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Old 05-30-2013, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Loleta, CA
1,151 posts, read 962,742 times
Reputation: 1640

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As some of you are aware I have been quite enamored by Humboldt County ever since a camping trip to Patrick's Point with my girlfriend last July. Since then I've been doing a lot of research on the area including housing, job prospects, weather, and talking with people who currently live there or had lived there in the past. Opinions range from "I'd never want to live anywhere else but Humboldt" to "I'd live anywhere else but Humboldt" so we figured it'd be best for us to just take a weekend and go on a reconnaissance mission to see for ourselves whether or not we really want to live there.

We arrived in Fortuna via the 36 (yes, THE 36; I grew up in SoCal and I don't think this is a habit that will ever go away ) at about 9:30 AM after leaving our house at 5 on Saturday and immediately made our way down to Scotia/Rio Dell to check out Humboldt Redwood Company and the towns themselves. Scotia is very obviously a company town with lots of meh looking cookie cutter houses, and as a result we weren't terribly impressed. Unfortunately the Humboldt Redwood Company was closed the entire time we were in town so we didn't get a chance to talk to anyone, but that's alright.

I liked Rio Dell much more than Scotia; the scenery was gorgeous and the neighborhoods looked much more pleasant. It's only a half hour south of Eureka which is nice but it's certainly not a happening place for social activities like some of the other places we visited.

Next we made our way back to Fortuna and drove around a little bit to check out some of the neighborhoods and downtown area. We both really liked the quiet nature of the city and there was much more in the way of shopping, but the neighborhoods near downtown seemed just okay and we liked the neighborhoods a little up in the hills much better. Still a really nice city though and we could see ourselves living there.

Next up was Ferndale, and shortly after we arrived there the marine layer burned off and the sun came out, revealing an absolutely gorgeous town. If I had the means to live in Ferndale it would absolutely be my number one choice, and my girlfriend agreed that it's the most beautiful town in the entire area. We saw one house just outside the city limits within viewing distance of the ocean that was for sale, so when we got back home I looked it up and saw that they want 400 grand for it. Awesome place for sure, but totally unaffordable unless we catch some kind of amazing break.

After Ferndale was Eureka. We checked in at our hotel around 1:30 (the Town House Motel right off the northbound side of the 101 just behind the county buildings) and my gf took a short nap to recharge her batteries. Afterwards we walked over to Old Town and wandered around a bit, which was pleasant enough. Later we did some driving around in Eureka to look at some houses I had been looking at online and all of them were pretty disappointing. Eureka itself is pretty disappointing aside from the Cutten area, which was gorgeous and the only area in Eureka we'd consider living in voluntarily. The rest of the city felt pretty meh overall and the industrial activity near the bay gave it a very unpleasant look which is a shame because the surrounding countryside is beautiful.

Arcata and McKinleyville were our next stops, and in terms of desirable places to live that are also affordable McKinleyville is at the top of our list. We both really, really liked McKinleyville and decided that if we can make it out to Humboldt to live, McKinleyville is the place we'd look at first. Some other areas such as Bayside were really nice as well but very likely out of our price range. Arcata reminded me a lot of a miniature San Francisco which was cool, but McKinleyville is close enough to Arcata for the social activities as well as shopping in Eureka (Costco!).

Overall, in terms of desirability I'd say Ferndale > McKinleyville > Fortuna > Arcata > Rio Dell > Eureka > Scotia

In terms of affordability I'd say Eureka > Fortuna = Rio Dell = Scotia > McKinleyville = Arcata > Ferndale

In terms of places we could actually afford to live and be happy I'd say McKinleyville is number one, followed by Fortuna.

Overall though we really like the area and I think we'd both be happy living there. I'll be returning to Eureka in about three weeks to take a test for a job with the county, and I submitted an application to work for the City of Arcata as well. The county job pays between $2,100 and $2,700 starting, but there's an assumption that after a year you get promoted to a higher paying position. I have to assume that if I get the job I'd be making the bottom of the range salary; is that enough for two people and a dog to live on in McKinleyville while my girlfriend hunts for a job? We'd be renting at first until we both get stable jobs and are able to explore the area more and look for a house to buy, which could take at least a year's time and maybe more. The City of Arcata job pays some $38k a year starting which I know is enough to live just about anywhere we want, but I won't be hearing back from them for a little while yet (if at all) because the deadline for applications isn't until tomorrow.

Anyway, I think that's all for now. Like I said we both really like the area and wouldn't mind living there at all, but the concerns about the job situation, the transient population (definitely an eyesore even if they are mostly harmless), and the isolation (our families live here in Butte County) keep us on our toes and we continually think about what a life in Humboldt would be like for us. We don't know anyone over there and making friends can be hard for both of us, but I'm sure there are plenty of wonderful people our age (I'm in my late 20s and my girlfriend's in her mid 20s) we could make friends with.

Thanks for reading; I'm looking forward to some replies from eureka1 and TheDragonSlayer, both of whom have given me some advice and direction on the area.
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Old 05-30-2013, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Under the Redwoods
3,748 posts, read 6,145,298 times
Reputation: 6002
Cutten is the only place in Eureka that gets sun and is out of the tsunami range. I lived in Cutten on Avalon. It was pretty quiet and I liked that a grocery store was close by so I did not have to 'go into' Eureka to shop for dinner or to get that forgotten item.
Fortuna gets more sun than McK and Arcata. If you don't mind a bit of a commute, check out Blue Lake or hit the old Arcata road and check out the 'back roads'... Of course online now that you are home.
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Old 05-30-2013, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Loleta, CA
1,151 posts, read 962,742 times
Reputation: 1640
I forgot to mention that we did go to Blue Lake, and while I liked it well enough my girlfriend wasn't all that impressed. I did like that it was 10 minutes from Arcata but I can understand why she didn't care for it since it feels so far away from everything else.
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Old 05-30-2013, 03:17 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
78,549 posts, read 70,455,727 times
Reputation: 76511
OP, did you talk to people about the weather? I heard that Humboldt is a lot more like the NW than it is like the rest of CA. In other words: rainforest. That would be the one thing holding me back from relocating up there.
Thanks for a good report, though.
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Old 05-30-2013, 03:43 PM
 
Location: Loleta, CA
1,151 posts, read 962,742 times
Reputation: 1640
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
OP, did you talk to people about the weather? I heard that Humboldt is a lot more like the NW than it is like the rest of CA. In other words: rainforest. That would be the one thing holding me back from relocating up there.
Thanks for a good report, though.
I've spoken with TheDragonSlayer here on C-D about the weather, and I've done pretty extensive research on the internet as well. According to DragonSlayer, the sunniest time of the year is from late August to mid October, with the rainy season lasting from October through May. He said that it's often cool and foggy from mid June to mid August, and the rainiest months of the year are usually December and January, though things have been a bit out of whack the past couple of years.

The weather while we were there was spectacular. A marine layer greeted us every morning which was expected, and it burned off between 11 AM and 1 PM on Saturday and Sunday (it rained all day on Monday from Humboldt all the way back to Butte). The sun felt warm and there was always a small breeze coming off the ocean to cool things down, which was wonderful. I personally enjoy the weather in Humboldt very much, though I do admit I think the fog could get a little old after a while. Thankfully it doesn't last forever and I'm sure there are plenty of warm, sunny days during the foggy season as well.

One thing that's not mentioned very often is "Humboldt crud," which is a result of the high moisture levels in the air. If you're used to low humidity then there's a good chance you'll get sick often for the first year or two until you become acclimated to the climate. This is actually a concern of mine because I grew up in a very low humidity area (the high desert in SoCal) and am currently living in a fairly low humidity area. I'm also an asthmatic which could potentially be problematic, but I think it's manageable through exercise and medication.
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Old 05-30-2013, 04:13 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
78,549 posts, read 70,455,727 times
Reputation: 76511
A rainy season from October through May sounds pretty grim. The fog wouldn't phase me, it sounds like the Bay Area: morning and evening fog to keep the temps cool. IDK about that "crud" thing. Is the humidity higher than in the Bay Area?

I heard there was a lot of methane gas being released into the air from decomposing redwoods that sank into the Bay back when lots of logging was happening earlier last century, and that that's what really nails asthmatics. It might be worth looking more deeply into what that air crud is about.

Well, if you do move there, maybe you could give us periodic reports. I've heard Arcata has some crazy fun festivals now and then during the year. Seems like a good community. I've heard there's a lot of drug activity around the area, though. Did you ask anyone about that? The presence of a university is always an asset, though. Do the beaches have surf, like farther south in CA, or are they quiet, small waves, like in OR and WA?
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Old 05-30-2013, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Loleta, CA
1,151 posts, read 962,742 times
Reputation: 1640
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
A rainy season from October through May sounds pretty grim. The fog wouldn't phase me, it sounds like the Bay Area: morning and evening fog to keep the temps cool. IDK about that "crud" thing. Is the humidity higher than in the Bay Area?

I heard there was a lot of methane gas being released into the air from decomposing redwoods that sank into the Bay back when lots of logging was happening earlier last century, and that that's what really nails asthmatics. It might be worth looking more deeply into what that air crud is about.

Well, if you do move there, maybe you could give us periodic reports. I've heard Arcata has some crazy fun festivals now and then during the year. Seems like a good community. I've heard there's a lot of drug activity around the area, though. Did you ask anyone about that? The presence of a university is always an asset, though. Do the beaches have surf, like farther south in CA, or are they quiet, small waves, like in OR and WA?
The rainy season in all of California is from October through May; comes with the Mediterranean climate and is partly why California's weather is so predictable from year to year.

The humidity seems about the same to me between the Bay Area and coastal Humboldt, but I could be wrong about that. I've never heard of the decomposing logs thing but I suppose it could be a factor. I never noticed anything "off" about the smell in the air or anything like that. From what I can gather from what people have told me the "crud" is just a result of living in a cool, moist climate, and until you're acclimated to that one has a higher chance of getting sick, which I honestly think is true no matter where you go. For example, I was pretty well attuned to the allergens in the Antelope Valley because I grew up there, but when I moved to Chico I had an absolutely miserable allergy season this year while all the natives hardly seemed phased by it. It's just a matter of giving your body time to adjust to a new climate.

Activities in the area do seem pretty frequent and the majority of them sound really fun. While we were there they were holding the annual Kinetic Sculptures Grand Championship, which is a race from Arcata to Ferndale (I think) over a period of three days. We stopped and hung out at the finish line in Eureka on Saturday and enjoyed looking at the different sculptures and oh-so-interesting Humboldt natives.

As for the ocean, it's cold. Damn cold. I wouldn't recommend getting into it without a wetsuit, and I've heard the currents can be pretty brutal. I'm sure there are some surfers in the area but the north coast of California is generally quite craggy and not very conducive to surfing like it is further south.
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Old 05-30-2013, 04:44 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 11,428,298 times
Reputation: 12307
Each time I'm visiting friends in Humboldt, I can't help noticing that their houses (upholstered furniture, towels, etc.), cars (fabric seats, the floor mats) and even the clothes they're wearing, smell vaguely of mildew. They apparently don't detect this. These are clean people, BTW.

If I lived there again, I'd invest in multiple dehumidifiers for my house. Especially if I had asthma.
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Old 05-30-2013, 06:00 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
78,549 posts, read 70,455,727 times
Reputation: 76511
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightlysparrow View Post
Each time I'm visiting friends in Humboldt, I can't help noticing that their houses (upholstered furniture, towels, etc.), cars (fabric seats, the floor mats) and even the clothes they're wearing, smell vaguely of mildew. They apparently don't detect this. These are clean people, BTW.

If I lived there again, I'd invest in multiple dehumidifiers for my house. Especially if I had asthma.
Good to know. So it is moister than the Bay Area.

I was asking about the ocean because I prefer a dramatic surf to the quiet lap-lap of the ocean in the NW. It's also more fun to splash around in on hot summer days. I'm not from FL, I'm from the West Coast. I can handle it.
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Old 05-31-2013, 12:06 AM
 
Location: McKinleyville, California
6,413 posts, read 9,124,206 times
Reputation: 4225
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCMann2 View Post
As some of you are aware I have been quite enamored by Humboldt County ever since a camping trip to Patrick's Point with my girlfriend last July. Since then I've been doing a lot of research on the area including housing, job prospects, weather, and talking with people who currently live there or had lived there in the past. Opinions range from "I'd never want to live anywhere else but Humboldt" to "I'd live anywhere else but Humboldt" so we figured it'd be best for us to just take a weekend and go on a reconnaissance mission to see for ourselves whether or not we really want to live there.

We arrived in Fortuna via the 36 (yes, THE 36; I grew up in SoCal and I don't think this is a habit that will ever go away ) at about 9:30 AM after leaving our house at 5 on Saturday and immediately made our way down to Scotia/Rio Dell to check out Humboldt Redwood Company and the towns themselves. Scotia is very obviously a company town with lots of meh looking cookie cutter houses, and as a result we weren't terribly impressed. Unfortunately the Humboldt Redwood Company was closed the entire time we were in town so we didn't get a chance to talk to anyone, but that's alright.

I liked Rio Dell much more than Scotia; the scenery was gorgeous and the neighborhoods looked much more pleasant. It's only a half hour south of Eureka which is nice but it's certainly not a happening place for social activities like some of the other places we visited.

Next we made our way back to Fortuna and drove around a little bit to check out some of the neighborhoods and downtown area. We both really liked the quiet nature of the city and there was much more in the way of shopping, but the neighborhoods near downtown seemed just okay and we liked the neighborhoods a little up in the hills much better. Still a really nice city though and we could see ourselves living there.

Next up was Ferndale, and shortly after we arrived there the marine layer burned off and the sun came out, revealing an absolutely gorgeous town. If I had the means to live in Ferndale it would absolutely be my number one choice, and my girlfriend agreed that it's the most beautiful town in the entire area. We saw one house just outside the city limits within viewing distance of the ocean that was for sale, so when we got back home I looked it up and saw that they want 400 grand for it. Awesome place for sure, but totally unaffordable unless we catch some kind of amazing break.

After Ferndale was Eureka. We checked in at our hotel around 1:30 (the Town House Motel right off the northbound side of the 101 just behind the county buildings) and my gf took a short nap to recharge her batteries. Afterwards we walked over to Old Town and wandered around a bit, which was pleasant enough. Later we did some driving around in Eureka to look at some houses I had been looking at online and all of them were pretty disappointing. Eureka itself is pretty disappointing aside from the Cutten area, which was gorgeous and the only area in Eureka we'd consider living in voluntarily. The rest of the city felt pretty meh overall and the industrial activity near the bay gave it a very unpleasant look which is a shame because the surrounding countryside is beautiful.

Arcata and McKinleyville were our next stops, and in terms of desirable places to live that are also affordable McKinleyville is at the top of our list. We both really, really liked McKinleyville and decided that if we can make it out to Humboldt to live, McKinleyville is the place we'd look at first. Some other areas such as Bayside were really nice as well but very likely out of our price range. Arcata reminded me a lot of a miniature San Francisco which was cool, but McKinleyville is close enough to Arcata for the social activities as well as shopping in Eureka (Costco!).

Overall, in terms of desirability I'd say Ferndale > McKinleyville > Fortuna > Arcata > Rio Dell > Eureka > Scotia

In terms of affordability I'd say Eureka > Fortuna = Rio Dell = Scotia > McKinleyville = Arcata > Ferndale

In terms of places we could actually afford to live and be happy I'd say McKinleyville is number one, followed by Fortuna.

Overall though we really like the area and I think we'd both be happy living there. I'll be returning to Eureka in about three weeks to take a test for a job with the county, and I submitted an application to work for the City of Arcata as well. The county job pays between $2,100 and $2,700 starting, but there's an assumption that after a year you get promoted to a higher paying position. I have to assume that if I get the job I'd be making the bottom of the range salary; is that enough for two people and a dog to live on in McKinleyville while my girlfriend hunts for a job? We'd be renting at first until we both get stable jobs and are able to explore the area more and look for a house to buy, which could take at least a year's time and maybe more. The City of Arcata job pays some $38k a year starting which I know is enough to live just about anywhere we want, but I won't be hearing back from them for a little while yet (if at all) because the deadline for applications isn't until tomorrow.

Anyway, I think that's all for now. Like I said we both really like the area and wouldn't mind living there at all, but the concerns about the job situation, the transient population (definitely an eyesore even if they are mostly harmless), and the isolation (our families live here in Butte County) keep us on our toes and we continually think about what a life in Humboldt would be like for us. We don't know anyone over there and making friends can be hard for both of us, but I'm sure there are plenty of wonderful people our age (I'm in my late 20s and my girlfriend's in her mid 20s) we could make friends with.

Thanks for reading; I'm looking forward to some replies from eureka1 and TheDragonSlayer, both of whom have given me some advice and direction on the area.
I am glad you liked it here. I love it here, been in McKinleyville for 13 years now and in Humboldt for 21 years. Ferndale is a Victorian beauty, but the people can be overly nosey. But all of Humboldt is friendly and making friends here is very easy. Too bad you did not get the chance to see our dog park here in McK. It is an off leash dog park with no fences and access to well over 45 acres of forest, meadow and river front. It has well developed trails. I have friends here from their 20's on up to their 90's, but I am a gardener with 32 yards, so I am all over this town and also in Arcata and Blue Lake. My friend Donna and Russ moved here lock stock and barrel with their daughter and dog from Ankorage Alaska with no jobs, Donna got a job in less than two weeks and her husband got one soon after, now they own and operate an Audiology business, he does hearing aids, she does speach therapy. There is a niche for everyone here, it is just finding that niche and fitting it.
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