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Old 08-08-2018, 10:45 AM
 
12 posts, read 8,337 times
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I'm considering a move back to the west side of OR or WA (I live in eastern OR). I'd like to be within an hour of Vancouver, WA, in a smallish town. Preliminary research has narrowed my focus to St. Helens, OR (or surrounding area) and Kalama, WA (or surrounding area).

Housing prices and job opportunities seem about the same. Does anyone know if it would be really difficult to find a living-wage job? I teach HS, but have done other jobs, as well.

It doesn't seem like either area has a crime or drug problem. Can anyone confirm?

I'd like something with a kind of quaint and cozy feel, community and art activities and festivals (not necessarily to the point it's just a tourist town all year, though), near to water for kayaking, a nice, well-kept downtown, and laid-back, friendly vibe. Basically, I appreciate a town that knows what it's doing and how to manage money and doesn't come off feeling neglected. If a place is working on a revitalization, I'm happy to help.

What I can't tell from websites is the feel of St. Helens vs. Kalama and the downtown vibrancy. Can anyone comment to that?

Does anyone know how badly congested Hwy 30 is from St. Helens to Vancouver and know if it's typically less than an hour drive? I'd be taking that route pretty regularly.

Thanks for your input!
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Old 08-08-2018, 01:21 PM
 
Location: WA
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If you are going to look for HS teaching jobs then I would suggest Kalama is a better choice because you will have 10x more school districts and schools within easy commuting distance. Yes, from St. Helens you could potentially drive into Portland on 30 which is congested, but finding jobs in the Portland School District is tough as there are so many teachers in the area who have settled in Portland. Other than St. Helens itself which is tiny you only have a few other tiny communities that are long drives away such as Skapoose, Vernonia, Clatskanie, etc. And those are all really small with really small schools.

If you are in Kalama you have all the schools to the north in the Longview/Kelso area as well as all the schools to the south such as Ridgefield, La Center, Battle Ground, Woodland, as well as the two big districts in Vancouver itself. By my estimate, you probably have at least 10x more possible teaching jobs within an easy commute of Kelso compared to St. Helens. Another factor is that education funding is superior in WA compared to OR so school districts, even small rural ones, are going to have more resources to hire teachers than in OR. And with recent school funding developments in WA that gap looks to grow larger in the future.

Honestly I have never really spent time in Kelso other than driving by on I-5. You might also give a look at Woodland which is the next town South. Maybe even Ridgefield which has a quaint little downtown and lots of festivals and such happening.

Another town to look at would be Washougal which might be off your radar but it has a lot of potential. Camas fits your definition but it might be too upscale and too close in as it is pretty much a Portland suburb these days.

I rarely drive on 30 but I'm guessing the drive from St. Helens to Vancouver would be at least an hour during non-peak hours and much more during morning and afternoon commutes. You have to cross over the St. Johns bridge and then zig zag over to I-5 and that route gets completely crushed with traffic and commuters during normal commute hours. I have been through there in the afternoon when the approaches to the St. Johns bridge are completely stop and go traffic that takes forever. The drive from Kalama to Vancouver would be MUCH easier.
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Old 08-08-2018, 02:11 PM
 
12 posts, read 8,337 times
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Thanks for your input, esp. on the drive! That's kind of what I was afraid of. I'd really like to know the climate (not the weather) of both St. Helens and Kalama, as that is a big factor for me, but it's starting to tip towards Kalama. Woodland is on my radar, but seems a little more expensive. Might be my imagination. I'll look into Washougal, but Camas seems like it's getting a bit fancy and expensive, also.
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Old 08-08-2018, 05:47 PM
 
Location: WA
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St. Helens and Kalama will have basically the same climate as they are probably no more than 10-15 miles apart as the crow flies across the river.

Camas is going to be the most expensive and upscale town in all of Clark County. Washougal is still quite a bit more modest, but probably more expensive than Kalama because the location is closer to Portland.
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:06 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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For closer to the coast / Kayak opportunities, you could check into teaching at:
https://www.dshs.wa.gov/fsa/office-c...lle-youth-camp

If you are tired of Slick and cold winter rural roads and wanting to head east / down river.. (As you mentioned in OR forum) Washougal has all of what you do not want.
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:22 PM
 
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Thanks, TexasDiver. I was thinking climate more in terms of social atmosphere and the feel of the town. That's probably just something I'll have to visit in person to find out.

Thanks, StealthRabbit, I'll look into that, and thanks for the heads up on Washougal. I don't mind snow, etc. occasionally, but I'm tired of driving on continually iced over roads and having snow in my yard that doesn't melt for six months.
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:28 PM
 
Location: WA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiki9090 View Post
Thanks, TexasDiver. I was thinking climate more in terms of social atmosphere and the feel of the town. That's probably just something I'll have to visit in person to find out.

Thanks, StealthRabbit, I'll look into that, and thanks for the heads up on Washougal. I don't mind snow, etc. occasionally, but I'm tired of driving on continually iced over roads and having snow in my yard that doesn't melt for six months.
My advice?

Teaching jobs are not always easy to find. Get your WA license which can be done mostly online and then see what kind of teaching jobs you can scare up on either side of the river. The rest will then fall into place. I suspect you'll have an easier time finding work in WA but who knows.

Neither of those two towns are where I'd actually choose to live. Both are too small and insular for my taste. But obviously you have different priorities.
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Old 08-08-2018, 08:43 PM
 
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I do want a small town, and I narrowed down to these two particularly because they seem less "insular" than many small towns and are close to Vancouver, which between there and Portland, have lots of supplemental entertainment.

Both seem to be making improvements, which is promising, and both historically vote blue (barring 2016, which may have been a fluke??). Is your impression that the people are close-minded and unfriendly to new-comers?
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:45 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
27,111 posts, read 45,202,274 times
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Many of us 'seasoned' souls can attest that a Blue Vote area will be the most 'close-minded and unfriendly to new-comers'

Actually will just be the most ''intolerant" of differing opinions, and reject dialog (if it differs from their 'agenda'.)

One of these states is DEFINITELY much more one-way, than the other state. (IMHO from working / teaching in both daily for 38 yrs)

Choose wisely
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Old 08-08-2018, 11:44 PM
 
12 posts, read 8,337 times
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I care less about how you vote than if you're a fanatic for either side, tbh. The last three places I've lived have been red, with a pretty wide range of welcome to new people. I don't want people to fall over themselves to greet me, but I don't want to have trouble making friends because I don't go to the right church, either.
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