How would you compare Pittsburgh to Portland OR? (Beaver Falls, Progress: apartments, crime)
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I have a friend moving to Beaver Falls area in January, he bought a house there.
I have never been to PA, and am currently working in Portland Oregon (originally from Hawaii).
I would like comparisons from people who have lived near Portland and Pittsburgh to give me any opinions they would like to share.
My interest at this point are the basics. People, weather, hunting, fishing, crime, Jobs, diversity, oh and how easy or hard to make new friends.
From my perspective or Oregon, I found it beautifully but did not care for working in the rain and cold for 5 months out of the year and thought it was much much harder to make friends then it was in Hawaii. Also I am light skinned but not Caucasian if that makes a difference.
Hobbies are whitewater Kayaking, fishing and weekend long distance road trips.
I have heard many times that in Geographical Features Pittsburgh and Portland can be sister cities on opposite coast. I never been to Portland to compare, but I have been to Seattle so I can picture it.
Portland is a bit a more Progressive and Forward thinking...excellent Public Transit even if its mostly buses...Hipster Capital, but high Unemployment
Pittsburgh has more big city amenties, unemplyment is lower, the neighborhood are more disinct, growing hipster communities. Not as Progressive and a bit more Old School Traditional mindset...
Pittsburgh is grittier than Portland, and not as progressive, although it's by no means a backward-thinking hellhole. Many city politicians have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, though. I guess it's like Portland without the brand equity. There are some parts of town that have a sort of downtrodden Appalachian town feel to them, but there are plenty of other areas that are experiencing a lot of reinvestment and renovation, particularly among the East End neighborhoods.
There's no development boundary around Pittsburgh, so there's probably a bit more suburban sprawl, but overall, Pittsburgh doesn't have nearly the sprawl problem that most other U.S. cities have. Part of this is due to the economic calamity of the 1980's stunting the region's growth at a time when suburban sprawl was accelerating, and part of it is due to the topography of the area making it less convenient to sprawl.
Both cities are similarly cloudy overall, although you're more likely to find a sunny day in the winter and a cloudy day in the summer in Pittsburgh than in Portland. Moisture from the Great Lakes combines with orographic lifting to make winters mostly cloudy, and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico combines with orographic lifting to make summers partly cloudy and hazy, as opposed to mostly sunny like in Portland. Pittsburgh gets less rain than Portland, but more snow, and is more prone to temperature extremes both ways. It's also more prone to severe thunderstorms, and tornadoes are not unheard of in the area, although they're not very common and typically are weak.
Cloudy summer days are very rare in Portland. the sun actually hurts for some reason. I never seen anything like that before I moved to Portland. its not the heat its the feeling the sun is cooking my skull. I have to wear a special hat that I soak in water every few mins when I work outdoors in the summer. Never in my life in Hawaii did I ever feel sun light so powerful !
The friend thing can be serendipitous. It just depends, in other words. I grew up in Beaver Falls. There are a lot of people there who have lived in that area for forever, unlike Portland, which gets a new influx of people every day. So lots of people aren't really looking for any new friends. This is not to say people won't be nice to you, they'll probably be genuinely helpful, but you may not meet a lot of people who will want to socialize, and it's them, not you. Most people there have a lot of family in the area, on both sides, usually. Lots of social activities revolve around family. It is not unusual for people to get together at "Mom's" for Sunday dinner every week. OTOH, there are always people in flux, divorcing, separating, etc that are looking for new people to hang out with, and of course not everyone has lived there for four generations. I'm interested in hearing what your friend is going to do (for a living) in Beaver Falls.
I haven't been to Portland, but I live in Seattle and lived in Pittsburgh for years. I do know a lot of people up here who are from Oregon for what that is worth.
Generally, Pittsburgh will not have the politically-correct, crunchy-granola type of vibe that is more prevalent in the PNW. You also won't hear people talking constantly about the environment or sustainability, etc. Pittsburgh is a very midwestern type of city. It is heavily Democrat, but a lot of people there are more conservative on the values issues. People attend church more often than in the PNW (don't worry if this isn't your thing, I didn't belong to a church when I was there and it was never an issue), and the area is very heavily Catholic. I bring up the religion because it does influence the culture of the area a lot, not in a bad way, but be prepared that during times like Holy Week a lot of people will take time off work. During Lent you will start to see fish fry everywhere, etc. There is a big Polish community there, also a lot of Italian-Americans, a big Jewish community, and a decent-size African-American community.
The job market is based mainly around the universities and health care. There are also some corporate headquarters downtown. I think overall the job market is better than in Oregon.
Crime isn't bad there (at least I never saw much of it). Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods (kind of like Seattle), so it also depends on where you live. The bus transportation is so-so. I didn't own a car for five years when I lived there, but I hear that there have been budget cuts in mass transit so right now I really can't say too much.
The weather is much different than the PNW. Much, much different. There are four distinct seasons in Pennsylvania. In winter, it will snow and get cold (much colder than the PNW, you will need a down jacket), spring feels kind of like a PNW summer temperature wise, summer will be hot and have some humidity (definitely way more humid than what I experienced in Seattle this past summer), and fall is beautiful (but also gets a rainy season). Summer showers are pretty common, but the water is warm and breaks the humidity so people often welcome summer rain.
Poeple are definitely more outgoing with strangers in Pittsburgh and it is very easy to meet people there. Try meetup.com or meetin.org for groups. Venture Outdoors is also very popular. There are also a number of rowing clubs there. Kayaking is popular in spring, summer, and early fall. If you want whitewater, you'll need to go to Ohiopyle State Park about an hour away. There are also ski slopes outside the city if you are into winter sports. Generally speaking, you will not find the levels of super-outdoorsiness in Pittsburgh that you find in the PNW. People do not get around on their bike there and Pittsburgh has a high number of overweight people. You will need to join groups to find like-minded people in that regard, but many of them do exist. Hunting, fishing, and camping are extremely popular all over Pennsylvania.
I saw some of your previous posts. Are you looking at Pittsburgh or Beaver Falls? I know some people from Beaver Falls and after college they all moved into Pittsburgh. There isn't much going on out there and they worked pretty hard to get apartments in the city. I would advise you to get a place in Pittsburgh or the immediate suburbs if you move there. If you are ok being in a more small-town/rural area after you have seen some of western Pennsylvania then ok. But to start off with I would definitely stay close to or directly in Pittsburgh.
Portland has the hippies, Pittsburgh has the people who actually work for their pay.
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