Author Topic: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks  (Read 17056 times)

FINate

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Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« on: February 24, 2018, 01:09:57 PM »
We're looking to relocate out of sunny California in the next 1-2 years. Potential locations are coalescing around the PNW, mostly due to proximity to outdoor activities and family within reasonable driving distance (holidays and such). Most likely candidate at the moment is Bend, OR or thereabouts. I'm well aware of the climate (from historical data), cost of living (higher than average, but a fraction of our stupidly HCOL area), lack of industry (we're FIRE), and the obvious stuff I can find online. Obviously we will make some trips during different seasons to get a better feel for the place. But visiting is not the same as day-to-day living. So very interested in hearing from Mustachians who live in Bend, have lived there, spend considerable amount of time there, or who have close friends/families there.

Mostly interested in hearing about "dark horses" that we may not even be aware of. What I'm really asking for is a bitch session, all gripes are on the table, no matter how big or small or how much you think I may or may not care about it. Get in touch with your inner critic and convince me that it's a terrible place to live.

As an example, for anyone considering moving to the Santa Cruz area I would complain about:
  • Traffic. There is no "rush hour", only bad traffic and the middle of the night.
  • Water. We are in perpetual water shortage because we refuse to increase supply. Be prepared to make drastic cuts in usage and then get charged outrageous prices was the Water District makes up for a shortfall do to falling demand.
  • Homelessness and general griminess. We're a magnet for homeless and drug addicted from around the country. Lots of "free" services with zero accountability or strings attached. It's paradise if you're not paying rent or property taxes. Very very high per-capita concentration here, so much so that it's stressing budgets, and the city cannot keep up on trash or general cleaning. E.g. expect to see needles and human waste around town.
  • Poor governance. The economy is booming, stronger than ever, and yet the city is running a deficit! While running deficits, it's planning on spending $90k/month on an officially sanctioned homeless encampment with a capacity for 100 people. I still can't figure out how it's possible to spend $900 per person per month on a city owned lot where people bring their own tents!
  • Roads. Generally unmaintained. When I bought a road bike I got a model specifically designed for riding on cobblestone, our asphalt roads here are that bad, worse in fact with the huge potholes. Got so bad that at one point we had a gorilla group of local folks going out and patching the roads themselves, at their own expense. They got a cease and desist order from the county.
  • Projects costs 2-10x as much as they should. Endless EIRs, CEQA hang ups, opposition from special interest groups. Net result is very little gets done so things are generally shabby. What does get done is super expensive - see (4) above.
  • Crowds. Although there are a lot of outdoor activities nearby, expect large crowds on weekends and holidays. I don't mean just that people are around, but expect heavy traffic, difficulty finding parking, and such. A large part of this is from the South Bay Area making weekend/holiday escapes. Weekends and holidays are for staying home and getting stuff done around the house.
  • Culture. There are lots of great friendly people here so I'm overgeneralizing, but most common is the enlightened know-it-all type. And they aren't shy about telling you what you're doing wrong and how they know better.

I think you get the idea. So please, fire away.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2018, 03:42:37 PM »
GLADLY ;) So, I have spent a ton of time over there in my life, although I'm from the Valley over the mountains. Recently, some family has moved over there, so the past couple years I've been spending even more times over in that area. Also, I worked on a ranch near then as a teen, so I've logged a fair amount of Bend time.

My complaints:
1. This is my main one and is going to be really hard to verbalize. The culture there feels... fake. Like it's a facade, that doesn't actually permeate into people's lives. It comes across cute when you visit, but the day to day life doesn't actually have a city culture like you would expect. It's a cute downtown, but the people that live there don't walk it. There are cute brew pubs, but they aren't actually that good compared to the rest of the PNW, and have very few locals. Everything closes early, people smile but aren't warm, and there isn't the sort of community/cohesive culture that visiting would lead you to believe. There just... isn't the community involvement, spirit, and distinct identity you would expect from that much local business.
2. Tourists. Everywhere. Enough said there I think. But the flip side of this... the locals might seem friendly, but a lot of them resent visitors. They know they rely on their money, and they don't like it. I don't know if this translates to permanent Californian transplants, but it's a time honored tradition elsewhere in Oregon to actively and legitimately dislike Californians and blame them for not being able to afford the life you want. So I would just... wonder, how that would turn out culturally. That said, I think a lot of people do move to Bend from elsewhere, as opposed to being natives. More like Portland in that respect, rather than Salem/Eugene/Ashland/Medford.
3. The urban/rural divide. This characterizes all of Oregon, but Bend really embodies it. Oregon votes blue, yes. But that's because we have dots of bright blue, swimming in a sparsely populated sea of red. This leads to HUGE culture clashes, and this is especially true in Bend. The neighborhood you pick matters. Whether you drive a truck or a Leaf is a MAJOR political statement, and will influence who associates with you. It's way more conservative than the other major cities in Oregon, but a lot of the political decision makers are progressives... leads to a culture clash.
4. The winter is dry as fuckballs. Buy a humidifier, and lotion, and still expect to have bloody noses and cracked knuckles.
5. Wild fire. Blizzards. Lots of natural bullshit that results in you hiking/biking/kayaking/snowboarding less than you actually expect. Also, the mountain is fuck all spendy, so if you like snow sports, I hope you have major cash to throw at it.
6. More on the climate. The numbers *can* be misleading. Snowfall may not *seem* that high, but it stays on the ground, so snow ACCUMULATION is way higher than most people expect.
7. Gardening prospects are shit. The top soil is shit. No water, too much sun burn, too short a season. You really *need* a green house to grow anything.

So. All that being said. I actually love that area. It's beautiful. It's an amazing place. But it's not the shining gem of perfection a lot of people assume =)

cheddarpie

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2018, 04:06:50 PM »
I agree with Bracken_Joy on all of this. I am also not from there but have family there and visit a couple of times a year. I would also add that it is not cheap -- cheaper than big cities, sure, but not what you would expect for rural Oregon. It's also pretty isolated and can be hard to get out in winter.

I tried to post a photo but couldn't figure out how. When I was there last summer, it was a hot (HOT) day and we thought we might go to the river to swim. It was JAM PACKED with people on all sorts of floats, kayaks, paddle boards, pizzas, swans, you name it -- shoulder to shoulder floaties everywhere. It was like being at a water park, but way less exciting because there wasn't a slide.

Have you thought about Bellingham, Spokane, Sand Point, Boise, or Couer D'Alene? They all offer similar vibes, affordability, and proximity to the outdoors without the crazy crowds and "bro-brah" culture.

monstermonster

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2018, 04:20:14 PM »
I'm not super-duper Bend experienced, and most of my time there has been political activity/conventions but what I will say is a big downside for oregon: our crazy high income tax. Obviously coming from CA this is less of an issue, but Oregon is super high income tax bracket (9.5%) on top of whatever your federal is.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2018, 05:36:35 PM »
GLADLY ;) So, I have spent a ton of time over there in my life, although I'm from the Valley over the mountains. Recently, some family has moved over there, so the past couple years I've been spending even more times over in that area. Also, I worked on a ranch near then as a teen, so I've logged a fair amount of Bend time.

My complaints:
1. This is my main one and is going to be really hard to verbalize. The culture there feels... fake. Like it's a facade, that doesn't actually permeate into people's lives. It comes across cute when you visit, but the day to day life doesn't actually have a city culture like you would expect. It's a cute downtown, but the people that live there don't walk it. There are cute brew pubs, but they aren't actually that good compared to the rest of the PNW, and have very few locals. Everything closes early, people smile but aren't warm, and there isn't the sort of community/cohesive culture that visiting would lead you to believe. There just... isn't the community involvement, spirit, and distinct identity you would expect from that much local business.
2. Tourists. Everywhere. Enough said there I think. But the flip side of this... the locals might seem friendly, but a lot of them resent visitors. They know they rely on their money, and they don't like it. I don't know if this translates to permanent Californian transplants, but it's a time honored tradition elsewhere in Oregon to actively and legitimately dislike Californians and blame them for not being able to afford the life you want. So I would just... wonder, how that would turn out culturally. That said, I think a lot of people do move to Bend from elsewhere, as opposed to being natives. More like Portland in that respect, rather than Salem/Eugene/Ashland/Medford.
3. The urban/rural divide. This characterizes all of Oregon, but Bend really embodies it. Oregon votes blue, yes. But that's because we have dots of bright blue, swimming in a sparsely populated sea of red. This leads to HUGE culture clashes, and this is especially true in Bend. The neighborhood you pick matters. Whether you drive a truck or a Leaf is a MAJOR political statement, and will influence who associates with you. It's way more conservative than the other major cities in Oregon, but a lot of the political decision makers are progressives... leads to a culture clash.
4. The winter is dry as fuckballs. Buy a humidifier, and lotion, and still expect to have bloody noses and cracked knuckles.
5. Wild fire. Blizzards. Lots of natural bullshit that results in you hiking/biking/kayaking/snowboarding less than you actually expect. Also, the mountain is fuck all spendy, so if you like snow sports, I hope you have major cash to throw at it.
6. More on the climate. The numbers *can* be misleading. Snowfall may not *seem* that high, but it stays on the ground, so snow ACCUMULATION is way higher than most people expect.
7. Gardening prospects are shit. The top soil is shit. No water, too much sun burn, too short a season. You really *need* a green house to grow anything.

So. All that being said. I actually love that area. It's beautiful. It's an amazing place. But it's not the shining gem of perfection a lot of people assume =)

Thanks, exactly the type of thing I'm looking for. Items 1-2 sound like typical tourist town woes, we have this in spades at our current location and in towns up and down the coast. Agree it's difficult to articulate - almost as if towns have a 'hollowed out' feel. Had a hunch this could possibly apply in Bend, good to know for sure.

I'm guessing based on property prices, taxes, and school ratings that west of the river is generally the 'blue' section and to the east into the desert is the 'red' section? I tend to be more of a moderate, which means I'm a certified right-wing extremist in Santa Cruz ;-) Actually would be nice to see some competitive races and vigorous campaigning. Around here it's pretty much shooting fish in a barrel as there's only one party and candidates simply pander to the base.

Looking at Mt Bachelor tickets...pretty reasonable compared to Lake Tahoe, LOL. Our plan is to homeschool by then, so if we decide to get into it we'll probably opt for midweek season passes. Alternatively, cross-country is also an option. If there is decent snow accumulation closer to town it could mean quicker access for cross-country. But yeah, good to know that the snow doesn't melt quickly and that gardening is difficult, something for us to ponder.

Thanks again, very good info.

 
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 05:57:23 PM by FINate »

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2018, 05:48:12 PM »
I agree with Bracken_Joy on all of this. I am also not from there but have family there and visit a couple of times a year. I would also add that it is not cheap -- cheaper than big cities, sure, but not what you would expect for rural Oregon. It's also pretty isolated and can be hard to get out in winter.

I tried to post a photo but couldn't figure out how. When I was there last summer, it was a hot (HOT) day and we thought we might go to the river to swim. It was JAM PACKED with people on all sorts of floats, kayaks, paddle boards, pizzas, swans, you name it -- shoulder to shoulder floaties everywhere. It was like being at a water park, but way less exciting because there wasn't a slide.

Have you thought about Bellingham, Spokane, Sand Point, Boise, or Couer D'Alene? They all offer similar vibes, affordability, and proximity to the outdoors without the crazy crowds and "bro-brah" culture.

Thanks for the info on the river crowds, not terribly surprising but good to have our expectations in check. Any idea what it's like further outside of town, up or down river or at the many nearby lakes? A crowd in town can be fun from time to time, but nice to be able to drive a reasonable distance to get some peace and quiet.

This is one of my pet peeves with our current location. There's quite literally no place within half a day's drive that is not overrun because of the 7 million people in the SF Bay Area (not even including population of neighboring counties such as our own). Once a cool local spot (secluded swimming hole or similar) hits social media...forgetaboutit it! In this respect the isolation of Bend is kind of attractive to me, though I wonder if I we will tire of being 3 hours from the nearest city. On the other hand, no need to commute and can order stuff online if we can't get it in town.

As a Californian it's good to be reminded that mountain passes in winter can be problematic, so thanks for that.

EDIT: We've looked at Spokane and Boise, didn't check some of the boxes for us. Will look into Bellingham, Sand Point, and Couer D'Alene (but for some reason DW has an aversion to ID...think I would love it, but she has a mental block about it for some reason). Thanks for the suggestions.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 05:58:24 PM by FINate »

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2018, 05:50:21 PM »
I'm not super-duper Bend experienced, and most of my time there has been political activity/conventions but what I will say is a big downside for oregon: our crazy high income tax. Obviously coming from CA this is less of an issue, but Oregon is super high income tax bracket (9.5%) on top of whatever your federal is.

Oh, good thought. Not just the top rate, but the brackets are different. As far as I can tell our increase in income taxes will be slightly more than offset by decrease in property taxes (based on the price/size/location of homes we're looking at). I guess we'd come out ahead because of zero sales tax. Thanks!

lhamo

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2018, 06:10:57 PM »
It has been many years since I visited, but I was surprised how much I liked Walla Walla, WA.  The mountains and wine country are beautiful.  Whitman College makes it more liberal leaning than much of Eastern WA.  And no income tax. 

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2018, 06:16:47 PM »
It has been many years since I visited, but I was surprised how much I liked Walla Walla, WA.  The mountains and wine country are beautiful.  Whitman College makes it more liberal leaning than much of Eastern WA.  And no income tax.

Thanks! I'll check it out. Plus, it's fun to say :)

cheddarpie

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2018, 06:18:27 PM »
Thanks for the info on the river crowds, not terribly surprising but good to have our expectations in check. Any idea what it's like further outside of town, up or down river or at the many nearby lakes? A crowd in town can be fun from time to time, but nice to be able to drive a reasonable distance to get some peace and quiet.

I don't know about other swimming options outside of town, but I would guess there are more than plenty that are less crowded. There are lots of great camping options too. A good friend of mine who used to live in Bend recently moved to Hood River, so that might be another option too -- or look on the Washington side of the river where there's no income tax. :)

EDIT: We've looked at Spokane and Boise, didn't check some of the boxes for us. Will look into Bellingham, Sand Point, and Couer D'Alene (but for some reason DW has an aversion to ID...think I would love it, but she has a mental block about it for some reason). Thanks for the suggestions.

I really like northern Idaho but I understand where the aversion comes from. Idaho in general is super conservative politically, but even of the reddest of red counties have a little purple in them. :) Northern Idaho still has a very PNW feel too it -- big trees, water, etc.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2018, 07:14:42 PM »
I don't know about other swimming options outside of town, but I would guess there are more than plenty that are less crowded. There are lots of great camping options too. A good friend of mine who used to live in Bend recently moved to Hood River, so that might be another option too -- or look on the Washington side of the river where there's no income tax. :)

Yes, lots of camping options relative to population. Alpine lakes in the Cascades, and larger warmer weather reservoirs at lower elevations, plenty of backpacking options. I see there are a couple of Limited Entry Permit areas for overnight trips, yet huge chunks of the Sierra Nevada now have quotes that fill up 3-6 months in advance. The thought of being within 1 hr drive of so many options and midweek camping with few crowds is enticing.

I really like northern Idaho but I understand where the aversion comes from. Idaho in general is super conservative politically, but even of the reddest of red counties have a little purple in them. :) Northern Idaho still has a very PNW feel too it -- big trees, water, etc.

Could be an option in the future. I think it depends on how well we take to our first move.

Stache-O-Lantern

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2018, 07:25:10 PM »
I have an aversion to both Santa Cruz and Bend for many of the reasons outlined above!

For example, Californian's in Santa Cruz might forget that California has lots of mountain passes that can be problematic in winter!  ;) 

As a Californian it's good to be reminded that mountain passes in winter can be problematic, so thanks for that.


I had a college friend that moved to Bend and started a business and family and bought a home.  They seem to love it there.

I spent 2 weeks in McCall, Idaho and thought it was great.  If I was looking at Idaho I would consider it. But mind you, that was 20 years ago.

What about Ashland, Oregon?  I spent a summer outside of town there.  Hip, smallish college town.  The Shakespeare plays bring in lots of culture and out-of-town money.  Skiing nearby.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2018, 08:05:13 PM »
I have an aversion to both Santa Cruz and Bend for many of the reasons outlined above!

For example, Californian's in Santa Cruz might forget that California has lots of mountain passes that can be problematic in winter!  ;) 

As a Californian it's good to be reminded that mountain passes in winter can be problematic, so thanks for that.


I had a college friend that moved to Bend and started a business and family and bought a home.  They seem to love it there.

I spent 2 weeks in McCall, Idaho and thought it was great.  If I was looking at Idaho I would consider it. But mind you, that was 20 years ago.

What about Ashland, Oregon?  I spent a summer outside of town there.  Hip, smallish college town.  The Shakespeare plays bring in lots of culture and out-of-town money.  Skiing nearby.

Ashland/Medford/Grants Pass area is on the shortlist, plan on checking it out. Comparable cost of living, climate is a bit more mild. And lots of great mountain biking, though that's probably true of most small cities in OR. IMO, has more of a Northern California look to it - not a bad thing necessarily, just different.

EDIT: And yes, this lowlander central coast Californian is an ass for assuming that Californians elsewhere in the state don't deal with winter conditions :)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 08:50:30 PM by FINate »

monstermonster

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2018, 08:51:15 AM »
No one has mentioned this yet, but diversity is a huge problem in Oregon, even more so in Bend. It's super white and the racists roots are pretty deep in that part of the state, especially the activity of white supremacists in the area. Coming from Santa Cruz it might be a shock. Even though Santa Cruz is really white for CA, it's still a lot more diverse than our most diverse city in Oregon (Portland).

Most recent census: 91.3% White, 0.5% African American, 0.8% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.4% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races Considering how small the town is, that means there's about 400 black people in all of Bend.



rdaneel0

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2018, 09:14:35 AM »
My biggest gripe about Bend, Oregon (Oregon in general actually) is the total lack of diversity. I know it's not important to everyone, but the first time I visited I found it pretty shocking. The second I stepped off the plane I was like, "woahhhhh...so white".

Seriously almost everyone is white and speaks English, to the point where you really notice when you do occasionally see a POC or hear a different language. This lack of diversity is reflected in the grocery stores, cultural offering, vibe of the cities, etc. It even seems like everyone dresses the same, has similar interests, political views (based on town), etc. So it's homogeneous beyond just race.

It is a truly beautiful area geographically, but I just don't feel comfortable in really non-diverse areas so I wouldn't want to live there. I also find there's an insular mindset, which is very common in non-diverse areas (whether they're in the south or PNW), and there is some definite bitterness specifically towards "rich" Californians moving to Oregon and "taking" all the good property.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2018, 10:28:52 AM »
Good points on diversity and language. One internet commenter wrote that it's like an "Aryan REI." My guess is this is true of most of the PNW? As already pointed out, Santa Cruz isn't exactly multicultural, though we like to talk about it incessantly. In fact, it seems Santa Cruz is becoming more white, and maybe more asian, as wealthy tech workers (I'm a former software engineer) move into the area. I should point out that Santa Cruz and California also has a racist underbelly that never really gets talked about - no idea how it compares to other areas.

I fully expect to be hated as part of the California invasion. I get it. Over the decades I've watched as my home area has had a mass influx of people move in, and then tourists on top of that. I don't hate the people coming here, they are just trying to live and make ends meet like everyone else, though I do understand the angst.

And I've become accustomed to being despised. Santa Cruz is very Xenophobic; I moved to Santa Cruz from a neighboring county 15 years ago and I'm still not considered a "local." As a political moderate (hunter/shooter who supports reasonable gun control, as one example) I'm used to never really fitting in, being attacked from both sides. Same for being a Christian who believes in science and evolution; there's something for everyone to hate :) Don't care anymore. Honestly, one of the main things we'll be looking for when we check places out is a small, authentic church community. No megachurch or big show, just people living out life and the faith together...this could make or break a location for us.


pdxvandal

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2018, 10:24:46 PM »
I really enjoy Bend when I visit, but agree with previous posters that it is a little fake. It wasn't always like that, but it's boomed the past 15 years. When I was growing up, it was a sleepy town of 10,000 people. Now, it's like 90k.

Another point to consider is that it's pretty remote and isolated. There's a small airport in Redmond, but the closest real airport is 2.5 hours away in Portland. And if you head east, it's mostly desolate until Boise, which is 5 hours away.

After living in Oregon for nearly 20 years, I prefer Ashland, Astoria and Hood River, but to each his/her own.

iluvzbeach

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2018, 10:57:48 PM »
When you’re checking out Ashland/Medford, swing by Jacksonville. Super-quaint town, with lots to do in and around town, including the Britt Music Festival each summer. We stopped in for the first time in 2011 and decided we just had to make it home.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2018, 11:02:10 PM »
Thanks for all the input/things to think about. Appreciate the unvarnished truth as we evaluate our options. As Bracken_Joy put it "it's not the shining gem of perfection a lot of people assume" which is true of every location but still, great to have a more realistic view of things. Has also prompted us to evaluate a couple of other locations more seriously.

Happy to hear any other thoughts people may have, just wanted to say thanks for the thoughtful responses so far.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2018, 11:07:50 PM »
When you’re checking out Ashland/Medford, swing by Jacksonville. Super-quaint town, with lots to do in and around town, including the Britt Music Festival each summer. We stopped in for the first time in 2011 and decided we just had to make it home.

Thanks for the tip! Very interesting. I've heard (and also mentioned on this thread) that Bend has summer wildfires, and I think Ashland/Medford had a bad fire season last summer. What's your view on it?

lhamo

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2018, 09:44:45 AM »
Can you summarize what kind of a town you are looking for -- or at least what the make or break points are?

There are a few smaller towns in WA that might be worth looking at, but hard to say without knowing more about your criteria.

A few possibilities:

Ellensburg -- on I-90, so not too far from Seattle amenities as long as the weather isn't too bad.   Home of Central WA U, so maybe a bit more diverse/liberal than other parts of E. WA.  Lots of great hiking around there and trails generally less crowded than the W side of the cascades

Wenatchee -- probably pretty conservative and much more isolated, but a decent population center mid-state.   Farming-centered economy

Cle Elum -- a bit closer to Seattle, very small

Leavenworth -- Bavarian themed tourist town, which a lot of people love to hate.  The tourist economy does mean more amenities than a lot of places in E WA.  Great hiking/rock climbing in the area.   Sleeping Lady retreat center brings in a lot of world-class classical music and other cultural events that might be hard to find in other towns this size

Port Townsend  -- another very touristy town, but has nice events like the Jazz Festival and other cultural stuff put on by Centrum.  Somewhat in the shadows of the Olympics, so less rain than other parts of the Peninsula.

Port Angeles -- not a very nice town, in my opinion, but property is cheap and it is very close to Olympic National Park for outdoor stuff.  Limited ferry service to Victoria (I think only once a day -- maybe twice in peak season)

Port Angeles

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2018, 02:47:21 PM »
Happy to elaborate. Some of this may seem familiar as I've adapted some of MMMs ideas.

Size: 50-200k. Fairly large range, just not too small or too large. Doesn't have to be all in one city, e.g. could be a smaller city within a few miles of a larger city or multi-city corridor, though I prefer a compact medium size city over small towns spread out. Want reasonable amenities within a few miles: parks, library, hardware store, groceries, etc. Much fewer than 50k and IMO it gets too sparse. Much larger than 200k and it starts to feel large and sprawling.

Cost of living: Average or somewhat above is fine. Santa Cruz is over 2x the average, with housing 4.4x average :(

Distinctness: Self contained city that is not a bedroom community or suburb of a larger city. Strongly prefer being more than 2+ hours from a large metro area. I don't mind tourists, but don't want to be in an area where a neighboring large city empties into for weekend day trips. Decent downtown, doesn't need to be perfect, just good enough for occasional dates and family nights out. Would continue doing most trips by bike. One of the aspects of WA and OR I find compelling are the urban growth boundaries: Cities are for living, everything else is for agriculture and/or visiting. 

Climate: Prefer drier, colder winter (i.e. snow) over rain. Anything in summer is fine as long as it's not excessively hot (110+. Once in a while is fine, just not weeks on end).

Proximity to outdoor activities: Hiking, backpacking, camping, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, road biking...love it all and want options nearby. Was an avid skier/snowboarder in college and interested in getting back into it, but want to be within an hour. Also interested in getting back into backcountry skiing/snow camping. The winter stuff is simply too much of an ordeal for us right now at 5+ hrs each way. Variety is also important. One of my happy places is near/just above treeline - cold alpine lakes, gnarled wind blown trees, snowy peaks in summer. But also enjoy a hot day at a river or lake at lower elevations and appreciate the stark beauty the high desert.

Culture: Somewhat balanced. Not too hippy-dippy. Nothing against hippies, but interested in more than old run down victorians festooned with prayer flags as far as the eye can see (exaggerating, I know). Also not looking for Trumptown. Specifically, since I enjoy hunting there's a certain type of hunter very annoying. Probably unavoidable, but would like to minimize the loud arrogant type that brags a lot and is more interested in shooting shit and killing things than being in nature appreciating the privilege of harvesting from the land. Also prefer a local political scene that's focused on keeping things running and improvements. In other words, I'd like to pay taxes that go to making the city a great place to live: Clean parks, sewer capacity, water supply, business friendly regulations, redevelopment, urban infill, libraries. We like to read, and learn about nature, but not huge into Art or Performing Arts, so this is more of a bonus than a must have. Fine with occasional travel to a bigger metro for this. A certain amount of social cohesion and town spirit would be nice, yet realize that this can also work against us as 'outsiders' and an area with recent 'transplants' could mean people are a bit more accepting. University is a plus as long as it's not too large relative to the rest of the population.

I don't think there's any perfect utopia out there, and expect we will end up making tradeoffs. Deal breakers would be super extreme political culture (on either end), a city that doesn't invest in itself (either because citizens are anti-tax or anti-change), super extreme climate (though I don't think this is a problem anywhere in PNW), 50% or higher than average cost of living. Oh, and the church thing I mentioned upthread, though that's so personal that it's something we need to explore for ourselves.

Thanks for all the input and ideas. Looking at Ellensburg now :)


v8rx7guy

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2018, 03:20:31 PM »
I think Wenatchee would check most of your boxes.  It's on my personal short-list of potential FI destinations.

tralfamadorian

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2018, 03:57:15 PM »
For those MMMers in the know, what is the consensus on Bellingham? I have it on my shortlist of places to FIRE/slow travel after FIRE but have never been there...
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 05:59:10 PM by tralfamadorian »

FireHiker

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2018, 04:30:54 PM »
This is really interesting. I know someone who is nearly retired (Definitely FI) who has a home in Bend and spends a fair bit of time there. He LOVES it up there but definitely tends towards the more conservative end of the spectrum. He doesn't seem to have too much trouble with people hating on him for being from So Cal, so maybe that experience varies? Or maybe he just fits in really well. He did say there is a massive influx of people in Bend from California though. I know someone else who visited there and said it was "too white" (and she is white), and that it's super dry in the winter, and colder than the coast (obviously).

We love the PNW but the lack of diversity is a concern. My uncle lives in Port Townsend and we've visited a few times. It's still not diverse, but the access to the Olympics is very appealing to us and it seemed to be a pretty laid back place. With probably 12.5 years until we can uproot and relocate we still have some time to figure it out. We really, really loved Durango, CO but I'm a bit concerned about how much more expensive health care is compared to California. Guess it's a good thing I have some time to sort it out.

FINate, it sounds like your criteria is similar to ours, except that I have zero interest in hunting (although nothing against anyone who does). I've considered parts of WY and MT but I'm not sure if it would be too "Trumpville" (in your words) or not. What is your timeframe? I'll be curious to follow along with your search for the right place. Maybe I'll get some good ideas that way.

wbranch

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2018, 04:50:26 PM »
We moved to Coeur d'Alene from the midwest last year. Your criteria sounds somewhat similar to my wife and I. Probably still in the honeymoon phase, but continue to love living here. From what I have seen most of brackenjoy's list of bad things for Bend would apply here as well.
My main complaint I had about our previous town was that I wanted to be closer to the mountains, hiking, camping, outdoors, etc. Can be in some amazing places in a 2 hr drive from our front door, and a 4 hr drive you can see some outdoors areas better than some people ever get to see IMO. 

Summer tourist traffic gets pretty heavy. But we did a lot of weekends hikes 1.5 hr drive away from town and never saw a person all day.

Last Labor Day week had insane levels of smoke cover eastern WA and North ID.

What did you not like about Spokane? For me it is a big city, but some of the surrounding small towns in WA seem pretty nice.

Around here there are quite a few complaints about people from CA, but it seems like mostly joking to me. But I am sure some take the outsiders moving in very personally. Not much you can do about that.

Since you said you are a hunter, WA does not have the best OTC general seasons even if you are a resident. A lot of WA residents are willing to pay non-resident tag prices in ID or MT.

Telecaster

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2018, 05:05:25 PM »
For those MMMers in the know, what is the consensus on Bellingham? I have it on my shortlist of places to FIRE/(very) short travel after FIRE but have never been there...

Love it.  It has got a little bit urban sprawl going on, but a nice downtown,  it has a college, lovely parks, close to outdoors, etc. 

v8rx7guy

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2018, 05:10:30 PM »
For those MMMers in the know, what is the consensus on Bellingham? I have it on my shortlist of places to FIRE/(very) slow travel after FIRE but have never been there...

Do you have specific questions?  I live in Bellingham.  I would say the biggest negatives are the weather (October thru March is very wet and gray), homelessness (and drugs) are becoming more noticeable and has been increasing heavily in the last decade or so, and probably lack of diversity.  I do get why people target Bellingham as a great FI location.  It checks a lot of the boxes in terms of being an outdoorsy, liberal, "lower" COL, high culture college town.  It is incredibly beautiful and I do think the people here are  genuinely authentic and kind.  There are also a ton of parks, a few micro breweries and a handful of niche theaters.

You really have to visit to experience it.  Personally, it's not the right FI town for me as I do not particularly enjoy the weather (I've even lived here the majority of my life) and it's a little to liberal / hipster for my personal taste.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 05:20:32 PM by v8rx7guy »

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2018, 05:25:43 PM »
I think Wenatchee would check most of your boxes.  It's on my personal short-list of potential FI destinations.

Checking it out, looks interesting. I do seem drawn to cities on the eastern slopes of the Cascades :) The high country to the west looks promising. Going on my short list.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2018, 05:36:21 PM »
FINate, it sounds like your criteria is similar to ours, except that I have zero interest in hunting (although nothing against anyone who does). I've considered parts of WY and MT but I'm not sure if it would be too "Trumpville" (in your words) or not. What is your timeframe? I'll be curious to follow along with your search for the right place. Maybe I'll get some good ideas that way.

We're planning on 1-2 years. Due to some tax planning we won't make the move for 2 years, but have the flexibility to purchase any time, so once we decide where we'll watch the market and bide our time for a good deal on something that suits us. We have some family stuff to deal with this spring/summer so our travel will be limited (though will visit a couple of spots). Planning a PNW road trip in 2019 to visit family and check out the top candidate cities.

Davin

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2018, 05:40:27 PM »
Bend is near the top of my list of potential places to relocate to, and I have spent a fair amount of time there cross country skiing and trying to sample all the beers they produce. I also lived in Santa Cruz in the early 90s and in Phoenix, OR just outside of Ashland when I was a kid. I have found Bend much more welcoming to non-locals than either Ashland or Santa Cruz.
I think you will have no trouble fitting in there based on the description you gave of yourself. Yeah, it is not very diverse, but compared to Idaho...?
My experience with the weather there is favorable compared to Ashland which freezes, but doesn't get snow, gets crazy fog, seems hotter in the summer, and is stifled by a pollution trapping inversion layer. Bend gets hot in the summer, but I have never experienced it so hot as the Rouge Valley.
Bend is Pricey compared to where I live now, but not nearly as expensive as Santa Cruz and the Bay area which is why I had to move to Humboldt, I just couldn't afford it down there.
Bend is pretty bicycle friendly, and dog friendly too.
That's just my two cents, for what it is worth.

tralfamadorian

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2018, 05:44:36 PM »
For those MMMers in the know, what is the consensus on Bellingham? I have it on my shortlist of places to FIRE/slow travel after FIRE but have never been there...
Do you have specific questions? 

I'm still a few years away so information gathering at this point. I would say that I'm looking for the traditional MMM attributes- bikeable/walkable core, outdoor activities, good people, and a culture that is supportive of people like us. I'm also a sucker for beautiful places and prefer my politics blue.

Would you agree that Bellingham ticks those boxes?

I am somewhat concerned about the homelessness and the lack of winter sunshine but I feel that is something I would just have to experience and see how it went.

Davin

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2018, 05:45:14 PM »
Bend is near the top of my list of potential places to relocate to, and I have spent a fair amount of time there cross country skiing and trying to sample all the beers they produce. I also lived in Santa Cruz in the early 90s and in Phoenix, OR just outside of Ashland when I was a kid. I have found Bend much more welcoming to non-locals than either Ashland or Santa Cruz.
I think you will have no trouble fitting in there based on the description you gave of yourself. Yeah, it is not very diverse, but compared to Idaho...?
My experience with the weather there is favorable compared to Ashland which freezes, but doesn't get snow, gets crazy fog, seems hotter in the summer, and is stifled by a pollution trapping inversion layer. Bend gets hot in the summer, but I have never experienced it so hot as the Rouge Valley.
Bend is Pricey compared to where I live now, but not nearly as expensive as Santa Cruz and the Bay area which is why I had to move to Humboldt, I just couldn't afford it down there.
Bend is pretty bicycle friendly, and dog friendly too.
That's just my two cents, for what it is worth.

fuzzy math

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2018, 05:46:05 PM »
Mt. Bachelor's summit chair lift is only open when the weather is good. And it gets really icy up there.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 05:52:56 PM by fuzzy math »

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2018, 05:56:21 PM »
We moved to Coeur d'Alene from the midwest last year. Your criteria sounds somewhat similar to my wife and I. Probably still in the honeymoon phase, but continue to love living here. From what I have seen most of brackenjoy's list of bad things for Bend would apply here as well.
My main complaint I had about our previous town was that I wanted to be closer to the mountains, hiking, camping, outdoors, etc. Can be in some amazing places in a 2 hr drive from our front door, and a 4 hr drive you can see some outdoors areas better than some people ever get to see IMO. 

Summer tourist traffic gets pretty heavy. But we did a lot of weekends hikes 1.5 hr drive away from town and never saw a person all day.

Last Labor Day week had insane levels of smoke cover eastern WA and North ID.

What did you not like about Spokane? For me it is a big city, but some of the surrounding small towns in WA seem pretty nice.

Around here there are quite a few complaints about people from CA, but it seems like mostly joking to me. But I am sure some take the outsiders moving in very personally. Not much you can do about that.

Since you said you are a hunter, WA does not have the best OTC general seasons even if you are a resident. A lot of WA residents are willing to pay non-resident tag prices in ID or MT.

I think Spokane is too large and sprawling. Not just the size of the population, but also the city's footprint...it's very spread out. And from what I can tell, the downtown seems lacking and heavy on chain restaurants. One place I was very interested in is Ft Collins, CO (crossed off as it's too far from family). Although it has a somewhat similar population (165k vs 210k) it's more compact, and there's more of a vibrant downtown. Spokane is also one of the only cities in the PNW I've found with a consistently higher crime rate than Santa Cruz, mostly from theft. With about 5500 thefts (per 100,000) I can guess what's going on - there's a drug problem (meth and/or opiates) and theft is how addiction is funded. 

As far as hunting...can't get much worse than CA ;-) I started hunting about 6 years ago, have never pulled a premium tag, and the OTC tags are mostly in areas with very limited public access and/or limited game. But whatever, I enjoy the challenge. If nothing else, I have learned how to avoid other hunters by packing into wilderness areas.

lhamo

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #35 on: February 26, 2018, 06:37:42 PM »
Have you considered Reno?

Undecided

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #36 on: February 26, 2018, 06:42:32 PM »
Bend is near the top of my list of potential places to relocate to, and I have spent a fair amount of time there cross country skiing and trying to sample all the beers they produce. I also lived in Santa Cruz in the early 90s and in Phoenix, OR just outside of Ashland when I was a kid. I have found Bend much more welcoming to non-locals than either Ashland or Santa Cruz.
I think you will have no trouble fitting in there based on the description you gave of yourself. Yeah, it is not very diverse, but compared to Idaho...?
My experience with the weather there is favorable compared to Ashland which freezes, but doesn't get snow, gets crazy fog, seems hotter in the summer, and is stifled by a pollution trapping inversion layer. Bend gets hot in the summer, but I have never experienced it so hot as the Rouge Valley.
Bend is Pricey compared to where I live now, but not nearly as expensive as Santa Cruz and the Bay area which is why I had to move to Humboldt, I just couldn't afford it down there.
Bend is pretty bicycle friendly, and dog friendly too.
That's just my two cents, for what it is worth.

Let's respect his request for negatives. Keep the positives out of it.

koshtra

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #37 on: February 26, 2018, 06:50:54 PM »
I'm thinking Walla Walla. Walla Walla is more or less what Bend was forty years ago.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #38 on: February 26, 2018, 08:18:57 PM »
Have you considered Reno?

We came through Reno on a road trip last summer. It's nice but the downtown is...uh...interesting :) Reno has long seemed like a place ready to emerge as a destination. No income tax, affordable housing, 30 minutes to Tahoe, Burning Man (never my thing, and long in the tooth), easy access to the eastern Sierras along the highway 395 corridor, and close enough to Silicon Valley. Looks like tech companies are starting to come. If I wanted to keep working in tech it would be high on my list. In FIRE the area further south around Carson City is more interesting. It's very near a spot in the high country that I love and spend a lot of time in. Being closer is nice, but still have the problem of dealing with crowds from the Bay Area and/or SoCal (easy trip north on 395). Also doesn't get us much closer (in drive time) to family in PNW. It's on the radar, but not a top contender at this point.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2018, 08:22:38 PM »
Bend is near the top of my list of potential places to relocate to, and I have spent a fair amount of time there cross country skiing and trying to sample all the beers they produce. I also lived in Santa Cruz in the early 90s and in Phoenix, OR just outside of Ashland when I was a kid. I have found Bend much more welcoming to non-locals than either Ashland or Santa Cruz.
I think you will have no trouble fitting in there based on the description you gave of yourself. Yeah, it is not very diverse, but compared to Idaho...?
My experience with the weather there is favorable compared to Ashland which freezes, but doesn't get snow, gets crazy fog, seems hotter in the summer, and is stifled by a pollution trapping inversion layer. Bend gets hot in the summer, but I have never experienced it so hot as the Rouge Valley.
Bend is Pricey compared to where I live now, but not nearly as expensive as Santa Cruz and the Bay area which is why I had to move to Humboldt, I just couldn't afford it down there.
Bend is pretty bicycle friendly, and dog friendly too.
That's just my two cents, for what it is worth.

Let's respect his request for negatives. Keep the positives out of it.

That's the spirit!

Seriously though, thanks for the info Davin. The cultural points of reference between Santa Cruz and Bend are useful, as is the point about climate and air quality for the Rouge Valley.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2018, 09:17:54 PM »
Thanks, good rundown.

You guys are seriously making me want to go to ID. The Sawtooths, Bitterroots, and even Eagle Cap Wilderness all within reach. Pretty sure it's a breach of etiquette, however, for a Californian to move straight to ID without first living in the PNW ;-) Seriously, I would consider living a bit further from extended family for it. Just not sure I can convince DW just yet, though have some time so worth a try.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 09:36:11 PM by FINate »

katscratch

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #41 on: February 26, 2018, 09:57:05 PM »
Pretty sure it's a breach of etiquette, however, for a Californian to move straight to ID without first living in the PNW ;-)

Only thing worse would be moving to Portland :P ;)

Jesstache

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2018, 10:16:25 PM »
My family has lived in Bend the past 6 years, my husband longer.  Love it here, never plan to leave.  Since we have small children we are heavily embroiled in the public school system and outdoor sports, which are excellent, by the way (I know you said you plan to home school and there's a large home school community as well).   We find it easy to make friends.  One of the most common questions asked when meeting someone new is, "How long have you lived in Bend?"  There is definitely a general dislike of "Californians" by the "locals" (who moved here first from California or Seattle or the Valley? ha) and there is quite a bit of entitlement from the long time residents or "true locals".   

Everyone else hit on most of the negatives.  If you are a facebook user, I'd suggest liking KTVZ Newschannel 21 and paying attention to the news stories posted there and read the comments on the stories if you want to know what the local issues and resident complaints are here. 

If you have any questions, feel free to pm me.

pdxvandal

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2018, 10:57:40 PM »
Idaho is part of the Pacific Northwest, so you have nothing to worry about.

Thanks, good rundown.

You guys are seriously making me want to go to ID. The Sawtooths, Bitterroots, and even Eagle Cap Wilderness all within reach. Pretty sure it's a breach of etiquette, however, for a Californian to move straight to ID without first living in the PNW ;-) Seriously, I would consider living a bit further from extended family for it. Just not sure I can convince DW just yet, though have some time so worth a try.

FINate

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #44 on: February 26, 2018, 11:10:22 PM »
My family has lived in Bend the past 6 years, my husband longer.  Love it here, never plan to leave.  Since we have small children we are heavily embroiled in the public school system and outdoor sports, which are excellent, by the way (I know you said you plan to home school and there's a large home school community as well).   We find it easy to make friends.  One of the most common questions asked when meeting someone new is, "How long have you lived in Bend?"  There is definitely a general dislike of "Californians" by the "locals" (who moved here first from California or Seattle or the Valley? ha) and there is quite a bit of entitlement from the long time residents or "true locals".   

Everyone else hit on most of the negatives.  If you are a facebook user, I'd suggest liking KTVZ Newschannel 21 and paying attention to the news stories posted there and read the comments on the stories if you want to know what the local issues and resident complaints are here. 

If you have any questions, feel free to pm me.

Great idea to follow the local news (duh! why didn't I think of that?). I'd feel quite at home with people bickering about who's the most "local" LOL.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #45 on: February 27, 2018, 07:43:49 AM »
For those MMMers in the know, what is the consensus on Bellingham? I have it on my shortlist of places to FIRE/slow travel after FIRE but have never been there...

I visited Bellingham for four days in 2015 and enjoyed it.  Nice little town, waterfront is cool, decent bar/restaurant scene, etc.  If I ever moved out there, I would move somewhere in between Bellingham and North Cascades National Park.  My wife and I hiked at Mount Baker and the creeks that flow from it, and we would often just stop dead in our tracks at the beauty of things there.  Too close to Mount Baker and you feel disconnected from civilization, but there are some small towns along the way that would be cool.

wbranch

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #46 on: February 27, 2018, 09:37:13 AM »
Have you looked at Pullman, WA and Moscow, ID? University towns 8 miles apart. Moscow is in the bluest county in ID. Combined population is 60k+. Clarkston, WA and Lewiston, ID are 30 miles to the south with a combined population around 60k.

Palouse hills are a beautiful area, and mountains and rivers are very close. A couple hrs SW to the Blue Mountains in WA and OR. A couple hrs south to Hells canyon along ID/OR border. East and SE to the Clearwater River area and northern Bitterroots. 

Pennycounter

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #47 on: February 27, 2018, 10:26:46 AM »
Love this thread! Seems like my family isn't the only ones with Bend on the list.  We are definitely more than 1-2 years out from leaving the Bay but this is good information.

Not to hijack FINate's thread too much but we are interested in Spanish immersion K-5/8 schools. Do any of the noted communities offer that?  I think I saw that Bellingham had one.  I guess that plays a lot into the lack of diversity comments. 

JLE1990

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #48 on: February 27, 2018, 11:57:43 AM »
Hi I just wanted throw in my two cents as someone who lives in the valley along with Bracken_Joy.

I would agree on the "fakeness" of Bend. It seems like the current city was built by very wealthy people who love to live like they are poor dirtbags in VWs and Subarus. So you have a town where everyone loves to "opt outside" and pretend like they are outdoor lovers. When new people move there, they buy into this mentality and so it continues the illusion. It has become a measure of social status to be "outdoorsy." The people there drive around in brand new subarus(sooo many Subarus), wearing $300 Arctix jackets, who go on a nature walk and then go home to their million dollar homes built to look like a mountain cabin. Like any sub-culture from rap to country music: the mountain climbing, woods loving, nature living, stoic outdoorsman has been co-opted by wealthy people who want to identify that way. An easy Californian comparison(I was homeschooled in Norcal by Tahoe which has the same issue) is the guy who drives an extremely expensive sports car so that people think he is successful, but he barely makes the payments and lives paycheck to paycheck.
Bend is the opposite and the result of thousands of said wealthy people collectively playing the character of outdoorswo/men. It's like someone setup an entire town, complete with actors, to lure unsuspecting tourists into spending insane prices on literally everything. Even the Safeway there is built like an idealized mountain abode complete with a wood panel finish, instead of the lowly grocery store we're used to that the smells like recycled beer bottles.

A couple of things to note is that I love Bend and the last part of my degree is only offered there. But it's expensive and if you are looking to homeschool your kids there are better areas. I would throw my hat in for Hood River. You are close to Mt. Hood with its 3 ski resorts (If you think Mt. Bachelor is cheap, try the Mt. Hood Fusion Pass, $550 for two ski resorts, one of which is the largest night ski resort in the U.S., and 3 days at 18+ other resorts on the west coast.), only an hour or so from Portland and not as much rain as the valley.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 12:02:23 PM by JLE1990 »

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Convince me that Bend, OR sucks
« Reply #49 on: February 27, 2018, 01:05:22 PM »
I'm a former Oregonian and have a lot of family in Bellingham.

I've thought about moving back over the years but the four months of overcast and rain during the winter for anywhere west of the Cascades is definitely a downer after having lived in sunny Albuquerque for the last decade. I missed that rain at first when I went to school in Pullman, WA but now when I go back in the winter I definitely don't miss it.

I went to school in Pullman, WA and I really enjoyed that smaller town feel. I didn't have a car for most of the time I was in college but could walk most places in 15-20 minutes and the bus system was very efficient (and very full in the mornings). Snow in the winter but usually just a few inches at a time, never put on chains or studded tires and despite the fact that the whole town is built on a few hills managed to make it through a winter driving with an old Ford Escort. Summer got hot but a 100 degree day was rare. The permanent population of the city is probably only about 15-20k with another 20k students so it might be a bit too small in that respect.

Bellingham is just a hair away from being a temperate rainforest. As bad as the rain and overcast was in the Portland, OR area it's worse in Bellingham. It's also gotten a lot more expensive. A co-worker's daughter lives there and he was telling me how they were trying to buy a house near downtown and they were starting at about $375-400k for 1,200 SF houses that were 100 years old with questionable renovations (I assume craftsman style homes). For a young couple that was pretty much out of reach but obviously if you're FIRED and taking equity from a house in California housing costs are of minimal concern.

I've only been to Bend a few times. We used to have a farm near there, albeit in a far more rural area about 30-40 miles north. Pretty hot in the summer there but Bend is probably a bit cooler being at a higher elevation.