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Moving to Seattle

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Housing, Neighborhoods, & Moving > Moving to Seattle


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2008 - 2012 Reviews


Moving to Seattle - grad. student

Aug 2011

My son will be moving in Sept. to Seattle to attend grad. school. He is looking for an apt. or rental in the area north of the Univ. of Washington. He did email the police to find out the safer areas but has not heard back. What neighborhoods are safer than others? He heard the Greenlake district is pretty good. Does anyone know of a website which is similar to BPN in the Seattle area that lists rentals (something other than Craigslist)? Any advice will be welcome.


Seattle's a pretty safe city compared to most big cities. All the areas north of campus are very nice. Roosevelt, Ravenna, Green Lake, and even closer to campus than those are fine... Wallingford and Fremont are west of campus and great areas. East is good, too - near University Village shopping center. Honestly, I'd probably only avoid the area right around University Way ('The Ave,' like Telegraph only less seedy) from 45th south. Best of luck!
I don't know of a web site or list serve up there but I recall seeing lots of 'for rent' signs on apartment buildings and homes. Stuff north of the University (north of U district is fine. So is stuff west of the university towards Wallingford all along 45th and on either sid of 45th. Wallingford is a very nice neighborhood. Some homes may be rentable or folks may be renting out a room. A bus runs regularly along 45th, I think,and straight to the 'U'

Greenlake is nice and if he likes to run or walk, then around the lake is great for it. A nice loop. I think buses are probably pretty good up to Greenlake, too.

Probably lots of rental houses in Montlake area which is south of 'the cut' (south of the canal just on the southside of campus).

East of the U, towards U Village and Sand Point Way there are homes and apartments. Probably also a regular bus. Not sure how many students live out that way. A nice neighborhood, too and Magnuson park is right on Lake Washington.

Lots of apartments along Eastlake Drive, and buses. it is just east of Lake Union, but that is further from the U.

So lots of good neighborhoods.Good farmers markets 3 seasons out of the year. Good coffee. good bus system and good food. Very nice folks. good workout gym for students near U village side of campus. Just remember there is not much day light in the winter due to the short days. If this is somewhat important to him, make sure he does not get a basement apartment.

Congrats to him - I'm sure he'll find a good place. anonymous


Moving to Seattle -need 'hood & school recs

Jan 2009

I am a work from hom Dad of three (5yr, 3yr and 9 mo)and my wife is being transferred to work in dwntwn seattle. With our oldest starting Kindergarten in the Fall of 09 - I am panicking about figuring out neighborhoods ASAP to rent or buy so I can get her into school. My wife will work downtown and would prefer a shortish communte. I am a Bay area native (Oakland as a kid and college at Cal) and hate leaving Alameda - where we love walking all over the island and taking the ferry or Bart to work. Any suggestions on great neighbrohoods for families with young kids with reasonable access to downtown? Are the islands worth looking into (Mercer, Bainbridge, etc)? I have looked on the archives but most of the posts are several years old and I know the housing climate has changed. Help! Kevin


Hi and congrats on your upcoming move. I grew up in Seattle, and lived there (with two young kids) until 3 years ago. My brother + family and sister + family also live there. So I expect I can give you some help in your choices.

Here are somethings you probably want to ask yourself:
1) Do you want to live in an urban or suburban area?
2) public, private or parochial schools?
3) Racially diverse (good luck with that) or are you OK being in an almost entirely caucasian neighborhood?
4) rent or buy? How much can you afford? How much space do you need?
5) will you have two cars or do you need to be near public transportation?

I'd be happy to have a phone call or email exchange with you to talk about the different options based on your answers to these questions. Or the easy way out - live in Seattle (crossing bridges = bad commute). I've lived in Phinney, Fremont, Ballard, Ravenna and loved them all. I like Columbia City (up and coming, more racially diverse) and wallingford (to crowded but cute).

Or...buy the Seattle Times School Guide and pick your neighborhood based on your school requirements (I don't send my kids to public school so it's tough for me to say). Sharma


We moved to Seattle when our son was five. I can relate! We needed to buy a house because we sold a place here right after the dot com bust. So, we researched kid friendly neighborhoods, housing and schools all in late June! So, you have a bit of a jump on timing for looking at schools. We selected Madrona as a neighborhood because it is super for families and it is 10 minutes at the most from downtown. The term they use in Seattle is ''in city''. The islands are too far of a commute and I would not recommend them as they are very suburban in feel and if you are used to Berkeley, then you will like the urban feel of Capitol Hill, Madrona, Montlake, Columbia City, Central, Madison Valley and Mount Baker. Those are my faves. Madrona has a ''madrona moms'' network that is very strong, very helpful, just like this list serve is. I highly recommend Madrona. And you will be pleased to find out that residential real estate is 30% cheaper in Seattle than the Bay Area. Good luck to y! ou and feel free to email me directly. I have fond memories of Seattle and would move back some day if circumstances dictated. octobercat
I'm originally from Seattle and still have many good friends there. Here is the response from one who has a 12-year-old in public schools:

''I think the deadline for kindergarten registration is at the end of Feb., so panicking seems perfectly reasonable. I would put Phinney Ridge (the zoo, lots of good restaurants, the phinney neighborhood association) and Ravenna (great parks and third place books, and there is a nice rec center there with kids classes and a drop-in play space) at the top of my list for kid-friendly neighborhoods. I think they both have good bus service to downtown, at least during commuter hours. I really don't think of Mercer Island to downtown as a shortish commute. Anything east of Lake Washington can make for an unpleasant commute regardless of the distance in miles. Bainbridge might be okay if you didn't mind the cost of the ferry and parking. But it seems to me that the islands would make you much more car dependent than you would be in a close-in neighborhood like Ravenna, Greenlake, Fremont or Phinney. So there's my two cents! I wish them good luck!!''

My additional two cents is that Bainbridge and Mercer Island both are much snootier than Alameda. I would not recommend. Magnolia is a small-townish, kid-friendly neighborhood very close to downtown. That's where I spent my high school years. Queen Anne Hill is much hipper and busier, but still great and very walkable - you can even walk to downtown from there (or bus it).

Good luck! Seattle is great. The only caveat is that it's a bit harder to meet people there. But maybe with kids it'll be easier? Alexandra


Hi! My husband and I lived in Seattle for 2 years (2002-2004) while he was getting his MBA at UW. We lived in the Greenlake area and loved it. We were walking distance to the lake frequented it daily (rain permitting). During that time, I taught at John Stanford International School (public school, but a Japanese or Spanish Immersion school) and cannot say enough about what an amazing school this is. Amazing teachers, community (it's in the Wallingford Distrcit) and program. The Wallingford District is great, although may be a bit pricey. The 99 is close to Greenlake, so access to downtown was about 10-15 minutes. Good luck!
I lived in Seattle for 10 years before moving back to Alameda to raise my family. I loved living in the Queen Anne and Magnolia neighborhoods. We chose to buy a house in Magnolia because it reminded us of where we grew up, Alameda. It also has the greatest park in it called Discovery Park. We would walk or run in it all the time. There are paths to go down to the beach and the lighthouse and it is never crowed. There is a few blocks with shops and the necessities in the center of Magnolia with restaurants, post office, video store, gift shops, and nursery, etc where it is easy to walk to from wherever you live. Queen Anne is the same and has all this on a larger scale. There are great schools in most of the neighborhoods in Seattle. Check the website for school scores to get a good idea of boundaries, etc. Since I have left the Ballard neighborhood also become a fun neighborhood to live is also. These are all VERY close to downtown with a zero commute (city streets~10-15min ! to downtown).

If you are buying a home I highly recommend Gratzi Anderson and her husband Ken. We used them for hunting for a house to buy and in selling our house when we moved back to Alameda. They are a husband and wife duo and are FANTASTIC. I really wish they could have helped us out here. They are located in the Magnolia Windermere office too.

http://www.windermere.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=agentOffice.AgentDetail&agentMetauser_ID=2899

I really miss it but love where we are now. Good Luck! Dreaming of Seattle


Moving to seattle area to work for Microsoft

Jan 2008

My husband is getting a job at Microsoft, so we are looking to relocate from San Leandro in the next month or so. We have been told that the commute from the west side to Microsoft is pretty bad and that it makes most sense to live on the east side. I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on nice neighborhoods near parks or running trails etc... We have a 3 year old boy and a big dog who both need to get a lot of exercise! Also, I don't like new homes or housing communities and I see a lot of those in that area. Our idea is rent initially until we find an area that really appeals to us. Any information on the best school districts would also be useful. Thanks for any advice you have for us!


We used to live in Seattle when my husband worked at Microsoft. Plenty of charm, old character, great neighborhoods in Seattle, but you will be hard-pressed to find anything but new-ish houses on the East Side. Bellevue is a lot like Walnut Creek. High-end, but new and with a lot of chain restaurants and stores. Waterfront is beautiful, but very pricey. Kirkland is the closest thing to a 'happening' cute, arts-and-restaurants small town... but to the point where it's 'fake' feeling and very pricey. Hollywood Hills or Woodinville are nice areas where you can find acreage, but again, nothing older than 40 years. The East-West commute IS bad, but if your husband can travel at odd hours, it's better. There's a reason the commute is so bad- MSFT employs 60,000 in Redmond, and they all commute across a 2-lane bridge for the preferred Seattle lifestyle! We didn't have kids then, but I know that the Bellevue school district is one of the best in the state/country. Good Luck! ex-seattlite
From my sister who lives in the Seattle metro area (currently on the east side of Lake Washington):

I guess it depends on how much $ they have to spend on housing. Also, depends on which campus they will be on for Msoft. For good schools and a 1/2 way point they might try Mercer Island. And yes, the commute is awful from Seattle to Redmond. They could also try Kirkland although I don't know much about the schools there. The Lake Washington school district is supposed to be a good one as well. Boundaries in that area are tricky so they would need to talk to someone who knows the district well to be sure to get a house in the right area. The Issaqauah school district and Redmond districts would be next as far as quality. Housing in those areas is a mixed bag of older neighborhoods and developments. They'll just need to drive around and see what they like. Former Seattle resident too


2004 - 2007 Reviews


Moving to Seattle

May 2007

My husband has just received a job offer in the Seattle area (Bellevue)and is fairly certain he is going to take it. This will be a big move for our family. While I have visited once, I honestly don't know anything about the Seattle area. My husband is taking a trip in two weeks in order to look for a place for us to live (the company wants him to start in June). We will have only one car, and have a 2 1/2 year-old son. From what I've seen, Bellevue is more expensive than some of the other nearby communities. We have also started looking at Issaquah and Bothell. Since we'll only have one car, I guess what I would like to know is if anyone knows what public transportation is like in that area. I don't mind moving farther out from Bellevue and letting my husband have the car, as long as I can get on the bus and go places with my son. We currently have a very unique living situation and pay almost no rent, and I would like to go where rent will be on the cheaper side. Any suggestions for neighborhoods to look in? Places to avoid? I'm not too worried about schools, since I'm sure we'll either buy a house or move again by the time my son goes to school. Just don't want to feel stuck. I'm also in the middle of quitting my job to become a stay at home mom, so there are going to be lots of adjustments. Any advice would be appreciated. seattle or bust


Hi, We recently moved from Seattle, where my husband also worked on the ''eastside'' (bellevue, redmond, kirkland). It is a beautiful place to live, full of wonderful people. But firstly, public transportation is poor. Don't plan on it. Especially on the eastside. Everything over there is quite new and spread out. A car is essential for everyday living. (Would make the most sense for your husband to rideshare or something to/from work) If you want to find a cheaper area to live, heading east or north from the east side towns are a good way to go. too far south (renton) is not an ideal place to raise a kid. Also, don't plan on crossing the bridges too frequently, if possible. Bridge traffic here is a breeze compared to Seattle bridge traffic. I'd say that Kirkland is most expenseive, then close-in bellevue, then redmond. It's a rather 'homogenous' environment, to warn you. Hope this helps. ex-seattlite
Before moving to the Bay Area, I lived in Seattle and have since been back numerous times to visit friends and family. Additionally, my husband and I recently considered moving there for a job opportunity which ultimately didn't pan out. Nevertheless, I know the area fairly well. That said, I think that unless you live near downtown Bellevue or Kirkland, you may feel isolated living in any of the areas you mentioned if you rely solely on public transportation to get around. Unlike the Bay Area, the areas you mentioned are quite suburban and have limited public transportation (only buses and even those might be hard to get to). This means you'll need to drive to get almost anywhere (e.g. Starbucks, groceries, Target, etc.) Are you opposed to living on the West side (e.g. Seattle side) and having your husband commute? Most people chose to live on the East side (Bellevue, Kirkland, etc.) because of the schools. However, since your post mentioned you don't necessarily plan to stay in the house for that long, you may want to consider some of the Seattle neighborhoods which are going to provide you with a lot more options (e.g. Madison Park, Wallingford, Ravenna, etc.) These neighborhoods have lots of cafes, grocery stores, shops, etc. that will make you feel a part of the community. I honestly feel that if you're out in Issaquah or Bothell it's going to get mighty lonely without a car (the exception being if you live w/in walking distance to the Issaquah's small downtown area but even then, those cities are really far East and quite a trek from the action in Seattle). The downside to living in Seattle (or upside depending on how you look at it) is that the homes are typically older while the East side is mostly new construction - so it just depends on your preferences and budget. I also think your rental options will be a lot better in Seattle. Please e-mail me directly if you have more questions. ItbRelocating to Seattle - Bainbridge Island?s hard to include all the relevant facts in one brief response. Good luck to you though - Seattle is a beautiful city and a wonderful place to raise kids. Bring your umbrella!! lisa
You might also try Redmond, Kirkland, Renton and/or Kent. Renton/Kent area is probably less expensive (housing), but commute traffic was worse going that way (from Renton/Kent to Bellevue in AM and vice versa in the PM) when I lived in the Seattle area 4 years ago (may be different now). Public transportation was better in the city of Seattle compared to the suburbs, in my experience, though I didn't take public transportation in the suburbs since I did have a car when I was there -- so I'm not the best person to comment on public transportation. Good luck! anon
''Seattle or Bust''

We too have made the move from the East Bay (Oakland) to the Puget Sound area (Kirkland). Like the Bay Area, it's hard to generalize the PS area as a whole, other than to say the weather is mild but wet, and getting around is quite difficult. Public transportation consists only of buses.

We lived in downtown Bellevue for 6 months. I would liken it to Walnut Creek or Santa Clara, a formerly upscale suburb with excellent schools that is growing rapidly with increasing density. Shopping and restaurants would be a walk or easy bus ride, although most businesses are chains.

Depending on where you are moving from, you may want to try to live in Seattle proper. More diverse, with distinct neighborhoods & character missing on the East Side. The trouble will be your husband's commute, as morning traffic across Lake Washington is worse than anything in the Bay Area (coming from someone who lived in the Macarthur Maze). Depending on where in Bellevue, it may be under 30 minutes most days, though.

I don't believe you can function in Bothell or Issaquah with one car. While they are growing, those communities are far enough out that the commute will be a chore and you will feel isolated.

All told, the area is great for families--there are many opportunities here, crime is low, public schools are valued. Please feel free to email me with more specific questions. Casey


i went to college at UW and have good friends in the area. the bus system is quite good for commuters in King County (seattle and eastside areas), so i suggest your husband take the bus to work and you and your child use the car. i think living on the eastside with a tot and not having a car would be terrible. my very good friend just spent several years living there with 2 small children and felt isolated even with a car. (she's since moved to seattle where she knows all her neighbors and walks places.)
I am a big big fan of living in Seattle. I lived in SF for 20 years. Met my husband there, had our son there, and then he got a job in Seattle. Since it was during the dot com bust, we felt it was a good time to move. We chose to live in Madrona, on the ''in-city'' side (West of Lake Washington) and I have to say it was superb family living. From the urban feel of all the great restaurants, shopping, resources abound - but the absolute best part was that they have a network of parents called Madrona Moms. It has over 5000 members and is extremely active. A great resource especially for families new to the area. I'm strictly a city girl, so for me the suburbs were out of the question. I think you should definitely consider the reverse commute idea that other posters suggest. Especially coming from the bay area, rich in city living qualities. We are now back in the bay area, and I feel Seattle is a very very close comparison to living in SF or the east bay. Even weather wise. In the three years I lived there, I have to say honestly, the rain thing is a myth to me. It mists a lot, not downpours, in my opinion. We did happen to miss the wettest winter on record, I heard. Anyway, the crystal clear blue skies that shine MANY MANY days of the year, and the lush greenery and water views EVERYWHERE far outweigh a little water. I miss running around Lake Washington - taking rowing lessons, and just walking around the lake. Also, you can swim in it! How many cities can you do that in? It was ideal ''country'' living IN THE CITY. I love and miss Seattle and would move back some day if the opportunity presented itself. octobercat
I lived in Seattle and Bellevue for about 7 years, and I also worked in various Microsoft locations all around the Eastside of Seattle (which includes Issaquah, Bellevue, Redmond, etc.). Trying to get around Issaquah or Bellevue on bus is similar to getting around by bus in the Lamorinda area. It is possible, but not very convenient and not easy. Most people drive. period. Bellevue, because it is a older, more densely populated town, has more public transit than Issaquah. Regarding where to live, I would actually recommend Bellevue over Issaquah. There is more diversity and things to do, and Bellevue does have neighborhoods that are cheaper. You don't have to live in one of the quasi-gated communities that have views of Lake Washington. Good luck! former seattlelite

Moving to Seattle Area

Aug 2006

We are moving to Seattle. We have a 1.5 year old baby and are looking forward to purchasing our first home. We would like advice/recommendations about good neighborhoods with good public schools (please give names of schools), a good pediatrician for our baby, and a good OBGYN since webRelocating to Seattle - Bainbridge Island?re probably going to have another baby. Any other information you can think of would be helpful as well. Thank you Seattle, here we come!


Seattle is a great place to raise kids. Congratulations. Don't know of an ob-gyn, but Dr. Rob Roskin is a fantastic, FANTASTIC pediatrician. Here's a link: http://www.seattlechildrens.org/our_services/find_physician/detail.aspx?id=94813

And here's contact info (also on link): Address: Pediatric Associates Pine Lake 22717 SE 29th St Sammamish, WA 98075 Location: Eastside - King County Phone: (425) 391-7337 Anon.


We recently moved from Seattle. (It's a beautiful city, and where we will go to raise our kids!) I can't give specific names of schools, since we didn't have children there, but generally, the public schools in Bellevue and Kirkland produce far better test results etc than the Seattle public schools. Also, you'll generally be able to afford more house for your money on the ''East Side'' (of Lake Washington). The East side is sort of like Walnut Creek... new, clean, well-planned, more money, but also homogenous in that same way. Microsoft employees/families dominate the Eastside, for better or worse. Hope this helps! resident
Hi, We just moved to Edmonds (north of Seattle a bit) from Oakland 4 months ago. We considered Seattle proper as well as the northern suburbs, and opted for the suburbs, though it was a close call. The arguments for the 'burbs were better schools (though thare are some good Seattle schools as well); our housing money went further in the suburbs than the city; it was quieter; and we were able to get a newer house with fewer issues (after having owned two 60+ year old homes in Oakland, we were ready to have less need for major repairs, etc.). Arguing in favor of the city were it's the city, walking to cafes, etc.

In the end, I think we made the right decision. We go into Seattle pretty often (it's no more than 25 minutes to the zoo and to most of the areas we want to get to), so in many ways we get the best of both worlds.

I can't give specific school names in Seattle, but some of the neighborhoods you might want to consider are Laurelhurst (pricy), Wallingford, and Ballard.

We have a pediatrician but aren't sure how much we like the office yet, and we don't have an ob-gyn, since we're done having kids (ours are nearly 5 and 2.5).

Feel free to email me if you have any follow-up questions of want to get in touch after your move Michael


Here are some remarks from my native Seattle friend with two kids, ages 3 and 5.

Pediatrician: Dr. Matthew Allen at Ballard Pediatrics, Dr. Drew Fillipo at North Seattle Pediatrics OB/GYN: Anna Daniel @ Seattle Ob/Gyn Neighborhoods (in Seattle proper) with good schools: Questionable. I've heard some good things about Madison Park Elementary in Madison Park, as well as Laurelhurst Elementary in Laurelhurst. Personally, I recommend skipping the public schools in Seattle and going private. There are some good schools, and some good teachers at schools, but principals tend to be switched out often, and good schools don't always stay good schools. As far as private schools, we like Evergreen, of course, and lots of people like UCDS. If you want really good public schools, you'll need to move to the Eastside - Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland or Redmond (the last two are both Lake Washington School District). However, having tried living on the Eastside, I don't recommend it. Neighborhoods otherwise: West Seattle, Ballard, Phinney Ridge (our favorite, of course, since we live there), Wedgewood, Wallingford, Ravenna


My husband and I just moved here from Seattle and it really is a great place to raise kids. We went to Virginia Mason pediatrics on 1st Hill and loved them. You could always get last minute appts. and the wait in the office was normally minimal. We lived in Seattle proper and our kids went to Seattle Public Schools. We found Seattle public schools to be great but it does really depend on the school you get into and the mechanism to determine which school you go to is VERY complicated. My children went to Montlake which is in the top 5 elementary schools in Washington but it is has been historically hard to get into. Don't assume you will get to go to your reference school because it may not be the case. The other top public schools are Whittier in Ballard, most of the schools in the North East region and McGilvra in Madison Park (there is no Madison Park Elementary). Also, Seattle has an advanced placement school that many people take their kids out of private school to go to but your child needs to test in the top 2% of kids in the school district anon

Relocating to Seattle - Bainbridge Island?

Nov 2005

I just reviewed the wonderful information in the archives about Seattle. Our family may have an opportunity to relocate to that area, and we are curious about living on Bainbridge Island. In particular, I'd love to hear from families with small children about what it is like to live there. What kinds of parks and activities are available for children? Preschools? Are you happy with the public schools there (I've heard they're top notch, but would love to hear from someone whose children go there). How is the commute to Seattle? Are there natural grocery stores, produce markets with organic produce? What are the different areas of Bainbridge like? Other than artists, what kinds of people live there? Basically, I'm interested in any information about what it is like to live there. Thanks so much.


I am from Bainbridge Island, and still go there at least twice a year to visit my parents and my best friend, whose daughter attends public school there. Bainbridge Island is a wonderful place! Please email me directly, I can give you lots of info on things like grocery stores, parks, the farmer's market, etc. Emma
My parents moved to Bainbridge Island - to retire, but they do have two grandkids. Bainbridge is GREAT. It's very upscale, very lush. I can really speak for food because my mom is an organic and health food nut. They have it in spades. There is a farmer's market that my mom goes to, but it's pretty lame, and I'm only comparing it to the one in Montclair. Montclair's is like Macy's New York in comparison. But there are a few nice local things you can get - just don't count on stocking up on everything you need.

On the other hand, a great grocery store is Town & Country, which is right on the main drag after you get off the ferry.

Before my parents moved there, my mom was sick, and made my dad go ahead to all the grocery stores and take pictures of the organic produce to see if she liked it and could SURVIVE living there. She was cranky at first and it barely passed muster (I attribute that to being sick) but now she's a fanatic for it.

There are also great coffee shops (of course) and a superb bakery on the main drag that's very popular. There's a movie theater right near that main drag, too. I don't eat out much when there (I'd love to try the sushi place) but my mom is a such a food freak that we can't. But when she was sick, we did try some restaurants. They're not all that special. Go to Seattle for fine dining.

Take note of my previous mention of the ferry. Getting to Seattle isn't hard, but it's a 30 min ferry ride and if you're in your car, sometimes they fill up and it takes planning ahead, leaving early, etc., at busy times to make sure you get on. You can also walk on the ferry if you don't need a car on the other end.

There are a lot of families there - the schools are very good as I understand it and if you go on the ferry, it's like an intervention for having kids if you don't have any. Everyone has a baby, a toddler, a grade school kid, teens are on it on their own, etc.

The weather, naturally, is just like Seattle's, which can be a downer. Summers are nice, generally, but come Oct 1 it's gray dreary and drizzly. I don't mind it as a visitor - but I think it might wear on you. It's not so much that it outright rains, but there's always some dripping going on and it's rather cold.

I'd say overall though, it's a wonderful place to live. I'd love living there. Anon


July 2004

We are considering moving to Seattle so that I can attend graduate school at UW. It's a difficult decision for us because we love the Bay Area and we don't know much about Seattle. What neighborhoods are good, particularly if one person is working downtown and the other attending UW and you have an infant? Is it possible to commute without driving? Does anyone know of an online network of parents similar to this one for parents in Seattle? How good are the public schools? Recommendations regarding preschools would also be useful. For those of you have lived in Seattle did the weather drive you crazy? what did you like most? least? Any other thoughts or advice are welcome. trying to learn more about seattle


I wish I were moving to Seattle! I grew up there and think it would be a fabulous place to raise kids. Some of the best neighborhoods for young families are the Ballard area (still affordable homes, fun parks, great schools according to my friends with young children). Fremont is a ''happening'' neighborhood, but I don't know much about the schools. Its benefit is its proximity to the UW. Mercer Island is pricy (by NW standards) but has fantastic schools. My half-sisters attended them and received great educations. It's not very diverse on MI, however.

The public transportation in Seattle is excellent too- safe, clean, inexpensive and wide-reaching.

The weather is abysmal. Take trips away in Jan or Feb to alleviate depression! Or just invest in good rain gear and play. The easy hiking, skiing, camping, water access in Seattle make it all worthwhile. And the food scene is amazing, if that's your thing.

I can put you in touch with other families with young children if it helps, or if you have specific questions that don't get answered here. Hilary


I grew up in Seattle, and my mother and brother still live there, so I visit often and have longed to move there (I love the Bay Area, but it's sooo expensive and this summer fog just bums me out). The best neighborhoods in terms of convenience to both downtown and the UW (U-Dub in local parlance) are Montlake and Capitol Hill. And guess what... they're also two of the pricier neighborhoods in the city (Madison Park, Leschi, Queen Anne, and Laurelhurst probably win the prize for most expensive). Both have good neighborhood elementary schools (Seward on Capitol Hill and Montlake in Montlake), but I can't tell you about how school assignments work. My mom has nothing but praise for Montlake School. There's a bus, the #43, that connects Montlake and South Capitol Hill to downtown and the UW. If you live on North Capitol Hill (tonier, pricier, prettier), there's the #7 and I think also the #10. Seattle's bus system (Metro) is pretty good -- much better than AC Transit, anyway! People really do use it to get around. If you live in Montlake, though, you may find yourself walking to campus, which is a nice 30-minutes of relatively flat terrain (it is Seattle, after all, and hills are as central to the geography there as they are in SF). A little farther out, but still pretty convenient (especially to the campus), are Fremont and Phinney Ridge, which are north of Lake Union and the Ship Canal. They also are reputed to have good schools, and they're definitely an area with lots of young families -- I grew up on Capitol Hill but if I moved back to Seattle it would be all about Phinney Ridge. Woodland Park, with its world-class zoo, is there, plus Woodland Park Montessori, where my younger brother went. It's still supposed to be a great school. As for the weather, well, it's all a matter of taste, so I can only speak for myself. I HATE the summer fog and the brown, waterless hills here, but never mind the rain. Summers and autumns in Seattle are fantastic: after the fourth of July it rains very little, just enough to keep things green. Last summer, we were there for two weeks of temperatures in the 90s- 100s, made bearable by the breezes off the lakes and Sound. Sometime in late October, it usually starts to get a little grim: it's not so much the rain that's a pooper, just the overcast skies and the shortening daylight -- remember, you're much farther North there than you think. Washington state reaches the highest latitudes of the Lower 48. Many people do find the winters a little difficult, especially at first. But then there's always a little bit of snow (fun for the kids), and round about April or early May, spring hits, with bluster, and incredible displays of blooming cherry, rhodedendron, etcetera. I think that most people who move there find that the advantages outweigh a few gloomy weeks in the winter when it seems that the sun has gone into hibernation: lots of kid- friendly stuff to do, incredible natural beauty with tons of greenspace right in town (it's an Olmstead designed city), easy access to the mountains (45 minutes to family skiing) and National Parks, a historic and well-maintained downtown, great food, lots of funky older houses... and at this time of year (how I miss it) long, long, golden summer days, where the twilight stretches to 10 o'clock in the evening. Anyway, I wish it were me. I'm moving, for an academic job, to the wilds of Utah! Nostalgic Seattlite
Well, I just moved to Seattle a week ago and if you do end up moving here, I'm looking for friends! (Basically, we have a one year old son--and we realized we could no longer justify the cost of living in the Bay Area). So far, just a few days into the move, I will say that people are incredibly friendly here and seem more more friendly to the baby in particular. Email me if you end up moving...please! Jennifer
Seattle is a great town! My husband attended grad school while I worked downtown.

If you're attending UW and don't have a car, I'd recommend Wallingford, Eastlake, Ravenna, Fremont, Montlake, and some parts of Capital Hill. All of them are bus friendly to campus and parts of all have easy bus commutes to both campus and downtown. It is possible to commute without driving, particularly from those areas. (We lived in Eastlake right on Lake Union and neither of us ever needed a car.)

I can't comment on having a child in Seattle, as we weren't parents then, but I would think it's similar to the Bay Area in terms of resources. Some friends of ours there aren't too happy with the public schools, but I have heard lots of positive about the schools in Laurelhurst. The closest bus friendly neighborhoods to Laurelhurst are Ravenna and Montlake.

As for the weather, well, it's not the rain that's the problem, it's the gray/dark skies. Winters are dreary more than wet. Summers are glorious, which was the one thing that made waiting through the winters bearable. Even given that, I'd move back there without hesitation. We loved it. Lori


Hi. I lived in Seattle for 10 years (90-2000) and went to UW as an undergrad. There are some really wonderful things about Seattle, and some things that drove me crazy.

The good stuff:
1. it is beautiful (when not raining)
2. there are a lot of places to explore outside of Seattle: Vancover, BC, the Olympic Mtns., Mt. Ranier, the Cascades, there are a lot of islands that are fun to go to on the ferry. The Arboretum is a fantastic place, and there is a lot of bike riding opportunities as well.
3. it is a pretty liberal place and you are likely to find a lot of like minded people within Seattle proper. Outside Seattle proper tends to be redneckish.
4. there are great coffee shops (Cafe Vita is one of the best), resturants (Cafe Flora, The Asteroid Cafe, lots of fantastic Thai food, seafood, etc.), music (indie stuff and well as jazz), beer (there are a lot of great brew pubs: the 6 Arms, the Elysian, more)
5.As for kids, I never had any when living there, but a couple of friends of mine did. There are things to do in Seattle Center- ferris wheel, science museum, that kind of stuff. I would definitely suggest joining a Y or something along those lines, because you will be spending a lot of time indoors due to weather.
6. I loved going to school at UW. It is a beautiful campus and I had a great learning experience there.
7. When the weather is nice, it is the most beautiful place I have been. It is green, lots of Mountains to look at, etc.
7. Seattle is a pretty small city, so it is easy to get around by bus.
8. Areas that are fun to live in: Wallingford (the astroid cafe is there a great Itlian resturant), Fremont, Greenlake. Those areas are more family oriented. Capital Hill is a fun place to live, but more single oriented. Queen Anne is a great area near downtown, but if you live on upper Queen Anne there is less public transportation, and Lower Queen Anne is pretty busy and might not be a great place with kids. Ballard is a great area as well. It is a little farther out, but there are lots of families there, and you can get to downtown and the UW by bus.

Cons:
1. the weather can get to you. It rains a lot. I remember one summer where is was nice for about two weeks and the rest of the time it rained. That is really what drove me to leave, the weather. Every winter I was depressed. Sun lamps might be a good investment. The year before I moved here it rained every day for 3 months!!
2. In my opinion Seattle has become a little sterile in the past few years. I have visited a few times and there were a lot of mom and pop places that I loved to go to that are not longer there. They have gotten bought and converted to these bright, shiny places without much character. Seattle is a much cleaner city though and I did like that. Not a lot of garbage, etc. SF can seem pretty down and dirty at times. Seattle does not have that feel.
3. Leave Seattle proper and you are in redneck land. there are a couple of areas that aren't like that such as Bellevue, and some of it's surrounding areas, but there is definitely a more conservative bent to beliefs and goings on outside of Seattle. Definitely not like the Bay Area.
4. There is not a whole lot of diversity. It has gotten better over the years I think, but it is still pretty white bread. A very good friend of mine had some unsavory things said to her while living there (she is bi-racial). I think it is getting progressively better, but definitely not like here.
5. the local gov't did things that drove me insane. For example they built a football stadium and a baseball stadium across the street from each other, but there is no real parking available and limited public transportation. Also building the baseball stadium was contenious to begin with. It was voted down twice by the voters to build it, but they went ahead and built it anyway. Paul Allen has purchased a lot of property in Downtown Seattle and it changing it to suit his vision. Some think this is good, I am think it's not. This is most evident in Seattle Center. They need to improve the availablity of public transportation. Basically all the transportation is along the North-South corridor. If anyone lives East or West, it gets more difficult.
6. Traffic can be as bad as here.

Overall I had a great time living in Seattle for the time I was there, but I was ready to leave when I did. Good luck on your decision!! lisa


2003 & Earlier


August 2003

After living in the Bay Area for 10 years, my husband and I, due to a career opportunity that has arisen for him, are moving our family back to Seattle where we both grew up. We have a 17 month old son and are expecting a new baby in the fall. Though we grew up there, we feel like we will be starting over in a new city since many of our friends have left and we are out of touch with the Seattle scene. Our child is bi-racial (Asian and Caucasian), and it is important for us to find a neighborhood that is fairly diverse and where there are lots of young families. We have been so happy with Oakland (in particular, our neighborhood in the Crocker Highlands), and are hoping to find a similar situation. Schools are also a consideration and we'd like to find an area where there are decent public elementary schools. We would appreciate any insights and recommendations on diverse, child-centric neighborhoods with decent public schools within Seattle.

Secondly, we are looking for recommendations on good OBGYNs and Pediatricians. Third, does anyone know of a community group similar to the Berkeley Parents Network (preferably email based)? Also, once I'm up there, I'd like to join a mother's group as a way to make new friends. I would love any referrals to groups similar to East Bay Moms or Sherry Reinhart's groups.

Lastly, I am a little freaked out about dealing with the weather up there, especially with a highly active toddler that loves the outdoors. We will miss the weather here and our daily walks! Does anyone have ideas on how parents with young children cope with all of the rain? Thanks so much!


Pick up a copy of the _Seattle Baby Resource Guide_ by Karen Olson and Shelley Arenas (Amazon has it). It was a good resource when we lived there with a toddler. It gives various sources for playgroups and such.

I loved my pediatrician, Gary Spector. He is high energy, up to date, funny, responsive. Not so much the warm and fuzzy nurturing type, more the kind who entertains your child while giving you good info. Seattle Community College has a very good parent/child playgroup- moderated- that would be a good way to meet people.

As for rain, you take your kids out whenever you can. It doesn't often rain hard enough to keep people indoors. Bring a towel to the playground and wipe off the equipment- that's a must. There are indoor playgrounds and play areas as well- there is one at Green Lake tht we used to go to. The science and children's museums are good destinations. Go ride a ferry- that's always fun for little ones.

We lived in Mount Baker, which is southwest of downtown. It's a diverse neighborhood next to Lake Washington- we liked it a lot. Capitol Hill is great although more expensive.

Seattle is lots of fun with little kids- you'll enjoy it! gbuckles


We just moved to Seattle this past May, and we love it here. Granted, we've had the warmest driest summer on record, but really the weather is the least of what is wonderful about our new home. It is a very family-oriented place; grocery stores, malls, and businesses all seem to acknowledge the reality of families with kids, having special toys or play areas for them. When my husband or I go to the zoo or a museum during the week, we are among many parents (instead of few parents and many nannies). There is a slower pace here, people are less stressed out, and there is less of a sense of desperation over the high cost of living: families can afford to live here.

That being said, let me answer some of your questions. We live in Ballard, which is a family-oriented and diverse neighborhood in Seattle. It's still pretty white compared to the Bay Area, but we've seen the demographic breakdowns of many neighborhoods, and it's among the more diverse. People also seem to like Queen Anne, although it's more hilly and not as easy for the kids to ride bikes or walk places. Maple Leaf is supposed to be family friendly too, but it's further from downtown. (Ballard is a 10-15 minute drive.) You can find out a lot of info about all of this stuff by going to this website: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/webtowns/index.asp?from=jumptoHP

There is great information about the public schools online -- not just test scores, but also surveys of the students and the teachers to give you a sense of people's happiness at the various schools. http://www.seattleschools.org

I haven't needed an OBGYN yet, but we love our pediatrician and think they run a great practice. They're over by the university. Our doctor is Dr. Kathy Risse at Sand Point Pediatrics: (206) 525-8000. We've heard good things about other doctors in the practice as well.

Haven't found a group like this up here -- I'll be interested to see if others know of one!

And finally, the weather. A friend who lived in the South of England and has visited Seattle commented: ''The climate is similar, only in Seattle, they acknowledge that it rains a lot and build things accordingly.'' There are indoor pools open year round, community centers with tot playrooms, lots of good places for small children to run around when it's cloudy or rainy. Another thought: people complain about SAD -- the seasonal affective disorder that comes when there are strings of dark days. My friends and colleagues tell me if you make one trip to the sunshine during the dark months, it's bearable. And it makes you very grateful for the sun when it is here. Personally, I think SAD has it's California counterpart: SES -- sunshine entitlement syndrome. I've lived in a couple of sunny good-weather places in my life, and for certain people there is a kind of constant dissatisfaction that comes from expecting it to be ''nice'' out all the time. It's kind of an existential thing: like, if I'm paying all this money to live in this beautiful place, why am I not a more fulfilled person? The sunny days are taken for granted and the not-nice ones are a betrayal by the universe. I think a lot of it comes down to attitude and expectations.

Anyway, good luck in all your moving. You didn't ask, but we also had a great realtor who was able to help us with our long-distance move. Her name is Cindy Oneal.


We have just spent the last year on sabbatical in Seattle, and are returning to the Bay area in a few days. We have two kids, 4 and 1.5 years ≠ here are just a few items that Iíve thought of off the top of my head, but please feel free to contact me directly for any other questions or ideas.

Things to do with young children:
- Seattle Center: has several great museums that have areas devoted to kids, including the Pacific Science Center and the Seattle Childrenís Museum. Plus huge outdoor fountain with music and coordinated spurting, lots of festivals on holidays. Also an amusement park that runs every day during the summer and early fall.
- Woodland Park Zoo ≠ great fun and lots of beautiful gardens nearby.
- WA State Ferries ≠ take the Bainbridge Island ferry or just about any of the other ferries for a fun ride to see the water, skyline, birds, occasional sea life.
- Parks ≠ there are lots of nice parks, but a few are our favorites. Carkeek Park in northern Seattle is right on the Puget Sound, with great tidepooling on low tides, plus huge grassy field for soccer, etc. Large and varied playground and lots of trails through the woods. Discovery Park is also on the water near Ballard. Itís really big, has an interpretive center and lots of kidís activities that run throughout the year. Seattle Parks and Recreation has a website that lists all this. Plus each neighborhood in Seattle has its own community center, almost all with a pool and swimming programs. They also have ''tot rooms'' that are open various hours each day during the fall, winter and spring filled with age appropriate toys for kids 0-4 years. Great place to head to if itís raining.
- Waterfront ≠ Pike Place market is a tourist mecca, but also a fun place to take kids, especially during the week in the winter when there arenít that many people around. The whole waterfront area is pretty cool. Thereís the Seattle Aquarium, and the Maritime Museum that are nice, plus shops and boats, etc.

Neighborhoods, schools, etc.:
- We have family in Seattle, so we were tuned in right from the start. We lived in the Ravenna neighborhood just north of the University of Washington. Nearby are Wedgewood, Green Lake, Maple Leaf, View Ridge ≠ all nice places. The schools are good here (my neice is in the gifted program at the local middle school (Eckstein Middle School) and is thriving. Iím not sure which elementary school she went to. You might also consider West Seattle, where a good friend with kids the same age as ours lives. She loves it.
- Preschools: We HIGHLY recommend the Perkins Preschool on Ravenna Ave and 65th St. NE. Our 4 year old was there for this whole year and absolutely loved it. Itís fairly academic for the 4 and 5 year olds, pretty traditional for the 3 year olds (Iím not sure how young they are to start). The staff is terrific, the facilities very good, great families. You can The director is Candi Schneider, phone is 206-524-1132.

Doctors:
- We highly recommend Dr. David Springer, pediatrician. Office 4005 Wallingford N. Seattle, WA 98103, phone: 206-632-0542. He is a really warm and sort of Santa-like guy (donít tell him I said that!!). Heís very experienced in traditional pediactrics, but also inclusive of homeopathic approaches. His staff of nurses and practitioners is wonderful. I think heís taking new patients, but probably best to call. If heís not, Iím sure he could refer you to other pediatricians.
- Dentist: We didnít establish our kids with a dentist, since we were only up here a year and have a great dentist at home, but our younger daughter hit her head on the coffee table when she was 12 months old and knocked out one of her front teeth. We took her to the emergency room where they did the extraction, but then referred us to a pediatric dentist for after care. We were able to get an appointment with one of her colleagues in the office, but not her. However, we were extremely impressed with the office, the staff and how quickly they accommodated us. The dentist is Dr. Camille Sata, 7900 E. Greenlake Drive N. Suite 210, Seattle, WA 98103, 206-522-1565. I think her practice may be closed at the moment, but worth looking into.
- Hospitals: Seattle Childrenís Hospital is affiliated with the UW Hospitals and is located not far from the campus. Top notch place.

Mothers groups:
- I never joined one since we moved right in to my familyís neighborhood, but I noticed that many of the neighborhood community centers had programs for families, including moms. Iím sure there are other resources available. I found Seattle to be very much like the Bay area in the diversity of programs and resources around, but at a more human scale.

Weather: Like you, I was ambivalent about spending even one winter up here, but we were lucky and got a very dry and mild winter. On the whole Seattle is set up with things to do that are weather-independent. Plus, the mountains and ocean around here are so beautiful that Iíd even go out in the rain. And when we say it rains up in Seattle, itís not like the rain in San Francisco. Itís more of a drizzly rain and often gray and overcast, not the driving rain we get the Bay Area. So even if itís wet, itís still pretty easy to get around outside. It can be a pain with kids, however, since the park is no fun when everything is wet. But I was very pleasantly surprised. Plus, the summers help make up for it.

Hope this helps. Have a great move and I guarantee you will like Seattle. We loved it!! Gretchen


I live in Seattle but I'm not a mom yet, so I asked a friend of mine who is a mom and an editor for GoCityKids.com to answer your question. Here's her response:

Neighborhoods: Ballard's becoming more diverse, has a couple of very good elementary schools (Whittier, Loyal Heights) & lots of families w/young kids. Columbia City is very diverse, and has families w/young kids, but schools in South Seattle aren't the best. The less diverse north end of Seattle tends to have the better schools.

Doctors Love Dr. Rhonda Levitt's practice at NW Peds near Northgate.

Community For support, try the MOMS Club of Seattle (look online at the momsclub.org for contact info) or PEPS if you have kids under 3 (pepsgroup.org) To my knowledge, Seattle doesn't have something comparable to BPN.

Weather Visit the indoor playgrounds at community centers around Seattle; visit storytimes and active museums like the Children's Museum & indoor toddler playspace at Pacific Science Center; go to the library and play in the childrens' area (libaries in the King County Library System are especially kid- friendly); if all else fails, head to Bellevue Square and the indoor playspaces there. Joanna


July 2002

We are seriously considering moving to the Seattle area as a work opportunity has arisen there. We have been up for a trip and like what we see (apart from the weather - yuk). Does anyone have any advice on good places to live that is similar to Albany/Berkeley which I love. I am looking for a community that is very young family oriented - especially in good school districts. If anyone has any advice I would appreciate it. Thanks Julie


I lived in Seattle for a year and loved my neighborhood, Green Lake. The lake has a three mile or so paved jogging and biking trail and many fun extras like a kiddie swim pool, and a theatre. There were lots of young families around and a wonderful natural foods co-op, PCC. If you do end up moving I highly recommend our realtors, David and Karen Bell (www.dkbell.com) They are amazing people and really great at finding the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood. As far as the weather goes, that is ultimately what drove us back to the Bay Area... amy
Moving to Seattle...what a wonderful city! I lived there for 6+ years and then returned for another year in 1999. It is a fabulous place to live - good restuarants, kayaking, hiking, cafes etc. My husband and I really enjoyed living in Wallingford/Greenlake area. Both are close to shops, cafes, theaters, Lake Union and the 22+ mile long Burke Gilman bike trail. It reminds me of Berkeley. The next best areas in my mind are Fremont, near the Fremont bridge shops/B-G trail, and Queen Anne Hill(close to downtown). After that, Leschi, Montlake and Laurelhurst are beautiful areas to live. Capital Hill is another great area to live. Check out Vivande for GREAT espressos on Capital Hill - a close second to the true Italian thing. Maya
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