Moving across the country: good idea, bad idea, or BEST idea?
September 9, 2014 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Following a series of personal crises, our protagonist contemplates relocating to a warmer, albeit cloudier, part of the world.

If this seems like over-sharing, I apologize. I really have nobody else to spill my guts to anymore.

As alluded to in my last AskMe, I've recently gone through a semi-awful breakup involving a significant personal betrayal. At the same time, I have been dealing with a chronic and ongoing health issue, nothing on the order of cancer or anything very serious, but it's been painful and unsettling, and I have had several surgical procedures done so far, with a promise of more to come. Again, nothing seriously life threatening, but enough to be a little taste of mortality thrown into the mix which has contributed to the stress.

My immediate reaction was to run away – pack a car, sell everything that won't fit in it, and haul ass for anywhere else. But I managed to keep my cool and I have battened down the hatches until the storm passes. I quit drinking and smoking (which I did a lot of during the bad parts of the breakup and the year or so leading up to it). I got in shape. I am much more healthy now, overall. Actually, I'm probably in the best shape of my adult life. I dealt with all the nonsense that comes with suddenly switching from two people paying the bills to one person paying the bills. I managed to somehow not get fired even though I'm sure my quality of work took a big nose dive for a while there.

The last few months have been hard. I'm not out of the woods on the medical stuff yet, but it's not as concerning anymore. Honestly, I feel pretty okay now. A dim sense of confidence strikes me from time to time. "Oh, I survived all that! Hey, look at me!" I have my house in order, and I am now contemplating how I want my life to be in this new world that I didn't quite plan for.

I realized a few weeks ago that I don't really have any real friends. Most of my friends four or five years ago were a) people I knew in college, or b) friends of people I knew in college. Most of groups a. and b. have moved away or drifted far enough from me socially that I haven't talked to them in years. I used to spend a lot of time with my ex's friends, but only because I was with her, so they're out of the picture. Otherwise, I have work friends and a few old friends and acquaintances that I see on rare occasions, maybe once a month, tops. Of those two remaining categories, almost everybody is married or getting married in the next few months. I know that not all married people become hermits, but most are of the "I don't want to go out if he/she doesn't want to go out" variety and so I don't see much of them unless I make an enormous effort to engineer group social activities (which I don't really have time to do all that often).

All of which is to say, I don't feel a terribly strong attachment to where I live now. My family is here, but that's a mixed blessing, and I mostly see them on holidays anyway.

So I figure this is a good time to relocate if I want to. I am approaching thirty. I have savings. I have transferable job skills. I have dreams, dammit. I think realistically I could make it happen. My only hesitation is my own emotional ability to handle being in a new city at this point in my life and the logistics that go into relocating. I HATE moving, and this just seems like it would be moving x 100.

Daydreaming: I want to live in a smaller city. My top choices are Seattle or Portland. I have been contemplating a move to the Pacific Northwest for a while, as you'll notice if you look through my previous posts, but could never make it happen with my ex's job. I want to live in the city proper, not the 'burbs. I do not have a car but am willing to buy a motor vehicle of some make and model if need be. I have been working in software companies and either of those cities will have employment options for me. I have a friend in Portland who is a social butterfly and works in the same industry, so it may be slightly easier to spread roots there compared to Seattle. Then again, it seems like Portland doesn't have a lot of mature companies, and I think I would rather work in a mid-size, established company rather than a small, volatile startup. (I work for a startup now, so I've been down that road.)

I also want to get involved in the sf writing community in the northwest. I went out there for a conference and workshop this summer and I had a blast. I felt more at home there than I have in any social gathering in a long time, and I really wish there were similar events near where I live – readings, workshops, conferences, conventions, etc. Seattle has more options for that, as near as I can tell. I have visited Portland but never really got into the city in Seattle so I don't have much of a sense for it.

Beyond daydreaming: the part that gives me an aneurism is imagining how I'm actually going to do it. I've never moved to another city for a job before. I've never planned to move and then actually done it. The last time I moved, I was moving from my parents' couch to an apartment I shared with a friend. How exactly does this work? Does an employer fly you out to the city to interview you? Do they offer to pay relocation expenses? Do they give you temporary housing? Do you rent a U-Haul and just drive? Should I visit on my own first and try to schedule meetings with recruiters or network or something? I'm honestly pretty clueless here.

More broadly speaking, is this a good idea? Would you advise your friend who just went through all that at the top of this post to uproot themselves and move to the other side of the country? Would a change do me good, or is this just going to prove the adage that wherever you go, there you are?
posted by deathpanels to Human Relations (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
For some reason most of the people I've gotten closest to in my life have undertaken huge moves like this. I know people who have completely uprooted themselves and moved across the country and had absolutely wonderful experiences doing so. I also know people (fewer people than in the previous category) who took that same move and had it blow up in their faces. The difference between the two groups of people in 99.99% of the cases was if they were happy here, they're happy there. If they left in order to escape being unhappy here, they were unhappy there.

Having only done a major move once in my life, to come here for college, I can't really give you any personal feelings on that front.

But seriously I do want to say PLEASE come to metafilter meetups. You came to a couple of them a while back and I don't know about these other schmos but I for one really liked you. You seemed really awesome and I was bummed that you didn't come back. While you're deciding what you want to do with your life, come hang out with us!
posted by phunniemee at 7:52 PM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

Hey, so I am around your age and just did what sounds like a comparable move (NJ/NY to CA). I think that both parts of your last sentence are likely to be true simultaneously. There are really great aspects to my life out here that make me very glad I decided to take the plunge; at the same time, there are things about my life that I really wanted to improve that haven't so far, and there are a few things that are harder. (From my experience it's true that maintaining any kind of social network as a single person is really more work the older you get.) It is nice, though, to be able to tell the difference between the things that were about me and the things that were about my situation, and my main regret is not having got my shit together to do it sooner. So I think moving is on balance a good idea, particularly if you have been interested in doing so for a while.

Some thoughts on logistics - YMMV of course. When I was interviewing for jobs here (inside academia, kind of, so maybe not exactly like yours will be), I first communicated over e-mail and then had phone interviews. After that step, one person did actually pay to fly me out for an interview and put me up in a hotel; the other person I interviewed with did not pay for transport or lodging, so I stayed in a hostel and saw them on the same trip. After I was offered and accepted the job I did get relocation expenses covered but was on my own for finding housing. My housing situation ended up working out because a friend needed a roommate, but what many people do is get a sublet type of situation for the first couple of months and then look for something better once they're "on the ground" and have a better lay of the land, understand what neighborhoods they like, etc.

There are definitely aspects to moving that are terrible, but the worst of it is also temporary, associated mainly with the few days right around the move, and then it passes and you hardly remember it. It's also a great opportunity to pare down your possessions and get rid of stuff that's weighing you down, if that's appealing (clothes that don't fit, broken technology, stuff you thought you would use and don't). Finally, it can be enormously liberating to know that while it might not be all fun and games, you really can decide to make a big change like this and then actually go through with it.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:07 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Portland is a great city. That said, it won't necessarily be any easier to meet people there than where you live now, most likely, because you'll have to put effort into it (it's just harder in your late 20s) no matter where you are.

What type of work do you do? Depending on how the market is for your particular skills, yes, companies may pay to fly you out for interviews and then pay your moving expenses. I've done this a couple of times. But it's challenging, I think, if there happens to be a big pool of qualified applicants for the jobs you want locally. Sometimes people use a friends' local address on their resume, and pay to fly themselves out for interviews. You could also of course take a chance and just move, but my impression is that Portland, at least, is not overflowing with jobs, so there's more of a risk. Seattle may be different.

Don't let a fear of moving hold you back from making the change, though. Take it from someone who has moved much more than I ever expected to. It's annoying, but quickly over, and then you get to enjoy exploring a new city and building a new life.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:07 PM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

When I was 27, having gone through some similar experiences, I packed everything I owned in my tiny car and drove from Western Mass to Portland. I knew one person in town, had no job, and almost no money. It was the best thing I could have done.

I unfortunately don't have time to elaborate or extol the numerous virtues of Portland, but if you want more info, or want someone to show you around if/when you get to town, memail me.

Good luck!
posted by Specklet at 9:07 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Would you advise your friend who just went through all that at the top of this post to uproot themselves and move to the other side of the country?

Sure! Why the fuck not? You should do it because there's no reason not to!

The logistics are the cake-iest part. Some employers will pay at least some towards relocation and others won't. But for the nitty-gritty, what you do is comb through all the old askmes about moving and find out how many other people have done this without ever having done it before and VOILA! you are not alone: you are in the club of people making their first big cross-country move! Shit, I waited until I was a few years into my 30s to do it and it still turned out awesome. People way dumber than you have managed this, so do.not. let this moving thing intimidate you.

First steps include updating your resume and linked in (I guess, if that's a thing in your industry) and contacting a recruiter (again, if that's a thing) and certainly put the word out to friends/acquaintances that you're looking to maybe move to [place] and need a job in [field].

Don't talk yourself out of it before you've even started!
posted by rtha at 9:27 PM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I have to caution strongly against moving to portland without a job.

I live in seattle, and multiple friends have tried to move there without a job. I don't mean some tiny number like two, i mean six+.

Some of them had VERY strong resumes in their field, to the point that knowledgable people higher up in their field said they'd probably just walk into a job with open arms.

Every single on of them flamed out and went home, or ended up working at some totally garbage job like part time at a fedex store while they tried to get a real job until they finally just said fuck it and came back. And these weren't lazy stoners just sitting on their asses all day and firing off an occasional craigslist email, these people were hustling. The job market there for a lot of stuff just seems to be insular, a buyers market for employers, and as that implies just kind of overloaded on the looking side.

If you have a specific line on a job, and not just a conceptual "oh i can totally help you out" thing(unless you are very, very certain they're really networked enough to land you a real interview asap) then go for it. But it's a very hard down to just parachute into and lay down some roots.

And, for what it's worth, all of them came back to town and landed jobs very very quickly once they got here. Something about the job market in portland is just... odd and oversaturated. Seattle seemed to recover from the recession much, much more quickly while portland is just floundering(and this isn't any specific profession. Everything from graphic design to high end clothing retail to tech to...)

That said, i am pro you doing this. There's many times i've said fuck it, made it to this point, and later wished i had just left. Just... fuck it in moderation. Do an interview and land something before you completely jump out of the plane.
posted by emptythought at 9:38 PM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

This doesn't seem like a major part of your question, but Seattle is very far from a "smaller city" that you say you want. There are definitely great things about Seattle, but it is a sprawling metro area with all accompanying pros and cons: traffic, crowds, expense, great & diverse cultural aspects. I wouldn't really call Portland a "smaller city" either, but maybe that's my own perception. I think Portland will definitely "feel" smaller to you and I personally appreciate that attribute.

Moving is hard work (mentally, physically, emotionally) but it doesn't have to be mysterious. It can also be expensive, but worth it. You'll be tired and stressed at certain points in the process but I'm confident you'll figure it out and do just fine. Don't move anywhere without a job or some concrete opportunity. If you have a lot of furniture you want to bring with you, it might make sense to get a uhaul and drive. If not but you want to bring your car, you might drive it and have some of your other posessions shipped separately. Or you can even have a car shipped. If you're lucky you will have a job that helps you with relocation expenses (I've never had one of those) but even if you don't you can probably make it work. If you're renting you can use craigslist to get some ideas, depending on the housing market and your comfort level you can even commit to a place in advance tho this may not be ideal. People who are lucky line up a couch to crash on for a couple weeks while apartment searching. You could get a sublet on craigslist as someone mentioned, that way you're not committed to a year lease without seeing the place.

If it were me, I'd choose to move to the place where I knew someone. It will take a long time to make friends or deeper relationships.

I say go for it! Why not? It won't be that bad and at least it will be interesting. You obviously have the desire to move if you are thinking about it in this much detail. If it doesn't work out, you move again.
posted by dahliachewswell at 10:10 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I made the decision to do something like this a little over 4 years ago after a LTR went sour. After tons of research I moved from Colorado to Seattle. Without a job or housing lined up. Without any support network--just some people I had met briefly at a convention in Seattle a few months prior (my first/only time in Seattle). I moved with nothing really, except a backpack and suitcase filled with my possessions (clothes, computer, etc.) and a little chunk of savings from selling off my (older and used) car. I just needed the basics. I used public transit (my first time) to get from the airport to an extended stay hotel. I lived in the hotel for a few months while job-hunting, then moved closer to Seattle by moving in with some friends I made. Now I live in my own place in downtown Seattle.

YMMV, but I was fleeing unhappiness and though moving helped improve the situation aspect of that, it has had less impact on the deeper causes. The positive influence of the move is more subtle than I anticipated (I know better now), and so I still struggle with the same issues I did prior to moving. That is something to consider given your history. Finding/developing a new professional support network is tough.

That said, it was still one of the best decisions of my life. It has challenged me, brought me out of my comfort zone, and allowed me to encounter so many new people and things. The personal growth I've experienced wouldn't have been possible (for me at least) in a place associated with so many bad memories (previous state). Starting from 'scratch' forced me out of my cocoon a bit and I anticipate a repeat of these kind of moves in the future. It's been fun (and yes, sometimes terrifying) establishing oneself in a new place.

Have a contingency plan for if it doesn't work. But otherwise, yeah, why not give it a try?
posted by stubbehtail at 10:45 PM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

I've moved to many cities many times, including once literally across country and once that wasn't really cross country but too far to actually drive. Every time, I knew no one in the city I was moving to. It sounds scarier than it is.

You won't need a car in the center of Portland or Seattle. Since you won't have a car, that's great. You'll have to fly to move then. When I moved without a car, I brought all my clothes and as much as I could with me. I paid a lot in extra baggage fees ($300), but if you pack your bags better you may be able to avoid it. (I had two extra bags and two bags over 50 pounds. The extra bags was inescapable, but I could've distributed the weight more evenly since one of my bags was only 20 pounds.) Personally, I sold all my stuff I couldn't bring and then I bought new stuff when I got there. (I did bring a couple small appliances on the plane.) But my friend just made a similar move and he shipped all his irreplaceable stuff to himself and stuff he really wanted to keep. Note that picture frames and dishes did not always survive, so be careful.

As far as getting a new apartment, I've moved two ways: One time I flew to where I was moving a couple weeks before, looked at apartments, put down a deposit and signed a lease. Honestly, you could also go and plan on a hotel for a couple days and find an apartment right then, all in one trip with moving. I should've done that but I was scared to. In retrospect, there were plenty of apartments, but you never know. The other time I arranged it remotely and did all the lease and deposit and everything from afar. You have to be careful, but it my case it worked out perfectly. My friend did the same thing with his move -- he selected and secured his apartment before he ever saw it. Obviously, if you have a friend to stay with while you can take time to look, that will make it easier, but it isn't necessary.

I think moving can be liberating. Sure, it can be scary, but it's also exhilarating. And it's not permanent, you can always move back. I went through a rough time and a change of scenery + newfound independence did wonders for me. At least you'll take a chance and something and won't think, "What if I moved like I wanted to?"

All that being said, I think the first step is to try to find a job in Portland or Seattle, unless you're OK with doing some minimum wage task while you look for a real job. Yes, your prospective employer will fly you out for the interview in most industries. I worked in industries where I was hired via phone interviews or where I had to get myself to them on my own, and that was normal. But typically, yes, you should expect them to fly you out. And it's likely you will get a relocation package to help you cover some of your moving costs (not all). That may be something you can negotiate if it isn't offered up front, but it should be.

One last thing - I am assuming you've been to Portland or Seattle. In all my moving around, I've learned places aren't always what you expect. You have to visit a place to really know if you'll like it and if you see yourself there. If you haven't visited these cities, I'd definitely encourage you to do it. Or, when your prospective employer flies you out, make sure you have a day to explore the city on your own.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:02 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

There's a lot of good thoughtful long answers so I'll just say this: Yes move.

I ALWAYS err on the just do it side of things and I've moved all over north america even more recently with kids in tow. All your obstacles are perceived. SO is major bread winner and not portable. Kids in school. Elderly parents that you are sole caregiver for.... Those are more impenetrable obstacles. You should move. You will enjoy it. It's like 2 years of fresh romance (oooh what a pretty street. Oooh that's a cool shop/bakery/park/diner I'll have to go in there)

Do it.
posted by chasles at 3:34 AM on September 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

I say YES MOVE. Moving a longer distance isn't actually all that much more difficult that moving across town. You just have to get rid of more stuff, and it's harder to shop for a place to live. It's not moving X100, it's more like moving X5.
posted by mskyle at 6:12 AM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can only superendorse emptythought's comments on the Portland job market. I lived there for ten years of constantly getting and losing jobs, often through incredibly whimsical office politics, and contrary to experience in other cities. It's not just the economic picture but there's something about the culture - though I loved it and would grab a chance to move back after I retire or win the lottery, the dark side of that culture is that it often is very cliquey and shallow. And I was good friends with my neighbors, but it was hard to develop a wider social network in Portland. Maybe ephemeral is a good word for it.
posted by mmiddle at 7:01 AM on September 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Actually my friend who lives in Portland got a job at a fairly well-known corporate brand only to have the manager spasmodically fire everyone over some trivial decision he disagreed with. If this is a regular occurrence then that makes me a little more cautious...
posted by deathpanels at 7:38 AM on September 10, 2014

Yes, absolutely move! There's something so enlivening about completely upsetting your apple cart and trying something different. It may work out like you're hoping, it may work out but in a way that you couldn't even imagine right now (that happens to me a lot), heck, it may not work out at all - but if that happens you can just pick up and try something else. What you're doing now isn't giving you what you want in life so why NOT try something new?

Obviously listen to the folks who have experience in the specific cities you're considering - I can't speak at all about your odds of finding work in the Pacific NW - but please don't let the logistics of moving bog you down. You have savings, you have employable skills, you don't have a lot of things tying you to where you currently are - seems like a good time to up and move to me!

Leap and the net will appear, yeah?
posted by DingoMutt at 7:41 AM on September 10, 2014

If this is a regular occurrence then that makes me a little more cautious...

What, a regular occurrence among managers in Portland, or at that particular company, or what, exactly? There are shitty and capricious managers literally everywhere, in every city and industry. You will not escape them simply by not moving to Portland! You should always be cautious when investigating new employment opportunities, no matter where they are: no one's going to do the due diligence on your behalf better than you yourself. But don't let one anecdotal crappy job story keep you from moving to a city if you want to move to a city.
posted by rtha at 8:19 AM on September 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yes, moving across the country is a great idea. No, definitely don't do it without a job. Start applying for jobs in the area now. Even if you get the first job you apply for, it often takes a couple of months from application to hire. The logistics of applying for a job remotely are trivial these days. In my experience, most companies are willing to do a phone or Skype interview (at least for a first interview) if you are not local. If they want a second interview, they may ask you to come to them at your expense, but hiring managers are human too. They generally won't ask you to fly across the country for an interview unless they're genuinely interested in hiring you. One thing to stress in these interviews though is your willingness, nay eagerness, to relocate promptly if hired.

So far, I've made major moves like this four times, and may see another on the not-so-distant horizon. They haven't all gone smoothly, but they have all been great for me. The number on piece of advice I have is to have an income source and a support network already in place when you arrive. Now might be the time to start reaching out to those writer friends and letting them know you hope to be moving to their area soon.
posted by 256 at 8:32 AM on September 10, 2014

Mr. Rabbit and I made the move from the east coast to Seattle with no jobs and no place to live, and it was great and we found jobs (relatively) easily. Our lives improved so much. OTOH, this was a while ago (14 years) so things may have changed since the recession.

We have also done a move to Portland, because I got a job offer there, and it took my husband for-ev-er to find a job. SEVEN years later he is finally in a job that doesn't completely suck.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, it's hard to tell how to read the job market forecasts. Part of me suspects that most people who move to Portland with no job are probably not very employable to begin with, but when I was there I saw a fair number of tech company people bopping around so it's possible that the market is flooded. I have a few years of experience but I didn't go to a great school so I'm probably not going to be able to cut it in a really competitive city (one of many reasons I am not interested in the SF region). In any case, I probably wouldn't be comfortable moving with no job lined up, so I'll have to look into it more.
posted by deathpanels at 9:05 AM on September 10, 2014

To add my anecdote after your update(s) concerning employment: a friend of mine who's a freelance front-end web dev moved from Portland to Seattle last year because he couldn't find steady enough work in Portland. He found plenty of work in Seattle but hated the atmosphere/people, so he moved back to Portland recently. He laments doing so and wishes he had stayed in Seattle -- he insists the job market (for his field, at least) is more promising in Seattle.

I don't feel so confident about non tech-industry jobs (ie: my field) here, but for my partner (a software QA), and many friends (mostly engineers or programmers), finding gainful employment in Seattle has not been so difficult.
posted by stubbehtail at 10:34 AM on September 10, 2014

Moved to Portland on my own in 2001 when I was 22. I had just developed a bad inner ear disorder that no doctors on the east coast seemed to be able to fix, and I read about some famous ear doctor in Portland, OR, so decided I'd go see him. Literally all I knew about Portland at the time was that Steve Malkmus lived there. I'd never really spent any time west of like, Pennsylvania. So I quit my crappy job in my hometown of Staten Island, packed up my Corolla, and drove across the country to Portland. Within just a few days of arriving (staying in a hotel), I had the realization that, "Oh wow, I really like it here." So I stayed, stringing together a bunch of not-so-great-but-also-not-so-bad jobs, shared-living rental situations, and making friends. Eventually went to grad school, got better jobs, and now live in Olympia, WA, which is also a great little town (but definitely smaller, quieter, and somehow cloudier than Seattle or Portland).

That big move was when I was still basically a kid. At 37, if I were to re-locate to another city, I'd definitely find a job first, but might consider winging it in regards to finding a living situation in the new town. Not having done a major move in my 30s, I'm pretty sure it would be harder than it was in my 20s, but still totally doable.

I like chasle's description of moving to a new town as somewhat like a new romance. That was how I felt walking around Portland at night when I was new to the place, getting used to the damp air and strange dense plant life, flowers blooming in cool weather, hummingbirds sticking around all winter. Now all of that stuff is totally like whatever, and I often feel like the winter weather in the PNW can really be draining. But who cares? I am still able to rationalize and romanticize those negative feelings away. It's always something.

No, you won't be able to run away from yourself but just the effort and stress of relocating will probably make you grow in many ways.
posted by bennett being thrown at 10:46 AM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: In regards to weather, I will be happy just not having to deal with anything called a polar vortex ever again.
posted by deathpanels at 10:52 AM on September 10, 2014

There's always a million reasons not to do something. Instead of worrying about the rare, worst case scenario (like you'll get fired immediately because a manager doesn't like you and is a piece of shit), follow your dreams. It's easy to do nothing if you let every possible doubt deter you. But that's not really reasonable.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:05 AM on September 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

One thing you might want to consider in moving to the northwest is the large number of overcast, rainy days. If you at all suffer from seasonal affective disorder, it could be an unexpected drawback.

As far as Seattle goes, you may also want to take this perceived cultural phenomenon into consideration. My brother-in-law, a graphic artist, moved to Seattle in his early twenties after floundering around for a bit and now has a successful, happy life (and marriage!). But I've also had a few friends (in writing fields) who moved there for various reasons and found themselves miserable, isolated, and underemployed. They definitely thought the "Seattle Freeze" was a real thing.

I don't mean to sound pessimistic, though--these are just things to keep in mind, and if the Seattle Freeze really does exist for urban migrants, I'm sure it can be overcome with persistence. You may very well be like my brother-in-law and mesh perfectly with the cultural vibe in Seattle (or Portland--I've never been there)--but if after a year or so you realize it's not happening, no harm done--you'll have gained the experience.
posted by tully_monster at 11:08 AM on September 10, 2014

Best answer: One of the smartest things I ever read here on AskMe is that moving cities is one of the few big life choices you can make that's fairly easy to undo. So why not give it a shot?

I would definitely recommend Seattle for economic reasons. I moved there in 2009 (and left in January this year, though that decision is feeling increasingly temporary), and it just sort of felt like the recession never happened there the way it did in other cities. Seattle has a remarkably diverse economy for a city of its size, anchored by several large, healthy companies, so it's economically very stable.

Culturally, the Northwest is its own region, and it's impossible to know whether or not it will suit you until you've been there a while. Like you, I'd visited and really liked it, felt very at home, but it was still a bit of an adjustment for the first year or so. Seattle Freeze is a real thing, though if you can get involved in active communities there, that will help a lot. People in Seattle are really into socializing through activities and interest groups. That said, I found the more laid-back nature of the culture made it easier to cultivate close relationships there. When I went back a few weeks ago, I was overwhelmed at how many good, close friends I had there after 4 years.

But whichever city you pick, I think it's a great idea to try living somewhere else for a while. You're in a transitional phase and the world is your oyster. Why not try something new and see how it suits you? If you hate it, you can always go home.
posted by lunasol at 12:30 PM on September 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

Oh, and weather: as someone who grew up in New England and lived in MN for many years: I LOVED the weather in Seattle more than almost everything else. It's almost never too cold or too hot. You can almost always be outside in the winter, and you don't need AC in the summer (you can sleep with the windows open!). For me, the overcast skies and winter drizzles were totally worth that.
posted by lunasol at 12:33 PM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm not entirely sure if what I have to share is entirely helpful as I've never lived in Seattle, but I spent most of my life in Vancouver and I suspect some aspects are similar. There are several things I don't miss about Vancouver:

1. Lack of sun and seasonal affective disorder.
2. Vancouver's Seattle Freeze. People are polite but distant, and it was incredibly difficult to find vibrant social circles. My friends were disparate individuals I kept trying to force into a circle, but it wasn't happening. Thankfully, I've had the opposite experience in my current city.
3. People are more interested in staying in and watching Netflix rather than hang out with you, even if you see them 3x a week and have multiple shared interests.

If those things apply to Seattle and they don't put you off, then go right ahead! Life is for living.

Since I spent nearly two decades of my life in Vancouver, I thought that my unhappiness with the social aspect of things was a problem with me and my own social awkwardness, but when I left, it really was just Seattle Freeze Vancouver edition. People can be very happy in that social environment yes, but it's a huge deal breaker for me. After a year living in a Southeast Asian city, I'm completely convinced that if I were to die here, more people will visit my funeral rather than if I were to die in Vancouver, and that's reason enough for me not to move to a Seattle Freeze-type city anytime soon.

Do not underestimate the effects of Seattle Freeze. But if you don't have much of an existing support network in your current city, I suppose you don't have much to lose.
posted by Hawk V at 1:15 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

a late postscript to my earlier comment, from today's New York Times, re Portland and jobs: "Will Portland always be a retirement community for the young?"
posted by mmiddle at 7:14 AM on September 16, 2014

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