Relocating to Okanogan County (Seattle, Tonasket: vacation home, buy, theatres)
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There are very few native eastern Washingtonians left.
People forget that there was a mass migration into eastern Washington from the coast since 1990. Half the homes in Okanogan County are owned by coasties that still live on the dark side. That does not even count the coasties that have moved into eastern Washington.
In my neighborhood 20% are natives, 20% came from other states, and 60% came from the coast. Otherwise known as "coasties".
The "coasties" are not very friendly. Most just live in their houses and refuse to talk or mingle in the neighborhood. So most of the people we talk to in the neighborhood are "natives". Oh well, everything changes and Wenatchee is now a big city.
So before people put down the unfriendlessness of "locals" check to be sure that they are really "local".
That said there are exceptions to all rules....there are some coasties that are friendly. I guess most of them just have not lived in small towns or mingled with the neighbors.
The coasties from small towns are definitely friendlier.
The key is to talk to people.
About fifteen years ago I bought five acres of land overlooking the Pend Oreille River between Newport and Usk, and will be building a home and retiring up there within the next 7-10 years, so I've spent quite a bit of time up there.
One of the things I've discovered from talking to many of the "coasties", is that many of them are not native to Washington, many of them are from California, and have even met a few from Texas.
Okanogan County is an isolated county that has built a regulatory moat around itself. The county prefers not to encourage any new or developing businesses. This is why when one visits the county there are few restaurants and no places to shop. The small businesses that are here struggle due to low tourism and a community that places no value in the tourism dollar. Developing growth is a dead issue for this county. One example of this is that the County Board of Health and Building department lead people down a rosy path to starting a business or developing land and after that entity has spent time and money, they suddenly find reason to not permit the project. Beware to anyone who wishes to do business here. It will not go well for you and also talk with home building contractors. Contractors have a difficult time dealing with permiting and getting projects approved. The county regulators have decided to keep Okanogan County in the 1970s and there will be no growth or planned growth for this county.
If I lived in Okanogan County I would get a ballot initiative to sever ties with the United States and join Canada. They could even get Jimmy Carter to oversee the election to make sure it was fair.
Just drive north on 97 into Canada. The Canadian side is prosperous and growing. The American side of the border looks like a third world country.
Both the state and federal governments have walked away from rural areas. They are to focused on building stadiums and other goodies for urban residents and taxing rural residents to pay for them. They are driving the rural areas into poverty.
It is a shame. It is a wonderful county filled with good people. But when your fighting your own state and federal government for survival things are tough.
The Governor of Washington should be ashamed. It is to bad the wind does not blow there.....she would be happy to cover those hills with windmills so the urban areas can waste more energy!! That might be the only way she would pay attention to the county.
Since this forum is still going, I thought I'd chime in.
I've lived in OKanogan county for 34 years now and have mixed feelings about living here. I find that contrary to Okanogano, the fault does not lie in too much regulation, but not enough! You may live in a very rural area, but if your rancher neighbor decides to sell to a coast developer there goes the neighborhood! The county has very little zoning (except in the Methow, where they care),and thus the "minimum requirement district" rule of being able to divide most of the land down to one acre lots, even in very remote rural areas with no water or services, makes it too easy for a developer to come in, buy up hundreds of acres, divide them into assorted small lots and sell them...usually to people from elsewhere who have no idea what they are getting into. Up until now there has been very little environmental review, and it seems that even when neighbors disapprove of the way the development will affect their water, roads, views and lifestyle, most of these ill-planned projects are allowed to go through by the Planning Dept. and county commissioners., who never met a developer they could say NO to. And this despite the fact that our county leaders are always touting how they want to "protect" agriculture and natural resources! Currently the county is revising its 1964 (!) comprehensive plan and there will be an attempt to put in some better zoning, i.e., for example requiring some protection for the rural aspect of life that so many come here for, but which they then destroy by buying up one or two acres, putting in a bunch of horses to eat all the native grasses and allow weeds to thrive, adding a cheap manufactured home and changing the look of the landscape forever.
It is a paradox that though many people say they come here for the beauty, it is the thing they seem most likely to destroy, perhaps without even realizing it
I've owned a small home in Okanagon county for years and am planning on moving there this summer. My home needs remodeling and I am hoping to update it and make it more energy efficient. I have five acres and am interesting in meeting others who might have resources or put in solar, wind or other heating source that does not depend on the electric company. I have a wood burning stove that could be updated but I am open to using and trying other ideas. Any suggestions? Thanks!
NCWmark- A question for ya. Is Wenatchee similiar to the Omak and Twisp areas in regard to their acceptance of newcomers? I know that we're known as "coasties" over here, and I've met a lot of people from Omak/Twisp and surrounding areas that were surprised at how nice I was. I was told that the general consensus is that we're all a bunch of rich jerks over here, which is understandable b/c there are quite a few of those, ha ha! So I'm wondering if that's a Okanogan County thing, or are they like that in Wenatchee, too?
A lot of us left Seattle and such and never look back. I find people very accepting in Omak, Okanogan, Tonasket, Oroville, Chelan, Twisp and such. I haven't met anyone so rude out here. I sense one now and then. Most are so nice. We made friends a lot faster here than in the 15 years there. The rest of E.WA is more sketchy as far as mixing things up. Oh yeah, there is a lesbian owned and managed club in Okanogan, blacks feel comfortable. I've seen a transvestite shopping in comfort. The old boys are on the way out. Lot's of hippies in Tonasket and Oroville has Canadians coming in a lot to buy land. Cheapes in Okanogan area now. Lot's of sun. Gorgeous too.
I'm a coastie myself. But did grow up in a small logging town. I was raised in the country on a lakefront home. Ice skating in the winter. Riding my dirt bikes in the summer with millions of acres of timberlands across the street. Loved the small town. I now reside in Olympia. I'm only here in the big city to make money so I can move into the country again. I own outright, 20.25 acres of timbered land next to the Okanogan National Forest just east of Riverside which is 5 miles north of Omak. Elevation is 3500 feet at my property, warm in the summer and cold in the winter. I love to fish, hunt, ham radio operator, recreate on dirt bikes, quads, love old logging ot gold mine towns, western culture and western history. Love the woods, love small towns, I'm ultra friendly and will blend right in. I have always dressed "country" ie Carhartt pants, hickory shirts, suspenders, work boots. I'll blend right in with the locals folks. I'm 48 now and plan on living there full time in 10 years. In the mean time, we are preparing my land for residency. I'm married but have an empty nest. I have 2 girls and 4 grandchildren from newborn to 13 yrs old. I have already installed a well. I'm going to either do a cabin next or a large pole type building with a small living space in it. Then when the time comes, we sell everything here, move all our belongings into the pole building while the home is being built. We are 1/2 mile from power and phone. I spend time at my property every year, with a week during hunting season. I'm a bow hunter, not the "Rambo" type someone mentioned earlier.
I'm a mechanic by trade, (Toyota dealer tech for the last 20 yrs) and would love to find a mechanic job locally there and move earlier. I'd love to be a county fleet tech, city fleet tech, or ideally, National Forest Service fleet tech.
Thank you all for the helpful info... I am so excited to tell my husband about the expanding medical field (thanx NCWmark)... The school situation does put me off quite a bit, I have thought some on home schooling as I myself was home schooled through 1 -6 grade. I feel that I did not learn even half as much as my public school friends did, so I am not confident on being able to educate my child enough to enter into college.
My first time using this site, so I hope it gets through.
We moved to Omak a year ago from the western side of WA. I did not intend to like it. I was so wrong. Downtown Omak is wonderful--almost a 1950's Norman Rockwell kind of town. It does take awhile to be accepted if you are from out of the area, but the people are nice. There are actually at least three hospitals in Okanogan County. My daughter and granddaughter work at Okanogan-Douglas District Hospital in Brewster and drive from here. It's less than 30 minutes and some mornings they don't see any cars at all, but a few deer. Mid-Valley is here in Omak and my son-in-law works in food service there. North Valley is in Tonasket, about 25 minutes north of here. They are small hospitals, of course, but Mid-Valley is growing quite rapidly. Since my daughter is assistant to the director of nursing at ODDH, I can tell you that they always need medical people. As a retired teacher, I have substituted for Okanogan Middle and High School, and am trying to get my son to move up here from Portland so my grandson can attend. In my professional experience, I have never seen a school where the students are so polite and considerate, and that's to a substitute teacher! I would encourage you to move here, and to patronize the local businesses. Downtown Omak is delightful, with everything in a short walk. There are also weekly newspapers here--The Chronicle for Omak, which would give you more information and a feel for the town. Three local radio stations, TV by cable or satellite. We have high speed internet. I've heard there is some "gang-type" activity between the Hispanics and the Native Americans in the area, but the town is very quiet, with church bells that ring the hour! I did not sense any issues in Okanogan--no graffiti, no "gang affiliation" clothing, etc. Very little graffiti in Omak, as well. There is also a community college here, and many students make use of Running Start while they are in high school. My niece graduated from high school and Wenatchee Valley North (college) at the same time, with the school district paying her tuition. Good library, nice parks, great local grocery (Gene's) and pharmacy (Ulrich's). Strong art community, with a new art supply store in town. Community choir and theater.
Last edited by tawanka; 09-27-2009 at 12:51 AM..
Reason: additional information.
Hey Toyota, were neighbors!,,Ive purchased just off of Chewiliken Valley Rd in your area, what is it like dealing with the county? I havent really gotten any good info from them re well, or building...I hear some are building dry cabins no permits, but doesnt look like a good idea to me...who did you choose for a well driller? Im in the So sound area and got a few years on you, want to homestead/retire on my 20, maybe make it 40 if the right piece comes up next to me! GrammaJan
I live and work in the town of Okanogan. I have for 22 yrs, in healthcare. There are 3 small hospitals in the county - North Valley, MidValley and Okanogan Douglas, in Brewster (south). They are all in financially stressful times. The largest is MidValley, in Omak. We have a small population of only around 41,000 people in the whole state.
RE: your husband's career, you can imagine that administrator positions at MidValley are slow to turn over. We have had 3 in the 22 yrs. I've been here. But the guy who's there is in his 60's, doesn't take care of himself and looks like he could have a heart attack any day. There are several clinics, though. That may be a thing to pursue.
I am moving to Seattle to be with my partner of 3 yrs. He is a scientist and wouldn't find much work in Okanogan.
Last edited by scirocco22; 03-23-2011 at 10:52 PM..
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