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San Juan County: San Juan Island

Samantha Bryner moved to San Juan Island 44 years ago, and has worked in real estate for more than 30 of those. On her first ferry ride into Friday Harbor she remembers being taken aback by the island’s beauty. “Enchanted. I have to live here,” she remembers thinking. This tends to be a sentiment shared by many islanders. It’s an ideal island for people looking for a quieter, laid-back lifestyle, but still want to be surrounded by bustle.

Crysta Griffith, a waitress, is a seventh-generation San Juan Islander. She’s fond of the island’s familiarity, “It’s nice growing up here and still having childhood friends nearby,” she said. Having children now, she praises the excellent school system and natural beauty, although admits she doesn’t stop to take in the scenery enough, “It’s easy to forget to see how beautiful it is here.”

Bryner explained over the last 40 years how San Juan Island has undergone a transitional phase. At the turn of the 20th century, the demographic consisted mainly of fishermen and farmers. The inhabitants bought pieces of land, then built customized homes for their families. Over the last for decades, the island’s main demographic has shifted to retirees and families looking for Pacific Northwest island living. Today, it’s not uncommon to see an older, charming farmhouse next to a solar-paneled log cabin.

San Juan Island is the most populated of the San Juans, with Friday Harbor acting as the island’s epicenter. Roche Harbor, on the island’s northwest tip, has developed into a bustling marina village. It’s the only island with mass transit, suitable for a place that’s known as the most urbanized of the San Juans.

Don’t confuse urbanized with city-living. A typical dinner party for Bryner will include dining with couples in their 20s, 50s, and 80s all at the same table. “In cities, you tend to hang out with people in your demographic,” she said, but on San Juan Island, age really is just a number. This tendency of islanders to incorporate various ages of friends into a social circle “puts a lot of new opportunities out there.”

On the Market

455 Tucker Ave., Friday Harbor $329,000 | MLS# 1082510

This four-bedroom, 1.75-bath is an ideal family home close to the action in Friday Harbor. The 1,600-square-foot home offers an open and roomy interior, ample deck space, and fenced-in yard. A cozy fireplace is the perfect gathering spot for the family after a day of exploring.

STATS

Year-Round Residents: 8,000

Average Days on Market: 269

Homes Currently on Market: 114

Schools: Friday Harbor Elementary, Middle, and High School; Griffin Bay School | Private: Stillpoint School, Spring Street International School

"Over the last for decades, the island’s main demographic has shifted to retirees and families looking for Pacific Northwest island living. Today, it’s not uncommon to see an older, charming farmhouse next to a solar-paneled log cabin."