with an eye toward self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability, kat and i wanted to find a place to live with some acreage. we were hoping to give ourselves the flexibility to do some things we found difficult in california. kat had a pretty productive patio garden in mountain view, but it frustrated her. we wanted a garden. we had been making goat cheese, mostly direct set chevre, from store-bought milk. we wanted to raise goats. we had indoor animals and wanted a dog. in looking at what we wanted, it was clear we wanted land.
as the possibility of relocating became more tangible, we turned our focus to finding a house… and land. i briefly flirted with the idea of a downtown seattle condo. a new construction two bed, one bath penthouse with all the ridiculous trimmings (granite counter tops, pool, gym, home owners association and annoying pretentious neighbors) somehow seemed like a good idea to me. i came to my senses. i did a naive statistical regression using three variables, price, acreage, distance, and direction from microsoft’s main campus. not surprisingly, there were pretty significant correlations to be found. the size of the parcels increased as you moved farther from redmond, to the east, and decreased to the west. price/acre similarly decreased following the same pattern w/cardinal direction. there were two outliers that we investigated. the area along the snoqualmie river valley (duvall, carnation, and down toward fall city) and monroe highlighted statistically significant differences in price/acre and price/mile (from main campus).
we took this info to a realtor that’d been recommended by a friend (thanks j+l) and committed ourselves to a few solid weekends of house-hunting. we’d visited duvall, while poking around in july and fell in love with the town. it probably didn’t hurt that we were there on the day of the farmers’ market. monroe and carnation looked doable, from a commute perspective. with this information in hand, we compiled a list of several properties and kat set about evaluating them on a multipoint weighted scale that included “kitchen”, “acreage”, “distance from campus”, and “bathrooms”. we narrowed it down to 14 properties for the first weekend and after setting expectations with the realtor, booked a trip for that weekend. the list included a couple of places we “weren’t sure about” and probably should have skipped. one was a 2 acre place with a 1500 sq foot house and a 3 bay 7 car garage and 20+ foot ceilings. the other turned out to be correctly listed as an almost 3000 square foot with 5 acre condo. the second was built as a “duplex” style house with an adjoining garage wall. the 5 acres turned out to be half of a 10 acre horse track. even though the realtor said the listing agent had insisted that the “neighbor” was a very nice man named “wally”, we decided not to even look.
the top three properties were:
- a large house in monroe with all the most amazing features you’d want, including granite countertops, slate floors, all new viking appliances, a wrap around porch, etc. it came with some downsides, though. it was located a the back of a 2 acre lawn and very little privacy. the very friendly neighbor mentioned that it had some cc&r-style restrictions, including “no horses.” the commute was also likely to be a little hellish. this was our #2 choice.
- right at the upper edge of our price range was a big new england style house in skyhomish on 2 acres in a somewhat suburban neighborhood. it appeared to currently be inhabited by the owners, but looked as if it’d been rented out to a horde of college boys. the hardwood floors were trashed, the oven was missing most of the oven door (!?) and the exterior showed complete neglect and left us wondering what else was lurking behind an inspection report. we called this the “sad house” because we sooo wanted to make it shine again, but ultimately decided that it was just too much extra investment, given it’s current price.
- the house we purchased is a 2000 square foot, one story, 3 bed 2 bath on 15 acres. it was newly listed and the third house we looked at. we both absolutely fell in love with it. we walked back to the creek that forms the southern border of the parcel (cherry creek) and kept asking the realtor, “this is still the same place!?” before we saw it in person, we’d been pretty sure that the mls listing was a mistake and was supposed to be 1.499 and not 14.99 acres.
after a full day of house hunting we returned to “make sure” we wanted this one. after gawking at the more open floorplan and huge (though dated) kitchen, we wrote an offer on the dining room table. we received a counter offer that was not materially different from our offer and entered escrow two days later. we’d gone to look and returned having an offer accepted on a place we couldn’t believe we’d found!
the details of the move aren’t any more interesting than the typical “moving is hell” story, so i’ll skip those.