I moved to a new city and don't like it. Should I stay or should I go?
June 10, 2016 1:47 PM   Subscribe

I lived in NYC for almost 20 years. Then I moved to Portland. I don't think I like it. What should I do? Many details below the jump.

I'm from suburban Delaware but moved to NYC to go to college and aside from a 2-year period, lived there almost my entire adult life. Like a lot of New Yorkers I had an on-again, off-again relationship with the city, and eventually decided to leave, because

1) The grind was getting to me. Commuting, errands taking up way too much time, long travel times to go anywhere, etc. etc. I became the cliched New Yorker that never left their neighborhood except to go to work, and rare other occasions. The city was just grating on my nerves, found myself yelling (!) at people on the street, just really stressed out all the time.

2) I ended a long-term relationship and got thrown back into the special hell that is Craigslist roommates, with no reasonable path to ever living on my own.

3) New York has grown and changed a lot since I moved there in the late '90s, and the infrastructure (public transit specifically) has been steadily getting worse and worse. My commute was 20-30% completely unpredictable, etc.

4) The weather. Winters, at least anecdotally, seemed to be getting worse. There was one winter a couple of years ago where it was cold until, like, May, and no matter who you talked to, everyone was like "Will it ever be warm again?" Humid summers I've never liked.

I hit upon Portland mostly because I knew it was kind of a city, it had decent public transportation, I could afford to live on my own, it had a sizable LGBT population, and I had professional contacts there, which meant finding work was likely (and indeed, I had 2 job offers within a week of moving there.)

I've been living in Portland since April 2015 and now that I've been here over a year, am starting to realize that I don't think I really like it here that much, and I am trying to decide what to do about it.

1) The lack of racial/cultural/religious/ethnic diversity is really getting to me. There is a weird uniformity of behavior and thought here that I find annoying and a little exhausting, that seems to come from this lack of diversity.

2) It's really small, really sleepy, and feels claustrophobic. For a city of over 600,000 people in a metro area of 2.5 million, I am still, over a year later, wondering where the hell everyone is.

3) The weather. I really didn't expect this to bother me, as I lived in England for about a year and a half, but I guess I'm different than I used to be in that regard. The rain actually doesn't bother me--it's the lack of sun. It's June and I'm already thinking about and dreading November when the sun will disappear for 6 months.

There are things that I like about Portland: it's cheap, it has a great movie scene, it's beautiful, it's low-stress, and people are doing interesting things. And of course there are things that I like about New York: diverse, surprising, I understand and like New Yorkers, it feels like home. And it's close to my family, which I didn't think was going to be a big deal but kind of is (although not my overriding concern.)

I'm left wondering what to do and have basically come up with 4 options:

1) Stay in Portland for 2 years and see if things improve. I am introverted so it's taken me a while to start feeling like I have any sort of social circle here, which is finally happening. My best friend is here now (he moved from New York in October), as is my ex, so I have a great friend and my ex and I are still friendly so we can do favors for each other (dogsitting mostly.)

2) Move back to New York. However, of course, friends have moved on, I wouldn't be able to live in the neighborhood I was in when I lived there before, and all the reasons I left still apply.

3) Move somewhere else. I work remotely and so can live anywhere in the United States. Now that I've moved somewhere as an adult and know how hard it is, pitfalls, what to do and what not to do, this doesn't seem that scary. The problem is, I don't really have a good idea about where I'd want to live, and can't really afford another cross-country move right now. Options would basically confine me to, like, Colorado and California. This option is probably least likely.

4) I'll have been in my current job for 2 years in September 2017, and am planning on moving on once I hit that marker. So, I could do a job search and let that decide things for me. I work in a specialized enough field with enough experience that I think this is workable.

Other factors: I'm gay, so don't want to live somewhere anti-gay and/or with a lack of gay men to befriend and date. I like cities and public transportation. I don't like driving, but could deal with it. Lack of sun seems to be a deal-killer for me in terms of weather.

So, if you were me: what would you do?
posted by Automocar to Human Relations (40 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Moving new places doesn't resolve any problem except problems associated directly with the city you've left. The list of your miffs with New York? All still miffs about New York. Your miffs with Portland? They'll still be miffs this time next year.

There's something to be said for giving a new city a minute. After two decades in one culture, I wouldn't expect a transition to be fully knit after just one year. But the issue above still applies. A city's diversity stats won't change much year to year, speaking generally. Nor will its climate.

I've moved a couple times more or less blind to my destination, and that (as we've both learned) is a Bad Idea For Most People. I left DC for LA and, um, really disliked LA. But I was in a relationship that tied me to LA, so I built up a callous to the things I didn't like and tried to immerse myself in all the rest of it. In the end, I lived in LA longer than I lived in DC, which I still can't believe. Surely there are ways to acknowledge the bad and give in to the good no matter where one lives? But, yes, in the end I know for sure, without a doubt that LA is not for me. I tried it long enough that I think I can say I exhausted my LA-loving options. I couldn't say that one year in.

I finally got out of LA a few years ago. My partner and I never meshed well with LA and plotted our escape for years. We were eventually able to buy a house together in a city we both know and love dearly, and now we live there. We found this place by taking our generalized love for the desired city and over a couple of years staying in AirBNB places in various neighborhoods instead of hotels when we'd be in town visiting. When we found our neighborhood, it was a bit stunning. That sense of YES HERE was immediate. I'm convinced this is the necessary part of your next step, if that step is moving again: choose a city you know you enjoy more than in passing. So, maybe, stay living where you are for now but use a bit of your disposable income (that otherwise would be plowed into a big move again, which, in my experience, is expen$$$ive as hell) to spend some more time in places you enjoy but don't know well?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Current NYer here - i totally get all of your gripes about the stress of the city.

what do you do or want to do for work?

we were just back in the twin cities (where i went to college) and its everything you want, minus the good weather (although there is quite a bit of sun even in winter, its those days that hurt the most because the cloud cover reflects back/keeps in some warmth). could you get by with a decent amount of sun but frigid temperatures?

all our friends there own homes - jobs are plentiful and there is a relative shortage of qualified people to fill them.

We visited colorado last summer and i liked it (Denver) enough for a visit - and they do apparently get a lot of sun - everyone was complaining about traffic and rapidly rising cost of living (and i grew up in california and know these concerns well - they are why i havent looked at going back to the bay area recently)
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:05 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


OK, I ditched NYC for Other City a couple of years ago and recently returned. I mostly left NYC for a job opportunity in Other City, not because I hated it, but I didn't like some of the effect that the city was having on me (the yelling, definitely a problem). Like you, I found Other City excessively quiet and struggled with finding a new social circle. I will say that I had Peak Sadness About Being Out of NYC about a year in and was in a mentally dark place for a few months. After that, my feelings gradually became more mixed (it helped that I began pushing myself harder to get out socially). By the time I'd found a job back here, I was genuinely sad about leaving. If the Other City job hadn't proved to pay just a little too small a salary for a comfortable life in Other City, I would've had a harder time. I probably still would've done it, though.

(In moving back, I've tried to identify certain behaviors or attitudes I don't care to see from myself that NYC has elicited from me in the past and consciously arrest them. Like, I am no longer working a sixty-hour-a-week job, I don't actually have to resent every second I lose being stuck behind someone slow in the subway.)

In short, I do think you need to give any new place a couple of years--time to get through the initial excitement and the likely sadness when you've been away long enough to be lonely but not long enough to have made a social circle and to a point where you've genuinely had enough time to start to put down roots. I actually didn't think I wanted to stay in NYC when I first came! It was only after about a year and a half that I realized that I did.
posted by praemunire at 2:09 PM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


what do you do or want to do for work?

I worked in fundraising in NYC with some database stuff mixed in--lots of querying, designing reports, data analysis, etc. Eventually I'd love to be a database administrator for a non-profit and am continuing to develop my skills there.
posted by Automocar at 2:15 PM on June 10, 2016


I visited Portland recently and I totally get your complaints. It felt very white and homogeneous and I'm from East Tennessee originally so it's odd when I notice that some place is extremely white.

I'm personally of the opinion that if you don't love a city, don't live there. I hated my home town and vowed that after spending 17 years hating my home I would never do it again.

Vacation a bunch, find cities that might have the sun you need and the other bits and visit them. If a long weekend doesn't turn you off, go back for a longer period.

I know that vacationing in a place doesn't give you the same vibe as living there, but it is a good start.

We're a little weak on the public transportation, but if you picked your neighborhood right, St. Louis might fit your needs. The summers can get a little brutal and the winters can be cold as shit, but there haven't been those painful long stretches that it feels like it will always be cold or hot. In the 6 years I've been here, the weather has broken just before I do every time.

Come visit and see what you think.
posted by teleri025 at 2:18 PM on June 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I recently have been in a similar love/hate struggle with my current city, which also grates on me for all the reasons you mention. Likewise I have friendships that are slowly eroding and a LTR that recently ended. The northwest appeals to me in a lot of ways on paper, but after having spent some time there, bopping around at job interviews and hiking and visiting with friends who moved there years ago, I've come around to a more grounded and balanced view. That whole area of the country is weirdly... lonely. Maybe my brain has become attuned to the city life, but when I was in Seattle and Portland I really missed being able to go to a busy coffee shop and just fade into the crowd. There is a strange comfort in urban congestion that you only notice in its absence. I still think I'd like to live in a smaller city someday, and I may move for the right job, but after this experience I no longer think of myself as a country boy who somehow got stuck in a big city -- I realize now I am very much a city man, a creature of modern urban civilization, who is maybe a bit unusually motivated to escape the stifling effects of living in a tiny box in the sky.
posted by deathpanels at 2:28 PM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


1) The lack of racial/cultural/religious/ethnic diversity is really getting to me. There is a weird uniformity of behavior and thought here that I find annoying and a little exhausting, that seems to come from this lack of diversity.

YES (and all meetings must involve beer)

But I figure everywhere has problems and I know there's diversity in Portland so I actively seek it out and seek to encourage diversity in my neighborhood and relationships.
posted by aniola at 3:11 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've moved a bunch of times in my adult life, and I've noticed things tend to be hardest somewhere between 6 and 12 months. You've been there long enough for the newness to wear off, but not long enough to really feel comfortable. I think it is worth it to stick it out at least another year, which you're planning to do anyway, and really give it a shot.

Also, I live in Seattle now, and when I first moved here, I had some trouble with the culture. Northwest culture (and West Coast culture in general) is really different from Big City East Coast Culture - when I was in grad school in a big east coast city, the dean of our program told us that of all the groups of students from all over the world, Californians tended to experience the most culture shock, because it was so different in ways they didn't expect.

In my case, my dissatisfaction peaked around 10 months after I moved, but once I got through it, I felt a lot better and wound up loving Seattle and I think I may end up living here for the rest of my life. So when I got a really good job offer in DC, I made myself commit to stay there for two years. Which I did, but I never got comfortable. It's not my city. So I'm back in Seattle.

I will say, your weather preferences, which I understand, will make it hard to find the right place to live. I thought about DC or Minneapolis for you because both have great job markets for non-profit professionals (DC more than Minneapolis of course) and big gay communities, and Minneapolis has an arts scene that's probably better than Portland, but Minneapolis has those harsh winters and DC has crazy-humid summers. The only place I can think of that has neither, and also doesn't have the winter gloom, is California, but of course that's crazy-expensive.
posted by lunasol at 3:16 PM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


But I figure everywhere has problems and I know there's diversity in Portland so I actively seek it out and seek to encourage diversity in my neighborhood and relationships.

YES! This is a really good point. Sometimes being in a new place forces you to seek out things you took for granted in the old place. One thing that moving to DC made me realize was how much I had missed diversity in Seattle. So when I moved back, I purposefully moved to a more diverse neighborhood. And I have also been trying to get involved in some community things, which is a really nice way of getting generational diversity into my life. For instance, I joined a community chorus where the members are anywhere from 15 to 80 years old, and we all have very different cultural touchstones. I love it.
posted by lunasol at 3:21 PM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I will say that weather is not that high on my list--lack of sun bothers me much more than hot or cold. Which is another strike against Portland of course, but.
posted by Automocar at 3:24 PM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


lack of sun bothers me much more than hot or cold

Boy I think you might really like Denver. We are famously sunny 300 days a year (the winters here are sunny, which is really weird if you're from a gray-all-winter place). It is getting more expensive here, but lots of professionals move to Denver and you'd certainly be able to afford something if you think that Portland is "cheap." Our annual gay pride parade is huge (top 10 in the nation, I think) and I live close to a huge gay bar that is positively hopping with shirtless men every Sunday night. Public transportation here is getting better, and there's definitely plenty of people who rely on bikes or busses to get around. Plus unemployment here is at like 3%. Maybe a place to look into after your two years are up?
posted by jabes at 3:49 PM on June 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I live in Seattle, which is not the most diverse city around, so I totally get why it bothers you that Portland has this diversity problem. For my first many years in Seattle I rented in very white, very educated, very hipster neighborhoods and it got old FAST. I am also from the east coast where I am used to neighborhoods where the demographics can shift in a matter of feet.

A few years ago I bought a house in Seattle that's in a pretty diverse neighborhood - it was historically an immigrant neighborhood bordering on black and Vietnamese-populated neighborhoods. My husband and I are the only white hetero couple on the block, and the adjacent blocks only have one or two other couples like us; everyone else is non-white and/or gay and/or in a polygamous housing situation. It has made a huge difference in terms of feeling like I am around a way wider variety of people and exposed to more culture and, I dunno, real, normal people.

Do neighborhoods like this exist in Portland? They may not have the trendy bars or amazing services that a lot of people like (my neighborhood certainly doesn't; we don't even have a convenience store in walking distance) but it might help you feel like you're a little closer to what you want.

Also, in terms of the lack of sun, it is A Thing that people in the Pacific NW go on trips to southern California, Hawaii, and Mexico during the winter months. You will really save yourself a lot of crummy-weather feelings if you keep a little sunshine fund on the side, even if you're just going away for a few days. You can have a lot of fun for not much money in Puerto Vallarta in the winter!
posted by joan_holloway at 3:51 PM on June 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've been in your situation (trying to determine a new place to live) and absolutely know that there's a strong temptation to try to deconstruct cities into convenient, let's say, Key Performance Indicators; but what you then find is while all this analysis seems a good idea on paper, cities themselves don't really conform to standardization, and so in a way it's all rather a waste of time. And likewise, there's an equally strong temptation to make up your own rules to make sense of your current situation and apply them elsewhere, eg "There is a weird uniformity of behavior and thought here that I find annoying and a little exhausting, that seems to come from this lack of diversity" - I've never been to Portland, and what you write may well be true for there, but it doesn't universally mean that going to a "diverse" city is going to rid you of social behaviors you find grating (hello, LA!).

So: I'm voting for Option #4, because if you have a cause, a clear goal which will carry you through the emotional and logistical difficulties of moving to a new city, then I think you're more likely to roll with the inevitable punches which any new city's going to deliver (in a similar way to how differently you would've handled Portland if you'd gone there, say, for a love interest): without that cause then you're more exposed and less well equipped to the bear the weight of whatever social, meteorological or transit inequities that will undoubtedly be dealt to you whether you like it or not, which could easily result in you finding yourself in a pretty similar situation, only in a different geographical location.
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness at 4:01 PM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


but it doesn't universally mean that going to a "diverse" city is going to rid you of social behaviors you find grating (hello, LA!)

Truth. LA is very diverse, but I strangely find that I didn't interact with lots of different types there, people tend to group up.
posted by bongo_x at 4:07 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


As an add-on to my post, I want to agree with others that one year isn't enough time. I would say 3 years isn't really, either. I didn't even know that my current neighborhood existed until I had lived in Seattle for, like, 4 years. I know Portland is smaller but there's probably a lot left for you to explore that might make you happier.
posted by joan_holloway at 4:08 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm a firm believer that one year is not enough as you are still in 'culture shock' and getting used to things. Two years is the minimum, so you can see a full wheel of a year and also get to know people a little.

That said, sometimes you just know that this isn't your flavor, and you don't have to finish it all.
posted by freethefeet at 4:23 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Personally and no offense but I would vote against St Louis. The infrastructure is poor, the public transportation is bad, and it's really racist and segregated, even in the city. Plus it's not super gay friendly except in certain neighborhoods. It's not necessarily rude most of the time, but it's nothing as kind as Portland. It's a very conservative city in the way that Portland is very liberal. I've lived here all my life and I've adjusted but I wouldn't recommend it based on your criteria. I'd recommend trying staying another year if you can stand the lack of sunshine, which is what prevented me from committing. Try to really settle in.
posted by possibilityleft at 4:31 PM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


This question is what my nightmares are made of! I live in Atlanta and want nothing more than to live in Portland, but the lack of diversity and the weather definitely scare me. So that being the case, maybe check Atlanta out! We have sun pretty much all year, though we do also have a lot of rain (more inches than Portland, but fewer rainy days). Diversity here is amazing. I know we have a reputation for being racist but I don't actually find that to be true. I think Portlanders are as racist if not more since they don't actually have any other races to interact with (for example, my sister works in a school for at-risk teens, and the director actually had a seminar about "How to Speak to Minorities"). You can buy a house here for pretty cheap, and we have strong movie and art scenes. Obviously I'm not the best salesperson considering I want to leave, but I've been here since 1988 and it's just time to move on. Friends who have moved here as adults are all pretty in love with the town. Feel free to Memail me if you have any questions!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:51 PM on June 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I was raised in Virginia and moved to Portland and lived there for fifteen years. I then moved to NYC for four years and back to Richmond. I am still, on a surprisingly regular basis, happy to not live in Portland anymore. Run.
posted by orsonet at 5:38 PM on June 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


For almost everyone I know, the lack of sunlight in the winter is a deal breaker one way or the other -- if you can't stand it, then you can't ignore it or get over it or get used to it. I live in the Pacific NW, I don't mind the extended gray, but if it bothers you, pick up and move. As soon as you can. It seems like it shouldn't matter all that much, but I've known many people whose live got dramatically better when they moved elsewhere.

Denver is a great suggestion, from my experience.
posted by kestralwing at 6:18 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I moved back to NYC. The public transportation situation has only gotten worse. I don't regret leaving portland (and left for many of the same reasons you did--driving back through Chicago and finally seeing some NOT WHITE PEOPLE was the first feeling I had that I was headed "home") but 5-6 years deep the NYC aggravations are starting to rear their heads again.

I am much happier here than I was in portland, in spite of all the difficulties.
posted by shownomercy at 6:30 PM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I left NYC a couple of years ago - won't state my new city here, as it doesn't really fit your requirements. The first year or so was very rough. Now, I'm finally starting to feel confident that I made the right decision. I have a short commute, I'm much less stressed, I feel more connected to my community, and I can easily afford to live alone.

Visiting NYC now is very exciting and fun but I don't see myself going back there to live. I think you might try another city. I've heard nice things about the Twin Cities and Kansas City. Denver is lovely.
posted by bunderful at 7:16 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ha, I just left Portland (partly for some of the reasons you mentioned) for a terrible city on the east coast, we've only been here two months but we're already talking about getting out of here in 3 years. I'm planning on doing what late afternoon dreaming hotel suggests and use my vacation time to test out possible cities to move to.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:17 PM on June 10, 2016


So the New Yorker who moves to Portland and then discovers that Portland is a smaller city and is surprised and disappointed by that... it's a bit of cliche. Which is to say, your experience is common as Portland is pretty great but far from perfect.

Vitamin D can help. Most of us the PNW don't have enough (I found out I had major Vitamin D deficiency in the middle of last summer when I had a sunburn!), and supplements can help.

Portlanders tend not to be super welcoming of outsiders (at least you're not from California!), and the whole thing about how great and cheap it used to be gets old.

I will say that there might be more diversity than you are finding. My neighborhood is about 40% black and my kids' school is 85% black. There is a large East African immigrant community (not like DC but surprisingly large). There are many Latino families too. It depends where you're going, you know?

But no place is perfect. Also, you're in your late 30s or early 40s? Could some of this be middle age malaise?

I've been in Portland for about 7 years, and more and more I'm thinking it can be home if I decide it is. Could the problem be that you never really decided to stay in NYC? It just happened?

Moving back and being close to your family sounds awesome. Home means something. If Portland isn't right, there's no need to force it. You haven't failed.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:48 PM on June 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Okay. I've only been in Portland for little more than a year, but what is it with people constantly claiming there are no non-white people? I would be the last person to claim I know the city in and out, but I didn't have to search very hard to find plenty of non-white people. Here are some hints: try Portland State (lots of non-traditional students and many students of color), Northeast or North (even the touristy areas, I see plenty of black people walking around), Chinatown (off 82nd, not downtown). If somebody visited PDX and thought it was super white, well, odds are pretty good they did more touristy things and less intentional hanging out in lower-income neighborhoods. Segregation is a very real thing, but that exists everywhere, and people have commented appropriately about it upthread.

Ever think it's possible you're not spending time in the right places? For the record, I've lived in North Jersey, upstate NY, the philly burbs, and now here. Yeah, I will be the first to say that the diversity numbers are not ideal, but there are definitely people of color in different areas of the city. If you're hanging out where all the white people congregate, or some of the whiter burbs, then that's what you'll see. Explore! Get out of your comfort zone. If you think a neighborhood is sketchy and won't visit it for THAT reason, well, minorities often live in such places.

People warned me incessantly that it was cold and rainy all the time here. Well, people are also telling me the past year has been abnormally hot and sunny. I feel like I was sold a false bill of goods! It rained all the time in upstate NY and in southeast Pennsylvania. The coast is definitely way rainier, but, you know, you could also drive east of the cascades and get lots of sun. When it doesn't rain for 5 straight days here, I feel like it gets too hot and I miss the rain. But then, I start melting above 75° F, so I'll agree that most people won't feel like this.

Now I'm going to address some of your comments:

1) Commuting can still be a problem here. I've got to drive to Hillsboro a lot. 26 is screwed pretty badly at the Ross island junction and elsewhere around rush hour. Similarly, I-5, I-205 and 99E can be quite problematic.

2) This can be a very common problem for living essentially out of your price range. One needs to be patient and persistent to find good roommates. Shitty, but here we are.

3) I'm pretty sure Portlanders feel the same way about PDX now and blame all us new transplants for it. I like Tri-met a great deal, and the Orange line opening was great for me! But it just makes me want even more light rail everywhere.

4) Yes, NJ and PA felt like a swamp in the summer to me. Summers have been warmer here recently, but still are more tolerable to me and I have -10 to heat resistance.

1) See above. Push yourself harder to meet more different people. There really are all types around here. Heck, I even would describe my workplace as having way more diverse personality types than the consulting firm I used to work at in PA. If I'm finding that without looking for it, I'm pretty sure you could find less uniformity if you pushed yourself harder to do so. Look, I'm introverted. I get it. I get the effort it takes to really find more different things, and I know it's rough. But it's necessary, unfortunately.

2) PDX feels claustrophobic to you? But also empty? This doesn't make any damn sense. I can see why you would say empty. Definitely compared to NY. There are far more people living in the burbs than people think. Is it sleepy? Yes, because around here, unlike NY, people believe in going home after work, so stuff closes earlier, because people want to live. Or they are going out to the outdoors and playing. One great reason to move to PDX, which wasn't apparently on your list, or many transplants' lists, is the outdoors. You're within two hours of Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, the coast, Tillamook State Forest, (almost) Bend, and consequently, amazing hiking, snowboarding/skiing, windsurfing and kiteboarding, surfing, razor clams, boating, fishing, the list goes on. If you don't like playing outside, then, yeah, you don't care about a lot of attractions in the area. Yes, I realize that's true of many, many people in the PDX area. Can't say I really understand them. Again, grew up in North Jersey. You can't see anything like the stuff we have here within a 2-3 hour drive, not by a long shot.

3) If you have a car or access to transportation, consider spending some time in the high desert to recharge your batteries. It doesn't get nearly as cloudy or rainy east of the cascades. Lots to see out there. Worth it.

1) Patience is a virtue when moving to a new area and starting over socially.

2) So...you're going to double down on a situation you were unhappy with? Sounds like there are better options.

3) Consider more places. Again, get beyond the obvious choices. Spend more vacation days visiting under-traveled places that you think you could possibly live at.

4) At the end of the day, most people will need to follow the job they want/are getting. You haven't made it sound like your financial situation will allow you to escape that necessity.
posted by Strudel at 9:43 PM on June 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


If I were you, I wouldn't stay in Portland, wouldn't wait two years, life is short. It does take time to get to know a city, but I think you can trust your feeling... New York - is there a liveable neighbourhood at its edges or close to it? Or another option, a mid-sized nearby city (Philadelphia?).

For some reason, I am thinking - Miami? (Have never been; friends have and loved it. But - diversity, check; sunshine, check; cool stuff going on, check; queer culture, check (I believe); not tremendously far from family, sounds like check. Downsides: alligators (not sure if they hang out in Miami proper), "lol Florida" memes, the "stand your ground" law :/ [which terrifies me, but doesn't keep Floridians from living there. Also, palm trees].)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:03 PM on June 10, 2016


Wherever you go, there you are. I'm sure that for any given list of desiderata, there's a corner of Portland that satisfies it and a corner of NYC that doesn't, and vice versa. Focus on your networks, your immediate surroundings, and your work, and don't worry about the physical place you happen to inhabit.
posted by miyabo at 10:24 PM on June 10, 2016


I have the same issues with Portland, I have lots of friends there and just spent a week recently. They live in the affluent eastern hipster neighborhoods. There are lots of nice things about Portland but it seems really conformist. In an eco-friendly, quirky way natch. It's insanely white, I met one non white person in a week in their social circle.

Move to west LA. The weather is worth 10 happiness points alone. Even if you hate it and ove again it's at least an interesting place to live and you're not required to have chickens.
posted by fshgrl at 11:30 PM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Since this keeps coming up on the thread, I want to just say that there are a ton of non-white people here in Portland. Everyone who is saying they never see them? It's because you aren't hanging out where they are. It's on you - not the friggin city. Just because you aren't seeing non-whites doesn't mean they aren't here. I see black people, chinese, japanese, korean, german, italian people, etc - people of all cultures and stripes - here in Portland ALL THE TIME. You are all hanging out in very white neighborhoods if all you are seeing are white people. Expand your horizons and go check out other neighborhoods.

I mean, to me, this is like saying, hey there's no bread here in Portland, because I never see bread. Well, maybe it's because I never go to the bakery.
posted by FireFountain at 12:22 AM on June 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


I live in NYC and I love it. But if I were to move, it'd be for a place I liked for its own sake, but because I hope it'll be everything I liked about NYC without what I don't like. That place doesn't exist, because everything that makes NYC special has a downside.

I think you should move, because lack of sun can't really be negotiated. But when looking, I wouldn't care about public transportation, because if NYC's isn't working for you, there's not much else in the US that would be better. So if look for weather, ease of getting to your family, sizeable lbgt community, etc.

As far as diversity goes, you don't get a diverse social group anywhere without trying. Even in NYC.

You haven't written much about what you enjoy doing. Is it your job? Do you have hobbies? Causes you're passionate about? If you haven't figured that out, then I'm going to gently suggest that you'll feel lonely wherever you go, and it might be worth exploring that more.

Also, I know that when I've had difficulty articulating what I want, mild depression has always been part of the reason, so that may be something to think about too.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:18 AM on June 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wherever you go, there you are

This is true in that you can't wipe your brain, but otherwise not at all true. Different communities have different norms, histories, and cultures, and afford unique opportunities particular to those places. (There's a reason writers and artists flocked to Paris that one time, to New York and Berlin other times.) And some people are more sensitive to their environments than others. Sunshine alone - well those of us who need it get why it matters.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:06 AM on June 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


My intuition is, once you've saved up enough for another move, consider Philadelphia. Even closer to your family, crowded and diverse, but (compared with New York at any rate) cheap and stress-free. And the friends you have left in New York you'll still be able to see from time to time: SEPTA + NJTransit is kind of a pain in the rear but is a lot cheaper and easier than flying cross-country.
posted by escabeche at 9:20 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, if you were me: what would you do?

I can see all your points about Portland. If it were me, I'd give it another year or so and (not saying you haven't, just making it explicit) invest time meeting people and exploring the good things in the city, basically give yourself permission to put down roots and see if the city feels more comfortable.

One thing I like to do is go to a new neighborhood and see if there is something special about it. This pushes me to see new things, and often doing this I'll find something I enjoy that I wouldn't have come across otherwise.
posted by zippy at 9:24 AM on June 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sandy Eggo is considered a conservative place in general, but after almost three years here, I can confidently say that the middle of the city, the neighborhoods directly around downtown are super not conservative. It's like a beach town that turned into a city but not in a bad way.

Hillcrest is the most gay friendly neighborhood, and it's also sunny all the time. There are areas, mostly the northern suburbs, that never see the sun. It's cheaper than NY and more expensive than Portland.

I live close to my work (for the moment anyway) so I don't experience it, but the commute is the most crabby making thing I hear people talk about. Since you work remotely, you wouldn't have to deal with that at all.

Definitely worth checking out.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 10:23 AM on June 11, 2016


Just to follow-up on a couple things people have said:

I didn't specifically call out hobbies because I figure that I wouldn't move somewhere where I couldn't engage in my hobbies. I definitely have them (performing improv, running, podcasting, volunteering for various things.)

Yes, Portland has diversity (I actually live near PSU and spend quite a bit of time in North Portland) but the city is 70% white and the metro area is 80% white. To pretend that Portland isn't overwhelmingly white is pretty defensive, which is exactly what I don't like about Portland. And also to clarify, I guess I took diversity for granted and didn't quite think about the implications of living in a high-majority white area. Which of course is partially my fault.
posted by Automocar at 1:02 PM on June 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Too be fair, much of the USA is majority White and monolithic, mid 70%'s average which means a lot of places are way more than that, something I didn't realize fully until I got older having never lived in those areas. I think that accounts for the discrepancy in people's opinions. Your perception depends on where you came from and where you've lived before.
posted by bongo_x at 3:53 PM on June 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hi, I lived in New York and Portland.

Move to Austin!

My friend who is a native Oregonian described Austin as "everything good about Portland but better in every way, especially the weather."

If your job is tech related, opportunities abound! Much cheaper than California!
posted by quincunx at 6:02 PM on June 11, 2016


Since 3/4 of the USA is white, what's wrong with leaving in a city that reflects it? The key is your perception of diversity.

I like what miyabo said. You make your home where you are. Or - since you can work remotely - you may come to Central Africa, where 99% of the population is black.
posted by Kwadeng at 6:20 AM on June 12, 2016


As a person who has moved a fair bit and telecommutes, it's true, you may dislike Portland. It's also true that it's really hard to meet people when you telecommute and it can be very lonely. It takes me at least a year to really fall in with a good friend group, generally. Yes, I make friends before then, but there's a "settling in" period that really does take a while. I'm not saying don't move, I'm saying that it's a tough time and you may want to give it a little longer, because otherwise you may be starting over in a new place and need that settling in time all over again.

But for weather and diversity, you can't beat LA. If you're a tried and true New Yorker, though, you may really dislike it.
posted by freezer cake at 12:13 PM on June 13, 2016


I hate every place besides NYC...and Chicago.

Save up, move to Boystown!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:32 AM on June 14, 2016


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