Seattle area

Started by DavidLeBlanc, February 16, 2005, 08:32:21 PM

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I'd like to find land reasonably close to Seattle, which is where I now live (rent).

1/4'th or more acres would be fine, OUT of a flood plain! It floods 2x a year in a lot of places in Western WA - and that's in a "normal" year!

I suspect it will have to be towards Kitsap County, but I'd have to move fast - at least before the 2nd Tacoma Narrows bridge is finished and that area explodes with new growth.

On the other hand, I would also dearly love to live on one of the Sound Islands, but as John mentions in another thread, it's pricy and there are many impedements to building, some of which is caused by the islands being at or beyond their carrying capacity!

Leaning towards a Jay Shaffer (Tumbleweeds) style house in John Raabe plans ;)


What about over on the peninsula? Land there seems to be more reasonably priced.  I'm kind of partial to the Sequim/Port Angeles area, but then you're in the rain shadow.


Kitsap County is on the peninnsula - down towards Tacoma and across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (of which, a 2nd span is under construction - this is going to cause huge expansion in that area in the next few years - it's already started ). :o


Bremerton is a rather nice medium sized town that hasn't got too pricey (or yuppy). I've not visited there in years but it is surrounded by some nice view and woodland properties.


I'm not sure what you consider "Seattle area" but you might consider south of Port Townsend, where things aren't totally out of hand, yet. What's your budget? Often times you can find deals on properties that a conventional buyer wouldn't look twice at. I remember looking at 12 acres on Vashon, complete with a livable trailer house, for something like $100,000. Mind you, 10 acres of it was marsh, but there was enough space to build near the road or in the back, which would have been very private. BIG bullfrogs (an invasive species, I guess, but still kinda neat to look at).

Kitsap is already filling fast, and Bainbridge and Vashon are essentially full, from what I can see.

East of Stanwood in north Snohomish is nice and not too terrible in price.

Beware that in most areas outside of a UGA you may need five acres to be able to build a house of any sort (not sure this is true on land which was platted many years ago). Here in Island County I saw a story a few weeks back that suggested that due to new sewer regulations, many small waterfront lots may never be buildable now, they're just too small to host an approved drainfield. If you see what's happening in hood canal, I think that's a good thing, but would suck if you owned such a parcel. is proof that there is still "cheap" land around, this is a half acre on Camano Island for $25,000, with owner financing (I have no connection to it, just pulled up the cheapest lot on camano or whidbey in the MLS of any reasonable size). I think one advantage you'd have if you're interested in small houses is that awkward lots may not be as much of a hindrance as they would be to someone wanting to build a McMansion there.

Try hitting the MLS ( has a pretty decent site, so do many local realtors) and see what you can pull up. Windermere's property point tool is cool, but totally useless for land, as it requires a physical street address to work and most land listings don't have one.

My caveats (to repeat myself), would be to ensure that any small rural lot:

* is buildable (talk to the county, don't take the owner's word);
* has water or can get water, again, find out before-hand;
* has room for a house, well (if needed), and drainfield, given whatever the set-back requirements are;
* and in the case of a self-built unorthodox house as advocated here, ensure the property is not in a HOA area, as you're likely to run afoul of their covenants.

Good luck! Compile a list of ten or so properties in an area and go on a field trip. We did that, and explored Vashon, Bainbridge, Kitsap, north Snohomish county, Skagit county, and finally decided on Whidbey. Just felt like home over here.


David le Blanc, I noticed in another post you mentioned allergies to molds, mildew, etc.

How do you fare in the Seattle area?  Have you lived in other areas of the country, and if so, were your allergies better?  Worse?

I haven't been able to find a definitive source of allergy info for Seattle...

Northeast Texas, generally, seems to be very bad for allergies, even mold/mildew.  


There is no lack of mold and mildew here, however, I've never really been bothered by it in Western WA. It's generally cool and humid here and that helps (me) considerably. I lived in Florida (west coast) and it was horrible! Winters were OK - kind of like summers here, but summers were like living in an (electric!) teakettle. Rained every day, with thunder storms, and every 3rd day we had a real gully washer with extremely intense electrical activity. Humid as h*ll too! First place I've ever been that had ceiling fans on the outdoor porches. I was sick a lot.

Here, there are a few bad days and so on, but really, not something I'm constantly concerned about! I think the relative coolness prevents really rapid growth of mold and mildew, unlike FL, where it can go from white to grey overnight!


HOA - I don't consider any place with an HOA as a buildable area.  It's bad enough that big brother wants to tell us what to do, but there we have to put up with all of our neighbors too  ???

I guess some folks like it - I'm not that civilized ;D


My HOA (Lake Wenatchee area, 2 hours northeast of Seattle) is composed mostly of friends, but if that isn't enough all you have to do is volunteer for a turn on the board then you can do whatever you want.   ;D

On another note I know people that commute daily to Seattle from over Stevens and Snoqualmie passes.  Not a commute I would want, but it puts them on the drier/sunnier/less expensive/less populous/republican dominated side of the state.

Chuck Surette

Hi Guys,

Any advise for total stranger to the west coast?

Possibilty of new job-forcing me to Consider a move to WA from CT.  

May put down the homesteading plans for a few years and purchase a house in Seattle Tacoma area.  

I would have to commute occasionally to Sea-tac & Boeing field & points north & south - so access to a major highway will come in to play.

I currenlty know almost nothing about the area.  Have heard the west/east pollitical divide thing though...

Did I mention starvation wages??  Selling starter house here in CT for around $150k & don't want to be forced much higher than $175-200k.  Could I make this happen??




$175,000 won't buy you much, if anything in Seattle proper. Figure on $400,000 or more for a decent "middle of the road" house.

Things are better in Tacoma, 35 miles S of Seattle.

There are other communities in the area where prices are likely to be more affordable/in your range. Some of them are strung out along the I-5 corridor, which gives you ready access to where you want to go.

The major road around here is I-5 - goes from Seattle to Tacoma and points south. Passes right by Boeing Field and SeaTac.

Chuck Surette

Thanks for the advice -

Any tips on towns outside of Tacoma??

I have been looking in that area - because of the I-5.  But seem to be coming up with a shocking amount of double wides in my price range...

The windermere site is cool!  

Maybe opting for a rental - would be the wiser choice for the short term...

Thanks again,



I live in Seattle and only rarely get down to Tacoma, so I'm not the best source of information about that area.

If you can mention specific towns you see on a map, I might be able to give some info.



Since the double-wide search is bringing me down... How about local taxes etc... Is there an income tax in WA?  

What about excise tax on vehicles?  I heard registration fees may be high.

Also - Where is the line drawn between east & west in WA?? (on a map that is...)  

How far east on Rte 90 - before I'm in the mountains??

Ideally I would like to be within an hour to sea-tac.


The Cascade mountains divide the liberal west from the conservative east. They're about 30 miles east of the city - clearly visible. From Seattle, you can be well into them in 45 minutes.

S and a bit E of the city is a largish valley that contains some number of satellite communities, all of which are well within 1 hour of SeaTac.

Another alternative is to think about Kitsap county on the Olympic Penninsula. A new bridge is being built and prices are on the way up, but it's still fairly affordable. Still about an hour from SeaTac.

No income tax here, but sales taxes are nearly 10% and you're bound to run into a variety of fees that may seem steep. There's also a "business and occupation tax" that appearantly stings.

Vehicle registration taxes are better than when I first moved here. They are much more reasonable now. In '96 my new car cost me over $300 to register - and more the next year!!! Then, we had a tax payers revolt/referendum and I just reregistered my car (same one) for $100. That was up from the year after the referendum when it cost me $35.


The line between east and west WA is the crest of the cascades. It's a totally different world, both socially and geographically, on the two sides. East is dry and west is lush. Both are beautiful, in different ways.

You can't really live on one side and work on the other, they're just too far apart, unless you only had to come over once a week or something.

Vehicle taxes are limited to $30 a year for passenger theory. That's true in rural counties but Snohomish, King and Pierce counties have various transit initiatives that have raised the reg fees to around $150 - 200 a year, if memory serves.

No state income tax. Sales taxes in the 9-10% range, food and a few other things excepted.

Property taxes capped at 1% of appraised value except for special local levies, which I think are themselves capped at some percentage.

Sounds like you're doing aircraft work--is it for Boeing, or for someone else? If for Boeing, beware they have plants all over the place and are farily famous for shifting people to the least conveinant location possible.

Hour to's going to be tough getting into a house for $200K. Tacoma would be an interesting idea. A lot of historical housing stock and I'm not sure how gentrified it has become (some of it, Hilltop in particular, was pretty scary in the past and may still be). You might also think about some of the southern neighborhoods of Seattle, Georgetown, White Center and the like. They're becoming trendy, but I don't know if the market has picked up there or not.

If you consider Federal Way, for $200K it looks like you can still get into a 40's or 50's rancher. Something like MLS 25068999. Don't know anything about the neighborhood...

For all the expense, this is a beautiful part of the world to live in.


Thanks for the responses Seattle.

No - not working for Boeing (boing) but very familiar with their product.  Have left the world of the heavies & now work on the corporate side - currently interviewing for a regional sales position & trying to get my ducks in a row - for the possibility of landing the spot.  

The job would require visits on the coast from as far south as San Jose and as far north as Vancouver.  Seattle or northern Oregon seem like a good middle ground to base from.

But, I am open to any ideas.....

Currently leaning towards a rental - as travel will prevent me from any big fixer-upper projects and my currenty budget, and stinginess won't let me commit over $200k right away.

As far as comminities are there any areas to avoid?

It seems a lot of the houses in my desired range (under $200k) have a lot of chain link fence or wheels underneath.

Any help greatly appreciated.


Just noticed in the Seattle Times today there's a section called "Home Values 2005" which might have some valuable information for you.  You can access it online.  I believe you have to register, but the info is minimal and there's no charge.

Also, have you tried