A Davis Family Christmas

Those of you who are wondering why the Davis’ Christmas card has a return address in Washington State—you have some catching up to do!  See the post (how we got here, below) for the story of everything that led up to our mid-October move out West.
For the rest of you—the move to Woodinville went fairly smoothly, with a minimum of lost or damaged items.  After 28+ years in one place and moving to a slightly smaller house (with no basement) we tossed a boatload of stuff while preparing for the move – and yet we are still looking for places for all the things we kept!   We have finally gotten one car to fit into our three-car garage; the goal is to eventually get two cars in there and use the third bay for storage.  We plan to add a storage shed for lawn implements and such, so hopefully, that plan will work.
The totally great part of the move has been getting back together with the kids – and our grandson.   Our dining room table has already been used more in the last 45 days than we used it in a year in Virginia.  We see Amy, Beth, son-in-law Raymond and grandson Arthur on multiple days of the week (well, Deb sees Raymond almost daily at work!).    And Rebecca and son-in-law Trevor joined us for Thanksgiving, and then drove home with two beds and a mattress for the friends who are sharing their 3-bedroom apartment in Bend, OR with them.   Bend is a six-hour drive but only a one-hour flight, so we will be seeing a lot more of them as well.
Deb is really enjoying the challenge of a new workplace after 33 years at Mason.  Working at Oculus Research is as much of a change from academia as she could have imagined. She traded in her 200 square foot office with three bookcases and a large file cabinet for a 6 foot desk (soon to be a 5 foot desk due to a space crunch – well, some things aren’t different!) and a rolling drawer/file cabinet. She is drinking from the firehose, as they say, learning about the business and augmented/virtual reality. If you want to know what Oculus (owned by Facebook) is up to, you can try one of these videos (of Deb’s boss’s boss): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A66E4cnvyOQ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y-f45DsKmA (this one starts out with a great history for computer geeks – others may want to go about 13 minutes in where he talks about the capabilities of the systems we’re trying to build). In any case, she is loving the perks of a millennial company (hot meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a hairdresser, massage, and the ability to drop/pick up dry cleaning on site). She also is loving not having to wear a suit and heels to work. The bottom line is that her new job is presenting exciting challenges – and she hopes to make a difference in this new career.
Stu has not re-started any volunteer activities out West yet. He’s spending a bit of time each week taking care of Arthur (sometimes with Amy there, sometimes without) and that extra-curricular activity has been enough for him so far. He is enjoying the round robins at the squash-and-fitness club that he and Deb joined. He is finding the local golf course quite challenging (who knew there were so many ways to lose a golf ball?!) but extremely pretty, with redwoods-and-ferns protected areas on the course and beautiful views of the snow-capped Cascades (visible only on those rare sunny days). And he is looking forward to skiing, with the local resorts opening up already. Next week may be a golf-one-day, ski-the-next opportunity!  Unfortunately the local ski areas don’t have toddler day care, so Stu is not going to get to go with his skiing buddy Amy as often as he would like.
Although we had everyone home for the Thanksgiving holiday, we didn’t manage to get any group photos (too busy having fun). However, we have a number of pics from the course of this year, which Rebecca has kindly posted on this (her) website.
As Stu said in his original note about the changes this year, even though we have downsized, we do have two guest bedrooms and an extra car, so we are all set for visitors.  We hope that if you find your way out to Seattle, you’ll visit us.

How we got here

As of early 2017 we had no thoughts about moving anywhere, either now or after Deb’s future retirement. We like the DC area and we like our house; there was no place else that seemed particularly attractive to us.
In March our youngest daughter Beth announced that she was going to move to Seattle.  She had planned to join Amy (middle daughter) and son-in-law Raymond there in 2015, as she was finishing grad school in Minnesota.    But Raymond’s dream job in Seattle took longer to materialize than any of the kids had expected, so Beth ended up back in Northern Virginia.  She eventually landed a good job as a school counselor here in Fairfax County. But she figured that if she was ever going to move, now was the time to do it  (and she has already landed a school counselor job out in Seattle, so hooray for her).
Deb and I looked around and hey, it occurred to us that all three of our kids were now living in the Pacific Northwest (Rebecca (oldest daughter) and her husband Trevor live most of the year in Bend, OR)  and we were on the East Coast. It didn’t take us long to decide that after Deb retired in a few years we would move out to Seattle as well.
Next, we thought about housing prices. House prices in the close-in Seattle suburbs are comparable to house prices in the close-in DC suburbs, so we didn’t think that would be an issue, per se. But then we saw that Seattle-area housing prices were escalating rapidly, due to the influx of tech jobs. Amy and Raymond’s house has appreciated 40% in the less-than-two-years that they have been in their house. We became concerned that we would not be able to afford the house we wanted by the time we were ready to move. So we came up with strategy #1–buy a house out there now and rent it out until we were ready to move westward.
Nothing makes Deb happier than house looking/shopping, even though we hadn’t bought a house in 28 years and even though that looking was on-line.  So she was soon hard at work looking at all of the available houses in the eastern Seattle suburbs (“Eastside Seattle”, as it is known locally).  We had two locational benchmarks–it had to be between Amy/Raymond/grandson Arthur and the sports club that has (nine!) squash courts.   It’s twenty minutes between those two places.
Talk about a hot housing market.  The typical house is listed on Thursday; there may or may not be an open house over the weekend.    The seller looks at the (multiple) offers on Monday or Tuesday, and selects the one they like the best.   If a house is on the market longer than Thursday to Tuesday, you know that there is something wrong with it!
So we started our search. We quickly decided that downsize-shmownsize; we wanted pretty much the same size house that we have right now.  A real estate agent friend of Amy and Raymond’s started sending us listings that seemed to fit the bill, more-or-less.
The search continued through the week in late June-to-early July that everybody (with the exception of Trevor, who was working) got together at the Jersey Shore.   Everybody had fun looking at and discussing that week’s listings on line, but we still had not found that perfect house.
The Seattle contingent had just returned home when we got a couple of listings from the agent late on July 5th.  The owner was due to open offers that day, but we thought it was worth a shot. The agent and Amy ran over to the house (at about 8 pm PDT, 11 pm EDT) and Amy FaceTimed a tour of it for us. We told the agent that we would put a bid on the house if it was still available. He called the seller’s agent to let them know another bid was forthcoming.
So–the next day we submitted a bid, as did another prospective buyer (bringing the total number of bids to three). We won the bidding at “only” 5% over the asking price.  (That’s a “win” in the Seattle market!)
OK, so we are buying a house, which we will rent out until Debbie retires.   But wait–there’s more!
While we were at the Jersey Shore in late June, Raymond (who, remember, is at his dream job) tells Deb that his company has been talking about hiring a Research Manager, and that the job description they had in mind was eerily descriptive of Deb’s entire work history. (An academic background in either perception–nope–or cognition–yup!–and years of experience in managing other researchers–does 33 years of mentoring PhD students through their dissertations count?!) He said that if Deb were interested he’d be happy to float her resume by his boss.
I will spare you all the details, but that led to Deb having a series of video interviews and then two days of in-person interviews for the position.  The in-person interviews conveniently occurred in the week in mid-August when we were out there for the house closing.  A week-and-a-half later and boom!–Deb had signed on the bottom line.  Oculus Research is used to hiring folks out of academic institutions, so they were gracious in allowing Deb time to tidy things up at Mason before starting work (on October 30th).
Needless to say, we ditched the plan to rent out the house that we had just purchased.
So, there are a lot of goodbyes to our East Coast friends before we head out west.  When we do arrive, my first “volunteer” job will be helping/relieving Amy with Arthur on a regular basis.    Both Deb and I will be able to make new squash friends quickly, as the sports club has twice weekly round robins for both men and women.  And yes, I’ve already scoped out a new golf course!
Do know… we have lots of space and an extra car available for guests.   And not only is Seattle close-by, but Woodinville itself is a tourist attraction for the 100+ wineries and tasting rooms within the town limits–not to mention the two cideries, at least one whiskey distillery, and several breweries.   So come see us!
All the best, Stu
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