Monday, September 30, 2013

6 Reasons NOT to move to Vashon.

I love Vashon. Seriously I  do. I am thrilled we live here, but a lot of people I know have pondered moving to Vashon and more than a couple people we know are really considering a move.  The thing is, this place is not for everyone.  So even though I am all about you moving here there are some reasons to NOT move to Vashon.

1. I think the nature of Vashon is introverted.  Sure there are extroverts here- but communities have personalities and I think this community is an introverted one (PNW in general probably is). This is a place where people stay at home, do there own thing, enjoy families, leave parties early, linger in deep conversations etc.  The social scene here is also legit, don't get me wrong.  But the scene here is NOT socialite.

2.   If you are going to work off Island (and your partner is too), you need to be comfortable with your kids being on an island without you.  For us that means we have an emergency plan and such but for some people having Puget sound between them and their kids is too much.

3.  Ferry Life and Boat life are not everyone's cup of tea. You will spend some time missing ferries, changing last minute plans, reading books on the boat, and excercising while walking laps on the boat.  For Islanders, we learn to love this time- to read, clean our cars, sleep etc.  But this style is not for everyone.

4.  If you crave diversity of choices then the island is a bad place to live.  A handful of resturants, 2 hardware stores, 1 shoe store, 1 bookstore, is quaint and charming for vacation. But, if you are a consumer reports reading comparison shopper. You shouldn't come here.  Sure you COULD live here and comparison shop Seattle, Tacoma or Bremerton- but why?

5. If the rain already gets you down then stay away!  It isn't rainy-er here per se but it feels wetter somehow.  Because it is grassy and mossy and tree covered the Island feels wet even when it ISN'T raining.  When you are in an urban environment the asphalt and concrete dries faster.  So if the rain makes you enjoy being at home and get all cozy and warm then go for it- otherwise stick to your drier environment.

6. Just straight up, there are a lot more 50+ and young families on the island than in most other places.  So if you are 20 years old and looking for a vibrant hook up scene or clubbing culture or even partnership, I would not recommend Vashon as the best location to do that hunting.

7. The ethnic diversity here You will have to go off island for that (or import it).

Friday, September 27, 2013

To Vashon or not?

I spoke at an event in Tacoma last weekend, we ended up sitting at a table with a woman who has lived in Tacoma for 16 years and She has never been to Vashon.

Is that weird


It is to me, as we are kind of "weekend day trip" people.
But, seriously do you think that is weird or no?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Vashon-West Seattle/Fauntleroy and Vashon-Downtown Seattle

So I feel like non- Islanders just don't quite get how transit on and off the Island works here. SO here's how it goes.

Washington State Ferry

The primary way that people get on and off Vashon Island is through the Washington State Ferries. These ferries, operated by the State are for: walk on passengers, automobiles, trucks, motorcycles and leashed pets (though they are only allowed on the car deck.  They run very frequently and wait is not usually very long (the pattern during the day seems to be 20min.20min.40min).  There are Washington State Ferry docks at the North End of Vashon Island and at the South End of Vashon Island (Talequah-Pt. Defiance/Tacoma). For this post I will only discuss the north end transit options as those are the ones in and out of Seattle.

Every once in awhile there are quirks with the ferries.  Sometimes a boat is broken or enough crew members are sick that the boats don't run as frequently. Then they revert to a two boat schedule.  This has only happened a handful of times this year.  One was Christmas Eve, we waited for hours and hours! It also happened Sept. 7- I only remember the date because we had a housewarming party at the time.  I know there were a couple of others but it wasn't that relevant to us.

The Washington State Ferry from the North End of Vashon goes to a road in Seattle called Fauntleroy which is in the West Seattle Neighborhood- in fact I think that the neighborhood is actually called Fauntleroy as well.  This is key to know!  Fauntleroy is West Seattle!  West Seattle, depending on the time of day is at least 20 minutes from downtown and at rush hour can be over an hour in your own car.

You can also take the bus- the red line- too and from downtown Seattle the the ferry dock. That take awhile but it very convenient, as it drops off in the heart of the city.  There are a couple of other buses that run from downtown to Vashon, I have only ever taken the 116 from downtown and it drops off right at the dock as well.

You do NOT have to pay to leave the Island on the Washington State Ferry.  Because it is pretty much the only way on and off the Island they just double charge when you go TO the island.  The fees can be hefty to get to the Island. As Islanders we buy a 10 ride pass and it is a bit cheaper. It is definitely part of the cost of living though.  To just walk on to Vashon Island it is about 5 bucks for an adult. Oh, little kids ride free too. That's handy!

Water Taxi

There is another option to get to Downtown, which is what I take almost daily. This is called the King County Water Taxi.  The water taxi is a passenger only (and bikes too) boat. It is sometimes called the P.O. This hold about 150 people and departs Vashon/Seattle 3 times in the morning and 3 times in the evening.  It takes passengers from Vashon to right downtown. Many people who ride it work downtown or others like me hop a quick bus to nearby locations. The 5:30pm boat sometimes fills and they have to send people away. I'm sure it happens other times as well but my instinct is that is the most frequent boat to fill.

In evening you line up along the dock and then board accordingly.  Almost everyone has an Orca card to board the boat- but both docks in Seattle and on Vashon allow you to purchase a pass or you can pay cash as you board.  Many people take bikes on this boat. They are the last to unload at the arriving dock.  Buses on Vashon drop people off in the AM about 10 minutes before the PO leaves and pick up the evening as well.  Frankly it is hella convenient.  The ride on the PO boat is just over 20 minutes to downtown- assuming the weather is normal and such!

The problem with the PO at this point is that it breaks down with some frequency. They are building a new one that is bigger- but at this point it runs like a used car.  Kinda reliable, mostly reliable, but a bit wonky at times.

Parking on Vashon
So on another note is parking on Vashon. There is a short term and a long term (two weeks) parking lot that are a short walk (up/down hill) from the ferry. It is max a 10 minute walk.  Because we now take the bus we don't utilize this anymore, but last year we were driving every morning and there was always parking.  We have also parked our car in the long term for a week or so while on a trip.  Pretty handy I must say!

All in all, it works out smoothly more than not!
Are there other things I should address? Seems like you, reader, probably know the questions you have!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Moving to Vashon- and shifting friends.

Vashon is not far from Seattle, but people often ask us how changing locations has changed our friendships. So moving from Seattle (after living there for 4 years) to Vashon has shifted things. Here is how.

  • It is now the topic of a lot of bullshitting.

Acquaintances ALWAYS ask us about Vashon. They don't care, as far as I  can really tell, but it's like the topic that passes. It's really really annoying.  "So Vashon huh. You guys really like it?" or "Vashon. So are you guys going to stay."  WTF.  It never occurs to me to ask that question when someone moves to Seattle, but I guess moving to an Island is more baffling?!

  • Some people simply will not visit us.

We have lost some friends in this move.  Sadly, there are people who simple never leave Seattle, these people are NOT coming to Vashon. Not even if they walk on the ferry and we pick them up. Not even if they could morph here. It just isn't happening for them.

  • Visitors are now better visits.

We have solidified friends in this move, the people who visit us now do so for more than an hour- for 4 or 6 hours! That's some real time.  And, since we are a family that deeply values quality conversation over frequency it works for us.  It also allows us to be our introverted selves without needing excuses.  We simply aren't going to socialize every weekend. On Vashon, people don't expect it.

  • And of course we just have new friends.

Of course we have made friends here too! When you have kids you have friend magnets.  So meeting people here has been pretty easy. Remarkably easy (for us) in fact.  I mean, when we lived in Seattle I year we had only 1 real friend (Junia was born when we had been there a year and only 1 person brought food).  We have lived on Vashon now for a year and have a handful (who would bring us food ,for example, if we had a baby).

So that's that. It isn't exactly like switching neighborhoods in Seattle (which strangely a LOT of Seattlelites never leave their neighborhoods either) but moving to Vashon has shifted things, for better and for worse.