considering a move to Washington
I'll be finishing up my master's degree this year and the wife and I are looking to relocate somewhere with better outdoor rec opportunities than where we currently live (East TX). My wife's sent her resume out to three places in Washington so far (Puyallup, Spokane, and Covington). I've sent mine out for a job in Spokane and one in Tacoma, but it looks like there are a number of opportunities in either area for me.
We're looking at other states, too, and while we love smaller towns closer to the outdoor rec opportunities we enjoy (mountain biking, backpacking, paddling so far - want to do snowshoeing and maybe some skiing, too), the job markets in those places usually cannot support both of us. I'm probably more likely to find a job in those sorts of places, but my wife has the higher earning potential so we need to be where she can max her earnings potential - larger cities.
As for my riding style, I just like to do mostly xc/trail style riding. I'm not into big jumps or downhill shuttles or any of that. I ride an 03 Stumpjumper FSR Comp (I'd like to get a new bike once I settle into a new career) right now and have ridden it on some lift-accessed trails at Brian Head, UT.
I looked at the trail reviews here, and my initial impression is that Spokane has better trails closer to town than compared to some of the places I've looked at around Puyallup/Covington but that farther from the Seattle/Tacoma area has some pretty good stuff, too (either would be better than the measly 6mi of trails I have access to now).
Is there any consensus here about what area has better trails? If we get job offers in these areas, we're jumping on them. I'd be curious to know just in case we wind up with more than one offer and need to find a way to decide.
In general, there are not a ton of good options where you can live and simply bike to lots of riding from your house. But we are blessed to be in an area where within a half hour drive you'll have a great local riding spot for those post work efforts, and within a 2 hour drive you can hit any number of epic loops, different terrain etc.
I would pick living in the Seattle Tacoma area all day long compared to Spokane, but some people over there might correct me on that thought.... Just my 02 cents, and I live in Olympia where I feel we have great income potential, but very low cost of living. One of the main reasons I'm still here 13 years later after I moved here for a job I thought I'd have for a year.
also, here is a tread on a similar subject.
Moving to Seattle area..where to live for best biking access
I would take a look at Southern California, specifically Orange County. It's not really a big city feel like Los Angeles and not a small city feel either. It's a pretty nice blend of both. There are lots of job opportunities and more importantly, trails to last you a lifetime. Orange County borders L.A. on the north and San Diego on the south. That means you are close to everything under the sun. Out here, we can hit Big Bear for ski/snowboarding in the early morning, MTB at Santiago Oaks or El Moro and then hit the beach in one day.
Most importantly, the weather allows for more fun more often throughout the year. Look up the current 10 day weather forecast for Irvine, CA and compare it.
Not being rude to the last poster, but Orange County is probably one of the last places you would want to consider, in my opinion. The beautiful thing about up here is we have weather, and lots of it. The Socal region is way overcrowded despite the fact that there are trails in the hills. In fact, one could begin to argue the same about Seattle in terms of crowded.
Spokane has more stuff immediately close like you said, OP, but the Seattle-Tacoma area is by far larger and fits the bill of larger income. It is a trade-off, but if you like cold, dry weather then Spokane and the east side of the mountains is more for you. Plus you have nearby Idaho, Montana, and even better up north is Golden, British Columbia and the Kootenays.
I live on Whidbey Island, so fortunately I can just jump on the boat(state ferry) and head over to the Olympic Peninsula. Whereas when I lived in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood I had to make the gas guzzling drive up to Stevens Pass or the Easton area, not cheap.
In all, one could argue Portland has it all way better than up here; better racing, closer trail network, lots of local riders...sigh............
Good friction shifting is getting hard to find nowadays....
California is absolutely out of the question. cost of living is ridiculous compared to what my wife and I are familiar with and the regulatory environment there is very unfavorable for my wife's profession. it was ruled out long ago.
we have enjoyed visiting California, but that's where our experience with the state will end. visiting.
The above link is interesting, but none of the jobs we're applying to are really in the areas being described. Minimizing commute time is a high priority. We both commute 3.5mi one way every day.
There are a ton of great places in Seattle...
Evergreen Trail Guide
We would enjoy your input to the local trails.
I should be out riding
What are your professions, and what type of weather do you prefer?
I'd go for Spokane over Seattle myself, and Boise after Spokane.
foremost, I prefer real seasons and I prefer to avoid extremes. low humidity is nice, but not necessary. I've spent most of the first 31yrs of my life in relatively high humidity environments and the last 4 in East Texas. the heat down here will be the death of me. while I'd rather not have extreme cold, I can handle it much better than extreme heat. -20 is manageable for short periods. 100+ from May-September was honestly the worst weather I've experienced in my life.
Originally Posted by ACree
my master's is environmental science/spatial science and bachelor's is biology. I'm looking at teaching biology at the high school level, environmental education, conservation, and wildlife biology jobs. I've done consulting in the past and am avoiding that like the plague.
Nate, The seasons change can be pretty extreme on the dry side of the Cascades. Dry and 100+F in the summer, snow/ice and 0 degrees in the winter. You are not going to ride much in the winter.
Originally Posted by NateHawk
The wetside is more moderate and wet(ter). Riding is year-round, if you know the right areas and are OK with being wet and muddy.
Then you have the longer summer days and short in the winter. 5:15pm here in PDX and the sun has set.
The trouble with common sense is it is no longer common
I'll ride in the cold, as long as it's not cold AND muddy. just cold enough for the trails to be frozen (in spite of any radiant warming from the sun, which I realize can cause trails to start thawing below freezing) is perfect.
I'll even ride with some heat. this past summer in TX was brutal, but I was riding. lower humidity sure would have been nice and my understanding is that eastern WA delivers on that front.
I do like the occasional rain, but it wouldn't kill me. having real winters again would make me awfully happy. I'd get to snowshoe, learn to ski, etc.
I'm not a fan of riding in cool, wet conditions. even if the trails can handle it, I don't enjoy it.
If you like having four seasons then you'll like Spokane's weather better. Some winters are worse than others. This winter has been pretty mild so far. Typically temps are in the 20s and 30s in the winter and 80s and 90s in the summer. It is rare that is goes over 100 degrees. The west side does have more job opportunities but Spokane has lots of good riding in town and traffic doesn't suck like it does over in Seattle.
Nate, if you have an opportunity to work in Covington you will be really close to Black Diamond. We probably have over 30 miles of great single track and a great core of guys overseeing the trail system.
In Western Washington you'll rarely get frozen trails but you'll get cold and muddy a lot in the winter. In the winter your going to typically see low temps in the mid to high 30's and high temps in the mid to high 40's. Personally, I think that riding in the 40's is darn comfortable, and as long as the trails are not soaking wet, winter riding is a blast. By being a little picky on when you ride you can avoid the worst of the wet and mud (but you'll almost always get a little muddy here in the winter). If you don't want to ride in the mud, just go boarding or snowshoeing...both are available for just a 1-2 hour drive.
Originally Posted by NateHawk
Heat is not a problem in Western Washington. Summers are pretty darn nice Can get plenty hot in Eastern Washington, but as you note the humidity is lower than Texas.
Originally Posted by NateHawk
We get real winters in Western Washington, they just don't usually involve snow!
Originally Posted by NateHawk
Good luck with your choice. Western or Eastern Washington are both great places to live (I have lived in both), each with their own unique plusses and minuses.
I just got goth served!
BWAAAA HAAA HHAAA!!!! That's a good one! Haaa! Haarr!!! Oh, my belly hurts!! Gwaaa Hhaaa Haa Haaaa!!!!! Oh, make it stop!!
Originally Posted by NateHawk
If you move here, you'll ride in the cold and the mud, and you''ll like it!
Seriously though, the trails aren't that bad in the winter, and you will get muddy. The truth is that winter is a mixed bag over here on the wet side. You'll have days in January that could pass as summer, and you'll be depressed by the amount of rain in June. Personally, I like the fact that the character of the trails changes so much throughout the year. The trail that is perfect hardpack in early summer, is dust in late summer, and mud slicked in the winter. Altogether this just makes you a more well rounded rider, and kicks up your skills.
If you are looking for real seasons, most of the west side gets three honest seasons, and the fourth, winter, is just a short drive up the mountains, so it works out.
insert witty comment here
for me, real winters involve at least some snow. :-) As for summer temps, 80's are awesome and 90's with low humidity are tolerable, but not my favorite. This past summer, I arranged my riding schedule so I could ride in the 90's (with humidities around 30-50%). When my wife was training for her half marathon, she didn't have as much time choice, and could really only run in the mornings, which, as she described to me earlier were "85 squared" (85F and 85% humidity). I think what you western washington folks call "hot" will be perfectly acceptable to me.
Originally Posted by woodway
to me, 40 to just above freezing and wet is the worst set of conditions. I am probably colder then than I am when it's -20. I do like it when things get up into the 40's, though. Especially when there's sun at that temp. Frozen trails are great fun to ride, though.
it was 71deg at 10am here. serious lack of winter depression...and because it also means it'll probably hit 100 by april, before I'm ready to move.
Originally Posted by silversurfer
I'm riding DRY singletrack this weekend. BOOYAH! I love the dry side of the Cascades personally. Spokane has 4 very defined seasons. Hot, dry summers. Cold, wet, snowy winters. Long spring and long fall. Mountains to the north and east. Columbia Basin to the west and south. I like it there but the city is too big for me. Too much sprawl out into the Valley and North of Spokane although it dissipates quick. Moscow, ID is the bees knees in comparison and only an hour (and change) south of Spokane.
I live in Yakima, which is often trash talked. I'll ride my desert singletrack all fall, winter, and spring. We move into the Cascades for the summer months for them forest trails. There is rock climbing, river rafting, backpacking, downhill and XC skiing all within an hours drive of downtown. We grow more food than is comprehend-able, not to mention all the wineries and hops produced here.
Yakima has 4 equal seasons but less moisture than Spokane. Yakima is also centrally located and I can be in any corner of the state in 4 hours of driving.
Looking at your list of "don't wants", I wouldn't even consider western Washington. Have you also checked out Bend OR? If you can find work there, it fits the bill weather wise.
primary concern is where the jobs are. if we get offers in western WA but not eastern, then western is where we go. likewise if it's the other way around. right now we have resumes out on both ends of the state and I was only asking in case the chance we got offers on both ends of the state came up.
I am getting the feeling that I'd also prefer the eastern side if a choice presented, too. we just have to wait and see at this point.
we've looked for jobs in the Bend area. there's one first choice job that's a very slim chance for me, but nothing for my wife, and that's what matters most at the moment. I'm flexible enough that I have fallbacks that are a little more widely available, even if they pay less.
we've looked in a lot of other states, too. resumes have been sent out, but my wife has had more interest from potential employers in WA so far.
what job fields are you looking for?
Originally Posted by Mikecito
I agree with this. 40 and wet is what we do.
I agree, lived in Spokane for 8 years, it's a fantastic place to live if you want a lot of riding options really close to town. Back country riding is a short drive in any direction. And I live in Moscow now which is also nice as said, but probably lacking in the jobs department and Winter riding down here is pretty much non-existent (But a lot of winter sports options as a trade off). Spokane is pretty big in the sense it has lots of sprawl, but I always said it feels like a big small town. There are some negatives, but overall I prefer living on the East side the state. We're hopefully moving to Boise next year, it has always been high on our list. Not sure if you've looked into it much, but it's similar in size to Spokane with great riding close to town as well.
Originally Posted by ACree
Spokane is definitely a 4 season place, but the summer's are great and the lack of bugs is a real bonus. We typically have just a week or two with consistent temps in the 90s, otherwise it's downright incredible from early July through the end of September at least. Little or no rain to speak of. Sometimes winter can drag, but it's pretty rare when I haven't ridden in every month of the year here in Spokaloo. With the right gear, 20s and sunny is a great time to get out.
What some call traffic over here is a joke compared to Seattle/Portland. We have 6-10 XC riding areas within 30 minutes of downtown and an incredible number of 2-6 hour epic rides within 2-4 hours of us. Northern Idaho and Montana are reasonably close as well, with plenty of riding opportunities.
There is an active mountain biking community here, but with so many trails close in, it's not like we're all fighting for the same piece of singletrack. Just 5 minutes west of town is Riverside State Park with over 50 miles of XC trails (it's also home to an annual Memorial Day 24 hour mountain bike race).
If you like skiing, we have 6 resorts within a 2 hour drive and a local XC ski area on Mt. Spokane with over 40km of groomed trails. We also have, similar to Seattle, a Mountaineers organization that offers hundreds of activities each year, from ice climbing to mountain biking, from backpacking to kayaking. Check them out at Spokane Mountaineers :: Home (you can contact me via the Mountain Biking link under Committees and Activities).
I noticed someone above mentioned the cost of living in Seattle was reasonable...but Spokane is even better. Housing costs are much lower.
Feel free to drop me a private message if you have any more questions about Spokane. It truly is a unique area with great outdoors opportunities, very little traffic, and not nearly as much rain as the west side of the state.
It sounds like a great place. Holding my breath for my wife's phone interview this coming week. If it goes well, I hope to head up that way for a weekend or so sometime soon.
Originally Posted by MTBmoose
I've already turned up the Spokane Mountaineers organization. It looks like something I would definitely be interested in being involved with.
The weather as you describe sounds ideal to me. This past year in Texas was absolutely brutal. It started hitting 100 in late April or so and regularly got that hot, usually for weeks at a time with a couple days in the 90's for a "break", until sometime in September. I avoided going outside during the daytime entirely after about June. I only rode at night.
I look forward to the opportunity to enjoy winter sports. I want to try it all - ski, snowboard, snowshoe. Wife so far is only interested in snowshoeing, but as with many things, I think I'll manage to convince her eventually to try skiing.
Maybe you can answer me one question. You're not the first person who has referenced "Spokaloo". Where did that nickname come from?