Cheaper than what? Seattle, which hits all your activities points, is plenty safe enough, but there are few places in the US that it will be cheaper than. It rains a fair amount but I’d argue that is overshadowed (pun intended) by a near constant grayness in the winter. Torrential rain is rare, a general grayness and dampness can get people down during the winter. Summer is great if you like outdoor stuff.
I love Seattle, but you’re asking for some typically mutually exclusive stuff that I doubt you’ll find anywhere. Cheaper rent corresponds to places few people want to move to, and that does not describe Seattle right now
There’s always Spokane. On the plus side, the cost of living is somewhat lower than Seattle and Portland, and it doesn’t rain as much. On the minus side, it’s so dry that it’s pretty close to a permanent water shortage, the crime rate is somewhat higher, and it’s much smaller than Seattle or Portland, so the activities are more limited, unless you follow Gonzaga basketball.
The Notherwest has two subregions, the wet side (west of the Cascades) and the dry side (east). But it’s no rainier (in terms of annual rainfall) on the wet side than, say, the East Coast. It’s just rainy by comparison to the dry side. The dry side is semi-arid, an almost desert in places.
However, one difference from elsewhere in the country is that the rain is highly seasonal. The rainy season starts in mid-October (roughly) and extends until May, with the wettest period being in December and January. During the summer, it can be quite dry – rain in July, August, and September is not very common.
Another difference between the east and west side is the temperature. It does snow on the west side, but it’s fairly rare. Maybe once or twice a year here in the Portland area; some years none at all. It gets a lot colder in winter on the east side and they get lots of snow over there.
Once you leave Seattle or Portland proper things start to get cheaper, although there aren’t as many options the further you get from the city.
Your friend needs to do some homework, and if she can afford it take some time to explore those areas and particularly the smaller cities and towns outside the major metropolitan areas. She may decide it’s just too expensive depending on where she is moving there from.
Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are much cheaper than Seattle and Portland, but that’s a whole different lifestyle and it can be cold and snowy for 4-6 months out of the year. It’s sounds to me like Spokane may be her best choice here, but they certainly get snow there and it’s not Seattle by any stretch.
Right, but if you’re east of the mountains you might as well be anywhere. The point of living in Seattle or Portland is that you’re living in Seattle or Portland. If you’re living in Spokane or Bend you could be be living in any mid sized city anywhere in the midwest. Not that there’s anything wrong with Spokane or Bend, but they aren’t Seattle or Portland.
If you must have low rent and no rain, then Seattle or Portland are not for you. If you must have lots of cultural activities and venues then Spokane or Bend are not for you.
To compensate for high rents, Seattle has higher wages than Spokane. On average. But the higher rents are driven by lots of people with much higher salaries than average working at Amazon and Microsoft, rather than baristas pulling in six figures. Sure, baristas might make more in Seattle than in Spokane. But not compared to the cost of living.
Of course there are cheaper places to live in Western Washington and Western Oregon once you get out Seattle metro and Portland metro. But the point of living there is so that you’re inside Seattle metro, right? If you’re not within striking distance of the bright lights big city then you might as well be anywhere, and it’s a lot cheaper in a small town in Ohio, unless you can’t get a job in Ohio. Moving to Seattle doesn’t magically become affordable unless you’ve got one of those high-paying jobs lined up. Sure, it has a better labor market even for baristas and retail clerks than Ohio, but slightly better wages for working class jobs doesn’t compensate for much higher costs of living. Unless you’re happy sharing an apartment with four room-mates because you’re in the big city with the culture and the glavin.
In that part of the country, a newcomer should not measure rainy weather by inches. You need to measure it by how it will affect your life if you move there.
Which means you need to look at the sky.
The grey sky.
The eternally grey sky.
With non-stop cloud cover.
The rain is often very light…but it also never stops.
For months on end.
With wetness everywhere.
And ZERO sunshine in your life.
The rain very gradually seeps through your clothes, and into your shoes.
And then it continues to seep into your soul.
There are millions of songs that have been written about happiness and blue skies and sunshine.
Nobody has ever written a song about happiness and six months of rainy grey skies.
Seattle can be a great city–but every time you step out of the house, you think “uggh, what a dreary looking scene”. So you will need to exert energy to consciously look for enjoyable things to do that compensate for the weather. Seattle has are a lot of postive things —but wow, it would be a whole lot better with some sunshine.
Portland hits all the criteria in the OP except for cheap rents. You have to be on the fringes of the city to find affordable places. And winters get pretty dreary, especially when there’s a La Nina in effect like last winter. This website is very helpful. Scroll down on the left to find things other than just real estate for sale.
How often do you see a play or concert, go to a 5 star restaurant, watch live sports or check out a museum or art gallery? I know people who live in San Francisco and love that there are so many things to do but rarely leave their overpriced apartment. If you just want occasional access to those things you can live on the outskirts of Seattle or Portland and almost have it both ways.
As far as the weather goes, I lived for 4 years on the northern California coastline and the summers were great, when it wasn’t too foggy. The weather on the coast is gloomy and depressing, especially when you are accustomed to sunny weather during fall, winter and spring. I know people who live in Seattle who would kill for a sunny day. I didn’t mind the cold damp weather when I was in college… but I sure couldn’t hack it now.
The really wet parts are right on the Pacific coast. But all the major cities are 50-100 miles inland and don’t get nearly as much rain as the coast does. HOWEVER, there will be six months out of the year when it’s overcast almost every day and it will sprinkle a little bit here and spritz a little bit there, only a half in or so of rain but the sidewalks are continuously damp. There’s also four months out of the year when it almost never rains but you’ll have dew on the ground in the mornings. This is pretty much the weather you will see in Eugene or Seattle or any city in between them on I-5.
For museums, et cetera, I suggest looking at cities with universities in them.
As for cost of living… Seattle will probably be the highest, followed by Portland. The smaller cities will be average. Seriously, I looked it up and the cost of living in Eugene Oregon is 2% above the average for the US, so pretty much “average”.
PacNW resident here. According to recent local news, prices are high in a one hour drive north & south of Seattle on the I5 corridor.
I would recommend looking on the Kitsap peninsula - Bremerton, Poulsbo, Kingston etc. Easy ferry or ferry/train access to Seattle. I have friends who do that commute for work, not sure I would but it is decent access for cultural events.
Ah, incorrect. When the Big One hits the Pacific Northwest, it will be the greatest natural disaster in history in the Western Hemisphere. Assuming one similar to the Cascadia earthquake that hit on January 26, 1700, the damage will be widespread, and long-lasting.
All land routes to Seattle and Portland will be inaccessible for months, as will the ports. All supplies will need to be air-dropped from staging areas in the eastern parts of both states because PDX and SEA will be gone (damaged and probably under water). Emergency experts tells us a family should prepare a minimum of two months of food, water, sanitation supplies and adequate shelter before help arrives.
Disaster experts have already defined a TMZ (thirty mile zone), 15 miles either side of Interstate 5 from Canada to California, where roads and utility repairs are priority, on order of weeks to months. The rest of Washington and Oregon are being written off (years to decades, maybe never) for utilities and road repairs.
I’ve participated in several Cascadia drills and the scenarios are all gloomy. The New Yorker story barely touches the expected reality.