Here's a shocker for you: most people in the Seattle area don't live all that close to where they work.
David Wilson lives in Fremont, Dan Griffiths and Mary Anne Lyman in Tacoma. Andrew Chen's home is in Newcastle, Roxann Harr's in Auburn, Nancy Andersen's in Federal Way.I know that living close to work is a high priority for me, but I'm actually not convinced that's the case for most people. Maybe I'm off-base here, but I think most people base their idea of a desirable neighborhood primarily on touchy-feely things, with logical considerations like proximity to employment (and even affordability) being more of an afterthought.
They all work for the same insurance company — in Enumclaw.
They're living, breathing examples of a demographic reality the U.S. Census Bureau has quantified for the first time:
Despite the dramatic surge of new jobs in suburbia over the past three decades, most people in this and other metropolitan areas don't work in the same communities in which they live.
Lack of affordable housing in some of the region's job centers is a factor. But there's much more at play.
More than 70 percent of Enumclaw's working residents commute to out-of-town jobs. And more than 70 percent of the people who work in Enumclaw live somewhere else.
Some say they don't live in Enumclaw in part because housing there is too expensive. Nancy Andersen, who commutes from Federal Way, talks of a dumpy rental house near the insurance company's office that's on the market for $900 a month.
"That's outrageous to me," she says.
Randy Bannecker, housing specialist with the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors, says lack of affordable housing prevents many people from living where their jobs are.
"Typically, people want to live closer to work," Bannecker says.
People want to live in a neighborhood that "feels safe," "feels friendly," and looks nice. If they have kids, the reputation of the schools is a big consideration. Well-manicured lawns and smiling friendly neighbors (but not too friendly, we value our privacy after all) make a neighborhood "desirable," and if it's affordable and/or close to work that's just a bonus.
...which is why people will pay through the nose to live in Ballard, even though they may work in Redmond.
(Eric Pryne, Seattle Times, 07.22.2006)