a bit farther from Seattle, but still a decent three hour drive. You're a ferry ride from Victoria BC and you're int the Olympics-check out Hurricane Ridge! Rain shadow in Sequim, only 17" of rain a year. Great area don't ignore it.

Another area you should look into is the foothills, south from the more populous Issaquah, to the nice little town of Enumclaw, including towns of Hobart, Ravensdale, and Black Diamond in the, and to north Bend, Fall City, Duvall and Carnation all the way to Snohomish. Making the right choice in this area and you can really enjoy the old car hobby without anyone looking over your shoulder.

Bottom line though is that we have to know what you really want.

Bill

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I have a good friend who has lived year round on Orcas Island for 25 years.

 

I would live there in a heartbeat - it is an eclectic mix of folks - the view from the top of the island on a clear day is the most beautiful 360 degree island view in the world ( according to Grant ).

 

I have not traveled the world like him - but it is pretty damn spectacular.

 

If you are seriously considering moving there - talk with someone who actually lives there.

 

Gary Larson ( who wrote “ The Far Side “ ) lives there.

 

My friend Grant is innovative - he had an ocean based geothermal heating system but it got beat up - he switched to land based - he is just finishing it up.

 

A retired commercial pilot for Alaska Airlines - he has been a lot of places - he uses his small plane at the Orcas Airport to travel to the mainland.

 

There is daily commercial air service from Orcas on small planes - the ferry service is reliable.

 

Electrical outages are no worse than anywhere else.

 

That is Grant behind the wheel of his latest Stanley Steam Mountain Wagon - it is a 1916  - the third one I have hauled for him.

 

I have personally transported four running & driving Stanley Steam Mountain Wagons - there are perhaps seven examples left in existence that run & drive.

 

 

Jim

 

 

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Edited by Trulyvintage (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, Trulyvintage said:

That is Grant behind the wheel of his latest Stanley Steam Mountain Wagon

If he bought that from Pat Ferrell, I have some personal experience with that Stanley too. 

 

I agree with Bill's recommendations above.  The Olympic peninsula is the favorite retirement area due to low rainfall and mild climate. 

Also, keep in mind that WA has no state income tax! 

That is one of the reasons I live just outside Vancouver WA with minimal traffic issues and just 15 miles from Oregon with no sales tax.

Edited by Mark Shaw (see edit history)
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I agree with what Bill wrote.  I've lived here since 1966 and raised my family here.  The Pacific NW is a beautiful and amazing place to do that.  Seattle in particular and King County in general have become hard places for those on a strict budget to live.  If your son lives in Seattle, no matter where you locate, getting into and out of Seattle will be a challenge even for the most patient.  I live in Redmond which is likely one of the most expensive places to live because of the likes of Microsoft and Nintendo folks.  It's hard living here (expense wise) but my kids and grandkids all live within 15 minutes of me so I make it work.  Anything within 25 miles of Seattle will require at least and hour to an hour and a half commute.  I studiously avoid going into Seattle anymore because of the crime and homeless which have ruined a great city.

 

You ask about building.  Getting permits through King County is challenging to say the least.  I believe you are asking about the impervious surface rule which states that the building and impervious surfaces (driveways, sidewalks, out buildings) cannot exceed a certain percentage of your lot.  It is a consideration but I've heard in Seattle they are relaxing the rules so there can be greater density.  They are allowing secondary dwellings for family on small lots but there are restrictions on size, who can live there, and what you can do with it after family moves out.

 

I'm not trying to discourage you from coming here.  We can always use another car guy here.  There are realities that you should know.  If you have further questions I'll be happy to give you my opinion.  Feel free to PM me.

 

Greg

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13 hours ago, Mark Shaw said:

The Olympic peninsula is the favorite retirement area due to low rainfall and mild climate. 

 

And for those unfamiliar with the area that the "low rainfall" part only applies to the part in the shadow of the Olympic mountains, Sequim for instance. That's "skwimm" if anyone was wondering. Most of the peninsula was historically rainforest, and Forks might be the wettest place on earth.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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19 hours ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

Weather is dominated by micro-climates. As little as ten or fifteen miles can make a huge difference in the amount of rainfall--be aware.

 

To me as an American Northeasterner, this discussion

is interesting.  Here in the Northeast, rainfall doesn't vary

much at all from one entire state to the next:  most areas

receive 40 to 50 inches of total precipitation in a year.

 

An internet search shows that up the Pacific coast a bit,

Henderson Lake, not too far from Port Alberni, British Columbia,

is the wettest place in North America.  They AVERAGE 

287 inches of rain a year, and in 1997 received 366 inches,

a world record.  I don't think many people live there, nor

would they want to!

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Fifty miles as the crow flies, Sequim to Forks, and easily 100"+ of rainfall.

 

I neglected to mention the large islands of Vashon, Bainbridge and Whidbey. I tend to believe that Vashon and Bainbridge might be a little too spendy but Whidbey should be affordable. The ferries are an integral part of our road system. Like the rest of the road system, a retired person can work around traffic backups.

Bill

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Thanks to everyone for their replies.  

 

For background, both my wife and I are former New Yorkers that have been living in New Jersey for the last 20+ years.  I lived in Western New York (Rochester/Buffalo area) during my college years.  Our son lives in the Capital Hill section of Seattle and is planning to move to somewhere outside the city in a few years.

 

We want to move to a suburban environment with easy access to shopping and medical care.  We're in our mid-60's and are managing OK health-wise, but that can change.  I have 2 old Plymouths (a '51 and '52) that need work to be drivable and roadworthy.  My son wants the '52 'when the time comes' and he likes the '51 as well, so both cars will be coming with us when we move.  We'd like a ranch-style house so we won't have to deal with stairs.  We considered looking in 'active adult' communities but are now leaning towards a mainstream neighborhood.  Spending $2,500.00 to $3,000.00 yearly for association fees doesn't make sense for us.

 

We're used to snow (and won't miss it!) so the winters in the Seattle area shouldn't be a problem.  We'll deal with traffic...it's everywhere.  I'm concerned about the clouds and rain, so if there is such a thing as a 'less rainy' suburban area on the west side of the mountains that would be a plus.  I like to attend car-related activities (no surprise) and would be interested in joining a club if there's one where we end up. 

 

That's where we are at this point.   Thanks again and keep the ideas coming!

 

Harold

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Thanks for the response. The weather ain't for everyone! IMHO if you can survive Nov,Dec,Jan everything else is tolerable to really great. For the next three months we get 50% of our rainfall, and we don't see much sun. "Seasonal affective disorder," it can be a real problem for some folks. It doesn't bother me much, but we used to take two or three weeks in Mexico, just for the break.  

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Yeah, some people from other areas (particularly southern California) cant deal with the sky being gray almost all time and have to leave. And then there is Seattle's famous rain. The truth about that it that is is more like an intermittent drizzle. The proximity to the water means the temperature is pretty constant, and rarely goes below 40F for long even in the dead of winter. You can walk around in short sleeves year round like I did if you don't mind getting drizzled on a little. Locals don't use umbrellas much, and heavy rain is mostly in wintertime. Snow is rare. When it happens, everyone freaks out and goes home.

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Woodinville is a nice area, many wineries for tasting if you’re into that. It’s also home to the Puget Sound Region of the WPChrysler Club, a very active group of mostly 1950’s Mopar people. Population density is an issue, but when you’re retired you can time your trips to avoid most of the commute crush. The best part of life in this area is ANYTHING you need is close by.

I would start reading The Seattle Times daily to get a real feel for what’s happening in the area. “Area vibes”gives information regarding crime etc on each city. 

Edited by Steve9 (see edit history)
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I would look north or west of Seattle. Traffic south like others have said is brutal. I've hauled my car all over North America for shows and dread Seattle the most. Whidbey Island is sure nice and you have the option to drive north and around or take the ferry south to Seattle.

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  • 2 weeks later...

UPDATE:  My wife and I flew to Seattle for a long weekend, and looked at some communities south of the city (Lacey and Lakewood). Our son now tells us that he may move north of Seattle...he doesn't know yet and his timeline for buying a house is about 3 years.  We don't want to be very far from him and if we move south and he moves north it defeats the purpose of being there.  At this point, our plan is to downsize locally and wait a few years to see what happens.  Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and suggestions.

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