New residents of Seattle. Please help us choose a neighborhood to buy a house.
June 30, 2009 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Seattle region filter: We are new residents of Seattle, from New Jersey, enjoying our exploration of this wonderful city. We are house-hunting and have narrowed down our choice of neighborhoods. Any opinions or advice?

- Commute is less than 30 minutes to South Lake Union.
- Quiet streets and beautiful light. We really like the light in the areas close to Puget Sound.
- Re-sale value. We have no kids, but we prefer good schools and desirable areas -- for resale value.
- Walkable friendly community.

Neighborhoods, in order of preference:
1. Richmond Beach. Wonderful quiet neighborhood seems like a retreat from the city. But not a bad commute. However, there is the Point Wells development looming. It could change the whole character of the community.
2. North Beach. I like the relaxed feel of the neighborhood.
3. Blue Ridge. I think it's a bit too spruce and upscale for us. But there are some beautiful houses.
4. Sunset Hill. What a lovely community! But the lots and houses tend to be small. Houses are selling quickly in Sunset Hill, despite the "buyer's market."
5. Magnolia. Shorter commute to South Lake Union, but homes are more costly, and the area is kind of isolated from the rest of Seattle.

Also, is there any advantage/disadvantage to living in Shoreline vs the city of Seattle?
posted by valannc to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
1) Richmond Beach - Awesome area, good access to Highway 99 which is your back door to Seattle. Couple nice restaurants in that community and a QFC grocery store. Close to a Costco and a department store mall.

2) Don't know anything about

3) Blue ridge - great area, quick access to Ballard which has all the urban amenities you need, great food and shops and access to water. Just a few minutes to Seattle via 15th ave.

4) Sunset Hill - Don't know anything about

5) Magnolia - I used to live there and I dig the community but with basically two ways in and two ways out it can take a long time to not go very far. Proximity to Discovery Park and Interbay golf course might be pluses. You're supposed to get a Whole Foods down there on 15th soon.

I don't think there's any advantages to Shoreline over Seattle...I have a business in Shoreline and I'm not aware of any taxes or services that differ between the two.
posted by vito90 at 2:53 PM on June 30, 2009

Magnolia will likely always increase in value very well. The neighborhood, which is nice, has that cachet of always being a little upscale. Interbay has lots of development going on, too.

30 minutes to South Lake Union? That includes several areas on the Eastside that meet your criteria. Kirkland, Houghton, parts of Bellevue, etc. But you're on the Eastside, of course.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:00 PM on June 30, 2009

i've lived in seattle for 11 years (though recently moved out of the states for a few year hiatus). i have young kids and have lived in, or have friends in, most areas of the city. you should look at seward park and west seattle as south end alternatives. west seattle is not as far as it seems and has a city in a city feel to it, lots of water views. seward park has a nice quiet vibe to it and it's quite close to downtown. also have you looked much at crown hill?

other thoughts on the neighborhoods you mentioned:

1. richmond beach - very quiet. becoming more popular, feels pretty far from seattle, in a good way
2/3. north beach/blue ridge - don't know enough to say
4. sunset hill - lots of families, slightly inconvenient to me
5. magnolia - too pricey/isolated but not in a good way. like i'm paying to be inconvenienced.

worth what you paid for it...
posted by carlodio at 3:05 PM on June 30, 2009

What about Queen Anne?
posted by jgirl at 3:07 PM on June 30, 2009

Actually, to throw this out there, depending on how critical the commute is for you:

Columbia City and surrounding areas in South Seattle. The light rail is coming on line in two weeks, you will be able to take it from those neighborhoods to Westlake Center, and then hop on the South Lake Union Trolley which will cover almost all of the SLU.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:17 PM on June 30, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses...

Papa Bell, I looked at Eastside. Really nice neighborhoods, but we want to be near Puget Sound. We love that golden sunset light that you get on the west-most areas.

carlodio, Crown Hill in in my search area, but I'm looking to be farther west. It's the west-facing light. Hoping to be within a few blocks of the sound.

West Seattle is really cool, but I don't like the commute -- those big multi-lane highways. And I'm worried about the near future of the viaduct construction and how it might affect property values. Of course, when the new viaduct route is all complete, West Seattlites will be sitting pretty.

jgirl, I love Queen Anne, but my husband says it's too dense and crowded for him.
posted by valannc at 3:17 PM on June 30, 2009

Response by poster: mrzarquon, I hadn't considered south seattle. Will take a look. thanks
posted by valannc at 3:19 PM on June 30, 2009

Also, is there any advantage/disadvantage to living in Shoreline vs the city of Seattle?

In general -- and this is very general -- the schools are better here in Shoreline, houses are cheaper, and lots are bigger, but the commute is longer and I believe property taxes are slightly higher.

Mr. Corpse commutes to downtown Seattle by bus and it takes him 35 - 45 minutes most days.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:29 PM on June 30, 2009

There are some real nice properties near the sound in the south end neighborhoods around Normandy Park/Seahurst/Three Tree Point/Burien. The commute to Seattle via the 509 is usually a breeze, too, but it's bound to get a little worse when the viaduct replacement project finally happens.
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:15 PM on June 30, 2009

Chiming in on the South Seattle neighborhoods - two words: Airport noise
The third runway is in and has made Burien, Normandy Park, Des Moines et al LOUD.
Don't disount the noise from Boeing field in Columbia City too.
Shoreline has a good rep re: schools, and I've had many friends who love living there.
Don't know what your price range is like, but also take a look at Bainbridge - you can't get close to the water for a small price, there are some lovely ramblers on large lots, and life there is sweet (if a bit snooty in some parts). The ferry commute is lovely, and very close to Seattle, but away-feeling.
posted by dbmcd at 4:19 PM on June 30, 2009

jgirl, I love Queen Anne, but my husband says it's too dense and crowded for him.

Hmmm...Magnolia is pretty dense, also. Agree with Cool Papa Bell on the cachet and the ROI.

You've probably seen these Magnolia blogs: Magnolia Voice and Sleepless in Magnolia.

I'm sure there are more!
posted by jgirl at 4:19 PM on June 30, 2009

Ronald Bog, a blog about Shoreline.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:25 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

We're looking too. If the water taxi comes online year-round in 2010, I think that would make West Seattle a much more attractive option for its commuting residents. We will probably stay away from South Seattle and Columbia City due to airport noise.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:46 PM on June 30, 2009

If you think Queen Anne is dense, then I have no idea why you're thinking Magnolia. The only difference is that the main drag in Magnolia isn't as condo-heavy. Queen Anne is really nice, and thus expensive.

I have friends in Sunset Hill. The one downside I've found from going over there is that you're further from where you think you are. And you get boat noise, and train whistles. But it's a bit of an up-and-comer, still.

I have mixed feelings about Blue Ridge. Up in this end of town we've dubbed it "Blue Hair Ridge." A lot of retired boomers live up in there, and when they start selling out in ten years it'll either be the hottest market in Seattle or the coldest. But you're just down and around from Swanson's, which I consider a plus.

North Beach is similar to Blue Ridge.

To a point, Richmond Beach is too, but it has retained some of its small-town feel.

What have you missed... are you really that married to the idea of the Sound side of things? If you're not, the lake site is a little cheaper, gives you access to the water, and is a similar commute to SLU as stuff west of Aurora. That would be Cedar Park and then up into Kenmore. If you can get into the Sandpoint area, all the better.

The issue with Boeing Field noise is the west side of Beacon Hill. Most houses there have insulation, so it's not as bad as you would think. The one problem, unfortunately, is that Beacon Hill is starting to get gang activity again.

Columbia City has minimal airport noise. In fact, I find Wallingford to have more plane noise than Columbia City.

If you want the west-facing sun, remember that Seattle has six hills, and while Capitol Hill probably isn't a good option with I-5, Phinney Ridge could work.

I live around Northgate mainly because I work at UW and my wife on First Hill, so the commute for us is a snap. Do not discount the value of a short commute in Seattle. When I worked on the Eastside it was 90 minutes work to home every day. My worst all-time commute from UW to home was 40 minutes, and that was because I took the back roads to avoid a massive accident on I-5.
posted by dw at 5:49 PM on June 30, 2009

what about between Phinney Ridge area and Broadview? West of Greenwood and the #3 (i think) bus runs along 3rd avenue. Some okay places to eat and drink and 5 minutes from Carkeek Park. Area west of 3rd can have a nice slope and some views of the sound. Older houses have good character, big lots. From where i live, the prices seem pretty reasonable but ymmv
posted by Country Dick Montana at 6:36 PM on June 30, 2009

As a resident of Magnolia, I would say Magnolia sucks if you are going anywhere outside of the SLU/Ballard/Downtown area. It can take up to 20-30 minutes just to get on the freeway and you are frequently at the mercy of 2 drawbridges. It is very quiet, the kind of neighborhood that rolls up the sidewalks at 8pm- which is great if that is what you are looking for. Low crime for the most part, once in a great while there seems to be a rash of car theft/break ins, but not often. Usually just teenagers who smash a window and steal your CDs.

It's great for walking, but only if you are ok with using the businesses in the village. Trying to walk to anywhere outside of Magnolia is a haul, and involves some pedestrian unfriendly areas.

Oh, and the raccoons own the place. The sooner you accept them as your new overlords, the better.
posted by evilcupcakes at 7:59 PM on June 30, 2009

We moved into the Lake Forest Park / Brier / Mountlake Terrace area since we have three kids, my mom and a Golden Retriever, needed space and really could not afford the size house we wanted/needed in Seattle-proper (any neighborhood, really). There is a really great community north of the city and plenty of things to do that are walkable or bikeable, especially if you have kids. My commute to Seattle is roughly 35 minutes on the 522 bus (I much prefer public transport).

If you really want to hit the city-proper, I would have loved to live in Fremont, Wedgwood, Shoreline or Richmond Beach (probably in that order and for more reasons than would be worth reading in this reply). Taking kids into consideration, probably narrow that down to Wedgwood, Shoreline or Richmond Beach.

Sadly, though we just moved here in 2007, we are headed back to the east coast in a scant 1.5 weeks (forced relocation due to job). While Berwick, Maine (where we hope to be closing on a house soon) is a nice town – and we love Maine – it will pale in comparison to the greater Seattle area. I will deeply miss it. If we have an opportunity to move back here prior to the dispersal of the clan, I'd move back to north of the city in a heartbeat. (I'm also biased to Snohomish county vs King county).

BTW: We moved from Pennsylvania (and I worked in Jersey), so if you have any east coast newbie questions, don't hesitate to ask (I'll try to scan this thread or you can MeFi Mail me). I truly adopted this area as my "hometown," have been practically everywhere by foot, bike, car, bus & ferry and enjoyed a great deal of what it has to offer.

Also: you and your SO *absolutely* need to grab a bite at Monsoon (or Monsoon East) on a date night. Kinda expensive, but definitely worth it.

FWIW, my wife indicates a preference for Wallingford or Ballard (with the "no kids" condition).

Finally, I have to give a nod to @The corpse in the library's comment that In general -- and this is very general -- the schools are better here in Shoreline, houses are cheaper, and lots are bigger, but the commute is longer and I believe property taxes are slightly higher.
posted by hrbrmstr at 9:37 PM on June 30, 2009

I don't know if you're planning to use public transit or not, but if you are, I would highly recommend taking some test routes before you commit to an area. My co-workers and I have noticed a serious lack of correlation between distance from destination and time to get there when it comes to METRO routes. It takes me about the same amount of time to get downtown on the bus from the north edge of Renton (30-45 minutes) as it does my friend in Ballard. Her bus makes many more stops than mine does, so it takes just as long to go a shorter distance. It seems like this is true of a lot of in-city routes.
posted by pril at 5:52 AM on July 1, 2009

Best answer: One thing I forgot to mention: west of Aurora and north of 85th the bus service is sparse. When I lived in Broadview I drove to UW, even though it's only 5 miles away, because it took me 20 minutes to get home via I-5 vs. as much as 90 minutes by bus. If you are going to live north of 85th, live close to a park-and-ride if you want to be a bus commuter.
posted by dw at 10:30 AM on July 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thank so much for all the responses. It's great to get opinions from 14 seattle mefites. A good sample set.

Thanks for the links to the community blogs, especially Ronald blog. Thanks for the rec for Monsoon restaurant.

We are buying a house in Richmond Beach. It meets all our criteria and we love the relaxed feel of the community.

To the people who suggested Phinney and eastside... I have a particular liking for the color of the afternoon light on the western shore. Even Queen Anne and Phinney are too far inland.
We looked at Broadview, but there were none of the available houses really pleased us.
posted by valannc at 4:31 PM on July 7, 2009

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