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Phoenix - do we stay or do we go?

 
 
ColinM
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 10:47 am
Coming from England, 7 years ago in October, Phoenix was bright, vivid and easing out of the sub-tropical summer heat. The weather was still like the best summer we'd ever seen, well into December! My family and I were filled with all sorts of emotions. Some of our 8 were perplexed, wondering what we had come to? Most were embracing our new life, trying to get involved and making the best of our new circumstances. Our kids were enchanted by the experience, as I was. My wife who wasn't working, began to feel isolated and homesick.
7 years later and with periodical trips home, my wife has become accustomed to living here (mostly) and the kids have become very Americanised, although one did move back home. Like most immigrants, many of us remember the customs and foods that were once a part of our lives. It has been easier for us though. Unlike previous generations, we have the internet, cheap phone service home and flights that are do'able.
Although we have become more acclimatised to the heat in summer, it remains a sticking point for some of us. Will we continue to endure the long dry hot summers or move somewhere more temperate? Oregon and Washington states seem to offer climates closer to what we were used to in England. Oregon seems like it could be a possible move for us - mild - although cool and wet climate, affordability and the good reviews for friendliness.
It is difficult to know what to do sometimes. There is a certain truth in, life is what you make it and people are people everywhere. The summer climate in Phoenix deters people from venturing out on foot after 9 a.m. or before 7-8 p.m. That neighbourhood feel of activity and life is stunted - unless you're an early riser and walk the dog at dawn, where you may see others of a similar bent. The remaining 8-9 months are friendlier and more conducive to seeing daytime activity on the streets. Although Phoenix has public transport, with buses and a new light rail system, the service does not yet extend sufficiently into the outer areas of the greater Phoenix metro area. With the way the metro area has sprawled, everything is spread out and the Valley of the Sun remains a car driven culture.
There are definitely enclaves of very friendly, hospitable people in Phoenix, just like anywhere. The demographic personality is diverse across the metro area, after all, most people have moved here from out of state and bring their experiences with them, just as we did. We have found that native born Phoenicians, or other Arizonans, (when you actually find them) are as friendly, or not, as people from anywhere else. Phoenix is definitely a melting pot of personalities.
You don't live somewhere for 7 years and 'not' make any friends. Apart from my wife, we all have made close friends. It would be difficult to leave them.
It may be difficult, or impossible, to please everyone in a family unit. Everyone is an individual by nature - an old cliche. Moving to Oregon may be great for us all, but may not be also. Should we ditch our blue skies most of the year for grey? Or is "there a silver lining in every cloud" and "the grass 'really' is greener"?
This is something that no-one can really answer, but you may have some thoughts and experiences of your own to share?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 1,089 • Replies: 12
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 11:03 am
@ColinM,
ColinM wrote:
This is something that no-one can really answer, but you may have some thoughts and experiences of your own to share?


You have that part right, but for what it's worth I'd move in your shoes and I think you've done well to narrow it down to WA and OR, those always struck me as very decent states to live in.

Welcome to a2k, Colin.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 11:04 am
@ColinM,
I live in CA, but love both Phoenix and Oregon. What part of OR/WA were you considering? It can be quite a different experience, depending on where you are going to be living.

Cycloptichorn
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ColinM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 11:22 am
My wife prefers the idea of moving to Portland. It's the big city feel that she has always liked. I understand that Portland is not as big as Phoenix, although the population density may be higher? So the feel may be more big city? Never having gone there, we can only go on what we read or see on TV and what others might say.
I don't know how I, or anyone else in the family will adjust to months of grey wet or damp weather during the fall and winter. Maybe it's not as bad as I imagine? We used to live in England and most of the year was overcast, damp or wet (including most of the summers).
A friend of mine moved to Bend from Phoenix. He and his family are thrilled to be living there. Of course the climate is dryer and more 'high desert' and closer to Phoenix in that respect, except it's a lot cooler and they get snow in winter. It appeals to me, but my wife and even our eldest daughter want to live in a city, rather than a small town.
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maporsche
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 11:40 am
I lived in the Northwest for 10 years (about 2.5 hours from Seattle, and 2 hours from Portland, and I've been to both cities probably 50 times) and I lived in Phoenix for 8, I now live in Chicago (for 3).

I much prefer the PNW to either Phoenix or Chicago. I say Go! Phoenix's weather is nice, the sports are nice, the nightlife is nice. Aiizona is full of freedoms that I took for granted since moving to Illinois, but nothing beats the PNW.

However, if I were you, I'd live in Washington as opposed to Oregon. Vancouver, WA is right on the other side of the Columbia river from Portland and would be a better choice if you're considering moving there (taxes, laws, etc). I'd choose Seattle over either though.

I'm contemplating a move back there myself in the next few years (or Colorado/Wyoming/Alaska).
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engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 12:03 pm
@ColinM,
What are your constraints on where you can live? Assuming you are not constrained, why not just move back to England? So far, it seems like you want a more moderate climate, a high population base and you aren't concerned about job or money. San Diego would be excellent. Seattle also. New York might work for you. Toronto, Chicago and Cleveland all have decent summers although the winters are challenging.
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ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 04:16 pm
@ColinM,
Hi Colin. Welcome to A2K.

How old are your children now? You've noted that one has already moved 'home'. If the others are of an age where they'll be out on their own soon, I'd think this is a decision to be made by you and your wife. The kids are going to end up where they're going to end up - you shouldn't expect them to end up where you are - whether that's Phoenix, Portland or anywhere else.

Phoenix seemed very suburban vs urban to me when I went through far too many times about a decade ago. I find cities that are very suburban difficult to get a foothold in. Someone who isn't working would probably find that particularly difficult.

Good luck with your thinking, and family decision-making.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 04:48 pm
Hi, Colin. I now live in Albuquerque, having moved from the very northwest of California for financial reasons. Albuquerque gets hot, but not like Phoenix. I don't consider it 'urban'. On the other hand, there is beauty, and experience.

I have an urban soul and loved my home town of Los Angeles. In a career related move, I lugged my stuff up to the very north of California, at the coast. I did like it a lot there. The gray didn't bother me - though I knew people it did bother. On the other hand, not far inland it was much sunnier (and Portland is somewhat inland), if that had been my interest. (I like oceans, seas, bays, lakes.. not so much to be in, but to be near.)

I've been to Seattle a few times for a bunch of days and remember both loving it and being stuck in traffic. But I don't know the whole area, and can imagine being interested in what I've read of several areas in Washington.

I've only been to Eugene for a couple of days a long time ago, and the Portland airport for some hours of repose while waiting to catch a plane. I've read great things about Portland. (You might be interested in the NYTimes Frugal Traveler columns - he's written about Portland, and been excoriated by Portland folk not wanting him to attract more people.) Oregon does have a segment that is anti newcomers, particularly if from California. I don't think that is as much true of Washington but that is conjecture. I used to pal around with some people from Washington, and they all raved about it.

I agree with ehBeth about making the decision re you and your wife, and I agree with Robert G and others that I'd say 'go for it'. At least go on up there and explore.

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ColinM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 04:56 pm
Our eldest child is 27. She still lives with us. No boyfriend and not looking. She is content to stay at home with us. My wife and I recognise that she would be lonely living on her own somewhere and are happy to have her live with us. We realise that she could have met someone and started a family of her own by now, as many of her school friends have done.
The other kids at home are 16 (nearly 17), 15, and 12. My wife and our two daughters, 27 and 12 are those that are interested in moving to a cooler climate. My wife and older daughter would prefer a more citified existence. Where people are more visible on the streets. Phoenix is definitely a suburban city. The downtown area is insignificant, although every attempt has been made in recent years to develop it. People congregate in suburban malls mostly.
We have been to Manhatten, it reminded me of London in a less claustrophobic way. People in huge crowds swarming along the streets and everyone rushing somewhere. There was nothing to attract me, although my wife found it had some appeal. We dropped into a busy deli / restaurant for lunch and the man behind the counter was shouting out orders to those in the back and the whole thing was 'chop-chop'. He was rude and wanted cash - no cards, and we had to know what we wanted and fast. He brushed over us and on to the next person, as we were standing there glimpsing the menu for 30 seconds. He was sweating and probably had high blood pressure and I couldn't help thinking 'heart attack'. Was this the way life is in the Big Apple - everything has to be done in a New York minute? You can keep it!
My wife and eldest daughter would like to live in a thriving, somewhat bustling city, in a neighbourhood where the neighbours are out and about and visible on the streets. In a cooler climate, rain is okay and some frost / snow, hopefully with half way decent summers.
I would prefer to live out of the hustle and bustle and we might compromise in suburbia somewhere - provided it still feels like there's people out and about where we live.
Oregon seems like it could be possible. Portland in particular. Vancouver, WA may have benefits over Portland, but I am interested to know what these are. I'm trying to find somewhere with a similar cost of living to Phoenix.
mm25075
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 06:27 pm
@ColinM,
ColinM wrote:

I'm trying to find somewhere with a similar cost of living to Phoenix.


I believe that will be the most difficult part of your consideration. Phx is relatively low on the cost of living scale.

Tempe during the school year has more people who mill around the streets due to the college area. Downtown has definately had it's hey day but I have noticed a more recent shift of people congragating toward the West side of the valley. Surprise is a fast growing little city that is close enough to the shopping hubs and stadiums to be a place where people go to 'hang out' and watch spring training baseball games.

If one likes golf, there is almost no better place to play than in AZ. This is especially good in that 8 months out of the year when most other states have ice, rain, snow, we are able to continue with outdoor activities. The summer months are hot yes but it's easier to plan around. (side note below) " I wonder if it's going to be warm tomorrow?" Answer to that question is easy. Smile


Side note:
Something in me has always been interested in the ways society acts in relation to weather. I belong to this and a few other internet forums, and have gone back and researched some about people posting they want to move out of AZ around this time of year...every year. -LOL Something about the heat, I think makes people crazy when it becomes so oppressive. I went to a funeral a few weeks ago and had endure 116 degree heat for about 20 minutes. Argh, I vowed at that point that when I died, it would not be in the summer because I wouldn't want to put my family through that. Very Happy
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 06:32 pm
@mm25075,
When I used to live in what I called north north (California near the Oregon border), housing was much less money, but grocery store prices weren't small; relative to what I was used to in LA, they were up, somewhat. I don't guess this matters much re cities like Portland or Seattle, but this might affect Bend, Oregon.
0 Replies
 
maporsche
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 06:38 pm
@ColinM,
ColinM wrote:

Oregon seems like it could be possible. Portland in particular. Vancouver, WA may have benefits over Portland, but I am interested to know what these are. I'm trying to find somewhere with a similar cost of living to Phoenix.


The cost of living between Vancouver and Phoenix will be very close.

The main benefit as I see it in WA is that you don't pay state income tax. OR has a pretty high state income tax. AND you live close enough to Oregon that you can cross the river and not pay any sales tax.
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MrBend
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 09:18 am
I lived in the Phoenix area for 13 years, and now live in Bend. If you like to get outside and walk, hike, fish, boat, ski and generally enjoy beautiful vistas and clean air...then Bend is perfect. Unlike Phoenix we do have four seasons here, but I think they are fairly moderate. We don't get the gray, raining weather that Portland gets because many storms are blocked by the Cascade Mountains.

The cost of living has dropped dramatically the past few years because of the nationwide housing situation. Homes have become affordable again. While Bend is smaller than Portland, it is 80,000, and has great shopping, culture and restaurants. It compares favorably to Phoenix, I think.

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