Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Seattle Ho!

I've been mostly away from the internets for a while, so I thought I'd post an update. The spousal unit and I are up in Seattle, house-hunting. He's changing jobs and due to report for work up here in mid-January, so we're trying to figure out where we're going to live. It's been up and down so far.

First, it's been freaking cold up here all week. :/ They've been having record lows for the last few days, imported from the Arctic especially for us, I'm sure. I still need to buy a coat one of these days. Actually, there are times when I'd like to pile about half the hotel room furniture in the middle of the floor and start a bonfire, but that's probably not practical. [cough] But it's heating back up! It's actually supposed to be above freezing here at some point today -- might actually be above freezing now, I'm not sure. But wow, thirty-four degrees -- heat wave! [eyeroll/shiver]

On the house hunting front, we've actually had some good luck today. One older house with a very nice recent remodel is looking promising. It's also on a relatively huge lot, with a bit of a flat side yard which has been done up in some skinny raised beds all ready for annuals in the spring, plus a huge back end on a slope with some trees and berry canes and ivy. I could see putting some more fruit trees up there. And it's on this hill with a wonderful view of the valley and the mountains beyond, and there's a golf course across the road so it won't be built up. Jim and I both like it a lot. There are a few questions to ask, but it's looking like a distinct possibility.

We also saw two very nice newer houses, just a year or two old each, a bit bigger than the older one but the locations don't work in either case. One was up a VERY steep hill, which we'd have to hike up/down to get anywhere unless we took a taxi. (Neither Jim nor I drive, and I have an arthritic knee. I get around fine in general, but slopes are hard.) The other one had just a bit of a hill about a block or so long from the main drag, not too bad at all, but then a hike from there to the actual house which looked like it might be too long, even flat; the place is back in kind of a semi-rural looking neighborhood with a lot of mixed older houses (many not terribly well maintained) on larger lots, with little clusters of newer, smaller places crammed onto smaller spaces. We were looking at a newer house in a row of three with no front yard and a small back yard, but it'd be enough for us. Basically I want enough backyard space for a dog; anything else is gravy. But that long hike, especially for Jim twice a day to get to the bus to and from work, is making it really iffy.

We did like the first one, though, so we're hopeful. We saw a three other houses yesterday, all older, and we were both rather dismayed. :/ Lots of yuck, and at the end of the day it was like, "Okay, which one sucks the least?" which really isn't what you want to be considering when you're in the process of moving a thousand miles and spending 99% of your assets, you know? So today made us feel a lot better, just seeing that yeah, there are some good options out there.

In general, Seattle is a lot hillier than we'd realized. I haven't visited since I was a kid, and Jim almost the same; neither of us remembered the topography. We knew in advance that location -- being reasonably near a grocery store, and close to public transit such that Jim can get to work in less than an hour and without too many transfers -- would be an issue. We didn't realize ahead of time that we'd be crossing houses off the list for reasons of steepness, though. It's one more limitation, but our real estate guy is really good and he's starting to get the full ramifications of the "no car" thing a lot better than many folks who drive. More tomorrow.

Our hotel is downtown, four or five blocks from the Pike Place market. We wandered down there on Sunday, and it's pretty awesome. :) Aside from all the quirky little shops (and we've still seen less than half of it) it's sort of like a farmer's (and fisherman's) market, with great produce, seafood, mushrooms, cheeses, honey and preserves -- all kinds of fresh stuff. I'd love to have something like that within walking distance on a regular basis and be able to head down there just whenever to pick up fresh things for dinner. It's the kind of produce etc. they use on the cooking shows, you know? Also, there's this tiny hole-in-the-wall bakery that makes awesome espresso brownies; we got a couple of those when we were there. Massive yum. :)

There's an art museum about halfway between the market and the hotel, which has a Michaelangelo exhibit we want to get to while we're here. I don't think it's huge, mainly a collection of lesser-known sketches and such, but still that'd be cool, and I'm sure they have other things worth seeing. In general, though, we're not major nightlife people and haven't been going out doing a lot of touristy things. We'll probably be staying somewhere downtown for a couple of months after we move up here in January -- we get that much temporary housing paid for -- so unless we fall in love with a house this week and make an offer and it all goes through immediately, we'll probably be back here for a month or two and we can do more touristy things on weekends then. And hopefully it won't be so freaking cold.

Angie, trying to stay warm


Cakespy said...

Where were the brownies from? :-)

Angie said...

Cakespy -- oh, man, I don't remember the name of the place. :/ If you're ever here, there's a short street that runs right up to the main entrance of the market, facing where the big bronze pig is. Stand on the street (it's a right-angle bend, IIRC) and look to the right, down that arm of the street there, and on the right-hand side of that street, walk down just a bit, keeping an eye out to the shops and such on the right hand side. The bakery has a display window on the sidewalk, then you walk right around a corner of their shop (there's one of those open-access shopping center-places there) and there's a window where you order. Definitely worth finding. :D


Spy Scribbler said...

Oh wow, big changes! I missed that. Where are you leaving? I forgot.

I would love to live within walking distance of a market, in a place where there's a good bus system. Where I lived, it was impossible to live without a car. I tried to just use my bike for awhile, but I was too out of shape to make it work.

Angie said...

Natasha -- we're in Long Beach right now, so this is going to be quite a move. O_O

We've been having major loads of groceries delivered for quite a few years now, and we order a lot of other things from online. Having a grocery store clerk pick your produce isn't usually a good idea in my experience, though, and if you just need some milk or some bread or whatever, you don't want to have to do an order; having something nearby is necessary, but it doesn't have to be huge or perfect.

Jim's been poking around online and it seems that the commute from the house we liked won't be bad at all. [crossed fingers]


Bernita said...

Like any adventure, both exciting and irritating. Sounds like you have a good agent. Hope you find a good home, Angie.

writtenwyrdd said...

One of the things I took from my experience living in both Hawaii and in the Seattle area is that the cold and the damp combined are far worse than just damp or just cold. One of the reasons that Maine winters make me hurt less than winter in Tacoma, Washington! Even at -30 it feels less cold.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've never been to Seattle but I do like the rain. Not sure about the cold. I have heard that it's very hilly. Good luck with the house hunting.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Pacific Northwest! I'm about 90 minutes north of Seattle in Bellingham. I swear, it's not usually this cold!!

Angie said...

Bernita -- yes, we seem to have a very good agent, which is always excellent in these situations. Last time we moved, our first agent was blatantly incompetent, so we definitely can tell the difference.

WW -- right, humidity definitely makes things worse, both heat and cold. [nod]

Charles -- I'm not overly fond of cold, so we'll see. I'm assured by many people that this is very unusual, so future winters shouldn't be this bad. [crossed fingers]

MDurango -- right, that's what everyone's saying. :) We'll see how it goes; hopefully this'll be the Seattle area's quota of ridiculously cold weather for a while.

Thanks all! :D


Dawn Wilson said...

Those espresso brownies DO sound yummy! I know what you mean about the cold. It was 9 degrees in Eugene not too long ago. YIKES! I don't think I could handle below freezing. Probably spend the day sitting next to a heater! LOL Good luck with the house hunt, though. I have only dreamed of visiting Seattle and I'm glad you're still having a grand time despite the freeze.

Angie said...

Dawn -- the brownies were definitely awesome. [nodnod] We never got back there for more :( but we'll most likely be staying in the same area for a month or two in temporary housing, so we can go back then. Mmmm!

And yeah, the cold was pretty horrifying. [shiver] We're back home now and although I still get cold when it's 68 in the computer room, it's definitely a different magnitude of cold. The heater has to be one of the greatest inventions ever, LOL!