On the other hand, it sort of fucking sucks to live in Seattle. I feel like I've explored most of it already and I need a new place to explore. The countryside is really far away here; it's weird because you think of Seattle as being a beautiful place surrounded by mountains, but it's actually one of the most difficult places to actually get away from civilization that I've ever lived. (eg. downtown San Francisco is much much closer to real countryside). Here, you can get out I90, but the I90 corridor really actually sucks, there are zero country roads going off the freeway, and all the hikes are straight up the valley within earshot of the freeway (the thing that doesn't suck is backpacking, when you get far enough in to Alpine Lakes or whatever it's fantabulous). To really get out to country roads and wild open spaces you have to drive 3-4 hours from Seattle, up to Mountain Loop or across a pass, or down to Mount Rainier, something like that.
There's nowhere to fucking bike except Mercer Island over and over (unless you drive 2+ hours, and even then it's not great because it's very hard to find good country roads around here, the ones within 1 hour are generally narrow, trafficky, and pot-holed (eg. Duvall, Green River Valley); I think probably Whidbey is the best spot within 2 hours). And even if there was somewhere to bike it would be raining.
The gray horrible winter is also a sneaky bastard. I find myself starting to think, "I'm used to this, I can handle it" , but the thing I'm not realizing is that I'm just always constantly slightly depressed. It seeps into you and becomes the new norm, and humans have this way of habituating and not realizing that their norm has been lowered. All winter long, I don't laugh, I don't play, I don't dance, I don't meet new people or try new things, I sleep in and eat too much sugar and drink too much booze, I'm just constantly depressed, and I think pretty much everyone in Seattle is, they just don't realize it because it becomes their baseline. You only realize it when you go on vacation somewhere sunny and it's like somebody just lifted a weight off your head and you're like "holy crap, life doesn't have to suck all the time! who knew!?"
And of course the people in Seattle are fucking terrible. Passive-aggressive, busybody, uptight, bland, ugly, pale, pastey, out of shape, unfashionable, slow-driving, sexually timid, white-bread, unfriendly, cliquey. I'm sure whatever house I move into, the neighbors will watch through the window and raise their eyebrows disapprovingly at various things I do. Capitol Hill is by far the best part of Seattle because it's full of The Gays and people who have moved here from out of state, and that's a better population. (in general, the new-comers are almost always a better population than the old-timers; it's generally a better portion of the population who moves to a new place looking for adventure or their fortune; that's why everyone in CA is so beautiful, it's why the West in general is better than the Midwest, it's why America used to be so great and why our closed doors are now hurting us; it's so retarded, of course we should allow citizenship for anyone with a college degree, we would basically steal all the best people from China and India, though it may already be too late for that move).
Okay, Seattle rant aside, I'm still considering it, cuz hey, I'm sick of fucking renting and moving, I want to be able to do what I want to my own house, and you have to live somewhere, and the jobs up here are really good, and if you lock yourself in your bedroom and watch TV all the time it really doesn't matter where you are.
It's pretty insane to go back and look at the property records for sale prices over the last 15 years or so. ( King County eReal Property Records and Parcel Viewer ). For example one house has these sell values :
3/11/2010 asking 500k (sale probably less) 3/23/2006 $739,000.00 1/08/2002 $215,302.00 1/27/1997 $130,000.00N found the most insane one :
03/11/2010 asking 475k 05/18/2007 $605,000 10/31/1997 $30,500Whoever sold in the bubble sure did well. Assuming they took the profit and moved to The Philippines or somewhere sane.
The other reason I'm thinking about buying is this area around where I live is in the process of gentrifying (see, for example: recent graffiti attack) and I think there's a decent chance to strike lucky. Of course the big percent gain from that has already happened - that's why the prices above have gone so crazy - they were in very poor, crime-ridden, black neighborhoods, that have already semi-gentrified and cleaned up quite a lot. But it's still a bit grungey around here, and only half a block away the real wave of yuppie motherfuckers is marching forward like a khaki tidal wave. The hard thing about the gentrification wave is timing, it can take 50 years
Of course the whole idea of individuals "investing" in the home they live in is retarded and is a real sickness of the last ten years. I have to keep myself from getting swept up in that "norm" (when everyone around you is saying the same wrong idea, it's easy to forget that it's shite). Actual real estate investors invest in lots of properties, not one, and they generally invest for income, not appreciation. And of course home value appreciation is only income if you actually move to a much cheaper place when you sell, which hardly anyone actually does. Unfortunately this belief causes homes to be valued at prices that don't make any sense if you don't believe that it is an "investment".
Anyway, there are two really bad things about buying a house :
1. Transaction costs. They're absolutely absurd. 3-5% !? WTF !? For what? The realtors and mortgage brokers and so on are the only ones really making money long term on housing. Anyway, in the modern era of the internet, there is absolutely no reason for this, I can find my own damn house, I don't need an agent, and I can get my own damn online mortgage. But as usual in the modern "high efficiency economy" the new electronic service providers are doing much less for you, but not actually charging much less. (consider things like Kindle, iTunes, online customer service for banks, etc. , the modern economy is all about reducing producer costs, giving you much less service, and charging roughly the same amount).
2. The seller's information advantage. This is the same thing that fucks buying used cars. The seller may know things about the house that they aren't telling you, and there may be things that are basically impossible for you to know, like once a year a 200 mph wind blows away all the soil. Or the house next door is a death metal band's practice space, and they just happen to be on tour right now. Whether or not you actually get fucked by the information inequality, it costs you an expected $10k or whatever on each transaction.