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Northeastern Pennsylvania Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pocono area
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:07 AM
 
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Hello all,

My hubby and I are in our late 40's and are considering a move to the Wilkes-Barre area. His job would be in Wilkes-Barre proper.

We are both western-born and have lived all over the US, but I have spent the bulk of my life in Portland, OR. Here are my questions/fears (and please forgive me if I have a skewed view of life in PA):

1) We fear that W-B is bleak . . . old-coal-industry-depressing-northeastern-city, no jobs, no beauty. AGAIN, forgive me if that is untrue: I want it to be. No disrespect meant.

2) Portland has an amazing restaurant culture which is like the foodie equivalent to an artist's colony. There is a fierce devotion to locally-produced, seasonal and sustainable foods. Anything like this in the W-B area?

3) Are there grocery stores that also emphasize and feature the above?

4) Is the W-B area have crime any worse than your average city?

5) I've read that it's cloudy a lot: that's no problem for us being from Oregon. But are the winters horrible?

6) W-B, like Portland is a river town, which appeals to me. Are the Pocanos pretty? Is there tranquil nature to be had nearby?

That's all I can think of right now. Any additional info is much appreciated.
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:23 AM
 
Location: NE PA
7,931 posts, read 15,821,616 times
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[quote=capicks;13220110]Hello all,

My hubby and I are in our late 40's and are considering a move to the Wilkes-Barre area. His job would be in Wilkes-Barre proper.

We are both western-born and have lived all over the US, but I have spent the bulk of my life in Portland, OR. Here are my questions/fears (and please forgive me if I have a skewed view of life in PA):

1) We fear that W-B is bleak . . . old-coal-industry-depressing-northeastern-city, no jobs, no beauty. AGAIN, forgive me if that is untrue: I want it to be. No disrespect meant.
Compared to Oregon, yes, it will seem bleak. There is beauty in the surrounding areas though, lots of mountains, wilderness, lakes, and outdoor recreation. Its not bleak as in inner-city Detroit or Camden, NJ, but compared to Oregon, yes, NEPA will look rough around the edges.

2) Portland has an amazing restaurant culture which is like the foodie equivalent to an artist's colony. There is a fierce devotion to locally-produced, seasonal and sustainable foods. Anything like this in the W-B area?
There is good food here...lots of ethnic foods...if you like home-cooked Italian food, you're in luck. But probably different than what you're used to in Oregon.

3) Are there grocery stores that also emphasize and feature the above?
I would say no. The closest we would have to that would be Wegmans. Wegmans
4) Is the W-B area have crime any worse than your average city?
No...probably lower crime than most cities in the nation, but Wilkes-Barre has probably the highest crime rate in NEPA, which overall is a very safe area.

5) I've read that it's cloudy a lot: that's no problem for us being from Oregon. But are the winters horrible?
The winters can be pretty bad, but its not like upstate NY or New England. Coming from Oregon, I would think the winters here would not be too much fo an adjustment. But this area can get all kinds of weather extremes...summers can be hot and humid, and we can get blizzards in the winter. Winter here is overall gray and depressing, but could be much worse.

6) W-B, like Portland is a river town, which appeals to me. Are the Pocanos pretty? Is there tranquil nature to be had nearby?
Plenty of that here...mountains, rivers, lakes, streams, forests. One of the postive aspects of living in NEPA. You get the best of both worlds, city life and natural beauty practically next door to each other.
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:53 AM
 
Location: Location: Location
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gophillies has given an accurate picture of the area...

In addition, locally grown food is available during the growing season at the Thursday Farmer's Market on Public Square.

Wegman's Markets carry a fantastic variety of groceries, good meats, fresh produce, and imported foods.

There are tons of restaurants - and there is no need to limit yourself strictly to Wilkes-Barre. There are any number of towns in a 10 to 15 min car ride, and Scranton also has many eateries (and drinkeries).

There are eight colleges within a 20 minute ride offering numerous degrees.

The health care system is excellent, with doctors who further their training constantly.

Jobs? Not so much, unless you want to work in retail, or have special expertise in a specific area.

WInters vary from mild to severe, and this year was not one of the severe ones. Actually, Philadelphia and south took a lickin' as far as snow (80 inches) and some areas of the Poconos had a bit more than here in the Wilkes-Barre area.

Generally, if people arrive with preconceived ideas, they will find the area to be so. If you are open-minded about what to expect, you'll find much to enjoy.
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Old 03-09-2010, 12:59 PM
 
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Default Oregonians pondering a move to Wilkes-Barre area

I can't say that I know a whole lot about Wilkes-Barre but the areas surrounding it are nice as far as mts., skiing, lakes and the less suburban look goes. If you have a job set up in Wilkes-Barre, it is good as the job mkt. is pretty limited depending on what field you are in. Scranton, which is nearby would have more restaurants to go to in addition to Wilkes-Barre. We recently moved to this area for the good school district, the outdoor sports, less stressful pace and overall beauty. The winters here are not as bad as they used to be. We just got 3 ft. of snow in one week but that was really unusual and I didn't complain b/c I love it and they treat the roads great in this area. Before that we didn't have much snow here for the season. Expect it though and the ice which I don't like. That will take some getting used to as you don't have much of that there. It is more mild where you are. We visited Portland a few years ago and loved it; didn't spend enough time there as we were in route to other places but we plan to return to see more of Portland and the gorge area! I liked the diversity of the mts., ocean, city, sand dunes etc. and it is a cool culture there. Have you been here to the East coast? We loved the Oregon coast and WA. too. I wouldn't like the rainy season though... Best of luck. I hope this was a bit helpful.
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Old 03-22-2010, 09:43 PM
 
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I have a friend that is debating a move back to the area and that is how i stumbled upon your inquiry.
I have lived in WB growing up then moved away when in college then moved back.
Some other things to consider in the move.
Wilkes Barre is a 5 hour drive from, Philadelphia (2), NYC (2), Boston (5), Baltimore (4), Washington DC (5) Pittsburgh (5) and Niagara Falls (4). If you are someone who is interested in going to these areas on weekends it is very accessible.
Downtown Wilkes Barre is in the middle of a turn for the better. It was very empty and now is growing again.
I think the questions you have had been answered pretty well. However the snow is more than it seems to let on. We don't have snow all the time but when it comes we do get a lot. I think we had 3 storms of over 12 inches this year. But we usually get 5-6 storms a year that give us about 8 inches or less. If you have any other questions just ask.
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Old 03-23-2010, 04:32 PM
 
28,164 posts, read 25,305,403 times
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1) We fear that W-B is bleak . . . old-coal-industry-depressing-northeastern-city, no jobs, no beauty. AGAIN, forgive me if that is untrue: I want it to be. No disrespect meant.

I don't think it's depressing. There is much beauty to be found in WB - architecture, Kirby Park, The Riverfront, a couple art galleries, etc.

2) Portland has an amazing restaurant culture which is like the foodie equivalent to an artist's colony. There is a fierce devotion to locally-produced, seasonal and sustainable foods. Anything like this in the W-B area?

Kind of. We have a Farmer's Market from May-November on Public Square. We do have varied restaurants - Thai Thai, Katana, 214, etc - that cater to foodies-at-heart. Not as much as Portland, but a decent amount, IMO.


3) Are there grocery stores that also emphasize and feature the above?

The closest thing in this area is Wegman's. I've found that they satisfy our needs (til Whole Foods decides to get their butts here! LOL)

4) Is the W-B area have crime any worse than your average city?
This is a loaded question.

IMO? NO. Absolutely not. I think our area is behind the times in many areas, including crime - which, in that respect, is a good thing.

To hear some people speak, WB is the second coming of Newark or Orange, NJ. Not true. There are a lot of good, upstanding families in our area and city. Unfortunately, the bad element gets the press.

Let me put it to you this way: I'm a petite woman who has two kids - I am not afraid to walk downtown at night nor am I afraid of living a few blocks from downtown WB.

Of course, take this all with a grain of salt - I've been called a Limosuine Liberal (which really makes me chuckle) and worse.

5) I've read that it's cloudy a lot: that's no problem for us being from Oregon. But are the winters horrible?

I don't think it's any more cloudy then Oregon. If I had to guess I'd say Oregon owns the bank on that one. Winters are fickle here. Some aren't so bad and some are. It's a gamble. I'd brace for the worst and hope for the best.

If it's any consolation our winters are nothing compared to North/South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota or Iowa.

6) W-B, like Portland is a river town, which appeals to me. Are the Pocanos pretty? Is there tranquil nature to be had nearby?

Yes! That we do have in abundance! I couldn't name all of the nature areas, etc in our area. I do have to say, if you are an outdoorsy type person, NEPA is a great place for you.
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:15 PM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
32,616 posts, read 77,614,858 times
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Wilkes-Barre is definitely on an upswing as of late, and anyone who can't see that obviously has the blinders on. I enrolled in college in the downtown area in 2005 when the city was just starting to pull itself out of the clutches of despair. In 2010 there is a new riverfront park, a new intermodal transit center is nearly completed, new lofts and condos are springing up, there's a new movie theater, new restaurants, nightclubs, and stores are either open or are going to soon be opening (stay tuned for more on the way), and the city's two primary college campuses continue to expand (with potential for satellite branches of a medical school, law school, and community college to further bring more activity downtown). As Downtown Wilkes-Barre continues to heal and rebuild the surrounding neighborhoods, too, will benefit (including Kingston).

As far as some of the more liberal options you seek Wilkes-Barre will pale in comparison to Portland. As mentioned we have Wegman's in our area has a near-substitute for Whole Foods, and there is a great indepdently-owned organic food store in Clarks Summit called Everything Natural. I believe there may also be a similar store in the town of Luzerne. Some "trendy" hot-spots include the Bake House in Kingston (I would always see hordes of yuppies here toodling away on their laptops and smartphones), the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Barnes & Noble (with a Starbuck's inside and local bands playing on the weekends), the River Street Jazz Cafe (great place!), and some others. The Thursday farmers' markets on Public Square are great and bring quality locally-grown produce to city slickers.

Wilkes-Barre is smaller than Scranton but definitely feels more "urban." Its downtown area is more compact and denser, and its neighborhoods feature a lot of old "miners' homes" crammed together like sardines on narrow lots with very little street parking. In Scranton most of the neighborhoods have a bit more "breathing room", most have alleys and courts to permit rear off-street parking, etc. Crime-wise I was never the victim of a crime in Downtown Wilkes-Barre, and I frequented the area at night. Did I feel threatened at times? Definitely. You'll have that in any city though. Even in the "hoighty-toighty" Back Mountain area a man was nearly decapitated and his home was set ablaze a few years ago (but realtors out there will stay say "crime doesn't happen here").
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:28 PM
 
Location: SouthEastern PeeAye
889 posts, read 2,574,966 times
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I can't help but comment on the restaurant culture in the Wyoming Valley, your question #2. I'd say there are Italian restaurants, and then there is a category you could call everything else. Meaning, there is a strong Italian ethnic heritage in the area, and the food supply, both in restaurants and retail grocery stores (and in church picnics, and summer festivals, and catering and banquet services, and street corner delis and take out pizza store-fronts, and etc., etc., etc.) reflect that. A lot.

I've been to Portland, both for work and lived there briefly (extended work assignment for 12 months in the late 90s). The Wilkes Barre restaurant scene is not like Portland's, not like anything on the west coast. However, the Italian restaurants are pretty top notch, ... in fact there is such a high expectation amongst the restaurant going public that if the restaurants are not good they do not survive long. There is an older thread here on why national chain pizza joints do not survive in the area, it may be interesting reading, it touches on more than the pizza trade.

To appreciate all the Italian food, you have to learn the sometimes subtle differences in the Italian places, like where the white tablecloth places are, where the old school Italian men take their wives on a Saturday night (example, the Saluti Bar on Rt 11 below Clarks Summit, where you get a drink at the bar, and then have a two- or three- hour sit down meal), where to go for a casual sit down meal, on a weekday or a weekend (this list could be endless), or where to go for a special occasion.

One more thing, from a sort of outside observer. Everyone from the area is an expert on pizza. Which is one way to say, everyone has an opinion, ... because they grew up with as a part of their everyday life.
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:36 AM
 
Location: River Vale, NJ
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The Poconos are gorgeous, with things to do year round. You might find that residing in the Poconos, but working in Wilkes-Barre, would be a better situation for you.
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
32,616 posts, read 77,614,858 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonFeinman View Post
The Poconos are gorgeous, with things to do year round. You might find that residing in the Poconos, but working in Wilkes-Barre, would be a better situation for you.
Route 115 between the Poconos and Wilkes-Barre is a TERRIBLE drive in the winter though. Didn't two women just lose their lives in separate ice-related crashes in the Bear Creek area just after a Luzerne County judge crashed his car on the ice? PennDOT never salts that roadway (likely due to "budget constraints", yet the whiners in NEPA won't allow a tax increase to save lives). Unless this person had a position that permitted them to call off frequently during inclement weather encouraging a commute down Route 115 is a very bad idea. I'm tempted to think that this is one of the reasons why a gorgeous enclave like Bear Creek has continued to remain largely untouched by developers, unlike the Back Mountain or Mountain Top. The Poconos are indeed pretty, but anyone who lives in Blakeslee and commutes to Wilkes-Barre will tell you about how hair-raising that Route 115 drive can be.
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