The inspiration for our now nomadic lifestyle came about as we were evaluating our living situation in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. The high cost of renting, and even higher cost of home ownership, led us to the conclusion that if we wanted to be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor, we would need to branch out geographically to do so. Since August 2017, we have been traveling around North America, while working remotely, to explore, broaden our horizons, and search for our new home! So far, we have explored most of the Pacific Northwest*, and thought now would be a good time to pause, reflect, and write our first installation of “Let’s Move There!”- the PacNorth edition.
How these pieces will work is that we will independently write a short blurb about which city we would move to, if we had to make a decision today, based on the region explored. Once we have finished writing our pieces, we will share them with each other (and you) to see how, or if, our choices align.
Without further ado…
There were so many places throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and even British Columbia, Canada that come to mind. So far, we have been to many lovely places that offer such diverse natural scenery from sand dunes, to rolling hills, to green forests, blue coasts, rainforests, and high desert. I absolutely love Vancouver and the B.C. area of Canada, but I don’t think we will be moving to Canada anytime soon due to immigration logistics. Also, Vancouver wouldn’t really be saving us any money, as it has a very high cost of living. While I could have picked many of the places we visited for different reasons, ultimately, factors like cost-of-living, public transit, and proximity to a major urban city and an international airport led me to my top choice below.
Of the places we had time to visit in the PacNorth, my top “let’s move there” choice is Hillsboro, Oregon (and the surrounding areas). I loved that Hillsboro was situated between the Pacific coast and Portland, offering coastal excursions, Oregon wine country at your backdoor, explorations to the Columbia River Gorge, and easy access to Portland and the surrounding metro area. Being situated about 30 miles away from the Portland International Airport was another top selling point, as one of our main criteria for a new place to live is easy access to a major international airport.
Hillsboro has a historic downtown center that offers several blocks of unique eateries and boutiques, adding to the community vibe. During the summer, there are weekly Tuesday Night Markets, accompanied by live music and vintage car shows, adding to the allure of a “small town” quaintness within a larger metro area. Also, Hillsboro falls within the region of Oregon that has been dubbed the “Silicon Forest” corridor, incorporating principles of innovation and diversity. Qualities we enjoyed about living in California’s “Silicon Valley”.
The cost of living in Hillsboro is significantly less than the Bay Area of California, and single family homes can be purchased within the $300-400K price range, making home ownership attainable. Another huge selling point for Hillsboro was that it has a Max line stop, providing public transit into downtown Portland. Both Hillsboro, and neighboring Beaverton, each have a Trader Joe’s, which has become a drawing point for the both of us (see our prior “Trader Joe’s Trajectory” piece).
Gray skies and persistent rainfall being our biggest deterrent in moving to Oregon; Hillsboro gets roughly 151 days of precipitation a year, which will be an important factor to consider if we want to move to Oregon. Meaning, that we should probably spend at least a full Winter there first to see how we fair in a gray bubble, before making a permanent move.
All things considered in terms of proximity to a major urban city, international airport, outdoor recreation, natural scenery, diversity, and cost of living, Hillsboro is currently my top pick for the PacNorth.
It’s not that easy to narrow your options when trying to pick a place where you would decide to settle. After a few months on the road, I find myself doing the exercise of picking my favorite place in the North West of the country and part of Canada.
Coming in third place, my pick would be Boise, Idaho. First of all, I loved how active and outdoorsy the city feels. Having a greenbelt along the river where your city sits, says a lot about how much importance the city gives to incorporating the natural environment. Also worth mentioning, is the easy access to lots of nature heading north of Boise, places that we couldn’t explore due to time constraints, but would love to at some other point in the future. Boise was a nice, reasonable and small city, and really fun to explore. Probably the main downside would be those really cold winters and also being so far from the ocean.
Second place would be the Portland surroundings and Columbia River Gorge area. Really loved the lively neighborhoods and satellite towns around the city and the towns when entering the natural marvel that is “the Gorge”. Probably my favorite “domestic” spot in the North West with no doubt. We had a lot of fun exploring Portland again and were excited about how easy it was to get out and find nature minutes away. No matter what direction you pick, you can find a new and fun weekend getaway that won’t induce a headache to get there. Also worth mentioning, is the love for the outdoors and the friendliness of the people we met during our days there.
But if I got the chance to pick a place, I probably would go with Vancouver, Canada. The city is vibrant and diverse, and the easy access to all the treasures that British Columbia holds make it a wonderful place to live. Probably the reason it’s a rather expensive city to live in. Given the challenges with immigration and budget, this pick mostly falls into the “wish-list” category rather than a real possibility. But hey, why not?
We both like some of the same areas, but no #1 consensus. Christelle’s choice weighed more on a pragmatic assessment and Cayetano’s more of an idealistic approach; one complimenting the other. Which means, these cities will be added to our “re-visit list” and the search continues for our new home!
*For the purposes of this piece, we classified the “Pacific Northwest” as Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and B.C., Canada.