San Juan Islands & Skagit Real Estate: My thoughts on rural, village and small town living opportunities here.

Photos and text copyright National Lilac Publishing, LLC

If you're searching for San Juan Islands or nearby Skagit Valley real estate in Washington State, I relocated here also and here's some inside information.

I had no idea what a paradise I had landed in

I came looking first for small town living with rich natural wonders, outdoor sports and cool cities not too far away, and then later for a place to build on acreage and a sophisticated green rural community.

If any of those are your dreams also, read on. I'm always happy to entice eco-friends, water sports-people, bird watchers, and green community-oriented folks here, and keep out the cheap developments covering up the rich farmland and trying (but often not succeeding) to push their way into our rare small towns' way of life that we locals work to preserve.

I also found a great realtor and now a friend, with a wonderful dedication to  Skagit Valley and San Juan Islands real estate, who's described more below if you want to check her out or contact her.

The San Juan Islands (and the other islands near them such as Whidbey Island) are next to the Skagit Valley. In other words, the valley is at the edge of mainland Washington State and ends pretty much near where the islands begin. Both the islands and the valley offer stunning natural beauty and a growing trend towards sustainable, organic and local food systems.

We're cool, after all (smile). We have Seattle to the south - one of the greenest cities in the country, Vancouver, B.C. to the north, and just west of the San Juan Islands is beautiful Victoria, B.C. - a Victorian seaport that makes you feel you're in another country. Well, I guess you are if you're American, but I mean it feels overseas - another era.

San Juan Islands real estate intermingles with various sustainable farms including vineyards, lavender farms, a well-established biodynamic farm, artisan natural fiber farms (such as rare Pygora goats,) small and micro pastured dairies, rural B&Bs, berry farms, CSAs, even a rare quince farm, and many more.

Most of the islands and a growing area of the valley support local farmers with farmers' markets and organizations like Cascade Harvest Coalition that strengthen local food systems and connect farmers with appreciative customers. From spring through fall, there are farm festivals that draw locals as well as people from around the world.

Skagit Valley real estate is where the world famous tulip fields are. The Dutch and other ethnic groups settled here, and a traditional farming community sprung up around their tulips that included potatoes, cabbages and berries. It's a lovely valley often compared to the fertile Loire Valley in France, except ours is near the sea.

Though developments tried to push their way in, niche farms started filling in, also. Pumpkin patches, micro goat dairies, cider orchards, vineyards, organic strawberries, heirloom potatoes, and so on.

There are now several organizations such as Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland that actively work to make the local sustainable farmers succeed, and more conventional farms are transitioning to sustainable or organic.

Natural wonders and small town charm

While searching for Skagit Valley or San Juan Islands real estate, you'll find small towns and charming villages such as the fishing village turned artists' village of La Conner.

Quaint Coupeville on Whidbey Island, or pretty Eastsound on Orcas Island as you can see in the photo. San Juan Island itself has a town called Friday Harbor, that feels sort of "small town resort-ish" as well as areas beyond the town that offer more seclusion.

Boating, bird watching, whale-watching, kayaking and other outdoor entertainment are the norm here. Some people seeking San Juan Islands real estate might be looking for this part of island living. Skagit Valley residents are close enough to enjoy these activities daily, also. I love nature lovers! No sea water expert myself, I've gone boating with friends and was once treated to an island tour on a retired fishing boat-turned-miniature-cruise-boat. Plus, I enjoy the ferries regularly.

But there is a huge boating community here, both fresh and saltwater which includes sailing and harbor hopping, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, land and sea bird watching. And whale watching happens both on tour boats, your own boat, and from the shore off the islands.

Wildlife photographers and bird watchers go crazy here. Fall through spring, beautiful swans and snowgeese arrive from the north, and other land and seabirds, including the year-round Anna's Hummingbird, are plentiful.

There are forest trails, places for horseback riding, and beaches everywhere that connect to the forests.

Strong artists' community

See story of rural and small town living in our own beautiful Pacific Northwest sunny bio-region!

On just one island alone, Fidalgo Island (where the town of Anacortes resides), there is a huge arts community with festivals, programs for kids and art walks in the evening showcasing local artist studios and galleries. The other islands including Orcas island have regular art and music gatherings and festivals. A New York opera singer friend who relocated to Orcas is always sending us out announcements of fun musical programs going on there.

Weather and nearby mountains

We've enjoyed a number of daytrips to the nearby Cascade mountains on the mainland, which are describes as the USA Alps. You'll find San Juan Islands real estate owners often brag about getting more sunny days and less rain than Seattle.

And it's true, we're in what's called a "rain shadow" or "blue hole" so we get about 10 less inches of rain a year and more clear skies. Skagit Valley is somewhat in the rain shadow also, although the more east one goes, the more rainclouds start to collect. We have winters with no snow, or just a temporary dusting, with nearby Mt. Baker (see photo above) to drive to if we want more white.

We also have the occasional "snow winter" where the snow stays around for a few days. Summers bring most days in the 70s to low 80s. But we've had the occasional scorchers in the 90s.

View property real estate

If you want Skagit Valley or San Juan Islands real estate with a view, you'll often at least either get trees, distant mountains, or meadows. Water view real estate, of course, is more expensive.

I was lucky to buy lake view acreage directly from a wonderful farmer whose family had come to the area in covered wagon! If you want real estate for in town living, if your area doesn't have a natural view, you don't have to drive far to find it. Just a trip to the grocery store means islands or water in the distance for island residents.

Should you move here?

Neither Skagit nor San Juan Islands real estate will make anyone perfect if they aren't already. If they're the kind of person who expects utopia to be handed to over for free, no place will probably ever satisfy. We need imperfect people willing to make a place with huge potential even better - contributors.

Like every place in the world, it also has challenges and needs realistic people who choose to come here from their own deep inner convictions and are able to give back along with take in all that's already here.

You can find everything from conservative to liberal in viewpoint, from ex-hippies living in off-the-grid earthy structures to second-home mansions overlooking the sea. But "green" and "artistic" are highly expressed here.

The real estate agent I know

My real estate agent friend shares my love for horses and hiking in all kinds of weather. She has 25 successful years experience in real estate. She knows her clients’ money and business end of real estate are to be taken very seriously.

She has adult kids in the area and knows a lot of the nooks and crannies of the islands and valley. She sees the value in everyone’s story no matter what they're looking to buy or sell, and knows that all people have their unique personal or business goals.

You can connect with her with the secure form below.

Tell her a quick summary of what your situation is and what you're looking for. She'll usually get back with you almost immediately.

The possible farmland, rural and small town properties

The valley:

They are very diverse. As mentioned, the Skagit Valley on the mainland edge of the state is one of the most fertile valleys in the world, good for agritourism farms as it already draws thousands to its farmland because of its world famous tulip fields and local organizations that promote local farms with various harvest festivals summer through fall.

The beauty of the land draws visitors for other reasons year-round, especially spring through fall, which in turn become local farm customers or rural B&B guests. There is both open farmland for sale and for lease, and smaller rural residences with homes for sale.

The islands:

There are numerous quaint villages and small towns dotting both the valley and the islands.

Leaving the fertile valley mainland, the islands are tops of an ancient mountain chain and have the typical clay soil of evergreen mountains. They are a great opportunity for the micro eco-farmer who provides locals by knowing how to build up organic fertile soil as raised beds.

Many small sustainable farms already thrive on these islands, as described above, and the location on the islands is also great for agritourism such as B&Bs or writers' retreats because of their highly desirable travel locations: seashores, fresh water lakes, ferries, distant rainforests, and picturesque villages.

And here again is where to get more real estate info from the Skagit Valley and San Juan Islands real estate agent.

Thanks for visiting!

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