You have so many good answers so far. I've attached a link to a site where you can compare school districts to each other and even individual schools to get a sense of how they are doing. I'm a native Washingtonian so I'm biased, but I suspect you'll love the area once you arrive.
Yes the weather will take some getting used to and some of my friends from California still complain, but we have lots of opportunities for activities, employment and enjoyment.
I've lived all over the area, but predominately on the eastside of Seattle; Bellevue, Issaquah Sammamish Redmond and Kirkland are all great places with great schools and a range of homes from affordable to downright luxurious. Any of these locations can get you to downtown Seattle in less than one hour in traffic and as little as 20 to 30 minutes without.
If you provide more information about the type of activities you enjoy or other preferences for your next home here, we can easily make more specific suggestions.
WorldResults@gmail.com is my email. Had the house 12 years, but moving closer to work.
Good luck to you in any case,
Isaac Real Estate Team
Champions Real Estate Services
TriStar Finance #MLO-107799
Office: 425-483-6849 Cell: 206-841-9976
Winner of Seattle Magazines 5 Star
Real Estate Agent Best in Client Satisfaction Award
Mortgage Loan Originator Best in Client Satisfaction
You have a variety of answers,. so I will just add a couple of my own tools.
I have a beautiful book on the Seattle area that I can snail mail to you. It includes maps, photos and descriptions of towns, neighborhoods and sites to see.
If you go to http://www.karenmcknight.com and click on the button on the left called About the Area, you will find Area Links to Towns and Neighborhoods, Schools (including all the local school districts plus the Washington state ratings of schools, Local news and more.
If you go to http://www.buyandsellseattlerealestate.com , you will find do it yourself searches. Once you have created a search, you can research demographics and other insightful information about each area you search.
Much of where you locate depends on your commute times and price range, so once I know that, I can give you some great guidance because I have sold Seattle area real estate for over 20 amazing years.
Good luck and let me know how I can help.
Love to talk with you about your needs but don't want to give you inaccurate or inappropriate information - when you define your geographical needs we can help you refine your housing needs. No worries, we will be here when you need us.
Regards and respect,
Phil Leng, Managing Broker, Team Leader
Phil Leng Team/Keller Williams Real Estate Eastside
Real Estate Market Center
Start with Bellevue http://www.eastsiderealestateblogger.com/bellevue-wa
then check out the City of Sammamish http://www.eastsiderealestateblogger.com/sammamish-wa
Sammamish has 2 fantastic school districts Lake Washington and Issaquah.
I was a southern CA transplant 20 years ago so I know Seattle area extremely well.
Coldwell Banker Bain
Meetup.com is a great resource, for play groups when you first move here, especially if you are stuck in corporate housing for the first few months.
I am more than happy to share with you info on some of the local mom's groups.
chase property management
If you can tell me where your employment center will be, I might make some suggestions based on that. If your household is a telecommuntig household and can live anywhere, then you truly can choose your location strictly based on schools. Try SchoolDigger to research schools and their ratings. http://www.schooldigger.com/go/WA/schoolrank.aspx