toorsdenote: (jcreed)
[personal profile] toorsdenote
Thank you everybody for your career advice! Due in large part to the advice I received, I've decided to slow down a little, get some real-world coding experience under my belt, and try to make sure I'm not jumping prematurely from "Hey, algo class is fun!" to "I should totally get a graduate degree in this."

So I figured I'd solicit suggestions again about another topic we've been mulling over around for the better part of a year: should we move to Seattle?

There are a lot of appealing things about Seattle -- chiefly proximity to family -- but at the same time we've been so happy in Pittsburgh that I'm rather apprehensive about rerolling the dice. Since I have a lot of LJ friends who've spent time in both cities, I figured I should poll you guys!

Here's the pros-and-cons list I wrote after we visited there last fall. I'm interested in how accurate it seems to other people, what other things would be on YOUR pros/cons list, and generally how you feel about the two cities.

(It's probably relevant to note that we've been looking principally at Wallingford and Green Lake, with the idea that Justin would work in Fremont. There's also a Google office in Kirkland, but a cursory glance at Kirkland made us feel like it was a bit soulless and Silicon-Valley-like. Our ideal would be to live somewhere that was (like Squirrel Hill) in easy walking distance of a good shopping district/library/etc. and a very short, non-car-based commute to work, BUT also close to a good (dog-walking) park and in a quiet enough neighborhood that Zoe could play outside. And streets paved with gold, of course. If people have suggestions on what Seattle areas might be worth looking at, I'm all ears. So far I've been really disappointed by the urban parks compared to Frick.)

Benefits of Pittsburgh Benefits of Seattle
Squirrel Hill's walkability makes it much easier for my parents to visit. We'd be quite close to Justin's parents, and we could potentially get a house with a mother-in-law unit for my parents.
Justin has a job he really enjoys. There'd be a wider range of projects for Justin to work on.
Better location if I want to do grad school. Better location (probably) if I want to get a programming job.
Lots of friends -- old CMU friends, my "mom friends," occasional visits from R. and A. We have some great friends in Seattle, but not close to where we're likely to live. Perhaps very occasional visits from D.
Living walking distance to both awesome shopping district & a kick-ass park, and easy commuting distance from work, is very important to our quality of life, and would be difficult to reproduce in Seattle. Fewer parks in the city, but easy (?) access to good hiking/camping on weekends. And ocean!
Sorta convenient to England. Lots of road trip options. Bigger airport, more flights, more convenient for Asia. (Thailand, I shall return!)
Not gloomy, even when cloudy; lower latitude. Much less snow & cold; evergreens.
We rarely have to deal with traffic. More bike-friendly, maybe??
I love the preschool Zoe's in, and we live two blocks from a decent elementary school. Seattle's schools may be better than Pittsburgh's overall? I'm not sure how to measure this.
World-class museums & libraries, at which Zoe & I spend a great deal of time. Plus KENNYWOOD! (Seattle doesn't have an amusement park?!?) Presumably more stuff going on, although I know less about what it is.

Date: 2013-04-20 12:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Seattle: It's raining again. AGAIN.

But you should move here anyway. Although, yeah, traffic does suck. Definitely easy access to good hiking and camping. I'm about ready to head out for my yearly volunteering with Coastsavers, which will amount to about 10 miles of hiking, carrying marine/tsunami trash, in the rain. But when it's not raining, it's pretty awesome here.

Date: 2013-04-20 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's raining in Pittsburgh, too! We get almost as much precipitation as Seattle, and it actually rains/snows more days of the year here than there. But here the rain is moderate all year, instead of pouring in the winter and dry in the summer.

And somehow, rain here isn't as dreary as in the Pacific Northwest. I feel like the clouds are higher? Is that possible? Less oppressive, anyway.
Edited Date: 2013-04-20 01:26 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-04-20 02:59 am (UTC)
tak0: (^_^)
From: [personal profile] tak0
rain here isn't as dreary as in the Pacific Northwest. I feel like the clouds are higher? Is that possible? Less oppressive, anyway.

i have totally noticed this about SF. it's weird, because moving from Pittsburgh i was like, pfft, yeah, i'm used to gray, it's fine, whatever. but SF is like... GRAY. a LOT. and it's foggy or low clouds and just generally tends to obliterate any sense of horizon or vertical distance, which has the overall effect of making me feel like i'm inside a very tiny room.

Date: 2013-04-20 02:57 am (UTC)
tak0: (^_^)
From: [personal profile] tak0
i don't have a ton of specific advice on this one, as i've only visited Seattle for a day or two, and that was in the distant past.

i do want to point out that most of the stuff on the Pittsburgh side seems very positive, and most of the stuff on the Seattle side seems like a mysterious and unknown quantity. (you have a lot of definite warm fuzzies on the left, and a lot of question marks on the right, in other words.)

can you say more about why you are considering moving in the first place, and why to Seattle specifically? you say "lots of appealing things", but your list doesn't seem to contain all that many.

the corollary to the above observation, of course, is that being very comfortable in a given place can sometimes be an excellent reason to shake up that routine a little. figuring out all the stuff on the right could well make for a good level of challenge that will increase the overall happiness of everyone involved.

Date: 2013-04-20 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"a lot of definite warm fuzzies on the left, and a lot of question marks on the right"

This is very true, and it's a useful way of encapsulating how I feel. I'm happy here. I don't know how much of my happiness is caused by the things I list that I love about Pittsburgh, and I don't know to what extent things I'd love in Seattle would replace those things. So it definitely feels like a gamble. It's not a gamble I've usually been that scared of taking, though (cf. moving to Qatar).

"can you say more about why you are considering moving in the first place, and why to Seattle specifically?

Ah, good point. The top two rows of the list are in Seattle's favor, the top one very much so. Justin's parents live within 500 miles of Seattle (in Missoula), and it would be easier to get a house that would be more welcoming for my parents' long stays. It's really important to us that Zoe get to spend time with her grandparents, and living in Seattle would facilitate that, although I don't really know by how much. (Incidentally, the parents will probably read this at some point. Hi parents!)

We occasionally talk about moving other places that Google has larger offices -- primarily Zurich, although that obviously fails on the "close to grandparents" point. Not Mountain View, since we didn't particularly enjoy living in Silicon Valley before (1999-2001). Seattle seems the best in terms of having a wide range of projects, being in a city we have enjoyed visiting, and being fairly close to family.

On a minor note, I forgot to add to the list that it's also appealing to live somewhere with legal same-sex marriage and other generally liberal policies.

Date: 2013-04-20 08:21 pm (UTC)
tak0: (^_^)
From: [personal profile] tak0
ah, i didn't know Justin was a Googler. when you said "wider range of projects" i was thinking it would involve him finding a new job in Seattle.

the political liberalism of CA is definitely nice, but on the other hand, i feel like my vote was more important in Pittsburgh. like... maybe you could contribute to enacting those liberal policies, you know? probably a good argument to be made on both sides.

grandparents are a pretty compelling factor, of course... and i would also say that Big Scary Life Changes aren't as permanent as they always feel. you could always try it out... and if you don't like it, Pittsburgh will still be here! (one hopes)

Date: 2013-04-20 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"if you don't like it, Pittsburgh will still be here! (one hopes)"

Well, if Pittsburgh ISN'T still here, then it will certainly have been the right choice to leave! :-)

Date: 2013-04-20 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It seems to me that the political liberalism is a bigger deal when you take into account the child-raising, though.

Date: 2013-04-22 05:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'll vote for Seattle for the completely objective and unbiased reason that I live there! Okay, I work there and I live nearby. But still. :)

Really, I don't know much about Pittsburgh so can't help in a comparison. To your Seattle points, I can say that in the city and surrounding area we have pretty good transit options. Definitely bike-friendly.

Rare snow -- usually about 4 days a year, I'd guess, where snow actually sticks on the ground. And the city so often has that lovely relaxing gray overcast where it's not too sunny and glarey and us creatures of the darkness rather like it. ;)

We have Seattle Art Museum, Science Fiction Museum, Experience Music Project, Seattle Science Center, Air & Space Museum, and others. But no amusement park, now that you mention it. What the heck?

Seatac is close and there's now a light rail link so you don't have to random your car from airport parking. Relative to Thailand, though, distance difference between Pittsburgh and Seattle is probably not too significant?
Edited Date: 2013-04-22 05:02 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-17 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mary tillinghast leneis (from
Having seen something online, I searched Google maps for walking directions from "The Shire" to "Mordor". And guess what? It takes about an hour and a quarter by car, and the path goes through Seattle. Is it a point in favour or against Seattle that it's apparently located somewhere near Rohan?


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