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04-03-2012 02:10 PM
We are thinking about selling our Seattle home and upgrading for a nicer, view home. Prices are high though. Decent view homes also tend to be larger than we need or want to maintain.
We are thinking about either Bainbridge Island or Whidbey Island as water view or possibly waterfront homes are cheaper than Queen Anne etc. My wife and I have work schedules where daily commuting is not a factor.
I am wandering if anyone with experience with both islands had any pros and cons views of both options?
04-04-2012 02:52 PM
I can't speak for Bainbridge, but I've been living on Whidbey for the past 3 years.
The one thing I can say about living on Whidbey is you have to be an "island person" to like it here. The south end of the island is very much a small town -- there is no shopping, very few restaurant choices (and fewer good ones), no fast food, and if you are in search of any of those, it will take you at least an hour and a half to get anywhere (as long as the ferry line isn't backed up). The population tends to be a mix of retirees and liberal hippie types. People tend to keep to themselves, but are generally super-friendly when you get to know them. I've seen a lot of people move here and move away as quickly as they can once the inconvenience sets in. The north-end is driven by the naval base and seems to be one large stripmall suburb, but you do have a few more amenities there (like a Home Depot and an Applebees).
Having said that, I love it here (the south end). It fits my anti-social, enginerd-type personality. There is something magical about living on the island, and I find it nice being close enough but just a bit too far away.
It would be sad to spend a bunch of money on a home only to find out that you are not an island person. The real estate market is a totally different animal on the island, and there is very little inventory to choose from and new ones don't pop up that often. If you are inclined, definitely talk to a realtor who lives on the island as they will have an inside scoop on homes coming up for sale that a mainland realtor won't (I know that from our own home-buying experience).
Good luck on your decision. Whidbey can be heaven unless it's hell.
04-04-2012 03:25 PM
"It would be sad to spend a bunch of money on a home only to find out that you are not an island person. "
Word..as we now say.
FWIW, my wife & I spent a year on Bainbridge in the early '80's, noticed some of the same quirks you mention. We were commuting into town and quickly were put on cranky notice that there was informal "assigned seating" and if you didn't have tenure, you lose. I tried to get a temporary job there, when it was clear I was not an island son, things got chilly.
Probably lots of rentals available for a test drive.
That doesn't mean OP will have any trouble, but it sure left a bad taste in my mouth. I live in Ballard now <G>
04-04-2012 03:29 PM - edited 04-04-2012 03:34 PM
This is the kind of input I was hoping for.
I love Seattle and always dreamed of a home where you could sit and gaze at the water. This might be posible for us now. What I do not want is a trophy house with six bedrooms and four baths. I want the view, a nice kitchen, a yard for my two dogs, and two bedrooms. View homes always seem to be larger than I need really.
We have a place on Queen Anne now. I have good equity in this house. On paper it looks like a Bainbridge or Whidbey home might get me that water view I want. Even waterfront might be doable. We do not need to commute back to Seattle every day which would be a plus. If we moved to either island I am also thinking about buying a really small, affordable 1-bedroom condo in Seattle as a crash pad for when we do need to be in the city. This would mitigate the stress and hassle of having to return home via the ferry just to have shelter.
As it turns out I have a client meeting on Bainbridge tomorrow, so we are going to spend the day looking around. I wonder if Bainbridge has fewer retirees than Whidbey?
04-04-2012 05:27 PM
Try West Seattle down to Burien and Three Tree Point. Houses in this area tend to be smaller and older, but you still have the amenities and convenience of the the city in close proximity. We've been here a couple of years and it feels like the country and only 15 minutes downtown. The house we bought is a big one, but that's unusual for the area. The same one would have been twice the price on Queen Anne, and here we can watch the ferries and bald eagles from the front porch. There is also the rare access to beach walks without train tracks or commercial development.
04-04-2012 06:32 PM
Hello Photomax -
Saw your post and had to respond as I live and work on Bainbridge Island (going on 10 years). Clearly I am biased about Bainbridge, but I think it's with good reason.
The schools are consistently top in the state (which is a factor in value), there are great restaurants, shops, and all around it's a great place to live. Based on what you described as to what you are looking for, I think you would probably find it on Bainbridge. In terms of water view or waterfront, quality of home, and options to buy a nice size piece of land, you get a lot more bang for the buck on Bainbridge than places on the other side of the pond like Queen Anne, Magnolia, Mercer Island, and other similar areas.
I hope the weather is nice tomorrow for you when you take a look around.
04-05-2012 10:34 AM
We moved to waterfront on Kingston in 04. you can have the view and the waterfront for less up here and hit all the amenities of poulsbo and the passenger only ferry to downtown
04-06-2012 09:25 AM - edited 04-06-2012 09:30 AM
Update: yesterday I had my client meeting in Winslow and afterwards we toured the island for several hours.
Just getting to the ferry in Seattle from Queen Anne was a chore. At 9AM Rt99 traffic was painfully slow stop and go all the way through the viaduct construction mess. You now go more south and then double back to the ferry entrance.
Winslow is pretty nice. After my meeting we had lunch at Doc's and then grabbed a coffee at the place next door. I can't remember the name but the place served coffee, pastries, food, beer, and liquor, even though it really had the coffeeshop feel.
We toured around Eagle Harbor, a little bit of South Beach, then up to Rolling Bay, up Sunrise Dr to the north end at Fay Bainbridge State Park. We snooped around the houses on Point Monroe Dr and then around the windy Hidden Cove roads before heading south again along Manzanita.
Bainbridge Island has tons of little public and private lanes heading down to homes on the water. Some of these homes are simply amazing. We shamelessly explored some of these roads. We did receive some stern dagger stares from a few locals, even though we displayed friendly waves. This was a little jarring but we asked ourselves if we lived down one of these quiet roads would we loathe nosey mainlanders as well?
There are a lot of trees on the island, which makes it seem dark in places. All in all there is very little commercial action on the island once you move away from Winslow. I can see why some say Bainbridge is a bedroom community for Seattle commuters and retirees. I sort of wished there were a few waterfront restaurants and coffee shops scattered about the north end. If you have a nice water view home it must be really, really nice in the summer. Not so sure about the rest of the year though.
We then caught the 4:30 ferry back to Seattle. Crawling our way off the ferry into Pioneer Square before heading back up to Queen Anne took forever.
Net result? I don't know. I was hoping for a definitive "yes, this is THE place" or a firm "no, not for us" reaction. Instead we were left with a squishy "maybe?" Maybe I was expecting the place to have more character, like the little waterfront towns in Maine we used to visit?
We have been to Whidbey Island a bunch of times. With several towns, a larger area, and long beaches, Whidbey Island offers more to do. Even though Whidbey is farther away you do avoid the Seattle ferry terminal and the entire viaduct mess. That viaduct project is a real concern…