With low housing costs and Portland proximity, Hazel Dell, Wash., takes off
For Hazel Dell, Wash., residents Lynn Quijada and her husband, Paul, that translates into the freedom for one of them not to work. Instead, Lynn can stay home to raise their 2-year-old daughter, Saffron, and the new baby they’re expecting this spring.
“You get all the perks of Portland and downtown Vancouver, all the ease of shopping at places like Target, but you’re in this little area of community-minded people who have lived here awhile,” Quijada says. “Plus, your housing costs are much lower.”
The unincorporated township of Hazel Dell has a population of approximately 19,400 people in 5 square miles. The median sale price for homes in a recent three-month period was $227,733.
Comparing 3-bedroom, 1-bath homes, we found a 1,326-square-foot ranch with a covered porch and fenced yard on two-tenths of an acre, listed at $179, 900. For $279,900, you can get a 2,250-square-foot 1900s farmhouse with outbuildings on two-thirds of an acre.
Residents praise the limited permit requirements for building and remodeling, and lack of restrictions for urban homesteaders who want to use a larger lot for backyard chickens as well as a rooster, or even goats.
Both Hazel Dell and Minnehaha Elementary schools offer parent-child groups called 1-2-3 Grow and Learn. No registration is required for the weekly two-hour program for parents with their children from birth through age 5.
The community garden at Hazel Dell Elementary serves as an outdoor classroom and supports the science curriculum. The school is also home to a Head Start program for area preschoolers.
Minnehaha Elementary offers a dance program to all students, while Sarah J. Anderson is known for its dual-language immersion program in Spanish and English. Sacajawea Elementary provides a program for high-functioning students with autism spectrum disorders.
Many students, including nearly half of those at Hazel Dell Elementary, make use of after-school programs at the Boys & Girls Club.
With downtown Vancouver a short 3 miles away, Hazel Dell families are close to community centers and the Vancouver Community Library. “The whole third floor of the library has an awesome children’s area with a play space where science activities and a ‘Spark Your Imagination’ program are offered,” says Quijada.
Families can walk to grocery stores, the post office and restaurants such as Panera and Chipotle. Among other choices, downtown diners will find the recently-opened Frontier Public House, billed as “Vancouver’s first gastropub,” and the Main Event, which has a play area. Quijada swears the best doughnuts around are at the nearby Donut Nook.
Interstate 5 bisects the Hazel Dell community, with close connections to Interstate 205.
C-Tran, the Vancouver public transit system, connects travelers to Portland’s TriMet system. The paved Burnt Bridge Creek Trail, running from Fruit Valley Road to the east side of Vancouver, is popular with joggers, stroller striders and bike commuters, including Paul Quijada. Eight miles of his 12-mile commute to Fisher’s Landing is on the trail.