The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

July 1, 2010

Misadventures in Fine Urban Living

Filed under: Bellevue — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:03 am

If there’s one thing that spending most of the first sixteen years of my life living in a small, isolated and somewhat eccentric town in the mountains of New Mexico has taught me, it’s that I’m not a big fan of living in small, isolated and somewhat eccentric towns in New Mexico.  That’s not to say I have anything against Los Alamos; It certainly wasn’t a bad place to grow up (and I’ve actually been meaning to head down to New Mexico one of these days to go eat a bunch of green chile and go have a look around to see how much or how little has changed there) but when some simple task like grocery shopping starts turning into an all-day endeavor, you soon realize that you might not necessarily be in the Middle of Nowhere, but you can definitely see it from there.  When my parents made the decision to pull up stakes and move us up to Redmond about sixteen years ago, I wasn’t exactly thrilled by the prospect.  After all, having spent most of my life in Los Alamos it was really all that I had known, and having to start over at a new high school (two of them actually, as I ended up in three different schools during my Junior year) wasn’t something I cared much for.  In retrospect, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I liked it a lot better up here where the grocery store was literally just down the hill and across the street, and just about everything else I might be interested in wasn’t much farther away than that. 

Since that time, I’ve graduated from high school, somehow ended up with a 2-year degree from BCC, spent most of the last decade drifting around Microsoft on various contracts, and I’ve generally settled into a fairly typical quiet suburban existence.  I’m pretty sure if you had asked me ten years ago what my plans would be now that still being single wouldn’t have figured into them anywhere, but I’ve had plenty of practice with that by now, so I’ve gotten reasonably good at it.  Still, recently it has occurred to me that I have now spent nearly five years in the same apartment, and especially with recent career developments that have put me much further from my office than I’m used to being, I’ve been thinking for some time now that a change of scenery is in order, if for no other reason than to shake things up a bit.  In the process, I’ve also been looking to reduce the commute that I’ve probably ranted about a time or two on here to something shorter and more manageable than what I have now.  Although it may seem that way, Downtown Seattle isn’t exactly next door (especially being just about as far as one can get from Redmond and still be considered to be in Downtown,) and even if the traffic doesn’t get to you, the parking costs eventually will.  Given this reasoning, a shorter commute (preferably with easier bus access) became a primary factor in the decision to move.

This led to a couple of options:  The Eastgate area, which is where I’ve generally been going to catch the bus anyway (although this still requires 7 miles of driving mostly on surface streets each way and imposes some time restrictions on bus availability,) or Downtown Bellevue, which is a fair bit more expensive place to live but would also allow the option of just leaving the car at home.  To make a long story short, thanks to the crummy economy and a rather significant glut of apartments on the market in Bellevue I was able to get a surprisingly good deal on one of the newer places in town, and as a result within the next few weeks I will be moving into the Elements Too complex at the edge of Downtown Bellevue.  For those of you unfamiliar with this place, it’s the gigantic wedge-shaped building you see as you’re passing through Bellevue on I-405  that you’ve probably suspected at some point to be designed by a guy who was smoking something at the time.  Apparently this is supposed to be the artsy part of Downtown Bellevue, and there’s at least one art gallery in the 989 Elements building next door which is part of the same complex.  In addition to the apartments there are also several retail spaces in the lower floors, although most of these have yet to be built out, and at least one retail tenant (a nightclub over in the other building) got evicted earlier this year for some unspecified reason, much to the relief of residents that by all accounts weren’t exactly big fans of the place anyway. 

Of course, living in Downtown Bellevue does come at a price, although it’s a lot more reasonable than one may think (without getting into details, I’d say I’m probably paying less than an Armani Suit a month for rent here, and although it’s a fair bit more than I’m paying now it’s actually less than $30 more than I was paying for this place a year ago before the markets cratered.)  I do have to give up the second bedroom I’ve been using as an office at my current place (and with it I’m pretty sure my arcade cabinet and big desk will have to go as well,) although the overall square footage is only slightly smaller than my current apartment.  I also don’t have a balcony at the new place (which means the gas grill will have to go) but I do get an unobstructed east-facing view from eight floors up, which should be good for some nice sunrises and views of Mount Rainier.  Oh, and the place has some nice amenities to it as well, like air conditioning, an indoor pool, a much nicer exercise room than my current place, and appliances that might have actually been manufactured during the current millennium.  And as far as the impacts this move may have on the Blog, my new place will also be just a block away from the Bellevue Library and its microfilm archives, which should make acquiring Recycled Newspaper material a lot easier.  The Bellevue Transit Center is also just a couple of blocks from here, making bus access to and from Seattle quite easy. 

To be perfectly honest, as nice as all this sounds,  I’m not entirely sure that this is exactly the best idea that I’ve ever had. After all, urban living isn’t for everyone.  And even in my case, I have my limits (I seriously doubt I could ever be convinced to go live in Seattle, no matter how nice the place may be.)  This, on the other hand, sounds like an interesting opportunity that may not present itself again for a number of reasons, and I might as well give it a shot while I can.  Now I just need to figure out how to get on one of those “You suck at fashion” reality shows so I can afford to actually shop at some of the places nearby…

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1 Comment »

  1. Sounds like a good change to me. Even if you end up not liking it in the long run, it’s nice to mix things up every once in a while, and it isn’t often that you can get into a place like that with a really good price. And come on, who wouldn’t want to be within walking distance of Louis Vuitton (in the Bravern)???

    Comment by Sean — July 1, 2010 @ 11:54 am


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