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Where to Live in WA/OR?
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By Brigette
From Seattle, WA
Aug 27, 2012
At the anchors.
I never thought I'd say this, but sometime in the next year or so I'll be looking at leaving the sunny southwest to move back to the Pacific North"wet." I swore I'd never move back to the rain, but my parents are in ill health, and I'd like to be closer to them.

Mom's near Seattle, and Dad's near Portland, so either WA or OR would work for me. I can work wherever I've got internet, so the decision of where to live will be based more on weather/climate and whether I can afford to rent a place big enough for me and the dogs.

I'd love to get some recommendations of possible places to live from PNW locals. I know WA pretty well, having spent my first 18 years there, but of course I haven't lived there in 20 years. I spent lots of time traveling through OR when I was a kid, but I don't know any of the towns well, other than Portland.

I don't mind driving 2-4 hours to climb (rock) but would like to be within a 2-hour drive of a major airport. I'd strongly prefer to be somewhere less rainy than the coast but with warmer winter temps - after 16 years in Tucson, I can't do freezing temps any more. It's going to be a huge shock moving from the desert!

Any recommendations?

Thanks so much in advance.

FLAG
By daisyhubbs
Aug 27, 2012
I would say Hood River would be a great spot for you. it is drier than portland- and only 1 hr east. it is a small, cute and very outdoorsy town- and there is a lot of climbing nearby. lots of hiking for the doggies, as well as lots of rivers and swimming holes. only 1 hr to PDX- great airport. only 2 1/2 to smith. petes pile is a great climbing spot very close by- and Ozone and beacon are close, i think you would love it. i never lived there, but dated a guy who did so i spent a fair bit of time there. also, mt hood is very close for some great skiing at meadows. let me know if you have ?'s...i will check back if you post here!
-Stacy

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Aug 27, 2012
If the desert is your environment of choice, the east side of the cascades is, of course the place to be. The Bend/Smith Rock area is still pretty darn deserty, so it probably wouldn't be that much of a shock. Its really dry up there- I think they get less rainfall than Boulder. Climbing is very nearby, the town is cool, and isn't too far from Portland for family/airport/hipsters. Bend itself is pretty pricey, but an outlying town may work better for you.

In Washington, there are some good eastside towns as well. Leavenworth is an obvious choice for fairly dry weather, good mountain setting, and lots of rock. Pretty close to Seattle. Putting up with the hokey Bavarian tourist vibe might be a crux, but you'd get over it.

FLAG
By coloradosk8r
From Ft Collins co
Aug 27, 2012
Bellingham Washington...mt. Baker, the ocean, canada, Squamish , who could ask for more? Oh, more sun!

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By MorganH
Aug 27, 2012
If freezing temps are a deal-breaker, you're kind of out of luck if you want to live on the east-side. I will say, 35 degrees and rainy seems significantly colder to me than 20 degrees and sunny. Leavenworth is great, but it gets quite cold in the winter. I like Seattle, but I don't really mind the rain. We've actually got a 6 month outdoor climbing season, which is really not bad. If you're willing to drive over the mountains, and don't mind chilly weather, you can extend it to 9 months pretty easily.

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By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From Bend, OR
Aug 27, 2012
Racked and loaded... name that splitter behind me? Hint, its on Supercrack Buttress
Bend. No contest.

We do get less rain than Boulder. 13" to be exact. Rain is hardly ever an issue. But we can drive 30 minutes and be in a rain forest! The best of both worlds :)

12 month climbing season. Acceptable skiing. Great climate. Great community. Affordable housing. World class mountain biking. The list goes on....

FLAG
By Brigette
From Seattle, WA
Aug 27, 2012
At the anchors.
Thanks for the input, folks.

I don't ski, climb ice, or mountain bike, so the availability of those aren't a factor for me. I do, however, make part of my living riding horses, so a climate where it's too wet or frozen to ride for half of the year will be a significant problem.

Hood River might be a bit too windy for me.

I spent my first 18 years in western WA slogging through the mud, so Bellingham is out, as (I think) are all the towns west of the mountains.

Bend is the first thought I had, but it looks like 6 months of below-freezing lows and only two months where it gets much over 75. Have I mentioned that I'm quite happy and comfortable in 80-90 degree temps?

Is there some amazing east-side town out there that just happens to catch a current of warm air through the winter, or are the next five to ten years of my life just going to be wet and/or cold?

FLAG
By Mick S
Aug 27, 2012
We just did a tour of WA/OR for the first time in June. My impressions:

Hood River was way too windy unless you windsurf.
Leavenworth was kinda strange with the Bavarian theme and the cragging was very average. The backcountry granite did look awesome, except for those approaches.
Index had oustanding granite crack climbing, but it rained a bunch, even in June.

My choice would be Bend. Smith was plenty warm and dry, the Basalt cracks in the lower gorge were awesome, the sport climbing at Smith was too hot in June, but sounds like you might like that. We live in New Mexico and the landscape/climate was very similar to where we live.

FLAG
 
By Brigette
From Seattle, WA
Aug 27, 2012
At the anchors.
Thanks for the snapshot, Mick. I don't suppose you'd want to do another drive-by in January and let me know how it is then... ;)

FLAG
By daisyhubbs
Aug 28, 2012
if you ride horses and if you like sun/ cant have the rain- then Bend is your best bet. i lived there for 3 yrs, and the climate really is hard to beat. there are a ton people who own and ride horses in central oregon. climbing at smith really is possible all yr round- i have climbed in Dec. in a t-shirt, (and i have climbed in dec. with tears in my eyes b/c it was so cold) but if you live there you can be on stand by and head out a nice 58 degree day in jan.- climb at the dihedrals with the sun right on you mid day and you are psyched! and its not too crowded then.
the only drawbacks are- a farther drive to a major city and to the major airport. bend really is a neat town. and i bet if you live there you will start to ski!

FLAG
By Brigette
From Seattle, WA
Aug 29, 2012
At the anchors.
Thanks again, everyone.

Next time I go up to Dad's, I'll take a drive out to Bend and check it out in person. Is the drive between there and Portland doable yearround (i.e. Is there a pass that gets closed because of snow?)?

Based on a quick CraigsList scan, it looks like rentals are more affordable in the Redmond and Prineville areas. Are they the same as living in Bend proper? Are there any places around there not to live?

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By Max Tepfer
From Bend, OR
Aug 29, 2012
Redmond and Prineville are both entirely separate municipalities that aren't at this point connected to Bend by sprawl. Rent is definitely cheaper, but the rural feel/lack of what urban feel Bend has to offer drives most away. Redmond is slightly lower in elevation and I think a bit further east and, as a result, is slightly drier/warmer. (emphasis on slightly-it doesn't hold as much snow in the winter)

Yes, it's cold in the winter. But as anyone who lives here will tell you, if you don't mind wearing a puffy while you belay (and maybe bring a propane heater to the crag with you) you can climb in relative comfort year round. It's also not unheard of to have a blast of spring conditions for a couple of weeks in January/February. (aka Junuary)

FLAG
By Cory
From Boise, ID
Aug 29, 2012
Relaxing in the Tuttle Creek Campground after a fun day in the Hills
Not sure if it's too far from Portland (6 hours) and Seattle (7 hours) where your family is at, but Boise is pretty darn nice. It's high desert, hot in the summer, super nice in the spring and fall, and not too cold in the winter (I climbed in a T-shirt during every month of the year last year). The climbing season is year round, and the weather is great. We average only 12 inches of precipitation a year, so it's very dry. There is fun climbing close to town (biking distance), and we're only a couple of hours from the world class rock in City of Rocks and the Sawtooths, not to mention numerous more obscure, yet still fun crags, that are also close by.

FLAG
By kevino
Sep 8, 2012
Ellensburg, WA. You have three major cragging areas within 70 minutes. Make that a 2-4 hour drive and you have all the rock climbing you'll need. Seatac airport is easily <2 hours away. Same with driving to Seattle. Driving to PDX only takes 3-4 hours. Weather is super sunny, occasional wind and occasional cold days in the winter but they hardly last.

Lots of people own and ride horses throughout the kittitas valley and surrounding foothills. Cheap cost of living.

FLAG
By kBobby
From Spokane, WA
Sep 9, 2012
Brigette, if you want a tour of Spokane, just say the word! Will you still be down in the Old Pueblo come Thanksgiving?

FLAG
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From Bend, OR
Sep 9, 2012
Racked and loaded... name that splitter behind me? Hint, its on Supercrack Buttress
IMO Bend has a perfect climate. Four "3 month" seasons. Yes, we have winter... but it is a mild winter by most standards. Mostly dry, often sunny. Sunny and 45 in winter really is t-shirt weather at Smith.

And you may not like mountain biking yet... but Bend has some of the most friendly and awesome mountain biking trails in the world. I guarantee you will take up mountain biking here :) There are hundreds of miles of singletrack trails so smooth you think you're riding on pavement.

This place really is paradise found. We moved here two years ago and I truly can't imagine living anywhere else.

Portland -> Bend is a 3 hour and 15 minute drive. There is a pass, but it isn't terrible and ODOT keeps it open all year in all but the most epic conditions. The good news is 75% of the drive is on the "dry side" of the Cascades... thus you are only dealing with crap right on the pass and down the wet side for about 20 miles. Basically, there is a short crux on the winter drive... though there are a handful of days each winter the crux may shut you down for a few hours.

FLAG
 
By jack s.
From Kamloops, BC
Sep 9, 2012
Mean Green P2
I would have to agree that Bend is the place to be. You'll be real close to one of the few premier climbing spots in the PNW, and I really can't think of anyplace in WA or OR that would be warmer, with the exception of Tri-Cities or Pendleton, in which case you'll have to give up having climbing within 2 hours. The west side of the states will be warmer in the winter, but it will be so wet that it doesn't matter if its 40 instead of 20. As far as Bend not being warm enough--I usually find it to be too hot to climb at Smith Rock from May through September. It's cooler than the desert southwest for sure, but everywhere in PNW is, with the possible exception of the Tri-Cities.

FLAG
By virgoqueen7
From Portland, OR
Sep 24, 2012
Leavenworth v2
I'm partial to Portland since I live here, but I have to agree with everyone else on the BEND solution. If you're partial to dry climate and want access to some of the best climbing in the world, Smith Rock would be in your back yard. Bend also has amazing skiing if you're into that. Plus its only a 3 hour drive from Portland and about 6 to Seattle.

FLAG


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