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Old 08-30-2012, 11:14 PM
 
Location: Portland, Maine
8 posts, read 37,448 times
Reputation: 12

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Hi all

I am in the odd/fortunate(?) position where I will be moving in 2 months to...anywhere I want. I currently live in Los Angeles and despise it. I'm looking to move somewhere coastal with seasons (or at least not always warm) and to a place that has a little more, shall we say, natural culture. I am considering: Portland Maine (or Rockport/Rockland), Portsmouth NH, Salem Mass, or completely on the opposite coast: Seattle.

A little background about me: grew up in PA/NJ, lived in Philly (too dirty/homeless), lived in Orlando (loved the small city feel, hated the weather/crime), lived in San Diego, Orange County, and now LA for 2 years (all too hot and weird...sorry, just not a Californian at heart). I work from home (seamstress/blogger), love to hike, be near the ocean and wild weather and strange topography, love educated and fun-loving and non-pretentious people, like to drink and eat, do the coffee shop and art gallery scene. Way into the small city, Cheers type atmosphere. Oh, and I am very free-spirited and in my early 30s.

I've spent summers in Maine as a teen as well as a recent weekend in Portland, Maine and tons of time in Seattle. Just in visiting, Portland Maine is phenomenal. Seattle is as well, just a bit bigger than I think I would like....but who knows!

So my question is to people who have lived (not just visited) both in the PCN and New England is: where do you like living better?

Things I care about:
- a scene! niche restaurants and bars (not clubs), cozy bookstore and coffee shops, sunday dinners and outdoor movie nights/game nights
- housing costs: i am on a very limited budget and will be getting a studio to start out with - I am okay with living 20 mins outside of downtown (I have a truck) if it means I can get a studio for less than $750/mo
- friendly people
- hiking!
- easy drive to nearby sites/day trips
- not a drug-heavy or dangerous homeless population (I do not like Portland, OR or Philly for these reasons)
- relatively uncrowded city...or has small neighborhood pockets (love people, hate annoying late-night crowds)
- coastal or on a picturesque waterway (not huge on rivers)

Things I don't care about:
- traffic
- schools/family-friendly stuff
- weather (love weather extremes)
- high-paying employment prospects (I have a college degree, but am not interested in using it at this point)

I am also open to any other New England cities if you think they would fit!

<3 Beth

*Sorry to talk so much/be so specific, but I have literally been contemplating this move since I moved to LA 2 years ago, lol. Thank you so much for all of your help!!
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:34 AM
 
52 posts, read 144,154 times
Reputation: 35
Sounds like Portland may be a good fit for you if you can deal with the winter. Maine winters can be long, cold and snowy. The other 3 seasons are fabulous, but winter is a pain.

You may also look at the Brunswick area. It is 20 minutes from Portland, lots of pretty coast nearby (Popham Beach, Reid State Park, Morse Mountain Preserve, etc) some good hiking not too far & it has a quaint downtown.

I can't compare it to the PNW because I have never been.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:39 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
33,094 posts, read 60,101,561 times
Reputation: 36572
I have been to Portland and loved my stay there, but it was summer. The seasons are a lot more defined than here in Seattle where fall, winter and spring are much the same. The 2-3 snow events we get can be as late as April. Seattle is two hours from the ocean, it's on Elliot Bay and Puget Sound, mostly a working waterfront and not as "quaint" as Portland, but nearby areas like Port Townsend and Port Angeles are a lot more like Portland. The various Seattle neighborhoods are different enough that you can meet your other needs, but the best hiking will require a drive, at least 1/2 hour to the best trails on the eastside. Seattle has what could be considered urban trails, long and easy but not real scenic. The hikes I do are in deep woods with lots of nurse logs/stumps, some wildlife and are not crowded. No question that the cost of living, especially housing is much higher in Seattle. I would definitely suggest a visit before deciding.
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Old 08-31-2012, 10:38 AM
 
Location: Free From The Oppressive State
25,264 posts, read 18,646,999 times
Reputation: 30039
Quote:
Originally Posted by criticalsass View Post
Hi all

I am in the odd/fortunate(?) position where I will be moving in 2 months to...anywhere I want. I currently live in Los Angeles and despise it. I'm looking to move somewhere coastal with seasons (or at least not always warm) and to a place that has a little more, shall we say, natural culture. I am considering: Portland Maine (or Rockport/Rockland), Portsmouth NH, Salem Mass, or completely on the opposite coast: Seattle.

A little background about me: grew up in PA/NJ, lived in Philly (too dirty/homeless), lived in Orlando (loved the small city feel, hated the weather/crime), lived in San Diego, Orange County, and now LA for 2 years (all too hot and weird...sorry, just not a Californian at heart). I work from home (seamstress/blogger), love to hike, be near the ocean and wild weather and strange topography, love educated and fun-loving and non-pretentious people, like to drink and eat, do the coffee shop and art gallery scene. Way into the small city, Cheers type atmosphere. Oh, and I am very free-spirited and in my early 30s.

I've spent summers in Maine as a teen as well as a recent weekend in Portland, Maine and tons of time in Seattle. Just in visiting, Portland Maine is phenomenal. Seattle is as well, just a bit bigger than I think I would like....but who knows!

So my question is to people who have lived (not just visited) both in the PCN and New England is: where do you like living better?

Things I care about:
- a scene! niche restaurants and bars (not clubs), cozy bookstore and coffee shops, sunday dinners and outdoor movie nights/game nights
- housing costs: i am on a very limited budget and will be getting a studio to start out with - I am okay with living 20 mins outside of downtown (I have a truck) if it means I can get a studio for less than $750/mo
- friendly people
- hiking!
- easy drive to nearby sites/day trips
- not a drug-heavy or dangerous homeless population (I do not like Portland, OR or Philly for these reasons)
- relatively uncrowded city...or has small neighborhood pockets (love people, hate annoying late-night crowds)
- coastal or on a picturesque waterway (not huge on rivers)

Things I don't care about:
- traffic
- schools/family-friendly stuff
- weather (love weather extremes)
- high-paying employment prospects (I have a college degree, but am not interested in using it at this point)

I am also open to any other New England cities if you think they would fit!

<3 Beth

*Sorry to talk so much/be so specific, but I have literally been contemplating this move since I moved to LA 2 years ago, lol. Thank you so much for all of your help!!
Let me make this easy:

I have lived in the PNW, California and now Maine.

If you are not a "Californian at heart", you will not like Seattle. In the early 90s, California threw up and it landed in Portland, OR and Seattle.

Seattle area, PNW has some great places to visit, WA state can be gorgeous but if you don't like CA, you're not going to want to actually live there. What used to be exactly what you are describing ended in the early 90s. It's very CA now...which is sad. (And for the record, CA USED to be a great place to live, as well. But, they went ahead and screwed that all up.)

I prefer New England over any other place I've lived. Where in New England? Can't answer that for you but I think you'll be happier on the east coast, (based on what you've written, alone).
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Old 08-31-2012, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
8,022 posts, read 14,003,640 times
Reputation: 25642
I went to high school in Portsmouth and lived there while going to college (UNH). Granted, this was awhile ago (Pease AFB was still open -- it closed in the late '80s), but I now live in Southwestern NH and love it.

I am considering retiring in coastal Maine (even one of the islands) but that is 20+ years away. That area is just so, so beautiful. But Maine is a poor state and that worries me some.

I would think you'd have more luck with $750 rent in/around Portland than in Portsmouth. From what I understand, it has become a "bedroom" community of Boston with many people commuting.
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Old 08-31-2012, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Pluto's Home Town
9,986 posts, read 12,266,982 times
Reputation: 5634
I live in Southern Oregon, which is more rural and with more sharply defined seasons than Seattle. Something to check out (some of the outlying areas of the Pacific Northwest can be pretty sweet). But like one poster said, Californians have invaded the PNW, and many of them are exurban, wealthy, and pretentious. Not all, by any means.

Given your description, Maine sounds better. You know about Maine winters, and if that is not a problem, it would seem the places is pretty genuine. From what I have read, avoid Bar Harbor and the resort towns, as they are full of exurban transplants.

Sounds like weather is a minor issue, but this is something to consider. Seattle will be almost a polar opposite to LA. It will have mild seasons, but very little sun in winter. You can either handle that or you can't. I don't care for that much cloudiness myself, that is why I live where I do. It is a bit crisper and that makes all the difference. Maine will be much colder, but will have much more sun in the winter, which I personally like. But we are all different. Many folks think Seattle is the most beautiful city in America, and I really cannot argue with them. Also, the natural environs are pretty phenomenal. I just don't care for clouds and permagloom.
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:39 PM
 
Location: San Francisco
9,031 posts, read 9,259,273 times
Reputation: 5708
If you hate traffic and homelessness, Seattle is out. It has plenty of both.
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:57 PM
 
Location: Portland, Maine
8 posts, read 37,448 times
Reputation: 12
Ah @ Three Wolves: perfect!! Exactly the honesty I was looking for from someone who has lived in all 3 areas. That's precisely what I am wary about; that the PCN may be too similar to CA. Thanks for making it easy! Btw, what do you think of Maine comparatively now that you live there?

@ UPtacamp: Fantastic; I will definitely check out the Brunswick area!! I am all for moving to a smaller town than Portland if it has a quaint/complete downtown and access to hiking/ocean/sites, so that might be just the way to go. Thank you for the suggestion!

@Hemlock140 The temperate climate is definitely one of the things I'm concerned about with Seattle since I really love snow (especially at the coast). I do love the Sound (it's large enough and picturesque enough to keep me happy, water-wise) and have visited Port Angeles (...bc of Twilight, for shame) and it wasn't really what I was looking for, but I will definitely check out Port Townsend, thanks for the suggestions! The lack of rugged hiking will make me sad, but the urban parks that you hike sound quite nice! I've noticed the cost of living...same as LA, surprisingly enough, eep.

@Karen: Thanks so much for the hint on Portsmouth housing - I didn't realize it was pricey. Oh how I am totally with you on retiring on a Maine island...sounds like heaven, doesn't it? I have been reading that Maine is a poor state and that worries me as well...some day, I may want to get back into the race and it seems really difficult to find well-paying employment in Maine...thanks for confirming! Hopefully that will change soon.

@Fiddlehead: I drove through Southern Oregon recently and it was absolutely gorgeous!! Are there town centers where people shop/mix/eat or is it all mostly rural with isolated places/businesses? Basically, I grew up in the 90s and romanticize the small town feel in: Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks, Dawson's Creek, etc. Thanks for the heads up on Bar Harbor; I hadn't known that! I'll stay away for sure; too many ex-urbans and I might as well live in a city! I love polar opposite of LA since I really hate the sun, but I agree the gloom may get to be too much just as LA's constant sun is too much.

Thank you all so much for all of your tips, suggestions, insights, and help! I appreciate it so much and have a lot to think about in the coming month. Thanks!
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Old 08-31-2012, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Portland, Maine
8 posts, read 37,448 times
Reputation: 12
@ pch1013: sorry, I should have made that clearer; I meant to say that if there is or isn't traffic, that's not an issue for me. I grew up in traffic and have never been able to escape it, so I've long since gotten over it, haha. But the homelessness...as long as it's not dangerous (like Philly/Orlando) with thefts and assault and harassment and the like, I'm okay with it. Is there a lot of downtown crime or is it pretty safe? Thanks!
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Old 08-31-2012, 10:18 PM
 
Location: Free From The Oppressive State
25,264 posts, read 18,646,999 times
Reputation: 30039
When I was there, you did NOT want to venture to 2nd and Pike "after hours" because the gang bangers would hang out there and harass people. (I'm talking about Seattle.) Sometimes they would do it in the daytime.

I distinctly remember one day, getting off the bus, walking along 2nd to get to my next bus, some girls were standing outside a video arcade as I passed. I didn't even look at them, was minding my own business. Next thing I heard was those girls following me as one said, "Let's jack her!"

I stiffened up and braced myself for an oncoming fight but kept walking and did not turn around. Perhaps they sensed or saw that I knew they were there and that they wouldn't be taking me by surprise because, luckily, they backed off shortly after that.

There are certain places on Capitol Hill that you should not venture in to at night, as well.

I know people like to tout Seattle as "friendly" and "safe" but no, it's not. Maybe compared to NY or LA, sure, but it really isn't. Some of the homeless WILL harass you.

Since I've been there, I have looked at photos, especially around the first area I lived, (First Hill, called "Pill Hill" because of all the hospitals), and it has changed dramatically. More buildings are up, completely blocking ANY kind of breeze one may get on a hot summer day and it means more traffic, as well.

And let me tell you, they can not figure out how to drive, in Seattle. It rains a bit there and one would think they would have experience but every fricken time it does, they act like they have never seen the stuff before. And snow? On the rare occasions that happens? Back in the 90s, there was a pretty decent snow, (for that area), and people left their cars all over the freeway, on the sides, wherever, people were sliding out of control all over the place, plowing in to parked cars, it was chaos.

AND, to further illustrate just how bad they drive there, (because people don't believe me), this is the place where someone stopped, IN THE MIDDLE of the I5 freeway, causing a 5 car pile up and traffic jam at rush hour because he wanted to stop and look at the rainbow in the sky. (No, I am not making that up!)

They will slow down and gawk at a hubcap on the side of the road. Rubber neckers? They OWN it, there.

You said you don't care about traffic but try getting to the store and back...it's annoying.

Like I said, there's a TON of beautiful areas around Seattle...but those are places to visit, not live. The cost of living in Seattle is out of control. I moved to Miami after Seattle and it was way cheaper to live in MIAMI than it was in Seattle and Miami has a lot more to offer.

How do I like it in Maine?

You don't care about traffic but this still illustrates the attitude of the people:

They stay to the right except to pass! They actually do it! Almost every last one of them! They can't merge on to the damn freeway to save their lives but once they get on the damn thing, they stay over. UNbelievable!

You want laid back? Come to Maine.
You want decent, hard working, honest people? Come to Maine.
You want places to go in a short ride? Come to Maine.
You want to hike, canoe, go to the ocean, go to a nice artsy place, a homey feeling bookstore or even a homey feeling mom and pop store but also be able to shop at big box places when you need to? Come to Maine.
You want snow? Come to Maine.
You want people who live and let live? Come to Maine.
You want people who don't give a crap how much you paid for (fill in the blank) as a sign of "success"? Come to Maine.
You want to hear jargon that you can't understand? You want to hear accents that puzzle your brain but the natives laugh about it instead of get upset about it when you have to ask three times wth they just said? Come to Maine.
You want to laugh, a LOT, with the people? Come to Maine.

Of course, every place has its share of twits, we can't ever fully escape that...as long as there are humans, there WILL be twits, but if you want to go where there are less twits than normal...Come to Maine.

And for $750, you can get a really nice place to live if you go further out from Portland, (north). Portland can be a little pricey in the apartment department...but if you look hard enough, you might find something.

I wouldn't live in Portland but that's only because I'm sick of people, in general, and want to be around as few as possible while still having access to jobs but I do believe that southern Maine has a whole lot to offer and a plethora of things to do. I really think you would enjoy yourself.

It was a toss up between Maine and New Hampshire. "Live free or die!" and no state income tax...or, pay a little tax and find some place rural. I'm sure New Hampshire has that, but I also can't be too far from the water, and I wanted some mountains, and I wanted to be able to move around without moving out of state, yet again, and I wanted to be north, and I just really liked Maine.

Nonetheless, either one would probably suit you.

As one who used to live in CA, back when it was still fairly decent and a nice place to live, (I WAS a Californian at heart), and one who has lived in the PNW, (what is PCN?), but who had to also deal with how badly they ruined it all, I can say, I really think you would like Maine. You may also really like NH. I just have never lived in NH so can't say...but I see nothing wrong with it.
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