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I keep going back and fourth with this decision, so any insight would be helpful, especially if you've lived in both Portland and Austin.
I have lived in the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe area all my life and graduated from ASU several years ago. I am married and have a son who will be 9 in April, so good public schools are an important factor. We are a sports and outdoor oriented family, so things like Little League, hiking trails and even skateboard parks matter.
I appreciate the notion of parks, recreation, museums and love the fact the both cities have a great music scene. I am a city girl, I love to shop (when money allows) and love trying new restaurants. I also love that Portland has an up-and-coming fashion scene as well.
Of course, the economy is a huge factor, and is part, but not all of, the reason for leaving Tempe. We have a security alarm business and would need to build a good sales team once we relocate. Obviously unemployment is still an issue because we need customers to sell to that have money to pay for an alarm system each month.
We had been considering Orange County, CA but with the economy getting worse both here and in CA, it seems that there is no light at the end of tunnel, and probably isn't going to be the best decision financially. Where ever we move, I want to stay for at least the next 10 years until my son finishes school.
So far, my reasoning for Austin is this:
1. I have family members scattered around TX, a few in Austin.
2. The weather: not a huge adjustment from AZ's desert climate...ANYWHERE is going to have more rain than here!
3. Music/culture/atmosphere of the university
4. Progressive, liberal
5. Affordable living ($1000-1200 for a single family home)
6. Laid back mentality
Reasons for Portland:
1. Good friends moving to So Oregon in Summer
2. A few hours drive from CA and Seattle (vacations, etc)
3. Good schools
4. Music/culture/atmosphere of university
5. Progressive, liberal
6. Lush, green, great landscape that is OPPOSITE of the desert
Can anyone add anything else? I am not really looking for negatives, I am all too aware of both (SAD in the winter in Portland, or not really being that crazy about the rest of Texas, for example).
So far the biggest differences in my mind is the local economies and the weather...
People tend to decide that they like a new town or community based on the friendship they develop in a new place. The more social / friendship support structure they create,.... well you get the idea....
Portlanders has been reported to have a slow response to newcomers. I find that is true. However, you will have a friend a few hours drive away, that may help.
BTW: home alarm business-- are you sure the competition in Portland has room for another competitor? You know, I presume, that the crime rate in Portland is low compared to other cities of its size.
Good luck with your decision.
PS: Well, OK, I will take your word that Portland has an Up-and-coming fashion scene. Being over 60 yrs old, I didn't know that. Never was aware of any such. I thought all the fashion I saw was derivative from California or Seattle, WA. Never figured Portland to have it's own fashion scene, unless you are talking rain-gear?
It is a good idea to consider how quickly you can make a new social circle, that way you feel "at-home" faster.
Crime rates are relatively low in most of the Portland areas, but we would be open to the entire state, and there is crime everywhere, unfortunately. But it is true that the more people perceive their neighborhood as "crime-free" then there is less of a demand for alarms.
As far as the fashion scene, I was mostly referencing some of the boutiques and contemporary designers that seem to be in a lot of magazines and tv shows these days...a lot of them are coming out of Portland. But high-fashion rain gear? Now there's an idea!!!!!
Austin hands down. Better econ (by far), easier and cheaper move and therefore not as difficult on your son and quite simply going from a lifelong az res to pdx will not be easy. Do not underestimate the effect of the weather. I just feel that Austin a much better match.
Been in Portland (pdx) 13 years and been to Austin plenty (never lived though), and I've done a lot of research on Austin as we've been looking to move there someday. So, here is my take given your concerns:
1. I've heard pdx isn't 'business-friendly' so I'd check out the costs of owning a business in pdx vs austin. Oregon just passed a new tax on businesses as if there isn’t enough (measures 66/67) – a lot of small businesses are outraged. I think as a business owner, you’ll appreciate Austin more than pdx.
2. Crime in pdx is higher, link http://os.cqpress.com/citycrime/2009/CityCrimeRankings2009.htm
3. If you enjoy being outdoors, I think you'll enjoy austin more throughout the year than pdx. Both offer lots of outdoor activities but unless you enjoy doing them in the rain, austin offers more months than pdx to be outside. I'll give pdx the summers though...absolutely the best summers in pdx.
4. You can get more bang for your buck in austin (getting in a nicer neighborhood with better schools). We had friends move from a nice burb in pdx to a nice burb in tx...their kids were about a year behind academically speaking when they moved from pdx to tx. In the research I've done, it is financially easier to get into a good school in texas than pdx.
5. Oregon's economy is much worse than Texas. When the economy isn't doing well, you can count on Oregon being up there in unemployment (whilst Texas is usually one of the best states to weather economic difficulties).
6. If you're looking for liberal...pdx is more liberal. Austin is liberal for Texas standards (Texas overall being very conservative). I will say that people are genuinely nicer in austin than pdx, even the younger are more respectful (yes sir, yes ma'am) in Austin. PDX kids...in general (there are a lot of great kids, I'm generalizing), are less respectful.
My overall take: I love pdx but the rain is a serious drab. I like Austin, but the summers there are a serious drab. Both are different but have many like-qualities so either way you should be happy. So, since you have family in Austin and the economy is overall better there…well, your life your call but I’d go with Austin.
oh, and forgot to mention food. Portland has tons of local restaurants and cafes all throughout the city...you will love it there for that aspect. I think I heard once that Portland has the most restaurants per capita or sq. mile or something like that. The wife and I go out to eat several times per week, been here 13 years and still come across a new funky restaurant to try. Can't comment on Austin other than the Tex Mex...simply the best mexican food (especially in San Antonio and Dallas)!
Oregon just passed two measures yesterday that may affect your personal business (66 & 67). I suggest that you very carefully read and understand any tax implications for your company before you make a commitment. The other option would be to build your business in Vancouver and operate in both WA and OR. Good Luck.
Thank you for your take on Austin vs Portland. Schools are especially important, coming from AZ where most of the districts and schools are sub-par and you really have to weed out the good or even decent ones. Open enrollment can make all the difference, which is something else I'm looking into.
The weather would be a huge adjustment in Portland, something that I worry about coming from such a sunny climate!
It takes about two years to acclimate to Oregon winters, and then you're either fine with it or not. I got used to it and now I squint my eyes and wear sunglasses anytime I visit higher elevation, sunnier climes. "AAGH! What's that bright glowing orb? Where's my hat?!!"
Austin is HUMID. From June through October you will have daily conversations about the heat, will learn to dread the Summer, will never see snow, and will sweat.
Flip the coin and you get Portland. Beautiful. Maybe the most beautiful area in the country. Great people.
I lived in Austin for ten years, also in Portland, also in Tempe. Right now you are living in the desert.
Spend a week or two in each area. Factor in the weather, and just go for it. You can always move.
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