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Seattle growth is creating expats for good reasons

Buy a house for one-quarter the price of Seattle's market? Yep. Artists are doing it - on the other side of the mountains

Seattle is creating ex-pats. Ex-pats are people who move to another country to find a better (and usually cheaper) life. It's not a surprise then that some of Seattle's artists and entrepreneurs are leaving the city. In some cases though, the country they're moving to is THE country, as in country and western. Slate profiled one town that's attracting Seattle-ites (aka as 206-ers): Tieton, WA.

Seattle is known for its creative types, whether that's in art or business. They create culture and opportunity, which is great; but new ideas also tend to cost more than they make for the first few years. As the city gets popular, people start moving to where they can afford to live and grow with their ideas: from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill to Fremont to farther out. Many of the tourist towns we wrote about recently saw a surge of new people decades or years ago; and as the tourists move in, the creatives move on. Now, they're moving into towns like Tieton, just east of the mountains and west of Yakima.

Tieton has a population of about 1,200. It was busy until big agriculture undercut family farmers, and then saw big box stores undercut family stores. It never went away, but it had seen better days. Now, prompted by an artistic entrepreneur, Ed Marquand, Seattle ex-pats are moving east to settle in a town that's far more affordable, yet still connected thanks to UPS, the Internet, and cell phones.

"So, why not buy up some of this relatively cheap real estate, convince a few friends to move their work out here, make some jobs for people in the area—it’s a win, win. Right?" - Ed Marquand

Yes, and no. Gentrification goes both ways. Increased rents and housing prices may drive artists and entrepreneurs out of the city, but when they move into a rural town they become the gentrifiers. And yet, it may be a necessary transition for both. Big Ag and big boxes aren't going away. Seattle's rents aren't about to dramatically decline without a dramatic decline in the economy. It's a relationship that might create a resurgence in Tieton. It is undoubtedly happening throughout Washington, on both sides of the mountains.

The appeal is apparent. Look at the prices: median house price in Seattle, $585,400, median house price in Tieton, $145,800, one quarter Seattle's price - and Seattle's prices are growing at twice the rate. Of course, even if Tieton or similar towns had price growth like that, getting 75% off is a nice discount. We've relayed how buyers are looking farther out, driving up prices in Pierce and Snohomish counties. It looks like they're already reaching throughout the state. Why not? Seattle's just a few hours drive away - as long as the passes are open.
· 14 small towns near Seattle [CS]
· Has the expected Seattle housing slowdown finally begun? [CS]
· Mighty Tieton [Slate]