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Western Washington

7149 Views 34 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  DutchessR
Hello all we just wondering if anyone knows much about homesteading in western washington? We are a young family of four and are trying to give our kids a place to grow up. We live in a duplex at the moment in the city but have chickens and a decent garden. Is it feasible to homestead here in this area it seems kinda expensive. Also we have looked at eastern washington by the okanagons. Anyone from these areas know a thing or two about these areas? Any help would be great. Thank you all for this wonderful place to read up and get help.

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maybe I can shed some light on something that makes no sence :)

Went to school in Bellingham, lived a few years between Belleview and Seattle. Settled in a small town called Aberdeen in Grays Harbor County. Had a sister in longview kelso area and mom is still in longview area.

We looked for years for a decent place with acreage to homestead on around the Grays Harbor area. Mainly 'cause property prices where so high elswere. When we first started looking it wasnt so bad. then the Tacoma and Seattle'ites discovered they diddnt mind driving 1-2 hours to work every day. This basically cause anything within 100-125 miles from Seattle to become a suburb and prices went through the roof.
Heh, fishing and hunting is superb and I miss that ALOT :waa:

Ya cant beat the $35 dollar vehicle tag prices either. Sales tax is a hog but no income tax. Property taxes are a killer but heh, no income tax remember?

The rain was a major bummer, tsunami warnings where a joke but ya never know, then the earthquakes started coming. We personally lived through a 4.0, a 6.4 and a 6.9 (something like that). scary as hell when you realize that most of the area is built on ancient river bed and subject to liquifaction during a quake.

The I learned that Tacoma and the greater Sea-Tak area are right in the path of ancient flows from Mt. Ranier. Which by the way is still consideren "non-dormant" that puppy blows and kiss puget sound goodbye. Living within the "ring of fire" was not something that ever settled well with me.

but the hunting and fishing was superb!!!

we lived through 47 straight days of rain in the year 2000. Ya know technically after 40 days yer supposed to build an Ark. We moved and it was still raining.
anyway, we had enouph and moved to Kansas. Where winter is winter and summer is summer. with perfect springs and porch sittin falls.
no volcanoes, no tsunami's, no earthquakes and the hunting is'nt so bad either.
ever place has a trade off. we have tornadoes BUT not once - ever have I got a warning that a quake was coming :) Tornadoes I can watch on tv then dive in my hole. Chiggers and ticks, we got those too and yes - income tax too. but I would'nt go back to Western Washington to live on a bet. I spent more than 20 years there, tried everything, enjoyed the scenery and loved the mountians but...

oh well. To each his own. I'll enjoy my stars in November while Washingtonian Homesteaders peer through there leaking skylights at the constant grey of overcast.


speaking of depressing - did I tell ya we lived across the street from Curt Kobain and his mom?
now that was depressing.

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Whidbey is a lovely place! We live across the Sound in Kitsap County. I can't claim to be a true homesteader, but I have the frugal mindset and 5 acres of forest. Also a garden, ducks, dogs, and soon a couple of pigs. Compared to other parts of the country, we have pretty high property taxes, and yes the cost of land is much higher than it ought to be. Islands in particular, I should imagine. I have only been to Okanagan once, and I just looked at that barren soil and thought, unless you've got a WHOLE lot of manure, you can't grow anything here 'cept rocks. I much prefer western WA, soggy, foggy, mossy western WA to that thirsty dust over that side of the Cascades.

Sure you can do it! -- Why not?

Hey, Gimpy -- My skylights don't leak, and I LOVE the sound of rain on the roof. Especially at night, it is like a cozy blanket of sound putting everyone to sleep.
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We live in Whatcom county on 5 acres. We bought this place in 1979 when land was a lot cheaper and there were a lot less people. Now land is VERY expensive and the city is moving in fast. Its a shame because the land here is very productive. You can grow anything here and the winters are pretty mild. Yes, the rain can be a problem but you don't have to drag the hose very often and when its sunny its truly beautiful. Our taxes are very high too and the traffic is awful. In the near future I fully expect our little town to be a suburb of Seattle. People already commute that far. We also have land in Eastern Wa. where we plan to retire. The soil is not so good there but land is cheaper and there are far less people, probably because there is no work. Its also sunnier, colder in winter and hotter in summer. Both places have their good and bad points. I guess you just have to decide whats most important for your family. I really love both places.
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I am on the far north western edge of the Olympic Pennisula just a few miles from the wildest stretch of the Pacific Ocean. I love it here. Never too hot and never too cold.

Rain, lots of it. About 13 feet a year of it. We have good drainage. I don't have to worry about filling livestock water tanks for at least 7 months out of the year. Good, tasty clean well water and lots of it.

I am in ag. zone 8b, subtropical, temperate rain forest. There isn't much I cannot grow. Winter gardening is nice. Very lush growth. Lots of browse for the goats, thick grass through the winter for the horses. Oh, did I mention the mud?

No city conveniences, I like that. Very little government interference, we are too far from the county seat for them to mess with us. Property is cheap compared to the rest of the state. A mobile and 5 nice acres can be had for around a $100,000. There are jobs if you're not picky.

No black widow spiders, no poisonous snakes. The black bears are little, the cougars are huge, but lots of natural food for them. Hunting and fishing is pretty awesome, if you can figure out the regulations.
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We live on Vashon Island, right between Seattle and Tacoma. We used to live in Issaquah (now Sammamish) where it was so rainy and depressing we had to move. Plus the fact that in the 4 years we were there, it went from farmland to non-stop developments - houses .5 feet apart (not kidding).
You can't judge Western WA's weather from one place, because there are dozens of microclimates. On Vashon, even though we are only about 20-30 miles from where we used to live, we get a fraction of the rain, since we are in a rain-shadow. The weather is mild all year round, with nice summers (although dry this past year). It is very rural here - most people have chickens and horses and at least 5 families have a family cow or goats. Seattle and Tacoma are both a short ferry ride away. Vashon/Maury Island is about 13 miles long, 7 miles wide. There is a nice farmers market and many people have a few acres for growing and selling veggies and eggs. Pretty good regulations for selling home grown/raised food including raw dairy and non-inspected meats.
I suggest that you consider Vashon or this area. Houses and acerage go from very cheap to millions of dollars, but it is a wonderful place to live.
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My impressions from when me and my dh checked out Western WA before settling on Oregon. Many lovely little towns and lakes. Just beautiful. Then there's the fascinAnd the Olympic Penninsula....fantastic! We were amazed by Mt. St Helens. Loved it! And we were very taken with the islands. However, even with all of these wonderful little towns and yes, great islands too, there is never-ending traffic. No matter where you are, where you want to go or where you are coming from..traffic, bumper to bumper. Also, I am not crazy about depending on a ferry to get back and forth to the mainland. Too many things can go wrong. So, we didn't stay. Good luck with your search...I know you will find a place. LQ
I live in South Kitsap county, WA.

Love the clime, but it is wet and can take some folks a lot of time to get used to.
When it is not cloudy, the views are outstanding.
The weather can change in a heartbeat, and every area as said before has their own Mirco Clime.

There are no poisonous snakes, which I just love. Not a lot of bugs to bother you.

Bad things are..

Get used to moss and mold growing on everything,, and until you get used to the clime it can be a challange to grow things. I found if it will grown in England it will grow here.

Taxes are high,, we are paying 2300.00 a year for 2 1/2 acres of land, a small house, and little moveable sheds.

Land going for average 10k per acre, at least in this area. Yes, you can find cheaper land, but it will either flood or slide into the sound.

LQ is right, the Traffic is really, really bad. Unlike most areas of the country where you can take back roads, just have water you have to drive around.

Now if you did not need to have a job in the city somewhere,, Forks and out that way, land is a little cheaper. Would also try looking at the Rochester area too.

We are looking for land in the Pullman area of WA right now. So far am finding the land cheaper than here. But no trees to speak of. And might be heading that way after the 1st of March.
You might also want to check out the Tonasket area of WA,, have a Friend over there and the land seems to be nicely priced.
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I live in Mason County on the Olympic peninsula and love it! Yes, it rains alot, but it doesn't snow and I don't have to worry about the chicken eggs freezing before I can pick them up. BRRR!

The soil where I am at is very good and trees grow like crazy here. So do the blackberries. :eek:

One thing to get used to is the dark days in the winter - that was the hardest part of moving here. I do like the long days in the summer and the mild temperatures.

Got here from PA via OR and CO, this is the best I have found. Not crowded, easy commute to Olympia (and I work on the north west edge even better) and compared to other places I've been much cheaper to live here.
I didn't realize there were so many Washingtonians on this board! I live in Kittitas County, just east of the Cascades. Moved here last year after 14 years in Issaquah & Redmond.

We spent about 5 months looking for some acreage here, had a couple of deals fall through and ended up (for now) with a little house in town. We're continuing our search for some land and you can find 3-5 acres with a decent manufactured home or older house for around $200,000; you'll often find barn, outbuildings, shops, etc. on the property too.

Property taxes are significantly lower here (King County-$2700/yr 1,200 sq ft house on 1/3 acre lot; Kittitas County $730/yr 1,100 sq ft house on 6000 sq ft lot) but then I think King County has the highest prop tax in the state.

Housing prices are of course going up all the time. I see a lot of places around the country that are a whole lot cheaper than Washington. But like

It's much drier, sunnier, snowier in winter; hotter in summer. I'm really looking forward to being able to grow tomatoes this year!

There aren't a lot of jobs around here; a lot of people commute to the Other Side (west of the cascades) or down to Yakima. The University in Ellensburg is a great place to work, if you can get employment there. Local people often work two or three part-time jobs to make ends meet. But, like Gimpy said, you'll sacrifice something no matter where you go. I grew up in San Diego, so that's all I have to compare; I'd work 5 jobs and raise my child here rather than in Southern California.
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I'll chime in on this one, I live in Wenatchee WA. dead center of the state and I'll tell you there is a world of difference between here and the Seattle area for weather. Take today for example and the past month we've have averaged 32-40 degrees through the day, sunny for the most part, we started our spring outdoor cleanup in February as you have a good 2-3 week warm spot to get a jump on it before the last few spits of snow which melt off the next day anyway and rainy weather here and there. I can easily with good planning run a double garden harvest each summer, hottest months are July and August temps rarely top 100 degrees and only last a few weeks of Real summer heat. Long spring and fall, great fishing/hunting seasons, there are only a few things that don't grow here but those are mostly your desert plants, however practically all fruit bearing trees/bushes will take off with good care. Land prices aren't too bad and get cheaper the farther out you get. We have already started our seedlings to in the ground (which rarely freezes) next week or so and we haven't even hit the first day of spring! It is a wonderful 4 season area, lots of out of the way towns to settle in and great county regulations (as in there aren't many) overall for homesteading I wouldn't choose anywhere else. Good Luck to you!
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Please everyone from washington state, you are all invited to the washington state homesteaders site. This is a site where you can share info about the state and barter and sell.

Thanks ,Heidi
Well, I'm in Washington, but on the extreme eastern edge. Just 10 miles from the Idaho boarder in southern Spokane County. It's a great area for homesteading and raising children.
Thanks Heidi! I'll be seeing you 'round the Washington homesteader's board :)
Well been in Washington for 35 years. born and rasied here. I have tried a short bout in tacoma HATED IT. I ahve travel many states adn I always love coming home! I am country all the way. Presently near the Pierce county/Mason county line. Truefully i would go further out but I have to stay somewhat near medical help.
Prices for land vary GREATLY on the western side! King county being overall the highest prices. Other counties have hot spots that have some HIGH prices too.
I know in our area is is just about average depending on how close to hte city,neighbors,and conviences you want to be. Warning -wetlands on private property is a VERY big issue for land owners!
As far as animals on land if your in the boons or vary close to it you can have what you wish. regulations are minimal to none again depending on where you are. Our biggest downfall/caution is wetlands! If your property has wetlands then you have to be VERY carefull about amnure/waste water/run off control.It is heavly watched in this area especially if you have a stream/river on your property!
Plant growth and soil is the BEST. I am also in the zone 8b for planting. Most my perennials that other have to dig up for the winter can stay in the ground here due to VEYR rare (about maybe 2 nights a year) soil freeze, still not a hard freeze though. I started my yard clean up in February also,a nd I have many perenials and buls alreayd breaking ground. I am planning on tilling my veggie garden this week long as I can catch a sun break long enough. I grew veggies during the winter and have my peas,rubarb in right now, would have more in but I am just plain lazy! I have seedling started indoor ready to go out soon.Garden/feild/tree issues are more in the mold/catapiller range. We have had drought issues in the state, but at least on this side of the state it hasnt effected our garden/crops/lawns. I am canning LOTS all summer early fall our area is prime for growing! Ther are lots of farmers market available.
Families.... I have children and cant do city life, my family are country all the way! Schools vary again in quality depending on where you are at. My school district and particularly the part out in the boons here is the most impoverished area. Still our schools may not be as fancy as some city ones with all the yuppified groups, but the values of the children and the caring of the teachers cant bee beat. I dont have to worry about gangs at all! Drugs are around adn unfortuntly in Pierce county drugs have moved more out into the county, but but per capita here the drugs are low in hte boons. Keep an eye on your kids like you would anywhere and you can helpo your kids make good choices!
Entertainment can be whatever level you want. My family because of medical issues choose the layed back entertainment and more into the country/outdoor style sports (fishing,claming,oystering,hunting,ect) I can have cable out here btu I choose satilite instead. I have DSL although the boons dont have it everywhere it just became available here late last year. there are sport clubs for the kids and 4H oriented clubs too. My kids also find climbing trees,making forts, and our chickens amusing.
Weather... well wet and unpredictable. Views are unbeatable! We have a saying that our weathermen are the only people that can be wrong over half of the time and still get paid. Location depends allot on what weather type you get. My area si probably one of the most mild. Unfortunaly that mena hardly any snow here, but just 10 miles from me they get lots of snow without mountains. the Puget sound area has allot of variables here to weather. this year and the year before I would consider mild, mostly rain for a few days then a couple days of itermitent sprinkles or sunshine. Lows are alsmot never below freezing (unless your elevation is higher) and a hot summer day in this area is 70's- 80's, plenty of lakes to cool down in though. WE have had a few earthquakes in the last few years but nothing severe, 6.9 was the largest since the 1940's here. If you chose to live in valley areas near mountains ther is always a risk of them blowing just a fact, and it could be dangerous, but so is driving a car! Our Tacoma/ Puyallup/Kent area near are all at risk of eruptions or major earthquakes, as the land can be flooded or liquify.
Traffic is an issue that you may want to consider, it agian varies depending on location.Our big issue here is anythign heading towarsd Tacoma/Seattle area. they are presently building a second bridge to "solve the traffic congestion" but then we will ahve to pay tolls to get on that side of the puget sound unless you want to go the long way around! I just try to stay on the Peninsula side as much as possible.
Well hope this wasnt to long. Hope it helped. Please for give my typing it stinks!

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Thanks so much for all of your insight. I moved here from the memphis tn area about 7 years ago and have liked it. The price difference is still something to get used to especially since i now have a family to take care of. Thank you all for taking the time to help my family on our journey here. Also thanks for the info on the wash. homesteaders board!
We are on the Enumclaw plateau. Our weather is never what they say it will be on the local stations. We have 13 acres and a doublewide mobile that is liveable. As mentioned, land is expensive here and we are in King Co. We raise meat goats, a huge garden and poultry. Our first frost date right here in our little micro-clime resembles a zone 6 more than the zone 8 we are said to be in. In 2002, we had our first hard frost on Sept. 23! Last year it was Oct. 22. We are still figuring out how to grow warm weather crops. We moved here from IL 3 years ago and are finding gardening very different here. One thing we were not told about when we moved here, are about the strong winds that come whipping over the mountains from the east. We have had several severe wind storms this winter, including one this past week (60+ mph gusts) that the weather people categorized as "breezy" until the film crews showed pictures of the aftermath with huge trees on people's houses. Then they upgraded it to windy! If we can build a greenhouse that will survive the onslaught of 80+ mph wind, we will let you know what winter gardening is like.

On the traffic issue, sorry folks, this is nice compared to Chicago! I do like the long spring, mild winter, beautiful summer and can even tolerate the rain, as long as there are occasional sun breaks. I don't miss the -30 deg. wind chills or the over 100, steamy days of IL winter and summer!

I guess you can be the only ones to decide if you want to take the risk and move from what you know and are comfortable with, to what you don't. That is all part of life!

May you be happy with your choices!
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Come to think about it the "Banana Belt" on the northwestern tip.... ummm what's the name. North of Bremerton... ummm.

darn it I cant remember. Played a few Paintball tournaments there in the mid 90's.

great climate there, hardly any rain and warm to boot.
I remember lots of open spaces and acreages.

not sure of the financial climate there but probably expensive also.

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What about Okanogan, Washington? How is that area?
I know a lot about Walla Walla. It's dry and boring. Hotter than hell in August and pretty cold in the winter months. Good onions though. Really good onions.

Sorry, I don't know about Okenogan.
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