Give a talk three times and every time is different. Why not? Change doesn’t stop. Time and geography change the emphasis and the topics. A few hours ago I finished my third talk about real estate and affordability trends on Whidbey Island. In general, the message was the same. Thanks to the audience, we talked about new topics with new perspectives.
I’m happy to help.
If you missed it, tune in by watching the video of the livestream (bad camera angles and too-rich colors included.)
Don’t have time for the full show, or want to look at the fine print and individual squiggles? Here’s the presentation.
Want to see what was different without watching and comparing each presentation (Is Whidbey Changing? – Langley – Fall 2018 & Is Whidbey Changing? – Langley – Spring 2019)? Well, here’s my recollection of some of the new topics.
For those not familiar with Whidbey Island, Langley is known globally as a premier tourist destination. Freeland isn’t as well known, but it includes the biggest shops, the “Gold Coast” of west side waterfront properties, a couple of golf courses (depending on where you draw the boundaries, and a lot of the things that help you get things done. It isn’t the only place with those features, but it possibly has the most comprehensive set without being a Big City.
Median house prices are rising, but they tend to combine everything in that zip code. Break out the waterfront versus non-waterfront homes and see a dramatic increase in the median house price. Instead of a price of about $300K, expect something more like $900K. Some of those waterfront homes are along a lake. Expect an even wider dispersion if the distinction between fresh water and salt water. (An analysis I have yet to complete.)
Freeland, as well as the rest of south Whidbey is aging. The median age is increasing a bit less than a year per year. That suggests that, as someone moves out, someone their same age moves in. It probably isn’t that simple; but in general the data suggests that Freeland isn’t seeing a trend of retirees selling to young families. Until immortality is invented, this is an unsustainable trend.
Preserving heritage, culture, and landmarks is difficult anywhere. On a rural island, families may sustain such things; but as generations disperse, so do preservation efforts. Fortunately, philanthropic newbies can accomplish amazing things, too. Such efforts won’t save everything, new money means new perspectives, and as stories fade, things change. Also fortunately, Whidbey Island has one of the highest concentrations of non-profit organizations in the US; so at least some social structure exists to help things persist.
At the core of the conversation are a few key observations:
- Whidbey Island feels unaffordable to many, and they’re right according to many measures; but the island is actually much more affordable than the other islands, places on the mainland, and places around the Pacific Rim. (By the way, I enjoyed the observation that the comparison is among a bunch of cities sitting over volcano, earthquake, and tsunami zones.)
- Many of the trends are unsustainable, which means something will change. Inventory can’t go below zero. Immortality isn’t here, yet. (Come on Geron.) If wages don’t keep up with expenses, then workers have to move to someplace more affordable.
- Solutions that are available other places but not in Island County, may begin changing county policies as off-island economic pressures make it cheaper to change policies here than to live somewhere else.
There’s much more. That’s why the room was packed, and I stayed long after to talk with attendees. I encourage you to watch the video, read the slides – or attend the next presentation which will be in Coupeville on May 4th at 10AM. Every month starts with an update to the data, and Coupeville is unique in many ways, so that presentation will be different, too. I’m looking forward to it, seeing you there, or chatting about such issues online or in real life.
PS Thanks to Sno-Isle Libraries, Freeland Library, and the Friends of Freeland Library (particularly for the very sweet projector setup.)