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Old 02-23-2010, 12:39 PM
 
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I'm interested in hearing from people who've made the adjustment to living in Eugene after living for a long time in the Southwest. After working most of my adult life in Albuquerque (20 years so far) I probably take the sunshine and dryness for granted. Many times I wish for rain, or at least some clouds, and get a feeling of exhaustion from relentless sunshine. Many days I wake up and see the sunshine and think "ugh, another sunny day" when I'd prefer a dark and brooding "down" day. I get bummed out whenever rain or snow is predicted and it doesn't happen. But generally people tend to move to warmer, sunnier places to retire, and I wonder if Eugene's grayness would turn out to be more than I bargained for. Anybody experience this?

Of course I've met plenty of people who relocated to New Mexico from the PNW because of seasonal depression. I grew up in NY/New England so what seems "normal" to me includes a wide variety of weather (I don't miss the ice and sleet), but I don't remember rain or cloudiness ever bothering me.

When I retire in a few years I'm wondering if it would be a good idea (for my joints, allergies, and mood) to stay in a sunny, dry place, or if I could tolerate Eugene. Most of what I read about the city appeals to me (air quality and crime aside): it's bike-friendly, more liberal than not, it's green because it rains, there's art and music, and it's a manageable size (compared to Albuquerque). Not too far from the coast (water!), and not too close or too far from Portland, a major city. The university would likely provide interesting continuing education opportunities. But maybe the weather would keep me inside more than I should be, and I'd end up doing less biking and hiking than I do here, and get out of shape (I don't like gyms).

Any thoughts?

Last edited by aries63; 02-23-2010 at 12:48 PM..
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:22 PM
 
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I grew up in the Eugene Area. Lived in the Willamette Valley all of my life, from Monroe to Portland, until we moved to southern Oregon 10 years ago. I'll never move back to the valley. My allergies are better, I'm more active outdoors than I've EVER been. I don't miss the mud, the rain, dreary months of cloudy days. a
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Old 02-23-2010, 04:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbrannie View Post
I grew up in the Eugene Area. Lived in the Willamette Valley all of my life, from Monroe to Portland, until we moved to southern Oregon 10 years ago. I'll never move back to the valley. My allergies are better, I'm more active outdoors than I've EVER been. I don't miss the mud, the rain, dreary months of cloudy days. a
Indeed, Ashland, Medford, and Bend on the east side are all more xeric (drier) alternatives. Ashland is in the rain shadow of Mt. Ashland, and gets 19" of rain per year w/ warmer summers than Eugene. As for the original poster, I'm not sure how liberal Ashland is, compard to Eugene, since the county (Jackson) votes conservative, although it is a college town that's in some ways similar to Santa Fe and Flagstaff (no major industry, very touristy, artsy, etc.).

Eugene has 40" of rain per year, w/ low sunshine year round except May-September. If you visit Oregon, it is nice to know there are alternatives both east and west of the Cascades if the weather aggravates your symptoms. For me, everything was fine driving NW on I-5 - for over 1500 miles out of Arizona - everything was fine until Grants Pass when I got a migraine. I guess things were wet enough at that point w/ mold however it is not the end of the world.

What I don't like about the SW are the summer monsoons and thunderstorms, yet what I don't like about the NW are the winter rains. Albuquerque and Santa Fe can have mold as they are high desert w/ cold winters and springs. (I'd prefer winter snow over winter rain, in a place such as Bend, Tahoe, Mammoth, or Flagstaff however I digress.)

Eugene is not the place, along with Portland and Seattle, for both high and low histamine athletic types w/ fibromyalgia and migraines, who will get depressed w/ allergies to the humidity - and become less athletic when this happens, as the original poster suggests. However, Eugene is a terrific City for most who enjoy it for its outdoors amenities and liberalism.

Last edited by CCCVDUR; 02-23-2010 at 05:04 PM..
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Old 02-23-2010, 05:20 PM
 
Location: Eugene, OR
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I'm from Southern Cal and moved to Eugene in 2008. So far, I love it. The pessimistic descriptions of the "gray weather 7 months of year" in Eugene are, in fact, greatly exaggerated (similar to the way those rumors about my death are greatly exaggerated). Plus, there are often bursts of sunshine even during the rainy season. Last week, I even heard someone laughing about how the weather was changing from sunny to rain every 10 minutes...and they weren't far from the truth. I must have seen ten rainbows that day! (Of course, that day went in the official records as another "rainy day").

One suggestion, if you are worried about it, is to look for a house in a sunny section of town. It really depends on where the house is situated in relation to surrounding trees and hills. My house gets lots of sun and dries out quickly, so we have little problems with the wetness. Other houses, just down the street are wet almost all the time during the winter unless they get a strong prolonged blast of sunshine. Sometimes on the way home, we drive through certain areas where the streets are wet even when there is no rain, but then we get to our house two minutes later and the streets are completely dry.

Re the allergy issue: It's been talked to death in these forums. To summarize, Eugene has high levels of specific pollens during certain times of year. If you are allergic to THOSE SPECIFIC pollens, then you've got big trouble. If not, then not so much to worry about. It's a bit more complicated than that (valley, winds, blah blah blah), but that's the general issue in a nutshell. They have basically outlawed the burning of grass fields, so that issue should be just about dead now.

Re getting stuck inside the house due to rain: Funny thing about people in Eugene...they basically ignore the rain. Aside from a water-resistant outer jacket, most people go about their business as if the rain did not exist. You rarely see one single umbrella being carried even on a rainy day. It's a little weird actually. But my wife and I have followed their lead since moving here, and this strategy seems to work quite well. For example, I go jogging about 4 times per week and go out rain or shine. If it is raining, I just wear an additional thin waterproof jacket. If it is really gray, and I am running in the later afternoon, I also throw on my bright neon orange net vest for visibility. Simple. What rain?


Last edited by Mr Eugenified; 02-23-2010 at 05:25 PM.. Reason: addition of all-important smiley at end
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Old 02-23-2010, 10:27 PM
 
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Thanks for the reassurances.

Actually, CCCVDUR, I love the monsoons in New Mexico! I don't have fibromyalgia or migraines (knock on wood), although I do get lots of headaches which are exacerbated by bright sunshine. I think I've become more sensitive to the desert sun with time, I absolutely can't go outdoors during the day without sunglasses anymore. I had more allergy problems back east but don't know what specifically was causing them.

Places like Bend and Ashland sound attractive, but also too remote for me to consider. I don't think I'd like to be that far from a major airport or large city. I'm also learning about Corvallis, perhaps just as wet as Eugene but a smaller college town. Having worked in higher ed all my adult life I think I'd feel lost without access to a university nearby, so either Corvallis or Eugene would fit that bill.

Mr. Eugenified: I like your "can-do" attitude about the Eugene rain and ability to see the rainbows through the rain. FWIW, the only time I was ever in Eugene was just driving through in early January a few years ago, from Tacoma down through California. The sun came out in Portland, where I stopped for lunch, but then clouds took over the rest of the way so that all I saw on my non-stop journey south from Portland to Yreka was clouds. I may have the chance to go back to Portland for a conference this July and explore around the Eugene-Corvallis area, and try to take in Crater Lake as well. It would be nice to try to rent a bike in Eugene and explore the trails. Albuquerque has an extensive bike trail system which I'd miss unless I could find a reasonable replacement.

As far as the weather not permitting exercise, I have to remember: when I'm retired, I'll have that much more time to spend outdoors!
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Old 02-24-2010, 12:18 AM
 
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I'm a Texas Native who has lived in Eugene going on about 5 years... I absolutely love it here. I've never been one to have problems with allergies or depression, though, so I cannot speak with regards to those issues. In Texas, I LOVED the days it would rain, and loved the storms. I didn't like the summers AT ALL... I can't stand humidity and heat and like you, the bright sun often gave me horrible headaches. I'll never forget having to air out the car before you can actually drive in it due to the extreme heat that would build-up in it... even if you had only been in the store for 20 minutes. And touching a too-hot steering wheel... oh my goodness. That doesn't happen here or at least I've yet to have it happen to me here.

No roaches, either. I grew up thinking it was totally normal to have flying cockroaches - even in the nicest of homes and neighborhoods. And listening for the scattering of roaches at night when you turn the lights on. If you heard that you always knew it was that time again - it had prolly been about three months so it was time to spray for the bugs. No telling how much toxic substances built up inside me from all the spraying for bugs we had to do. And outside, we were always on the lookout for fire ants. More little devils I've never seen in Eugene. Once you've been bitten by a fire ant, you never sit down on the grass or go barefoot the same way again.

Anyway - Yes, there is an adjustment to living in the PNW when you hail from sunnier climes. Even the days are shorter in the winter months which still trips me out. Even if it's just a few hours less of sunlight up here during winter than what we got in Texas, that still means on those shortest days of the year you're leaving for school/work in the dark and coming home in the dark, and those nights are longer, too.

But, you know what that means? Our summers are amazing. All that rain keeps things greener longer. Makes our trees bigger. Makes our grass greener. No more crunchy brown grass or having to go broke watering your dang yard like you have to do down south. I mean, you have to water in summer but it's not nearly as bad. And after experiencing the long wet months (which, as Mr. E has said, are often greatly exaggerated by - I suspect - people who don't want other people moving here so they make it seem worse than it actually is...)... but after humbly going about your wet and rainy season... when spring buds and summer shines you feel it even more in your bones. It's awesome. And we have lots of free festivals and some not-so-free festivals which celebrate the joys of the seasons... like lavender festivals and tulip festivals and folk music festivals on the coast and kite festivals, and even sand castle festivals...

My husband and I wish we had been kids growing up here. We're raising our kids here. And someday when the kids have grown and built their own nests, we plan on being those sorts of old people who live and behave like kids here. Purple hair and zippy scooters and all.

I'm editing this to also add... in Texas, I grew up always going to lakes. I thought all lakes were supposed to be brown or red or muddy-looking. I remember going to my first lake here and looking down and seeing through the water!! And it was so blue. Oh my gosh the lakes here are so beautiful. Google Waldo or Crater Lake - they are among the purest in the world. Lots of our lakes are so pure because they are actually volcanic craters which are filled with glacial melt, melted snow, or rain.

And that's just the lakes. We've got these amazing rivers to explore, and then of course - our coast. I thought it was special going to Padre on the gulf. Now I can't believe I ever was excited to go to that place! It wasn't my fault... it was all I ever knew. I used to have to scrape black tar off my feet whenever we went to the gulf coast in Texas. Sad.
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Old 02-24-2010, 12:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Eugenified View Post
Re getting stuck inside the house due to rain: Funny thing about people in Eugene...they basically ignore the rain. Aside from a water-resistant outer jacket, most people go about their business as if the rain did not exist. You rarely see one single umbrella being carried even on a rainy day. It's a little weird actually. But my wife and I have followed their lead since moving here, and this strategy seems to work quite well. For example, I go jogging about 4 times per week and go out rain or shine. If it is raining, I just wear an additional thin waterproof jacket. If it is really gray, and I am running in the later afternoon, I also throw on my bright neon orange net vest for visibility. Simple. What rain?

This is true. You don't see too many umbrella's, either, except around drop-off or pick-up times at the elementary schools.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:44 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Eugenified View Post
One suggestion, if you are worried about it, is to look for a house in a sunny section of town. It really depends on where the house is situated in relation to surrounding trees and hills.

Re the allergy issue: It's been talked to death in these forums. To summarize, Eugene has high levels of specific pollens during certain times of year. If you are allergic to THOSE SPECIFIC pollens, then you've got big trouble. If not, then not so much to worry about. It's a bit more complicated than that (valley, winds, blah blah blah), but that's the general issue in a nutshell.
See similar thread now on the Oregon forum regarding other cities so this doesn't get off topic.

Yes, Mr. EUG: From what I observed, that's perfect advice about where to look for a place to live in the sunniest sections of Eugene.

The lack of winds are a significant consideration, in Eugene specifically. Eugene is flat and damp, and that's very different from other hilly areas in the Pacific NW such as Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland. There are hills south of Eugene, that serve to block south winds and sunshine, resulting in a chilly damp microclimate. Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland have more air circulation due to microclimates in the hills and valleys in their respective metros.

I was born and raised in Seattle, spending a lot of time near both Puget Sound and in the Univ. of Washington area, located on a hill above Union Bay. Lots of wind and air circulation all the time. When it rains, it's windy if you're on a hill. That, for me, is better although everyone is different.

If Eugene was south of the hills rather than north of them, the average temperature would be 3-5 degrees warmer year round! That's why once you start descending south beyond the trailheads at the top of the hills near Spencers Butte, there are farms with many more oak trees, rather than douglas firs that you'll see on the colder north side. Ashland, Oregon also faces hills to its south, as does Boulder. Albuquerque, where the OP is from, has mountains to the east w/ much more air circulation than Eugene.

Air pollution is in Eugene due to mills, and also seasonal allergies and year round mold. Very similar to many lumbering towns in the Pacific NW. I don't know if anyone has ranked all the towns for their pollution. It's worse in ANY (Eugene or ANYWHERE else) in the Northwest specifically IN THE WINTER (Oct-March) with inversions when high pressure is off the Oregon coast and/or over the Northwest Interior US.

Summer (late May-late September) IS the best time of year, and for some, the only time worth visiting between Grants Pass and Vancouver BC ! Some people cannot live in Eugene or the Northwest; it's a genetic thing resulting to histamine, catecholamine, and pyrrole metabolism, seasonal affective disorder, fibromyalgia, and so forth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aries63 View Post
Actually, CCCVDUR, I love the monsoons in New Mexico! I don't have fibromyalgia or migraines (knock on wood), although I do get lots of headaches which are exacerbated by bright sunshine. Places like Bend and Ashland sound attractive, but also too remote for me to consider. I don't think I'd like to be that far from a major airport or large city.
Again the state forum has a question that I hope people will answer about comparing towns so this doesn't get off topic. Ashland is next to Medford, a much larger city, with all the services. Ashland has independent business owners, and Medford has all the chains. Ashland is charming and reminds me of Flagstaff, Durango, and Mammoth Lakes in this respect. Eugene, Medford, Corvallis, and Portland essentially have all the chain stores whereas Ashland lacks some of them. I was surprised to see that Eugene even has a Superwallmart, even with its ultraliberalism! That would never be allowed in Ashland, Boulder, or Santa Fe. Eugene and Ashland each have at least one co-op that's likely independent, like La Montiana in NM or New Frontiers in Flagstaff/Sedona.

The OP asked about sustainability, and overall, Eugene has much more in this regards than Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Boulder!!! Here's stuff I got at Eugene's chamber of commerce:
Organic Farms:
http://lanefood.org
Air Pollution:
http://www.lrapa.org/

Last edited by CCCVDUR; 02-24-2010 at 02:26 AM..
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Old 02-24-2010, 11:26 AM
 
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Thanks to everyone for taking the time to share your observations, good and bad, about Eugene and other places. I really appreciate it. A few responses of my own in no particular order:

I've been in Seattle in October when there was no wind... I remember because I had planned to go sailing at the Center for the Wooden Boat on Lake Union but there was hardly any wind, so I took a pass. I did notice, though, on the city bus, that people were dressed as if it was already winter and I couldn't breathe, I felt the air on the bus was humid and stifling and I nearly stripped everything off... it was a horrible feeling, a consequence of being accustomed to the dryness of NM. Otherwise, the sun hardly ever came out on that trip and I was as happy as could be, reveling in the lush greenery and the lace-leaf Japanese maples.

Doesn't the rain in Eugene mitigate the pollen? At least here, when people complain of allergies, they pray for rain to clear the air. I would expect the rain in Eugene would have a similar cleansing effect.

Oh, Santa Fe does have a Walmart... I don't know if it's a "supercenter" or not...

Haggard: your enthusiasm for your new home is infectious! I enjoy reading about your various "awakenings" as a transplant from Texas. There's no doubt you made the right choice!

I'm surprised roaches don't love the moisture of Eugene. I never understood why a dry place like ABQ should be infested with black "water bug" roaches the way it is, but they're here to stay, apparently.
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Old 02-25-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aries63 View Post
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to share your observations, good and bad, about Eugene and other places. I really appreciate it. A few responses of my own in no particular order:

I've been in Seattle in October when there was no wind... I remember because I had planned to go sailing at the Center for the Wooden Boat on Lake Union but there was hardly any wind, so I took a pass. I did notice, though, on the city bus, that people were dressed as if it was already winter and I couldn't breathe, I felt the air on the bus was humid and stifling and I nearly stripped everything off... it was a horrible feeling, a consequence of being accustomed to the dryness of NM. Otherwise, the sun hardly ever came out on that trip and I was as happy as could be, reveling in the lush greenery and the lace-leaf Japanese maples.

Doesn't the rain in Eugene mitigate the pollen? At least here, when people complain of allergies, they pray for rain to clear the air. I would expect the rain in Eugene would have a similar cleansing effect.

Oh, Santa Fe does have a Walmart... I don't know if it's a "supercenter" or not...

Haggard: your enthusiasm for your new home is infectious! I enjoy reading about your various "awakenings" as a transplant from Texas. There's no doubt you made the right choice!

I'm surprised roaches don't love the moisture of Eugene. I never understood why a dry place like ABQ should be infested with black "water bug" roaches the way it is, but they're here to stay, apparently.
I'm sure there are roaches and creepy crawlies here... I mean we have TONS of spiders. I've never seen so many spiders in my life. But I've just never seen a single roach. It's strange - but I'm not complaining. (Maybe the spiders eat the roaches? Hmmm...)

Just north of us they grow tons of grass for seed. I've heard the Willamette Valley referred to as the "grass seed capital of the world". So my guess is that people who have problems with bad allergies here, are probably allergic to grass, and also molds and tree pollen because we have a lot of that, too. In spring, in our neighborhood, cottonwood is really bad. My husband had a problem with that until we found a homeopathic spray remedy. Now when we start to see the cottonwood, he sprays that under his tongue three times a day and he doesn't suffer at all. We were so happy to have found that.

As far as the rain... it mists or drizzles here quite a bit more than it does in the southwest, but - I haven't done this in awhile - when I look at how many actual inches of rainfall we get compared to other states we actually don't get that much. The years I checked... Texas got more rain than we did in the Valley, actually. We also have a surprising number of sunny days. Out my window right now it's sunny with blue skies and puffy white clouds, even though the weatherman forecast rain and clouds and overcast... This is so typical.
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