A few Seattle neighbourhood questions for mums! — The Bump
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A few Seattle neighbourhood questions for mums!

So, it seems that we are moving very quickly from central Canada to Settle in a move or so!

We have two little ones (2 and 5) and will be looking (very quickly!!) for a family friendly neighborhood within a relatively reasonable commute to South Lake Union. We're willing to trade off a little extra commute time for a fantastic area. Here are a few that have been mentioned to us - any thoughts on the commute, family friendliness, schools, etc?

My husband will be using public transport - we've wanted to switch to that for years but our city's transit system is terrible. He hates driving the commute everyday, and could get a lot of extra work done if he could take public transport of some sort.

- Bainbridge or Mercer islands - we LOVE the idea of an island home but don't know about the feasibility of it.

- 145th and Aurora - there is a house near there with all of the amenities we'd like but don't know anything about the area

- the Eastside - maybe the 'burbs are the best way to go for us?

Obviously, we're exploring all of our options at this point! And are totally open to suggestions. We're feeling a little overwhelmed and since this is a big move with little people, there a lot more importance on the home we choose.

Re: A few Seattle neighbourhood questions for mums!

  • Mercer Island isn't like "having an island home"... it's a suburb.  It's big.   You could be on the water but you could be on the water in Seattle or Bellevue too.   Of course you will pay for that water.   And personally, I would not want to live on Bainbridge - I just wouldnt' want a ferry commute.  It seems like a hassle.   And he'd have to do a ferry and then a bus to do Lake Union.  A ferry and then just walk a few blocks might not be bad... but that's just me.   

    Do you mind sharing your price range?  That might help narrow down where to look.   Or some more about the "feel" for what type of area and house you're looking for.

    I will say that I have two friends who commute to South Lake Union and one lives in Bellevue and one in Issaquah and they both take the bus.  They drive to a transit center and take the bus from there, so there's a little driving, but most of it is the bus.  There are express buses that go from the east side to downtown and then they either switch to another bus or walk the rest.  

    Have you come and visited yet to see the areas?  If not, you might consider renting for 6 months so you can get a feel for the area and what you like.  A lot is really personal preference... There are pros and cons of living in Seattle itself vs. the suburbs... 

    You do not want to live on Aurora.   

     

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  • My husband works in SLU and we currently live on the North East side.  We're looking at houses right now in Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, and North Seattle. We want to stay on the north end of Lake Washington though, so that if in the future my DH got a job somewhere on the eastside, the commute would still be manageable.

      I would highly recommend coming (soon) to visit and check out all of these neighborhoods you've mentioned.  You might want to get in touch with a real estate agent beforehand who will know a lot about the different neighborhoods and can show you some of the houses you're interested in. We have an agent that we really like, if you'd like her name, send me a PM.

    And one more thing, I grew up across the water and knew a lot of people who took the ferry every day into Seattle.  It's a long commute and if a ferry breaks down, it can throw a real wrench in your schedule.  Mercer Island is an Island, but completely connected via bridge.  Bainbridge is more of a "real" island. :)

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  • I commute to South Lake Union from Maple Valley.  Let's say that is not close to Seattle. (45 minutes to a hour plus depending on time of day).  It is manageable because I vanpool.  Some employers cover portions of vanpool fares, and I highly recommend looking into that option.  The problem with SLU is that you almost always have to transfer buses downtown, which adds quite a bit of time to your commute. 

    Mercer Island is awesome but pricey.  Bainbridge is nice, but the ferry can be expensive (and again you have to take a bus or the SLUT (south lake union trolley) downtown and back.  If you are looking for a family oriented atmosphere with great schools probably your best options are on the Eastside. 

    I'm way out in Maple Valley because we wanted more rural, close to my mother-in-law and affordable.

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  • My husband works in SLU and we live in Magnolia. It's a lovely Seattle neighborhood and close to SLU with lots of good bus access. The parks here are fantastic and a lot of them have great views of the puget sound.

    A price range would be helpful. I grew up on Mercer Island and it's a great place for kids but the commute might be quite crazy. It's also very expensive if you are purchasing.... you can expect a 750K min. to get a decent small house.

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  • Gah - sorry!

    Coming from Canada, we have no US credit. So, buying isn't an option - we have to rent.

    The company will cover a portion to all of public transport costs, which is awesome.

    I would assume we'll wind up spending around $3000/month for rent. Luckily, there seems to be a TON available.

    They're flying us out...hopefully next weekend because OH MY is this a tight timeline! We're just waiting on their relocation division to make travel arrangements.

    Ideally, we'll have a good blend of advice from others (thanks!) and our own research between now and then so we can make a quick decision. The really tricky thing is school - we really want to have a house sorted out ASAP so we have a school sorted out for our eldest. 

    Gosh, it's so different making a move like this with little ones. When we did it just the two of us years ago, we were so much more go-with-the-flow!

  • I would look at Ballard. There are lots of parks and family acitivites. It would be a pretty easy bus commute to SLU.

     Cross Bainbridge Island off. I lived over in that area for a long time day 7 to 10 years and commuted to downtown Seattle. The ferry is expensive and crowded at commuter times. Then he would have to connect up with a bus to get to SLU and any small delay in the ferry and he is running for the bus or the boat. It is a really hard commute and long say over 2 hours each way when you add the bus and wait time.  I used to get up at 530 am for the 710am boat to get to work by 8am. Then off at 430pm and I would get home about 6pm or 630p.

    It is also hard to meet people over on Bainbridge Island and not many stores or parks. 

     


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  • image MaddysMum:

    Gah - sorry!

    Coming from Canada, we have no US credit. So, buying isn't an option - we have to rent.

    The company will cover a portion to all of public transport costs, which is awesome.

    I would assume we'll wind up spending around $3000/month for rent. Luckily, there seems to be a TON available.

    They're flying us out...hopefully next weekend because OH MY is this a tight timeline! We're just waiting on their relocation division to make travel arrangements.

    Ideally, we'll have a good blend of advice from others (thanks!) and our own research between now and then so we can make a quick decision. The really tricky thing is school - we really want to have a house sorted out ASAP so we have a school sorted out for our eldest. 

    Gosh, it's so different making a move like this with little ones. When we did it just the two of us years ago, we were so much more go-with-the-flow!

    Schools in Seattle are spotty.   Some are good, some are really horrid.  Someone who lives in Seattle can explain the system and how you pick your schools there.  You don't necessarily go to your neighborhood school from what I understand.

    Honestly, with little ones, I would pick the east side.  The schools in Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, Kirkland, etc. are pretty much all good across the board.  Of course there are bad apples, but even the "worst" school in a top notch district is still good IMO.  

    For $3000 a month you could have my house!  That's more than my mortgage.  :)  wow.   

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  • I would second Ballard as an option. If cost were not an issue and that were my commute I would do Ballard (I love the shops and community), Queen Anne or Magnolia.

    In reality, I live in Kenmore, becuase we can afford that. Kenmore is great for us. The schools are really solid (Northshore SD) and our neighboors are excellent. The downside is the lack of walkable shops and the feel of any real 'business core'.

     I lived, for YEARS, around the 145th and Aurora area and I would not suggest that for you. Aurora has it's own issues, but it's a lot of strip malls and our friends who still live there have problems with their neighboors.

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  • If you are looking for an "island" experience, Mercer Island isn't that.  I love MI.  I grew up there. There are houses on the water, but they aren't "island homes." It has a nice upper class suburb feel.  It has a great school district and is very family friendly. You should check it out.
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  • image Seattle_JiLLn:
    image MaddysMum:

    Gah - sorry!

    Coming from Canada, we have no US credit. So, buying isn't an option - we have to rent.

    The company will cover a portion to all of public transport costs, which is awesome.

    I would assume we'll wind up spending around $3000/month for rent. Luckily, there seems to be a TON available.

    They're flying us out...hopefully next weekend because OH MY is this a tight timeline! We're just waiting on their relocation division to make travel arrangements.

    Ideally, we'll have a good blend of advice from others (thanks!) and our own research between now and then so we can make a quick decision. The really tricky thing is school - we really want to have a house sorted out ASAP so we have a school sorted out for our eldest. 

    Gosh, it's so different making a move like this with little ones. When we did it just the two of us years ago, we were so much more go-with-the-flow!

    Schools in Seattle are spotty.   Some are good, some are really horrid.  Someone who lives in Seattle can explain the system and how you pick your schools there.  You don't necessarily go to your neighborhood school from what I understand.

    Honestly, with little ones, I would pick the east side.  The schools in Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, Kirkland, etc. are pretty much all good across the board.  Of course there are bad apples, but even the "worst" school in a top notch district is still good IMO.  

    For $3000 a month you could have my house!  That's more than my mortgage.  :)  wow.   

    It's painful, to be honest. It's way more than our mortgage, too!

    But, at least we'll keep our house here and rent it so one mortgage is getting paid. And we're willing to be spendy on rent for something awesome - space means that family will come and visit more, I'm a stay at home parent so it's nice to have a nice house to stay home in and while we're SUPER excited about this opportunity, it is hard to leave the place we love so we want to make sure we trade up to some extent to make it worthwhile, you know?

    But...no...that number makes me cringe!

  • We live in Edmonds (North of Seattle a bit) and there are plenty of bus options into Seattle and the schools are good up here. It is a nice suburb with lots of parks and other opportunities for the kiddies.

    As pp's have said, you really need to make a trip down to get a good feel. GL!

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  • If DH and I both worked in Seattle/down town we would have looked to move to Magnolia.  I love it there but the commute from there to the East Side didn't make sense.  I'd also look at: Edmunds, Ballard, and Phinney Ridge.  Do you want more urban or more suburban?  Personaly:  I love the Crown Hill and Greenwood area, but it's far from Suburban and not for everyone so if you look there you might find it's not your style at all. 
    hire a Seattle real estate agent to take you around and show you places.  DH's employer did that for us when we moved here and it was invaluable to get a lay of the land and a look at what each neighborhood offers. 
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  • We loved Wedwood and our house is currently on the market there. We have a 1 and 3 year old. It's a great house for families - fully remodeled last year. My husband commuted to SLU MSFT offices and to the eastside. It is just north of UW and east of I5 and in one of the best elementary school boundaries for the district. (view ridge elementary). I love the neighborhood, lots of families, walkable it's something I will miss. It's also a block from the Metro stop that goes downtown and the MSFT connector if he works for them.  I don't know if I can post the MLS link (rules) but here's the MLS number: 246424

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  • image Seattle_JiLLn:
    image MaddysMum:

    Gah - sorry!

    Coming from Canada, we have no US credit. So, buying isn't an option - we have to rent.

    The company will cover a portion to all of public transport costs, which is awesome.

    I would assume we'll wind up spending around $3000/month for rent. Luckily, there seems to be a TON available.

    They're flying us out...hopefully next weekend because OH MY is this a tight timeline! We're just waiting on their relocation division to make travel arrangements.

    Ideally, we'll have a good blend of advice from others (thanks!) and our own research between now and then so we can make a quick decision. The really tricky thing is school - we really want to have a house sorted out ASAP so we have a school sorted out for our eldest. 

    Gosh, it's so different making a move like this with little ones. When we did it just the two of us years ago, we were so much more go-with-the-flow!

    Schools in Seattle are spotty.   Some are good, some are really horrid.  Someone who lives in Seattle can explain the system and how you pick your schools there.  You don't necessarily go to your neighborhood school from what I understand.

    Honestly, with little ones, I would pick the east side.  The schools in Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, Kirkland, etc. are pretty much all good across the board.  Of course there are bad apples, but even the "worst" school in a top notch district is still good IMO.  

    For $3000 a month you could have my house!  That's more than my mortgage.  :)  wow.   

    This. 

    I used to commute from Sammamish to Lake Union every day.  I'd drive to a park and ride & ride the bus in. It was awesome! I didn't have to be stressed with the traffic, and I got to catch up on my reading.

      I also used to live in Seattle proper, and quite honestly I love the Eastside, especially now that I'm a mommy.  I would really recommend visiting Issaquah/Bellevue/Redmond areas.  Gosh, if we had $3000/mo for rent I'd move to Redmond in a heartbeat!

    GL

     

  • I live very near Aurora and 145th. The neighborhood can really vary block to block. If it is on the Shoreline side of 145th then you're much better off for schools. We like where we are: the neighborhood is on it's way up as older retirees are moving on and younger families are moving in. We're an easy 2 block walk from the elementary school, can also walk to drug store and grocery store and 2 playground parks, very easy access to Aurora or I-5. My DH was commuting to downtown until recently, and was able to pick up an express buss on 145th that got him downtown in about 15/20 min every day. Super commute.

    If you want to PM me the house you're looking at I would be happy to take a look and give you my two cents. 

  • If it was me, I would be looking in NE Seattle neighborhoods (View Ridge, Wedgwood, Maple Leaf, Ravenna, Bryant, Sand Pointt), and possibly to the west in Wallingford and Ballard.  If you can really swing $3000 for rent, you'll have a ton of options.

    The NE neighborhoods have some of the best schools in Seattle (for example, View Ridge elementary is among the best in the whole district).  And all of these neighborhoods have plenty of young families, parks, shops, and would be a pretty easy commute to SLU.

    Personally, I could never live on Bainbridge if there was a daily commute involved.  I'd go crazy. 

  • I suggest you offer up your definition of a reasonable commute as well as your expectations as to how much time you'd like to spend with DH each night :)  Travel times around here can be awful and taking public transportation adds to what can be already long commutes (in my view).  A lot of the areas that would be great for kids and being a SAHM will make for fairly painful commutes to SLU.  With your price range, you will have really good options in terms of rental houses, so it's really more about how much your husband will be working and how much commute he's willing to endure. 

    Also, how long are you planning to stay in the area?  There's quite a few good options for elementary school in North Seattle - it's more middle school that gets iffier and that's probably a ways off.

  • image kar5162:

    I suggest you offer up your definition of a reasonable commute as well as your expectations as to how much time you'd like to spend with DH each night :)  Travel times around here can be awful and taking public transportation adds to what can be already long commutes (in my view).  A lot of the areas that would be great for kids and being a SAHM will make for fairly painful commutes to SLU.  With your price range, you will have really good options in terms of rental houses, so it's really more about how much your husband will be working and how much commute he's willing to endure. 

    Also, how long are you planning to stay in the area?  There's quite a few good options for elementary school in North Seattle - it's more middle school that gets iffier and that's probably a ways off.

    I think that, as of right now, we have no idea what is remotely reasonable in terms of what sorts of commutes to even expect. We've spent VERY little time in Seattle and will likely only have a single weekend (hopefully, next) to frantically find a house! So, right now, we're trying to get an idea of what the commutes from different neighbourhoods will look like.

    We also don't have much of a picture of his workday - we've heard from one end of the gamut to the other - that his company will own our souls to they are really reasonable, depending on division. I guess we'll have to wait and see what the reality of it is.

    Excellent to know regarding schools. We're moving indefinitely. But maybe come middle school age, we'd be looking at private school? Who knows. It's a very different system than here!

  • Do you want a neighborhood where you can walk to the grocery store and coffee shops?  Or are you ok with driving?  Do you want a newer home or an older one?  Big yard?  or is it ok to have smaller but close to a park?    Some of that can help you narrow down areas too.

     I just found this - http://www.teamdivarealestate.com/find-a-home/Seattle_Neighborhoods.htm - it's a good run down of neighborhoods in Seattle itself. 

    And this looks like it could have good ideas on how to research schools and crime in various areas.  I"m not sure I understand their school rating thing though in the chart they show.  But it shows the websites they went to to get the school info, so that might help:  http://raincityguide.com/2011/06/04/seattle-area-how-to-choose-a-best-place-to-live/

    Sounds like you will need a kick ass real estate agent.  I'd use the weekend you're here to really scout neighborhoods.   Can your husband's company put you in temporary housing before you make decision?   

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  • It sounds like you want something a bit more suburban.  But, I just wanted to throw Eastlake out there as an option.  We live there and I work in SLU.  I have a dream commute.  I live about two miles away and it's about a 15 min bus ride (30 min door to door including daycare drop off).  I can also easily bike or walk (if so inclined).  Eastlake is a fun, safe, diverse neighborhood.  It's a bit of a pocket community and doesn't really lend itself to people just driving through.  It's also close to a ton of other neighborhoods (u-district, capital hill, wallingford, downtown, slu, etc).  We watch the sea planes take off and land on Lake Union all day long.  Walk down along the floating homes on Lake Union and to the neighborhood p-patch.  There is a great school in the neighborhood (Tops K-8) however it's an option school so there isn't a guarantee to get in.  The assigned school however, is Montlake which is also very good and has a very active and affluent base of parents.  We ended up here a bit by chance and love the neighborhood more and more as time goes on (we've been here for about 15 months). 
  • There is no way you could pay me to live in Ballard with kids. There are too many homeless, fighting and crimes for me. I wouldn't say it's unsafe but we didn't enjoy living there.

    If your concern is schools, then I would look at Wedgwood in Seattle. Wedgwood Elementary School  is one of the top schools in the state. It would also be a much easier commute than the Eastside.

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  • We live on the Eastside (Kirkland) and it fits our needs perfectly... we love it here.  However, my husband works in Bellevue (15-20 min from our home).  He was offered a job in SLU and discovered it would be over an hour commute each way to get to work on the bus.  And, they are tolling on the 520 bridge so if he drove that way it would be over 1,000 per year in bridge tolls alone... not to mention parking.  It was just too much of a hassle for him.  

    Eastside school districts do seem to have the best reputation in the area, which is one of the reasons I wanted to live here.  I'm also a teacher at one of them, so I'm a bit biased (Am I right, Mrs. Smith?!). ;)  You mentioned high schools... and I know that Inglemoor Highschool is ranked in the top 150 high schools in the US.  I don't live in that area... but you could get a NICE house for 3000 in that area I'm sure.  Or a nice house for less!  

    I would consider Bellevue, too.  It's a lot more expensive but has a nice downtown (very clean) and lots of things to do, good schools.   

     Personally, if I were going to live IN Seattle (and avoid the bridges... which would be nice) I would stick to the North end of the city (I attended Wedgewood Elementary that PP posted!).  That area seems to have a little better reputation, suburban, but not too much of a drive to get to the "real" city.  

     

    DD #1 Eva- April 2011
    DD #2 Violet- October 2013
    DD#3 Due New Year's Eve 2016


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