Thanks for so many helpful comments and tips! You are right: I need to be more specific :-)
Dan & Ray - I prefer urban or suburban lifestyle, but I actually don't mind moving into a nice house in rural areas outside Seattle in a safe and sound neighborhood. Schools are not of consideration for me, and they won't be, so if moving to a nice area with not so high school ranking will give me more for the money, I'd rather do that. I am not too interested in the Bainbridge Island and areas that take over 45 minutes to get to Seattle or taking the ferry as an alternative. And I would much rather be north (as far as Everett / Marysville) or east (as far as North Bend), than south... definitely not south of Renton.
Will & Kerry - neither me nor my girlfriend will need to commute, so I wouldn't factor in the commute time in my home selection (as long as I am within 45 minutes of downtown Seattle, for weekend visits and fun). However, I absolutely have to have superfast fiber-optic internet connection for the type of work I do.
Frankly, if I had a choice between a condo/townhouse in or close to Seattle vs. a single family home a little bit farther from Seattle (for the same price), I'd probably choose the latter since my telecommuting job allows me to.
Here are a few more specifics I am looking for my house: 2+bedroom; 1.5+baths; 1500+ sq ft; year built - 1990+; with all or mostly hardwood floors (desired, but I can probably live without). The $275K was just a hypothetical number, I'd be happy to find something much cheaper than that, given my flexibility in location.
I currently live in Portland, OR, and I can visit Seattle on a weekend to check out houses.
I hope this narrows down my search a little bit :-)