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thinking about moving to Ashland from Olympia, WA. Weather?
It's just in the very early idea stages, but possibly in the next few years we might try to have a change of place. It will be 10 years in Olympia by then and I just can't take the gray gloom and dreary overcast weather here anymore. We are a young family with a 2 year old.
I know it can be grey and rainy in S. OR too, but it has to be better than here in WA, right? That is something I need to know. I don't want to move my whole family and then find out the grey and rain are still there! I am OK with some, but here in Olympia we get 9 months of basically straight grey gloom and 3 months of sun. This past year we barely had a summer, and got about 3 weeks of sun and almost 11 months of grey, and that is what put me over the edge.
We chose Ashland because we've visited it a few times and it looks like a nice place to raise a family, and also is liberal with lots of good organic and local food/farms in the area, all of which we have loved about Olympia. If it wasn't for the weather I would stay here, but I seriously can't take the depression having 3 seasons of grey overcast skies and rain causes me.
I'd move to Hawaii if I could but my husband says the cost would be too high and we'd never find jobs. He really wants to say on the W. Coast ( I was born and raised in NJ and my family still all lives there but the W. Coast has been great to us) and California is out for us due to housing prices and other negative things I've heard about CA. So when it comes down to it I think Ashland might be the solution. I like Eugene too but it seems too big to me and I thought Ashland being 2 hours south from there might mean better weather the further S. you go along I-5!
I thought I'd ask any of you who live there or who have lived there what it's really like? What are the pros and cons of living there? Cost of living? Economy/job opportunities? (I'm a midwife/massage therapist and my husband is a cabinet maker but is most interested in green building.)
Also do you have any information about the schools? I looked at the Ashland schools website and thought that the John Muir K-8 charter school looked amazing...I'd like to know more about it and other schools in the area.
I'd move to Hawaii if I could but my husband says the cost would be too high and we'd never find jobs. He really wants to say on the W. Coast ( I was born and raised in NJ and my family still all lives there but the W. Coast has been great to us) and California is out for us due to housing prices and other negative things I've heard about CA. So when it comes down to it I think Ashland might be the solution.
If you're that concerned about the cost of living and the probability of finding jobs, you might as well take Ashland off the list as well. At best, maybe half the communities in California have a higher COL than Ashland... which many people consider to be an across-the-border annex of Northern California. The cost of housing there is still quite high for the desirable areas (there are less expensive homes within the city limits, but by my reckoning anything north of the hospital or east of Tolman Creek Rd. doesn't have the full benefit of being in Ashland). You both have job interests for which there is some local market demand, but also local market saturation. If you're good entrepreneurs and have some start-up capital, you might be able to build a clientele, but you'll have to compete with well-established names. If you want to walk into a pre-existing job offered by an employer who hires midwives or woodworkers, take a number and wait in line along with hundreds of others...and be prepared to wait a LONG time.
Green building is a very competitive business in Ashland and all building trades, green or otherwise, are in serious decline in the Rogue Valley. Several outfits have recently folded. Others are eeking by with remodel jobs. Medford has over 400 houses currently in the foreclosure queue and the cost of housing is much much lower there. A house that would cost you $400k in Ashland can be had for under $200k in Medford with some research and a bit of luck. Occasional good buys come up in Talent, also, though the inventory is much smaller.
Weatherwise, you'd start seeing the sun earlier in the spring than you currently do, but Ashland still has a lot of gray from late fall to mid-spring. So there would be a significant improvement in sunshine, but not a quantum leap. There are other trade-offs as well. The Rogue Valley is not as mild as Olympia or Eugene. Winter days and nights will both be 5-8 degrees colder and there will be more precipitation in the form of snow. Air inversions that hold freezing fog at ground level for many days at a time are a fact of life there (to make things worse, you may be prohibited from lighting your wood stove during these days). The growing season will be shorter by a month or more. Summer days with highs over 100F are common. The Rogue Valley in fact, has the most seasonal definition of any PNW climate west of the Cascades: colder winters, hotter summers, and more abrupt delineations of spring and fall. Some people enjoy that, but heat sissies who prize the PNW for its moderate summers and lethargic springs might be out of their element. Perhaps the biggest plus comes in the form of less precipitation and lower dew points, giving the Rogue Valley a more Mediterranean-climate character than the Willamette.
Another weather plus is the relative proximity of balmier climes. Brookings and Redding are both within a 3 hr. drive and offer the possibility of a respite from cold fog inversions or blazing heat.
All the schools in Ashland are superior. Locals will nitpick over them, but really you can't go wrong if you live in SD5.
Thanks! Actually your explanation about the weather is heartening. I LOVE the heat. I am not the typical PNWer. I am one of those people who love when it hits 100, and it only does for a few days here in Olympia each year and I always crave more. I also love snow, and don't mind colder winters. What I do mind and am trying to escape from is the grey overcast and drizzle, which we get each year all year with only a summer from mid July to mid Sept. It sounds like Ashland/S. OR has a longer summer?
We were thinking about living somewhat outside of Ashland, as we like rural living as well as the house prices in city limits are shocking. However I have been unable to find a school district map. We want to visualize what encompasses the "Ashland school district" (or as you called it SD5) and then try to find a rural corner of it to look for a house. Do you or anyone else have any links to a map for something like that? I've googled to no avail. I just know that if we do move there we really want to make sure that we can stay in the Ashland schools. I've heard the other school systems nearby like Medford, Talent, and Phoenix are bad in comparison.
The jobs thing is what we are really concerned about. I plan to start a midwifery practice once my kids are older, but was thinking about perhaps opening up a children's resale store in the meantime. However the main part of our finances are going to have to rely on my husband. He is going to have to have a guaranteed employment for us to make the move, and that is what we have both decided. Once we are sure Ashland is for us he plans to apply to anywhere he can think of, and is willing to commute. He does not want to start his own business, having 2 self employed people in a family seems like a recipe for disaster. He is going to need to be employed by someone else. I truly hope that this will not be the sticking point for us when deciding to move there. Everything else sounds so lovely about the area.
You're not going to escape the overcast in Ashland--only the rain. They didn't get much a summer last year either. Neither did we in Portland, or my folks in Grants Pass. There is less precipitation, however. In May it's notably sunnier in Southern Oregon than further north. By June there isn't much of a difference. In October it's the same ol' dreary, cloudy skies. Just because winter's colder, doesn't mean it's clear skies like it is back east in the winter.
So marginally longer summers. The summers are though, as Brenda said, hot and dry. I think you get upwards of 50 inches of rain per year in Oly, and in Ashland the figure is below the 20 inch mark. It's significantly drier. To me, the tradeoff isn't worth it because the Ashland area is so barren and dry and I find that to be ugly. But that's just me.
Many people in Southern Oregon are still affected by SAD... So keep heading south if you are truly seeking warmth and dryness.
I think you have received wonderful feedback, and I completely second it. Ashland is saturated with midwives and out of work craftsmen. And the town is rapidly aging. There are not many people having kids at all! And the grandkids are usually in California! It is a great place, but very expensive. I am senior federal scientist with a wife who works too and we live in an old 900 sf home. Such is the market if you do not bring a huge trust fund or bubble equity.
As an alternative, I would put forward Chico, California. It is about 4 hours south of Ashland, with MUCH more sun, quite hot summers, but a very friendly town with a fabulous city park, and a wonderful community. Probably many more jobs, more affordable, and with many more young people having babies. I love Chico, and it is one of the nicest towns in California. Very little gang stuff,etc. A gem.
Location: 'Shangri-La 'mountains west of Wolf Creek, Oregon
10,185 posts, read 5,552,767 times
For well over four lustrums we've happily loved living here in the mountains northwest of Grants Pass. Over the years i've noticed in the winter we get partial sunny days quite a bit more often then down the Rogue Valley, cuz we're at 2000'. The mountains protect us from most of the wind, & we don't have excessive snow. We searched fer our place over many years while camping, fishin, exploring.
Very true climatically. It would be worth comparing the two. Chico is much more liberal, and a nicer town overall (closer to Ashland in feel). But Redding might well have more jobs, and be less likely to have a glut of midwives. On the other hand, I suspect Redding, with its abundance of construction companies and out of work construction workers, would be harder for a cabinet maker. Just speculating.
Trust me, you will have no shortage of 100 degree days in the Upper Sacramento Valley. Be careful what you wish for. That area is HOT! I nice region overall, and in the two years I lived there, not a hint of SAD. Also, not at all the snooty California stereotype, and many beautiful places to explore. Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of my favorite areas no earth.
Chico compares to Ashland (Davis perhaps more so)
Redding compares more to Medford
Chico has much more tree cover than Redding and I think that summers there are ever so much more comfortable even when the thermometer says they are equal. But Chico doesn't solve the problem of poor job outlook for the indicated professions. You really don't have the kind of jobs that allow you to pick a dot on the map and just move there. You'll have to cast a broad net in a certain region of the country and be prepared to move wherever the job materializes for at least one of you. "Move where you want, then find a job there" was a workable motto during the 70's and 80's...maybe even the 90's. I followed that philosophy myself a couple of times. In a job-loss economy -- and with marriage, homes, kids and pets -- we become less fancy-free and need to reconcile with the geographic hand that we get dealt. Change is still possible but the attending sacrifices are higher now than they used to be.
FWIW, many of the people who do manage to find jobs in Ashland end up living in an adjacent community and commuting...very California-ish. This is due, in part, to increasing housing pressure that retirees (mostly ex-Californians) are putting on Ashland housing stocks. In 2007, John Morrison, the then-mayor of Ashland made national headlines when he announced that after almost two decades renting in Ashland, he could no longer afford to live there and was moving in with his girlfriend in Talent. Others live in Ashland and work in Medford or Central Point. Trying to finesse a situation where a couple can live in Ashland and both find local jobs can take many many years. There are a lot of people currently living in Talent, Phoenix and Medford who are just biding their time until an Ashland vacany opens up. It's one strategy for getting your foot in the door: move to a less expensive part of the valley and gradually make yourself known in Ashland circles.
Last edited by Brenda-by-the-sea; 01-22-2011 at 04:42 PM..
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