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Old 11-24-2019, 10:49 PM
 
17 posts, read 15,775 times
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Hello Oregon folks-
My husband and I are originally from the Midwest. We have 3 kids ages 17, 15, and 9. We've been in Berkeley, California for the past 13 years...and it's wearing on us. The busy pace of life here, the extreme (angry) liberal elitism ("no place in the world is as progressive and awesome as we are" is the general mentality here), the poorly run city government. We have many friends here but we're tired...and the conversations about leaving have become more serious lately.

We've been researching Ashland. Here are my impressions from my research online that I am hoping you good people can confirm or deny:

-Close to nature
-Walkable downtown area
-Great schools (a public outdoor school?! a waldorf charter!?!)
-Mild weather, more sun than northern Oregon, 2 hours from the beach
-Progressive politically leaning left but not extremist (moderates maybe? idk...)
-good food co-op

My questions are:
-Is there a slower pace of life there than in an urban area? What does this look like in daily life living there?

-How easy would it be for a new family (with older kids- not babies!) to integrate into the small-town community there? (Esp. from CA, even though we are Midwesterners at heart- I know Oregonians don't like CA folks moving there...) Are people open to newcomers or is it a very insular community that may be hard to break into? We are really social and love having people over for dinner and hanging out...we love neighbors stopping by to visit unannounced, etc.

-Are there specific neighborhoods that would be near nature but walkable to downtown, good for families?

-What's the little league baseball scene like there?

-What's the public high school like?

-And finally: my husband is Puerto Rican and our kids identify strongly as Latino. Is there Latino culture in Ashland or surrounding areas? Would they feel totally out of place? (This is the main thing I hear from people here when I talk about moving to Oregon: "But it's so...WHITE!" everyone says.) It seems to me that a progressive, liberal-leaning small town would accept people of all backgrounds and even welcome people of different ethnicities... I'd like to believe that this is true.

My daughter and I are visiting this week. Any places we must see while we're there?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice!
-Laura
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Old 11-24-2019, 11:40 PM
 
Location: The beautiful Rogue Valley, Oregon
7,785 posts, read 17,307,150 times
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The usual issue is employment, unless you are bringing a job with you - Ashland (and the rest of the Rogue Valley - Talent, Phoenix, Medford, Jacksonville, Central Point) is not really a big city with a lot of employment options. The main industries are tourism, health care and retiree services. When you drive from Ashland to Medford, that series of huge buildings up on the hill to to the east are big, expensive retirement centers (most visitors ask me if it is a hospital or hotel complex - nope)

There isn't really an "urban area" here at all, more like some small downtown areas. Depending on what you are looking for in amenities, entertainment, etc, you might not find it. If you like camping, fishing, hiking, outdoor type things then you would probably be fine.

Ashland has two of the better grocery stores in the valley (ShopNKart and Market of Choice). There is the Co-op, which I am not overly fond of but you might like (ShopNKart is larger, has better selection even of organic and "natural" and is quite a bit cheaper). The Farmer's Market runs March 1 through Thanksgiving, pretty much, the large market on Tuesdays and the small market on Saturdays.

There is a fairly large youth through adult baseball organization here, with, for our size, a lot of baseball fields. Most of them are not in Ashland, but they are in the immediate area.

Ashland has often been described, unfairly or otherwise, as a Berkeley wanna-be. It isn't large enough and the surrounding rural areas are very red. Most of the west coast is not a "stop by unannounced" culture, the exceptions probably being families in the neighborhood with kids in the same class. But retirees are by far the highest % of residents, in 2019 the average age in Ashland is 46 to Berkeley's 31 (according to a quick google search, anyway). Roughly 90% of the population is classified "white alone," so the LatinX population is not high. To my knowledge there is not a restaurant featuring Puerto Rican cuisine, or even really much Caribe cuisine in the area. The diversity that you might be looking for would be up in the Portland metro area - even the larger suburbs, like Beaverton, would be much more diverse.

Could you be happy here? Maybe, it depends on you. While the area does not get as much rain as the Portland area, it is still the wet, cool and overcast winter that most of the PNW west of the Cascade Range shares. It is just somewhat shorter here.
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Last edited by PNW-type-gal; 11-25-2019 at 12:10 AM..
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Old 11-25-2019, 08:19 PM
 
17 posts, read 15,775 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW-type-gal View Post
The usual issue is employment, unless you are bringing a job with you - Ashland (and the rest of the Rogue Valley - Talent, Phoenix, Medford, Jacksonville, Central Point) is not really a big city with a lot of employment options.
Thanks for all the input- I appreciate it! Forgot to mention we both work from home- meager incomes but have flexibility to be able to move and keep our jobs.
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Old 11-25-2019, 10:03 PM
 
Location: WA
4,531 posts, read 5,971,766 times
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Then if you can afford it, Ashland probably has what you want.

With kids rapidly approaching college age, they will likely leave home for college and not return as there isn't much for young college grads to do in that area. That's the reality of raising HS kids in relatively isolated areas. Especially since they aren't from the area and aren't going to have 18 years worth of friends and memories rooting them in Ashland.

When my wife and I moved back to the Northwest after a career diversion to Texas our kids were about the same age as yours. We tossed around the idea of some more isolated locations like Ashland, Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Bend, etc. But ended up settling in the greater Portland metro area in part with the notion that there would be more nearby opportunities for our kids in terms of both higher education and careers. I saw an extreme version of this during the time we lived in Juneau Alaska when our kids were really little. Awesome place to raise kids when they are young. But then most of my co-workers with older kids would watch them leave home for the lower 48 for college and then basically never return.

Last edited by texasdiver; 11-25-2019 at 10:47 PM..
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Old 11-26-2019, 12:29 AM
 
317 posts, read 211,214 times
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My husband and I just sold our Ashland house. We lived there for 20 years. It's a great little town. It is small, so the biggest adjustment would be scaling down from Berkeley and larger Bay Area. We moved to Ashland in 2000 from Santa Monica, but lived in the Bay Area before that. I was really happy with the very human scale of a small town and didn't miss the city or city traffic one little bit.

After 20 years, I am feeling like being, if not in, at least more adjacent to a larger metro area again... but it took me 20 years to get to that point.

Our kids grew up in Ashland and really loved their childhoods there. (Both live in big cities now, funnily enough.)
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Old 12-01-2019, 01:38 AM
 
17 posts, read 15,775 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jessie Mitchell View Post
My husband and I just sold our Ashland house. We lived there for 20 years. It's a great little town. It is small, so the biggest adjustment would be scaling down from Berkeley and larger Bay Area. We moved to Ashland in 2000 from Santa Monica, but lived in the Bay Area before that. I was really happy with the very human scale of a small town and didn't miss the city or city traffic one little bit.

After 20 years, I am feeling like being, if not in, at least more adjacent to a larger metro area again... but it took me 20 years to get to that point.

Our kids grew up in Ashland and really loved their childhoods there. (Both live in big cities now, funnily enough.)
Thanks for that perspective on the adjustment from big city to smaller town. I wonder if I would miss it...but I do think being closer to nature would make up for it and maybe I wouldn't at all!

By the time we would move, our 2 oldest kids would likely be in college- so it would just be our youngest who would be in 5th grade. He's easy going and I know he would make friends quickly. The more I think about it, I worry that I will be lonely without friends in a small town where everyone seems to know one another...even though my husband and I are both fairly outgoing and social. How easy is it to meet people there? We'd be moving at a strange time without young kids and elementary school gatherings to meet other parents...since our youngest would be starting middle school.
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Old 12-01-2019, 12:11 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Jessie would be the expert but my sense of Ashland demographic is that most have moved there from CA and many are retired. In Oregon friendships are built on common interests be it skiing, performing arts, school activities, etc. I don't know your occupation but Southern Oregon State College, as well as K-12 schools, can always use volunteers.

Ashland is no Berkley but it is the most 'liberal' town in southern Oregon. That said, it won't be in-your-face politics.

Welcome home.
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Old 12-14-2019, 01:59 PM
 
Location: Sarasota, Florida
29 posts, read 17,531 times
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If you do relocate to Ashland, make sure you are out of the flood zone. Downtown is prone to flooding under certain circumstances. I do love Ashland
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Old 12-14-2019, 03:53 PM
 
Location: Vancouver, WA
6,561 posts, read 14,402,106 times
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We just moved to the PNW from Monterey with teenagers. Yes, it is a different life stage than moving with little kids like we also did to CO at one point. Teenagers tend to have their own peer group of friends which can make it a challenge if still in high school. Once out they are ready for college (or work). So we went through the same thought process as Texasdiver looking at smaller towns in Oregon and Washington. We also wanted to be closer to somewhere they might actually want to live once out of school and working, etc...

For college age kids, do you care about which colleges they will be attending? Public vs. private, in-state vs. out of state tuition? If in Oregon you have some good choices with OSU, UO among other state schools. Though it will take you a year to establish residency. So that can be an expensive first year. We opted for a local CC while establishing residency. BTW, Corvallis is a really nice little college town I would also recommend. That's also where OSU is located. It's very bike friendly and much closer to the ocean than Ashland as well as closer to other larger cities and an airport when needed. So even though a small town, it has some frindge benefits. Your kids may wind up working in Portland and then its only a ~1.5 hour drive vs. ~4.5 hours.

Regarding Californians in the PNW, yes, there is a bit of a that for a variety of reasons. But you'll notice two things. First of all there are many transplants in the PNW from all over including CA. So its really not that big of a thing. And second, if you try to be a decent person it won't matter. This reminds of some of the disdain CA has had from New Yorkers and Texans including all of the stereotypes. But when you meet good people from New York or Texas its always refreshing.

I wouldn't expect shangri la in terms of communities where everyone hangs out and walks to each other's homes unannounced right away. That's normally something which gets established after years of friendships that were developed if you have things in common with your neighbors, etc... If you have something like that now you will miss it and have to 'rebuild' many of those social networks. We lived in our last neighborhood for a decade in Monterey and got to know our neighbors. And we do miss that. It just takes time. I also had friends from work that would come over. We had parties at people's houses from work, church, etc... I work remotely now form Monterey. So that is a bit of an adjustment as well socially. We're beginning to meet our neighbors and make some friends through or middle daughters local high school band. I've also joined several local facebook groups with common interests such as paddleboarding and done some outings. We have also attend a local church ~ a mile from our home and are meeting other families there. Its kinda like building a house. You have to start with the foundation and then grow from there.

Derek

Last edited by MtnSurfer; 12-14-2019 at 04:13 PM..
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Old 12-14-2019, 06:58 PM
 
Location: Was Midvalley Oregon; Now Eastside Seattle area
9,843 posts, read 4,565,314 times
Reputation: 6955
I imagine by now, Ashland and Medford are mostly California transplants .
Current Californian transplants just want More Californians, or maybe they don't?

joke. I have no idea,
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