Goodbye Portland
July 10, 2012 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I want to move out of Portland. Where should I go?

Hello friends. In 2007, I moved out to Portland from my small hick town in Iowa to be with a girl. After 4 years we broke up, and I still live here. Being alone in Portland has made me realize how empty and shallow this promise of salvation through eco-worship and liberalism was, and I am tired of it. I do not want to live here anymore. At the moment, I am currently studying psychology at Portland State University. A few weeks ago, after years of indecision, I decided to become a Christian and stick with it no matter what. My plan now is to go into Christian counseling, maybe even some type of pastoral work. Actually I like that idea very much.

I would like to move to a small town, where I can continue my education, maybe in a Christian environment, although I'm not opposed to doing my education online. I do not have a car, so it would be cool if I could get around wherever I live with a bicycle, preferably without rocks being thrown at me by troglodytes. I'm not looking to be bored out of my mind either, a couple good restaurants (I am a vegetarian, but love pancakes), maybe some parks.

So... where should I go?

posted by anonymous to Work & Money (41 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Missoula, MT?
posted by Duffington at 12:00 PM on July 10, 2012

How about Eureka, CA? It's a charming small town with culture in Northern California. Feels like a time warp.
posted by steinsaltz at 12:01 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Honestly, it is probably for the best that you finish your degree where you are. You never know which of your credits will or will not transfer. Sure there are churches in Portland where you can find fellowship while you prepare for the next part of your life.
posted by pickypicky at 12:02 PM on July 10, 2012 [10 favorites]

Lynchburg, Virginia?
posted by MoonOrb at 12:04 PM on July 10, 2012

Small town, bikeable and vegetarian? How much money you got? Because you're probably looking at somewhere like Santa Rosa.

On preview: Eureka like steinsaltz says as well.

You can always check for vegetarian restaurants through Yelp as well.
posted by Talez at 12:05 PM on July 10, 2012

How about Eureka, CA? It's a charming small town with culture in Northern California.

Have we been hanging out in different Eurekas? The one I know has a tweaker on every doorstep and a haze of general despair and disrepair, probably due to the lack of jobs since the mills shut down.

Also, Main street is Highway 101 and seems to have a Harley run going through town about every 14 seconds.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:14 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

This list of small towns with colleges isn't specifically about Christian colleges, but I notice a fair number of them are church-affiliated. College towns are good places to ride bikes, eat vegetarian, and finish college.

Googling "small town christian colleges" yields a lot of information if you're really casting that wide of a net.
posted by troyer at 12:17 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm nthing staying where you are to finish your degree.

You can always do a graduate program at a Christian university if that's where your heart lies.

Find a church where you feel comfortable, I think that once you find other folks who have your same values and worldview, that you'll cheer up about staying another year or so. You'll make friends, you'll do activities. It will be nice.

Also, see if there's a Maranatha or other Christian group on campus. Birds of a feather and all of that.

Actually, how much longer until you finish up your degree? Not that I think it matters, but it would be an interesting factoid.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:21 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Usually towns with vegetarian restaurants and bike-friendly atmospheres are kind of liberal/eco-minded -- but I thought that's what you were saying you didn't like about Portland? Or are you just looking for a small, veg-friendly, Christian-friendly, bike-friendly town and the politics don't matter so much to you?
posted by feets at 12:21 PM on July 10, 2012

Missoula MT Is pretty cool but you need to think about the fact that if you want to live a bike only lifestyle, anywhere with heavy heavy snowfall is going to be problematic. Not impossible but it adds a huge issue. I moved from Portland OR (where I never had a car) to Brattleboro VT and it proved very challenging to keep just using a bike/walking.

If you were willing to be somewhere a little bigger (small city) Savannah Georgia could be a wonderful fit.
posted by French Fry at 12:22 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I lived not to far from Redlands, which is, I think, Christian Scientist, and they were into vegetarianism, so that's a thought.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:24 PM on July 10, 2012

Redlands is a big Seventh Day Adventist community, actually. (Adventists are vegetarian; Christian Scientists as omnivorous as the average American.)

What Christian denomination or group of denominations or tradition in particular are you interested in becoming affiliated with, dargerpartridge?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:26 PM on July 10, 2012

oops. Yes, Seventh Day Adventist. I just remember travelling from Riverside to Redlands for their grocery stores. I'm not vegetarian but I do enjoy the hippie fare I grew up on, and Riverside at the time failed to provide it.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:33 PM on July 10, 2012

There are lots of small towns in the South where the only acceptable shallow promises of salvation will come from Christians and there will be nary an eco-worshiper or liberal in sight. Might I suggest Cleveland, Texas or Sylvania, Alabama.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:39 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are some suitable small towns in Oregon. For example, Pacific University in Forest Grove was founded as a Christian College and it has a Psych program.
posted by monotreme at 12:51 PM on July 10, 2012

How small is small? Fort Collins in Colorado feels rather small and has a small, familiar-feeling downtown area, but the large university there (CSU) affords it the requisite restaurants, coffee shops, music, and other things to do. The area is mostly pancake-flat, so biking is pretty easy. Lots of bike trails and country roads. (I used to bike to Wyoming, passing fields and cows and farmhouses.) Good sunshine and somewhat chilly winters. Boulder traditionally attracts most of the more liberal, eco-worship folks, so that leaves Fort Collins with more of a balance. Several churches, too.
posted by mochapickle at 12:52 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Missoula might be too full of eco-worshipping hippies for your taste.

If you like Montana, though, Bozeman is for you. Definitely bikeable/walkable, more conservative than Missoula but not obnoxiously so. More of a cowboy/farm type feel but there are still good restaurants with vegetarian fare. I'm not the church-going type but I knew plenty of Christians of all stripes. See how the university might fit into your plans.
posted by desjardins at 12:58 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about Northfield, Minnesota? The town is pretty and with two colleges is quite cultured. It is also fairly bikeable and has some restaurants that serve vegetarian food. Minneapolis and St. Paul are less than an hour way, so you can easily take in concerts and other cultural events there. There are some eco liberals, but also lots of churchgoing Christians. St. Olaf College is Lutheran and has a good psych department. I imagine you would need pretty good grades to transfer in.
posted by Area Man at 1:00 PM on July 10, 2012

Eh, I'll lobby for Pittsburgh, PA. Its got cheap housing, a very diverse set of churches and church goers (like the guys who initially set up Juniata College in the center of the state), good weather outside of August (miserably hot, probably not unlike Iowa in many ways), great parks and zones of protected forest, and if you live up North the commute isn't bad either (can't speak to the state of traffic south of the Allegheny River though, sorry).
posted by Slackermagee at 1:08 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Okay, so you're looking for an Evangelical Protestant university or community? A lot of the suggestions so far have revolved around communities with schools that are connected to mainline, liberal denominations and/or non-Evangelical denominations like the Adventists.

I would start with looking at colleges and universities that align with your doctrinal beliefs, and then seeing if they are in towns that feel like a good fit for your needs. Wheaton College might be one possibility to consider. Geneva College is in a lovely town, but it gets lots of snow in winter so it might not be the best choice for someone who wants to bike.

A college or university town that is "anchored" by an Evangelical Protestant institution seems like it is what you are looking for at the moment. However, it seems from your Ask history like you've been kind of all over the map in your spiritual search recently, so you might want to think about whether making a big life move on the basis on your current religious convictions is the wisest choice; maybe think, as others have said, about staying where you are and keeping up your progress on your degree while finding like-minded folks through your church and campus Christian groups?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:11 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might actually have rocks thrown at you by troglodytes in Northfield, MN. Also, plenty of eco-worshipping liberals at St. Olaf, more at Carleton. Definitely bike-able, most of the year.
posted by pandabearjohnson at 1:19 PM on July 10, 2012

Fairbanks, Alaska is surprisingly bike-friendly; some folks bike all winter, with appropriate gear. And there's a nice, inexpensive university. And it's a great town to live in. And a good place to make a new start.

There is some sort of bible college in nearby North Pole, AK. And plenty of churches of various denominations in both Fairbanks and North Pole.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:42 PM on July 10, 2012

Arizona has two extremes. You've got Sedona, which is as hippy-dippy as it wants to be but it's gorgeous. So there's your bike culture and your vegetarian restaurants. You might like Flagstaff a bit better. Small town, but with Northern Arizona University. They're about 35 miles apart.

Ft. Huachuca/Sierra Vista in the southern part of the state is a nice town. Nothing especially charming, but it is a different desert than Tucson or Phoenix. There are call center jobs because of the Army Post.

I too like Pittsburgh. Not particularly bike friendly, but public transportation downtown. More universities and colleges than you can shake a stick at.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:51 PM on July 10, 2012

Living in Sierra Vista without a car would be crazy with a capital Cray (and, honestly, there are much, much nicer small towns out there. No offense to Sierra Vistans). But, if you're willing to consider another city, you might like Pittsburgh, really. You could happily live and eat there without a car and Pittsburgh has a lot of the stuff you might like about Portland but very little of the perceived self-righteous eco-liberal type vibe you're not as keen on. And I say this as an enthusiast of both Pittsburgh and Portland.

You could also try western Colorado, like Montrose (gateway town to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park!; but I'd feel isolated there without a car, and it's not super vegetarian-friendly, although there is an okay-ish Thai restaurant, a bunch of good Mexican joints, and a decent place to get pancakes) or Grand Junction, which is much bigger but has Mesa State, so is more happening. And it's just a few miles from the gorgeous Colorado National Monument.

Missoula is a terrific town but might have too much of the eco-liberal vibe of Portland that turns you off so much.

Another small town you could try might be Walla Walla, Washington. East of the Cascades is much more conservative. It's got wineries and a college and a nice downtown, too.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:04 PM on July 10, 2012

Olympia is close and seems to have a Christian population. It is close and might be worth a look.
posted by Danf at 2:26 PM on July 10, 2012

Personally, I'd stay in Portland and try to finish out the degree. Once you drop out of school, it's a lot harder to go back. And it's easier to get into a grad program with a degree under your belt.

There are plenty of non-denominational churches in Portland that you may like better than the current church you're at - there's a Foursquare Church, there's a branch of Mars Hill in Portland, etc. I've been to Portland countless times, and while there is ecoworship and liberalism, I also know people who live there who aren't so. I've visited both of the churches listed above, and while they aren't my thing at all (I'm much more the Catholic/Episcopalian type myself), they did have vibrant communities attached to them.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:26 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not in a small town, but it's a small community that might be aligned with your beliefs: JPUSA
posted by unknowncommand at 2:27 PM on July 10, 2012

Olympia is the most eco-crunchy place I have ever spent time in, including Northampton, Massachusetts, so that's something to think about.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:38 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also, some critical perspective (from an Evangelical point of view) on JPUSA. I think it would be an enormous risk for you to jump into any religious community at a time when your beliefs and values have been in such flux. Intentional religious communities can be great places for some people but people who are in major life transitions are often not in the best place to make sound, considered decision about which community is right for them, and it can be quite difficult to leave a community once you're in.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:47 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hey, there. Fellow non-denominational Christian here. And fellow Portland resident.

I grew up in the midwest - Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, etc. While there are parts of those states I don't like, there are parts I LOVE. I LOVE the fact that people don't hate me because of my religious beliefs (like some do in Portland). I LOVE the fact that people there don't key my car because they disagree with my bumper sticker (like they did in Portland, including scratching out the sticker to show their disapproval). I LOVE the fact that people there aren't actively looking for things to be offended by.

It's not all roses and sunshine, of course. There's a lot of hypocrisy and gossip in the churches there, just like there are here. But church seems to be more of a priority for people. It feels like more of a fellowship than I've found in the Portland area. The church members tend to hang out with each other in daily life a lot more.

In particular, I graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in the Oklahoma City area and loved it. It's a lot more expensive than a state school, but I considered it worth the cost.

In short, I plan on moving back to the midwest someday because I'm also tired of this city.
posted by tacodave at 3:15 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

IANAC but I think you are really looking for a city without a conformist vibe (regardless of ideology). Reading between the lines it does not seem that you want to go back to your hick Iowa town either.

Honestly, Boston might be what you're looking for. Despite its historical baggage it's actually quite welcoming to progressive religious groups ("progressive" in the sense of adapting to the needs of its membership.)
posted by moammargaret at 3:16 PM on July 10, 2012

Olympia has its eco-crunchy side, yes, but it also has a college where you can study counseling with a Christian perspective. I was carless in Olympia for years and it was OK. There are restaurants.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:20 PM on July 10, 2012

If you don't want to go very far, Newberg might not be a terrible choice.
posted by juliapangolin at 3:24 PM on July 10, 2012

"[...] where I can continue my education, maybe in a Christian environment, although I'm not opposed to doing my education online. I do not have a car, so it would be cool if I could get around wherever I live with a bicycle, preferably without rocks being thrown at me by troglodytes. I'm not looking to be bored out of my mind either, a couple good restaurants (I am a vegetarian, but love pancakes), maybe some parks.

Not a small town, but Colorado Springs, Colorado is everything else you want.
posted by faineant at 3:25 PM on July 10, 2012

I am not sure that recommendations for Catholic, Lutheran, etc., universities are going to be that helpful to dargerpartridge (though that St. Martin's program looks fascinating to Episcopalian me!)

dargerpartridge, maybe you need to say a little more about what worship traditions you're interested in exploring; it will help us all give you more focused answers. Terms like "non-denominational church" and "Bible church" aren't transparent to people who aren't part of your current religious milieu (at least, as I'm understanding it, though I may be miles off!)
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:45 PM on July 10, 2012

You really might like Lynchburg, aside from the fact that nearly everything is closed on Sunday, which is annoying even to many religious folks.

I live in Blacksburg, VA, which is where Virginia Tech is, which is a very bikeable small town with plenty of vegetarians. There's also nearby Floyd, VA or Radford VA, and there are abundant churches. Don't know about christian schools other than Liberty U, but it's a big one.
posted by Tesseractive at 5:04 PM on July 10, 2012

Columbia, Missouri is a great college town with a large, thriving population of various shades of Christian: traditional protestant, evangelical, ex-Amish, Menonnite, Quakers, etc.

Other alternatives:

- Lynchburg, VA
- Wilmington, NC
- Savannah, GA
- Topeka, KS
posted by muirne81 at 7:15 PM on July 10, 2012

Check your MeFi Mail.
posted by ephemerista at 7:51 PM on July 10, 2012

Well, how about Colorado Springs (forest fires notwithstanding)?
posted by pickypicky at 9:38 PM on July 10, 2012

There is always Seattle?

We have decent public transportation, great veggie food, some conservatives mixed in with the liberals, and a zillion churches of all types. Same with colleges and universities. Might be worth a shot.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:28 PM on July 10, 2012

I would definitely start talking to your college about possibly transferring. Get a transcript. Figure out where you might be interested in going (have you researched small town christian colleges?There's a lot of them) and contact them about what credits will transfer. There might even be a transfer advisor at your college that can help you figure that out.

Also, I live in Indiana and live in one of the only liberal places in the entire state. There are a lot of small town Christian colleges here and essentially a Christian church within every mile radius.
posted by camylanded at 9:51 AM on July 11, 2012

« Older West Coast retreat   |   Finding nets for theme park attractions. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.