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Sun, Nov 20, 2005

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So far, we got almost all of our new stuff, from the Internet. In China, I’m sure most of these services exists (as they are masters in copying good ideas, and entrepreneurial), but we had some trouble with the Chinese characters … House Hunting We wanted to find an apartment before our furniture (in a boat shipment) would arrive, and avoid to arrange and pay for temporary storage. So .. with a time limit of about 4 weeks, and anticipation of a week or so of arrangements, negotiations and money transfers, we got started right away. In Seattle we a good number of real-estate websites. Another scenario would be hiring an agent to do the search and assessment. But the most up-to-date information and – what seem to be – good rates are found online: “for the people, by the people”, look here: CRAIGSLIST.COM Seattle is set in, what is called, a sound: an in-land-extension of an ocean. In this case of the Pacific Ocean. Puget Sound is named after, Lieutenant Peter Puget, who explored its southern end in May 1792. It extends from the southern end of Whidbey Island to Olympia, Washington and is surrounded by mountain ranges on 3 sides: the Olympic Peninsula, the Cascades, and Mount Rainier. On a clear day you can see all, provided you can find a good spot. It didn’t take long, the top ‘nice to have’ for our home search, is a view. Additional requirements for Seattle are parking (especially if you stay around downtown), hardwood floors or natural tiles (we’re just not the carpet types), and somewhere close to a market of grocery store. As my office is downtown — but downtown is dead after 7pm — we focused on the areas just outside downtown: Queen Anne in the North-West and Capitol Hill to the East. Queen Anne is, like most Seattle neighborhoods, pasted against a hill. We actually need new city bikes with gears. Our Chinese ‘Flying Pigeons’ would have been useless here. Queen Anne consists of two shopping zones: one on top, and one at the foot of the hill. And there’s a blend of apartment buildings and houses. Now here’s where I need to explain a shift in perception, from the general idea of living in a city. Having lived in Amsterdam, London, Madrid and Beijing, I’m used to living in apartment buildings. If you want to live in a house, you either have A LOT of money to be in that small exclusive area in a city that has houses or you push out to the suburbs. Here, free standing houses and what they call duplex and triplex (free standing house with multiple separate entry units) are common and apartment buildings in the minority, once you leave the downtown area. When I came over here to check the job out in October, I was on the verge of hyper-ventilation when I saw the perfect tree-lined lanes with little freshly painted houses with a pumpkin on the porch and all those super-friendly people tending the lawn and working in the yard. I had landed in white picket fence country and I didn’t feel ready to move from 23rd floor view overlooking one of the most crowded cities in the world to ‘Pleasantville’. That’s why we vowed to stay close to the action and looked at Capitol Hill, which is more urban, a gay and lesbian scene, more ‘metro’. Now, to explain our point of reference: when I think of an American city, I think of Manhatten, and downtown Chicago. And Capitol Hill was not quite any of those. Not that it should be, but we felt it was neither urban nor suburban. On top of that, we lucked out on some of the apartments we saw. So, finally, late one night; we decided to add one more neighborhood, on the ‘other side of the hill’, and a little further into the green: recommended by our dear friend and my ex-boss Scott. We looked up postings for Leschi on the Seattle Craigslist. And found a house with a fantastic view, good square footage, hardwood floors, a huge deck, and just looking at the pictures we sensed it could have good vibe. We called, we visited, we did it. And that was that. A total search time of 2.5 weeks .. Come visit us if you’re in the area!

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