WE NEVER MEANT to end up in the suburbs.
My husband and I had spent our whole relationship living in "real" cities. Whether it was Portland, Honolulu or San Francisco, our home was in or near the heart of the big city, and we never considered living in their outskirts. In fact, to be quite honest, we had the standard, boring scorn of many young urbanites toward people who lived in the ‘burbs. I imagined a wasteland, where unhappy suburban housewives and their bored families drove their SUVs to chain stores and restaurants.
Then bought my husband. (Or the company he worked for. It’s never been clear to me that there was a difference.) We moved to Redmond.
And I fell in love.
We settled downtown, in one of those condos by the Bella Botega shopping center. We walked to the movies, to the library, to restaurants as varied as , , and the . After I had my daughter a year later, we walked to the 24-hour at 3 a.m. to buy baby Tylenol for her fevers.
There’s a lot of talk about “walkability” recently and how living somewhere walkable improves your quality of life. Heck, there’s a whole website just to score your address. I have lived in some of the most walkable cities around, but I’ve learned that there’s a world of difference between “walkable” and “walked.”
Redmond is walked. People get places on their feet, and it shows. The sidewalks are wide and well used. My neighbors are on them day and night, and it just adds to the feelings of safety and friendliness that are the hallmarks of Redmond.
BUT BEING ABLE to walk around downtown is far from the only thing that Redmond has to offer. While much of the Eastside is family friendly, I’ve never lived anywhere quite as focused on giving the little ones a good time as Redmond.
Take, for example, the mall. At most malls, children are an afterthought at best. Even when the littles are considered, they are segregated into their own area. (Hello, Bell Square.)
But at , the kids are in the middle of the action, literally. The come-on-and-dance-in-it water fountain at the center of the Center is only one of three play areas, all integrated with the rest of the shops. (One of them is even next to !)
There is also a row of kid friendly stores, but parents don’t feel trapped there. And the fact that all of the restaurants are family friendly certainly doesn’t hurt. When my daughter was younger, we could spend several hours at the Center on a sunny day. Now that she’s older, between the climbing wall at , catching a play at Second Story Repertory, grabbing a burger at , and doing some serious window shopping, we could easily kill a whole day — rain or shine.
Redmond offers so many things to families. There is the high quality of our local schools, both public and private. There is the diversity of our people. We have easy access to everything from trails to the freeway. We have interesting options for energy burning (from to to and more).
Our family’s beloved downtown condo is starting to feel small. My daughter is 6 now (6½, she would indignantly remind me), and there are more guests than ever. The two bedrooms and the narrow living space are beginning to make me feel like I’m bumping my elbows on the walls. So we’ve been house hunting. We look all over, but time and time again, we come back to these same sixteen square miles, sixteen miles east of Seattle.
Redmond. What can I say? I have a city crush. Just call me a happy suburban housewife.
Editor's note: Moms Talk is a interactive initiative on Redmond Patch that is intended to serve as a conversation starter among local parents. Do you have an idea for a future column? Please let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org