Live in NW suburb of Chicago, work transfer to Seattle - What are the best suburbs (schools, crime rate, commute to city, not rural at all) of Seattle

Asked by <3them, Seattle, WA Mon Aug 22, 2011

Hi! We currently live in a NW suburb of Chicago, but are considering a work transfer to Seattle (8th and Stewart), WA. With a 3.5 year old, we are looking to live in a nice suburban area with excellent public schools, low crime rate, and a reasonable commute to the office in Seattle. We prefer the suburb to have the feel of our current suburb here in Chicago, not rural at all. Would love it if there was someone who came from here and transferred to the Seattle area that can give some input on the weather and earthquakes (eeeek!), and similarity in lifestyle to here in the Chicago area. Thanks so much!

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46
Stinkydog99, , Bellevue, WA
Fri Oct 7, 2011
I'm not a broker or agent. I'm a mom with a 3rd grader who has lived in the Seattle for 15 years after time in Boston, sf, dc, Philadelphia and outside NYC. And now live in Bellevue off the I-90 corridor. So, mom to mom, and as a person who moved from the city to the 'burbs I hope I can help. If safety and public schools are a primary driver, you would be fine in Seattle schools until 5th grade depending on your neighborhood. Some of the more popular neighborhoods are Wallingford, view ridge, Madison park and queen anne all have great elementary schools. View ridge/laird hurst (by UW) have a suburbs in the city feel; queen anne, Madison park and Wallingford have more of a village in the city feel (cute shops, very walkable). Middle school is where I see a lot of our Seattle friends start to move out of the public school system. If you are ok with private, doesn't really matter where you live. Forget about public transportation...it stinks. It's probably the one thing I hate the most about Seattle and the surrounding area. Most everything is a bus system on surface streets and cars.

Suburbs: we live just under 15 miles from dt Seattle. When my husband worked in Seattle (SODO by the stadiums) it took him about 35 minutes to drive in with traffic. 12 minutes with none. Maybe a little more to 8th and Stewart, half that from mercer island. Seattle it's will tell you that the eastside is the 'boonies'. It can be boring and I do miss the city a ton but if restaurants and culture are impt, ypu can be downtown in 20 minutes of less. But the schools are award winning and have close to if not 100% support by the PTSAs. Bellevue and mercer island are famous for their public schools though the luster has dulled a bit for MI in recent years (still stellar tho). If you want to be sure that your kid(s) go to amazing schools all the way through elementary to HS, the eastside will give you more choices. Bellevue is slowly coming into its own--I liken it to the silicon valley emerging while San Francisco was caught sleeping in the early 90's. My top neighborhoods for Seattle workers who want to live on the eastside are Clyde hill, medina, Lakemont, somerset, enatai. All except Lakemont are in the Bellevue school district. Lakemont is a Bellevue address but is served by the Issaquah school district.Kirkland is also very good school district and a fun place to live but you are locked into the 520 bridge. The other neighborhoods are easy access to 90 or for Clyde hill and medina, easy to both.

There is no state Income tax in Washington but there is a 9.8% sales tax. Propertty taxes are higher tho.
Good luck
1 vote
Deborah Garv…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, San Diego, CA
Tue Aug 30, 2011
Home Buyer, Interesting comments here; however, it seems that most are aimed at directing you to a specific area according to a marketing perspective. Allow me to give you as much comparison as I can (My credientials: I lived and worked in the Seattle area for 10+ years until May, 1997. I have friends in Chicago and considered moving there for several years. Both cities are awesome).

Chicago has urban flair, great entertainment and dining options, wonderful culture, lousy weather (sorry) and a awesome transit system. Love the city...but city is pretty much what you have.

Seattle (my favorite city in the US, having lived in SF and SD as well) has great entertainment and dining options, wonderful culture, lousy weather (in the winter...summers are awesome...you will not miss the humidity), the great outdoors, islands, close to Vancouver, Victoria, the coast.....and, the fact remains, some of the worst traffic in the US.

Traffic in Seattle puts LA to shame at times. Understand that almost every destination crosses a body of water at one point or another. One accident on the 1-90 or 520 bridge and you will find your self in a parking lot...possibly for hours. It rarely snows, but if it does you need to understand that Seattle owns one snow plow for the entire metro area (okay, exaggeration...but know that the city and the infrastructure turns into comic relief if they get six inches of snow...get 18" and everything falls apart.

The main thing you are accustomed to in ChiTown that you will have none (almost) of in Seattle is public transportation. There is simply no easy and reliable transit system. The only way to get anywhere is to drive (unless you live in downtown Seattle). Commutes can be brutal...yes, even by Chicago standards. Consider your commute in your purchase plans.

I lived in Seattle for a number of years before I realized that, for the most part, Seattle is rather like a tic tac toe board. The 1-90 and the 520 run East-West and the 1-405 and 1-5 run North-South. Look at a map and you will see that you basically have nine "sub-area" ...label each of them, then research the areas you might want to live. Guarantee you do not want to work in the NW section and commute from the SE corner. You will be tethered to your car.

I love Seattle, miss it still and would move back in a heartbeat. But, I would consider my commute time very carefully. Best to you!
1 vote
MT, , Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 29, 2011
Ahh! I'm so excited to answer this question because my husband and I are from Illinois - Elgin and Sycamore/Dekalb.

First of all, moving out here is a GREAT idea. We've been here for 7-8 years. It is so beautiful and you will love that the weather is temperate here. Yes, it can be gray here, but you can also get really beautiful spring-like days in the wintertime.. I love that! (Plus, it leads to keeping Seattle green year round, aka The Emerald City.) However, you will miss fantastic thunderstorms. If you have any reason to visit Chicago again, then that will be enough to get a taste of any weather you may have missed and then you'll be glad to get back to temperate Seattle, where you basically never need A/C or heat. :)

Secondly, the idea of the word "suburb" here is totally different. Seattle is vastly smaller and less hectic than Chicago. So, "the city" feels nothing like downtown Chicago. What we used to consider a reasonable drive of 20+ min to the next town is a LIFETIME over here. I thought I was a comfortable suburbanite like yourself until we bought a home in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. It opened my eyes to "living in a city" without feeling like living in a city -- city as I knew it (i.e. Chicago). Living in the outer neighborhoods of Seattle is like the best of both worlds! You are in your own happening community, but only 10-15 minutes from downtown.

What most people are suggesting here are "suburbs" of Seattle technically, but I think they are way too far, small, and you'd be missing out. I currently live in one of the northernmost neighborhoods of Seattle and it's considered "suburban".. and it's a little too sleepy for my taste, but here I am. We also currently have a townhome in Ballard/West Woodland on the market, and I miss it to pieces! There, we really had the best proportion of easy, city living without the congestion of downtown and all the activities of a hip neighborhood. It was also right near the zoo (but you'd never know it)! Anyway, I'm not trying to sell you our home, but it really does fit with your requirements .. and we have completely loved our experience there.

It would make sense to rent for a while first to be able to research the areas, but I know that hard for multiple reasons (hard to find a rental, kid/school year). However, in our experience, I don't think you will be disappointed if you ended up in Ballard or West Woodland (excellent Elementary school, btw) for a while. Its got a great neighborhood center, beautiful beach and parks, good schools, and is close to the city...while still being "in the city!"

Sorry about the rambling.. I just get excited to see another IL person, and am happy to share our experiences here. Let me know if you have any other questions! I'll try to be more coherent :P
1 vote
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Patrick, I'm with you. I have no idea what Chicago's "suburbs" are like, but to a boy like me who spent his first thirty years in Manhattan, Ballard and Beacon Hill are suburban enough!
1 vote
Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Good luck, hope you got some good info out of this. Enjoy what might be your last real winter!!! Chicago is a great place to live--But Seattle's better. Yup, I'm biased, but I'll gladly sell ya a house in Kirkland if that's where you want to be.

Which brings me to my next rant:

I need to address the agents who responded: OMG I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here. Am I the only one who doesn't know their price range or specifically what kind of home they're looking for? The commute is to 8th and Stewart. That's downtown Seattle. Not Issaquah. Not Redmond. Or Kirkland or Lynnwood or Edmonds. There are GREAT elementary schools in Seattle and there are great neighborhoods with low crime rates. You people are making it sound like there's no crime or mediocre schools outside Seattle. FIRST: We need to know what these people are looking for, right? What kind of house? How much $ do they want to spend? Will they drive to work? Will it be private or public school? There are similar homes in just about every city around here--Why send these people further away if they would be happier in the city? Maybe they'd actually prefer Issaquah, but we don't know enough to send them that way yet.

It's nice to provide info about different areas (and a good idea) but to actively try to steer people to certain places without knowing really knowing why they'd "love it" is irresponsible.

I've been asking this <3them person for price range and additional info for a while now and there's been no response. What that tells me is 1. They don't want to work with me (no worries, spend more if you like) and 2. They aren't serious about this yet (Oh wait, what was that update?).

Look, your answers are great (and I'm not trying to single anyone out--All of you are good agents and we are all benefitting from your posts), but instead of putting your focus on selling a certain community or place, you might want to initially put your focus on the buyer. Only then can you really know what the buyer wants. And I don't think a message board like this is an appropriate place to play matchmaker for strangers to meet up with friends of yours who may or may not be from the same city. Yes, we all want to be nice, helpful agents, but let's also try to have some common sense.

Serious buyers want common sense, honest, straight answers and good information. Serious buyers also PROVIDE good information. Serious buyers are generally a well informed group and they know MORE than we "experts" think they do. They don't need to be bribed, sweet-talked or pandered to. At least I hope not. If I run into any of those, I'll be happy to refer them to any agent who wants them--Because I don't!
1 vote
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
<3them,
I'm a Seattle area native and have lived all around the area. Based on your downtown location and suburban request, you will probably find what you are looking for on the eastside; Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Redmond & Sammamish. All have excellent schools but will vary from each other in different ways.
Bellevue is the largest Seattle suburb. The disparity in some schools is a bit greater than in other districts, but the best of the schools are nationally ranked. Bellevue and Kirkland may be the most expensive as well, depending on the part of each city you select.
Redmond, the home of Microsoft is a large city, bordering on both Bellevue and Kirkland with great schools and access to downtown through the 520 bridge, which will be a toll road soon. Issaquah is south and east of Bellevue and accesses downtown via I90, which has no imminent toll plans, but no guarantees. Issaquah has some interesting neighborhoods from rural to planned communities with easy walking to buses & shopping.
Between Issaquah & E. Redmond is my current hometown of Sammamish. Great schools, trails, bus routes via either bridge and a strong community feel.
Some last thoughts, the Seattle area is very hilly compared to Chicago, we also have lots of trees and lush green areas. Earthquakes are rare, at least the ones you'll feel so I wouldn't lose much sleep over that. Our climate is generally mild but the occasional wind and or snow storms are a more common cause of distress.
If you want further info, don’t hesitate to contact me. I love welcoming new folks to the Northwest.
1 vote
Monica Laws, Home Buyer, Laguna Beach, CA
Thu Sep 15, 2011
Mercer Island, You'll love it!
0 votes
Aaron Schrei…, Other Pro, Leavenworth, WA
Wed Sep 14, 2011
To be brief, I grew up in Woodinville and I think it's a great place to raise a family. However, a closer commute is West Seattle. I would think about Kirkland as well but the new bridge toll should be a consideration. Best of luck!
Web Reference:  http://www.amsinspection.com
0 votes
Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue Aug 30, 2011
<3them I guess you have your answer then--Start planning your Seattle vacation! I think one of the other agents offered to send you a publication with seattle neighborhood info, that's actually a good idea and any of us can provide you with a copy. It details neighborhoods a bit and tells you a little about them. Another idea is to look on the interweb for neighborhood info. Or, show up and explore.

If your commute is one day a week then I no longer care where you live. Instead of worrying about the neighborhood, we need to first be learning about you and only then figure out where you want to be. Schools would be a good place to start--I have some ideas of my own but here's an interesting site: http://www.schooldigger.com/go/WA/schoolrank.aspx?pagetype=top100

Now with regard to price range, yes this is important and here's why. Knowing your price range allows us to not waste time exploring those homes which are way out of range. But that doesn't mean you should necessarily spend as much as you can afford. Just because you can spend, say, $450k, doesn't mean look only for homes that cost around $450k. Hopefully you'll be able to find what you want at a much lower price than you're capable of paying. The less you pay to reach your goal, the better. Maybe you find a REO for $200k less than your budget, but it needs a new kitchen. That's what IKEA is for. Also, sometimes homes listed higher than your range can be had depending on seller circumstances. Ya never know. Or maybe your budget is $5M. That means I won't show you homes that are $10M, unless I know we could get it. Maybe your dream house costs $850k and you don't have to spend $5M after all. I dunno, we've never met. I'm not trying to be judgemental or get too much out of you or "expose" any personal info, however, if you want good information, you gotta provide good information.

You might want to check out real estate websites like Redfin.com or Johnlscott.com (I'm with Remax but those other websites are better). Just browse neighborhoods and find a couple of homes you like. This can help identify what style of home you're looking for, so when your agent asks what your style is, you can show him or her actual homes you like. We also need to know how long you plan to live in the house, do you plan to have more kids, pets, etc? For example, If you're going to be breeding english sheepdogs as a hobby while your husband practices his operetta, you may not want to look at townhomes. Maybe you hate tile roofs or 1 car garages or absolutely do not want a galley kitchen. There are so many variables that one good way to start is to look at how you are living right now and then figure out what you like most and least about it. Instead of writing your biography, you'll find that your agent will learn a lot of this stuff about you the first time you meet. Not in an interview but as you're walking through the first 3 houses he or she is showing you. This is where I typically learn what my clients really want--Sometimes you have to know what you DON'T want in order to know what you DO want. So we go through those first few homes, getting to know each other, I'm able to find more suitable homes for them. Plus it never hurts to have more knowledge, so the more houses you see, the better, even if you're unlikely to want to live there.
0 votes
<3them, Home Buyer, Seattle, WA
Tue Aug 30, 2011
Hi MT,

Thanks so much for your input! I feel like we really need to get out and EXPLORE what Seattle has to offer, as far as the neighborhoods you mentioned, etc. A few of the realtors on here seem to feel the same way you do. I definitely know we won't be here in Chicago for more than a year, and Seattle is where the opportunity is. It's all very exciting! Thank you, and I would like to stay in touch. I'm not familiar with Sycamore/Dekalb, but I am with Elgin. Elgin seems to be a bit more city-like (from what I've seen) than Arlington Heights, but kinda close.

Patrick - we are serious buyers......it just has to do with the job. I didn't give a price range on purpose - I'm looking for the best area that meets the criteria that are most important to us. It doesn't matter to us if we can live in the richest neighborhood even if we can. We want to go to the place that offers what's most important to us. I understand that you don't think it's wise to drive further out of the city because of the office location (keep in mind we are 26 miles from Michigan Ave in Chicago - it takes about an hour and a half each way during rush hour. While it would be nice to shorten the trip, we are not strangers to long, congested commutes). I appreciate your concern, but I did say that he will only be in the office once a week, if that. Other than that he travels. So maybe some place within close proximity to the airport would be good. I also stated one of our top priorities is excellent PUBLIC schools. From what I've read, Seattle's public schools need some help. We will be coming from an EXCELLENT public school district. Education is of utmost importance, so we need to be able to weigh all our options. I do appreciate your advice, and am interested in learning more about some of the neighborhoods in Seattle you mentioned, should they meet what we are looking for. Thank you.
0 votes
Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Sat Aug 27, 2011
Haha...yes Patrick, low crime areas can be "boring". Gad you got that rant out of your system. :)

I think the person asking the question appreciated the responses. That's really all that matters, isn't it?
0 votes
Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Ardelle: yup Mercer Island has low crime, but that might be because it's so boring. We don't know enough about these people to know whether they'd be happy there, or if they could even afford to live well there. Kirkland is like Seattle- Some really great areas, and a couple of really bad areas. Stats are useful to a point, but what's better is working with an agent who knows the lay of the land and can help you make smart decisions--Decisions which are ultimately up to the buyer. Decisions which we as agents should not make for people until we know enough about them to do so properly.

Dan: Yup, answering the questions is what we are here for. Making up answers based on too little information is not.

That's my whole point. The buyer didn't provide enough information for us to provide a detailed answer, and certainly not enough information to recommend specific areas or to try to get them to meet our friends.

Come on--You are all good, experienced, agents. Act like it.
0 votes
Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Patrick,

The crime stats in Redmond and Kirkland and Mercer Island are all about the same as the areas <3them gave us to go by. Mercer Island was the most similar as to low crime that <3them chose where she is now, in a suburb of Chicago.

What site do you use and what neighborhoods in Seattle do you know have crime stats as low as Mercer Island? I checked several, and couldn't find any that were a match for <3them. If you know some, I'd love to hear them.

Where do you get your crime stat info? I use Homefacts.com and no Seattle neighborhood came up with the A to A- rating of the Chicago Suburbs or Mercer Island. Is there another site you use?
0 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
@Patrick,
I've found in my career that answering the questions asked allows the questioner to decide if they want to provide more information. Since they requested Suburbs, I and others offered the classic definition of suburbs. Since they requested excellent public schools, I suggested suburbs with highly ranked school systems.
Rather than rant about information they have chosen not to offer or answers others have provided, find a question you like better or provide your suggestions. Just a thought.
0 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
<3them,
Thanks for the update. I like to know how things turn out. I'm attaching a couple of links to some local small town papers near I90 you can look over and begin to become familiar with the area.
Issaquah is an old logging town which spans from some very modern updated developments like Issaquah Highlands to suburban neighborhoods like Klahanie built in the 80's to forested older neighborhoods like Squak Mt. and finally rural areas where horses & other livestock live on acreage.
Sammamish is primarily a newer town, about 12 years since incorporation, but with older sections. Sammamish has been ranked as one of the best places to live numerous times. We moved here in 1988 and have raised our family here so we tend to agree with Money Magazine, it's a great place.
Both communities will be here next year or whenever you are ready and so will most of us who have answered your questions. We're always glad to help.

http://www.issaquahpress.com/
Web Reference:  http://sammamishreview.com/
0 votes
Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Thanks for popping back in to let us know, <3them. Good luck! Hope we have been helpful!
0 votes
<3them, Home Buyer, Seattle, WA
Fri Aug 26, 2011
Sorry for disappearing! It looks like we will be staying here for another 6 months - 1 year. I appreciate all the resonses and information. I will definitely take some of you up on your offers, because Seattle is looking like a definite move, just not right at this moment. Again, I appreciate everyone's input! Take care :)
0 votes
Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Thu Aug 25, 2011
<3them,

It was just announced that the 520 bridge toll will go in effect in December. They keep postponing.it. Was June...then August...now December...

I still think I-90 back and forth is a better bet for you for many reasons, and i don' think there is any recent talk about that becoming a toll bridge. Someone else may know.

I'm from an area where toll bridges are the norm...so they don't concern me much. They will have an Easy Pass system and different prices for different times of the day to regulate the traffic flow a little better.

The areas noted by me and many others that do not involve bridge travel, do not have the safety and school rankings you have requested aka same as what you have now. So crossing a bridge is more likely than not, unless you change your parameters.
0 votes
Karen Mcknig…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Wed Aug 24, 2011
Hi <3them,

I have not lived in Chicago, but my experience in working with many relocating buyers through the years is that Seattle will have a different feel and a different variety of lifestyles from which you can choose.

The entire Eastside would greatly fit what you are describing. The Eastside includes Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Bellevue, and even Sammamish which was rated in the top 10 cities in the nation recently. Schools are great (nationally award winning), crime is low, and commute from any of these areas is from 15 minutes to 1 hour. What is reasonable is based on your perspective.

Without knowing your price range and lifestyle desires, the best I can offer you is to go to my website, http://www.karenmcknight.com and click on About the Area. You will find links to schools with school statistics, descriptions of Seattle's neighborhoods, and a lot of insightful information.

Let me know if you would like a free copy of a great book I can send you about the Seattle area. Just contact me at karenmc@ kw.com . I look forward to hearing from you.
Web Reference:  http://www.karenmcknight.com
0 votes
Mary Sunde, Agent, Bellevue, WA
Tue Aug 23, 2011
New Seattle Resident
If you e-mail me I am happy to put you in touch with Mark and Carolyn directly. I also think Snoqualmie Ridge
is beautiful but it does tend to be colder and very windy in the spring. Also, for a lot of us commuting to Seattle,
would propose a challenge during the winter months. Mark finds that if he leaves their home in Redmond
just before 7:00, he arrives on Queen Anne in 20+ minutes but if leaving after 7:00 it takes him an hour.
You may also wish to consider bus service if living on the Eastside. Not only do the bridges pose traffic and
toll issues but parking in Seattle unless provided is very expensive.

When Mark and Carolyn moved here they found our cost of living higher than Chicago, groceries ect.

Best for you to speak to them and I'm sure, as they are a very social couple, they still have maintained lots
of their friendships in Chicago.
Mary
0 votes
Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Tue Aug 23, 2011
Wow...some really out there suggestions. Pretty soon you'll be suggesting they move to wicker park and commute from there. I'll say it again...can't really advise them properly without knowing price range and some idea of what kind of house they want. As in the actual structure. That's just for starters. Recommending that someone who isn't from here should move away from seattle to work in seattle is irresponsible and more than a little ridiculous. If this buyer wants real help, then she can provide more info or contact one of the agents who've responded directly.
0 votes
Jirius Isaac, Agent, Kenmore, WA
Tue Aug 23, 2011
It is amazing to me how many of us are willing to help you here with no probability of compensation. Most of us really love it here, of course, which is why we are here. I have sold several homes in every one of the neighborhoods that have been mentioned. Also, in my past life, I have done many things including a lot of traveling & being a teacher for 8 years. I moved to Kenmore, in the Northshore School district, because of affordability & the incredible schools. The only other places to get as good of schools, again would be on the Eastside of Lake Washington, as others have mentioned. Price is the only difference, except more maybe a little less cultural diversity, & maybe newer communities if you move a little further out as some have suggested. I really feel that a 2 way conversation with some of us is your best bet. Also, once you are here again, just going around to these communities & experiencing them first hand is always the best.
Web Reference:  http://buyorsellkenmore.com
0 votes
Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Tue Aug 23, 2011
I'm a city or suburban girl at best through and through, Dan. I see a cow or get too close to a mountain and say "I'm out of my service area!". I have made a couple of exceptions...like when I had to pass the cows in Bothell to help someone buy a house and when I was standing low in Snoqualmie looking up at mountains to help someone buy a house. But when I had to repeat the directions to my Monroe listing as "when you pass the peacocks and llamas" a few times, I gave the listing to a Monroe agent and never went back. LOL!

This raises a good point for <3them.

We are of course each answering from our perspective. West Seattle might be good...Bainbridge Island is even considered a good commute to Downtown Seattle, even though it is by Ferry. Many of us here have the same "service area" that does not include Bainbridge Island by and large.

We are only able to tell you what we know first hand.

OFTEN the reality of what happens for you is that IF your husband takes the job, all the people who already work there tell him where they live...and your perspective may change.

We are only trying to help you know that this is doable. It is more doable if your price range is $500,000 and up, if you want to match your school rankings and crime rating of where you are. If your price range is $250,000 to $350,000 then it might be a townhome or an area with slightly lower school rankings and higher crime.

People are correct that your not divulging even a small glimpse of what your price range may be, seems odd. The advice changes dramatically if your price range is $300,000 vs $600,000. Can we have a rough idea please? If you did in your comments, and I missed it, I apologize. But I haven't seen anything from you about price range.

If you say $150,000...whole new ballgame. I don't think you will, knowing the NW Chicago suburbs somewhat. But some indication of price is really needed here for us to offer opinions that are of much value.
0 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Tue Aug 23, 2011
@Ardell,
We are on the same track with the snow concern. I have clients on the ridge who were still dealing with it long after the lowlands were clear this last year. One correction however, the only skiing at Snoqualmie Ridge would be cross country on the golf course. Snoqualmie Pass & Alpental are still a way up the pass, 20 minutes or more at 70mph.
Love the videos. Seattle snow driving is a unique experience. Between the type of snow we often get, the hills, lack of removal equipment due to the infrequency and the questionable driving decisions people make it's best to avoid driving when possible. Personally we've always had one 4 wheel drive vehicle just so we can get out when necessary. My wife's first driving lesson was in the snow of Ontario Canada and she feels the same way.
0 votes
Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Tue Aug 23, 2011
One word...snow.

Snoqualmie has ski resorts. Seattle doesn't handle driving in snow well...to and from work. Be mindful of that. Also be mindful of climbing a big hill to get to your house from work...as in Queen Anne. A few fun videos to drive the point home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILDOqppQL-U

The one above I call "Here it comes...Look OUT!"

The one below is Audi 2 crashing into Audi 1.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym9K3z0CL_U

Lots of people just abandon their cars and walk home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzgBEN1dImk&feature=related

30 miles to Snoqualmie is a long way to walk... :)

We don't get a lot of snow, and some areas get more than others...and hilly areas between your home and work can be problematic.

google "Seattle Can't Drive" lots of fun videos and rants. This isn't L.A. :) I've lived in Philly and NJ during 3 foot snowstorms and didn't have as much trouble getting home from Downtown as some people do in 1 to 3 inches of snow around here. Can't tell you how many people called me from "Cougar Mountain", not nearly as far out as Snoqualmie, who didn't want to live there anymore...after it snowed once.

There are many great places to live when you look here in summer...but google the area as to how well it handled a little snow...and picture your husband trying to get from downtown to Snoqualmie. My business partner, Kim, had to pick his daughter up at the airport in that 2010 "snow storm". Usually a 20 to 30 minute drive on a normal day each way. 8 hours he was gone...and the freeway looked like a parking lot with all the abandoned vehicles.

Snow...Snoqualmie is a great place to go skiing with the fam...not so much for commuting from 8th and Stewart.
0 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Tue Aug 23, 2011
<3them,
Snoqualmie is a newer development with lots of options, but a 30 minute commute is optimistic at best. Depending on when your travel and where in the ridge you live it can take 8-15 minutes to reach I90. Once on the freeway you'll be flying at 70 mph until somewhere between Issaquah and Bellevue (at rush hour) where depending on weather you may have 20-30 minutes or more to reach downtown.
With the tolling on 520 coming soon, I would expect traffic on I90 to increase until it becomes a toll road too. (Discussed but not set yet).
The benefits of Snoqualmie will be newer homes from many builders, close in grocery shopping, good values due to competition from the number of homes currently on the market. The downside is the area has grown fast, some say too fast. There are a number of distressed properties on the market and snow is a more common than closer in to the city.
Another alternative closer would be the Issaquah Highlands. This is a newer development closer in has a very high walk score and easy transit access. Shopping of all sorts is substantially closer and there are relatively affordable options available.
Issaquah is home to the famous Village Theater whose productions have gone on to Broadway success and is the corporate home to Costco.
0 votes
<3them, Home Buyer, Seattle, WA
Tue Aug 23, 2011
Thanks for all the info! I love that homefacts website, thanks Ardell. Mary, have your clients from Chicago mentioned anything to you about the difference in the cost of living? I live in an area that tends to be pretty pricey, and our tax rate is about 10%.
Also, any thoughts on the new developments in Snoqualmie? It looks so pretty. The website says it's a 30 minute commute to Seattle, but I wonder how much that time will increase once the project is completed and everyone moves in.
Any thoughts?
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Mary Sunde, Agent, Bellevue, WA
Tue Aug 23, 2011
I don't think anyone has mentioned the new toll on the 520 bridge if you choose to live on the Eastside which
may greatly impact your commute time and cost. I lived in Kirkland on the Eastside for over 20 years and
moved to Ravenna NE of the U of W 2 years ago. I grew up in Seattle. I love the move.
I have a 4 year old grandson and his mom who live with me so am verry famililiar with activities for families
and younger ones. Although over the years (30+) I had always heard the Seattle schools were horrible the
local elementary here in Ravenna is wonderful and there are as many parks as in Kirkland if not more;
we are minutes from the Zoo and Greenlake, the Seattle Center, Arena Sports and Magnuson Park on
Lake Washington with soccer, inflatables, rock cllimbing wall and camps for the kids and exercise club for
adults. I notice some increased traffic noise and sirens but love living here.

Also Windermere has a separate Relocation division whose only focus is to match the transferee with the
best agent.

I had a young family move from Chicago about 10 years ago and I am happy to have you contact Mark and
Carolyn to discuss the differences they encountered. They choose Redmond, a home in an acreage development and Mark commutes to Queen Anne in Seattle.

With the hundreds of relocating buyers I have helped only 2 have not liked Seattle. One was from Boston
and one from California.

You have lots of choices with many excelllent agents,

Here is my contact information: 206-227-1915, msunde@windermere.com
Mary
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Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Regarding crime rate, HomeFacts.com is not accurate on many things, like nearest library, but the info regarding crime and sexual offender info is pretty good. As example here is what they say about one mile around Derbyshire Drive in Arlington Heights:

http://www.homefacts.com/realestate/Illinois/Cook-County/Arl…

It is difficult to match that A to A- crime rating of Arlington Heights within the City of Seattle or in any large City. But if you want to check out the crime rating of any Seattle home, that's a good site to use for it. Always double check with the local authorities prior to buying a home, as they have the most up to date information. But that site is a good guide for someone coming from outside of the area.

I have helped many people buy and sell in the City of Seattle, but not very many who stated Excellent Schools and Lowest Crime as their primary objectives. I don't know an in City neighborhood that can match an A- crime rating with virtually no crime, but maybe someone else here does. I have split my time here between Green Lake in-city and Kirkland across the lake. Love both. But the crime rate in City generally doesn't match up with the A- of Arlington Heights in Illiinois, which was your request.
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Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Again--It's great to show what different areas can offer, but we don't know what the buyer's price range is, nor do we know what style of house they are looking for. Kind of moot to throw things out there without this basic information.
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Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Some of the older homes in Arlington Heights are similar in style and price to Bellevue, but in the mid price range of Arlington Heights...say $475,000 to $625,000.

For a lower price range, you might want to consider Edmonds School District. It's North of Seattle in a different direction than I originally noted. Here's a good example of one I have in escrow at $250,000 in Mountlake Terrace.

http://www.redfin.com/WA/Mountlake-Terrace/4407-222nd-St-SW-…

Not available...but the pictures will be "live" until the end of the month when it closes escrow. If you live in Arlington Heights, I don't think you are in the $250,000 price range, but just in case, the one above was a nice house for the money. Some nicer ones nearby in Mountlake Terrace of the same style for $275,000 to $300,000.

I'm going to step this up in price. We can't use active listings of other agents on a public site like this, against our mls rules. You would have to email me to send you those. But here's one in Samammish I sold earlier this year for $389,000. Have to use this hokey video to get the pictures to you, since it is a closed sale. :)

http://animoto.com/play/GhNxK9BTg2x0dnRphmUC0A

Here's one I sold last year in Issaquah for about $460,000. Prices haven't changed much there since then. Very nice area called Klahanie. You would probably like it there. The owners of this house hated to move...but he was relocated to San Francisco.

http://animoto.com/play/7qs8rWuXobwGcieYkmc73Q

I don't have any other videos to share...but if you email me I can send you some other examples that I can't post publicly on this site.

Worth mentioning. MOST relocating buyers are assigned an agent by the company that hires them. I am giving this information, not to solicit your business, as you most likely will be assigned an agent. I am doing this as I have been a relocating wife/mom and understand that it can be a bit scary. All I can say is it should be a good transition from Chicago. Harder to come to WA from CA...but coming from Chicago you should be just fine and happy. My $.02 :)

If you want additional info or have any questions just call or email. I offer this knowing your husband's company will likely ask you to use someone else. Just trying to give you a feel for the area to relieve your stress. If he likes the job...the move should not be a problem.

I moved from PA to FL to Sacramento to L.A. with my 3 children when my husband took jobs at different times in our lives. From Chicago to here with one child? Piece of cake. :)

Oh...here's a fun link on Rain City Guide where I write. HUNDREDS of comments from people who relocated here. I call it The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly as told by many who have moved here. :)

http://raincityguide.com/2006/03/07/10-things-you-should-kno…

It's up to 888 comments and people still talk on it, even though it was written by Dustin back in early 2006. Dustin and Anna moved to CA some time ago. I sold their house in Ballard when they moved. But people still come and ask questions about Seattle on that old blog post. People love reading the comments on that before they move here. It should give you a better feel for the area from many people who are not agents.

Most importantly...don't worry. I helped a family move here from CA back in early 2010. They bought a house for about $300,000 in Shoreline. They now have to relocate back to CA and they are crying because they hate to leave their life and home here. That's a good sign for you. :)
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Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
I don't think your question can be accurately answered without knowing your price range, and also what kind of house you'd like to live in. I don't think steering you to another city is wise at this point...seattle will most likely have a great neighborhood for you and the commute will be much better.
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Jirius Isaac, Agent, Kenmore, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Most of the places agents are recommending to you are either too far (More then 30minutes) or too expensive. I really know all the areas quite well & also understand where you are coming from. As I stated beforek feel free to call me sometime. 206-841-9976
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<3them, Home Buyer, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
There also seems to be a bit of a debate as far as suburb and city goes, and really, what's #1 is great schools and low crime. A feel comparable to what we have now would be great, and so would being close to the city, not only for work, but for fun as well. I appreciate all suggestions, and since I'm not familiar with any of these cities, they are all helpful and probably worth visiting! Thank you :-)
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<3them, Home Buyer, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Oh! As for the area we are looking to kind of match, think Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Glenview, IL areas. We could go a bit quieter tho. Thanks, Ardell for comparing. I feel like Mercer Island is probably a lot pricier than Schaumburg? Thanks!
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Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
I get that but sometimes people say 'suburbs' when they mean leschi or phinney ridge. We don't know if they're just trying to avoid belltown. The job is downtown seattle not the microsoft campus.
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<3them, Home Buyer, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Thank you so much for all the input! Yes, having a 3.5 year old, schools and low crime are at the very top of the list. We would prefer public schooling, but don't know enough about the private schools to knock those. I just got back from Seattle very early this morning, and am bummed because we didn't have the chance to venture out of the city. The commute isn't THAT big of a deal, since he would usually only be in the office once a week, if that. Being as close as we are to Chicago now, and having been our whole lives, however, it would be nice to be close to a big city. From what I gather, it's probably best to hop back on a plane over there and check out some of these towns suggested. Mr. won't be back from Seattle for another two weeks, so over the rest of his stay, hopefully he'll figure some things out that will take us to a good starting point...like does he really want to transfer to Seattle?! One thing is for sure.....we won't miss the blizzards, tornados, severe thunderstorms with flooding, no power, etc. I'm sure Seattle experiences some of these things (mostly the flooding, maybe), but this past month has been HORRIBLE! And I lllooovvve rain, just not when it's accompanied by strobe light-like lightning for 5 hours. LOL! Thank you again, I will definitely be in touch, and if you have any other suggestions or things to share about Seattle, that would be great!! So appreciative for all the feedback so far :-)
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Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Patrick,

Because she asked "What are the best suburbs...we are looking to live in a nice suburban area with excellent public schools..."

We are simply answering the question she asked. We don't use the word "suburb" here much, but generally that means outside of the City (of Seattle) limits.
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Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
People keep advising this family to move away from seattle without knowing their budget. The job is in downtown seattle...why are you people telling them to commute further than necessary?
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Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
One more thought, since Money Magazine was kind enough to name two local areas in the top 15 of their top 100 places to live, I thought you'd like to see what they have to say. I've attached a link below.
Mukilteo was rated 9th this year and is north of Seattle and is just of Puget Sound. It's a beautiful community and worth adding to the list. Sammamish has been on the list several times and is ranked 15th.
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Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
I was going to say Issaquah-Sammamish is comparable to Naperville...but Naperville has gotten a LOT pricier than when I last looked.

Great Schools.Org will give you a breakdown of the schools.

From what you have said "in Seattle" does not likely make much sense. Best bet is probably Mercer Island. You might be able to find something there comparable to Schaumburg, depending on your price range. You likely want to be on the I-90 side which runs right through Mercer Island over to the Eastside. Bellevue-Bellevue School District, Somerset, Issaquah-Issaquah School District. Newcastle are also good choices for an 8th and Stewart commute, with Mercer Island being the shortest commute. You don't get truly "rural" until you get to the Carnation end of things...which is too far anyway.

If you look at a map of Seattle you will see that "The Surburbs" which we call "The Eastside" is going to take you across Lake Washington via the I-90 or the 520 bridges.

If you travel the path from Downtown Seattle on a map over the I-90 Bridge you will be able to see what I'm talking about. Mercer Island, which has excellent schools, would be the closest. If you continue on I-90 through Mercer Island, Bellevue will be on your left and Somerset on your right and Issaquah in front of you. All of those have excellent schools.

I'm a big fan of Lake Washington Schools and Kirkland...but for that location of 8th and Stewart, I'd probably be in Mercer Island.

Email or call if you have more questions. I have not lived in Chicago but have been there, have friends there and have had clients from there over the years. But as I said, the suburbs of Chicago have gotten a lot pricier in recent times than I remember it being. If you tell us what neighborhood you are coming from, we can do a better match up for you.

Good luck! The weather is better here than Chicago and I have lived on the West Coast since 1998 and have yet to experience an earthquake...so don't worry about that so much. I did when I was moving to the West Coast...but it turned out to be not a concern. Though I "get" where you are coming from on that. :) No "eeeek".
0 votes
Patrick Beri…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
What's your price range?

Don't bother going to the eastside as advised below (bellevue, kirkland, etc). There are some great close-in neighborhoods in Seattle that you'll love.
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Jirius Isaac, Agent, Kenmore, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Welcome to Seattle! I moved here from Michigan 35 years ago & never looked back & would be happy to talk with you about the differences in climate, people, etc. Give me a call any time during the day on my cell phone at 206-841-9976 & if you get voice mail, just let me know when you are available & I will call you back.

As to a suburb that is close to Seattle with good schools & a reasonable commute, that would be Bellevue, Mercer Island, or Newcastle so that you could take I-90 into the city, or Kenmore so you could drive around the lake into the City. As to house prices, if we take a new million dollar house in Mercer Island, the same house would cost around $700k in Bellevue, $500k in Newcastle, & $400k in Kenmore. You can guess where I live from those numbers. In fact, Kenmore, with a population of around 20k, was voted by
Family Cirlcle magazine in 2010 as one of the10 best & most affordable cities in the United States to raise a family. Schools were an important component of their decision.

I look forward to hearing from you.
0 votes
Doron Weisba…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Hi,

First, I didn't transfer from Chicago. I'm a real estate broker and have two clients from Chicago.

One of the things about Seattle is that, outside of the downtown area (and maybe a bit more) it's pretty suburban feeling. So you can always choose the option of staying inside of Seattle proper and still having the warm, fussy feeling of being in an urban type suburban area with community, schools, etc. Generally speaking, the north part of Seattle tends to have the better schools. Depending on your budget and what you're looking for I could recommend different neighborhoods.

If you still decide to live outside of Seattle proper, you might consider Shoreline, Edmonds, Mukilteo, Bothell, Brier, Lake Forrest Park, Juanita, Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue, Newcastle, Mercer Island. Some of these you have to look at specific neighborhoods but generally you should be fine. Again, it depends on what you want in a house and what is your price point.

I hope that this helps.
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Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
Ray made a good point and I didn't mean to leave Mercer Island out. I grew up there and it's a great town with great schools, just expensive. Your commutes would be great, depending on where you settled, MI is 8 miles long and the bridge is on the north end.
0 votes
Ray Akers, Agent, Seattle, WA
Mon Aug 22, 2011
When I think of suburbs near Seattle with good schools and an easy commute I think of several cities east of Seattle including Mercer Island, Newcastle, Issaquah and Bellevue. Bellevue is the largest nearby city and Mercer Island is the closest. The commute from Mercer Island would be very short and the island has a slower paced, village-like ambiance. Seattle has some excellent suburban communities, it all depends on your lifestyle and what you want to spend.
0 votes
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