Tag: Sequim

Ten Observations About Living in Sequim

Two years ago today after a lifetime in the San Francisco Bay Area we sold our home, left our jobs and relocated to the Pacific Northwest. While I continue to discover new experiences and nuances about the area, I have 10 observations worth noting:

  1. In a small town small business matters.  When possible find myself patronizing local businesses even if it means paying a little more. A small town without a preponderance of thriving small businesses is just another strip center city.
  2.  That barista with an attitude might be your boss’s kid. Better to manage expectations and be kind. If you tip, be generous because in a small town, you’ll be remembered. Additionally, the likelihood of the person helping you being a friend of a friend is alarmingly high. We’re all eeriliy connected here.
  3. Weather forecasts tend to be unreliable here.  If you’re an iPhone user and rely on Apple weather, don’t. Instead, carry a pair of boots, an umbrella, a sweater and a raincoat in the car. Better prepared than cold.
  4. Visitors are easily identified. Tourists can be spotted by one characteristic and it’s not their license plate or their clothing. It’s their driving behavior inside one of the several roundabouts throughout town. This tendency, though wrong is to brake smack in the middle.
  5. There really is more than one auto dealership in the area. But for some reason Sequim is the home of the white Subaru SUV.
  6. If it’s a “must have” article of clothing, it’s likely that others think similarly. Succumbing to an impulse purchase can have an unintended twinning effect with much of the local population. One need only observe the preponderance of gray and purple rain coats sported around town to understand this.

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    Coat rack seen in a home
  7. You can tell whose lived here a while by their speech. Locals refer to coyotes as “kye-yotes” and call Old Olympic Highway “The Old Highway.” The first time I heard people talking about PA I thought they meant Palo Alto. Nope, Port Angeles!
  8.  Independent Coffee Houses Rule! There’s an abundance of locally owned independent coffee houses in Sequim.  In Sequim we have ONE Starbucks and one Starbucks kiosk inside a Safeway. That’s it!  And many of  the Independents feature some uniquely charming offering. Cups of Kindness at Hurricane Coffee? The concept is like “Playing it Forward” but better.

 

cups of kindness

9. Parades are still relevant.  At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I admit that I’ve always avoided parades. Until I attended the Sequim Irrigation Festival Parade (I know, what on earth is an Irrigation Festival?) The parade is a total community effort and is quite wonderful for young and old. irrigation-fest

10. There’s a whole lot of Kirkland going on. As a real estate broker I walk through a lot of homes. I’m amazed by how often I see some trace of Costco inside each home. From the furniture to floor-mats, hallway rugs, clothing, shoes, and lets not forget the gigantic Costco muffins. But it’s fitting right? Costco’s headquarters are in Kirkland, WA.

 

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“Welcome to Sequim,” says everyone!

I recently moved from San Jose, CA; the city I grew up and lived most of my life, to Sequim Washington.

First things first:

1) It’s Sequim, pronounced  “Skwim” not Sek-wim. One syllable, not two.

2) I’ve relocated. Not retired, though Sequim does seem to attract a lot of retirees.

3) I’m finding that Washington State means different things to different people. I live on the Olympic Peninsula, not in Seattle.

Sequim has over 60 small businesses within its six square block area. We have Costco, Walmart, and a few other big-box type stores and a dozen or so restaurants ranging from diners to gourmet fare. The downtown features purple park benches with matching purple trash receptacles, fresh flowers hanging in artful arrangements downtown and purple bike-shaped bike racks.  The Clallam County seat, Port Angeles is about 17 miles away and possesses a cleverly and beautifully stated slogan  “Where the Mountains Meet the Sea” The same is true here in Sequim but unlike Port Angeles, we have a smaller population, less rain and more sunny days.

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Downtown Sequim

Some observations:

1) Unlike the Bay Area, where there are clearly defined areas of affluence; there seem to be less divisions here in Sequim. Perhaps this boils down to population alone, I’m not sure. But even in what might be regarded as a more pricey area, you can still find moderate housing. For example there are pricey areas near the water but at the same time, you can find a less expensive home. In the 17 months I’ve been here, I’ve yet to come across what appears to be an undesirable area. There are good areas, even great areas, but not sketchy ones.

 2) People go out of their way to smile and say hello. I can’t pump fuel at Costco without someone greeting me and striking up a conversation.  It’s as though the residents of Sequim are more concerned with offending their neighbors by not greeting them. I can’t walk my dog in my neighborhood without a car passing me by and waving. I no longer have to aggressively speed up to change lanes on the highway. I simply turn my signal on and people let me in. It’s not Stepford, it’s Sequim. And it’s refreshing.
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Sweet couple shopping at our very uncrowded Costco

3) Here in Sequim I daily witness aesthetic beauty which has provided a contentment I’ve never quite experienced. As a runner, I’m continually mesmerized by the theater of nature as I explore new paths on new roads. Sometimes it’s a wooded forest or sometimes it’s the combination of the vast open sky and the changing colors of the trees. It’s hard to not stop in my winded tracks and gaze toward the snow-capped mountain ranges and not be overtaken by the beauty. I wonder if I will eventually grow bored of all this nature the same way I got bored of the visual appeal of Santana Row or the Winchester Mystery House.  But in talking with people who’ve lived here for years I’ve learned that the natural beauty we experience here is not the sort of thing people tire of. I guess it explains why the Sequim Facebook page is comprised almost entirely of beautiful images that people post of everyday observations. I can’t help but wonder if living among and within this environment actually contributes to a happier populous whose friendly hello’s are nothing more than a natural outflow of their contentment.

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Dungeness Park trail leading out to the water

4) I’ve heard it a number of times but “Everyone here is from somewhere else.” Translation: This isn’t a cliquey town. Sequim is a place where the residents delight to know where you’re from not so they can judge you, because they too, are from another place. And their response is always the same: Welcome to Sequim.

Why Sequim?

Sequim is located in the Northwestern region of Washington State on The Olympic Peninsula. So north, in fact that on a clear day you can look across the Strait of Juan DeFuca and see Victoria, Canada. Better news? With a Washington State Enhanced Drivers License you can drive 25 minutes West into Port Angeles and take a 90 minute ferry to Victoria and return the same day.

rain-shadow

What is unique about Sequim is it’s location in the Rainshadow of the Olympic mountain range. Sequim averages about 16 inches of rain annually and enough sun to have earned the nickname, “Sunny Sequim.” I’d read about this Rainshadow effect with mild skepticism before experiencing it for myself.  It is not unusual to enter Sequim from several nearby destinations like Port Townsend, Poulsbo, Silverdale or Bainbridge Island and find yourself reaching for the windshield wipers-to turn them off! Don’t get me wrong, we experience rain in Sequim. But just enough to keep everything green while enjoying a lot of sunny days.

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Photos taken in Bell Hill, a  Sequim subdivision that overlooks Sequim Bay

Another remarkable feature of Sequim is its astonishing natural beauty. It’s not uncommon to see cars pulling over so that amateur photographers like me can ambitiously try to capture the perfect scene. Whether it’s a sunrise, a deer, a rainbow or snow-capped mountain; many Sequim residents strive to be Ansel Adams with a smartphone. The Sequim Facebook page demonstrates this by the abundance of photos residents often  posts usually followed with several Likes. Think about it, what city-themed Facebook page exists almost entirely of jaw-droppingly gorgeous photos posted by its residents? There’s a certain amount of contentment derived from not only viewing such photos, but reading comments like, “Aren’t we lucky to live in such a beautiful place?” Indeed.

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Railroad Bridge Park which runs along the Olympic Discovery Trail