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Old 08-29-2021, 03:28 PM
 
6 posts, read 4,959 times
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tl;dr Can a "go along to get along", normcore passing, ex-Eugenian q****-friendly hippieish person (I use the word "vibe" a lot) feel comfortable in Albany?

The title says it all, read on, if you're feeling masochistic, to understand the vibe I'm seeking. I grew up in Eugene and I miss the 1970s...and '80s, and '90s. I remember when the RG was still locally owned and an afternoon paper and am actually nostalgic about fieldburning smoke (or I was until the past few wildfire seasons).

So I ended up a pretty typical Eugene bleeding heart lefty, and I do the Country Fair. (I'm not really a fan of Saturday Market since the 1980s, for whatever reason.) But like many of my Gen X peers growing up, I was raised by working class non-hippies, with typical middle class values (pro-union, don't become an artist, get a practical job, take advantage of living in a college town, but don't get too high-falutin'.)

I have kept tattoos to a minimum and can mask whatever hippieish traits I have in order to work safe middle-class jobs with pensions. I set my radical friends straight about what normies are really like and I set my redneck family members straight about lefties (or else just avoid the topic altogether).

I've lived in a couple other PNW cities, and I spent about a decade in Salem. And I sort of...liked it. When asked about it, how I survived in such a boring, non-alternative place, I just say that the people who live there are like the basic (white) people I grew up with. Everyone is nice to your face, and if you don't bring up politics or religion, you get along just fine. It's clean, (it was founded by *Methodists* for goshsakes), it's organized, the built environment is aesthetically pleasing (I'm looking sideways at *you* Eugene), and the outdoorsy part of me was satisfied. If you really can't deal, it's easy enough to head up to Portland for the day for a dose of Weirdness. I would live there again. Even people in the surrounding rural areas were friendly. I only got a bad vibe in a couple towns (Dallas, and Dayton, I know you are going to ask).

But I'm curious about Albany. I spent a day there a few years back and it was unbelievable how nice everyone was. I mean, kindness to strangers that went above and beyond. I'm really OK with the "don't talk about politics and religion" middle America thing. I find the whole Mid-Valley is some combo of "Minnesota Nice" and "Iowa Nice". (I'm white, YMMV.) It's how I imagine the midwest to be in days of yore.

I have skills where I could get a job there, or commute to Salem (Corvallis?) if I had to. I'm also considering upping my skillset to a job I can work remote. And I might actually be able to afford a house there, I think. (Silverton and Corvallis are out of my price range and too far from public transportation.)

So what I need to know is:

1. Is there at least one wacky coffee shop, crystal store, restaurant that serves nutritional yeast, craft fair, that sort of thing I could visit where I could relax and be myself? (I honestly only really feel 100% "normal" at the Country Fair.) Could I, gasp, make new friends there? tl;dr anyplace I would feel comfortable?

2. I am sympathetic to the working class. I am a treehugger who feels like I understand that logging was and is part of our culture and economy and it is not to be derided. I have worked blue collar jobs, I have worked in the woods, I have family who live in rural Oregon. I don't need to be surrounded by leftists all the time (god they can get annoying), but I get scared of the "just as soon shoot me as look at me" folks. How much of Albany is trucks with stickers about shooting people like me or my friends? (I love the "U.S. Marine Corps: Protecting Your Hippie A** since 1775" one.) As a native Eugenian, bumper stickers say a lot. tl;dr what percentage of the time would I feel uncomfortable or even unsafe?

3. Is it as depressingly meth-ridden as every other city along I-5 (and beyond)?

4. Extra credit: Punk scene? Folk scene? Any music besides bar band blooze? I like every other genre of music.

5. Extra extra credit: How brutal is the police force? Not that I'm planning to do crime, but I've dealt with some scary cops in a couple of cities in the course of living my life. Are they as cuddly as Newport PD?
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Old 08-29-2021, 04:14 PM
 
Location: WA
4,712 posts, read 6,419,253 times
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Honestly, of all the cities in the Willamette Valley that are over say 10,000 people. Albany is probably going to rank dead last in most of the criteria that you say are important to you. OK, maybe it's nicer than Lebanon and Sweet Home, but that's about it.

Albany has some newer nicer subdivisions on the west side that are mostly spillover from the high cost of living in Corvallis. I think there are OSU folks who live in Albany and commute to Corvallis. And the downtown area has been tidied up some in recent years. But it is still Albany. The sort of place that recently replaced it's school board and fired its superintendent for not being sufficiently intolerant or racist: https://www.opb.org/article/2021/08/...-melissa-goff/

I grew up in Eugene too, but left home for college in 1982 and haven't lived back there since. So I get the vibe you are looking for. I have family in Albany, but they are hard-core intolerant evangelical types with whom I have nothing in common. And I frankly can't imagine moving there on purpose.

Honestly you can probably find a quirky coffee shop, health food store, and farmer's market in pretty much any town in the US anymore. There was plenty of that in Waco TX in the Baptist heartland, where we lived for a decade. The real question is how much of a social and political minority do you actually want to be. Versus how much of your views and values do you want to see reflected in the community in which you live. I eventually got sick of seeing my community consistently make the wrong decisions about everything, and consistently elect people with whom I disagreed. My sanity, stress level, and mental health are all much improved now that I live back in a community that more closely represents my values. I can't imagine going through the pandemic and Trump years while still living back in central Texas.

Last edited by texasdiver; 08-29-2021 at 04:40 PM..
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Old 08-29-2021, 04:42 PM
 
6 posts, read 4,959 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
<snip>

Albany has some newer nicer subdivisions on the west side that are mostly spillover from the high cost of living in Corvallis. I think there are OSU folks who live in Albany and commute to Corvallis. And the downtown area has been tidied up some in recent years. But it is still Albany. The sort of place that recently replaced it's school board and fired its superintendent for not being sufficiently intolerant or racist: https://www.opb.org/article/2021/08/...-melissa-goff/

I grew up in Eugene too, but left home for college in 1982 and haven't lived back there since. So I get the vibe you are looking for. I have family in Albany, but they are hard-core intolerant evangelical types with whom I have nothing in common. And I frankly can't imagine moving there on purpose.
I actually don't want new. I like old houses, which is another thing Albany has a lot of. That seems to be a trend in school boards lately. Bummer.

I'm glad you understand what I'm looking for. Unfortunately Eugene doesn't have that Eugene thing I'm looking for either.

Hmm. So not a great place to move to on purpose, but might be a great place to be a doomsday prepper...

Last edited by truculentrelief; 08-29-2021 at 04:47 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 08-29-2021, 06:19 PM
 
5,473 posts, read 9,118,661 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by truculentrelief View Post
I actually don't want new. I like old houses, which is another thing Albany has a lot of. That seems to be a trend in school boards lately. Bummer.

I'm glad you understand what I'm looking for. Unfortunately Eugene doesn't have that Eugene thing I'm looking for either.

Hmm. So not a great place to move to on purpose, but might be a great place to be a doomsday prepper...
I'm not sure what a "Eugene thing" is. One of the things Albany is trying to be is to have a Big City feel to it. It's hardly that, but in terms of housing, prices range from around $360k to around $600+k, and there are places that can be around $1 million+. There are a number of residential development places around the area. In terms of older houses, Albany has a number of historical houses (some are for sale), but they tend to be expensive and have terms that require no major refurbishing (especially outside). Most of those types of houses are near the old downtown area. In terms of older, but more modern houses, prices generally range as mentioned above. The prices of houses in Albany are ridiculously overpriced.

The population in Albany run from semi-redneck to laid back people. I've seen a number of people with alternative preferences and lifestyles, but I've never seen anyone get hassled. Like any place, Albany has its sleazy sections, but in general most people seem okay and reasonably friendly. In terms of religion, I'd say most residents of Albany tend to be non-religious.

With respect to recreational activities, there's not a lot in Albany. It's mostly people living their lives. There is a "Farmers Market" on the Saturdays in the downtown area, but it's pretty small. Albany is a pretty good place in spite of those running the town putting on big boy pants trying to give the impression it's a big city.

I moved up to Albany from the Springfield-Eugene area. I've been in Albany now for some 50 or so years.
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Old 08-29-2021, 09:03 PM
 
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Ah.

https://youtu.be/TMh1b8eUxtY
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Old 08-30-2021, 11:13 AM
 
Location: WA
4,712 posts, read 6,419,253 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by truculentrelief View Post
Well, that's a video of Greenville SC which is part of a metro area that is over 900,000. So almost 3x the metro Eugene population of 375,000. By contrast, Albany is more like 50,000. The Pacific Northwest equivalents would be cities like Tacoma or Spokane.
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Old 08-30-2021, 11:36 AM
 
Location: WA
4,712 posts, read 6,419,253 times
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Linn County voted for Trump over Biden 60% to 36%.
Lane County voted for Biden over Trump 60% to 36%.

Politically they are almost exact opposites down to the percentage point. I don't think you are going to find a mini-1970s Eugene in Albany. Linn County is by far the most conservative part of the Willamette Valley. Polk County and Yamhill County also went for Trump but only very narrowly by a percentage point or two. Linn County is really the only part of the Willamette Valley that is hard-core Trump country.

Last edited by texasdiver; 08-30-2021 at 12:19 PM..
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Old 08-30-2021, 12:47 PM
 
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You couldn't pay me enough to live in Albany.
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Old 08-30-2021, 01:58 PM
 
6 posts, read 4,959 times
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I just think the ”up and coming city” thing is funny, but I am kind of a nerd about urban planning. Obviously there are differences. Albany clearly needs to try harder. Maybe they can turn Millersburg into a brewery.

I'm not really looking for a mini 1970s Eugene. It's just possible that Eugene now sucks more than I can tolerate. And I was wondering if I could find Albany tolerable. I found Salem tolerable.

That's all.

I would love to hear from more (alternative?) people who actually live there. But I promise I won't judge if you have gun stickers on your pickup.
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Old 09-02-2021, 06:52 PM
 
Location: Salem, OR
15,201 posts, read 37,962,895 times
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So I don't live in Albany, but I do sell old homes. What I suggest is just walk around the Monteith Historic District. I have found people there super friendly when I am showing homes and chat with people all the time. I was showing a home to a client and one neighbor invited her over for coffee if she wanted to ask about the city, as she was deciding between Albany and Salem.

Since you like older homes, I would chat with the older homeowners as I do think that the vibe of that area is different than the newer areas.
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