The first time my husband and I made an offer on a house in Seattle, I wrote a heartfelt cover letter (that’s a thing). I told the owners that I could picture myself reading in the sunroom, and how my growing up in an 80-year-old house had imparted a love of stately wooden trim, irregularly sized doors, and floor plans that predate the invention of TV. The older couple, downsizing after three decades, liked my letter enough to consider us finalists. Just not enough to ultimately accept us over another bid that was all cash. (That’s a thing, too.)

I wrote another letter for the second house we tried to buy, at the very top end of our budget. The end where there’s no room left over for minor considerations like “furniture” and “food.” In hindsight I’m relieved another buyer blitzed in during our final stages of negotiations with a way better offer. 

I think about that house often. Mostly because I can see its backyard from the kitchen window of the third house we bid on. After months of emotional whiplash and scouring listings when I should have been working, this next attempt to become homeowners (complete with, yes, another letter) took. Navigating the insanity of Seattle’s real estate market felt like a victory—and that was back in 2012, an era that seems quaint compared with today’s home prices.

Rent, own, crash on your cousin’s couch—the part of town you call your own defines how you see the rest of the city. Our Neighborhood Issue, overseen by arts editor Stefan Milne, examines life in one of the most heated-up real estate markets in the country, but also a town where you can catch glimpses of postcard-level water views at every turn. Or take a proper hike in a residential neighborhood. And, increasingly, ride light rail, even. 

Looking back at my trail of cover letters, I see them another way—as an epistolary tribute to how fiercely I want to live here.

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