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Another [Moving to Seattle] Thread

LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello Seattleites,

I hope you don't feel inundated with Seattle questions, as I know that there have been a number of moving to Seattle threads in the past year. I'll try to keep the advice I seek more pointed rather than just ask "what the hell do I do!"

I recently accepted a job at a laboratory in the city. I believe the lab is in Fremont, and you can see the location in this google maps link. This is great because I have family that live in Fremont, and friends that live all over the city.

The main things I am trying to figure out are:

Where I should live- Since I have friends all over the city (that is, no one group in one central location), proximity to my job will be more important than wanting to live in the hip Capitol Hill. I will be trying to bike commute almost everywhere, but I will have my car while I learn the city and figure things out.

I'm assuming that the ideal places to live, based on location, will be (in descending order of desirability):Fremont, Ballard, Wallingford, U-District (and then maybe some of the other northern neighborhoods that I'm not too familiar with), or North Queen Anne/Magnolia on the South side of the delta. Any other options would be greatly appreciated. Other advice, such as it would be a bitch to bike commute to work from Green Lake or the U District every day would be awesome.

What I can expect to afford- I'm actually taking a $3.00/hr paycut leaving my job here to move up there, but I figure it's worth it to get into the city with a job. What can I expect to find in terms of rentals? My price range will probably top out at around $700 living on my own, but I might be able to inch that up a little bit, as I can afford a little more not having any debt. Will this vague price range more likely find me funky duplex units, or can you have a decent apartment for that much?

I found an ad for a unit that's part of a triplex that has a washer and dryer in Ballard, here, but I'm not sure if that's normal for the neighborhoods that I probably want to stay in. Are any of the neighborhoods mentioned above significantly more expensive than others?

My girlfriend is moving up before me to live with her sister for a while, so I have someone that would be able to go look at places in my stead. Any strategies I should employ? Are there any other sites other than Craigslist that might be useful in searching for a rental? A lot of the CL posts have rentals that are way farther out of the city than I would like.

Thanks for any advice anyone can give!

LavaKnight on

Posts

  • EshEsh Sunshine! Kittens! Rainbows! Smiles! Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    $700 is a little low for living by yourself in Seattle. You may want to look into a roommate situation.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."
  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Esh wrote: »
    $700 is a little low for living by yourself in Seattle. You may want to look into a roommate situation.

    That's good to know. What would be the minimum for a small 1 bedroom place? Like I mentioned, I can probably go a little bit above that. I am seeing a good number of ads in the $700 range, however. Maybe they're dives?

    I'm planning on moving in a truck with my current apartment furniture, and would like to keep my bed/desk etc... if possible, hence wanting to live on my own. I don't have lots of big furniture, but it would be difficult to move to a roommate situation after living by myself for so long.

    Edit: For instance, I certainly do this place, which seems somewhat nice, except for the train tracks across the street. Or maybe this place. I'm not expecting a really modern loft or 2 bedroom apartment or anything, but is it a pipe dream to expect even a pretty simple place at these prices?

  • EshEsh Sunshine! Kittens! Rainbows! Smiles! Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    LavaKnight wrote: »
    Esh wrote: »
    $700 is a little low for living by yourself in Seattle. You may want to look into a roommate situation.

    That's good to know. What would be the minimum for a small 1 bedroom place? Like I mentioned, I can probably go a little bit above that. I am seeing a good number of ads in the $700 range, however. Maybe they're dives?

    I'm planning on moving in a truck with my current apartment furniture, and would like to keep my bed/desk etc... if possible, hence wanting to live on my own. I don't have lots of big furniture, but it would be difficult to move to a roommate situation after living by myself for so long.

    Edit: For instance, I certainly do this place, which seems somewhat nice, except for the train tracks across the street. Or maybe this place. I'm not expecting a really modern loft or 2 bedroom apartment or anything, but is it a pipe dream to expect even a pretty simple place at these prices?

    It's been about 6 years since I've lived there. Prices have come down a little it looks like. Shouldn't be too bad. Little bit far out, but if you're working in Fremont, not bad at all.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."
  • Red RaevynRed Raevyn Ooga booga booga Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Fremont and Ballard are pretty hip places, so rent is higher there. Wallingford is a very nice neighborhood as well, with more homes than apartments in it. I wouldn't personally want to live in the U-district, as it has tons of students (duh) but also homeless, traffic, etc. It's just a busy area.

    I think you should be able to find a good 1-bedroom apartment for $600-700, but not without some effort. By the way, seattle craigslist sort of expanded its default net, but once you select apts/housing you can choose "seattle" at the top to get rid of all the eastside/south end crap - at least that is correctly categorized.

    If you want to save some money on rent, there are great neighborhoods to the northeast, as you alluded to. Rent basically gets cheaper as you do two things - move north, and move away from water. I would look at Wedgewood, and Maple Leaf is a nice place with a strong sense of community. Thanks to the Burke-Gilman trail (which your work is right off of) bicycle commuting will be crazy easy from the former, or the U-district. It's a paved bike/pedestrian only trail built on an old railroad grade, so it is never steep. Commuting from Green Lake would be pretty easy, too.

    Bicycle commuting dang near anywhere is pretty great out here, because the bicycle crowd has so much clout, and our drivers are pretty well trained. Since I last lived here (I recently moved back after being gone for 3 years) the city has been building more and more bike lanes. Sometimes that means a solid line separating you, sometimes it is a series of bicycles painted on the right shoulder. Often they did it by removing a center turn lane, and adding a half-lane width bicycle lane to each side. Check out the bicycling option on Google maps "under 'More'" for an idea of where they are.

  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Wow, thanks Esh and Red. I'm glad to know that the prices aren't too far out of line. Is Craigslist still the best place to find rentals up there, or are there any more specialized sites that I should look at?

    Thanks for the info on the trail and general bike commuting. That's pretty awesome. Also, I didn't know about Wedgewood or Maple Leaf, so I'll do some searches for there as well.

    As far as what $600-$700+ can get me, should I hold out for anything, or should I expect everything in that price range to have nasty carpets, not light, and lots of spiders? I have found a few neat looking studios with wood floors and nice windows. Basically, I'm wondering what I should settle for at that price range without being too picky.

    Also, and advice on finding a place and moving there from out of state? I'm hoping that my gf could go take a look at places for me and possibly pay any deposits with a cashier's check, but how would signing a lease go? Do landlords accept faxed leases?

    Thanks for the continued advice.

  • EshEsh Sunshine! Kittens! Rainbows! Smiles! Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited September 2010
    LavaKnight wrote: »
    Wow, thanks Esh and Red. I'm glad to know that the prices aren't too far out of line. Is Craigslist still the best place to find rentals up there, or are there any more specialized sites that I should look at?

    Thanks for the info on the trail and general bike commuting. That's pretty awesome. Also, I didn't know about Wedgewood or Maple Leaf, so I'll do some searches for there as well.

    As far as what $600-$700+ can get me, should I hold out for anything, or should I expect everything in that price range to have nasty carpets, not light, and lots of spiders? I have found a few neat looking studios with wood floors and nice windows. Basically, I'm wondering what I should settle for at that price range without being too picky.

    Also, and advice on finding a place and moving there from out of state? I'm hoping that my gf could go take a look at places for me and possibly pay any deposits with a cashier's check, but how would signing a lease go? Do landlords accept faxed leases?

    Thanks for the continued advice.

    When I moved back to Portland, Oregon from Rhode Island, my new landlord didn't have an issue with me faxing my information and a lease to him. YMMV though.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."
  • PotatoNinjaPotatoNinja Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Living areas: Fremont, Queen Anne, Ballard, and Wallingford will all be relatively close to your job (close enough that you could probably walk, bike, or bus with no difficulty). All are also nice neighborhoods to live in.

    $600-800 will get you a modest studio or one-bedroom in those neighborhoods. Don't take a slum but don't expect a really nice place either, older buildings will probably be your best bet.

    It is currently a renter's market in Seattle, so don't feel obligated to take the first thing that comes your way, and if you have reliable employment, good credit, and a strong rental history, consider negotiating for better terms on your lease. Getting a month free or a partial month free could save you big (usually its easier to negotiate an up-front temporary bonus than a permanent rent reduction, YMMV).

    Two goats enter, one car leaves
  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I've lived in a studio on cap hill for 600 a few years ago. Rents havent gone up since ten.

  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Thanks for the advice on what I'll be able to find in that price range, Potato. Good to know I don't have to live in a slum! I've also heard about being able to talk landlords down on price from friends up there. Is it because there are way more vacancies than people looking to fill them? Whatever the case, it's good to know, and thanks for the tip on an upfront reduction.

    Thanks again, Esh, and mrt as well.

    Any more advice is surely welcomed!

  • HK5HK5 Registered User
    edited September 2010
    I currently live in Fremont for just under $700 in a brand new, decent sized studio. It's possible to stay within that range if you look hard and are flexible. I love love love living in Fremont, it's a ton of fun. It's got some amazing food, good local music venues, a lovely park within walking distance (Gasworks), a great Sunday farmer's market, and fun and interesting people.

  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    HK5 wrote: »
    I currently live in Fremont for just under $700 in a brand new, decent sized studio. It's possible to stay within that range if you look hard and are flexible. I love love love living in Fremont, it's a ton of fun. It's got some amazing food, good local music venues, a lovely park within walking distance (Gasworks), a great Sunday farmer's market, and fun and interesting people.

    Are there any other units in your building available!? Hehe, but seriously, that's great. I'm beginning to be more confident in my chances, after being really scared after Esh's first response last night :P

    I guess the only thing I'm worried about not is the short amount of time I have (two weeks) to find one and move.

  • PlushyCthulhuPlushyCthulhu Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I found mine through a UW internal posting - $800 in Wallingford for a 1B, quite old and a little small, but with a ton of light (windows on 3 sides + skylight) and in a great location. My girlfriend found her place on craigslist and is living in a huge 2B in Fremont with a roommate, paying $650. Both of us found places within a week of looking.

    $600 is on the low end, but you can definitely find a studio for that. $650-$800 will definitely get you a decent 1B. Craigslist definitely seems to be the main source, but it can't hurt to check Rent.com or ApartmentFinder to scout places and then contact them directly.

    With your work location I would probably restrict myself to Fremont/Wallingford/Ballard at first, but I am a sucker for being able to walk places. Find anything near Burke-Gilman and you can bike to work super easy.

    Also come say hi when you get here - I will buy a Broxton shirt in your honor!

    Steam/LoL: plushycthulhu
  • LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I moved to Seattle recently and the first place I looked was Capitol Hill. My price range was a little bigger than yours, $800 - $900 including rent AND utilities. The studios I looked at on Capitol Hill were, frankly, crappy and horrible. (They were almost all in the $800 - $850 range.) Each one had its own unique, horrible smell. Maybe I just had bad luck, I don't know, but after a couple days I gave up on Capitol Hill, figuring anything in my price range was going to be crappy, and moved on to other areas. I ended up looking on Magnolia Hill and found a two bedroom / two bath for $895. (Well, it was originally $1095, but when I said I couldn't afford it they knocked down the price.) I have a good friend who wants to move out here in a couple months, so that was perfect.

    There are toooons of apartments for rent up here. Magnolia Hill is farther away from, well, everything which is something to consider if you want to be in the middle of the city. For me, a nice apartment and more space was more important.

    Edit: I kind of wandered off the point I wanted to make, which was that you may be able to knock the price down to something more affordable even if the listed price is more. Also, to remember to account for water/sewer/garbage in your budget. Most of the Capitol Hill studios I looked at charged separately for W/S/G, from $50 to $120 a month. (Sometimes variable, like $120 in the winter months and $60 the other months.) Oh, and every single place I looked at I found on Craigslist.

  • J.MarkTanjutcoJ.MarkTanjutco Registered User
    edited September 2010
    Most of the kind folks who already replied have more than adequately filled you in on details about rent rates, etc. So I won't add to those specific comments. However, I did want to make an argument about the two neighborhoods your work is really close to: namely, Fremont and Ballard.

    I'm not sure how old you are; maybe that doesn't matter. Honestly, in most Seattle neighborhoods, you are going to find a favorite spot to hang out at with people who you like. I moved to Seattle when I was 21 years old, back in late 2002. I currently live in Belltown; I moved into that neighborhood back in 2004, so I've been here for some time now.

    There's still plenty for me to do in Belltown, but lately, the scene has been feeling a bit "young" for me. Not so much on 2nd or 3rd Ave., but I don't go to any places on 1st anymore; just not my scene. I actually really, really enjoy hanging out in Ballard these days. So if you're in my demographic (nearly breaking into their 30's), then maybe give that neighborhood a careful look. I actually would relocate to Ballard myself, but it's farther from I-5 and the 520 than I prefer.

    As for Fremont...and this is just an opinion...hanging out there feels like it's somewhere between Ballard and Belltown in its spectrum of demographics.

    If you want to start a separate thread on places to go, I'd be way more helpful there. If you're not a "going out" kind of person, then feel free to disregard.

    "At moments of great enthusiasm it seems to me that no one in the world has ever made something this beautiful and important." - M.C. Escher

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC] Op-ed pieces & industry insider interviews, by a gamer, for the gamers: follow me on my blog or at Gamasutra.
  • LavaKnightLavaKnight Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Plushy: Thanks for the info! Good to know I can find something on the low end if I really need to. I'd love to see you in a Broxton jersey, mocking me all the way, and maybe we could catch a Mariners game sometime. Most of my friends aren't baseball fans, but I'd love to root for the A's at Safeco.

    LadyM: Good to know, I'll probably stay out of the Hill based on your advice and others. Seems like it's just too pricey for what you get. Thanks for confirming that I'll probably be able to negotiate the price. It seems like everyone I talk to says that it worked out that way. I guess I'll just have to gauge whether or not it would be more beneficial to ask for cheaper rent, or an upfront discount, like PotatoNinja suggested.

    J.Mark: Interesting. Maybe that's why all of my friends (late 20's) are saying to stay out of Belltown. I'm only 24, but I'm not much interested in clubs or the like, so I'm guessing Ballard/Fremont will fit my style and personality better. Thanks! I'll try to remember to ask about where is good to go, but that will send me into overload at the moment.

    Thanks again, everyone!

  • finralfinral Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Phinney Ridge or Greenwood are other neighborhoods you could check out, if you still need options. I would imagine that finding a decent place in Ballard or Freemont right now should be easy though. Like everyone has said, it is a renters market right now. I'm looking to move sometime soon, and I can't believe how many options there are. Gas prices are through the roof here, so biking to work is the way to go. Good luck!

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