Port Townsend /Whidbey Island

Jan 17th, 2005, 11:20 AM
  #1  
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Port Townsend /Whidbey Island

I've been very impressed with the suggestions on this board so I would like to seek advice.

I am interested in fleeing tax-heavy New Jersey and am considering the Port Townsend/Whidbey Island area (though I was chagrined to learn that there is a 1.5% Business and Occupations Tax for lawyers/consultants in Washington -- does anyone know if Nevada has a similar tax?).

Well, anyway, I just spent several days touring Port Townsend, Port Ludlow, Sequim and all of Whidbey Island -- here are my conclusions: on the west side of the water, the action (restaurants, arts, culture)seems to be centered in PT -- Sequim seemed too quiet/too rural and Port Ludlow seemed somewhat out of the way (albeit with nice houses). On Whidbey Island, Langley seemed to be the cultural core of the large island, though the weather is not as nice as further north in coupeville/oak harbor. I'm thinking that my target plan will be to look for a house within Port Townsend plus maybe down about halfway to Port Ludlow including Marrowstone Island, eliminating Port Ludlow itself and Sequim. On the east side, maybe from ten miles north of Langley down to Langley itself.

Do these ideas make sense? Is there much of a weather difference between my two target locations? I'm a consultant who can work anywhere as long as I have hi-speed internet and a reasonable trip to the airport (2 hours?). I thought Incline Village at Tahoe was going to be the place, but the $$ and the snow has chilled my interest.

Please feel free to validate my thinking or attack it! I welcome your thoughts in either regard. Thanks.
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Jan 17th, 2005, 11:40 AM
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mms
 
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We used to live N of Seattle so we know those areas pretty well. It seems like you have a good idea of what the areas hold. I would personally prefer Whidbey, just because it doesn't take as long to get to major areas. All those areas are so beautiful. We are in OR now, but will definitely be back up at Coupeville this summer for some sailing.
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Jan 17th, 2005, 11:56 AM
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Screenwriter, that is a beautiful area you're considering. But are you sure the tax situation is really much better in Washington? Since I grew up in NJ and recently visited Port Townsend (and stayed with locals who lamented the high cost of living there), your premise interested me. I googled and found this chart, showing NJ tax at 10.1% of income, with WA at 9.9%. ...so I'm wondering if you're going from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak?
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Jan 17th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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Oops, forgot to post the link to the chart:

http://www.retirementliving.com/RLtaxburdens.html
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Jan 17th, 2005, 12:37 PM
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The B&O tax is WA's stand-in for an income tax, which we don't have. We make up for it with very high sales taxes and reduced levels of public service.

What airport are you thinking about that's <2hrs from PT? Sea-Tac? Okay provided your flights all leave at 6am. Langley might be doable in 2 hrs, but it will depend on your luck on the ferry.

There won't be a lot of difference in the climate. If anything, southern Whidbey is likely to be less exposed to the "convergence" effects that often hit Oak Harbor/PT/San Juans (weather coming through the Strait, around the bottom of the mountains, down the Fraser canyon - all getting mooshed up around the San Juans/Bellingham.)

If people don't start looking for Boeing jets to fly on, there maybe good house prices springing up around Langley as commuters to Boeing Everett think about relocating to France...
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Jan 17th, 2005, 01:25 PM
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hi joan

I'm not sure how that website calculates, but I currently pay more than 5 or 6 % state tax in NJ (would be 1.5% in WA and 0% I believe in Nevada). It's a graduated tax with close to 8 % being the highest bracket. Property taxes and car insurance rates would also be much lower in Washington.

Also, thanks to everybody for the great information.
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Jan 17th, 2005, 02:12 PM
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Oregon has no sales tax but a 9% income tax (plus 1.25% in Multnomah County/Portland) yet in these tables ranking state tax burden Oregon's tax burden has still considered lower than Washington's, even though Washington does not have an income tax. Presumably this is based on a calculation of sales tax based on spending averages, fees, etc.

A new federal tax law now allows people who itemize to deduct sales tax or income tax on Schedule A, so Washington residents who qualify will see a slight reduction in their overall tax rate and perhaps put them lower than Oregon in future rankings.

Andrew
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Jan 17th, 2005, 02:27 PM
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andrew

on further consideration, i think the flaw in the list is that it is based on average per capita income and the tax percentage is the percentage of that average figure (so different in each state calculation)-- my (and your) taxes are of course based on our actual earnings no matter what state we live in. thus a state with a high state income tax would be more injurious if someone earns more than the per capita average for the state -- does that make sense?
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Jan 18th, 2005, 01:56 AM
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I worked in Port Townsend for a while and really enjoyed it. It's one of my favorite places in the U.S. However, if you're planning to live there, I suggest you go a little closer in or go all the way to Port Ludlow for the nice houses. The traffic can be rather annoying, especially during the peak summer season..living between the two communities seems like getting the wrong choice, except for Marrowstone Island, which is a pretty close-knit place. Also, this is just my opinion, but don't buy a place in Kala Point. Nice houses but I found it awful.
To get the most from PT, it helps to live within a reasonable walking distance of Water Street or uptown.
Are you reading the Port Townsend Leader online? www.ptleader.com It will keep you apprised of the community issues you need to keep in mind as a future resident.
If you need to be closer to the airport (getting from PT to SeaTac in 2 hours on a regular basis, well, hmmm, not so sure about that), you might also want to look at Gig Harbor. It's more suburban than it used to be, but still nice.
I liked the weather in PT, but of all the places you mentioned, Sequim by far has the nicest climate. Like late spring for months on end. The lavender farms are lovely.
Don't forget that water issues are a surprisingly big concern for OP residents, esp. in Sequim and PT. If you buy a place that has well water instead of being connected to the community source, make sure you check that your well is deep enough. There was a big problem with one of the developments in Sequim. The wells seemed deep enough, but then the water table shifted and they went dry.
Happy hunting!
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Jan 18th, 2005, 02:05 AM
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Re taxes, my in-laws (retired) recently moved from Bellingham, WA, to Oregon. Overall, they find they're paying about 5-10% more in taxes, but they like where they're living so much that it's worth it.
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Jan 20th, 2005, 08:46 PM
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Maybe you should consider Nevada. The State may make enough in taxing gambling to provide an acceptable level of service while keeping the tax base low. If you move here you'll have to put up with cuts in ferry service, overcrowded classrooms in public schools, cutbacks in library hours, and cuts in the university system. You'll have to sit in major traffic jams, too. Oregon has even more problems as their State budget is even tighter. Something to think about.
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Jan 21st, 2005, 04:01 AM
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Port Townsend is very nice. Sequim has the lowest annual rainfall due to the Olympic Mountain rain shadow. Both Sequim and Port T are a little drier than Whidbey. Big warning though: the Hood Canal Bridge is due to come out for reconstruction. The project just ran into a big snag with Native American burial grounds, but when it does happen the bridge will be out for many months and that will impact access to SeaTac airport. During that time, you'll want to be closer to Port Angeles airport so you jump to SeaTac on a commuter.

Whidbey has either a ferry trip or a long out of direction route to get to the airport. The ferry is rather nice off peak, but can have multiple boat waits at peaks and weekends. There are a couple of ferry routes between the North Olympic Peninsula and the airport, but he alternate auto route over the Narrows Bridge through Tacoma is not so out of the way. A second Narrows Bridge is under construction so congestion should be reduced, but a toll is coming soon (no surprise if you're from NJ).

Even with the travel issues, N. Olympic and Whidbey quality of life is very good. I just want to make sure you know the travel routine.
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Jan 21st, 2005, 10:16 AM
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Have you considered Vashon Island? Quite rural but much more convenient to Seattle, Tacoma, and SeaTac than any of the places you've mentioned.Good, though expensive, ferry service - 15 minutes to W. Seattle, 10 to Tacoma and the Kitsap peninsula. Also there is a foot ferry to downtown Seattle.
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Jan 22nd, 2005, 10:30 AM
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Thanks for all the helpful feedback.

I had looked at Vashon Island but my rainfall map tells me that PT/Whidbey is about 15-25 inches of rain, Seattle 30-40 and Vashon in the over 40 sector -- that would be of concern to me. And re the airport, I realize that I would sometimes have to rearrange traffic timing by going the day before and staying over to be able to take an early morning flight.

Look forward to hearing more thoughts!! Thanks again.
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Jan 23rd, 2005, 09:58 AM
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Actually, if you look at a rainfall map, there are (as I remember) 5 separate rain zones on Vashon - with some as low as mid 20's. If you compare this precipitaion with what you have in the east, there's not much difference. What did bother us - coming from CA - was the darkness in the winter. The days are short due to our latitude (obviously true of the entire area). Our salvation was having a home with a view - I don't know how our friends who are in amongst the trees stand it all winter!
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Jan 25th, 2005, 08:04 PM
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My map doesn't go down below 40 inches for Vashon Island (and I was hoping it would because I found a beautiful house on the internet there)-- so i think it's still the so-called "banana - belt" for me. I must say that when I visited, the partly cloudy days were a lot more liveable than overcast days back East or in Michigan -- you actually had the sun show through every now and then.
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Jan 27th, 2005, 10:58 AM
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The area we live in (south end of Maury Island) only has about 25 inches a year. We overlook the channel, Tacoma, and east to Mt. Ranier. If you'll send me the website and specific home you saw, I'll try to help you.
Dick
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Jan 27th, 2005, 07:37 PM
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Thanks Dick -- here's the address: 6700 Sw Luana Beach Rd.
Vashon, WA 98070
though at its current price, it's somewhat out of our range.
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Feb 7th, 2005, 10:54 AM
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Sorry this has taken me so long! I know this house well - it was featured on the garden tour last year and I went through much of it. It's very pretty, though a bit "fixy" as they would say down south. Actually not far from where I live and rainfall should be on the light side. On the positive side, its location (on top of a hill with a greet view)will keep it pretty light and airy. But it's dreadfully overpriced by Vashon standards - it's virtually impossible here to sell a house for over $1million unless it's waterfront and rarely then. I've found it's often enlightening to work with an agent other than the listing realtor - if you want recommendations, I can give several.
Dick
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Feb 24th, 2005, 02:14 AM
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Thanks Dick -- I'm been traveling for a couple of weeks, but I appreciate the info. I'm working with a realtor in Port Townsend right now, but I had a sense that the price was way above Vashon levels. When I get out there with my wife, maybe we'll take a look.
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