I Love the Rain; Where Can I Go?
November 4, 2015 2:21 PM   Subscribe

I am a 30-year-old male from the United States that is considering a move to the Pacific Northwest (Washington/Oregon) from the Midwest. Rain, clouds, fog: these are my ideal weather conditions. Can you help me find what I'm looking for?

I don't want to narrow my search too much, but in my head this place would ideally have a grocery store, library, park, some sort of restaurant or pub. It would be great if I could walk/bike everywhere, but I want to be realistic so I'm not entirely opposed to driving. This is a place that's generally quiet and simple (and introvert-friendly). If you have any thoughts - even if they don't exactly match this description - I am definitely open to hearing them.

Does this rainy, cozy place exist?
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you're seriously considering the move, Edmonds, Washington, is probably your best bet. It's north of Seattle, has pretty much everything you could want, plus has the cloudiness/grey/coziness you're seeking. Avoid Seattle, as while it's rainy and grey, it's growing like a Kansas weed - infrastructure needs maintaining, expensive housing, and the supposed "Seattle Freeze" (Google it). See also:

* Bellingham, WA - a larger town, but has a university and is pretty crunchy;
* Anacortes, WA (my personal favorite);
* Snohomish, WA - cute downtown with a pretty great bookstore (Uppercase Bookshop); and
* Tacoma, WA (really!) - some neighborhoods there are downright Midwestern in their vibe.

Feel free to private message me if you want further clarification.

Go Royals!
posted by singmespanishtechno at 2:36 PM on November 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Washington's Olympic Peninsula is a temperate rainforest (though there was a wildfire there this summer due to the drought--strange). Maybe that's the ticket.
posted by partner at 2:39 PM on November 4, 2015

PNW doesn't (necessarily) get more rain than places in the midwest/south, it just tends to get it in smaller amounts more frequently. My hometown in the south has gotten more rain in a single whopper of a thunderstorm than my current west coast city gets in an entire good year. I'm guessing you know this already, but FYI in case you're looking for rain forest levels of rain (because you have to go to very specific places in the PNW to find those spots, it's not just everywhere).

You'll generally need to stick close to the coast. Look at a satellite map of the west and you'll see that verdant green strip doesn't go inland too far (at least not in all seasons). I'd add that the weather out west has been wonky for years. San Francisco, for instance, is getting less reliably foggy over time. We've barely had any fog in 2015, not to mention rain. So, expectations should always have ranges.

Your wish list makes it sound like you're looking for a (really) small town, in which case you're going to have a hard time not having a car. Airports and such don't tned to be easy to get to from small towns outside of the metropolises. Mendocino, CA comes to mind, as does pretty much any town on the ocean between Mendocino and Point Reyes.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:42 PM on November 4, 2015

The term you're looking for is "rain shadow." Just don't choose a place that's in a rain shadow. Sequim, Washington is famous for being super-dry, in the shadow of the Oympics.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:52 PM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sitka, Alaska.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:54 PM on November 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

Various neighborhoods in Portland, OR certainly have what you're looking for (though, as others have noted, there are certainly more intensely damp, foggy places in the PNW). As a former resident, however, I'd urge you to also self-assess your tolerance for mildew.
posted by ryanshepard at 3:10 PM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

this place would ideally have a grocery store, library, park, some sort of restaurant or pub.

What? This describes any city or town in America.

Look, you want Portland, Oregon. Rainy, cloudy, bike-friendly, public transit-friendly, most microbreweries per capita in the country, farm-to-fork restaurants and food trucks everywhere, easy access to parks and nature, amazing coffee and general coziness. I'm guessing you would like one of the neighborhoods on the east side of Portland that is quiet and suburban, but still has access to little pockets of bars, restaurants and the like. You could also go to one of the neighboring areas, like Gresham or Beaverton, and that would probably work too.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:35 PM on November 4, 2015 [4 favorites]

Lopez island.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:55 PM on November 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

The whole Olympic Peninsula is permanently damp, but I think Forks, Washington is the place for you. It has the most rain, drizzle, wettish fog -- and of course vampires and First Nation werewolves. It used to be a depressed, time-has-passed-us-by little town, but now it gets tourists and is somewhat more lively. There's a county library, a number of restaurants, even more bars, and the whole surrounding area is basically park. Biking is common, but again, it's damp biking. I don't know about "introvert-friendly" but they're certainly used to all kinds of hermits and Odd Characters. It is definitely neither urban nor suburban; it's an old-fashioned small town surrounded by forests and ocean. It's a 3 hour drive to the nearest "big city", Tacoma. But by gum, it's wet!
posted by kestralwing at 3:57 PM on November 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, and back to say that Bellingham Washington (my nest and the best place I've ever lived) does NOT meet your criteria. It gets very little sun during the winter, true, but it's mostly high overcast There's little fog, and not that much actual rain. And it's dry and sunny and gorgeous for months and months; what would you do then? As I said above, if you don't actually need to work, Forks is for you!
posted by kestralwing at 4:02 PM on November 4, 2015

My understanding is that those who flee Portland for an even Portlandier experience go to Eugene. I've heard good things! Although as a Vancouver BC resident who envies an even more coastal experience than the one I get here in the city, I urge you to consider some islands. If I had an American passport I'd inevitably relocate to the San Juan islands. Heaven.
posted by kaspen at 4:29 PM on November 4, 2015

How small a town are you willing to go? If you don't mind really cozy I'd vote for friendly small towns in the temperate rainforest of southeast Alaska since you said you were open to places that don't meet your parameters exactly: Juneau (30,000 people), Sitka (9,000), Haines (1300) or Gustavus (450, no grocery store but it's a perfect tiny town just outside Glacier Bay National Park). Homer, in south central AK would also be a great choice and has a population of about 5,000 and better access by car to larger cities than the panhandle.
posted by charmedimsure at 5:05 PM on November 4, 2015

San Francisco's Richmond and Sunset district bookend Golden Gate park and the Pacific Ocean. There is a wall of hill between those districts and the rest of the city, and when I lived there it was wonderfully foggy and weird. It's a quiet, more residential part of the city. It is not hip but rent is cheaper and it's just all around more low-key. Like you can find a place to park.

I lived in both districts many years ago and loved it, because I got the whole cool awesome of SF without having to deal with the hip and happening places all of the time.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:53 PM on November 4, 2015

Port Townsend, WA
Olympia, WA
Langley, WA on Whidbey Island
Somewhere on Camano Island, WA
Edmonds, WA
posted by brookeb at 6:52 PM on November 4, 2015

I've been in Portland, OR for almost a year and haven't seen any fog. Lots of rain that lasts all day - in Northern CA it may rain early in the day but the sun always comes out later - not so much in Portland.
posted by bendy at 8:02 PM on November 4, 2015

Do you need a job in this place? That might be the real limiter to moving to some small towns in the PNW.

Take a look at coastal Oregon towns. Astoria might be one option.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:04 PM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you need to be closer to career opportunities, I would look at Issaquah, WA. It gets 61 inches of rainfall each year, is reasonably well developed, and has a livable commute to most major work locations (assuming a job in the Bellevue/Seattle area).
posted by toomanycurls at 10:59 PM on November 4, 2015

My dad got truly crippling SAD living in Eugene, OR. He claims they once went over a year without a single sunny day, but of course he tends to exaggerate sometimes. It seems like a reasonably cute and pleasant university town.

Um...do you need a job? Doing what? What's your budget look like? These are sort of important questions.
posted by town of cats at 11:06 PM on November 4, 2015

posted by mannequito at 2:34 AM on November 5, 2015

I live on the westside of the Portland metro area in Hillsboro, and we get quite a bit of fog because we're in a valley. We have a super cute downtown that is walkable, and has great restaurants and a tavern with 20 taps. MAX (light rail) means you can get into Portland without a car. I bike to work, and my son (age 4) bikes to school. Awesome library (disclaimer I work for it), good parks, grocery store would probably be a drive though we're working on getting a food co-op started, great farmer's market May-October. I live in the north end of downtown and find it quite cozy and simple, a lovely place to live.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:52 AM on November 5, 2015

Take a trip up the coast from southern Oregon to the Olympic peninsula. Plan to use up a couple of weeks doing this. If you like fog and ocean (who doesn't) you'll find the perfect spot. Towns range from teeny to modestly large.

Inland, I prefer the south, along the I-5 corridor. I love the coast, but mrs mule has family here. I live at the edge of a small town some 25 miles north of the California border. Low mountains (5-6 thousand feet) surround our little valley. Medford is the largest city in the area--it's an armpit, but better than most cities its size. The scenery, if not spectacular, is wonderful. Many small towns dot the county. Ashland, the last stop south before entering California, is a university town with a huge Shakespearean budget. As university towns go, it great. Our area seems to be heavily infested with musicians of all sorts.

We get less rain and fog than the coast. Downpours are rare but misty winter days are plentiful. We don't deal with extremes of snow and ice here. Most folks here in the valley never put snow tires on their vehicles.
posted by mule98J at 12:58 PM on November 5, 2015

As at least one previous poster has mentioned, the northwest generally isn't blanketed in fog. If you want maximum days of overcast drizzle, I suggest coastal Washington. Better yet, Alaska--especially Juneau.

Portland is a comparative desert.
posted by infinite joy at 3:19 PM on November 8, 2015

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