Renting for a short time is not a bad idea although moving twice is not fun. If you have the option of corporate housing, try to take advantage of that. It will give you time to investigate neighborhoods and commute routes. If I remember correctly, Texas property taxes are much higher than Washington. I'm not sure why that is but it's good to keep in mind when you are looking at prices. Our homes are more expensive but I believe our property taxes are approximately $600 less a month.
With what you are saying in regards to family and lifestyle, I would look seriously at the Eastside. Focus on the I-90 corridor. They have several park and rides and several busses that are express routes.
Good luck! - Donita
Rent. Get to know the community. Get to know the prices, but don't spend too much time on that part. They'll be a lot lower in a couple of years. Meanwhile, there is nothing as rewarding as renting a place for $1600 that would cost $3500 if you owned. Save the difference and then when you get a strong feel for where you want to live (in a year or two), you'll have a nice down payment (which will probably be a standard requirement by then), prices will be significantly lower, rates will be higher (giving the opportunity for a refinance later) and everything i the world will be good.
And they lived happily ever after!
BTW, my bro' lives in a condo in Belltown and loves it. I live in a 5 bedroom on a 1/3 acre lot in a somewhat upscale house in the Renton Highlands and I love it. 'Course, I can bike commute down Coal Creek parkway to work every day. If I had to touch the freeways to commute I would pound a nail in my head.
I lived in Tx, too, and I can tell you that you will find that the property taxes here are more appealing:)
Seattle suburbs in the North are my favorite as far as most bang for your buck with good schools, great neighborhoods, and easier commutes. The transit stations are really improving and commute time is easier than in the south end.
I do a lot fo RELOs and I sympathize with you because moving is really hard. Moving to Seattle, though is exciting! Please feel free to contact me if you have questions along the way.
I agree that traffic is a nightmare now. I live in Bellevue and my husband works in Seattle. The commute without traffic is about 20 minutes, with traffic he can be stuck for hours. If your husband is flexible with his schedule (leave around 8:30am and return about 6pm) I would look on the Eastside (great neighborhoods and schools - Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond) with easy access to SR520 and I-90. Also, it its still in works, but Washington State is considering making SR 520 a toll-bridge with $6.00 each way ( I believe). So, it might become somewhat expensive to commute unless he can use public transportation or I-90.
If you want to stay in Seattle, I would recommend Green Lake and View Ridge.
To provide comparable areas to Austin, well I think that would come down to what parts or neighborhoods of Austin did you enjoy the most? I think you will really enjoy your move to the Greater Seattle area and be impressed with the quality of life you can enjoy and sounds as though that is what you are seeking. Obviously, you liked something about it to make you leave Austin, which in itself is a great city :-)
To keep your husband's commute to Seattle at a minimum (20-30 minutes) will increase your home cost significantly, if you willing to step out a bit more into the "burbs" then you might find more home for you money and still have access to some wonderful neighborhoods and well-respected schools. In my opinion, cities that offer a realistic commute to Seattle and that you might want to consider would be Bothell, Mill Creek, Kirkland, Kenmore, New Castle, Bellevue - they all vary quite a bit but certainly some wonderful neighborhoods can be found in any of these cities.
Here is a link to give you city information:
Here is a link to give you great neighborhood specific or school specific information:
Public transit is a great option here in the NW is a great option with not only the Sounder Train which can be picked up at a number of locations but North of the city you will find stops in Edmonds and Everett (a little too far north for you, in my opinion). http://www.soundtransit.org
Many people really love the Metro Bus System and Community Transit System here in the NW and you husband might enjoy the ability to catch up on work or sleep on his commute. There are also organized Vanpools that many people share in. So again, great options if you are open to public transport.
Best of luck with you move!
I grew up moving around the country and have a lot of experience with relocations. Honestly, I think that the question that you've asked is really too big to answer properly without more specifics on how you choose to live. Seattle (and the surrounding area) has many, many micro-neighborhoods, each with a different vibe and with different pros and cons. To give good advice, I (or any agent) would need to ask some questions about your priorities and lifestyle. A good place to start getting to know neighborhoods might be the Seattle P-I's neighborhood page; I'll include the link below. If you like, I'd be happy to send you a relocation questionnaire that I will be using with new clients and including in my relocation packets.
Good luck. I hope you're looking forward to your move. It's a lot of work, but can be an adventure, too!
Like Gene suggested, you might want to rent for 6 months to get a "lay of the land" and have more time to decide before making a big commitment with a mortgage.
I have a good book to recommend to you, I used an earlier edition when I moved to Seattle, "Seattle Survival Guide, 4th edition. It has lots of informaion that you will find helpful about Seattle, neighborhoods and nearby cities too.
Commutes can be long, so you could try making sure you are near transit centers (park and rides) to hop a bus that to downtown. A couple are the ones at Northgate, Bellevue, and Burien. Of those places, Burien (south of downtown Seattle) has some of the lowest median prices and offers a quick commute even if you drive to downtown via the "Secrete Highway" - the 509.
Many people feel the Eastside (of Lake Washington, Bellevue, Redmond & Kirkland) have the best public schools in the county, but also the prices are the highest too, and to get to downtown you have to cross either the 520 or I-90 bridges. North of Seattle has prices between the Southend and the Eastside.
Here are some links for you:
Seattle City Schools:
Seattle Times School Guide:
Seattle Survival Guide 4th edition:
Seattle is a wonderful place and while the weather is definitely cooler and wetter (more drizzely rather than heavy rain) than Austin it's mostly very mild weather. Try and look for places without a lot of trees for sunnier living!
Best wishes on your move!
Please feel free to contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling me at 253-677-5771. I will look forward to hearing from you.
If you plan to be in the Seattle area when your child reaches school age, I would suggest targeting the the neighborhoods in Seattle's NW quadrant. That might still be true even if you were considering a Montessori school. These neighborhoods offer mostly new or refurbished educational facilities. Your public transportation option would be bus or private vehicle with commutes of 20 minutes door to door when you stay west of Aurora Ave N (Rte 99). I'm sure there will be a price shock of some sort but not quite as stifling as prior years with our much cooler Buyer's Market. You might also consider Shoreline, a suburb community just north of Seattle. There are good schools, reasonable commutes to the city and you get a bigger bang for your buck when it comes to homes. Neighborhoods east of I/5 on the north side tend to involve a bus change or layover at Northgate. I suggest getting a good map of Seattle so you can get familiar with the layout of the city and reference it while researching on-line listings. Chances are you'll have more choices for available properties as the summer wears on. Finally leave yourself about 8 weeks for planning your move. There's plenty of cheap(er) flights out there for a quick trip to the area that will go a long way toward giving you bearings and previewing what you get for your money in the "Emerald City". Whatever you do, please bring sun.