Simply put, Vashon is known for it’s eclectic community and the many outdoor activities throughout the Island. But Vashon is so much more than that.
Vashon Island Keeps It Weird
Vashonites (the denizens of Vashon Island) want to keep the traditions that have built up over the past half-century. They want to keep their home a haven for the artists and aging hippies who have found the way there. And for those who harbor an artist’s soul in an office worker’s body. They want to keep Vashon-Maury Island weird.
Our island is located in Puget Sound, halfway between Tacoma and Seattle. You’d think it perfect for a bedroom community. Just attach a bridge and voila! There you are. A commuter’s heaven. But the people of Vashon Island refused the bridge when it was not only proposed but funded. We most definitely do not want to be directly connected to the mainland. The ferry service is quite satisfactory, thank you. A 22 minute ferry ride will land you in Seattle or Tacoma. Many islanders use those minutes to say hi to their neighbors, read a book, or just lean on the railing and watch the Seattle skyline or the magnificent Olympic Mountains. It’s an enforced quiet time twice a day and they tend to take advantage of it to prepare for their days or to wind down.
We are friendly people who enjoy the peace and quiet of our island. The best schools in the area bring in busloads of students to the island from Seattle every school day. It’s a great place to raise children. Kids and dogs can go for hikes in the forests and marshes safely. There are no dangerous animals or snakes. It’s like living in an earlier, more innocent time.
The island is rural and many residents have small farms, selling their produce in the local farmers’ market. One Vashonite raises dairy cattle for milk to make his artisan cheeses, sold in his shop in Seattle. Another sells paintings and sculptures from local artists at her gallery on the mainland. You can learn more about the market on their website.
Artists, authors, poets live on the island, at least part time. Some Hollywood actors, actresses, and directors have rumored to have second homes on Vashon. And in between the spectacular, sprawling houses with magnificent views, are the cobbled-together shacks of musicians who do weekend gigs at the local cafes and sculptors who create art from rusted pieces of old cars. And all these disparate people talk to each other. It’s a small island and a small population. They have to get along. Whether they’re politically liberal or conservative, they have to be tolerant. Vashon is the epitome of eclectic.
An alternate lifestyles is what’s Vashon Island known for. Vashon Cohousing is situated on 12 acres of land with 18 households living in a designed community with a central shared space. The people who live here believe that closeness to other people is healthy for them and their families. The central area is a house with a large kitchen and dining area where the households can entertain guests, have parties, or hold meetings. The residents of the cohousing community blend in well with their fellow Vashonites.
The Sunflower is another small community being created on the island in response to the rising rents in the area. Renters can no longer afford to rent an apartment and are also unable to buy a house. Fourteen small houses (approximately 750 square feet) have been built to accommodate some of those low income renters. These homes can be bought for an affordable $170,000 and are perfect for a single person or even a couple.
Living on the island requires organization. Most of what you need for your daily living, items like laundry soap, tools, and toilet paper, has to be imported from the mainland. While some can be obtained from local grocery stores, others have to be bought in the city. You have to learn to plan ahead.
The island changes the people who come here to live. Even if you’re the an anti-social grump before you move here, Vashon will seep into your heart. It’s hard to stay grumpy when people stop to say hello and welcome you to the island. Ask for directions and an islander will accompany you to your destination, giving you a tour of the highlights on the way. At the farmer’s market, ask about a particular recipe and you’ll be invited to dinner to try the dish. You can plan to retreat into a shell when you come to Vashon, but you are unlikely to succeed in the face of all that friendliness.
Vashon-Maury Island is a wonderful place to live. It’s been called the “Heart of Puget Sound”. Isolated except for the ferries, the island has developed its own special culture. Come to Vashon. Feel the welcome. Walk the coastal and forest trails. Talk to the residents. You’ll never want to live any place else.