I wonder why people who work in Seattle don’t consider living in Kitsap County.

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RARELY a day goes by when I don’t read something in the paper about the cost of housing and terrible traffic congestion in King County. The two major cities — Seattle, where I grew up and worked for many years, and Bellevue, where I served on the City Council for 16 years and was mayor for three terms — are no longer affordable to the average person.

So I wonder why people who work in Seattle would not consider living in Kitsap County, where I have now lived for the past 15 years.

Within a beautiful 55-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle is a housing market that’s still affordable. Commercial lease rates here are moderate and there is almost no traffic.

As the cost of housing in the Seattle-Bellevue market now exceeds $500,000 for an average home, today in Kitsap County you can purchase a very nice home for $250,000. Waterfront homes can be purchased for under $600,000. In downtown Bremerton, within walking distance from the ferry terminal you can rent a new one-bedroom apartment for about $1,000, where in downtown Seattle you would pay two or three times that price.

Cary Bozeman served as mayor in Bellevue and in Bremerton, where he has lived since 1997.
Cary Bozeman served as mayor in Bellevue and in Bremerton, where he has lived since 1997.
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In Kitsap County, you have access to great quality of life with very good transit service that connects four cities and the retail center of Silverdale. The area has five great public golf courses, art galleries, good restaurants, little or no traffic congestion, excellent schools, an outstanding community college and is within one hour of Olympic National Park and two hours from the Pacific Ocean.

Kitsap County’s largest city is Bremerton, a city of just 40,000 residents. The two small waterfront communities are Poulsbo and Port Orchard — both cities have populations of about 10,000. The fourth city in Kitsap County is Bainbridge Island, a community of about 25,000, which for many years has served as a bedroom community to downtown Seattle with thousands of riders taking the 35-minute ferry ride into Seattle each day to go to work. Housing on Bainbridge is more expensive than the rest of Kitsap County, but is still below the Seattle and Bellevue markets.

The point is: There is still affordable housing within an easy commute from downtown Seattle. I have many friends who commute each day to Seattle on the ferry — they read the paper, work on their laptop, chat with their friends and maybe share a glass of wine on the way home. Most believe it is much more preferable to being stuck in traffic on interstates 5 or 90. The commute could even get better in 2016 when Kitsap Transit will consider reviving the passenger-only ferry service, which could provide a 35-minute commute into Seattle on smaller boats.

In the past, I believe people working in Seattle have failed to look west as an option for where they might live. Now with the rising cost of living in Seattle, and the difficult congestion in King County, we hope people will consider Kitsap County as a place where they can afford to purchase a home, raise their families and share in our wonderful quality of life.

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