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Old 05-18-14, 02:18 AM   #1
Artkansas 
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Car-Free in Seattle

I'm contemplating moving to the Seattle area soon. One thing I'm trying to estimate is how practical being car-free in the Seattle area is. I know I'd want to be relatively close to where the ferry for Bremerton is, because my father lives in Bremerton. I haven't a job there, so I can't say where I'd be living exactly. I'm not too worried about hills because I live in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. I've learned to deal with snow.

Are there areas close to tech jobs with lower rents yet still reasonably safe? How are the motorists to cyclists?

Thanks for any help.
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Old 05-18-14, 08:04 PM   #2
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lot of people live that way - look at the archives of this blog Seattle Bike Blog and you'll get a feel for what is on their minds...
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Old 05-19-14, 11:59 AM   #3
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lot of people live that way - look at the archives of this blog Seattle Bike Blog and you'll get a feel for what is on their minds...
Thanks, that helps. I had looked for a website for bicycle advocacy, but mostly found riding clubs though Cascadia seemed to be involved in both riding and some advocacy.
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Old 05-20-14, 12:28 PM   #4
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Tech jobs are spread all over the metro area. Rents have been on the rise for a couple years all over Seattle, even the lower rent areas are fairly expensive but if you're working in tech this won't be much of a burden. We probably have more and steeper hills than you're used to but snow is exceedingly rare here, at least within city limits we get any accumulation once in a typical year. Every decade or so we'll get a big storm that will dump a few inches on the roads that will stick around a few days.

For what it's worth this is a very beautiful place.
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Old 05-25-14, 09:21 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
I'm contemplating moving to the Seattle area soon. One thing I'm trying to estimate is how practical being car-free in the Seattle area is. I know I'd want to be relatively close to where the ferry for Bremerton is, because my father lives in Bremerton. I haven't a job there, so I can't say where I'd be living exactly. I'm not too worried about hills because I live in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. I've learned to deal with snow.

Are there areas close to tech jobs with lower rents yet still reasonably safe? How are the motorists to cyclists?

Thanks for any help.
It's certainly possible to live car free in Seattle, but it can be difficult. I lived car free from 1998 to 2004 and have been car free again (and bicycling everwhere again) for the past three years. It was WAY easier when I lived in a walkable neighborhood (Greenwood, and before that Capitol Hill/First Hill), but Greenwood got hip and our rent went up $1000, so we had to move further out and are stuck for a year or two* in a neighborhood that isn't walkable. Not having a car makes things that other folks take for granted like going grocery shopping either a real challenge or chore. Perhaps grocery shopping isn't the best example, as we've taken to having most of our groceries delivered now that we don't live walking distance from a grocery store, but it's illustrative. There are times when not having a car can be a real pain, like when you are moving, and moving in to a new place. In fact, I'd recommend renting a car for a day or two shortly after you move so you can take those trips for all the sundries that seem necessary when setting up a new home. It's a phenomenon that no matter how well your home was set up before, somehow moving results in buying a bunch of bulky crap that isn't easily transported by bike.

* While we save up first months rent, last months rent, deposit and pet deposit, it costs near $3K to move just across town.

Something to be aware of is that Seattle's mass transit is deeply flawed and troubled. We don't have a subway system, what trains & streetcars we do have are split into several different lines that don't really mesh, and our bus system is facing severe, DEEP, cuts to its funding later this year. Personally, I've also found the bus service to be maddening, always late, always having to take two buses to get anywhere and usually missing the connection, making a trip anywhere a hour and a half long oddyssey, half spent on the bus with a bunch of unsavory types, half at an open bus stop in the rain with the same folks. And all that is BEFORE they slash service dramatically! If at all possible, if I were you, I'd figure out where I'm going to be working and look for a home a reasonable commute from there that is close enough to a grocery store to walk there. You're going to have to go to work several (5?) days a week, visiting your father is bound to be much less frequent than that, so you should prioritize your daily life over that trip. That said, the ferry for Bremerton leaves from the Colman Ferry Dock (Pier 52) in Seattle proper (a little west of downtown and Pioneer Square). FYI: the ferry trip is a solid hour each way on the boat. The good news is; as a cyclist you are first off the boat so at least there's no waiting to disembark as long as you are ready to go when the ferry makes landfall.

I'd be a little concerned about moving here without a job, particularly in the tech industry. Although there is a fair amount of businesses that employ more than your average amount of tech workers here, everyone moves here thinking there are plenty of those kinds of jobs and the market is pretty flooded. In addition, that market hasn't fully recovered from the downturn, and yet every year more folks move here looking for those types of jobs. I've got a number of friends who work in that industry and about half of them struggle to find work, lose their jobs through no fault of their own (and are stuck looking for work again) or are doing jobs that aren't tech work or are barely related to it (and pay a lot less) just to get by while they are hoping for better prospects. Seems like most of them have been through this and about half of them are stuck in it. :/ I'm not trying to discourage from moving here, I just think you deserve a realistic impression of what it is often like here though. If there's any way you can nail down a job before you move here, you'd be much better off all-around. That might mean having to make a trip out here to interview in person though.

Were you the fellow who started another thread about moving here and mentioned his lady would be coming with him as well? If so, I'd have to reiterate my advice to keep her commute in the forefront of your mind when planning where to live. Driving here is awful and the mass transit is pretty miserable. If she rides, try and get a home not too far from her work. If she doesn't, try and find a home within walking distance of her work. Bear in mind that comfortable walking distance can be greatly affected by how hilly it is between point A and point B, and as mentioned above, some of our hills are pretty tough.

As mentioned, snow is bascially a non-issue. I bought studded tires for my bike so that I could commute in if/when we get a really good snow again, but I despair of ever getting a chance to use them! Used to be, I'd expect/hope that we'd get an inch or two of snow for a day or two, every year or two. Other than a freakish storm a few years ago when we got a lot of snow and it stuck for a while, it seems like we've been getting even less snow than the tiny bit we used to get. If it does really snow, it's pretty common for the city to largely shut down and pretty acceptable most places to call in and say you can't make it in to work that day.

.

Last edited by Medic Zero; 05-30-14 at 04:29 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 05-29-14, 08:25 AM   #6
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Medic Zero is pretty spot on.

Find a job first, and explore the area. What looks on the map like an easy 25 minute walk can be a nasty slog up and down steep hills in the rain. Buses are great if you happen to live next a line that is headed where you are (unlikely), and tech jobs are *very* spread out - msft in redmond, some stuff stuff in bellevue, amazon downtown, t-mobile over on the east side too. If you thought you'd be at amazon (and moved to south lake union) and ended up at msft, you're in for a world of hurt either by bike or bus
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Old 05-29-14, 09:40 AM   #7
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Can I swap places with you from October to April? I've been here since 1982 and lately every fall winter dream everyday of having money and being in the Southwest.
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Old 05-30-14, 03:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Medic Zero View Post
Something to be aware of is that Seattle's mass transit is deeply flawed and troubled. We don't have a subway system, what trains & streetcars we do have are split into several different lines that don't really mesh, and our bus system is facing severe, DEEP, cuts to its funding later this year.
Thanks for all of the answers. Even from this distance it looked like mass transit was mediocre at best. My only experience with it was taking a bus from Federal Way to Seattle and back for a day trip. It was a long ride, but other than that, okay.

My biggest questions of course were of job finding. It's a hurdle to hunt from a distance. It's more expensive to hunt from a short range apparently. Plan A was to get a job and then establish a residence close by. Your information helps. Thanks.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 05-30-14, 09:09 AM   #9
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It was hard to find my first job after I moved to Seattle. Took longer than I expected, and I was running my savings down. It wasn't a comfortable situation. Part of that was that I didn't know anyone or where to look.

But it hasn't been difficult since then.

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Buses are great if you happen to live next a line that is headed where you are (unlikely), and tech jobs are *very* spread out - msft in redmond, some stuff stuff in bellevue, amazon downtown, t-mobile over on the east side too. If you thought you'd be at amazon (and moved to south lake union) and ended up at msft, you're in for a world of hurt either by bike or bus
If you live in SLU, there's really no reason to accept a MS job in Redmond. There are enough jobs within city limits that it just wouldn't be necessary. Even MS has people working downtown - fewer than in Redmond, sure, but if you were set on working for them it's not beyond the realm of possibility. But we also have Amazon, a million startups, networking firms, smaller companies, the city itself is paying $80 to $110 K for a lot of IT jobs, and plenty of retail companies that do in-house tech. Seattle has some of the lowest unemployment around.
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Old 06-01-14, 08:14 AM   #10
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Medic Zero is really spot on with the comments. Rents are very much on an upward trajectory, especially within about a 10 mile radius of downtown Seattle. Seattle is very much into the Zipcar and other short-term car rental services, so that is something to keep in mind in terms of going car-free.
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Old 06-05-14, 08:23 PM   #11
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My plan A had been to find a cheap room somewhere and just keep all my stuff in storage where I live now. Beyond that, location was up in the air, though being able to access the Bremerton ferry fairly easily to visit my Dad was important.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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