Corvallis vs. McMinnville?? (Portland, Eugene, Salem: appointed, co-op, limo)
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I have learned so much about Oregon on this forum. I think that I have pretty much narrowed down my search of places to relocate to McMinnville or Corvallis. I am retiring (just turned 55) from a job in Hawaii (playing in the only full time municipal band in the US) and have a 16year old son. So I want good schools (which both towns seem to have) and a nice, friendly community. I would like to play some music and possibly teach flute lessons (I also play the harp). Everyone raves about what a nice town Corvallis is, and it does seem to be so. And at the same time there are very nice comments about McMinnville. Could anyone give me the pros and cons of each town to think about? I wondered if I would feel isolated living so far from Portland? And yet, where I live in Hawaii I am 20 miles from Honolulu, and don't want to go into town unless I have to for work. I just can't wrap my mind about driving long distances. Guess I will get used to it. One thing that matters to me is that we will not know anyone so I really want to move to a friendly town. Can anyone help??
I'm not saying that it's better by some objective measurement. I just think it's more likely to be a better match for you.
Corvallis has a community/university orchestra that is quite good (my wife was principal bassoonist before we left and she misses it greatly). There are any number of woodwind quintets and trios to plug into (the flute competition will be keen, though). The Corvallis Youth Symphony is the most exalted in the state, if not the entire PNW. If you've applied your Latin word-attack skills, you might have already figured out that Corvallis is in the "heart"(cor) "of the valley"(vallis) which means that it is in a good central location: Salem, Eugene, Monmouth, Albany and Newport are all within an hour's drive. McMinnville, though, is closer to Salem and Portland, so maybe location is a wash. Corvallis is twice the size of McMinnville (about 52,000 compared to about 26,000) and crosses the line separating a large town from a small city, so there is a distinctly different feel between the two. It has more money, a better-educated populace and a better economy. It is also more self-sufficient in terms of arts and entertainment ("Fall Festival" and "Da Vinci Days" are esteemed throughout the state). If you live in McMinnville, you'll be going to Salem and Portland more often to get a "culture fix" (you'll do some of that in Corvallis, too, but to a lesser degree).
Finally, I think that there is probably a serendipitous window of opportunity to get into the Corvallis housing market right now. Because it is a popular place to live, the inventory is often rather low. At the moment it seems to be a bit higher. Corvallis has the best food co-op in the state (First Alternative Co-op) and a very well-attended farmers market. Corvallis also has more ammenities for teenagers and I'm sure that's an important consideration.
If the harp you play is the regular orchestral pedaled harp, be advised that Laura Zaerr lives in Corvallis (or did when I left) and gets most of the professional gigs throughout the Willamette Valley. On the other hand, if it's not your instrument of primary accomplishment and harp lessons are in the offing, having a local professional right in town might be a plus.
Keep in mind that I've never lived in McMinnville, but I spent 13 years in Corvallis, so my review is far from balanced and objective. McMinnville is one of the places that would be on my personal short list of attractive prospects too, so that counts for something.
Finally (I know this is the second time I've said "finally", but this time I mean it), because exploration trips from Polynesia are a bit more difficult than just driving up from California, I perceive that you need "the sure thing" -- someplace that involves minimal risk of dissatisfaction -- not too big, not too small, not too expensive, not too rustic. Corvallis is the closest thing to a Goldilocks city that Oregon has. I don't know anyone who has been disappointed with Corvallis (it was somewhat of a "blind date move" from Arizona for us, too -- we'd driven through just once). If you wanted to move to a smaller town like McMinnville later, that would be easy enough to accomplish.
Last edited by Steve97415; 10-24-2006 at 06:29 PM..
Thanks, Steve. I really appreciate your thoughtful reply. You are a big help to a lot of people on this forum. You are right that it is hard for us to make several trips to Oregon to pick just the right spot for us. That is why I really am glad that I found this forum. Corvallis sounds like it is the place for us. By the way, I will make sure I am in top shape on my flute so I can play some gigs, and look up Laura Zaer for harp lessons. That will give me something else to look forward to.
Hawaii to the Willamette Valley? Wow. That's not rain, it's a gentle mist. I think Eugene has more to offer than either Corvallis or McMinnville, although it is farther to Portland. Good luck with the move.
Corvallis...cuz we dont want anymore people in MAC...J/k
Honestly, if you dont need to near a major metro area like Portland or Salem, I would go with Corvallis. Mac is overrun with illegal Mexicans sucking the local entitlement programs dry. This has caused the schools to go down hill in a big way. Mac high sucks. I send one daughter to a private school between mac and salem, the other one goes to a new "sort of" media arts school in mac. It is the first year its open, so i am trying to cut them some slack. Can tell you anything about Corvallis other than its where I go when doing cross country flights for pilot training.
Mac is know for its wineries, and there are the monks and their fudge of course. There is also very private and highly secured school for the hollywood elites leftist children in training...hehehe. It is smack in the middle of no where but occasionally you will pass a stretch limo with rich hollywood kid in it. I am a musican as too, but aside from college and highschool I have always played smaller bands which location is irrevelent.
Honestly, if I had a job or business that I could run remotely, I would be outa here. Probably would move SE or E to Prineville or farther east.
IF you make the choice for Corvallis, let me know. I saw in your post about the flute and your desire to teach. I'd like to point you to the Conservatory for Music Education which is a non-profit school in Albany, serving Linn and Benton counties. Conservatory for Music Education - Albany, Oregon
I grew up in McMinnville and went to college in Corvallis.
Corvallis tends to be a more liberal town, but has a lot of poor college student neighborhoods that I wouldn't want to live in, especially as a retiree or with a high school kid. I also wouldn't want my kids to be near college students (there is mixing between the older high school students and younger college students pretty frequently). McMinnville has Linfield, but it's a more upscale college and the students don't mix with the locals much, especially with high school students, or at least that was my experience.
McMinnville High School is not bad if your kid is a far-below-average or fairly-above-average student. Average students and bright (like IQ 120+) students pretty much get the shaft. Life skills program is mediocre but improving. The students I met who went to private schools in the area were incredible snobs with a mediocre education.
Corvallis has some programs that you might find "neat" that are held at either linn-benton community college or at OSU. Small cultural programs, art programs, etc. They probably wouldn't be that interesting for a high school student, but I don't know what your kid is like. McMinnville on the other hand, due to its closer proximity to wine country, has some surprisingly good restaurants and very high per capita wine bars and micro breweries/pubs. There are some small gigs available, but I don't know much about the music scene in general there...it's mostly geared towards a middle-aged college-educated middle/upper middle class audience...a friend of my dad plays in a band (as a hobby). Don't expect much more than free dinner and drinks as payment.
McMinnville is about 50 minutes to downtown Portland if traffic is right (or you know how to avoid it), and Corvallis is about an hour and a half. Washington Square, if you want that sort of shopping, is maybe 35-40 minutes from McMinnville. I wouldn't want to drive from Corvallis to Portland very often, but the drive from McMinnville isn't very bad at all. A lot of people in McMinnville take day trips to Portland on the weekend.
I'd be happy to try to answer any other questions to the best of my knowledge. Basically, McMinnville is a conservative family town, generally. Corvallis is a college town with quite a bit of partying and the hipster movement that is becoming epidemic in OR seems to really be catching there.
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