It's been four months since we decided, not entirely on a whim, to move to Anacortes. It's funny how right a decision can feel when the gut response to the many times I've been asked 'Why Anacortes?' has been to note just how obvious it is. And how everyone should want to move here. Here are some of my reasons:
1. Seattle is crowded and expensive. The city is going through some serious growing pains, caused in great part by a healthy job market. The area has everything it has always had (access to water, mountains, city, and country, all relatively close; a strong academic, cultural, and entrepreneurial landscape), and the preponderance of desirable employers has snowballed: good companies attract talent, which attracts more good companies, and then all the business and services that come with all those companies and people (for example, know a guy who worked for a company whose sole function was to manage storage units for people being moved to and from Microsoft positions, how's that for a random job).
All this to say that there's a housing crisis and a traffic crisis and the whole situation means most people are cramming into small spaces and paying a larger portion of their pay to live closer or more comfortably. Also, spending bucket loads of time on the freeway either commuting or just getting about. I hate that I had to plan when to visit family in Kirkland or friends in Seattle around when I-405 would be a nightmare or the bridge wouldn't be at a standstill only to find out that it's a nightmare most of the time, and without a lot of rhyme or reason.
So, to start we were interested in getting away. But to where?...
2. Small town with a self-identity, walkable downtown, slow pace, strong community, good schools
I have reached the stage in life where my community matters to me. I want to matter in my community and plant my little family in a place where we connect with others around us. That's hard to do in any metro area, where neighborhoods and suburbs run into one another. Some neighborhoods do it better than others-Mercer Island gave us a little taste of what it felt like to have distinct borders (people there really care about those on the island!).
It's part of what I love about small towns. And that they are usually a lot more peaceful and less rushed, which works well for my frazzled self.
3. Maritime identity, town festivities, strong local businesses
We're a boat family (that's what happens when you're married to WPBIII) and Anacortes is a boat town (The town vision statement says so). There are ship builders and ferry riders and kayaker, yachtees, and day sailors. And a lot more marinas per capita than probably makes sense. It was actually at the Waterfront Festival last year that it clicked that this was the perfect town for us and we went from regularly visiting Anacortes for fun to compulsively looking at neighborhoods, real estate listings, and asking strangers what they loved and hated about living here (for the record, most could only hate on "old people who think they run the town" oh boo hoo).
Four months in and it's everything I could have ever dreamed of.