What to do in Bellevue??
April 25, 2016 3:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm a college graduate (female) who is moving across the country to Bellevue, Washington in July for an engineering job. I ended up getting into a lease with some friends in Bellevue instead of Seattle like I originally planned. It will definitely be nice to be close to work (job is in Bellevue and 3 miles from our place), but I'm 22 years old and I don't have kids and I don't know if there will be anything for me to do for fun in Bellevue without having to drive to Seattle. Suggestions??

I really love being outdoors, backpacking, hiking etc. Also love going to folk concerts/chill concerts in general. I have a bit of a soft spot for shitty dive bars and I love good beer. Not really into shopping. Also, are there easy to use late night buses or shuttles or anything between Seattle and Bellevue in case I'd want to go to a bar or something and can't drive back?
posted by leafmealone to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used to work in Bellevue, probably in the same vicinity as you. I lived in Seattle though.

It's a nice suburban city that's growing with a younger crowd these days, but you still need a vehicle to easily get anywhere beyond the core shopping/dining area i.e., Bellevue Square Mall and its surroundings. I didn't really enjoy that area beyond getting lunch, and a lot of the restaurants and bars and shops are fancy and/or mainstream.

Of course, not having lived there, I probably don't have the scoop on the what the gems really are. Your best bet is probably to befriend coworkers that share the same interests to tap into their knowledge.

The plus side of being on the East side means that you are closer to a lot of popular hiking trails and camping spots (and snow sports if you're into that). Plus, rent can be more affordable.

Depending on where you live, transportation across the lake can be spotty, especially at night if you're coming home after midnight. Unfortunately, the public transportation between the cities is geared more towards commuting. There are talks of building a light rail from Seattle to Bellevue but that's unlikely to happen anytime soon. Uber and Lyft are pretty prevalent. I've also heard of Eastside for Hire and they seem to be more affordable, but I've never used them personally.

Kirkland is on the East side as well and I hear the nightlife there is more organic.

Seattle is experiencing its own upheaval due to development in South Lake Union, but it's still a very special city with a lot of really awesome little neighborhoods. If you do find yourself spending a lot of time there, I'd recommend just living there.
posted by kyp at 4:09 PM on April 25, 2016

Not everyone i've known who did this had a totally awful experience with it(short commutes rule), but they became a mix of homebodies and people who constantly commuted across the lake.

Transit on the east side is iffy and doesn't run late. Transit across the lake is reliable, but only goes a very limited number of places and doesn't run late.

Basically, you either need to drive(and parking in seattle is getting RIDICULOUS in the interesting areas, especially on weekend nights) or get used to constantly using uber/lyft. Alternatively, make friends with/have a relationship with someone in seattle whose place you can crash at from time to time.

Everyone i know who did this eventually moved back over from the east side or left town entirely. The transit system is geared for that commute. Driving it sucks, but is manageable. What totally sucks is having to slog over at 6-8pm to go out and do anything because there really isn't much of anything over there.

I don't think you'll regret riding the lease out, but speaking from experience i bet you're going to be hot on fire to move in to town the instant it's up. Even when i've had(good!) job prospects over there i was committed to commuting, and also side-eyed them a bit vs similar or even somewhat inferior in town gigs.

Take it with a grain of salt, but that's coming from someone close to your age in a STEM field(with many friends in similar jobs) whose lived here since i was born. All the good shows and good shitty bars are in seattle, as is pretty much... anything else to go out and do.

On preview, i'll also note that the rising seattle rents have put serious upward pressure on east side rents. A slightly lower than average seattle place you might have to hunt for can be cheaper than a middle of the road priced east side place now. Especially if you're willing to give up some square footage or amenities. For example, one of my friends old places had a pool(with a hot tub, and grills!) and a gym in the complex for what would be pretty damn cheap in almost any neighborhood of seattle for just a basic place... but it was also off to the edge of bellevue and fairly inaccessible without a car. You win some, you lose some.

Personally, i like my smaller louder funky place right in the middle of it all with no parking and a sink that's perpetually kinda clogged. And i'd happily ride the bus for an hour to work to stay at least somewhere generally right in town.
posted by emptythought at 4:27 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yea, I second everything emptythought said.

Living in Seattle was worth the not-too-bad public transit commute. I did that for 2 years then got a car, and if you carpool or time it right that's alright too.
posted by kyp at 4:34 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you really enjoy being outdoors, I think you can make the most of being in Bellevue (vs Seattle). It's just a lot easier to get out to the hiking/biking/climbing destinations. You won't be tired out by the daily grind of your commute. Uber/Lyft is very popular around here, I would bake that into your budget for going out in Seattle. (Maybe split with the roomies?) I really think you've made the right decision. Summer is the best time of year to get out and about meeting people and exploring the area. Having a minimal commute will make your life so much easier for doing that frequently. Then you can judge whether or not you want to continue living in Bellevue.
posted by stowaway at 4:50 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's not in Bellevue but it is on the east side - Marymoor Park has concerts in the summer. They tend toward the indie and strange. We saw the Flaming Lips there some years ago.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:03 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

kyp: There are talks of building a light rail from Seattle to Bellevue but that's unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Actually, construction on East Link just broke ground today and will be open from International District/Chinatown Station to Overlake Transit Center in 2023. But that might be a bit long-ranged for OP...

Like emptythought noted, it's been my experience that rents on the Seattle side are actually lower just because there are more rentable units inside Seattle and the rapidly-turning-into-myth that the Eastside is cheaper has pushed more people there. (Microsoft and companies in Kirkland hiring like gangbusters has also increased demand on the close-to-inner-Eastside locations.) As long as you don't want a 2BR apartment smack in the middle of a hot neighborhood like Capitol Hill, Eastlake, or Ballard, you can find affordable places with ease (oh, but leave the 90# Mastiff at home; the more or larger pets you have, the shorter the rental list gets).

Getting from Seattle to Bellevue via transit for work is trivial. Getting around Seattle using transit is slightly-less-trivial but still very doable (I do it). Ditch the car, save the cost of buying a parking space where you live and trying to find somewhere to store your vehicle when you go out.

There is no transit service between the Eastside and Seattle after 11:30pm and before 5:30am. There used to be—Metro route Night Owl 280—but it was used by basically no one outside of being a long-routed overnight homeless shelter and it got dropped. The only choices are taxi and such.

As an anecdote, I lived in Redmond when I first moved to Puget Sound...and could not wait to get the heck out to Seattle once my lease was up. I'm married with a kid and we're not exactly into drinking or concerting and the Eastside was still boring as all heck. I don't have any advice for stuff to do because, well, we didn't find much besides libraries. So many places closed at 9-10pm and we like to stay up later than that just to eat or browse a bookstore or something. Seattle isn't open much later unless you want to drink but there are 24-hour diners, a Starbucks open until 2am, late-night bus service, and lots more cultural things to do.
posted by fireoyster at 5:43 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are tons of Meetup groups with your interests in the area. Come up to the Snoqualmie valley (where I live) for hiking and such. There's so much hiking and outdoor stuff in this area it's not even funny. I'm the total opposite of the other posters, I couldn't wait to get out of Seattle. I don't hike, but it was too much city for me. But it's all about personal preference, isn't it? Only you know what you're comfortable with.
posted by patheral at 5:55 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have lived in Seattle since 1995. Or, rather I have lived on the Eastside since 1995. But you'll notice that no one ever describes themselves as living on the Eastside. Why? Because Seattle is not that far away at night or on weekends. You want nightlife? Restaurants? It's a short hop. I have never felt like I have missed anything I wanted to do.

Live in Bellevue. It's just a suburb. It's fine. More than fine, really, especially if you like getting outdoors. Don't commute to work across the lake unless you really, really like driving or you like buses and standing at bus stops in the rain.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:21 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

You know, there are some neighborhoods that get to say they're "in" Seattle that are actually farther away from downtown than many spots in Bellevue or Kirkland.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:26 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

From my somewhat limited experience with Bellevue (lived in Seattle for many years), I'd say that the nightlife leans toward the swanky side, especially for the Pacific Northwest. The whole city has kind of a sterile vibe to me.

But the Eastside is definitely great for hiking access. My favorite local one is Poo-Poo Point on Tiger Mountain in Issaquah, right by Issaquah High School. You can do it after work in the warmer months or before lunch on a weekend, it's so close by. It's a total of 8 miles (4 miles up, 4 miles back down) and the view at the top is AMAZING no matter the time of year. Go on a nice and kind of windy day and watch the paragliders take off from the viewpoint!
posted by sweetpotato at 10:09 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Join the Washington Trails Association
Get an ORCA card.
Feel out the area.
Marymoor, Bridle Trails are right there, Cougar Mountain and Lake Sammamish are close. Kirkland is a nice little town. You might want to think about bus into Seattle and carshare out, if that's your thing, on nights. The region's got a lot of variety - don't feel tied to Bellevue.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:58 AM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

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