Amazing Access

My husband was helping our son remodel in Portland this weekend. I had alot of work to do, keeping up with new classwork and working on business. I was going to stay home but decided it was lovely weather and I’d travel along with him so I could see my kids, too. 

Having been in college when learning programming meant using keypunch cards, (A key punch is a device for entering data into punch cards by precisely punching holes at a designated locations :)).I have to constantly remind myself to remember how mobile my work now is.  There was nothing that I had to do at the office that I couldn’t do sitting in the car with my computer on my lap, including this post!

I remember the first time I left the office with my cell phone and talked to a customer in Nordstrom.  I pretended I was in the office and that I had time to talk. I remember the feeling that I could really do almost anything as long as I had my cell phone with me and no one would even know I wasn’t at work.

The craziest was when I got an offer on a listing about 10 minutes before pulling out of Miami on a cruise. The deal came together, the seller never did know I was not in town and I handled the whole thing from the ship’s computers.  I don’t turn my business over to an associate unless I have to, and I don’t tell my clients where I am unless it’s necessary. So for a work-a-holic like me, It’s amazing how much free time I have now with mobile phones and now, the mobile office.

[photopress:Copy_of_P1010174.JPG,thumb,alignleft]So, Randy is waiting for me to get back on the road where I can get back to listening to my lecture series online and typing a blog on my laptop plugged in to the battery with my really slick sprint card.  I’ve already answered several emails, searched for a handyman in Vaughn for a client, done a CMA for another client and emailed all the results, while driving up I-5!

It may be that I never really get away from the office, but at least by bringing the office along with me, I can now even enjoy the hours I put in on the job.

BTW, my son is moving from his 1910 bungalow 2100 sq ft home in NE Portland worth $600,000 to a 3600 sf ft new home in Vancouver on 1/2 acre with more bells and whistles than I knew exsisted for $650,000. And it’s only 20 minutes away. Location, location, location.

Puget Sound's Market Conditions Update

Every New Year, my husband’s family makes a trip to Ocean Shores with most of his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. It is a tradition that we look forward to which includes as much bowl games you can cram into a weekend, razor clamming, go karts and I get to read the newspaper from front to back while everyone else in our hotel room is still sleeping.

To my delight in the Dec. 30, 2006 issue of The Seattle Times, there is an article forecasting the local 2007 real estate market called Looking ahead: The sky isn’t falling for the Puget Sound market

How far is too far to commute?

[photopress:round_and_round.jpg,thumb,alignright] The most common question I get from people moving to Seattle regards their potential commute… The question typically follows this format:

“How far away from my work can I live and still have a reasonable commute?”

It doesn’t really matter whether the person is planning to work in Downtown Seattle, Downtown Bellevue, the Amazon Campus, or the Microsoft Campus, because a “reasonable commute” is different for each person.

Some people are willing to drive an hour to save money on a home (or be able to afford a home for that matter), while others want a commute that is less than 20 minutes. Across the country (and especially in the Seattle area), the farther you are willing to drive every day, the less you have to pay for a home.

Interestingly, my work as a transportation planning consultant has put me in contact with some very interesting resources. For example, I recently came across these five maps that were put together by the regional government (PSRC) that give a great indication of the average commute:

These maps are great if you know the area you are going to be working (say Downtown Bellevue) AND you know that you are willing to commute a specific distance (say 40 minutes) because then they can help you put a definitive boundary on your home search!

NOTE: These maps are created “topographical-style”. If you are new to this, imagine that the graphic is displaying a huge mountain centered on the point of interest (like Downtown Seattle). If you move anywhere within the first circle (the top of the mountain!), then your commute to Downtown Seattle would be less than 20 minutes. However, the farther out you live, the large the hill you have to climb to get to work. For example, if you were to move to Issaquah, then you could expect about a 40 minute commute to Downtown Seattle.

By the way, the maps are a little dated (they are based on 1997 data), but the commute patterns have not changed much in the last 8 years, so the trends are still pretty accurate.

The same regional model that was used to create this data also spits out data for future years! Wouldn’t it be great to have the same maps for future years (2010, 2020, etc.) so you could gauge how your commute might change? This can be done! And if there is sufficient interest, I’ll put something like this together!

Commuting in Seattle

[photopress:wroll07.jpg,thumb,alignright]I just found a nifty tool on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s website that allows you to calculate your commute time if you live in the Seattle area. If you are interested in how long it should take you to get to/from work from your potential new home, this will give you a pretty good feel of how long it will take to drive!

This got me thinking about all kinds of commute-related issues for Seattle area residents. Here is some of the commute-related info I dug up:

Trip Planner
For comparison purposes, King County Metro’s Trip Planner allows you to estimate how long it will take to commute via transit. Not only that, but the trip planner site will also tell you what routes to take!

Commute Costs

Finally, Metro also provides a commuting cost calculator that allows you to estimate the cost of driving vs the cost of commuting via transit. Of course, the calculator is biased toward convincing you to take transit, but it is none the less interesting to see all the costs of commuting.

The Future of Commuting to Downtown Seattle

My recomendation? If you are thinking of relocating to Seattle for work (and you are going to be working Downtown) then make sure that there is a convinient transit line that will get you to downtown. The daily grind of sitting in Seattle traffic will likely wear you down. Especially as traffic conditions in Downtown Seattle are likely to get much worse before they get better.

Why do I think traffic going to get worse before it gets better?
There are a bunch of plans in the future to improve the transportation network in Seattle. Ten years out, things should be much improved. But until then:

  • a major highway running through downtown (Alaskan Viaduct) will need to be rebuilt
  • a monorail line will be built in Downtown along 2nd Avenue
  • the I-5 reconstruction project calls for rebuilding parts of I-5 through Downtown
  • the transit tunnel (that runs under downtown) will be closed to construct a light-rail line forcing hundreds of buses a day on to Downtown Streets
  • SR 520 will need to be rebuilt

(Dustin’s bias: As an employee of DKS Associates, I’ve been paid to do transportation consulting for three of these five projects)

Am I missing something?

The good news is that a lot of money was just allocated to pay for some of these improvements, so while there will be some down time in the near future, the long-term prospects look very good for Downtown Seattle!