Less than three months after our fateful camping trip, we bought a yurt-shaped house on Orcas Island.
To the casual observer, this decision might have seemed rash. The Yurt
was three and a half hours from Seattle and the only house we visited on a one day tour of vacant lots. We went from car campers to yurt-owners in a matter of weeks. What were we thinking?
That’s a good question.
After meeting the Yurt, we both became more infatuated with the idea of having a little place on Orcas. It was all we wanted to talk about and in the abstract, it was rainbows and unicorns. We’d get a cozy place, catch dinner from the sea and live happily-ever-after.
This feeling, of course, was fleeting. While Sachi was full steam ahead, I was bothered by the idea that we could rush into buying property, get locked-in, and then discover a reality we didn’t expect. I worried that the only people we’d know were retirees and vacation rental tenants. I worried that, without a community of people who shared our age, perspective, and interests, we’d never feel truly connected to the island and end up regretting the decision. Visiting the Yurt could become more of an obligation than a desire.
So I started asking around. I asked our realtor and a few people I know on the island. They all said the same thing: The community you’re looking for is here. You will find it, or it will find you. I asked one person our age, who moved in the last year, how long it took before he and his wife made friends. He said, “almost instantaneously.”
I was relieved and at the same time, curious. I didn’t expect this level of confidence. What was going on?
Orcas Island has always been known in the region as a tourist destination and a place where one retires. Living on the island full time, for most people our age, has never been all that practical. It was costly and small and disconnected. Most residents needed to find a job on the island to pay the bills, and full-time, permanent jobs were few and far between. How were so many people in their thirties and forties making it work?
We came to see that Orcas Island was slowly changing and that change may be part of a much bigger picture.