Retire To Whidbey Island (Puget Sound)
Have you ever dreamed of living on Nantucket Island or Martha’s Vineyard? Island life always seemed so dreamy and idealistic. One of the best places to retire in the Pacific Northwest is Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island has all of the romance and natural beauty without going all the way to the other side of the country! Located on the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound, Whidbey Island is just a couple of hours from Seattle International Airport, but an entire world from the crowded urban life.
Listen as I ask Kristen about important things you need to know – housing costs, weather, lifestyle and more!
Kendyl: Hello. Hello out there digs live channel subscribers. I am here today with Kristen Stavros, a relatively new friend for me. Hi Kristin. So I met Kristen at a gig that I did up in Tacoma, Washington. I totally fell in love with that area, not least amongst the reasons because it has a reasonable temperature in the summer as opposed to the cooker that we live in during the six weeks of LA hell. Um, and so for a long time I thought that the Pacific Northwest consisted of Seattle, cause you know, I’m your basic ignorance Southern California and who never went East of the I five. And what I found out when I went to Tacoma is there’s all these amazing places that someone could live and I’m kind of working through my new friends lists, exploring all these super, super cool areas that a Californian can go and our equity in our homes will go so far.
Kendyl: So Kristen, hi there. How are you? Thank you for having me. This is, this is a treat. Oh good. Well, it’s a treat for me too because like I know nothing about the area of the PAC Northwest that you’re in. So I kept getting it wrong and getting it wrong. And they get you live and work in an area called Whidbey Island. Correct. Whidbey Island. In fact, I’m going to, I’m going to write that on the screen because nobody is gonna know this. Um, so would it be Island? That’s, that’s where it is on the screen would be Island. Um, and so tell us where that is in relationship to the only any of us know down here, which is Seattle. Yeah.
Kristen: Okay. Great question. So, um, Seattle is about a two, two and a half hour drive from where I live.
Kendyl: And then it is about a two, two and a half hour drive to the other international airport, which is up in Vancouver, BC. So we’re kind of.
Kristen: mid point between Vancouver, BC, and Seattle. Correct. Okay. So it was a two hour drive no matter what you do for an international airport, correct? Correct.
Kendyl: But there’s a local airport?
Kristen: No, not really. So we used to have little planes come through here that would take you to the international airport. It didn’t make enough money. But the rumor on the street is that might be coming back.
Kendyl: Okay. All right. So then the people who live in Whidbey Island pretty much are there for the lifestyle. They’re not commuters to somewhere else.
Kristen: Not entirely true. So we have a lot of people who either do, most of their work is travel. And then working from home or from home, I worked from a, uh, agency that was in Seattle and Tacoma for six years the Island. So there are still some commuters, but they do it in like chunks.
Kendyl: Okay. All right. Right. So they don’t do it like, you know, three days on, four days off, they might take off for a couple of weeks to wherever the mothership is and then come back. And they’re working remotely is that,
Kristen: there is a major commuting community for Boeing, so Boeing employees and it’s, um, Boeing is right off the Island, off the South end of the Island. So the big Island is this long, weird looking Island. It takes about an hour to drive from the tippity top North to the [tippity] South, um, on the main highway, and then it’s all sorts off boots from there. So it’s a big long Island. They, some people would like to say that it’s the longest natural Island in the contiguous United States. Oh wow. Okay. States, all the Islanders don’t buy that. As long as I’m waiting longer, the Googles could probably answer that for us. If long Island is not a peninsula and it truly is an Island, it’s way longer. So, but we’re pretty long.
Kendyl: So what I’m hearing then is my JPL, uh, anybody who’s at JPL, if you’re a propeller head or if you’re a metal head, that Whidbey Island, could be an option for you. Because my JPL is generally don’t make enough money to buy a house near JPL.
Kristen: And these guys, you know, the commute off the ferry, so there’s a ferry at the South end of the Island that takes them to the mainland and there’s a bridge that connects us to the main land on the North end. Okay. You miss bridge called deception pass bridge. Okay. And then the people who are ever at Boeing, people, they typically live down South and they’ll either take their motorcycles across cause the fairy allows the motorcycles on first. Right? Or they’ll take public transportation off. Um, cause they driving on and off as vespers. I want to see green mashing helmet. Yes. Actually there are some best bud writers. I would totally do that with a scarf. Kendall. I could totally see that. Yeah. Do you like the whole doctor who deal thing?
Kendyl: All right. So, so, so, so we’ve got that kind of handled. So here’s the really big questions. I think California wants to know besides whether or not I can deal with weather and we’ll get to that in a second. So we will want to get into what will my money do for me if I were to consider going to Whidbey Island. So here’s the question that I asked you in the notes before. What would a upper middle class to middle class house that’s got three bedrooms, two bathrooms, maybe a nice family room. Like, I don’t know, 2000 square feet. A normal lot for us is 6,000. So you can tell me what’s normal there. What would that cost on Whidbey Island? Right?
Kristen: So the only place that you’re really going to find those types of stats and really the parcel sizes. The biggest issue question is in Oak Harbor and Oak Harbor is the hub of business. It’s where our Naval air station basis. So we have like neighborhoods in Oak Harbor that are S and to buy a really nice 2000 square foot, three bedroom, two bath, you’re talking about $350,000 to $375000, But that’s one of the few places that has those like a standard neighborhoods. As you go South, you start to get into more rural areas and you’re looking at, you know, five acre parcels. Um, yeah.
Kendyl: I don’t even know that that looks like. Five Thousand square feet I can deal five acres.
Kristen: or you know, where it, as I get closer to the shoreline. So we have a lot of shoreline here. So water views are the big thing. Um, and you can get a house with a water view for under 400,000. It may not be the size you one, or it may not be in the condition that you want, but you can have a spectacular water view for actually, yeah, you could totally have a good water view with a decent house for 400,000.
Kendyl: Yeah. We won’t talk about what water views costs in California.
Kristen: and the size of our skinny long Island. So there’s a lot of potential for water views, which is great. Wow. So that as you move down to down at the South end, prices get a lot more because you’re talking bigger parcels, a bigger chance of getting water view. And so then you start to move into kind of the minimum $450,000 for a nice middle upper class, and then you can go as high as you. Right.
Kendyl: But people like you and me, kind of your basic, well, I don’t know, you might be hoity toity, but people like me who were just normal with a reasonable education and we’d like to taking a vacation. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Maybe so that lifestyle is around the $350,000 to $400,000 Mark for a house. Yes.
Kristen: You can absolutely have a phenomenal lifestyle.
Kendyl: Wow, that’s amazing. And the houses, are they like older houses, newer houses, do you know?
Kristen: Everything in between and a lot of new construction going on now for the Island. Um, a lot of new neighborhoods being built in the Oak Harbor area and then a lot of kind of seeing some construction happening on all these vacant parcels that people have been sitting on for awhile until construction costs came, you know, and market went up and yet all that one. So. Okay.
Kendyl: What about property taxes? You know, you’re, you actually grew up in California, so you know what it’s like here. We have kind of a set thing. What’s it like up there?
Kristen: So Island County, which is the County we sit in is so out of the, I don’t know, I’m going to say this is not an accurate number, but say there’s like Washington state that’s way too many, but we are down at the bottom. We’re like just, you know, two or three counties up from the bottom in terms of property tax. Our commissioners, the powers that be a purposefully for years have kept our property taxes super low. So let’s say, you know, so we own a, we happen to own an old farm house on 10 acres that we got for 400,000 and it came with a shop in all this awesome ness. Our property taxes are like a $2400.
Kendyl: in the Zoombie Apocalypse. I’m coming to you.
Kristen: You and all my friends, like we have our own well and a little pond on do like we raised sheep and so everywhere you raise sheep I met. We’re good. Exactly. I’m sorry, I side barred you. Taxes are low. Commission keep going. Taxes are super low. Like so $2,400 a year I think is what we pay in taxes.
Kendyl: Okay. How do you know when it’s going to go up? I mean, when, how do they assess you?
Kristen: So it’s, it’s very interesting. I don’t know how it works there in California, this new property taxes are really high there.
Kendyl: Here, what happens is you’re assessed when you, when, when you buy the house, but we’ll have more than 2% a year no matter what happens to the property value. Yeah. Why do we have a rule?
Kristen: I think it’s 1% actually. Um, that standard does, but what they do is they seeing your house for, um, wait, I take that back. So like your property taxes can go up as much as you want. I haven’t seen them go up hardly at all in the 12 years that I’ve lived here, but now they’re starting to catch up and they’re assessing properties more accurately for the market. And so we’re seeing that go up a little bit. They’re mostly just catching up with the market valuations for the homes. I see.
Kendyl: Okay. All right. How about things? How about cost of living type things? Like how much does a gallon of gas go for there?
Kristen: What is it at right now? $2.50. Okay.
Kendyl: Well that about a gallon of milk.
Kristen: Oh gosh, we don’t drink milk. Okay. A dozen eggs. It’s about $2.50. Depends on if you buy the eggs from a farm, one of our egg stands or farm stands or if you buy it in a supermarket so you can, you know, .
Kendyl: Buy them from this egg stand thing. Talk to me like my language. Talk a little bit.
Kristen: Lots of farms. So it’s a very rural like you’ve got to,
Kendyl: you’ve seen those on TV man.
Kristen: You know it’s awesome though because they, they, you know, you want fresh eggs and I mean a fresh egg off the farm is like bright orange, like not this yellow shit. My watch, my language, not these yellow yolk but they are like neon orange. And I remember like having some family up from California and they cracked an egg. First of all, why is he outside of the egg kind of look blue. This is weird. And then what is wrong with this? Like nuclear egg in here with this bright orange yolk, bugs and grass and like healthy stuff and is 10 million times for you and actually tastes. So that’s what keep,
Kendyl: I read about that on TV too. So yeah, in a grocery store because we don’t know how to deal with this farm stuff.
Kristen: The general mass produced factory eggs that I’m used to. About $1.50. Wow. Holy cow. Okay. But that farm fresh, you talking three or $4 a dozen.
Kendyl: I’d pay three or $4 for that. I’m sure I do real exit farmer’s markets, but like I don’t have that much money. So whatever. Okay, let’s talk about your people. So what could people live there? What are they into? What are they like? What do they do? Not necessarily for living. Cause I imagine the people who would, would listen to this podcast or would go, you know, because they have the freedom to, so let’s talk about like, I don’t know, recreation, what takes up their time? What are they, what are they into? What do they believe in?
Kristen: So I will tell you, the retirement community up here is huge. That accounts for a mass percentage of our people. And they may, you know, they may still be doing a little bit of work or consulting or something, some sort of gig side gig. But most of our people are retired or they’re Navy or Navy like related and then okay is really broad and because people come up here because they really want to be here, they get very involved in this community. Either they hide out in the woods and they don’t like talk to anybody and you don’t even know that they are like they’re, you know, a member of some environmental group or they they volunteer at our animal shelter or they’re involved in like, um, the, uh, what am I trying to say? Lions club and you know, some of those others. Standard clubs, but heavy, heavy volunteer community on this Island. There is a pretty, because of maybe the Navy population, they’re in the military at the North end of the Island tends to be a little bit more leans a little bit more right. And then as the North and your data’s in the South, the people who like maybe believe in fairies and everyone’s an artist, you’ll find a little bit more of that down in the South.
Kendyl: Tactical realists are in the North part of the Island. Right. Okay. Got it. Meeting line in the middle. Sorry, I was gonna say they’re the ones that are stocking up for the zombie apocalypse.
Kristen: Exactly!. Exactly., And then there’s, those of us in the middle.
Kendyl: You’re the purple party neither, right. I’m thinking about running for president for the purple party banner. I kind of figure we’re the only ones that are actually reasonable. Um, what about like shops and entertainment? I remember that video you did. You went to all those cute little areas. Tell me about that.
Kristen: So my parents came from Southern California to move here and my dad was like, I need to be within 15 minutes of a home Depot. Like I just have to, because I like projects and I need things. I’m so up North and the Oak Harbor area, that’s where you get a lot of convenience. It’s kind of an ugly town, actually, Oak Harbor, but you’ve got big stores, so you’ve got your Walmart, your home Depot, your, we had a Kmart and actually closed, um, tons of big grocery stores. You get your Safeway, all that as you get down South, like so Cookeville quaint village with lots of little pokey stores and like beautiful little things but not really very convenient. Tons of restaurants and coffee shops, that sort of thing. And then as you know further down South Langley, green Bay, they grocery stores, lots of little shops, mom and pop shops,
Kendyl: In that hippy dippy area that you talked about just before Langley. How long would it take to drive from there to say this Oak placeor this other down in the bottom.
Kristen: From Oak Harbor to Langley is about 35 minutes.
Kendyl: by Southern, by Southern California.
Kristen: but here’s what I tell all my California clients is that once you start living on the Island, it doesn’t seem like 35 miles or minutes is that long. But there’s like this dividing line on the Island and like it really is hard to go South to go North. So even though it’s only 35 minutes on the clock, you will find an entire Island.
Kendyl: Yeah, a lot of that dropped out unfortunately. So line and what makes the dividing line?
Kristen: Well just Greenbank is sort of this dividing line where people who live in the South Island just or South end don’t come North very often. People who live in the North don’t really come South very often. It’s a lot. It feels like a long ways away.
Kendyl: Kind of a cultural thing. It’s kinda like I’m in a town called Glendale and is just over the Hill and it’s six miles, but it’s six miles. I don’t cross.
Kristen: Exactly. Exactly. It’s kind of a weird phenomenon. Unless you want to go have quaint experience at some farm that’s down South or you want to go eat at a, you know, a special restaurant in Langley or go poking your shops, it’s not going to happen. All right, so one thing, I bet when your previous question is, because we’re surrounded by water, everybody does something that’s water-related. So they have a boat, they do paddle boarding, they see kayak, they go crabbing, fishing, big, big water centric area.
Kendyl: You can get crabs like just going out to the shore line.
Kristen: So I have like friends who, they don’t own a boat, they don’t own a paddleboard, but they have this little dinghy thing and they take this big old crab pot that’s like when they’re floating on a pad, a wobble, Whoa to, you know, offshore, drop the crab pot, come back and pick it up a few hours later and they have fresh Dungeness crab for dinner. So I mean you can, you can make it happen here.
Kendyl: So when I come for the Zombie apocalypse, have, some crabs ready because I do Chinese Crab like no bodies business,
Kristen: Oh, don’t make my mouth water. I’m so hungry. I’m running lunch. I don’t want your bed.
Kendyl: with ginger and scallions. And I do love beans and it’s just like, okay,
Kristen: so these Dungeness crabs, you would die because they are the meatiest. Like you get a lot of meat from these crappy, silly crabs. You don’t even need butter like butter that is just lives. Just like that is so not when you put on a crab because I think it’s waste, but it is so,
Kendyl: so we’ll do crab Chinese style with nothing on it and just have kind of be glory, you know, crop season like February, March, I’m all, I’m all over that. Girlfriend- clams, oysters, he came in. Penn Cove muscles are world famous though. Those Penn Cove muscles come from Whidbey Island. You need to shut the F up because I’m getting hungry.
Kristen: Me too, I’m starving. So yes again.
Kendyl: Okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Okay. So you grew up in Costa Mesa, you’re an OC girl yes. Were there long enough to read to know how we feel? Yes. Your weather. So how much does it actually rain?
Kristen: Um, okay, so I’m going to show you this little map and if anybody wants like a version of this, the dark blue is darker. The color, the more rain and the lighter, the less rain. So a little secret about Whidbey Island. You’ll notice that like up here where I live in the Coupeville Oak Harbor area, right. It’s no rain. But don’t tell anybody. Don’t tell him you gotta.
Kendyl: You gotta distill that down for me. When you say no rain, is that your idea of no rain or my idea of no. rain?
Kristen: my idea of no rain.
Kendyl: cause that’s what we want to get done to the bottom of.
Kristen: One of the things I hated about growing up in Southern California.Is there were no seasons! It never rained. It never rains. It was just he was like this kind of stuff. So yes, there’s a spring here. There’s a fall. There’s winter kind of stinks at around January. You need to go away on vacation.
Kendyl: We even have some trees that changed their leaves like every couple of miles you’ll see one.
Kristen: Sure. Okay. Whatever. Yeah, come out here. 21 inches is what we get per year. I don’t know what that equates to zero. In Southern California we get like eight or nine inches. That 16 inches would be a lot for us. Okay, so not too much.
Kendyl: Okay. You forget about inches. Yeah. Just let’s just take your average winter ish month. I’m going to pick November.
Kristen: Oh, November’s lovely though. I love November.
Kendyl: What’s your, what’s, what’s your rainy? What’s your rainy month up there? A typical rainy month.
Kristen: January is kind of our worst month. Like January is bad.
Kendyl: All, all over the world except here. So let’s talk. That’s what we have. The Rose parade. Let’s not try it. Okay, so January. Yes. How many days in the month of January would you expect it to rain? Just ish-ish?
Kristen: In the month? I’m going to say that it probably rains about two on average, two days a week. Okay.
Kendyl: So in that seven days. In that week, How often would you see the sun
Kristen: that is the problem. January, gloomy month.
Kendyl: Gloomy month. Well, you know, my husband’s from Modesto and the Modesto, there is no sun to be had in January, so, yeah, exactly.
Kristen: So maybe, maybe a day or two a week.
Kendyl: Okay. So it’s not going to be, you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t expect, I mean it can happen, but you wouldn’t expect 30 days of solid clouds of no sun.
Kristen: No, no, no, no.
Kendyl: You know, I mean, cause that frankly is, I think what we’re afraid of. We’re afraid that we won’t see the sun depressed and then we’ll commit suicide and take our family out with us. So how can I make things extreme at all?
Kristen: But I mean not the Californians really even like know what rain is, but there’s different kinds of rain and here it’s not like Southern California rain. Like from what I can remember, mind you, I was like 18 when I left.
Kendyl: Does that mean.
Kristen: it’s like this Misty drizzly. You could put on a light parka and go for a walk really nicely.
Kendyl: Like God is basically crying on y’all all day long.
Kristen: Soft tears, soft tears and you’re like misting, you know,
Kendyl: Just big cry, get it over with, get it out, you know?
Kristen: Yeah, me too.
Kendyl: But okay, so with all of this mist, which is why everything is probably incredibly green there. Right?
Kristen: So it’s not like crazy. I’m drenched like an, I will never dry. You can do activities in the rain and people do like people get out and get into nature in January.
Kendyl: People in Portland tell me that they go and do everything that we do. It’s just that they get over it already.
Kristen: Okay, so it comes normal. Normal.
Kendyl: Okay. I’ll take your word for it. Since you were in Southern California, girl, take your word for it, cool,
Kristen: I had an aversion to too much sun too. So if you’re a California and who just like feels like just couldn’t it just have some change in the winter? Just in the next six months
Kendyl: Oh there we go. I mean you know just two weeks ago was 115 and now it’s 88.
Kristen: yeah, 88 for us is like a pretty hot day. A really warm day.
Kendyl: Yeah. What temperature did you tell me it was today?
Kristen: It might be like 65 it’s pretty cold today. This is a cold summer day.
Kendyl: Is there sun?
Kristen: There is sun?
Kendyl: 65 and Sun sounds like it’s pretty awesome.
Kristen: It is gorgeous up here. Like I you drive the Island and I still like, I’ve been here for 12 years and there are certain corners, a lot of corners that I come around in my car on the main highway, like not side roads or anything like that and I’m just like, Oh look at the mountains, look at the water. Look at the green Hills like it’s crazy beautiful here.
Kendyl: It does sound pretty nice cause in, in July, August for us. It’s look at the brow, look at the brown, look at the Brown.
Kristen: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. In the, in the, in the sky and then yeah, it’s out of the sky. Brown on the Hills Brown. Remember what smog looks like. I don’t, I know that word.
Kendyl: Well it’s not smog. And see inversion layer is the inversion layer. It is the mists that give us our name Valley of The Mist – Los Angeles. Right. There’s particulates in there that might give you the illusion that there is brownness but it’s just the inversion layers mist.
Kristen: for five years of my life, I used to live in New Zealand and I would fly from New Zealand to LA. The is inversion layer. It was, it was, it was a, it was shaking like to come back into LA and just like see the yes. To see the inversion layer and then the rivers, you know, the concrete things.
Kendyl: that plus the Los Angeles live river where it is kept from flooding out the neighborhoods around it by its banks that happened to be concrete. Yes, yes. In fact, I’m trying to get tickets to kayak down the LA river. That’s kind of a big deal that actually the Corps of engineers we’ve been trying to actually restore the LA river to close to what it was, yeah, so it actually is pretty often. We’ve got a lot of egrets and the herons waterfowl. Yeah. There’s, it’s actually super, super cool. It’s called the Glendale narrows, um, bike paths along it and it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s actually super cool. Nothing like what you all are using going on in my backyard. Kindle can deal yesterday.
Kristen: Literally I was walking the property with my kids. We sat new less than there were two great blue herons, like tons of birds. It was just, it was nuts. Aaron and I fall down because it’s so awesome. Five years. Oh my God, that’s a, that’s a, bird!.
Kristen: Came out as we got to desk and we could, we saw a couple owls, like it was phenomenal and that we could do that every day.
Kendyl: Okay. So I, I get on a plane the next hour so I can be there in about five cases.
Kristen: We can watch the Eagles like do their thing at night.
Kendyl: You know what, you know when I want to about to board the plane, I’ll just give you a call so you can start your two and a half hour journey down to SETAC.
Kristen: I know, I know. But there’s a really nice shuttle that takes you, it’s called the wifi tax shuttle, takes you from windy Island to see tech.
Kendyl: Make it easy. Kristen, this has been so much fun. If people want to contact you and find out more about relocating to would be Island, how do they get ahold of you? What’s the best way? You know, I think the easiest way is to go on Facebook and search for “My North Whidbey”. Hopefully people can find that pretty easy. I know my North would be like that right. Spaces between like it’s Facebook so they’ll, it’ll find me by, okay. North Ryde, BME, you know, we want to make sure they can find you. So mine into Facebook, Kristen is pretty much always there because um, I pinged her in a panic attack two days ago and she answered like right away. So nice. I’m like me and social actually say nice things to you and answer your questions and, and not be snippy or sarcastic, which,
Kristen: well, once you get to know me, maybe there’s a little bit of that.
Kendyl: But you’re fooling us right now if you’re going to be a bitch, be it.
Kristen: Now I don’t know about bitch, but sarcasm is my middle name when you get to know me, sarcasm, rocks.
Kendyl: Although I did find out to my shoe grand. Sarcasm does not translate to other languages and it doesn’t do well in Facebook groups.
Kristen: Yes, exactly. And writing not so much.
Kendyl: Not so much. Yeah. Right. They can’t see the, you know, just talking. Yeah. Can’t see that. All right, girlfriend, this has been, thank you so much and I can’t wait to see your 10 acres and find out what the heck that looks like. I think like I need to go, so when I come up to Whidbey Island, we’re going to Facebook live it and I’m going to say, dude, this is what she was talking about. Isn’t this cool?
Kristen: I love, I love, we’ll get you in some gumboots out there. Clamming. That’d be awesome.
Kendyl: Yeah. Again, I wrote, I read about that in some child anyway. Yeah, I didn’t know people actually did that. Seriously,
Kristen: and they eat them like we’ll do that.
Kendyl: What? They’re not poisonous.
Kristen: I mean like you can actually eat them. I know. What is like California have all poisonous shellfish.
Kendyl: Then I wouldn’t eat anything that came out of the Santa Monica Bay. No, I would not yet.
Kendyl: Here? We’re still good. I’ll take your word for it. We’ll try it next time. We’ll see if I get sick. Awesome. Love it. Thank you so much. Bye.
Want to find out more?
You can contact Kristen at https://www.facebook.com/MyNorthWhidbey/. Since we recorded this episode Kristen has gone on to become a manager Windermere Properties. She trains agents to give the same expert ladened high touch service that she perfected for her clients.
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