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  1. #1
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    Working in Downtown, want to ride and need to be in good school neighborhood.

    I have a pretty complicated list I'd like the community's help on. A little background -- I'm moving to Seattle and will be working in downtown (uggh) and here's what I'd like to be able to accomplish.

    1) A commute that is somewhat tolerable (under 30 minutes) over land or water.

    2) Excellent schools nearby would be up on the list. My girls will be going into kindergarten and third grade.

    3) It would be heavenly to be close to some flowy trails within a short ride or drive

    4) A trader Joe's in the area would be a bonus.

    5) Housing, 4 BD / 2.5 BA in the low 600's would be our comfort level. going to the PNW, It'd be grand to have big trees and a yard

    Does this even exist? yeah I know, if I find it, let you know right?

    Any help would be appreciated. If you're a realtor, I'm a potential client

  2. #2
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    Working in Downtown, want to ride and need to be in good school neighborhood.

    Issaquah area would be a good place to start looking. Probably have to add a bit to your commute time + 10-30 minutes. I don't commute from there though, so I'm sure some others can give more detailed info. Check out the evergreen mountain bike alliance Website, they have a pretty comprehensive list of trails in the area by map view. I'm sure there is plenty more than what is listed, but issaquah puts you near duthie, tiger, and tokal which are all great to name a few... Good luck!

  3. #3
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    If you're looking for neighborhoods with more character, then stick with the west side of Lake Washington and go for something like Ballard, Fremont, Queen Anne, East Lake, Wedgewood, Mountlake area. Those are close to downtown, great neighborhoods, with lots of things to do around town. Easy commute by car or bus to downtown, and easy to get to I 90 to get to Duthie, Tokul or Tiger.

  4. #4
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    PM sent....

  5. #5
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    Take a look at west seattle. Easy access to I-5 and I-90. I can be at Duthie in 20 minutes and Tiger/Tokul in 30 minutes. 12 minutes to downtown by water taxi, 20-30 by bus. PM me if you want particulars on specific areas in WS and schools (have two kids going into kindergarten)

  6. #6
    Dream Design Dig Repeat
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    PM sent. You've got a few options, and I think your list is mostly doable. I'd be happy to help you find a house, I've done it for quite a few riders. I can also help you find the trails!

    The biggest question I'd ask you is do you prefer bigger city such as Seattle or more of a town or suburban feel like Issaquah? Either place will work for you, it's just a matter of feel and priorities.

    I agree with nickn. West Seattle is the obvious bet if you prefer the Seattle (more urban) side of the lake. Schmitz Park, Alki and Lafayette elementary schools are all top-notch. Trader Joe's, walk to everything if you want, really good value for homes. I think West Seattle will outpace the rest of the city for price gains, so get in now.

    Here's how to really evaluate schools in the Seattle District, it's well beyond the Greatschools.org rankings: Find the Best Public Schools in Seattle - Justin Vander Pol | Seattle RE/MAX Real Estate Agent

    All along I-90 will work for you. Most schools in South Bellevue are good, Eastgate and even Newcastle. These will have excellent commute times to trails, decent into downtown, but no TJ's. Parts of Bellevue could be really great for you.

    The other obvious bet is what johnbike18 said, Issaquah. It's great place if you want to live as close to possible to the trails. The commute will be a little longer, as you squeeze with everyone else through Mercer Island. But it's totally doable, and you can pedal from your house to Grand Ridge.

    There's no wrong answers, you just need to go look at some areas and get a feel for which ones feel right to you.
    Issaquah & Seattle real estate agent. Buy or sell a home with me and I donate $500 to Evergreen MTB Alliance
    jvpRE.com

  7. #7
    FM
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    One consideration, if you want to commute to downtown by bike, West Seattle isn't the best for that. The Magnolia/Ballard/Fremont corridor and all surrounding neighborhoods are pretty awesome for bike commuting- I have a 30 mile (round trip) bike commute from northgate that's 90% on scenic dedicated bike paths. Riding in takes about the same amount of time as driving for me, but the closer you live to downtown, biking becomes a lot faster than driving.

    Take a look here at urban bike infrastructure

    I can honestly say, if it wasn't for bike commuting, I would not live here.. since that's the only chance I got to ride with daylight 5 days a week.

  8. #8
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    If you want eastside than look at Issaquah Highlands. Close to awesome trails. Great schools (top in the nation Issaquah Schools - Issaquah Washington School Ratings - Public and Private). Metro 216 218 and 219 (Routes 216, 218, 219 - King County Metro Transit) will all get you to downtown in 30 min or so.

    Otherwise what others said about Seattle.

  9. #9
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    If you're looking for 600k houses my guess is you're not gonna be riding publik transportation.

    Here's the cool thing about Seattle. You're not far from a single-track just about anywhere you live. Not far to me is 15-20 minutes (If you live in Ballard add 30 minutes).

    I'm not a "bike commuter" but live within a close enough distance to the Burke-Gilman trail. I occassionally take my pavement bike into the city on the bus then ride home. It's nice to have that option.

  10. #10
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    Cool-blue Rhythm

    I live in SE Sammamish, but it is next door to part of the NE part of Issaquah (the Klahanie neighborhood) right by the Duthie Hill Bike Park. We also looked into West Seattle, Ballard, Bellevue & Kirkland when we were deciding where to live, so I can answer your questions from our experience.

    Where are you moving from & what type of community (urban, older suburban, newer suburban) are you looking for as context?

    1) A commute that is somewhat tolerable (under 30 minutes) over land or water.

    Issaquah is not a great commute in rush hour, but nothing like LA, SF or NYC (places that I've previously lived) West Seattle & Ballard, though closer, aren't all that much better. Traffic in the city of Seattle is similar to what you would find in any other major city. Once you get out of the immediate Seattle/Bellevue area, traffic picks up considerably unlike a place like LA where traffic is jammed up in all directions at the same time everyday for mile. There is an express bus from Issaquah to downtown Seattle that takes 30 minutes, though I don't know what the ride is like during rush hour. I'm sure there are buses as well from W. Seattle and Ballard. Bellevue has some incredibly (and surprisingly) horrible traffic during rush hour. The main North-South thoroughfares are all jammed up at rush hour.

    2) Excellent schools nearby would be up on the list. My girls will be going into kindergarten and third grade.

    From what I know, Seattle schools are terrible in general & even the good schools are interspersed with not-so-good schools. Most people that I know that live in West Seattle seem to end up going to private schools. The Issaquah School District is good all around. Some schools are better than others but it is, in general, a top performing school district. You can get scorecards for standardized test performance and student demographics for all WA state schools at Washington State Report Card


    3) It would be heavenly to be close to some flowy trails within a short ride or drive

    I can ride out my door and be at either or both Duthie Hill and/or the 7 miles of singletrack on the Grand Ridge Trail in under 10 minutes. I think the trip from West Seattle to Duthie is going to be at least 35 minutes without traffic since it takes us 30 minutes to get to CenturyLink or Safeco Fields in Seattle & West Seattle is at least another 10 minutes away. Times of day without traffic would be either before 6:30am or after 7pm on weekdays and before 9:00 on weekends. The trip from Ballard would be similar. BTW, people drive SLOWLY here in Washington. The speed limit on most Seattle area metro highways is 60mph and the reasonable limit is about 65-68mph. Compare that to 7 lanes of traffic going 85mph on the 405 southbound around the Seal Beach curve at the tail end of rush hour. Something to take into account when calculating driving times in Seattle.

    4) A trader Joe's in the area would be a bonus.

    Yes, Traders Joes's in Issaquah.

    5) Housing, 4 BD / 2.5 BA in the low 600's would be our comfort level. going to the PNW, It'd be grand to have big trees and a yard

    That is doable in Issaquah, parts of Sammamish & West Seattle. Not so much in Ballard or Bellevue. Per Sq. foot costs will be higher in West Seattle than in Issaquah or Sammamish.


    Intangibles: In Sammamish (or Issaquah), we are 40 minutes from skiing at Snoqualmie. It's not the best place you've ever skied, but being able to ski every weekend and be home for lunch (and night skiing after work) is a life-altering experience vs something like driving 4-6 hours from the SF Bay Area to ski in Tahoe. I taught both my kids to ski. In the rainy PNW, it is nice to have a good excuse to get out of the house.

    Also, I don't feel like it is so difficult to get into Seattle compared to NYC, LA or SF. On weekends, we are in Seattle in 30 minutes and parked/ready to go in 40 minutes. Going into NYC, LA or SF always felt like a major expedition, whereas we frequently go into Seattle for early evening events.

    We are pretty close to nature in Issaquah/Sammamish. It is suburban, but the woods are right next door.

    Neighborhoods in Issaquah: The Issaquah Highlands are on the other end of the Grand Ridge trail from me. The bus transportation center is there. Houses are newer there (2003 and onward), but lots are REALLY small. We must have gone house hunting at least 8-10 times in the Issaquah Highlands and couldn't wait to leave each time. That said, the Issaquah Highlands is one of the places in Issaquah for newer homes. Check out Klahanie & the Trossachs as well. Klahanie is a planned community from the 80's. Trossachs (in Sammamish) is a planned community from the late 90's to mid-2000s.

    I think it comes down to two simple question: Do you want to live in a more urban (West Seattle, Ballard) or a more suburban/rural environment? [Assuming you are in a relationship] What does your spouse want?

  11. #11
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    The schools get better the further you go East. #1 choice would be Issaquah, next to Duthie Hill park. I live in Woodinville, next to Paradise Valley park. The commute is much longer but there's a trail from Woodinville to Downtown Seattle (Burke-Gilman).

    I have lived in a lot of Seattle neighborhoods, I love this town. But going East means more property, cheaper homes, less crime and better schools. Yeah we're stuck in the 'burbs. But at least we have bike trails, and we can get the ski hills quickly.

  12. #12
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    Wow. Really great information -- I'm already liking what I'm reading. Thanks so much for providing your insights. Much appreciated and I can't wait to get this journey started. For context, ( sshhh: trying not to broadcast this too much to the locals); we're moving from San Diego from the Poway school district. Trails are 4 blocks away from my garage -- probably the best single track you'll find in San Diego so I'm a bit spoiled.

    I've been accustomed to what I call my golden triangle; house, work, trails; door-to-door in under 5 minutes. So it will be a shocker to go to the other extreme but I'm determined to make this work. And the PNW is going to offset quite a lot in terms of access and variety. Career choices as it ties to providing for the family and our future is important and sometimes it means I have to pick the trail that's not so groomed to get the goods.

    Our preference is more suburban because that's where we are now. But we do enjoy going into the city to get good restaurants and activities. We'd like a little space between the neighbors (anything more than 15ft would be awesome -- only because our girls are quite playful). Access to walking trails or parks for the kids and dog. In California, we like San Luis Obispo (and a even smaller city Cambria), We like the small town feel and we love their farmer's market they hold every Thursday. Sense of community, good vibes, great schools, friendly neighbors, access to the outdoors. Those are things we're hoping to achieve and is seems like we'll find it in the PNW (not that this doesn't exist in other parts of the country).

  13. #13
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    I live in the potential annexation area between Issaquah and Sammamish.

    I'll just second what Spectre posted.
    My wife commuted to downtown for a while. Even if you could drive, Taking transit from the Park n Ride is probably more preferrable.

    I'm 15min bike ride to Duthei and Soaring Eagle. I suppose that also applies for the back entry of Grand Ridge. 20min drive to Tolt and the Tokuls and Tiger. 35min drive to Paradise and Lake Sawyer. Did I mention what great road riding routes we've got around here in the valley?

    School district? Hm, I think it's a toss up between Bellevue and Issaquah. One can argue either way. Put it to you this way, the AVERAGE test scores are in the 90s for Skyline High. My sister's older kids had a challenge adapting to the high standards. Their youngest is doing just fine. My kids are 5th and 1st. Expect to put a lot of time and effort with your kids. It's a two-way street.

    I have to say that 45min door to door to the Pass for skiing is pretty awesome. Come home from work, grab a pb n j and head out to the Pass. Get in a bunch of runs with no lines within 1-1.5hrs. Be home in time for kids to wash up and go to bed. Try that twice a week and an occassional buddy ski day on the weekend and see how fast they learn.

    PLUS, you'll learn how to ride in the mud and rain...
    Just get out and ride!

  14. #14
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    Agree with a lot of what has been said. Bellevue or Issaquah sound like exactly what you're looking for.

    Just a few notes on some of the posts above to clear stuff up at least where I live in SE bellevue. There are 4 bedroom 2.5 bath houses in bellevue for low 600's or even less. Hit zillow and put in 98008 area code. You'll get a better house in issy for sure, but you'll add to your commute as well. Try to get close to i90 as it's the corridor to downtown seattle as well as the eastside trails and ski resorts.

    I don't know if you're a public transpo person but if you don't like traffic the 554 express bus leaves from issy and bvue, has park and rides, and is pretty damn quick into downtown.

    There is a TJ's in bellevue, just north of the crossroads mall. But if you want hippy food that is lower cost than whole foods fred meyer is here as well and has a good organic produce selection, and plenty of vegan, gluten free, etc... It's one of the great advantages of living here, you have all that stuff in the regular grocery stores.

  15. #15
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    Sounds about right. I think it's just getting up there and doing a drive now of the areas. Thanks all for your knowledge.

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