Summary: Does the sound of getting a mortgage in Seattle, WA sounds way out of…
Suburban living offers plenty of advantages: more property for fewer dollars, including a quieter — and sometimes cleaner — environment, a less hectic tempo of living, and less human congestion overall. For these reasons, people are willing to give up the conveniences of city life, buy cars, and invest in landscaping and home maintenance. Yet not all suburbs are created equal. For those surrounding Seattle, each possesses distinct assets and liabilities. Commuters do well, then, to weigh them against one another before purchasing a house. As old as the adage is, location still matters when putting down roots.
Best Public Schools
It is no secret that many couples head for the suburbs to raise children. A major factor in choosing where to live in the quality of schools.
- Bellevue, WA schools hold several distinctions. They recently added nearly 20 to the over 400 teachers that possess National Board Teacher Certification. This credential is awarded by the National Education Association and its standards surpass those required for state licensing. Meanwhile, students rank among the best in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
- Issaquah, WA schools boast over 175 teachers with National Board Certification. The school board was designated as the 2019 recipient of the Board of Distinction appellation by the Washington State School Directors Association. With the aim of keeping class sizes modest, the district is planning to open a new elementary school in the fall of 2020.
- Mercer Island, WA is a smaller school district that nevertheless has a disproportional number of National Merit Scholars and semi-finalists, AP Scholars with Distinction and AP Scholars with Honors. Its schools are considered among the safest in the state and the best places to teach. However, Mercer Island isn’t that affordable.
- Bainbridge, WA school district takes on a four-fold mission: preparing students for college, the workplace, personal success, and good citizenship. Its institutions have earned National Blue Ribbon identification from the U.S. Department of Education as well as celebrated recognition from national news magazines like U.S. News and Newsweek.
Towns with the Quickest Commutes
Nobody wants to spend hours in a car, bus or train. Certain communities are better than others in terms of getting into and out of Seattle easily. Seattle Magazine reported in 2018 that Puget Sound area ridership increased faster than any other U.S. metro area. It also identified those communities from which commutes are easiest and most comfortable.
- Kent — Sounder trains depart regularly from the railroad depot at Kent Station to the King Street Station near downtown Seattle. The trip takes just under half an hour and commuters can opt for light rail to penetrate deeper into the city. Meanwhile, drivers and bus riders have easy access to Interstate 5 and Route 167, the latter featuring high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes.
- Issaquah — Commuters can hit downtown Seattle in 30 minutes by automobile or bus using the direct route of I-90. Portions of this highway provide for HOV lanes, accelerating the commute for buses and carpools. Trains run out of downtown Issaquah, and there are ample parking areas nearby that also include electric charging stations as well as bike lockers and racks.
- SeaTac — Trains from SeaTac run right into downtown Seattle from the Angle Lake station. RapidRide buses run every 10 minutes during the busiest commuting times and mirror the paths taken by Sounder and light rail trains. Off-peak intervals are every 15 minutes. Accordingly, no bus schedules are necessary. Average commute times hover between 35 minutes and an hour.
- Des Moines — This community sits directly between Seattle and Tacoma and has direct access to I-5, and state routes 509 and 99. It is also very close to SeaTac’s Angle Lake station. Express buses from Mercer Island get commuters to Seattle in 20 minutes. Also, light rail will come to the island in 2023.
Seeking Safe Neighborhoods
Cities tend to have higher crime rates than outlying areas, for good reason — less likelihood of arrest, or even recognition, of the perpetrators. Fortunately, there are some excellent refuges from the wrongdoing.
With a population of about 3,300, it is hard for many criminals to get lost in a place like Clyde Hill. Property values are mostly in the seven-figures and the community has more of a rural rather than suburban feel. No violent crime was recorded there in 2019. While property crimes occurred, statistics fall way below the national average. The vast majority of residents are college-educated, and median household income is over $212,000.
Sammamish is a municipality, while not quite rural, with a very low per capita density. Among its 64,000 residents, fewer than 30 violent crimes — murder, rape, assault, and robbery — occurred in 2019. Concerning property crimes like burglary, theft, and automobile theft, rates of incidence did not break 20 percent of national averages. Like their neighbors in Clyde Hill, Sammamish denizens tend to be well-educated, with a median household income of $165,300.
According to statistics maintained by its police department, Mercer Island is also a relatively safe place in which to reside. In the last few years, the city has seen no murders or rapes, and just a handful of personal robberies or aggravated assaults. Property crimes and DUI arrests also rank low within Washington and around the country. Islanders have comfortable household incomes — $142,413 is the median — are well-educated and moderately diverse.
Yarrow Point, Washington, has the fifth-lowest crime rate in the Evergreen State. There is virtually no violent crime while records indicate one or two property crimes in each of the last three years. Like the other safest places, Yarrow Point benefits from small populations and high personal revenue.
Cost of Living
The Seattle area has many high-end communities surrounding the city. Still, there do remain communities that are both comfortable and affordable.
North Puyallup is among the best suburbs in terms of expenses. Median home values rest at $122,700 with rents centered at $1,074 per month. Many residents are college-educated but just as many are not. The median household income is just under $52,000. North Puyallup retains a small-town feel with moderately-priced restaurants and coffee shops. Attractive to retirees, this town has an abundance of public parks for walking, sitting, and enjoying nature.
Lochsloy is an outlier, of sorts, in this transient era. Many people who grow up here choose to stay or, alternatively, return after a period away. Rustic in many ways, Lochsloy has a population of 2,664 with a median home value of $352,400. A survey of residents points to a median household income of $86,000. Most commuters in town opt to use their own vehicles and drive alone into Seattle. This community attracts all age groups, the median age is 46.
About 35 miles from downtown Seattle, Gold Bar has about 2,200 residents. This locality tends to be younger — median age is 36 — and earn around $60,000 per household on average. A study of home prices yields a median of $158,100. Proximity to Wallace Falls State Park provides many recreational opportunities free of charge or, otherwise, low in cost. A theater and numerous cafes pepper the landscape in Gold Bar.
Talk to a Loan Officer for Additional Insight
Commuters buying in suburban Seattle do well to consult their mortgage loan officer for advice. With intimate knowledge of real estate markets and local geography, a mortgage professional can be an invaluable resource for finding the right location and the best commute.
Sammamish Mortgage has been around for a long time. In fact, we have been around for over 25 years and are here to offer our expertise to you. Based in the Pacific Northwest, we offer mortgage loan programs in WA, OR, ID, and CO.
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