Author Topic: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?  (Read 40072 times)

Trifele

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DH, 2 kids and I are looking to move in the near future for better quality of life, and we are thinking about the northwest.  I've been exhaustively researching places to live in the US based on our wants, and Washington and Oregon keep popping up on top.   We have only ever been to Oregon once (Ashland/Medford area -- loved it) and haven't been to Washington in person yet.  If possible, can you help point us to a few cities based on our wish list?  Then we will visit and check them out in person.

Our wish list --

- Nature nearby.  We are trail runners and x-country skiers.  We love to hike, backpack and canoe.

- Reasonable housing costs.  Would like to be able to get a 3BR/1Ba house for $250k or less if possible.

- Interesting/cultured/nice people. Not sure how to phrase this one, but here goes.  Over the years due to various jobs we have lived in some rural/extremely religious areas where we felt like aliens.  Would like to instead live somewhere more secular, where people are smart, laid back, and nice.  Am guessing this will likely take care of itself in WA/OR, but wanted to say it out loud, as it is important to us.

- At least some sun.  :)  I understand that some places in the northwest are extremely overcast and rainy.  How dark is it, really?  We do need some sun, so that DH doesn't get down, and our vegetable garden will grow. 

- Bikeability.  We like to do grocery store runs, etc., by bike.

- Preferably a small town or mid sized city, rather than a big city.

- School districts are not an issue -- we home school.  However, proximity to a college or community college would be a bonus as DH (a college teacher) may want to keep working.

So what do you think?  Does our ideal place exist?   Thanks!! 

darkhorse

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2015, 03:50:18 PM »
Spokane would be a good choice. Seattle and PDX are off your list due to your $250k or less home constraint.

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2015, 03:54:04 PM »
Thanks, Darkhorse!  Will check that out. 

zoltani

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2015, 03:58:05 PM »
Tacoma, WA fits well with your criteria. You can still find a nice house for that price, lots of nature very close, Mt Rainier, North Cascades, etc etc. IDK about cultured people but we have a lot of museums for a city of this size, and people are really friendly. I haven't run into religious fanatics. Winters aren't as bad as people make them out to be, and right now it is 85 and sunny, too hot if you ask me!

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2015, 04:00:55 PM »
Ack! Response just eaten....let's try this again...

There is a large cultural and climatic difference between Western WA / OR and Eastern WA/ OR. Decide if you want to be on the maritime side or not - that's huge. Spokane is the main city in Eastern Washington, and many people love it, but it's a very different town from Seattle, and the outlying community is basically rural, whereas the outlying community in Western WA is denser.

If you are secular homeschoolers, I strongly advise that you focus on the Maritime (Western) NW. There are just more resources on the west side, and definitely less religion.

Some smallish towns to look at: Bellingham, WA, Sequim, WA and Silverton, OR. Not sure if you can find a house in these areas for $250 but I think with some flexibility, probably.

ETA: T-Town, yo! Zoltani's Tacoma suggestion is a good one too. Tacoma is the home of the glass artist Chihuly, so they actually attract quite a few artsy types. It will always be in Seattle's shadow culturally, but the city itself is quite nice (old brick buildings, etc. nice parks) and a good value.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 04:03:34 PM by Erica/NWEdible »

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2015, 04:05:07 PM »
Thanks, Zoltani!  What do you think about Olympia? 

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2015, 04:05:56 PM »
Thank you, Erica!  Great pointers!

abiteveryday

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2015, 04:07:20 PM »
East is going to be more religious (it's all relative though, in the Northwest), but I would actually say Ellensburg, WA could be a very strong candidate for you anyway.    Can't beat the outdoor opportunity, home of Central Washington University, probably 300 days of sun (though windy as heck a lot of the time), and if you really NEED something from the big city, Seattle's still only a couple hours away.     

(Does it show that I'd love to convince my wife to move to Ellensburg?)

Lanthiriel

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2015, 04:09:24 PM »
Kitsap County would be a good choice for you. The Silverdale/Bremerton/Poulsbo area is particularly nice.

- Nature nearby. Houses in West Bremerton are basically on the Hood Canal with lots of opportunities for hiking/kayaking, etc. and less than an hour's drive to the Olympic Mountains.

- Reasonable housing costs. You can find a house under $250k, no problem.

- Interesting/cultured/nice people. So liberal it's ridiculous, even with all the military bases nearby.

- At least some sun.  Well... you can't have EVERYTHING, right?

- Bikeability. It's definitely possible to live closer in to town on your budget, but you also get farther away from nature.

- Preferably a small town or mid sized city, rather than a big city. Check. I love the size of these towns.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2015, 04:10:35 PM »
Olympia is politicians and hippies. Good farm/homesteader type network. Your kids would be close to the state capitol. But other than the state capitol it doesn't have a lot going on.

ETA: That's unfair. I apologize. I actually think Olympia is a really cool town, and you are close to the Mountains there. But I also think you're a substantial drive from most other major towns if you wanted to go explore with your kids. Somehow Olympia always feels way further out than Tacoma. That might just be my perception bias though.

Something to consider between WA and OR: you have very different taxation structures. WA - no income tax, but sales tax. OR just the opposite. So pick your poison. The Vancouver, WA area is worth looking at too - it's close to PDX for your city needs, and will be a touch warmer and a bit sunnier than the puget sound region.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 04:15:51 PM by Erica/NWEdible »

zoltani

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2015, 04:11:51 PM »
Thanks, Zoltani!  What do you think about Olympia?

Not for me personally. Don't know enough about it to tell you why, but it has a definite weird vibe.

abiteveryday

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2015, 04:13:26 PM »
Man you nailed it zoltani.   I was going to try and address Olympia but couldn't come up with any solid reasons.   It's just got a weird vibe.

OP, regarding you mentioning a past visit to Ashland/Medford, you might find that not very representative of some of the other areas mentioned.    Both are much sunnier and drier than anything North of say... Eugene (in the West).    Aside from Ashland (which is so crunchy liberal that it's just begging for a measles outbreak) you might find it more politically conservative as well, like you would expect of more Eastern communities.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 04:16:50 PM by abiteveryday »

AJ

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2015, 04:15:48 PM »
Eugene, OR would meet all of these criteria. It is bike-friendly, has University of Oregon and Lane Community College, and the median home price is <$250k. Anywhere in western PNW will meet your culture criteria. The farther south you go, the more sun you'll get. It is 93 degrees out today here and beautiful, but it is summer, and it isn't always like this.

Also, I live there and am extremely biased! :)

Corvallis and Medford might fit the bill also, but I'm unsure on their bikeability. Bend is great for outdoorsy stuff, is very walkable, and will have plenty of sunshine most of the year, but it's more expensive. If you really want to go small town, Creswell is 15 minutes south of Eugene. Lebanon is likewise close to Corvallis.

Ashland is a freakin' amazing city, too. Southern Oregon University is there (small compared to the other state schools), and they host the Shakespeare festival if that is your thing. And they have as much sun as you'll get in PNW, being right on the California border. But the nearest big city (if you have need of it) is Portland, which is a 5 hour drive.

Oregon has no sales tax, but does have a 9% income tax.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 04:19:55 PM by AJ »

zoltani

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2015, 04:16:42 PM »
Olympia has one thing going for it: cheap good beer all the time!

bigalsmith101

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2015, 04:19:07 PM »
Snohomish Washington. Lake Stevens, Washington (Where I live now). Everett, Washington.  Marysville, Washington.  Mount Vernon, Washington. Burlington Washington. Bellingham Washington.

The cities listed above are in geographical order from south to north, heading north of Seattle. I've skipped a few cities from Seattle to Snohomish due to the price constraints on finding a 3bd/1ba for $250k range. It's possible though, and where I live there are 3bd/2ba's going for $275k'ish.

- Nature nearby. All the things you listed and more are within close range of these cities. 30min or less for everything.

- Reasonable housing costs. The closer to Seattle, the more expensive.

- Interesting/cultured/nice people. The closer to Seattle, the more liberal. Mid distance from Seattle = Your kind of style.

- At least some sun.  :)  Veggies grow like weeds in the area between Seattle and the Canadian border. There is sun in the summer, and some in the fall/spring. It rains a lot in late fall, winter, early spring. It's overcast quite a bit, but it's not DARK. Depends on your point of view. I was born and raised here. I don't mind it.

- Bikeability.  Depending on house location, the grocery store will be <1mi, or up to 3-4miles?

- Preferably a small town. That will depend on location. Snohomish Washington. ~40k/pop Lake Stevens, Washington ~40k/pop(Where I live now). Everett, Washington. ~110k/pop Marysville, Washington ~60k.  Mount Vernon, Washington. ~50k Burlington Washington. ~40k/pop. Bellingham Washington. ~80k/pop

Schools. There is the University of Washington in Seattle. Edmonds Community College. Everett Community College. Skagit Community College (Mount Vernon), Western Washington University (Bellingham), Whatcom Community College (Bellingham).

I lived in Bellingham for 4 years during my college years, and LOVED it. I'd live there in a flash if I had a reason to. It was great.

I live currently in Lake Stevens, and am looking for a house nearby to call home. I love it here as well.

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2015, 04:19:07 PM »
Thank you all so much!  This is exactly what we need.  :)

TheBuddha

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2015, 04:37:38 PM »
Bend, OR

abiteveryday

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2015, 04:38:32 PM »
Bend is possibly my favorite place in the whole region, but $250k ain't buying shit anywhere near downtown.

sol

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2015, 04:51:31 PM »
I think this really depends on your particular needs.

Proximity to an employer is going to be the limiting factor.  If you still need/want to work, you should move to the jobs you get offered.

Medford is a great city, with great weather and a relaxed pace.  My in laws retired there and love it.  The only problem is that it is far away from the rest of the family.

Tacoma, like all cities, has lovely parts and seedy parts.  Neighborhood is more important than city in that respect.

The east side has a very different set of politics and social structures.  I grew up over there and have zero interest in moving back.  Too many camo baseball caps and gun racks.

Do you have any specific needs?  Like if you really need a juggling club or community kazoo band within walking distance of your house, you're kind of restricted to Olympia or downtown Seattle.  Those are the sorts of restrictions that I find most determinative of location choices.

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2015, 04:59:20 PM »
@Sol -- Work is not driving us . . . Fortunately we are near FI and are in a position to choose a location based on other factors.   When we move I will stop working, and DH will look for something at his leisure if he wants to.   

We have no particular needs -- other than some serious nature.  If we could run on trails 5 or 6 days a week (without having to drive a long way to get there) we would be blissfully happy.  We are pretty hardcore gardeners too, so a local 'homesteader' vibe is a plus. 

@ abiteeveryday -- "Aside from Ashland (which is so crunchy liberal that it's just begging for a measles outbreak). . . " - Bwahaha!   We vaccinate, so we're not quite like that, but I know what you mean.

Thanks everyone!  You're nailing it! 

jeromedawg

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2015, 05:09:00 PM »
Olympia is politicians and hippies. Good farm/homesteader type network. Your kids would be close to the state capitol. But other than the state capitol it doesn't have a lot going on.

ETA: That's unfair. I apologize. I actually think Olympia is a really cool town, and you are close to the Mountains there. But I also think you're a substantial drive from most other major towns if you wanted to go explore with your kids. Somehow Olympia always feels way further out than Tacoma. That might just be my perception bias though.

Something to consider between WA and OR: you have very different taxation structures. WA - no income tax, but sales tax. OR just the opposite. So pick your poison. The Vancouver, WA area is worth looking at too - it's close to PDX for your city needs, and will be a touch warmer and a bit sunnier than the puget sound region.

Yup, settle in Vancouver, WA and do all your shopping in Portland. Then you'll get the best of both worlds: no income tax in WA and no sales tax in OR

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2015, 05:13:26 PM »
Love it JPlee! 

jeromedawg

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2015, 05:29:39 PM »
Love it JPlee!


From what I've read around, it seems like it's pretty safe there but it is kind of sprawling based on what I see on the map and I'm sure there are some areas that are not so safe. Just Zillowing it seems like there are quite a few homes which would meet your criterion. It also seems relatively bike friendly from a glance (considering Portland is a neighboring town, I really would be surprised if it wasn't). Also, I don't think finding trails will be a problem around there. Especially in Portland. It's like nature-central up there!

Jeremy E.

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2015, 05:32:49 PM »
Pullman, WA or Moscow, ID (they are 15 minutes from each other). Washington State University is in Pullman and University of Idaho is in Moscow. Both cities are around 30,000 population. It's a very bikeable area, you could get a decent 3 bdrm house for about 175,000. The entrance to Hells Canyon is about a 40 minute drive from either city, and there's lots of other great camping and outdoor activities nearby as well. The biggest complaints about these cities are, too many college kids, and too rural outside of the cities.

Migrator Soul

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2015, 05:46:05 PM »
So, for those of you who know Eastern Oregon, I grew up in Hermiston. I loved it, I am also a redneck hillbilly that loves trailers and cars on blocks. That being said, I would advise you to take a look at La Grande Oregon. It is small enough to bike everywhere, (going by my standards) while also big enough to have most of what you need. Eastern Oregon University calls it home, and there are many parks, lakes, trails, and forests all around. It is smack dab in the middle of the Blue Mountains. Absolutely beautiful. Also, close by one of my favorite spots to go fishing and camping. Morgan lake, has some decent trout, big enough to paddle canoes about, and once a year hosts a triathlon. Best of all though, it has crayfish to catch...

willikers

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2015, 05:53:44 PM »
I grew up in the Kitsap peninsula, it's close to nature and great for the scenery, but remote. Traveling to the city is a nickel and dime operation, and the cost of living is higher due to longer commute times and the general western Washington premium.

I lived in Olympia, it's also close to nature and great for the scenery, but remote. Cost of living seemed higher when I was there, but it likely had much to do with being a student and a non-mustachian at the time.

I currently live in, and am in love with Spokane. Very close to nature, in fact surrounded by more parks than anything I experienced on the west side. Very close to Washington Wine Country, filled with local, one of  a kind eateries and brewpubs, great venues and local music. It's a great town, the absolute best of both city life and small town neighborhood charm.

As far as cost of living, I bought my house last year 110,000. 2300 sq ft, Four bedrooms, 1 bath, full basement, garage, 10 minute bike trip downtown. I pay about 600 a month for my mortgage, which is $125 less  than my 600 sq ft, 1 bdrm apartment I had in Olympia.

I can't speak for Oregon, but I would highly encourage you to visit Spokane, have a couple beers, and take a walk down by the river. You might never leave. I know I won't.


Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #27 on: June 08, 2015, 06:33:57 PM »


"I currently live in, and am in love with Spokane. Very close to nature, in fact surrounded by more parks than anything I
I can't speak for Oregon, but I would highly encourage you to visit Spokane, have a couple beers, and take a walk down by the river. You might never leave. I know I won't."



Excellent!  We will visit.  :)  Thanks for the pointers and links, McSaathof.

pdxcyn

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #28 on: June 08, 2015, 07:14:02 PM »
I'm very interested in the replies here too. I live in Portland, but it's starting to feel too crowded, and I have similar criteria to the OP. If gardening is important to you, I would be concerned about the east side. Not just dry, but a shorter growing season. See this chart http://www.victoryseeds.com/frost/or.html or this one http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-oregon-last-frost-date-map.php The average last frost date for Bend is not until July!!! Compare that to 4/26 for Portland. Gardening on the coast is also challenging due to cooler temps and the marine layer. There is plenty of sun in the Willamette Valley during the summer.  Some places I have visited only briefly but would like to take a closer look at: Silverton (charming downtown), Corvallis (college town), Cottage Grove (Row River Trail), Grants Pass (Rogue River). That said I do find incredibly beautiful east of the Cascades, and, well, you can always build a greenhouse.

If money were no object though, I would live in Ashland.

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2015, 07:19:40 PM »
The Dalles isn't too bad either.

MrsPotts

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #30 on: June 08, 2015, 08:28:27 PM »
For Washington, either Bellingham or Ellensburg.  Most rural towns in Wash. Are very conservative.

SailorGirl

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2015, 08:40:15 PM »
There's a big political divide between the halves of both states if that's an issue for you.  The western halves tend to be more "blue", the eastern halves are more "red".  I live in the west and have family in the east so the difference is striking to me when I go home to visit - and we are not highly political people.

freeatlast

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2015, 09:24:51 PM »
I live in South Seattle which has a reputation for being the seedy side of Seattle, but the houses are more affordable and I love my neighborhood! Schools though need improvement from infrastructure to quality of teaching (so I hear).

One thing I might mention is the Seattle Freeze. I have found it a bit difficult to make friends and I have been here 13 years and most of my friends seem to be from other places... mostly my friends are from the East Coast. So, if you choose Seattle just be cognizant that everyone is very nice and polite but it may be harder to make close connections especially if you don't work in an office or you home school your kids (thus losing out on the mom and dad club). That is just my experience and a my friends feel the same. Could be us though!

Best of luck!

CaseyJones

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2015, 10:31:57 PM »
I have lived in Corvallis and Olympia...I think there are at least a few great options in WA and OR for you. In WA, Olympia and Bellingham are the obvious choices in my experience. Both are medium-smallish towns, extremely progressive with Universities and lots of cultural options. Amazing scenery in both. Tons of outdoor activities around. Both are within striking distance of Seattle, if you feel like you need big city stuff, or feel sitting in traffic for a change.

Politics correlates positively with city size, as one might expect. Smaller college towns are an exception to that, which is why I like them. You can get your 250k house in Oly, not sure about B'ham.

Pay attention to what others above have said about gardening in western WA. Warmth (including soil warmth) is a limiting factor to success with things like peppers and tomatoes. But you can work around that with greenhouses, starts, raised beds, etc.

I would definitely recommend checking out Olympia before making your decision. I've lived here since 2002 and want to stay for decades to come. Why? A high emphasis on community and local stuff, good bike trail system, you can look out on snow capped mountains and the beautiful Puget Sound at the same time...as I do every day. It is inspiring. Great access to kayaking, hiking, lots of parks, not too far from the coast, the Olympic Range, the Cascade Range... so you are 75 minutes from surfing at Westport, 90 minutes from lots of great hikes in the Olympics, 2 hrs from the east side of the Cascade Range (i.e. sunshine!), less than 2 hrs from the western Cascades. But honestly, I stick around close to town on most weekends and just hike, kayak, go fishing, or go to parks here. The downside of Olympia? A relatively high number of transients and druggies downtown...kind of like a larger city would have. Also a few years back we went for 9 months without ever reaching 70 degrees. That's a long time...

I won't speak for Oregon but there are of course some great options there. Housing in Corvallis is pretty expensive, but I would consider the Eugene area for sure. There is a reason housing prices have gone up so much in places like Bend and southern OR towns...they are great places also subject to a northward migration of people acclimatized to more expensive living.

As I'm sure you know, be careful about assessing home prices using Zillow and other sites...you really have to see the houses and neighborhoods in person to understand the pricing of a given city. What looks like a great value usually looks like crap in person, if it has been listed over 2 months. Look at the houses that sold in 1-2 weeks for an idea of what a good housing value is.

Good luck!

Exflyboy

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2015, 10:48:33 PM »
we live in Corvallis.. Home of Oregon State.

Town is very bikable with lots of great running trails. Gorgeous scenery.. Trees.. lots of trees.

Housing is pricey in town but more reasonable on the outskirts.

Mostly unchurched, politics are progressive and people can mostly have a reasoned conversation.. You'll get a few folks who vent based on their ideology.. these are a called.."idiots"..:)

Of course when we get the big earthquake the whole state will be flattened..:)

abiteveryday

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2015, 11:01:13 PM »
With some of the info in your follow up posts, I actually probably also lean toward Bellingham at the top of the list.   Find a nice house near Whatcom Falls park, run on trails any time.   I highly recommend a long winter visit though, just so you really know what the gray is like over here in the mists.

Lanthiriel

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #36 on: June 09, 2015, 12:18:44 AM »
Pullman, WA or Moscow, ID (they are 15 minutes from each other). Washington State University is in Pullman and University of Idaho is in Moscow. Both cities are around 30,000 population. It's a very bikeable area, you could get a decent 3 bdrm house for about 175,000. The entrance to Hells Canyon is about a 40 minute drive from either city, and there's lots of other great camping and outdoor activities nearby as well. The biggest complaints about these cities are, too many college kids, and too rural outside of the cities.

Jeremy, as a Cougar, I think you're crazy. I couldn't wait to get out of that God-forsaken wheat field :)

I also wanted to +1 Bellingham (gorgeous little town) and -1 Vancouver (too much suburban sprawl, not enough character). Just my opinion, of course!

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #37 on: June 09, 2015, 05:36:29 AM »
Thanks to the multiple posters who followed up re: gardening.  I checked out the frost date data/hardiness maps and WOW is Oregon variable.  Looks like there are multiple microclimates due to the mountains and varying elevation.  Bend is definitely out as a place to settle.  A 51 day growing season?!?   No way.  The other towns mentioned closer to the coast have a growing season/hardiness I could work with.  Most of the towns on the east side of WA/OR do have a shorter season, as Pdxcyn mentioned, so they are out.  Spokane seems to be an exception -- it has a good long growing season. 

With some of the info in your follow up posts, I actually probably also lean toward Bellingham at the top of the list.   Find a nice house near Whatcom Falls park, run on trails any time.   I highly recommend a long winter visit though, just so you really know what the gray is like over here in the mists.

Yes -- we will definitely visit Bellingham. Thanks Bite!  Would the weather still be misty in March?   We would be able to head out during our spring break.  I bet not many people select the Washington coast as a spring break destination.  :)

Eugene, Olympia, Ellensburg, and Spokane are also getting visits.  Of the five towns it looks like Bellingham has the highest housing costs, but we may be able to work with it.  The other three towns look like they have houses within our budget.  I agree that Zillowing only tells you so much;  we'll be sure to look at houses while we're there.  Thanks to all!

 
 

   
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 05:48:01 AM by Trifele »

Noodle

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2015, 06:26:59 AM »
One thing to keep in mind about Eastern vs. Western Washington or Oregon if you are coming from elsewhere...east of the Cascades is more conservative and religious than the West Side, but practically anywhere in the country other than maybe large coastal cities is more conservative and religious than Seattle or Portland. If you are comparing it to, say, the American South (and I have lived both places) the politics and religion are less extreme. The PNW overall is always the least-churched area of the country when they do surveys. My parents are moderate liberals and other than enjoying some eye-rolling at their neighbors, seem to be perfectly happy on the East Side. (The home-school community might be more conservative, though).

If you are wondering about gardening conditions, a great resource is to contact the Master Gardeners organization in your prospective hometown. You will find someone who would LOVE to talk to you about all things green and growing.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #39 on: June 09, 2015, 07:18:49 AM »
Thanks to the multiple posters who followed up re: gardening.  I checked out the frost date data/hardiness maps and WOW is Oregon variable.  Looks like there are multiple microclimates due to the mountains and varying elevation.  Bend is definitely out as a place to settle.  A 51 day growing season?!?   No way.  The other towns mentioned closer to the coast have a growing season/hardiness I could work with.  Most of the towns on the east side of WA/OR do have a shorter season, as Pdxcyn mentioned, so they are out.  Spokane seems to be an exception -- it has a good long growing season. 
Something to keep in mind about gardening - the growing season in Cascadia is NOT effectively described by frost free days. Unlike pretty much the rest of the country, our growing season DOES NOT track with heat units. In a cool year our overnight lows NEVER get out of the 50s. So what this means is that winters are about as mild as the Southeast - GA, etc. - and year round growing with only a bit of season extension is pretty straightforward. HOWEVER, the maritime NW tends to have less summer heat than anywhere in the US save Alaska.

SO....nearly year round gardening is easy, but getting tomatoes ripe is a challenge. I'm not even kidding. Nearly everything in a vegetable garden that's a botanical fruit has to be the shortest season version out there to do well in an average summer, including tomatoes, eggplant, melons, etc. It's better in the "banana belt" down in Southern Oregon, and the Willamette Valley will give you options too, but in the Northern part of the bioregion (Bellingham) you can pretty much forget stuff like sweet potatoes, okra, watermelon, etc.

So, what this means if you are looking at it as a gardener, is depending on what you want to grow, the effective YIELD from your garden someplace like Spokane might actually be greater, even with a shorter frost-free time. I've had friends on the East side, like the Tri-Cities, where people direct seed peppers, which seems so foreign and weird to me I can't even explain it.

So, I guess, think of it this way, which sounds better to you: 10 months of fresh garden produce, much of which is kale, chard, cabbage, broccoli, beets and lettuce, or a huge bumper crop of summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers, etc. and then a garden that shuts down for the year?

Anyway, gardening in the Maritime NW is weird. Hit me up if you have specific questions.

abiteveryday

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #40 on: June 09, 2015, 07:20:35 AM »
Re:  weather in March.

Most years it will still be plenty gray in June honestly.   This year has been great, but there will also be years where it's raining for July 4.

tweezers

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #41 on: June 09, 2015, 09:24:06 AM »
Snohomish Washington. Lake Stevens, Washington (Where I live now). Everett, Washington.  Marysville, Washington.  Mount Vernon, Washington. Burlington Washington. Bellingham Washington.

The cities listed above are in geographical order from south to north, heading north of Seattle. I've skipped a few cities from Seattle to Snohomish due to the price constraints on finding a 3bd/1ba for $250k range. It's possible though, and where I live there are 3bd/2ba's going for $275k'ish.


Anacortes is ~20 miles west of Mount Vernon/Burlington, and gets a lot more sun.  Housing is more expensive, but its a fantastic little town.

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #42 on: June 09, 2015, 09:36:27 AM »
Thanks, Tweezers!  Will check it out. 

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #43 on: June 09, 2015, 09:42:33 AM »

Something to keep in mind about gardening - the growing season in Cascadia is NOT effectively described by frost free days. Unlike pretty much the rest of the country, our growing season DOES NOT track with heat units. 



I'm not sure I know what you mean by this.  Are you talking about how some crops (peppers/tomatoes/eggplant) like those warm summer nights to grow well?  I agree that "overall-warmth" factor is not described by frost free dates and growing season.    But a 51 day growing season is a 51 day growing season, right?  Without coldframes/a greenhouse/etc.  that really puts a damper on what you can grow.  Am I missing something?  Thanks!

Yeah sounds like you've gardened in a variety of locations so you'll be totally fine. What I meant (and probably explained poorly) is that in most of the country, a Zone 7B - 9A hardiness zone, which is most of Western WA and Western OR, means you have a TON of heat units in the summer, and might even need to take summers off from most gardening because it gets TOO hot for many things. I'm thinking like, South Texas. But for us, that's just not the reality. It's all about the Goldilocks Zone out here: not to cold, but not too hot, either. Relatedly, my impression is that, in many places, "frost free" = "planting date" within a few weeks. Whereas here you can be frost free for months and months before the soil warms up enough to germinate anything.

So, yeah, it's just a quirky place to be a gardener, but one of the best places in the world if you like those cool season crops like peas and cabbage. :) I love growing food in Western WA.

RichMoose

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #44 on: June 09, 2015, 09:58:53 AM »
On the west side of the Cascades pretty much any good place has been covered. +1 for Bellingham and Corvallis. Anacortes doesn't have a college if my memory is right.

On the east side there are some great choices that are in progressive(ish) college towns.

Walla Walla is a great small city, good universities (Whitman & Walla Walla), sunny as heck from April to October, tons of hiking and biking, and relatively mild temperature even in the winter. I'm not a huge gardener myself, but I think the climate here would definitely be garden friendly.

Wenatchee ticks a lot of boxes too but the college is tiny. Definitely tilts more conservative here.

Coeur d'Alene is beautiful with tons of outdoor rec options. Medium sized college. A bit colder in the winter when comparing to Walla Walla. But the lake...


Jon_Snow

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #45 on: June 09, 2015, 10:10:25 AM »
I'd vote for Bellingham, mostly for the fact that you would have easy access to the awesomeness that is British Columbia, and it's equally awesome Mustachian population. ;)

And Bellingham is a great place on it's own merits too.

magnuminator

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #46 on: June 09, 2015, 11:02:14 AM »
I don't know Oregon especially well, but have good memories of past visits to Corvalis (OSU).  Eugene (UofO, ugh) is perhaps my absolute last choice in the entire region, but some people like it.  I hear mixed things about Salem but don't have enough experience to say more than that.

In Washington, I'll second Tacoma.  I love that town and would like very much to live there myself; however,  should be aware that while its neighborhoods are great, the downtown area has only recently begun to recover from decades of abandonment.  It's got some nice features and mountains of potential (plus potentially great views of the mountain) but if you need hustle and bustle downtown, look elsewhere.  Transit connections to Seattle are pretty good, by very poor regional standards at least.  In-city bus service has suffered due to lack of support from the rest of Pierce County in levy votes.  The city is looking to expand its short light rail line to the Hilltop, which is affordable and interesting but perhaps not yet ready for the truly skittish.  Colleges include: the University of Washington-Tacoma, Tacoma Community College, Pierce College, Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Puget Sound, and Bates Technical College.

If that's a little too big for your tastes, Puyallup is actually pretty nice and affordable.  It's a little more conservative and rural feeling than Tacoma.  It has heavy rail commuter (only) service and bus links to Tacoma and Seattle.  Be aware that snobby north King County residents look down on all of Pierce County as well as south King Co.  That's their loss, though, not yours.

Olympia's been pretty well described already.  It has the advantage of probably having some of the best public schools of the affordable semi-urban west side of the mountains.  It has the Evergreen State College (alternative) and South Sound Community College.

Everybody loves Bellingham, but if your kids love it they will have a hard time finding jobs to allow them to stay on as adults.

I like Spokane but have only visited a few times.  I'll let others speak to its merits and shortcomings.  I should visit again soon.  Gonzaga University is there, as it Spokane Community College.

Walla Walla is a dot of semi-liberal surroundings and fancy wining and dining in the heart of eastern WA.  Not sure about prices there these days though.  You've got both Whitman College and Walla Walla CC there.

If I had only one suggestion to make, though, it would be this: avoid Seattle, with gusto.  It's become far more expensive than it used to be, is seeing heavy development, traffic is bad, transit is okay, schools are iffy, and while I-90 provides an easy shot to the mountains, most of the trails that are close in are choked with hikers on nice weekends.  FI would improve trail conditions for you as you could go on weekdays, but I've been hiking the region for nearly as long as I've been alive and it's crazy how busy the mountains are.

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #47 on: June 09, 2015, 11:48:00 AM »


 It's all about the Goldilocks Zone out here: not to cold, but not too hot, either. Relatedly, my impression is that, in many places, "frost free" = "planting date" within a few weeks. Whereas here you can be frost free for months and months before the soil warms up enough to germinate anything.

So, yeah, it's just a quirky place to be a gardener, but one of the best places in the world if you like those cool season crops like peas and cabbage. :) I love growing food in Western WA.


Got it!  You are right -- our soil temps here usually jump right up after our last freeze date, and germination is never a problem.  I probably wouldn't have thought of that if you hadn't pointed it out.  Thanks !!!  I think that means I'd have to start a lot more stuff indoors, which is fine. 

Trifele

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #48 on: June 09, 2015, 11:51:51 AM »
Thanks, Magnuminator!  Some great new ideas in there that I will check out.  And I agree -- Seattle is way too big.  Not interested. 

Jeremy E.

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Re: Looking to move to Washington or Oregon. Help us choose a city?
« Reply #49 on: June 09, 2015, 12:07:43 PM »
Pullman, WA or Moscow, ID (they are 15 minutes from each other). Washington State University is in Pullman and University of Idaho is in Moscow. Both cities are around 30,000 population. It's a very bikeable area, you could get a decent 3 bdrm house for about 175,000. The entrance to Hells Canyon is about a 40 minute drive from either city, and there's lots of other great camping and outdoor activities nearby as well. The biggest complaints about these cities are, too many college kids, and too rural outside of the cities.

Jeremy, as a Cougar, I think you're crazy. I couldn't wait to get out of that God-forsaken wheat field :)

I also wanted to +1 Bellingham (gorgeous little town) and -1 Vancouver (too much suburban sprawl, not enough character). Just my opinion, of course!

Pullman is definitely nothing like the west side cities... That's why I like it :) there are some wheat fields around, but there's also tons of waterfalls, moscow mountain is amazing, hells canyon is amazing, so much nature nearby, and 2 good colleges where work could be found. Also much lower cost of living than west side cities. A big difference between the west and east side of Washington, the west side has a higher crime rate and is "bluer" whereas the east side has a much lower crime rate and is "redder". 80% of Washington is on the west side so you will get a lot more comments from people on the west side who will of course prefer their side. I live on the East side and prefer it. I've been to Seattle a few times, and hate it because it's so congested with way too much traffic and people. I've been to more than just Seattle, but I can't even tell what city I'm in over there because it all just blends together. I feel it'll be a long drive through a lot of crappy traffic to get to any nature... On the east side, cities actually end and you can quickly get to nature.