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Old 05-11-2020, 08:22 PM
111 posts, read 49,885 times
Reputation: 139


OK, here we go. I've posted on C-D before so I know for experience how quickly threads can get hijacked down a road completely unrelated to the OP questions, so I'll ask all you nice people to stay focused, objective, honest and accurate in your guidance.

I've been to Banff Canada a number of times, and always thought I'd love to retire there, but alas that can't happen, so I am seeking places in the lower 48 that are in some ways similar. Two places are up for consideration, Ashland and Couer D'Alene ID. Ashland is late to the game, but I've read some things in threads here I'd like clarification on:

Taxes - some have said since Ashland has so little industry, it relies heavily on residents (taxes the hell out of them) to keep the place as charming as it is (BTW we have not visited yet, waiting to see what we hear here first). I already paid my big taxes to sends my kids through school so not keen on paying for others kids. Are taxes that bad there?

Weather - I lived in Seattle for 4 yrs., but it looks as if AS is in a slightly drier swath of area. How accurate? We are from NC so we appreciate that you can;t have beautiful green around you if no rain, but is it like Seattle or Portland? And for winter, we are fine with some snow (we originated from Chicago so nobody can out-winter us). This is the biggest factor against CDA Idaho (we're resigned that if we go there we'll have to become snowbirds).

More sensitive stuff - I'm reading that nearby Medford is called "Methford" and that Ashland has a pretty aggressive and significant (for its size) homeless population. I have little tolerance for either, especially if I'm shelling out big $$ in taxes. Can I get an accurate read on this situation and is it getting worse, better or staying same. We lived in SF, CA and left just as the homeless pop was blowing up downtown - don;t want to return to that.

And speaking of California - Yes, I know, you hate them and wish they'd keep driving north. Is the impact on housing prices as bad as I read here? Its undeniable its almost 100% CDA ID, and although we have the $$, I don't want to have to settle for a tiny sh*tbox of a house just to live anywhere (Except maybe the Hamptons or Carmel, but those are out).

Politics - We are relatively conservative. No, not Rush loving, Trump loving right-wingers, and on some issues we're downright Libertarian. That said, will we be shunned or have a difficult time making friends there? Its never been an issue for us before, but again, I read things here that make me wonder if we'll fit in, or of to fit in, we'll need to keep our mouths shut and opinions to ourselves lest we be branded the scarlet red "R"

So in spite of everything I'm asking here which could be interpreted as not good, we are enticed by what we believe Ashland could be to us in retirement and hope much of the above IS NOT true. But if it is, so be it.

So, be nice, don;t hijack the thread with unrelated nonsense, and let the information flow. We greatly appreciate your willingness to help guide strangers from the other coast.
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Old 05-11-2020, 10:42 PM
2,081 posts, read 832,749 times
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I suggest vacationing in the area. Seems like a pleasant area to me, but I have only stopped there for lunch. Didn't notice any homeless, but might not have been in the right area. Unfortunately the homeless population seems to be exploding everywhere. Some of the small farming towns don't attract the homeless but then there's not much to do without driving to larger towns.
We don't have a sales tax in Oregon. Other taxes vary so can't help you there.
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Old 05-11-2020, 10:47 PM
2,081 posts, read 832,749 times
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Ashland is big into Shakespeare. People come from all over for it. I suspect the plays will all be cancelled this year.

No, we don't want the Californians to keep driving North. We think East is a good direction.
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Old 05-11-2020, 10:57 PM
Location: WA
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My parents went through the same process. Eventually settled on Canby, OR, mostly because they wanted to be closer to their grandkids across the river in the Vancouver area. But they looked at the same places as you.

Also in the running was Wenatchee.

Ashland would not interest me personally. Just too far away from everything. But if that's what you are looking for then it seems a pleasant place.

When my wife and I retire we plan to do a lot of travel so being close to a major airport is going to be a plus. We are 10-15 min from PDX and I'd hate to give that up. I know you have an airport in Medford, but that basically means an expensive connecting flight to PDX or SFO to get anywhere. And because of the low frequency of connecting flights, means your trips are always going to be longer than they need to be.
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Old 05-11-2020, 11:18 PM
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
15,296 posts, read 14,706,525 times
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If you are affluent enough that the Ashland cost of living is manageable, The town is delightful. Local politics are pretty left wing.

If you are looking cheaper, Couer D'Alene would be good. It has the advantage of being right outside Spokane, and the disadvantage of being on the Idaho Panhandle and its right wing Christian nut cases.

I would probably pick McCall instead, but I'm a small town boy.

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Old 05-11-2020, 11:32 PM
Location: Vancouver, WA
6,258 posts, read 13,626,084 times
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Ashland reminds me of Bend in some ways being far removed from larger cities, airports, etc... There are no major industries beyond tourism. It also attracts lots of retirees and of course Californians being right on the border.

My biggest concerns if retiring there would be:
1. Fires and associated smoke during that season. This seems to have gotten worse and if you search the forum, you'll see lots of posts about that problem. Some have moved because of it. Since the climate is somewhat warmer and a bit drier than the rest of the PNW being further south, it also suffers from associated problems like those of NorCal.

2. Isolation from major cities. Like Texasdiver, I enjoy traveling. And I wouldn't want to be that far removed from things like a major airport. Then there is medical treatment as one ages. Advanced procedures or well regarded specialists may be harder to come by or require a flight to a larger medical research facility like OHSU.

In terms of politics, I never let that determine where I live. That is unless its really extreme (right or left) and in your face. But it seems like that's why some move there, at least in part, to have that left experience. You may be paying extra for something that you really don't care that much about. Speaking of which, are you into theater?

It would be interesting to hear the locals take on the homeless situation. At least one thread mentioned it was getting worse. Something about them scaring away the theater/drama folks which elicits funny mental pictures, sorry. "I'll show you drama!!!" lol I don't know how what that meant in terms of relative scales though. Portland has some very interesting characters if you walk around downtown as does SF and other larger cities.

Lastly, I'm not sure you saw this thread, but its an interesting read: What Makes Ashland More Expensive than Medford and Grant's Pass?


Last edited by MtnSurfer; 05-11-2020 at 11:56 PM..
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:19 AM
111 posts, read 49,885 times
Reputation: 139
Thanks MtnSurfer, Larry, texasdiver, eTwist....all great responses so far, and hope others will chime in as well. My reactions to whats been said:

Politics - not a big deal UNTIL you start to feel completely outnumbered, or marginalized, or worse yet, unintentionally made to feel like you don't belong.

Taxes - this is starting to become a bigger concern, as it appears Ashland taxes the bejeezus out of residents to keep itself what it is. Maybe its different if you're actively working with kids in school, but that won't be us.

Culture - I guess we'll say its moderate to significantly left. Not a surprise, but the lowest vaccination rate in all of OR?? What is THAT all about? If that reflects the "culture" in Ashland, I'm now even more concerned. Kind of reminds me of Berkeley, a city hell-bent on destroying itself in the interest of being "hip and woke." I might become annoyed with that over time.

Travel - The comments about distance from airport are a good point. I travel globally for work now, and we hope to continue that in retirement, so a 5 hr. drive to a major international hub (Portland) would get tiresome VERY quickly.

Isolation - this is the double edge sword isn't it? To be as charming as it is it needs to be away from the big city, but that brings with it challenges and hassles (and cost?)

Housing - This could be another deal-breaker as a retiree. I'm ok with paying a premium to live in a nice place, but a super-duper overinflated premium driven by CA incomers driving up prices?? Not so sure that will fly. I'll spend some time looking at real estate sites to see wht we might get.

Weather - I dont know if the threat of smoke or the snow of No. Idaho is worse. Rain is less of a big deal for us. But what about actual FIRE threat? Even Napa burned a few yrs ago....
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Old 05-12-2020, 12:23 PM
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
15,296 posts, read 14,706,525 times
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Idaho has forest fires too. Anywhere you live in the PNW is a fire climax ecology. It's not if it will burn, it's when. I have always kept a CO2 canister respirator around for days when the smoke gets out of hand. Nowadays I wear it to the grocery store.

I have to admit that, if I were moving to Oregon, I would not choose either of your locations. My idea of a great location is somewhere like Brownsville, halfway between Corvallis and Eugene, but with small town ambiance. That gives access to two universities within moderate driving distance, the Hult Center in Eugene for performing arts, Peace Health in Eugene for medical needs, and two major collegiate sports teams.
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Old 05-12-2020, 12:37 PM
111 posts, read 49,885 times
Reputation: 139
Thanks Larry, just to be transparent, here's what got us started down the road on Ashland:

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Old 05-12-2020, 01:00 PM
111 posts, read 49,885 times
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The idea being, if you can get in on the "next Napa" before it becomes the next Napa, isn't that a nice thing? However, I'm old enough and skeptical enough that one article from a Gen-Z'er in Vogue isn't enough to make me move there. Thus, the post here.
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