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  1. #1
    Ugly As F*ck
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    Sacramento Vs Olympia - If you had to choose

    So I've long been debating on where I want to move to. Initially I was going to bail on my job and just move, the destination of which would have been based entirely on mountain biking. I've decided to stick it out at my job (or try to at least), because they will be expanding to the west coast in 2014. I'd be much better off with a job when I move out that way. By no means do I make good money, but with no degree or skills for that matter, my income would surely get cut in half as I'd probably have to settle for a minimum wage job.

    So the two cities I'm going to have to choose from are Sacramento, Ca and Olympia, Wa. Neither are epic mountain bike spots, but let's keep in mind I'm moving from Houston, Tx, which is a complete shithole and the closest mountain is probably a 15 hour drive away. If I go to Sacramento I'd rather live some place like Auburn if possible and just commute to work. Whether or not that would be a possibility would be based on the location of the job site.

    Here are the pros and cons I have thus far:

    Sacramento (pros):
    -About an hour from Northstar (assuming I'm living in Auburn)
    -At least a handful of local trails to ride on (again, assuming the Auburn area)
    -I will get a cost of living adjustment in my pay, though I don't know how much it will be

    Sacramento (cons):
    -If I have to actually live in Sacramento as opposed to Auburn I really won't have any local trails to ride, and Northstar will be that much farther
    -California's economy
    -Cost of living will probably kick my ass (even despite a pay adjustment)
    -State income tax

    Olympia (pros):
    -Small town
    -I'd be able to drive to BC
    -Whistler is less than 5 hours away by car (according to google maps)
    -Duthie Hill is a couple hours away, maybe less
    -Steven's Pass is about 2.5 hours away
    -Plenty of other great PNW trails all over within somewhat reasonable driving distances
    -I CAN DRIVE TO WHISTLER (oh sorry I had already mentioned that)
    -I'm actually not fond of a lot of sunlight, so the dreary weather and overcast skies won't bother me
    -No state income tax
    -Pot is legal there

    Olympia (cons):
    -Doesn't seem to be any local trails actually in town, I think Capital Forest would be the closest and I don't know if that's considered part of Olympia or not
    -Steven's Pass is 2.5 hours away, I know I listed this as a pro also, but this is a new bike park that isn't all that epic since they only have 4 trails or so, it will be a number of years before the park expands so that is a long drive for what you get. Also their prices are high
    -Rain. I don't mind the overcast skies, but downpours would suck. I've actually heard that although they get a lot of rain it drizzles a lot as opposed to downpours so who knows.

    That's all I can think of at the moment. I'd like to get opinions from people who live or have lived in either city or both. Or anyone familiar with either city. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Raymond Donald Franklin
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    Quote Originally Posted by uglyguy2 View Post
    -Rain. I don't mind the overcast skies, but downpours would suck. I've actually heard that although they get a lot of rain it drizzles a lot as opposed to downpours...
    I lived in Spanaway for 6 years, and I agree with the statement.

    If somebody stuck a gun to my head and told me to choose between the two, I'd probably get shot. I'm not fond of either city.

    One thing you didn't mention is sales tax. Olympia is 100 miles from Portland. You can save a chunk of money when you buy big ticket items that don't have to be registered (like a $5k bike, for example)

  3. #3
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    I don't think you could pay me enough to live in CA, so it's an easy decision for me: Olympia!
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  4. #4
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    I knew about Oregon not having sales tax. I didn't mention it since I wouldn't be living there. Though put the proximity to Oregon in the pro column, not just for the sales tax thing, but also a lot of good riding there as well.

  5. #5
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    As a former Olympia area resident, I can testify that there is great trails right near town: Capitol Forest is great, Mud Bay has trails and there are a bunch just SE of OLY off of Route 7, 706, 12, and 508. Also don't forget that you have quick access to the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas and you would also be 2.15 hours from Port Angeles and the Northwest Cup down hill race trails and all of the cross-country trails in Sequim. Then take the Blackball ferry from Port Angeles and your on Vancouver Island/Victoria. Its a win/win. If you have any other ?'s just ask.

  6. #6
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    Oly hands down IMHO. I lived in Sactown for 6 years. There is great riding in the Sierra foothills and higher. There is also some great riding around the Folsom Lake area too, but not enough to offset having to live there in the hot polluted summers.

    Oly has Capital Forest which is a great riding area. It does get dam muddy in the winter though. There are so many great places to ride in the PNW. If you like DH then you will be right at home in the PNW.
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  7. #7
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    I live and work in cities that are suburbs of Sacramento. If I had the choice between the two, I would Choose Olympia. There are so many reasons NOT to live in this area that have nothing to do with mountain biking at all but will seriously have a bearing on your life that it is not a fair exchange, not worth the sacrifice.

    As far as the riding, since that is a main concern for you: I love the riding opportunities I have in this area, with Auburn and the Sierras not too far away and all the Bay Area goodness the other direction, but adding up all the factors my choice would be Olympia.
    "You're messing with my zen thing, man!"

  8. #8
    Ugly As F*ck
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    I was leaning towards Olympia anyway, good to hear that seems to be the consensus on here as well so far.

    Archieaxe, how long did you live there? Out of the trails you mentioned, what style of riding would you say they are?

    One thing I didn't mention, the Sac location will open at the beginning of the year, the Oly location not until the end of the year. So the plan so far is for me to go to Sac when it opens, but only until the Oly location opens and then I'd go there. The point of which is to get the hell out of Texas as quick as possible because life sucks ass here.

  9. #9
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    Olympia would be my choice as well, and I say that as a lifelong Californian. If I didn't have so much family nearby, job, house, kids, etc I would probably migrate to the Pacific Northwest. There are some beautiful places in California, but Sacramento isn't one of them. This state is a mess and it's only getting worse. If you like lots of illogical rules, high taxes, traffic, high gas prices, and more you might love it here. Whatever cost of living adjustment they give you won't be enough.

    I would probably give my right nut to live within driving distance of Whistler.

  10. #10
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    How would you guys say the cost of living in Oly compares to Sacramento? Houston is one of the cheapest places to live in the US so I know either way it'll be higher for me. I always hear the west coast in general is pricey.

  11. #11
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    Olympia, for the beer first of all and for the riding. Archieaxe mentioned Capitol forest one of the best places in the state to ride. Green Mountain on the peninsula, all the trails along highway 410 on the way to Crystal Mtn. past Crystal on to Nachez area, the trails down at Whites pass. Tiger Mtn. Yes it does rain alot but you learn how to ride in mud. It never gets above 90 around here so you drink less water cause your not frying in the 104 degree heat. Green is a better color than brown. The only reason to live in the Sac is for the Sacramento Mile Flat Track race at the fairgrounds once a year.

  12. #12
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    Without reading everything stated in this thread I would say Oly. I return home every summer to Washington to bike Cap Forest with my brother. (I now live in Wisconsin.). I miss Washington every single day. I have not lived in Oly; I was born and raised in Spokane and did my undergrad in Seattle. My parents and brother have lived in Oly for some time now and I have visited a lot. It is a small town it has great culture. And how small can it be when it is close to Seattle.

    I never owned a rain jacket or umbrella in Seattle and only got soaked once. The drizzle can be constant but in Oly my bother bikes Cap Forest all year round.

    The cost of living is pretty cheap there. Good coffee and beer every where.

    Good luck with your decision and move.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by uglyguy2 View Post
    How would you guys say the cost of living in Oly compares to Sacramento? Houston is one of the cheapest places to live in the US so I know either way it'll be higher for me. I always hear the west coast in general is pricey.
    I live in roseville about 20 miles east of downtown sac and 15miles west of auburn. Housing is pretty cheap compared to So Cal or SF bay area. Does get hot in the summer but temps drop 10-15 degrees just an hour east. You didnt mention downeiville in your "pros". About 1 1/2 hours away. Plus plenty of riding in Tahoe area. Dont know anything about Olympia so cant help you there.

  14. #14
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    No contest. The surrounding area of Seattle and the Sound is thousands of times over better than Sacramento. Lots of generally happy people, good quality of life, investment in city, infrastructure, aesthetics, and most importantly, trails. There is so much diversity up there, in every way: Sea, land, trails, food, etc.

    I fly into that area all the time with my job. It's great and you'll regret not doing it IMO. One of the best places to live in the country IMO. I grew up in NorCal, but it feels like you are constantly fighting the huge population, poor condition of infrastructure, increasing regulation and taxes that don't seem to go back into the community, hot summers, long way to the mountains for summer riding to cool off (fighting traffic), no real trails until you get to coastal or foothill mountains, etc.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  15. #15
    Raymond Donald Franklin
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    Quote Originally Posted by knl2stl View Post
    ...Good coffee and beer every where..
    One of very few things I miss about living in Seattle suburb. Miserable winter = Lots of good dark beer.

  16. #16
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by uglyguy2 View Post
    I knew about Oregon not having sales tax. I didn't mention it since I wouldn't be living there. Though put the proximity to Oregon in the pro column, not just for the sales tax thing, but also a lot of good riding there as well.
    Yeah, but they won't let you pump your own fuel and there's a "runner-guy" going between all the gas pumps, taking the pump nozzle out, putting it in, taking it out, putting it back, etc. It's the most ridiculous thing you'll see if you've never experienced it. You just have to sit there for a few minutes and watch the insanity before deciding to participate in it.

    Deal breaker for Oregon IMO.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  17. #17
    squish, squish in da fish
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    WA all the way!

  18. #18
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    Really don't know a whole lot about SAC but what little I do, I know it's not really where I want to be. I hear good things about Auburn but in the end, CA is just god dam expensive and crowded - it shows with the amount of trail user conflict threads around here.

    Oly is a great town IMO. Maybe not MTB nirvana, but it's a great size and a lot of fun. A little on the flower child side of things, but in the end its all good.I'd much prefer that to gangs, crime and whatever. I've spent a lot of time in the NW and I can say that the whole 'rain' thing is blown way out of proportion while the whole 'gray' things is NOT. In other words, less rain than you would expect but dam is it damp and grey for a long time! On the flip side, temps are pretty moderate. As a desert dweller, I think it would be tough to not see the sun much.

    So in the end? Assuming compensation is similar I'd head to Oly.

  19. #19
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    I grew up and lived in San Diego for 23 years. Moved up to SW Washington 19 years ago and would never think of going back. Come on up and get ready for plenty of rain.

  20. #20
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    Anywhere in the PNW beats anywhere in Cali any day.
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  21. #21
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    Moving from Houston it won't really matter where you move, you're making the right choice. Houston is a disgusting city. I've lived all over the country and have fallen in love with the PNW. That would be my choice over anyplace else.

  22. #22
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    I live about an hour adn a little east of Sac in the mountains. Over the past years I've really warmed up to Sac. Used to hate going there, but now I enjoy the food/stuff to do, and the break from the snow in winter... That area is hot in the summer, no doubt, but you're used to hot and humid. The rest of the year the weather down that way is pretty nice.

    A nice thing about CA is the diversity of riding, and stuff to do, and the year-round choices- we are spoiled that way. Both in terrain, scenery, and weather. I'm on a day off today, and am staring at deep snow. Skiing or driving down to Auburn for a ride? hmmm. You can do the same in WA too, but the change in climates is more exaggerated in Norcal.

    Lots of great road trips, both riding and not, in Norcal. Not that there is not in WA, but there are lots of posts here to support that.

    Auburn has fun riding and lots of it, especially when linked to other areas. Lots of work going on to blur the lines between foothill and Sierra trail networks. We are not there yet, but are making strides towards the goal.

  23. #23
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Svahn View Post

    Auburn has fun riding and lots of it, especially when linked to other areas. Lots of work going on to blur the lines between foothill and Sierra trail networks. We are not there yet, but are making strides towards the goal.
    It's good that it's improving, but I've never felt there's all that much riding in Auburn. Decent riding, yes, and other riding areas not too far away (Nevada City, further up 80, Salmon Falls), yes, but living in AZ for 11 years was a totally different perspective for me. Everything from alpine meadows at 9000' to dry desert less than 1000' and everything in between. The real difference (because CA is even more varied in climate) was that they built trails literally everywhere, continued to build trails, and people rode the trails. AZ trail going across the entire state. Huge endless miles of the BCT system doing nearly the same, and then each little area that could support trails usually had them built like crazy. Sedona (much improved in 10 years), Flagstaff, Prescott, Phoenix(massive riding opportunities in city, few metro-areas compare), White Mountain, Grand Canyon rims, Tucson, etc. All of these with far more miles of trails than Auburn. Living in Prescott, I had forest area on 3 sides of the city, mountains from 5000' to 7979', riding in most seasons was pleasant due to the elevation, sunlight in the winter and generally much less rainy weather, and of course, trails everywhere. Easy to put in 30 miles of riding and 5000+ of climbing/descending without having to ride the same trail, or to keep it to a certain area, then ride a different area the next day, and so on.

    There just seems to be a difference in perspective and fundamental policy as far as trailbuilding/existence. I used to ride Auburn semi-frequently, and it was fun, but after living in AZ I wouldn't say there is "lots" of riding. You can connect to FH, which is nice and stretches out the miles significantly, so that's a good benefit, but given all the terrain in the area, I'd expect decent trails paralleling highway 80 up to the HITG area, North and South trails connecting FHD to that trail system. A far greater network of trails heading up and down BOTH sides of the confluence area, the ability to climb/ride to totally different climates due to distance and elevation, and so on.

    If we were talking about the riding opportunities around Tahoe, then it'd be a little different I think. Much bigger/more epic stuff available in closer proximity to the lake, sure you have to deal with the seasons to a much greater extent, but I think it'd make more sense there. Maybe Downieville as well, fairly decent number of trails and elevation there with some other stuff not too far away.

    I think you're statement that progress is being made is good. I've noticed this over the years, and while slow, I'd agree. I've been to several mtb "meccas" and wouldn't rate Auburn on the same level. It's a good riding area for Sac-towners, no doubt, but I'd never move there because of Auburn.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  24. #24
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    Good job!

    Don't forget the OP is comparing wages as well. You need to consider that Washington enjoys NO INCOME TAX. So figure comparatively with CA that you will be making at least 10% more in wages combined with a cheaper cost of living.
    "Prollyisnotprobably"

  25. #25
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    Olympia is a great town. Capitol Forest is close, but muddy in winter. It rains, but seldom is there a downpour. If you're cool with overcast, you will make it through the winter. East of the Cascades are some great trails and dry conditions. The Puget Sound region's natural beauty is unparalleled. I live in Tacoma, and during the gray winter, I have longed for sunnier climates. I have been offered positions, elsewhere, but I have yet to find anywhere that can surpass the PNW. Now if cost of living and real estate prices were not a consideration, that might be different.
    jW

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