Moving from San Diego to Seattle...

Moving from San Diego to Seattle...

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As part of taking a job at Microsoft, I left my job with Intuit (great company), sold my house and left San Diego.  It was a really tough decision but a combination of professional and personal factors ultimately made me choose to go and so far it feels like the right decision. 

What is it like living in Greater Seattle after spending the last 6 years in San Diego?

Well, the most obvious difference is the weather.  Luckily, I was born and grew up in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, was intimately familiar with the weather in the Pacific Northwest and knew what I was getting into.  Let's look at the weather report from MSN Weather for both San Diego and Kirkland over the next 5 days (december).

Guess which is which :)  In general, the weather in San Diego is ideal all year round -- warm, and sunny.

Both San Diego and Greater Seattle are beautiful but I have to give the nod to the Pacific Northwest because it is so green, has big trees and mountain views.  San Diego has a number of rolling hills but it just isn't quite the same as snow capped mountains.

And speaking of mountains, one of the real benefits of living in the Pacific Northwest is the accessibility of good skiing/snowboarding -- within 45 minutes I can be on the slopes.

That said, I'll really miss the Southern California experience: theme parks, beaches, lots of shopping, and day tripping to LA, Newport Beach, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Vegas, Santa Barbara or Mexico. 

Of course, in Greater Seattle you can day trip it to the San Juan islands, Vancouver BC, Portland, Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, and the Olympic National Park.  Would you rather drink Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara or have the best Chinese food in the North American in Vancouver?

One of the bigger surprises for me was that there really wasn't that big of a difference in the cost of living.  The San Diego real estate market has been out of control the last 5 years and prices are really high but the cost of housing in Seattle, especially close to Microsoft (Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond -- affectionally known as the east side) is not much cheaper, probably only about 10-15% less.  Of course, WA has no state income tax and you can't beat that :)

In a nutshell, I think both cities are wonderful places to live with different benefits.  You just can't beat the weather or the Southern California experience in San Diego and you can't beat the easy access to the mountains and beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest.

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  • You're spot on about the similar cost of living in suburbs/towns next to Microsoft. I'm going to make the move to MSFT next year in April, and I was looking around for housing. Imagine to my surprise that they cost almost as much as LA! Did you end up deciding on Kirkland because of cost effectiveness or proximity? What resources did you use to find the house (I'm guessing something more complicated than realtor.com)? I'm just asking so that I can have an idea what other people do before the big move to WA.
  • This really hit home for me. I'm planning on moving to seattle in August, coming from Las Vegas (the hot box). The weather is a big change, but i'm tired of Las Vegas. I have 3 children and there's nothing out here for them to do. i also feel the Job market is better in Seattle..I really hope it works out for me.
  • I found realtor.com and windermere.com to be both very useful.  Of course, after you arrive, you definetly want to work with an agent.  I worked with Shari Jansen of Coldwell Banker Bain, she was awesome.

    I chose Kirkland because of Kirkland downtown, being close to the water and because of the proximity to Microsoft.  It's worked out very well and I have no regrets.  

    Knowing more about the area, and given where I'm at in life (young, no kids, very active) my first choice would still be Kirkland, second choice of Bellevue and third choice, Redmond.  

    Redmond and Bellevue are probably more convenient from a shopping point of view but being close to Kirkland downtown is a big plus for me.

    Good luck with your move!
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