Last year had our little family suddenly disenfranchised when Brian got a job and moved us all from Bellingham, WA down to the Tacoma area in a matter of weeks. We knew it wasn’t our forever home location; Brian needed to put in a year of training before his job was permanent and the temporary uprooting made sense. We just didn’t know where we’d be headed after his year was done. With Brian’s job comes the option of living anywhere within three hours of his work. And when you work in Western Washington, that makes for a lot of incredible options. So we spent the next ten or so months deciding what “home” would be. Ironically, all that reflection took us right back where we started and we made the decision to head back to Bellingham.
WhyBellingham? I’m so glad you asked!
10. No traffic. We didn’t realize how much of a big deal this was until we spent a year outside of the Seattle metro area. 45 minutes to go 4 miles. While activities for the family were ample, each took an average of an hour or more of driving, one-way to reach our destinations. That’s a lot of life spent on the road, and not in a good way.
9. Mount Baker. Or Mountain Baker as our oldest calls it. Brian’s an avid skier and as a family we’re avid hikers. Within 30-40 minutes we could be on trails exploring the national forest. Drive a little longer and you’d find yourself at Artist Point in the summer months or the ski area in the winter.
8. Water, water everywhere. Our Bellingham home is about a 15 minute walk to the lake, or a 5 minute drive to the bay. Or a 10 minute drive to another lake. Or a 15 minute drive to another lake. Or 20 minutes to a river. 25 minutes to a beautifully isolated beach you can swim in. You get the idea. We realized where we were near Seattle that we could have mountains or water, but not both in a short drive. With Bellingham we got both.
7. Chickens. There are chickens everywhere in Bellingham. It’s not the chickens themselves that we craved, per se, but the culture of self-reliance, creativity, organic, holistic, crunchy atmosphere made when you live in a city full of former hippies that keep chickens.
6. Kid-Friendly. We didn’t live in a kid-friendly area for the last year. Not that it was bad necessarily but kids weren’t encouraged to play and be kids. They were seen as an inconvenience, noisy, in the way. Yes, kids can’t be all of those things but it’s not a culture we find healthy to raise kids within. There will always be kids in the world and we wanted to raise ours somewhere where they would be encouraged to be curious, to explore, to go on adventures, to try new things.
5. Beer! And wine! And Food! Brian loves trying new types of beers and Bellingham is getting known for a number of breweries in the area. There are also enough nice and unique restaurants to keep our adventurous selves happy when we’re home.
4. Pro-Homeschooling. Bellingham is a very liberal city but it’s also accepting of our choice to homeschool. We’ve been connected with a very ideologically diverse homeschooling community and have easy access to a lot of resources. The university in town makes it easy to find enrichment opportunities and the number of parks and trails give a lot of places to throw my kids outside and play. There’s also a lot of accommodations available for special needs children.
3. We can literally bike everywhere. And it’s encouraged! There’s also a mountain biking playground about 5 minutes from our house.
2. Our neighbors. This wouldn’t be a big deal to a lot of people, but in our neighborhood, everyone is friends with each other. Halloween was spent around a fire put handing out candy and spending the evening in fellowship. Tools are borrowed and returned, hands are always available when you need help and if anyone is relaxing in their yard plan on others coming out and a group gathering. When a neighbor passed away, the other families rallied together to handle the funeral arrangements. When we moved a year ago, we were in the middle of a kitchen remodel and our neighbors came and went helping us pack, paint, clean, finish our kitchen and wish us well. Good neighbors are worth their weight in gold and that little community is a big reason we wanted to return.
1. It’s home. One of the best things about leaving home is realizing how wonderful it is to return to it. Our latest move is no exception. It’s the town where Brian and I met. It’s where we married, had our kids and bought our home. And we have the chance to go back. There’s no way we could turn that down. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.