Posted by: Timothy Ellis (The Tim)

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

31 responses to “Poll: Neighborhood Smackdown: Ballard vs. Fremont”

  1. ray pepper

    ugggggggh…Living in Seattle period…………….ugggh! ……

    Gig Harbor or University Place? Seahurst or Des Moines? Bellevue or Redmond or Kirkland?………..That’s more like it. But, Seattle?………….With those schools? Great place to visit for the day, or a few hours, but buy??????????????…NEVER!!!

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  2. David Losh

    Yes, there are other areas for those who can’t afford to live in the City.

    Bellevue, really? Come on, why live in the sticks with a bunch of red necks.

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  3. Ray pepper

    I love DT Bellevue. Would live there in a heart beat. Smokin good schools too!!!

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  4. Ira Sacharoff

    RE: Ray pepper @ 3
    Ballard and Fremont both have good schools. Sure, the school district as a whole is pretty screwed up, but Ballard and Fremont have way better than average schools.
    25 years ago, the answer would have been Fremont, hands down. It was just a cool neighborhood with cheap rent, and lots of artists. Ballard was pretty dead in those days, and the kinds of food served in Ballard restaurants in those days were things like meatloaf out of a can. But Ballard nowadays is the epicenter of Seattle cool, and Fremont has become a little too corporate.

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  5. David Losh

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 4

    You mean the conversion of the Burke Family Property, along the canal into corporate head quarters for Amazon. Fremont is now just an extension of downtown.

    Ballard however has multiple land owners who are old money, long time residence, and diverse. Mike’s Chili comes to mind.

    Diverse land lords, and the proximity to Industrial Lands give Ballard a more homey feel, in my opinion. Ballard will be a hard neighborhood to change for many years.

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  6. mike

    It seems like anymore Fremont doesn’t have much that Ballard doesn’t, except for more office space. That’s really the only thing that kept me going there the last few years. I wasn’t finding office space in Ballard. Often I’d head in to Ballard at lunch or to grab dinner. It’s not as much of a cool/trendy neighborhood as it was a bit over a decade ago.

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  7. Ron

    Fremont is far more accessible by foot, bike, or bus to a lot of great neighborhoods and things to do all over the city. Ballard is a little more removed although Ballard probably has more of an identity due to that. Both have an endless amount of drinking establishments and music joints. The number of transients and homeless have increased a lot lately in the entire area.

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  8. mike

    RE: Ron @ 7 – Perfect spot to play a round of “Hipster or Homeless” is in the canal park just west of the Fremont bridge. Often, the only way you can tell is to look for an iPhone.

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  9. David B.

    RE: ray pepper @ 1 – I have my own reasons for not liking the concept of residing in the City of Seattle, but they tend to compel me to just say “meh” and abstain from polls like this.

    Ultimately, every place has issues, and no place is perfect. If a place has issues that are absolute deal-breakers for you, you’re free to live elsewhere. And as Ira has pointed out, there’s actually plenty of good public schools in Seattle. Seattle’s school problem isn’t that the schools there are uniformly bad, it’s that they’re not uniformly good.

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  10. HappyRenter

    Fremont and Ballard both have excellent restaurants and cafes, Ballard probably a bit more just because it has a larger area. Ballard is nicer to stroll around, but I think that Fremont is better for living because it’s easier to travel to other parts of Seattle or get onto I5, Aurora etc. And if you live in Fremont you can still quickly get to Ballard. I found that in the evening Fremont’s streets fill up with homeless in particular between Leary and the park at the canal. But I don’t know if Ballard has the same problem. Homelessness seems to be increasing in Seattle and it might become a factor when looking for real estate.

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  11. Ray pepper

    98335 and 98332. Simply the BEST it gets anywhere on the west coast. If you have to work in Seattle or Bellevue then I’m very sorry. Your screwed. If the traffic doesn’t getcha then it appears a homeless vagrant might. Although I will make an exception for 3 Tree Point but still coming outta Seahurst joins the hell that is White Center and Ambaum.

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  12. David B.

    RE: Ray pepper @ 11 – “If you have to work in Seattle or Bellevue then I’m very sorry.”

    And many do, which is why Tacoma and its suburbs tend to have lower housing prices than Seattle and its suburbs; income-earning opportunity tends to play a role in setting housing prices.

    And regarding traffic, are you seriously trying to argue that SR 16 from I-5 and across the bridge is congestion-free? Really?

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  13. mike

    RE: HappyRenter @ 10 – There is a huge problem with the mentally ill and homeless in many parts of the city. Fremont and Ballard both have their share and the police don’t have adequate tools and training to deal with it. From what I gather the police try to do what they can, but there is little they can legally do other than hand out citations that are ignored or try to intimidate the offenders into compliance. Of course, all this accomplishes is to empower the truly sick and nasty individuals to continue their behavior without consequence.

    Big picture, I think what is going on is certain powers within the city are trying to make the problem worse. The mental health services currently available do not really fit the needs of people that do not want treatment. I get the impression that punishing the taxpaying citizens with their increasing presence is a political maneuver by the city attorney and certain judges to incite social change.

    After putting up with several months of harassment from a severely disturbed methamphetamine addict and getting little actual help from the police or courts, I’m a bit jaded.

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  14. Ray pepper

    There is ZERO traffic on SR 16. You apparently do not drive it. Since the new bridge was opened its been heaven although it costs you $$$$ or you simply have a transponder. There is traffic on I5 in Tacoma by the dome due to all the construction but 705 gets you around all that. There is simply no escape from the nightmare that is 405 on the eastside and I5 in Seattle. I logged my years there living at Greenwood, Phinney, UW, and various parts of North Seattle. Taking 99 is burdensome and it remains crime infested from N 80th up to 205th

    If you gave me a home in Seattle I would rent it in a heartbeat and let my tenants enjoy the misery that is Seattle.

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  15. David B.

    RE: Ray pepper @ 14 – “There is ZERO traffic on SR 16. You apparently do not drive it. Since the new bridge was opened its been heaven although it costs you $$$$ or you simply have a transponder. There is traffic on I5 in Tacoma by the dome due to all the construction but 705 gets you around all that.”

    No, I don’t drive SR16 daily. Thanks for the info.

    Regarding I-705, in what universe does 705 connect with 16 and allow you to avoid I-5 when getting into Downtown Tacoma via 16?

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  16. Ray pepper

    RE: David B. @ 15 – ahh haa. A lil known secret and a very nice ride. If there is known traffic on i5 one can simply take hwy 16 to Pearl street, or 6th ave, down to the Ruston waterfront, then get on 705 to i5 or simply capture 99 through Fife!! You can even grab a Starbucks at 1 of 3 locations on the way!!

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  17. Ira Sacharoff

    RE: David Losh @ 5
    Have you been on Market Street in Ballard lately? Or Mike’s Chili Parlor, bless it’s heart?
    Sure, Ballard Avenue is still cool old brick buildings, but that area where Mike’s Chili Parlor is , it’s all new buildings, a whole lot of large apartment complexes, Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyer. I say it’s more positive than negative, a good example of density done well. There’s more people, so there’s more of a demand for things like supermarkets and restaurants. But Mike’s Chili Parlor is one of those last vestiges of good, cheap, unpretentious food places. The Beachcomber in Skyway used to be owned by the same folks, very similar ambience, and it’s stayed the same since it got sold. Not one of these ” Tonight’s special is a local, free range pigeon breast served in a Merlot reduction, accompanied by quinoa and kale.”

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  18. Erik

    RE: Ray pepper @ 11
    I usually agree with you, but I hate those places. You couldn’t pay me enough to live there.

    They look good if you only stay in pierce county, but that entire county is not where i would want to live. It is like the rich vs the poor in that area. I am trying to talk my friend into buying a multiplex with me in pierce county, but he is hesitant because pierce county is all we can afford. People in pierce county are probably more likely to not pay their rent is his assumption. I don’t really dispute him on that. Tacoma influences that entire area. If you have a city next to tacoma the stench from tacoma will still loft into those areas. Just my opinion…

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  19. JWS

    RE: Ray pepper @ 11

    “98335 and 98332. Simply the BEST it gets anywhere on the west coast.”

    The best place to live within the entire West Coast!?
    I’m going to assume you are exaggerating to make a point.
    If you truly believe this you clearly haven’t spent much time traveling.

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  20. Ira Sacharoff

    RE: Erik @ 18
    Oh come on, Erik!
    There are lots of people buying 500,000 dollar +houses within the city limits of Tacoma, in neighborhoods like The Narrows, Old Town, Browns Point, Proctor, the Stadium District. The “stench” of Tacoma doesn’t seem to be influencing those neighborhoods even within the city, and towns like University Place and Gig Harbor, whether you like them or not, are not perceived as ghetto or crime ridden because they’re next to Tacoma. You can’t dismiss a whole town based on it’s worst neighborhoods, or implicate the towns nearby, or rule out an entire county. Have you actually spent anytime in these neighborhoods or towns? Or are you just pulling some uninformed opinion out of a certain body part?
    In Seattle, there are million dollar homes near lake Washington, five minutes from the slummy Rainier Valley. Madison Park has some of the most expensive houses in Seattle, but you have to drive through the “slummy” Central District to get there.
    Maybe I’m just misunderstanding what you’re trying to say.

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  21. Erik

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 20
    I use to live on fox island. It was a bunch of stuck up yuppies. In order to go anywhere or get anything, you had to travel through tacoma. The people there weren’t kind in general. I felt a class system was given based on wealth. The entire area seemed more money oriented since some people are extremely poor and some are extremely rich.

    Have you lived out there Ira? Even in those nice places in Tacoma it’s the same deal. There is a hierarchy.

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  22. Erik

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 20
    Seattle is not that way even though there are poor areas. The rich don’t look down on the poor and the poor don’t hate the rich in general. That is one large reason I like seattle so much. There can be an executive in a suit next to an janitor and it’s no problem. They can converse on the same level.

    My theory is that a lot of people from Fort Lewis move into the city of Tacoma. They are poor and from farms down south. They were trained to dislike rich people. I use to work on Fort Lewis doing construction testing. I really got that feel from people on the base. They had a chip on their shoulder.

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  23. David B.

    RE: Erik @ 22RE: Erik @ 21 – “There is a hierarchy.”

    There’s a class hierarchy everywhere in the USA, and it’s particularly noticeable in the Seattle metro area if you want to live closer to nature and not fight traffic. In Portland, even the working poor are a bus ride away from Forest Park, which starts at the NW edge of the city proper and goes on for miles and miles. Seattle really has nothing to compare.

    All that said, I am paid enough that I personally can afford to purchase said bit of class privilege, and I am personally better off if I do. Though I prefer Bainbridge Island to Fox Island; easier access to Downtown Seattle, which has a far better assortment of jobs in my field than Tacoma does.

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  24. David Losh

    RE: mike @ 13RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 17

    Mike’s Chili is an example of why Ballard retains that homey feel.

    Fremont, as some one pointed out, seems much more corporate to me.

    The real problem in all of Seattle is homelessness. I agree, that after all of these years of having the homeless camped across the street from Key Tower, or whatever it’s called now, the City Council would find some positive solutions.

    I have seen City Council members take visitors across to that meal program, I suppose to show they are doing something. I do see the same mentally ill, or aggressive homeless hanging around the same spots for years. That includes Ballard, and Fremont.

    I would say the homeless are the biggest argument against Seattle, but I have worked on the issue in the past, and just got burned out.

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  25. Macro Investor

    By David Losh @ 24:

    RE: mike @ 13RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 17
    I would say the homeless are the biggest argument against Seattle

    Everyone’s entitled to their opinion… but traffic is a MUCH BIGGER problem than homelessness.

    I’ve spent some time at Seattle parks and beaches this summer. It was MISERABLE getting in and out. These were off peak times. I wouldn’t try it during commuter hours. Drivers are increasingly stressed out and angry.

    I wasn’t bothered by homeless people. They rarely bother anyone who just minds their own business. Maybe you have some need to interact with them and cause problems. Or perhaps you are just squeamish and can’t stand the sight of someone who’s poor.

    Most problems are easily avoided. Traffic is impossible to avoid. Ain’t growth great?

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  26. Erik

    RE: David B. @ 23
    If you haven’t lived there you should atleast take what I say into account. If you are using your logic and you think there is a hierarchy everywhere you should live there. I am telling you from my experience how it is there. It is not a harmonious society. Seattle does have a good balance. I have lived in Seattle. I have lived in Fox Island. I have lived in Tacoma. I am commenting on my experience. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t sugar coat stuff to make friends and play both sides.

    In general attractive women in Tacoma marry men in Fox Island. When they move to Fox Island they act better than all the friends they left behind. This is what I observed first hand in that area. The person I was living with and I would discuss this dynamic. I’m not making this stuff up. I don’t like that kind of society because it’s less fun. Move to Bainbridge because it’s way better. Stay out of Fox Island at all costs. Neighbors aren’t really even that friendly either from my experience. Maybe you like that. I don’t. If you are commenting without living there, you are a theoretical bafoon. If you lived there and didn’t see it, you didn’t get out much or you are one of them. Peace be with you.

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  27. David Losh

    RE: Macro Investor @ 25

    Traffic is a big problem, but they work on the traffic constantly which is a big part of the problem.

    The homeless, I guess do have a home in Seattle, because they are everywhere. I’ve worked on, and with a couple of homeless projects in Seattle. My kids have been Food Bank, and Homeless Shelter volunteers. I believe we should do more for the homeless. The city would be better served.

    Let me also say I started work with homeless people down at the First Avenue Service Center in the 1970s. The same people, the same homeless, the same issues are in a circle jerk of unresolved issues.

    So, yeah, I’m inconvenienced with traffic, they are fixing that constantly, and making some progress, the homeless, not so much.

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  28. Ira Sacharoff

    RE: ray pepper @ 1
    But Ray: Why Seattle?
    Because this blog is not called the “Gig Harbor Bubble”.
    One would think, that with a blog with the name Seattle in it, a fair chunk of the readers might live there.
    Still, if we’re going to poll and learn about various towns and neighborhoods:
    Delridge vs Skyway
    White Center vs Lake City

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  29. mike

    By Macro Investor @ 25:

    By David Losh @ 24:
    RE: mike @ 13RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 17
    I would say the homeless are the biggest argument against Seattle

    Everyone’s entitled to their opinion… but traffic is a MUCH BIGGER problem than homelessness.

    I wasn’t bothered by homeless people. They rarely bother anyone who just minds their own business. Maybe you have some need to interact with them and cause problems. Or perhaps you are just squeamish and can’t stand the sight of someone who’s poor.

    Most problems are easily avoided. Traffic is impossible to avoid. Ain’t growth great?

    Wow, you really don’t get it. The “problem” people are not the ones that mind their own business, it’s the ones that will take whatever excuse they can come up with to get in your face. Most of the homeless and mentally ill fall into the first category, but the city doesn’t have a good way to deal with the others.

    Trying to avoid them is one strategy, but what do you do when a deranged individual decides to camp out right in front of your house? Move? These people aren’t rational, so good luck trying to get them to accept a ‘live and let live’ approach. If your idea is to say “Hello there Mr. Crazy Meth addict, how about we both just go on with our own lives and not get in one another’s way?” let me tell you ahead of time it won’t work.

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  30. Peter Witting

    RE: Erik @ 26

    “Stay out of Fox Island at all costs.” Wait, I thought Dixie Lee Ray had passed away already!

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  31. Christy

    We lived in Fremont for 4 years and bought in Ballard/Sunset Hill last year. I’m struck by how much of its own town Ballard can be – I really don’t have to go anywhere to get everything I need in Ballard. I love the farmer’s market, Golden Gardens and Shilshole Marina (both of the latter are part of my morning run). I love smelling the fresh smell of seawater and I love the Locks. Fremont has many fine qualities but I wouldn’t trade it for our maritime community. The hipsters and all the budding apartment buildings….meh, but its part of the deal.

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