Oregon has been calling to my heart for many years now and my family and I would all really love to move there in a year or so. We are thinking Portland, Eugene, or Bend... I was just wondering if anyone could offer any insights into what alternative parenting life in Oregon is really like, especially unschooling? I'm also in search of a tribe, as parenting during the day while dh goes to work is really lonely.... and am interested in any info pertaining to groovy intentional communities/co-housing. Any insights/info would be appreciated.
Love and Light!
I lived on the coast of OR for a couple years prior to DS. We always found ourselves in Eugene. Love that town! Lots of music, good people, etc. I would always hit Sweetskins for clothes. The vibe is great. I didn't find much for kids/parents in a search but did find a meetup group.
I am a fellow Missourian who moved to Eugene several years ago to apprentice with a midwife. I now have one babe and another on the way. I am also an unschooler and there is an unschooling yahoo group for families here in Eugene. I'm not very active yet as my 1st unschooler is just two, but it's a great resource. I love raising my family here and recommend Eugene highly!
Eugene is probably the crunchiest of the lot, being a college town + having a long standing tradition of being alternative in many ways. I don't think there's cohousing there. It has all the advantages and disadvantages of a college town; it's big enough to have OK public transportation, but small enough that it's not really a city.
Portland is obviously a city -- there are half a dozen cohousing projects around. There's much more of a mix of people -- everything from fairly conservative to extremely radical. Homeschooling is common, unschooling is definitely known, but I don't know much about the groups as my kids don't fit that bill. Where you choose to live will have somewhat of an impact on your community. Each area has definite characteristics, and there are a few neighborhoods that I simply wouldn't live in. I like the Portland area because it's more diverse and has lots to do. I'm a city girl myself and so feel comfortable in the city and I like the range of transportation options.
Bend is on the other side of the mountains in the high desert. It's much sunnier (even in the winter), but it's also a bit touristy in the town itself, IMO. (I just got back from a weekend in Bend.) It's got much more of a rural feel to me, and yet sometimes the traffic can drive you bonkers during tourist season. I don't know about cohousing, and I suspect you'd have a decent, if smaller, unschooling community. It's a cool place to live (ranches and mountains close), but it's not great for getting anywhere else.
Anywhere you live in Oregon, I'd want to make sure that your income/employment opportunities are solid. Unemployment is always higher here than elsewhere in the nation. It's got much more of a boom and bust economy. It's never, as far as I can tell, figure out how to pay for basic services such as education and roads. On the other hand, it is pretty libertarian, and so live and let live. But I wouldn't come without a job lined up, and some indication that your skills are in demand.
I just moved to Florida from Missouri in February. DH has family here and he got a much better job, but we knew Florida wouldn't be permanent. Oregon has been where we've wanted to wind up since we got together. I just didn't know how impermanent Florida would be for me---it's only April and it's much too hot, there's way too many bugs and I am not a beach/ocean/sunshine/sand person at all. I want lush greenery and mountains and cooler weather. Thinking of trying to move again next year, but I've got a 7 year old, a soon to be 2 year old, and a baby on the way in early August.....don't know if I want to move entirely across country with an infant, however, I'm unsure if I can stand another spring here in Florida (let alone a summer!). If we move to Oregon it will have to be in or really close to a big city (Portland) or perhaps a University as DH is a computer programmer and needs to go where the jobs are. @Wombato, where from in MO?
Yep, that's why landed in Portland. We loved the look of the smaller towns but the programming jobs are here.... both downtown and in the Beaverton/Hillsboro suburbs.
But we hike, bike, see free concerts, go to open air farmer's markets.... have our urban chickens and neighbors that have sheep. Everyone here has a college degree and everyone is a reader. You can ask any random stranger on the bus what they are reading and not get the "deer in the headlights stare" back at you.
However, it does rain nine months outta twelve.. that's why its so green. Retirees here hit the road in winter to warm desert places in their Rv's. If you like warm, sunny places you'll soon feel out of sorts here. Me and dh love old movies and are foodies. We hike in the rain and then cuddle up with amazing local gourmet foods.
We escaped the Florida ickies and moved to Oregon almost 4 years ago. I'm in Bend. I like it, but it's definitely not the lush green foresty rainy pacific northwest of Portland or Eugene. We have trees, but it is high desert here. Makes for lovely summers, but very long winters. We don't have very much of a growing season and the farmers market only runs June to September. I have to laugh whenever folks comment about it being touristy. I'm from Orlando, suuuuuure it's touristy. ;) Lots of homeschoolers, lots of outdoorsy stuff to do and not nearly the traffic or crowd of Portland. But if you need the city for work, this is probably not the place, lots of unemployment, and not really many big employers in town. The hospital, I guess? My husband is self employed and flies back to FL and Montana to work, so I'm a bit out of touch with the specifics locally.
Glad to have found this post. We are also thinking of moving to Oregon, probably the Portland area. DH loves the northwest and has always wanted to live there. We are both born and raised in the Chicago area, and now that I have a baby the winters are horrible to me. I really hate them and would be happy to have more mild stable weather. I'll take rain over snow any day. But... I'm really connected to my family (though less and less now that I'm a mom actually) and I would miss them a lot. The in-laws talk of moving all the time though, so there's no guarantee they will stay here anyway. My Mom SHOULD move for her health, but won't as long as family is here. I'm actually wondering if I can convince her to come with. My son already loves his grandparents, and I would hate for him to have to see them only a few times a year... but if his life is significantly better, then maybe its worth it. We are in the process of starting our own business, and are planning a trip to portland to see if its a viable idea out there or if our market is already too flooded or if the cost would be too high. Its definatly a great idea where we are now. We need to decide soon, becuase wherever we start the business, we are stuck. We also don't want to move our son once he is old enough to be unhappy about it....
Does anyone know about waldorf schools in the portland suburbs?
sk8, we recently moved to Florida from Missouri and my oldest daughter (7) and her grandparents were very, very, very close. in fact, we were living with them. it's been hard on her because she is so attached (i was a single mom for quite some time and so her relationship with them is closer, as they were who she had besides me for so long). However, life is so much better here in Florida than it was in Missouri, it's obvious that in spite of missing them she is much happier here. I take it your business won't be portable? I'm trying to get my foot into the art scene in the Sarasota area and start selling my jewelry, digital work, and other various creations. I do worry about just up and moving if I get comfortable here, however, art and jewelry making seem to be fairly portable so I hope it will be ok.... because there's no way i'm going to live in Florida for long, as I don't like extreme sun any more than I like extreme winter and snow and I long for the mild raininess of Oregon. I also miss greenery, goddess! do i miss greenery!
No, we are looking to start a late night cafe/small venue, which we actually think would do better there then here! I talked to my mom and she was very supportive!!
I don't know much about it (oldest is 4), but I live near the Portland Waldorf School, which is actually in Milwaukie (immediately south of Portland). It has a good reputation and is a good neighbor. :)
We moved to Bend in October and love it, nice balance between desert and mountains if you don't want a ton of moisture. Possibly a bit touristy but also a strong feeling of community, especially on the west side. Lots of outdoor activities very close by, mostly friendly in-town biking, tons of free concerts and events in town. I've found a nice group of AP-style parents as well. We're not going anywhere anytime soon, love it!
Mom to DS 9/18/09 and DS 3/28/13
Laugh it up, fuzzball
I've lived in Bend for almost 5 years, and tried Eugene for 6 months prior to that. Originally from North Carolina (Chapel Hill).
I LOVE BEND, and agree with previous statement that west side has great community. The whole town has nice folks, outdoorsy, but the winters are loooong but often snowy and sunny whle in summer it's dusty but not horribly hot bc low humidity and cools off as soon as the sun sets. GREAT community activities like parades, art walks, free outdoor movies and concerts and tons of festivals. Check out the Waldorf School for "instant community". You can even do part time at the school--some kids are there a couple days/week.
The hardest part about Bend is there is little industry and jobs are very hard to come by, especially good paying jobs with benefits. VERY hard to come by. Hence, we have to move bask east this summer. If you have a job that you can do anywhere. like a software designer or something, great. Otherwise, be warned! Also, the cost of living is relatively high here, and it's hard to find cheap airfare. But it is LOVELY and sunny and I wish we could stay! It's big enough to have a Target and small enough to take only 10 minutes to cross town. Ethnic diversity is very low, so if you are a minority, you may feel uncomfortable. Great library, great parks, great outdoor recreation!!! Camping or skiing only 30 minutes away. All summer long people float the river running through downtown.
Let me know if you have specific questions. If you're on Mothering.com, definitely look at Westside (if you can afford it). East side is typical strip mall America. Ironically, the Whole Foods is over there, but we also have an independent co-op called Nature's near center of town and an organic grocery called Devores on the west side.
because my DH is in IT, it is looking as though any jobs that would pay him anything at all will be located in Portland. I am not really a "big city" kind of person, though I have heard that Portland is the best, and I have friends that live in and love Portland. I am just not sure I want to destine myself to city life. How far is countryside and beautiful places to hike and play outdoors from Portland?
From what I can tell the countryside is very very close. We are looking for acerage, and can find it with in 10 miles (30 mins driving) of the city. Even the trains reach more open areas. That is what I'm finding I love as I do more and more research. We are visiting Portland in a month!
I love Portland's progressive culture, but occasionally it is cloudy and rainy for 3 months STRAIGHT. Summers are PERFECTION but winters are long and gray, and the moist air means the cold feels colder (while in Bend it's dry so doesn't feel cold even at 50 degrees--in the sun). Actually I love the moss and ferns of "the wet side" so maybe you will too but many people come to Bend form Portland, at least for a weekend getaway to find some sunshine (we have 300 days of sunshine a year; even when it thunderstorms or snows, the sun often comes out later in the day). Portland has lots of neighborhoods, a wonderful thriving downtown, good diversity, and very progressive culture (lots of vegan, gay, resale shops (like Powell's Bookstore) etc etc). Unfortunately being on the main N/S corridor there is also meth and other drug problems and the mild temperatures mean plenty of homeless. Just so you know. Portland also has a GREAT ZOO, Children's Museum, MAX (subway), and botanical gardens. <3
The countryside IS pretty close, depending on which side of town you live (getting THROUGH town is the difficulty). The Oregon Coast (note Oregonians do NOT call it the "beach" because it's usually cold and windy) is close, and the Columbia River Gorge offers great and very close getaways. Oregon has many hot springs, waterfalls, and hikes. (See Breitenbush Hot Springs resort). Go to REI to look at guidebooks; Scott Cook is one good author; William Sullivan is excellent also. The Wilamette Valley, south, has lots of orchards (Harry & David started down by Ashland). Check out Ashland, also---smaller town feel but still progressive. But VERY "white" while P-town (Portland) has more ethnic diversity--Asian, African American, Latino, mostly.
ok, about the rain..... I do love the gray drizzliness of the pacific northwest (when visiting) but I wonder how I could stand up to it long term. I am inclined to serious mood issues without enough sun (funny that I find sunshine to be one of the least enjoyable weather conditions). For instance, when we were in MO, the winter months often proved kind of challenging but some full spectrum lighting seemed to help. What is it like to live with? Do those rainy months seem unbearably long, even for those who love the rain?
From July 4th to Halloween the weather is a perfect room temp ... 70's, sometimes 80's and hotter is very rare and sunny... no rain at all. The winds bring us desert air instead of seashore air in the summer. We have to water our gardens all summer long.
We've lived in Oregon, just outside Portland for 5 years now. I am one who can't hack the rain. :( It's not even the rain or the cold that bothers me, it's the darkness. It is just DARK & gloomy & gray for months & months at a time. Honestly, several weeks can go by with no bright sun whatsoever. Only dark, grey. I can't stand it. But some people can! My own husband & MIL say they barely notice! lol I have no idea how they can do that. :P I have to fight tears when I think of being here for one more rainy season ("rainy season" = about half the year). But we just decided we are moving to Idaho. Many more cloudfree days, even in the dead of winter when there is 3 feet of snow on the ground. I can hack that.
North Idaho rural living mama to: 22 yo DD, 15 yo DS, 8 yo DS, 6 yo DS, 4 yr old DS, 2 yo DD, and 1 yo DS. And someone new coming this Christmas!
WOW, small world!!! I'm actually a native to Sarasota, and lived there for 21 years before moving here to the PNW about 3 1/2 years ago. (Eastside of Seattle, currently) My husband also was from Florida, and is a computer engineer. We heavily debated moving to Portland, but the IT jobs/opportunities weren't as strong in Portland (and honestly, I'm just not city person, I could never cut it), and the next best area looked to be around Beaverton. My hubby lived in Seattle from age 12 until 22, and after learning about the area more, as well as the job selection - we ended up moving to the Eastside in Redmond, WA. He is an Engineer with Microsoft currently, and consistently has headhunters from Amazon knocking on the door. I don't know if our area has ever appealed to you, but I am honestly thrilled with it here. I love Oregon as well, and we visit frequently as it's just a short 3-4 hour drive away depending on where we are heading. The job market and stability has kept us here, and if the hiking/outdoors scene appeals to you, there is lots of it here always within a short drive. Driving to the grocery store is a scenic drive in itself, and I honestly can't see myself ever leaving. There is a very crunchy parenting scene here on the Eastside, which I have to say is a total relief compared to Sarasota.
As far as the PNW weather, I will be completely honest and admit that the first winter I was completely and utterly miserable. (Wasn't sure if that was 21 years of sun speaking, or what) The first full summer however had me sold, and my the second winter was tolerable. This past winter as been abnormally long and run over into Spring, but I ENJOYED this winter, and find myself longing for the rain when the sun is going strong and hot for a few days at a time. Very odd, but even with my history of being a native to Florida - I'm just not a beach person and find tremendous peace being surrounded by green and mountains. I hope your family finds it's calling here in the PNW. Truly one of the best decision's I have ever made.
BabyBuddha.... I have been to Washington state (seattle was actually my first every trip out of the midwest) and find it to be just as beautiful as Oregon. Though some legislation I've seen come up has been a bit unnerving, such as the bill that purposed making vaccination exemptions only available from medical doctors. I understand that Bill Gates with his home in Seattle probably has much to do with some of the stranger pieces of legislation (those that don't seem to fit the 'feel' of the area), but he's got a lot of money and a lot of pull and I don't know that I want to live where he spends his lobbying dollars. However, that being said, I don't think I can live in Portland and that does look to be the only real possibility for DH to find work in Oregon. Though I hear it's the best big city as far as big cities are concerned, originally I'm from Missouri and I am not a big city kind of girl at all. I like to hike and camp and spend time amongst the trees, not crowded into a little rate cage. Sarasota is really a wonderful city for Florida, there's tons of neat little shops and it kind of has a bit of a "west coast" feel to it here in the East....however, I find sunshine bright and obtrusive and while the beach would be a nice place to visit once a year it certainly isn't something I've got any regular interest in and all of the social activities here seem to revolve around the beach so I'm actually starting to get worried that I may never meet friends because I'd rather be alone the whole time we're here than spend much time out in the sand and saltwater hoping to meet someone to hang out with. DH and I have been talking recently and it looks like i might be stuck here for some time and possibly have to let go of my dream of getting to the PNW. He has a job that he absolutely loves with one of the top CPA companies and there is just much potential both for the company and for his own advancement within the company. And when I say absolutely loves his job, I mean it could only be more perfect if it were located anywhere else but florida! He's got a decent salary with good benefits, flex time, video games and giant bean bags and air hockey tables and skee ball and a 2 story slide all in his office building.....the work he's doing is the work he's waited his whole professional life for and I'd be the asshole girl if I made him leave because I dislike sunshine and the ocean. (though he does keep his eyes peeled on craigslist in the PNW and would definitely jump at the chance to move if he found something as awesome there). Can I ask you a question about survival in the area???? are there any like minded (crunchy) groups of mamas that aren't... well... (how to put this?) seeming to wear "crunchy" and "green" like a fashion accessory?
Lake Oswego is un-crunchy. The moms there look like soccer moms from all over the country.. blond, slim, and driving big black SUV's. Sorry, Lake O... but you do own that.
The outer burbs tend to be more mainstream as well. I've been down to Wilsonville and it's big box USA... hardly Oregon at all..... you could pick it up and re-place it in any state and it would fit just fine.
But you can fake some it, you know. Drive an old car, shop secondhand and don't have anything too showy in the house. Just be sure and put your recycling out or we'll call the green police on you for a good talking to. Just kidding.
Yet another vote for Bend and Ashland!
I suggest you click around on visitbend.com just for a fee. our newspaper is the bend bulletin (but you may not access everything free) and The Source Weekly (tsweekly.com) is our entertainment paper.
Wanna buy our house? :-)
We recently relocated to Asheville, NC from Bend, OR. I loved Bend. I miss Bend. My best friends are in Bend. I can't wait to get back and see them in September. But I have to tell you, one of the main reasons I couldn't hack it there was the weather. Is it gloomy and misty like areas West of the Cascades? Nope. But the tourism board does a damn good job at making it out to be a sunny paradise that it is not. It's sunnier, yes. The days are short in winter and winter is looooong. The final straw for me was the year the first snow was October 2nd, the last was mid-June and the last frost was the middle of July. I'm telling you this because I read that you are affected by the weather. I can empathize. I soooo wish I wasn't, because we would probably still be there. Did I mention how much I love the community? :) You also can't grow much...even with a greenhouse (which was very important to us) and the economy isn't the best. At one point, I was the Educational Programming & Events Manager for the now defunct Working Wonders Children's Museum and continued on in a different direction to work as a doula. My partner bartended at McMenamin's. Obviously not two super high paying positions and yet every time my partner would deposit tips at the bank, the teller would lament that he was working 4 jobs and not making nearly as much. If you are already wealthy, retired or have a job that works no matter where you relocate, then you might not have any issues, but moving there and hoping to find something in the local economy to support a family might not work out as easily. My partner also teaches/tutors Spanish. After having lived in larger cities like Seattle and DC, there is shockingly little diversity in Bend...another thing that was important to us in raising our daughter. Don't want to come off as a downer, just giving you one person's reality with living there...but again, I miss it and really enjoyed the community. Best of luck to you, mama!
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