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Sun May 2, 2021, 12:54 PM

Need advice about where to retire. Pacific Northwest specifically.

Here's our situation. Both my spouse and myself are academics retiring at the end of May. We currently live in the Midwest but spent 9 years on the west coast in California in the late eighties and early nineties. A number of our friends and two of our kids live in the Pacific Northwest. We are considering anywhere from Northern California to British Columbia as possible places to retire. We will start in the Seattle/Tacoma area for the first year or so and look around the area for a good location to eventually settle.

We'd like start in a nice urban area with activities such as art galleries, coffee shops, parks, community gardens, interesting city life, and volunteer opportunities. Money is not an issue for us but we kind of dislike the wealthy snobs so we are looking at a more gritty urban area with a mix of interesting people.

Volunteering is going to be a huge part of our retirement plan and we are retiring fairly young so we have many years to give back to a community. Are there any neighborhoods in the Seattle/Tacoma area or even some of the places around the western side of the Sound that you are familiar with that we might check out this summer while we are visiting?

Thank you for your advice in advance.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 01:01 PM

1. There are beautiful old neighborhoods in Tacoma.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 01:12 PM

2. prices in Seattle area are sky rocketing..My dtr lives in Orting and they both make good money..

... but it all goes to house and house related expenses. Im in Central Washington in Ellensburg..pretty purple here. I came here in the 90s for graduate school and never left. Its a mixture of students, artists and cowboys. There are even people who commute daily the 120 miles to Seattle. We have Central Washington University as well as a nationally known rodeo, ski area and the county butts up against the Columbia River. AND we have the infamous Mels Hole ( which is supposed to be on my property).....culture, cowboys, college and mysterious objects!

Prices here havent sky rocketed yet...and the further east you go, the redder it gets. You could buy a ranch here for what you pay for a house on the west side.

Or you could buy a 'manch' at Suncadia.....

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Response to samnsara (Reply #2)

Sun May 2, 2021, 02:02 PM

5. Mels hole. That takes me back.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 01:14 PM

3. Seems like a solid plan. When I moved to the NW

I started with Eugene and then decided if there was somewhere I like more. Kinda sorta settled here but still open to moving more urban. I like Portland. Haven't totally decided.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 01:41 PM

4. North Tacoma has beautiful old houses and has become very hip and sophisticated. Tacoma is so much

nicer than it used to be. Lots of parks, restaurants, theaters, etc. All the islands just west of Tacoma are lovely too. Also Gig Harbor and Port Townsend are very nice places if you want hip and lovely and not so big. WhiteRock and Richmond, on the coast just south of Vancouver, BC are very nice. Beachy but not far into Vancouver which is a wonderful city.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 02:08 PM

6. Olympia isn't too bad.

Being the capital they do have a lot there to do and it is not far from Tacoma and Seattle. Even getting to Portland is easy. Olympia is a blue city making it bearable as far as politics. The traffic is better than Tacoma and up. Actually Tumwater and Lacey are good. They actually run into Olympia and is sort of one big city. You can easily choose to be in the country or the city and still be where everything is.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 02:11 PM

7. Oh, you don't want to move to Western Wshington.

It is incredibly expensive to live here and it rains all the time.

And the traffic is terrible - commuting from Snohomish to Seattle, about 25 miles, takes 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours back in the afternoon. No lie. Stop and go all the way.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 02:15 PM

8. I cant speak for Washington but...

In Oregon, the Willamette Valley is mostly liberal while the rest of the state is mostly conservative.

And in Northern California, you have lots of areas that are conservative, including around Eureka, and you have to get down to Willits or Ukiah or even to Santa Rosa to find liberal areas.

One of my favorite areas is around Sebastopol. It is quaint and is fairly close to Santa Rosa however it can be quite expensive to live there. It has arts, climate and is in a beautiful area. It even has Bohemian Grove close to it.

Sacramento isn't too bad either but it doesn't have the night life that other coastal cities have and is thus considered more of a family town. There are plenty of areas within 40 miles that are suited for retirement.

Both Santa Rosa and Sacramento have quite large health care facilities for us retirees.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 02:19 PM

9. Yes, PNW. But the further inland you go the redder it gets.

Our high desert area is booming and changing in ways I don't care for, with many newcomers escaping high land and housing prices from the coast and bringing that aspect with them.

As academics, this is probably on your list: Someplace with a college or university. Maybe even just a two year school. It adds tons of positives to the local culture.

Good luck!

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 02:32 PM

10. Oregon doesn't tax Social Security income and

also doesnít have a sales tax which is kind of nice. Portland is close to the coast as well as the Columbia River Gorge and mountains. Itís also just 3 hours drive to Seattle.

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Response to Joe Nation (Original post)

Sun May 2, 2021, 03:33 PM

11. We retired to Vancouver Island just before COVID, love it here

Emigrated to BC from Coastal California in 2012, lived on the lower mainland until 2019. The insane real estate market had cooled down at the time, so the timing was right for us to buy. Unfortunately, BC real estate has exploded again, and prices on the mainland, especially close to Vancouver, are ridiculous.

The island has a decent arts and music community (havenít been able to explore much due to COVID), but they donít get many of the big name performers like Vancouver does. There is a community of artists on Salt Spring Island and Gabriola Island, just off the coast.

In Nanaimo, where we live, there are lots of seniors, and lots of senior oriented activities and volunteer opportunities.

Although Seattle has lots to offer culturally, the traffic is just awful- worst in the PNW.

My son lives in Portland, OR and loves it. Itís a city of quirky character without too much pretentiousness (regardless of how they are portrayed on Portlandia), rich arts and music scene, and housing isnít too insane compared to other major PNW cities.

Once itís safe, maybe a road trip to Portland, Seattle, Vancouver BC and Vancouver island will help in your decision.

If you need the name of a good immigration lawyer, let me know. Although getting permanent resident status is time consuming and a bit complicated, Canada wants and needs immigrants, and since immigration has decreased significantly due to COVID, there has been talk in the government about loosening some of the requirements to make up for the past year or so. The article I read focused mainly on student and folks with work visas.

Good luck!

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Response to Fiendish Thingy (Reply #11)

Sun May 2, 2021, 09:11 PM

12. Thanks for all the great insights FT! And everyone for that matter.

We have friends in Canada that would gladly hook us up with jobs if we were looking to join the wage earner class again. I am also not interested in owning another home. Yard work is a huge waste of time and maintenance costs and property taxes and just things are just anchors that hold people to one place.

I am reading about the minimalist lifestyle right now and minimalism seems like the best way to achieve freedom from the things that anchor people down. We are dumping the house we have lived in for 22 years and most everything that it contains after raising three kids.

I do have friends in Portland, Eugene, and Seattle that I have listened to about the real estate situation both homes and rental. They tell me that I should not live in rural areas. The entire PNW seems to be urban liberalism and rural conservatism. Pretty much like the Midwest. We are looking for more urban rental spaces at least initially.

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