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S H, Other/Just Looking in Austin, TX

My husband, I and our 2 year old are reloacating to Seattle. His office is in downtown Seattle. It seems that

Asked by S H, Austin, TX Wed Jun 25, 2008

20 - 30 mins commute is pretty normal. Need advise on where to look, what is a average price for a single family home, is it a good time to buy or wait hoping that some price reductions will come by.
I am moving from Austin TX, so any comparisons will be very helpful. We are not that interested in nightlife but quality of life with respect to commute, neighborhoods, potentially school is important. Can you also comment of public transport, which places are better connected than others.
Feel free to refer to any books or links.
Thanks in advance for your help.

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S H -

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
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 25, 2008
I think this is a question that can't be answered with out asking you a few more questions. There is a big difference between home prices in Seattle and Austin. So you might be shocked by how much homes cost here. From downtown Seattle a half hour commute gets you as far north as Northgate area, as far south as South Center and as far East as Bellevue. You will be able to afford more in North Gate or South Center. There are great Commuter busses from either area, but I would prefer the north over the south. (As a personal preference) I think it looks nicer on the North end. You can get addresses and type them into Walkscore.com to see what businesses are available to a particular house or area. You can use Zipskinny.com to find out demographic information for an area. And if you'd like me to ask you a few more questions just email me. I think if you’re trying to match someone to an area or neighborhood we need to know more about you than any of us do at this point. Is it better for you to buy now or later? Who knows? If you rent prices could end up increasing and you will be at a disadvantage or you could buy and find prices decline again. I think that Seattle has held up pretty dang good. We have a very low number of subprime loans and therefore the foreclosure rate has been far lower than really anywhere else. Washington’s economy is strong and we see 30,000 people a year moving to Seattle for the next 3 years at least. As long as you get exactly what you want and you'll be happy there for at least 5 years you'll make out just fine. Remember renting even if it is less than a mortgage is a waist of money always. But being renting while you explore Seattle is not a bad idea.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 5, 2008
I strongly suggest that you not "settle" for something you don't like enough to stay for a pretty long time in. As Bill suggested, waiting is not a bad thing a long as you are saving in the meantime to reach a higher goal. Look at the homes $50,000 more than you can afford right now, and if you like them a lot better than what you can afford today, then rent and take your time looking and try to save enough to get a house that you can see yourself living in for at least ten years or more.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 3, 2008
This one is simple.

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.

16 penny.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 3, 2008
Hi SH -
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.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 26, 2008
SH
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.

Good luck.
Vera
Web Reference: http://www.verabrodsky.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 25, 2008
My family and I returned to the NW about 9 years ago and made our move from Dallas. We were completely shocked at the difference in home prices, but were pleasantly surprised when we discovered how much lower our Property Taxes would be here (as Donita pointed out below). Homes here are simply built differently than they are there, so depending on your price point -- you may be surprised when you learn what can get for your dollar. But I will say, that I wouldn't live anywhere else but here - it is simply wonderful!

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:
http://www.key2yourhome.net/index.cfm/page/41290/Local_Area_…

Here is a link to give you great neighborhood specific or school specific information:
http://www.key2yourhome.net/index.cfm/page/41291/Schools_and…

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!
Web Reference: http://www.key2yourhome.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 25, 2008
A 20-30 minute commute may be optimistic, given what we hear on the morning & evening traffic reports. You may want to check http://www.komonews.com/traffic for commute information and a good news source on Seattle. Also, for quality of life, a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle takes you to Bainbridge Island.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 25, 2008
SH - Your first responder was right that we real estate agents have a vested interest in having you contact us to buy a home, but we also know the area and housing stock like the back of our hands. And just like any set of people, agents will have different opinions about what your best options are. Your last responder was a Tacoma agent who thought you should look there. I'm a Seattle agent, but I've lived quite happily in Tacoma, done the Tacoma-Seattle commute, and think it's a good option for some people but not for others.

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!

Heather Cook
RE/MAX Northwest
206-679-0163
http://www.cookgroup.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 25, 2008
Hi SH,

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:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/main/index.dxml

Seattle Times School Guide:
http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/schoolguide/?vort…

Seattle Survival Guide 4th edition:
http://www.amazon.com/Seattle-Survival-Guide-Essential-Handb…

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!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 25, 2008
As a realtor in Tacoma, I would be happy to provide you with information comparing the price ranges of homes in Tacoma and Seattle. I have recently helped several Seattle workers find homes at a much lower price in Tacoma than similar homes in Seattle with a 30 minute commute time and/or a bit longer with a bus commute. How soon will you be moving? Have you talked with a lender to determine what price range you qualify for? Do you know the style, age, size and other amenities you wish to have in a home? I will tailor my search to suit YOU. Spending some time on line before you come and then taking a good look when you arrive will benefit you the most in determining where you want to live.

Please feel free to contact me at any time at iamit@windermere.com or by calling me at 253-677-5771. I will look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Iral Toven\
Windermere
Web Reference: http://www.iraltoven.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 25, 2008
SH,
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.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 25, 2008
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