Vancouver WA move?

Jul 18th, 2006, 11:36 AM
Original Poster
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Vancouver WA move?

Considering a move to this area of the country. Recently retired but do have a 13 yr. old daughter. High school or Vancouver's Fine Arts H. our highest consideration. Can afford to buy into the $500.000 for a home is necessary. Trying to discover what communities I should be looking into. We traveled in the Portland area and just loved the people, the activity and the beauty of this area. Thank you so much for any insights and your time.
DoctorT is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 05:41 PM
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On a recent trip we decided to return to Seattle via Washington 14 on the north side of the Gorge. On a whim, we turned north on 500 just east of Vancouver and we were amazed at how nice the area north and east of Vancouver is. Can't speak for the schools, but Clark County schools as a whole have a good reputation.
Bobmrg is offline  
Jul 18th, 2006, 05:57 PM
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$500K would get you quite a nice home in Vancouver, WA. If you are retired, you might do better financially in Oregon (no sales tax) than Washington (no income tax, but sales tax).

Vancouver is very mixed in terms of neighborhoods. There are some quite trashy ones as well as some really nice newer developments (Fisher's Landing, Salmon Creek, etc.). I kind of like Vancouver's sleepy downtown, but the homes in the area are somewhat modest. You could probably find a nice river view home closer to Highway 14 between I-5 and I-205, maybe in the $500K range, but I don't know what school district that puts you in.

Portland has some terrific urban neighborhoods but some people just prefer the safer-feeling suburbs. There are reasons people prefer Vancouver to Porland - just curious, what are yours? Portland's schools have suffered in recent years due to funding issues but some of the schools are still top-notch. If I had $500K to spend on a house and wanted to put my kid in a nice school in the 'burbs, I'd probably choose Lake Oswego, which is a ritzy community and has a terrific high school.

I've got a lot of pics of the Portland area on my website, .

Andrew is online now  
Jul 18th, 2006, 06:57 PM
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I am sure I'd put the 13yo daughter's schooling at or near the top of the priority list and be in the suburbs of either Vancouver or Portland.

Regarding sales tax, you can always do the bulk of your shopping on the Oregon side even if you choose to live on the Washington side.

Vancouver's downtown is actually making reasonable strides toward escaping its downtrodden past. The cardrooms and such have moved north to La Center and somebody in local government is really changing things for the better.

It is tough enough to be uprooted at 13 to anywhere, and if your concerns are all manageable then it would be nice if hers were a priority.

Nobody tends to regret moving their youngsters to the Portland-Seattle region over the long haul.

There IS a whole lot for your daughter to do in terms of being active, and if she has to be uprooted, doing it NOW while she can still make bonds to retain through H.S. is a good move.

Good luck!

(interested in where you're coming from)

NorthwestMale is offline  
Jul 19th, 2006, 10:38 PM
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I've heard good things about the Vancouver FA HS (and Vancouver school system in general). Portland public schools are hit and miss. Do you have the money for a private school? That's another consideration- you could choose a neighborhood in Portland based on your house, not the school district. Vancouver is cheaper to live in (except sale tax, and everyone goes across the state line anyway) and probably safer too (I mean, for a 13 year old girl) and it's so close to Portland, and other great spots (like Astoria) you could just hop in the car and visit any time you like. If you or your spouse wants to work once you get there- Portland's a better chance for employment than Vancouver. Vancouver is really up and coming- so in some of the "trashy" neighborhoods or downtown, you may find a bargain house! Portland property prices just go higher and higher. What kind of girl is your daughter? active, studious and entertain self type person who likes small towns or shopper, girly, city, coffee drinking chic? If former- Vancouver. If latter-Portland, because you'll spend most of your time driving there anyway.

Both areas are beautiful. Good luck!
mooselywild is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 04:25 AM
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Doctor T - Check the schools in the area carefully; there are several school districts, and while some are excellent, others are mediocre.

I don't want to discourage your daughter, but I do want to make you aware that selection into the Fine Arts program is extremely competitive. Columbia River High has an excellent IB program. You can get info on individual schools and school districts here:
dsquared is offline  
Jul 21st, 2006, 09:14 PM
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If you're retired, Vancouver would probably be a better bet for you than the Portland side of the river due to the lack of a state income tax.

I grew up in Vancouver, and it has been in super-accelerated growth mode pretty much the entire 20 years I've lived there. Historically, Vancouver was seen as a cheaper option than Portland - Portland and Oregon generally have much stricter growth control than Washington, so a lot of the cheaper new construction has gone to the Washington side of the river. Washington has finally caught onto the growth management trend, which has slowed down the growth somewhat. With that in mind, Vancouver is becoming less affordable but is still relatively affordable compared with other cities in Oregon.

If you plan to commute to Portland on a regular basis (sounds like no, since you're retired), I'd forget Vancouver. The hour+ commute each way just wouldn't be worth it. Portland is very close, yet traffic at rush hours is terrible and getting worse.

North Vancouver (Salmon Creek) and East Vancouver (east of I-205) are the more upscale areas. There are also some great older neighborhoods along Hwy 14, between the river and Mill Plain Blvd. East Vancouver is where all the commercial activity is going, with lots of new strip malls and chain restaurants. People in Salmon Creek continually complain that they have a lack of services, like restaurants, so that might be a consideration. Overall though, Vancouver is mainly chains and there aren't that many local or independent places other than quick or ethnic food, so keep that in mind if you're a foodie. Additionally, because Oregon has no sales tax, Vancouver is really lacking in retail and you'll find yourself going to Portland quite a bit, especially if you want upscale shopping.

Schools are known to have a better reptutation in Washington than in Oregon, however this changes rapidly based on geographic area as others have pointed out. I would do your research as both districts (Vancouver and Evergreen) have great schools and really bad schools.

A couple of pluses about Vancouver is that most of it is very convenient to the Airport, and it's relatively easy to get out of town on the weekends (well if heading North or East anyway) without having to deal with city traffic. Traffic overall isn't too bad, other than the bridge commutes to Portland. East Vancouver is finally getting some amenities that the city has lacked for a long time, especially as far as shopping is concerned (until very recently, this 4th largest city in Washington didn't even have a Costco!). This is mostly due to the sales tax - previously most companies thought Vancouver residents would always go to OR to avoid taxes, but that is changing due to increased traffic.

Bottom line: Vancouver would probably be ok for you. There will be plenty in your price range for $500k, including the better neighborhoods. Just keep in mind that the area continues to rapidly evolve, and you'll be going to Portland a lot if you desire upscale amenities (shopping, restaurants) as many of these things aren't available there yet. I will say that I grew up in Vancouver (now live in Seattle) but I think it was a great place to grow up. As I'm in my 20's now though, I desire something a bit more "urban".

Either way, good luck with the search! You didn't mention where you're coming from, but I think you'll like the Pacific Northwest.

cougrz007 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2006, 10:04 PM
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The Beaverton School District in OR also has an Arts magnet high school. You might want to look into that. Admission is competitive. Be aware that Washington is now requiring that high school students pass a statewide test to graduate. Don't know how it will look in 3 years, but it is a real challenge for the sophomores this year, who are the first class required to pass it to graduate. Only 53% passed the math when the test was administered in April. The kids have more chances to pass over the next two years, but the whole situation is a mess. If your daughter isn't strong in math, science, reading or writing, be careful what you walk into.
Orcas is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 06:53 AM
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Orcas- about the tests- since when?? What is the name of this test? Is it required for both private and public?
Additionally, the 53% isn't really a fair number- especially if this is a new test, and public schools haven't been doing a terrific job at teaching basics, especially math, and the WA districts are so divided. DoctorT- wouldn't worry about the test if your daughter is motivated enough to attend a FA school, and four year college(?). The tests are very hyped up in WA- I'm an average student (at least in everything except english), but I still had an above decent score on the SATs.

Education wise- you should also think about where your daughter might want to attend college, though it's almost too early. But instate schools are the cheapest. WA universities now require at least 2 yrs of HS foreign language. Both states have fairly good schools, though. Tell your daughter to study hard, early!! 3.8-UW, 3.5- WW 3.0- WSU, and 3.0 and below- CW, EWU. Evergreen is more "special talent" based. OSU- 3.5, other OR probably 3.0.

Just a curious Washingtonian
Again, good luck!
mooselywild is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 09:46 AM
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We lived in the Bella Vista subsection of Vancouver's Cascade Park and really enjoyed it. We could walk to the grocery stores, coffee shops, etc. or take the wide bike lanes along McGillvray. It's got some nice green space and the people were friendly. Some atrtractive houses that would be in your price range. We did find it a safe place to live, generally. Of course there were always the odd bits of crime here and there (most targeting the small shops that were open late, not homes). We had no problems walking around late at night and it has an active neighborhood watch program.
We had friends living in Salmon Creek and they made the same complaints as noted above--lack of services.
BTilke is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 09:32 PM
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Holy Guacamole, mooselywild, where have you been? The test has been all over the papers this spring. In June, it hit the bigtime, when the test scores of the sophomores were released, with a pass rate of 53%. The big deal now is that the class of 2008 is the first class that is required to "pass" to graduate.

The test is not new. It has been given for years, and the schools have had a long time to shape their curriculum to the test.

Here's the website of the State Superintendent of Education:

The test is called the WASL (Washington Assessment of Statewide Learning). DoctorT, if you explore the Superintendent's website, you can find sample math problems and see if your daughter has been prepared for this type of math test. Of course, a lot of the problems require the students to explain their answers, and guessing at what will be considered acceptable is difficult (even for the scorers, who vary by 25% according to one study!).

You might want to check out

to see what the math curriculum in the state is all about. The lack of attention to basics, or failure to teach rigorous math, is part of why the kids are failing, I am sure.

The test is scheduled to get more comprehensive, with science added next year, I believe, for the class of 2009. That should be entertaining.

As the State began to realize they might have a little problem with a low pass rate, the legislature scrambled, this spring, to develop alternatives to the WASL. Sophomores have several retake opportunities and there are some alternative assessment strategies that are being developed so that graduation classes won't be too depleted.

And, no, mooselywild, the test isn't required of kids going to private school. It's a public school thing. But a private education does not come cheap! In fact, the best private high schools are now close to $20,000/yr tuition in Seattle. Religious schools cost less.

This is not a marginal issue for parents of 47% of the sophomores in the State, mooselywild. It's a huge deal.
Orcas is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:12 PM
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Oh, now I know what you're talking about. I've heard of the WASL- just didn't know it was a graduatiuon requirement! I took ASVAB instead- a choice was given. And I remember seeing it in the papers- it's just at the time, I was immersed in final exams (at college) so I just skimmed the headlines, and thought the 53% thing had to do with the basic tests or SATs <sheepish grin>. Anyway, that's interesting- and that really sucks (as if there's not enough pressure on HS students anyway- my teenage sister and friends were going nuts over the SAT this year). Huge deal indeed! Sorry I made light of it Can't believe they're also adding science....

And the private school suggestion- yes, I know private schools are expensive- I wasn't thinking about that in general when I suggested the option. I went to a parochial RC school, which was much cheaper than nonreligious. Probably 40% non- Catholic, and 1/2 that nonreligious- main focus of my high school was academics, sports and community service- and the price tag of a parochial tends to be 5000-10000 (so, DoctorT, don't be frightened by the 20000 estimate) And that was what I was thinking of....

Thanks for your quick response- and the great links, Orcas!

And DoctorT- if you do decide on Washington- I wish your daughter the best of luck!! Holy Guacamole.....
mooselywild is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 10:55 PM
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Ah yes. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart....My son is in the Class of 2008 and we've had private tutors for him off and on for years for math, starting when he was told he really didn't have to drill and memorize the facts, as he could always use a calculator....that was in second grade and again in fourth....It's been really difficult to supplement a failing curriculum and now the WASL is showing it for what it is, only the schools still don't get it. Check out the failure rate for ESL kids (who can't explain their answers in English); kids from low income families (can't afford tutors); and kids with learning disabilities. It's all on the State's website. They haven't released the detailed stats for 2006 yet - Probably afraid of a discrimination complaint. I'm eagerly awaiting one....
Orcas is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 11:25 PM
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Yeah- I feel your (and your son's) pain, Orcas. My mom's a sub in the WA public school system- she used to teach in Newport/Spokane areas. The "no drill" thing drives her nuts- it's the main reason she switched us to private school. I've got to admit- the being "drilled on my times tables and formula memorisation until I dropped" drove me nuts as a kid, but I'm an adult! Calculators are stupid. And what about the "don't correct the precious child's spelling/grammar, b/c he/she are expressing themselves in English" mentality?

The above reasons are why I'm studying Secondary Ed instead of elementary

Your son is lucky to have a parent like you- who is willing to supplement his education. Never give up!!

mooselywild is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 11:38 PM
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Thanks! And thank goodness there are people like you going into education!
Orcas is offline  
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