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Relocation thoughts - RonO's Ramblings

Feb. 22nd, 2008 10:07 am Relocation thoughts

Edit/addition at 11:20

As I mentioned earlier, albeit nearly hidden in my report on Capricon, I had a phone interview last week with a large Seattle company (but not THAT large Seattle company, the other one). The first interview went well and they scheduled a second phone interview, which had to be rescheduled when the interviewer didn't call me last night.

The problem with the second phone interview not withstanding, I've been looking into some of the details of a possible relocation to the Puget Sound area.

Looking at the real estate information available at realtor.com, my usual site for home listings in the US, it looks like houses that are comparable to our house in Bartlett in size and price are largely located in Bremington, which is across the sound from Seattle. However, this may not be a big problem for me because the best guess I have for a work location would be in downtown Seattle just a few blocks from the Pier 52 ferry dock. I would be able to park either at the ferry head, or at a park-and-ride lot closer to home, and then walk from the ferry to the office. Not too different from taking Metra and walking to a Loop office. At other times, most of the Seattle metro would be accessible by putting a car on the same ferry.

However, if anyone knows of a better location that has similar housing in age, size and price, I would be willing to look there as well. If it is not quick to get to a ferry docking at Pier 52, it would be nice if it instead had decent public transportation connections to downtown Seattle, but I'd be willing to drive if parking could be safely and reliably found.

An other concern is about the fabled gray weather of the Pacific Northwest. I've been to Seattle on three prior occasions: April and May 2005, May 2007 and July 2009. In the first case, about 1/3 to 1/2 of the days were somewhat gray, but there was plenty of sun as well. The other two trips were quite sunny and very nice. So, what is really typical for the Seattle area year-round. A related concern is that since Seattle lies North, as well as West, of Chicago, would the even longer winter nights be any worse for my mood. I'm not sure which bothers me more in December and early January -- the long nights where I can work the entire daylight hours -- or the fact that it is usually uncomfortably cold. If it is the latter, I'm reasonably sure that Seattle won't be as bad.

I have some practical concerns about relocating in general. Would we be able to sell our house quickly and for a reasonable profit so that we pay off the existing mortgage and have a strong down payment. Other houses in the neighborhood have been on and off sale since last summer, but I think we may have more to offer (at least if we get the bathroom and yard fixed up a bit). Similarly, how much more money should we put into the house if we know we are relocating soon, rather than if we plan to live there for a while.

There are also concerns about finding a place to continue with our Karate classes -- but I'm sure that the Karate school people here will do what they can to help -- and some of the practical and legal issues of moving with Derrick -- but these will work out.

A final concern is finding a social life. At this point I know of one family in the Puget Sound area that we know somewhat, and a few names that I'm familiar with. There is also one of the people who I believe is from the Christian Fandom list who is on my lj friends list and works, I believe at the University of Washington, but I cannot say I know beyond that. On the other hand, there are a number of active people on the Christian Fandom list in Vancouver (BC not WA), which isn't that far.

Looking at various sites, mostly the Seattle in 2011 bid page, I see that there are not as many cons in the Seattle area as in Chicago -- but I think we are blessed to have so many -- but when Portland (2 hours to the south), Vancouver (2 hours to the north) and perhaps Yakamia (1.5 hours to the southeast) are added in the picture isn't too bad. I'm sure that through friends and friends of friends we'll get hooked up OK. {If we end up moving there, I'll probably get roped into the Seattle bid a bit, but I'll endeavor to keep my bidding priorities with the Chicago bid. The latter will probably push me into having to attend most of the cons in that region between 2008 and 2010 just to do bid stuff}

Of course one other thing that just hit me last night that would be neat if we moved to Seattle this year -- We'd be not too far from the Winter Olympics in 2010. Close enough that it might be tempting to try to attend. Unfortunately, also close enough that I could see people wanting to use our place as a base of operations, especially if an effort is made to allow easy access from the Seattle area without having to stay closer. I'm not sure if 2-4 hours is quite commutable for a major sporting event, however.

It just occurred to me that I have a kid who has been at times very interested in volcanoes. If we move to the Seattle area, we would be able to make visits to Mount St. Helen -- which I've never been to either, always choosing to visit Ranier instead -- where he could see the effect of that kind of volcano.

I've embedded some questions above, and would be very happy to hear any advise related to them. To be clear, at this point there is no job offer, and even if there was a good one, there is no assurance that I'd take it.

{If I'm feeling up to it and don't think it would be otherwise dangerous, I may post some of why I'm more up to taking this step than I might have been even a few weeks ago. Of course anyone who reads the newspaper probably has a decent guess}

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Comments:

From:shsilver
Date:February 22nd, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
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I know several Seattle fans (when I was out there, we went out for a great Chinese dinner) and can provide you with intros should it prove necessary. Alice and Mike were among the group at dinner, so they can also provide you with an in.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 22nd, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)

The Bentleys live la vida seattle

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Hi Ron,

Alice and I are over on Vashon, two islands south of Bainbridge. It is a 1.5 hour commute into town, and you schedule around when the ferries show up and leave. Right now the ferry system is a little undersupported, but hopefully they're fixing that.

We chose Vashon for a variety of reasons, one being we could get a neat house here with 3 acres cheaper than _any_ house we found in Seattle proper on however much land a house required, typically less than 1/6 acre. Vashon appeared to trail the market, but after we moved in the house prices here shot up.

House prices rocketed upward since 2004. They are falling back a tad depending on the seller's situation, due to the loan market imbroglio, but coming into the area now is nevertheless more economically painful than it was back in '04, and it was still painful coming from Chicago.

Most of the tech positions in my experience are on the east side of the metro area: Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, and Kent -- not Seattle downtown. Access between the east and west sides are constrained by two stretches of highway that literally float on a lake that divides the Seattle metro mainland. Avoid during the rush.

I have no idea where Bremington is, I assume you mean Bremerton. I do know where Bremerton is: that's Naval base country, with the area populated by military personnel, contractors, and families. That particular boat ride is also a bit longer to Seattle.

There's a big military base to the south by Tacoma as well; sometimes we can hear them practice firing big guns. I imagine it is a lot louder when you get closer. I don't think they practice firing guns at the Naval shipyard.

-Mike
From:rono_60103
Date:February 22nd, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC)

Re: The Bentleys live la vida seattle

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Vashon would probably be my first choice -- a nice rural atmosphere with the city just a short ferry ride away. The only reason my real estate searches have shown Bremington (see, I fixed my spell-o) is since the housing is a bit less, at the price of a longer ferry ride.

Obviously if we move and then I have to take a new job on the East side, my commute would be a bit worse since I'd have to take one of the floating bridges across.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 22nd, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC)

Re: The Bentleys live la vida seattle

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I don't know Bremington. BremERton?

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=bremerton,wa&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=12&iwloc=addr

I think the entire west side of the sound is fair game for ye. It isn't as populated as the Seattle-Tacoma corridor. On the other hand, you may go crosseyed dealing with ferries every day, many people do.
From:lonotter
Date:February 22nd, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
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For forecasting the ability to sell your house in general, I'd hit the Chicago Tribune's "Your Home" section, Mary Umberger is the real estate columnist (Views->Columnists on the website sidebar). IIRC there's a lot of older articles available on-line, probably better than the paper paper. For specifics, Mara the VS realtor, of course. :)
From:backrubbear
Date:February 23rd, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
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Unless I'm way too far out of the loop, you should be able to talk to John Lussmyer about being a long-time resident. He moved from Michigan years ago.

The single biggest comment I've heard from people about housing/work/travel is that you need to make sure your expectations about drive times are reasonable for the bridges you'll have to cross. Despite the short distances, the number of paths into and out of the metro area is apparently horrible. Things are more reasonable if you can avoid unnecessary bridge crossings.

John, IIRC, must take a ferry each day.