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Old 11-29-2012, 09:22 PM
 
7 posts, read 27,534 times
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Hello, all. My husband and I and our 2-year-old currently live in the Seattle area. We moved here about a year and a half ago from a small college town in Indiana because of the tech job market. Well, as it turned out, we both ended up with telecommuting jobs based in other states, so it doesn't matter where we live. We do like Seattle, and we think the outdoor amenities are great and the scenery is gorgeous. However, our salaries don't match the area, and since we both work from home, we'd like a larger house/condo than we can currently afford here. If we felt like the area was a good fit otherwise, we would probably try to make it work, but there seems to be something subtle that keeps us from feeling at home here. I would call it a "soulless" quality, for lack of a better word. Granted, we live in the suburbs, but we don't really want to live in the city and western Washington seems to lack the quintessential smaller college town, which my husband and I are both partial to. So my question is, if you're familiar with the Seattle area and with Oregon, would you say that Oregon towns are, well. . . warmer (and I don't mean climate-wise)? We would consider the outskirts of Portland, as well as Eugene or Corvallis. We like a progressive vibe and the energy of university-type towns, but we also like the amenities of being close to a larger city. Actually, I didn't think we were that hard to please until we moved to Washington and have been unable to find a niche. We have been to Portland, but it's hard to tell from a visit if you'll like living somewhere. We also plan to visit Eugene and Corvallis in the next month or so. So what do you think? Are the vibes in greater Seattle and greater Portland similar? Have you noticed what I'm talking about? Am I crazy? I know that a place can be absolutely great on paper, but just not be a good fit for someone in reality. Other things that matter to us are good school options for our daughter, parks, low crime, etc. Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:47 AM
 
Location: the Beaver State
6,466 posts, read 12,688,881 times
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No, Portland is not any "warmer" then Seattle. The "Seattle Freeze," the "Portland Freeze," are the same thing. Portland is Seattle's little brother in almost every way.

The University District in Seattle has more of that "college town" feel to it then Corvallis by far. Eugene has it, but only if you're near the college.

If you didn't fit in Seattle, I don't think you're going to fit in Portland. You might try looking at Olympia instead. Not so much of the college town feel, but the vibe is definitely different there then Seattle or Portland. Another option would be looking east at Spokane.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:30 AM
 
7 posts, read 27,534 times
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Thanks for the reply, hamellr. That is good to know and does give me some insight into the "vibe" in Oregon cities.

It's very possible that we are just in a bad stage of our lives to be "starting over" socially. The odds are already stacked against us finding many friends, in that we both work from home, have a toddler, do not consider ourselves part of a religious community, and are generally rather introverted. This may be the problem, more than the area. We were fortunate enough to have a really nice group of friends back in the Midwest, but circumstances (not the least of which is a toxic extended family situation) keep us from wanting to return.

In the grand scheme of things, a year and a half isn't really that long. . . Maybe we just haven't given it enough time. If anyone else has thoughts for us, though, feel free to pass them along. Thanks again.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:55 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Ashland is a cute college town with excellent public schools but it is expensive.

I don't agree that Portland and Seattle have the same 'vibe'. I think Portlanders are more involved with their neighborhoods and politically tend to be problem solvers (not withstanding the actions of recent City Commissioners & Mayor). There are lots of places for families with young children to meet in Portland.

There are neighborhoods in Eugene that could work for you, check out the homes around Willamette Street east of Washington Street. Older houses, walkable to their downtown. Talk to a Realtor if you like what you see for other similar neighborhoods. Eugene has a fine performing arts venues downtown.

I haven't lived in Corvallis (but have lived in Seattle metro, Portland, and have family around Eugene) so can't comment about that town.

One thing to keep in mind is that you want to be around a critical mass of others in your profession both socially and developmentally. The UofO's strength is software and Symantec has a large office in their suburbs on International Way. Corvallis' strength is 'hardware'. Portland has a decent number of software engineers, there is a poster on this board who is in that field so I will deferrer to his expertise.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:10 AM
 
Location: the Beaver State
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You might want to look into groups like MeetUp.com for people who are into your interests, or go to the Seattle Craigslist "Strictly Platonic" group to find people who share your interests.

Failing that, take some Adult Education classes at your local Community College. Cooking classes are always useful. Join a book club, Theater Group (they always need back stage people,) or toddler swim lesson. As an introvert also, I understand where you're coming from, it's hard to put yourself out there to meet people.

I just don't think a move is going to change things for you. Portland's COL is lower than Seattle's by quite a bit, so that would be a primary motivator to move to me.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:39 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
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It sounds a lot to me like you want tiny small town neighborliness with big city amenities, and you aren't going to get both in the same place. Doubly so since you need lower living expenses.

My suggestion is a small town just beyond reasonable commuting distance but close enough to drive into the big city for the evening or weekend to enjoy all the action. If it is a bit too far to commute daily, that will lower the cost of housing and rent.

After leaving school, it becomes difficult to put together a new group of friends, so try signing up for foreign language classes or art classes at community education or at a junior college. Those are classes where people talk to each other and sometimes go out for coffee together after class.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Another great activity is to find toddler play groups. There is one at Friendly House in Portland, a parent (or nanny/grandparent) must accompany the child. The parents get to meet and often schedule play dates, shortly you have friends with similar interests..

Before you move try the strategies posters on this forum have mentioned. If that doesn't work let us know.

Portlanders know Portland metro, there is a Eugene forum. My Eugene contacts claim that it is not cheaper to live there than Portland all things being equal. I do know that flights out of PDX are cheaper because they all drive to Portland when they fly.

In the greater Portland area there are two small towns with colleges: McMinnville (Linfield College) and Forest Grove (George Fox) however I don't think they have the vibe you are seeking.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:48 PM
 
7 posts, read 27,534 times
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Thanks, all. I really do appreciate all the replies and ideas.

Nell, thanks so much for your impressions of Portland and Eugene. The "critical mass" of people in our field is very interesting, and (I think) very relevant. Seattle has tons of software people, but the ones we've met are of a particular corporate type that doesn't seem to mesh well with our start-up mentalities, if that makes sense. I think U of O might be a great environment for us, given my past experiences with university towns, but of course we'll need to visit to see how it feels. I've heard from other people that Portland is more community-oriented than Seattle, which is why I thought of that as a possibility too.

From my previous post, I can see where it sounds like we haven't tried things like Meetup.com. Let me tell you about Meetup! We've probably been to half a dozen groups together and over a dozen total, including all the "mom and me" groups I've tried. We even ran a group for a few months, but we felt over our heads since we were so new to the area and didn't have a good, free venue that was kid-friendly. Sometimes we meet people that we seem to jive with, but then it doesn't work out to get together again or we just don't end up having that much in common. Having a child also restricts us, somewhat. We're on the Eastside, and I see groups in Seattle that look like they'd be awesome, but we just can't get there and/or they're not kid-friendly. That's not to say that we've completely exhausted Meetup's possibilities, but I've had a love/hate relationship with it since we moved here.

I also take my daughter to a toddler "pre-school" once a week, where the parents stay in the classroom with the kids. I talk to the other moms every week. They are perfectly nice and friendly, and we have decent conversations about our kids. . . but that's it.

ALSO, I've hung out with several of our neighbors that have kids (on a regular basis for a while), but (and this might sound weird) I realized that getting together with them was stressing me out. They seemed perpetually negative, preoccupied with money and domestic perfection, embittered by being their child's primary caregiver. It was odd. So I withdrew from that group, although I do still talk to them sometimes.

As for it being difficult to find friends after college, I absolutely agree that it's difficult. We're actually in our mid-30s and have been out of college for almost 12 years. Neither of us went to college in the previous town where we lived. Rather, we both moved there independently for technology jobs and just happened to meet a bunch of awesome people at our respective jobs. I guess they were just our "brand" of geek. There was a great energy and sense of community in the town, and we always felt welcome, even though we weren't natives.

To be more specific about town size, we don't need a tiny town, and we also don't need to be particularly close to a large city. University/college towns tend to be smaller towns with enough of the big-city amenities to get by. It doesn't have to be a college town either, but towns we like often happen to have a college.

Our other consideration is, of course, our child and the kind of environment we'd like her to grow up in. Eastside Seattle kids seem like nice enough kids, and the schools out here are good, but again, there's that empty suburban feeling that seems to infuse everything, even the people. It's beautiful and safe, but homogeneous and sterile. I have a feeling that living in Seattle proper might be a very different experience, but we're wary of moving to an urban setting for a few reasons. Primarily, neither of us has ever lived in a large city. If we stay here, though, we might have to try it.
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Old 11-30-2012, 12:55 PM
 
7 posts, read 27,534 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nell Plotts View Post
Another great activity is to find toddler play groups. There is one at Friendly House in Portland, a parent (or nanny/grandparent) must accompany the child. The parents get to meet and often schedule play dates, shortly you have friends with similar interests..

Before you move try the strategies posters on this forum have mentioned. If that doesn't work let us know.

Portlanders know Portland metro, there is a Eugene forum. My Eugene contacts claim that it is not cheaper to live there than Portland all things being equal. I do know that flights out of PDX are cheaper because they all drive to Portland when they fly.

In the greater Portland area there are two small towns with colleges: McMinnville (Linfield College) and Forest Grove (George Fox) however I don't think they have the vibe you are seeking.
That is all great info. The cost of living comparison is definitely interesting. Friendly House also sounds like a wonderful resource for parents. We will have to check out the two small towns you mentioned when we come to scope the area again. Thank you!
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:11 PM
 
Location: the Beaver State
6,466 posts, read 12,688,881 times
Reputation: 3555
Another option for you is that Seattle (and Portland) have a ton of Software Networking and User Groups of all types. If you're plugged into the local "Geek" community, there are dozens of mailing lists that alternate between technically helpful and social outlets. The Employment Department is a good step to find resources for the first, along with the local Young Professionals Chapter. The second is a bit harder to find, but a quick Google search should find some quickly.
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