I live quite near the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, where Amazon headquarters, the new Spheres, and all the ancillary buildings where people like daughter Sara work are located. As you can imagine, around and among the Amazon buildings are apartments and condos, bars and restaurants, bike shops, retail stores, services like hair salons — it’s a bustling and lively part of town. That’s the upside: Amazon took what had been an old, rather industrial section and transformed it into glittering glass and steel.
The downside, of course, is that rents and residential purchases in Seattle are sky high, and not just in South Lake Union. If I’d stayed in my Belltown apartment, my rent in September would have gone to 4K a month for 900 square feet. Even with a fantastic view, and I had that, the price/space ratio is a jaw-dropper.
I’m paying Sara market rent for her home, but I have much more space, a yard, a very workable kitchen, and a master bedroom suite with closets. As friend and regular reader J. supposed, I’m eating out less. I have a full-sized refrigerator into which I can put more than 4 days worth of food. I have a gas stove and oven that work well. I have counter space, and cupboard space to store canned goods and non-perishable items. My new neighborhood has plenty of places where I could go to eat, but eating home — sitting out on my deck with a glass of wine and a light supper — is often more attractive.
The cities vying for HQ2 are grappling with the same projected Amazon Ups and Downs. Having Amazon nearby has a lot of plusses, not only in employment and neighborhood revitalization, but we get to try a lot of new Amazon services before anyone else. The big downside is cost of living. High. That’s the only word for it.