Experience moving to Bellingham from San Mateo- Mtbr.com
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    Experience moving to Bellingham from San Mateo

    Per requests in the ďWant to leave the Bay Area. Where to go?Ē thread, I wanted to share my experiences escaping the SF peninsula to Bellingham WA. Left the bay in July so itís been half a year.

    The locals have urged me to tell you it is cold and rainy; you should stay put. Maybe this thread should go in the Washington forum, but I don't think Californians are real popular, so you gotta keep it on the down low

    First, some background. I moved to Silicon Valley from Europe during elementary school. Grew up mostly in Redwood City. Lived in SF for a while after college, then 11 years in San Mateo. Wife is from the Midwest and we have one kid. We both work in biotech.

    Ten years ago I would have told you the only way Iíd leave the bay area would be in a box. But then, especially the last five years, everyone I knew started leaving. We had a kid and life became increasingly frustrating. It was pretty obvious we weren't ever going to own a home unless there was a several year pause in the price increases or we somehow came across a pile of money. Two years ago we resigned ourselves to leaving. Per suggestions in the thread, we took trips to Denver, Portland (although weíd already been there a bunch), Seattle, Bellingham, Hood River, Bend, and Santa Cruz (weíd already been to Boise and Salt Lake City and those were off the list). We did not make it to Fort Collins, though I know some folks that moved there and love it. Although it started out as resignation and defeat, each location has something to love. Our son was super excited to be closer to the outdoors.

    Although a large metro would be better for our careers, we decided a city with a population of about 100k with a decent airport would be the best lifestyle fit. Biotech is concentrated in a few cities, and Seattle or Portland arenít in the club, so weíd need good air travel options. Midway through our search, Everett Paine Field (1 hour south of Bíham) began commercial service which switched our target from far eastside Seattle to Bellingham.

    Where to Go?
    We spent a 4 day weekend in Denver, but it didnít click. We visited all the other locations for weekends and came back for longer stays in Bham and Seattle once we had a short list. It helps to get an AirBnB vs a hotel. You get the character of the city much more staying in an AirBnB.

    We wrote out pros/cons for each city, but they basically aligned to city size. Economic opportunity drops in smaller cities (if youíre cashing out a home in SF, you probably donít care), but generally we found the communities were tighter and friendlier. In bigger cities, you get more jobs but much of the same pain we were suffering in the SF Bay areaóawful traffic, impersonal feel, homelessness, petty crime, so on.
    East of the Cascades, cities become remote (and very red). Bend OR is the right size and full of bay area expats, but it is 3.5 hours to Portland. Spokane is six hours from Seattle, Boise and SLC etc are far from anywhere else. The East coast is much more dense, but weíre definitely West coast people.

    Youíre going to have to accept that the weather isnít as pleasant almost anywhere you go. We always tolerated the coastal fog/cold better than inland heat in the bay, so kept that in mind.
    Denver is in a different time zone, which can be a problem if you work remote. Woah do they do bike parks right, though.

    Rent first

    We initially planned to move to Seattle, but with the crazy appreciation (16% year to year) of housing we had to buy a house right away unless we wanted to risk getting priced out there too. That was a challenge with all the bay area expats buying up houses with fast close all cash offers (we just had the pile of money that wasnít growing fast enough to get a down payment in the bay). I would fly up for weekends to go tour houses, send my wife some video, and then decide if we would put an offer in. It was exhausting and I do not recommend it and we obviously never won any of these battles because we're renting in Bellingham now. Just rent a place. Unless you ride a single speed, you probably donít need this masochism in your life.

    Work
    While trying to land a gig in the Seattle area, I told work I was leaving. I wanted a good reference so Iíd put in my best effort over the prior year. It was scary telling them I was leavingÖ but after two weeks I guess they decided I was too valuable and we negotiated a part time onsite arrangement. If you are contemplating moving, I suggest you start working your connections right away, make sure you are aligned with cool leaders in your business, because it can take a while to sort things out. Knowing thereís money coming in day 1 at the new location lessens the stress so much. Iím not entirely sold on working remote long term, but I have time to figure out alternatives.

    Movers and Marie Kondo
    You may have heard moving out of the bay area is expensive. It is. We had also been in the same rental for 11 years with a kid so there was a bunch of crap in the garage and both closets. We decided we were only going to take what fit in our cars (which do include a van and a trailer). Neither of us wanted to pay thousands of dollars to box up crap we donít need. I helped two friends move out of the bay area and remember how hard it wasÖ ultimately they dumped a lot of the stuff we moved once there was time to sort through it. I spent 18 months filling the trash can every week and donating to Goodwill (thanks Marie Kondo for making it hard to get rid of crap at just the right time), and then two pickup truck loads to the dump. It was totally worth it. We got rid of maybe 75% of our belongings, and then when we moved, most of the remaining 25% ended up in storage because we lived in short term rentals till we found a long term rental. Guess what? A mountain bike, guitar, DSLR, laptop and some clothes are pretty much all I needed for two months. I hardly missed anything besides my tools. My son really wanted his drumset.

    Bellingham
    Letís start with the elephant in the roomÖ

    Weather
    Right, so weather west of the Cascades along I-5 is pretty similar from just outside Portland all the way to Vancouver BC; not on any one particular day but on average. Californians will warn you about the rain. Seattle gets 38 inches of rain a year, which is the national average. Bíham gets a bit less. Portland gets a few inches more. East of the Cascades, itís much drier, but it gets colder in winter and hotter in summer. The rain is mostly a non-issue once you go to REI and spend about $300 per person on nice waterproof clothing. Itís the sunlight in the I-5 corridor that is the downer, both that itís cloudy often and the days are an hour shorter during winter (during summer, I have trouble sleeping because the sun is up all the time). We moved into our Bellingham rental the day before Labor Day after four glorious summer weeks in Seattle and Portland. Summer is spectacular. But on Labor Day, the gods flipped a switch, it turned overcast with on/off drizzle and fall temperatures. This lasted 3 weeks with no reprieve. Literally, we woke up one day and summer was very much over.
    And that describes the weather, although itís been less extreme since. You get a stretch of grey, wet days, then a couple nice days, then crap again. During winter the nice spells are shorter and the bad longerÖ like half a day yesterday. If the sun is out, drop everything and get outside, because itíll probably be gone if you wait (thereís a Portlandia sketch on that).

    I got used to the dreariness pretty fast though. When youíre in the forest hiking or ridingÖ you donít really notice if the sun is out or not. Itís only when I travel and we go somewhere sunny that itís maybe a bit jarring to return. Drizzle can be almost entirely ignored (tho beware wooden trail features). Itís definitely not for everyone though.
    Bellingham seems to be about 10 degrees colder than Seattle on average, and this is a bit more bothersome. Pretty much have to wear a jacket every evening, or sit around a fire for your apres MTB. Last week it was in the teens and snowing while Seattle was near freezing... which makes a big difference.

    Bíham is also very windy. I did not expect this. My son and I got into RC airplanes and until mid December, we were unable to fly, ever. It might be an OK day otherwise, but if its gusting to 30mph I donít want to go ride in the woods and get killed by falling tree limbs, and the gusts make riding in cleared areas a challenge also (go try and dirt jump, it sucks). Seattle gets wind storms too, just not as often I think. Hood River is famous for its wind, but the main riding spot, Post Canyon, is in the lee of a mountain during the prevailing west wind.
    Bíham totally shuts down if it snows. Now I havenít lived through snow since I was a kid, but I didnít find it all that challenging. Right, my wife had to show me you can scrape the icy snow off your windshield with a credit card, but otherwise we got on with life. Rest of the city, not so much. I donít know if people are actually clueless or just looking for an excuse to skip work. We visited Hood River during Seattleís Snowpocalypse and it wasnít a big deal.

    Note that even Bellingham, the dreariest city in the lower 48, is sunnier than most of Europe. In Europe, it also rains a bunch through summer. In the PNW, statistically you get most of the rain in November and December (although this year, we just got a few days of heavy rainfall, and it was generally pleasant until early December) and summer is really nice with some occasional rain that rejuvenates the trails.

    If you work indoors with no windows, I can see how winter would really suck. Youíll go into the office when itís dark and come out and itís dark. The days are short come November. The sun does come outóbut I have noticed that itíll come out at noon and then clouds roll in again about 3-4pm. I make sure to go outside for a walk at lunch. My CA coworkers donít get why I ask not to schedule meetings after 3:30 some days. It was nice this past Saturday morning but we were putting away Xmas decorationsÖ when we were done an hour later and went outside, the wind had picked up and it was drizzling. When the weather is good, you have to drop everything and get outside.
    Pretty sure thereís a Portlandia sketch about that.

    It is more humid in the coastal PNW than the bay area. It is not the east coast, but itís noticeable when its warm. I frankly did not feel like riding in Seattle when it was 90F. Better to hit the water. Seems like everyone knows someone with a boat.

    As mentioned earlier, Bellinghamís like ten degrees colder than Seattle on average. Think Half Moon Bay, or maybe Pacifica, vs Millbrae. I think the highest recorded temp is like 92F. Whereas Seattle will hit 100F at some point during the summer. Portland will get a week or two of like 110F, which is miserable. Good thing thereís the rivers and lakes nearby.

    Bíham doesnít get the exact same weather through all the neighborhoods either. The south end is rugged while the north half is flat. The clouds seem to clear out in the flat part faster than the south end. I can see clear blue sky up near Meridian from Cedar Dust jump lines at Galby when itís still cloudy where Iím standing. Itís worse inland on the south side, like Sudden Valley, where, some days it doesnít appear they get a break at all. If we didnít have a traditional schedule and a kid, Iíd consider living further north. Itís cheaper, newer construction, more land. But south side schools are better.
    Bíham is short on family friendly indoor activities. My son is in youth hockey during winter months (Seattle and Portland are year round, which is just wrong IMO). Thereís a YMCA and a public indoor pool. And a private bowling alley. Thereís an indoor trampoline place up on Meridian. A few of the breweries are OK with kids 😊 Thatís all that comes to mind.

    Defying the statistics, October was fantastic. November wasnít bad either. A week or so into December it got not so nice. Itís not so nice right now either. I figured Iíd ski in the winter, but that hasnít really worked out. The ski area elevations are lowógenerally around 3500 feet for base. It seems to snow overnight then rain in the day. Skiing in pouring rain sucks. Iíve done it in Vancouver, at Mt Baker, at Mt Hood now and itís kind of fun for a couple hours while youíre pumped up with a hot coffee, then itís just miserable. Mt Hood Meadows has dryers in the bathrooms, the others donít. The snow gets all heavy and anything short of full on rain gear, you end up totally soaked in freezing water. I wear wool and down so stay relatively warm, but it isnít pleasant by any stretch. Baker got many days of straight non stop pow but thereís no night skiing there and I work 9-5 so I missed it all. Snoqualmie and Mt Hood do have night skiing and theyíre shorter drives (if you are in Seattle or Portland or Hood River).

    Riding

    Galbraith Mountain is the main attraction. Itís private timber company land open to public use. I bet thereís more riding on Galbraith than the whole bay area put together. One warningÖ no shuttles. You gotta ride up. It took me a few months to get my legs trained. At first if I rode all the way to the top, my legs were rubber coming down and it was no fun. Now Iím good for the full climb plus one lap of the top or middle sections.

    If you wanna shuttle, thereís Chuckanut. Itís steep and natural and when the access road is open, you can drive to the top.
    You can night ride. Iíve only done it a few times, but when the weather was decent but the days were short it was great to ride mid week. I spent $120 on lights off Amazon and my son and I have a helmet mount light + bar mount light.

    Bíham is becoming the city of subdued pump tracks. Thereís Whatcom Falls, which last I visited is kinda in disrepair. The waterfront pump track opened the day I arrived and me likey. Itís a bit short on intermediate/advanced jump lines, but itís right smack downtown and easily accessed and great for kids too. Thereís a pump track/dirt jumps next to the skate park also. The skate park is lame IMO, and it is usually busy with skateboarders. The dirt jumps are OK but you have to know how to jump already.

    I did a day trip to Whistler Bike Park. That was a lot of fun and I look forward to them re-opening next summer.

    BC has a crap ton of riding of all sorts that I havenít tried other than some dirt jumps.

    I really wish there was something like the Lumberyard (in Portland) for riding indoors during winter in the Puget Sound area. Yeh rain gear helps with riding, but sometimes I just donít feel like getting wet at all. The Air Rec center in Maple Ridge, BC is similar but a bit farther than I want to drive on a regular basis. We do have the Bike Ranch.

    Regardless, you will see lots of cars with bikes on the roof or a hitch mount rack. MTB is not some sort of afterthought in recreational land use planning, itís one of the main attractions (er, except in Portland).

    The number of projects that Evergreen has going in the state of Washington is crazy. Bham has WMBC that are super active. The community involvement is off the chart. We did trail work every Sunday in November, to the point I got tendonitis in both wrists and had to stop. I'll come across folks digging while riding and help shovel for a bit. The woods are a dirt church.


    People

    I'd say B'ham is to Seattle as Santa Cruz is to SF... or maybe Berkeley. Be prepared for a lot of coexist bumper stickers. Buy local.

    I havenít found Seattle or Bellingham to be any more welcoming than the bay area. Itís not that people are unfriendly, just feels like theyíve got their own stuff going on. I've heard of this "Seattle freeze". On our trips to Oregon, we just jumped right into social activities. Got invited to a birthday party, on a camping trip, an ascent of Mt Adams, to a BBQ, I forget what else, just by random people we met. A friend of mine from NY joined us once and was creeped outÖ ďWhat the hell do these people want from us?Ē That gave me a pretty good laugh.

    If it wasnít for our sonís school, I donít think weíd really know anybody in Bíham other than our realtor. And the folks we know through the school are not from Washington. That said weíve been too busy to work at it a whole lot and we work from home. I figured folks would have more free time, and it wouldnít be like planning events with families in the bayÖ where weíd have to schedule 4-6 months out. Well, we plan like a month out. Better, but not the spontaneity that characterized our 20s in the bay area.

    The vibe is way more laid back. Even in Seattle, I donít get the aggro vibes. When Iím on the road, I listen to acoustic music. I gotta skip over all the really brutal metal tracks that got me through my bay area commute (my wife has to drive to Redmond regularly though and she hates it, though she likes the folks in the office there).

    If there are white collar professionals in Bíham, I havenít found many of them. Sometimes after a rough week at work, you want to kick back with people who understand what youíre going through, right? Or kick some ideas around. This city has a lack of good jobs considering the high cost of living. Out of market money is making everything expensiveÖ lots of Seattle retirees and rich Canadians.

    One of my criticisms of the bay area was that everyone is obsessed with work. This place is perhaps a bit too much in the other direction. Obviously the retirees could care less about the job market. Iíve got an engineering degree, Iím a nerd, but Iím not checked out professionally, I just like to be outdoors. Iíve gotta drive to Seattle to network (or maybe Vancouver, though I haven't tried that).

    One thing that drove me nuts in San MateoÖ hearing startup pitches when going to coffee. Well, it doesnít necessarily go away. The businesses are just different. Instead of some tech company, itíll be a restaurant idea. In Hood River, OR, twice I sat next to folks discussing starting grow operations. Canít we talk about trail building or something?

    One nice thing about flying back to the bay is that friends make time to meet up when Iím in town.

    NextDoor in San Mateo was a total circusó entertaining at least. Bíhamís is pretty lame.

    Some other random stuff
    Havenít been super impressed eating out here. Had better luck in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and even Hood River. Youíre also limited unless you are into white person food (sorry, I canít stand to eat anymore sandwiches or bland tacos). Fill up on Mexican food because itís all disappointing this far north. Vancouver is great for South and East Asian food though. We found some legit South Asian places in Redmond WA and I ate a lot of great sushi in Seattle during the summer.

    Thereís a decent amount of live music, all ages even. San Mateo was really boring in that regard, other than music in the park during the summer, I canít think of anything regular (I used to go to St James Gate in Belmont and Winters Tavern in Pacifica to hear local live music, but it was 21+).

    The Big Question
    Would I go back? Donít think so. If my review sounds negative, itís maybe more a warning that leaving isnít going to solve all problems. You trade some downsides for another set of downsides. Iím happy with this trade off so far. We'll see-- if the community doesn't click, and we don't come up with some other acceptable work alternatives, we might give Seattle a go. My wife has been offered a gig in Switzerland several times. I go back to the bay at least once a month and I am reminded of why I left right away. Last week I spent four hours in the car the day I flew in. The police cleared out the huge homeless encampment near my office but thereís an RV city now instead. I hear rent increases slowed down, but I pay the same amount of money to have an ocean view two blocks from downtown with twice as much space. And itís a ten minute drive to awesome riding. I donít know exactly how weíre going to make it work long term, but I don't want to go back.

  2. #2
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    Good write up.
    As a fellow transplant I find the winter effect cumulative. At 5 years winter didn't really bother me. At 14 years in winters in the valley SUCK and I definitely experience SAD as do all my outdoor friends. I like the "white people food" comment. I'm in Portland and it's the most overrated food scene I've ever experienced.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Good write up.
    As a fellow transplant I find the winter effect cumulative. At 5 years winter didn't really bother me. At 14 years in winters in the valley SUCK and I definitely experience SAD as do all my outdoor friends. I like the "white people food" comment. I'm in Portland and it's the most overrated food scene I've ever experienced.

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    Thanks.

    Winter is starting to get to me now but at least the days are long enough I can get a quick ride at the end of the day. That helps some.

    Yeh there's a definite trend with all the food in the PNW. I actually think some of it is quite good, a random food pick in Portland usually turns out better than in the bay. But truly diverse it is not. I feel like I'm eating the same thing over and over no matter the nominal cuisine. Like I'm pretty sure I've never seen a quinoa kale enchilada at a Mexican place before last weekend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fitek View Post
    Like I'm pretty sure I've never seen a quinoa kale enchilada at a Mexican place before last weekend.

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    Lol! Welcome to the PNW.

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    Great read, thank you!

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    One thing I always hear from hard core mountain bikers before they move to Bellingham is how excited they are being so close to BC and the epic riding north of the border.

    But very consistently, after living there for a while they end up rarely leaving town to ride because the riding is that good.

    And in my opinion, Galby is just the tip of the iceberg as far as riding goes. To be fair, itís still one of the best legal trail systems Iíve ever ridden. But personally, I like my trails to be gnarly enough that you physically cannot walk down them without assuming risk of injury.

    Here is a new video of one of my favorite female riders and Bellingham local shredding some loam:
    https://youtu.be/aLyrWxhTlGY

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    Quote Originally Posted by RBoardman View Post
    One thing I always hear from hard core mountain bikers before they move to Bellingham is how excited they are being so close to BC and the epic riding north of the border.

    But very consistently, after living there for a while they end up rarely leaving town to ride because the riding is that good.

    And in my opinion, Galby is just the tip of the iceberg as far as riding goes. To be fair, itís still one of the best legal trail systems Iíve ever ridden. But personally, I like my trails to be gnarly enough that you physically cannot walk down them without assuming risk of injury.

    Here is a new video of one of my favorite female riders and Bellingham local shredding some loam:
    https://youtu.be/aLyrWxhTlGY
    that steep chute at :25, holy smokes!
    94 Specialized Rockhopper

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    Quote Originally Posted by dth656 View Post
    that steep chute at :25, holy smokes!
    I just rode Chuckanut for the first time yesterday and walked/slid down stuff a quarter as big, hehe. The skill level is high. I learned quickly to not try and keep up with the locals, up or down. I had a big ole dude on a DH bike pedal past me my first climb up Galby on my mid travel trail bike. Even after half a year riding twice a week Ive ridden only a fraction of Galbraith, and I know there are trails all around lake whatcom as well. Then there's the stuff that isn't public...

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    Also, somehow I missed this in the rent first section. Renting non-student housing is really tough. It is literally probably easier to buy a SFH than to rent one.

    We got wind of an upcoming rental via a realtor, saw it over a three day weekend once it was listed and when I called on Tuesday to put a deposit down, it was gone. June came and we were six weeks from moving and we didn't have a place to stay. I found *one* listing in town, had our realtor do a FaceTime walk through (the lease required we inspect in person before putting a deposit down)... and that's what we went with. It wasn't available till labor day so we stayed in short term rentals around the PNW from late July till move in.

    I was able to find some hosts on AirBnB who were willing to rent for a month at a time, though we didnt' go that route.

    Why the heck would I recommend renting if it's such a pain? Well we ended up in an old craftsman two blocks from downtown... which is exactly what we had in San Mateo and we swore we'd never do again. And you know what? It's been good. It's made it easier to get outside and get to the know the city, rather than what we thought we wanted, which was to be more on the fringe of the city.

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    Oh yah another thing. Weather forecasts are mostly useless. It was supposed to rain yesterday and all this week. Yesterday the skatepark had dried out by afternoon, though it was cloudy and windy. It did rain at night. Today it's mostly clear and the sidewalk is dry as of an hour ago (10:30a).

    Lots of times I'll ask Google Home what's the weather and she'll say, "it's 50F with showers". And it's not raining at all. I take it to mean that it's going to rain at some point in the day, but you don't really know if it's going to be in 20 minutes or at 2am. The best way to figure out whats going on over the next hour is to walk up the hill and see how far off the rain clouds are.

    Just carry a water proof jacket when you go out if you don't wanna get wet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fitek View Post

    Note that even Bellingham, the dreariest city in the lower 48, is sunnier than most of Europe. In Europe, it also rains a bunch through summer. In the PNW, statistically you get most of the rain in November and December (although this year, we just got a few days of heavy rainfall, and it was generally pleasant until early December) and summer is really nice with some occasional rain that rejuvenates the trails.
    Nice, thorough write up! In July 2018, I moved from the Greater Sacramento Area (Folsom) to Denmark...just a bit north of Copenhagen proper (an easy peasy 20 minute civilized train ride from Copenhagen central downtown).

    Like you, I'm also in the biotech / pharma industry.

    I was curious if you'd comment on the weather and how it compares to Europe since I saw that you lived in Yurp for a bit when you were younger. I gotta say, the weather in Denmark is crushing....especially in winter. It's just constant drizzle...we've taken to calling it the "Denmark drip". It just appears to never stop, except for that one rare sunny day when everything blows out once every 7 - 10 days then, then it comes crushing right back in. I joke that my predominantly north facing side is starting to grow moss ;-)

    The summer's here are glorious though....we're so far north, the summer days stay light til 10 or 11 PM at night, and even at "high noon", the sun stays pretty low in the sky...so the 'golden hours' of sunrise and sunset last a long, long time. It's actually kind of magical.

    We've been here since July 2018, and the opportunity to move here came with little risk as it was an employer sponsored move when I saw a career opportunity open up and I jumped on it. Our term here was only suppossed to be for 1 year, and we extended it, and we'll return back to Norcal at the end of 2020 for a total stay in Northern Europe of 2.5 years when it will be all said and done.

    I take interest in all the 'moving out of NorCal' type discussions here, because I know the traffic, sprawl, and all the other issues of CA are going to be a shock when we move back. So I have an eye on what additional options might be for us down the road.

    After spending this time in Denmark, I doubt we would be up for a PNW move. Even though I am a skier through and through...I think after all (well, all TWO of them haha) the tough, dark winters here (it's crazy how dark it is here in December and January) we'd go South to drier climbs if we could help it.

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    Thanks for the write-up... Bellingham is one of our top choices to retire/relocate. I've been there a few times... one of the worst kept secrets to going to Vancouver BC is to fly Allegiant to Bellingham, rent a car and cross the border. =P

    I love the small-town feel of Bellingham, although I am surprised by your "Santa Cruz" comment... I felt a red-state vibe when I was there. You're probably right about the food... but Richmond BC is less than an hour away so there's plenty of choices there. You will definitely need one of those border fast-pass thing because crossing to Canada could be a hit or miss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ron m. View Post
    I love the small-town feel of Bellingham, although I am surprised by your "Santa Cruz" comment... I felt a red-state vibe when I was there.
    It quickly turns red outside the core. I'm in Fairhaven and our neighbors have a sign on their front gate prohibiting discrimination on their property, heh. Drive five minutes down the Baker Highway and it looks MAGAish. But I dunno for sure, my uncle lived in Grass Valley and it was alternating NRA bumper stickers and granola in his area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    I was curious if you'd comment on the weather and how it compares to Europe since I saw that you lived in Yurp for a bit when you were younger. I gotta say, the weather in Denmark is crushing....especially in winter. It's just constant drizzle...we've taken to calling it the "Denmark drip". It just appears to never stop, except for that one rare sunny day when everything blows out once every 7 - 10 days then, then it comes crushing right back in. I joke that my predominantly north facing side is starting to grow moss ;-)
    It definitely does not rain non-stop here, but it rains frequently. The driveway is growing moss. It seems the thermostat is set to 45F and cloudy, other than some swings in either direction.

    I used this site a lot:
    https://weatherspark.com/y/74001/Ave...ark-Year-Round

    Look up any of the I-5 PNW cities. Precipitation has a peak in November, on average. IIRC November in Bham is like 6 inches. It doesn't rain much in summer.

    Vancouver and Issaquah get like 9 inches in November. I'm not sure what that actually means day to day; I assume the rain is just heavier.

    The memory I have ingrained from Europe is sitting by the window waiting to go outside again as the rain pitter patters on the glass. I was young so I didn't know any different, but it was a bummer. In winter I played with Legos and did art projects.
    My parents would give us lessons in English and other stuff. However when we got to the Sf Bay area with it's dry weather, the primary feeling I had was of claustrophobia. I wanted to go back. In Germany I could go out and wander in the fields and the woods. I tried it in Mountain View and got hauled back to my parents house by a concerned neighbor.

    I presume your day lengths vary a bit more and it gets a bit colder in winter. I actually spent 3 weeks in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Warsaw five years ago for X-mas break. I remember Stockholm and Warsaw better than Copenhagen; both were colder. We got rained on in Copenhagen on several occasions, and also pretty badly when we arrived in Stockholm (we had to walk quite a ways from the airport shuttle to the hotel and were completely soaked).

    I mentioned earlier that I don't think the winter is getting to me, yet I've had an extra helping of anxiety lately, without much reason. I just dismissed it, maybe that's me getting older. Yesterday the sun came out for most of the day, I went out in t-shirt and shorts twice, and felt rejuvenated. Maybe it is getting to me...

    I've been visiting the PNW during summer for the past eight years though and it does feel magical too. One of the things that drew me up here was that memory of playing outside for what seemed like forever, my mother calling us to bed with the sky still light at 10pm.

    So, it has been raining every day, not all the time, but the number of days I haven't gone outside for an hour is low. The way I look at it... in San Mateo the number of winter weekdays I got out was very low because I was on 101. And there was nothing I could do about it.

    We considered moving to San Diego, another biotech area, some time back, but my sister has lived there since she was 18 and she finally left. It's now also expensive (unless you move inland, where it gets ungodly hot-- though if you can stomach Sac, maybe you'd be OK. I went to UC Davis and found summer absolutely unbearable) and the traffic has turned awful there as well. Seattle north/south traffic is terrible. Portland traffic sucks (at least it has some decent public transit). LA was always horrendous.

    In terms of biotech, your other options are NC, Boston, maybe Chicago or New Jersey. The week I spent in Chicago for Xmas a couple years back was straight up miserable beyond description. I'll take rain, please. Oh and traffic in all those places sucks too, and summer is muggy and gross.

    At least in the SF area biotechs, we've seen a push towards remote work over the last few years as commercial real estate is so expensive. We were both at Genentech as the hilltop buildings went up, and they couldn't find space for all their people... hoteling, hot desking, all these ideas that were just frustrating in implementation, trying to cram everyone in. They were so desperate, my wife worked on moving one group to Portland, expenses paid, but they didn't have all that many takers because there aren't many biotech jobs there, so a bad fit for people in the middle of their career. We decided it would be less risky to go now, with that trend and with a good economy, than, say, five years ago, or maybe in a couple years when the next recession hits. Still a risk.

    We're using this time of year to go heads down and work. Save up vacation days for the summer. We had planned to go to Hawaii in Feb to get a sun break, but decided to skip it. Let's just crank through this thing and enjoy the good part of the year when it arrives. We're working evenings almost every day. I like to tinker in the garage and my son and I are fixing up our bikes, building RC airplanes and cars. Good time to do some maintenance on the cars too. I'm coaching his hockey team twice a week. I might join the winter league next year, that takes care of another evening per week.

    I have no idea how I'm going to stay focused at work in summer. I was one of those kids staring out of the window during class, wishing I were outside instead. Now I'll have the agency to get out there and it could be dangerous

    Switzerland is an option for us, but I'm also pretty Americanized by now and not sure how I'd handle it. I have a giant vehicle, a big garage, many toys. Housing in Europe is much smaller and I wonder if it would kill my hobbies.

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    You may have mentioned this in your 5 page essay post (very well written by the way), but itís not at all the amount of rainfall that is concerning. Itís the lack of sunny weather that is the real downer. Most places in NorCal it has been consistently raining 1-3 times a week this winter, with blue skies the rest of the days. Hard to beat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RBoardman View Post
    You may have mentioned this in your 5 page essay post (very well written by the way), but itís not at all the amount of rainfall that is concerning. Itís the lack of sunny weather that is the real downer. Most places in NorCal it has been consistently raining 1-3 times a week this winter, with blue skies the rest of the days. Hard to beat.
    Yup. Here's today. Typical.

    It makes me wonder about getting through winter in Bend or Colorado. We have a few folks at work from CO. It's colder, but you get more clear skies.

    One other thing, if you live near I84 or I90 you can drive out east over the mountains where it's statistically more sunny, without having to live in rural America. I've done that from Portland.

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    If you want a miserable winter, try Ithaca, NY. I lived there for 2 years, and you actually wanted it to snow, since the cloud layer would increase the temperature. On clear days, the temps would plummet below 20F quite easily.

    A few times, through some quirk of thermodynamics that I never understood, there would be actual rain even though the ambient temp was well below freezing. ugh.
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    I was born on the west side and lived in the Edmonds and Tukwilla areas and went to highschool on the east side wets of Spokane. I don't care how "bad" (and I don't think it's getting bad at all to be honest) it gets, I am not moving North. Fortunately, my wife and I have the exact same perspective, "It's only south from here!"

    I tell people, I've done my time in the rain and snow, and I am never going back except to visit!
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    Quote Originally Posted by roughster View Post
    I was born on the west side and lived in the Edmonds and Tukwilla areas and went to highschool on the east side wets of Spokane. I don't care how "bad" (and I don't think it's getting bad at all to be honest) it gets, I am not moving North. Fortunately, my wife and I have the exact same perspective, "It's only south from here!"

    I tell people, I've done my time in the rain and snow, and I am never going back except to visit!
    Growing up in NC and riding in western NC as a kid, I can tell you people in the Bay Area really do not understand the reality of living year round in bad weather. Summer was 90-100 degrees with humidity and mosquitos, and winter was butt ass cold for six months. We built trails all winter and the ground was so hard you had to use a pick axe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    Growing up in NC and riding in western NC as a kid, I can tell you people in the Bay Area really do not understand the reality of living year round in bad weather. Summer was 90-100 degrees with humidity and mosquitos, and winter was butt ass cold for six months. We built trails all winter and the ground was so hard you had to use a pick axe.
    Amen brother!
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    I'm curious... what was wrong with Denver?

    From a mountain biking perspective, it's way superior to the Bay Area. I personally prefer Denver's weather as well - it's very sunny. I'd much rather put on some warmer clothes and go out and play in the snow with the sun shining than live with week after week of gray, miserable, damp, spitting weather. If you like other outdoor sports, the skiing and rock climbing are much more accessible and as good or better than California. Not very good for surfing, but then, neither is the Bay Area.

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    Spokane seems like a fine place to live for the outdoor enthusiast to me. Far more sunny days than west of the Cascades yet far greener than everything in between.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fitek View Post
    We did not make it to Fort Collins, though I know some folks that moved there and love it. Although it started out as resignation and defeat, each location has something to love.

    Hey fitek,

    Let me know if you ever want to check out Fort Collins! We have an AirBnb less than 1/3 mile from dirt.

    Though it is sunny most days, we do have winter months and I do have studded tires on a bike right now. If you are ok bundling up, you can crush the trails before the post-10am thaw happens. Some of my fastest strava times are in the winter, on frozen ground, with studded tires.

    I grew up in NJ, went to school in West Virginia and my inlaws live in NW Montana (Kalispell area) so I'm familiar with overcast and inversions. There is a reason so many people from CA, IL, TX, etc. are moving here. Only down side, is winter. I'd be lying if I wasn't thinking how I could live in Tucson in the months of January, February and March as I creep into my 50's and beyond. Also, skiing is a solid 2+ hours. We are heading up to Steamboat tomorrow after our kids get out of school for a long weekend. 3 hour drive, but you literally see less than 100 cars on the way there, zero traffic. Occasional Elk, Mule Deer and occasionally Moose crossings to keep things interesting.
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    Thanks for this. I moved back to the Bay Area from Austin 10 years ago to work at Genentech, still there, but fortunately we were able to get a house before things got stupid crazy. Now periodically I like to look and it seems like you've checked out many of the places I'm interested in. If you really have the option for Basel, you should check it out - I've been a number of times and found it to be a really liveable city, but devoid much of the tourist BS. There's decent riding, the city is super clean, the food decent but somewhat limited in selection, plus you have the whole Swiss alps thing not too far away.

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    I am a Cali transport to Bellingham and have had basically a polar opposite experience than you in terms of the people. I knew nobody and got swept up into an incredibly welcoming and inclusive community. I think the fact that you prioritize finding "white collar" friends and what that says about your personality pretty much says it all.

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    I really liked Washington and Bellingham, then again, I was there during the early summer. Both times I've been to Seattle I've acquired legit sunburn and thought, "ugh, too much sun!"

    Riding up there annihilates the Bay Area. Was so stoked to see so many families, school groups, little girl birthday parties out getting their shred on at Galbraith.

    Do agree Santa Cruz is a fair comparison.

    I'll be back in August, looking forward to it. Been unable to score employment up there, but I keep looking.

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    Not trying to thread-jack but I'm wondering if anyone has similar experience escaping the SF Bay Area but to Vancouver, WA area? Does everything already described in this thread also apply to Vancouver, WA? Actually, looking at Camas, WA is is a 'burb of Vancouver.

    It seems like the weather in Vancouver may be a little more mild than Bellingham but I'm not sure.

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    I'd much rather live in Washougal or Camas than Portland but the weather is the same. Depending on where you are in relation to the Columbia you'd have the added bonus of wicked winds. No where near the terrain for skiing or riding compared to Bellingham. If you have to use the Columbia bridge for work I wouldn't even put Vancouver on your radar. Don't discount this point, believe me. Furthermore you may not be escaping much moving to Vancouver when it comes to quality of life stuff. Traffic, homelessness, crime, etc. are becoming real issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spec306 View Post
    Not trying to thread-jack but I'm wondering if anyone has similar experience escaping the SF Bay Area but to Vancouver, WA area? Does everything already described in this thread also apply to Vancouver, WA? Actually, looking at Camas, WA is is a 'burb of Vancouver.

    It seems like the weather in Vancouver may be a little more mild than Bellingham but I'm not sure.
    As far as I know, there are few trails in Camas, WA. There's also not much to ride in the Portland area.
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    Why Boise was off the list? What did not work?

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    I went to college in Bellingham. Born in Bay Area, grew up and currently live in Sacramento.

    The thing with the rain in Bellingham is that while it rains X inches per year, it FEELS like a lot more because itíll just drizzle/mist versus just dumping and getting it over with and then be dry after. I wasnít into mtb in college but looking at trail maps Iím shocked at how close I was to trails of the quality I have to drive 40-100 miles for now in Sacramento. I pretty much only get to mtb 2-3 times a month and road bike the rest of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JefedelosJefes View Post
    I am a Cali transport to Bellingham and have had basically a polar opposite experience than you in terms of the people. I knew nobody and got swept up into an incredibly welcoming and inclusive community. I think the fact that you prioritize finding "white collar" friends and what that says about your personality pretty much says it all.
    There's shared interests and experiences that are very important to identity. My best friends are still the ones I made in high school... not necessarily because we are similar but because we went through this defining time of life stuck together through good and bad. I've worked in the same industry in similar roles for over a decade and it's great to kick back with people who understand what you're going through.

    I think if I were in my twenties, or not a parent, it'd be a lot easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by noblige View Post
    Why Boise was off the list? What did not work?
    It's too remote. It's hot in summer (reminded me of San Jose). I doubt it'd come up much, but eastern WA and Idaho have a nativist white power thing going... which is sort of a problem if you aren't white or a native. Doesn't exactly fill you with warm fuzzies when you get people telling you to go back to your country (of course that happens in SF now even).

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    Quote Originally Posted by spec306 View Post
    Not trying to thread-jack but I'm wondering if anyone has similar experience escaping the SF Bay Area but to Vancouver, WA area? Does everything already described in this thread also apply to Vancouver, WA? Actually, looking at Camas, WA is is a 'burb of Vancouver.

    It seems like the weather in Vancouver may be a little more mild than Bellingham but I'm not sure.
    We considered Camas however there is not much riding or skiing. Ten years ago it might have been neat anyway, but traffic into Portland across i-5 and 205 bridges is absolutely brutal. I've seen it backed up beyond Battleground, which is pretty far out.

    It does have a cool livable little downtown and housing is still relatively cheap. If you live near i-205 you can hop over to Lumberyard or the dirt jumps at i-205/i-84 easily.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tswitz1234 View Post
    Thanks for this. I moved back to the Bay Area from Austin 10 years ago to work at Genentech, still there, but fortunately we were able to get a house before things got stupid crazy. Now periodically I like to look and it seems like you've checked out many of the places I'm interested in. If you really have the option for Basel, you should check it out - I've been a number of times and found it to be a really liveable city, but devoid much of the tourist BS. There's decent riding, the city is super clean, the food decent but somewhat limited in selection, plus you have the whole Swiss alps thing not too far away.
    My wife said today it's still on her bucket list. Obviously not happening anytime soon now...

    December and January were rough. It was bleak. I was down. Vitamin D deficiency creeps up on you slowly. I felt like a new man once the sun came back out in Feb. It's actually been very nice on/off since then. Few nice days, then a grey couple of days. Very tolerable. It's still cold, about 45f most of the time, which is fine if there's no wind.

    Days are getting long enough it's not a rush after work to get some outdoor activities in. Rode until 8:30p last night.

    Really digging Bellingham now. I love sheltering in place here. Boo, my hours at work got cut in half thanks to the current crisis and company stock taking a massive dump, but I knew I'd have to find another job eventually, probably local. End of an era. At least I don't have to travel anymore.

    Forecast for next two weeks is rain, but so far it's been BS... it's just some drizzle. I can't think of a place I'd rather be in lockdown.

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    The weather has been excellent the last week, just some occasional light rain, more problematic here has been that it gets windy in the afternoon.

    Just a note to those considering Seattle vs Bham. Though we are spared a few inches of annual rainfall, it is just plain colder here. Spring is here and take a look at the attached forecasts. I'm OK with it (mid 50s is perfect riding temp IMO), but my wife is getting irritated that she has to bundle up. I remember when buying sleeping bags, on average, comfortable temperate for women is 7 degrees higher than men. The temp drops and wind picks up in the evening so it makes our neighborhood lockdown walks not as pleasant as they could be. Couple weeks ago we were at the beach and with the wind chill it felt like being at the top of the mountain at Alpine Meadows. If you're in full sun and behind a wind shadow it was all good, when the sun pops behind a cloud and you're exposed it feels mighty cold. Had to wear winter gear and it ended up snowing overnight.

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    Just an update as I'm nearing 1 year here.

    I can't think of a better place to be locked down. I got to explore Bellingham without the pressure of kid activities and work travel. Exercise was exempted from stay at home, so we rode our bikes all around town. I used to do 7-9 mile rides once or twice a week and easily doubled the distance with conditioning and 3 times per week. Then I sprained my knee at the beginning of May and was despondent for a week until I discovered kayaking and how awesome it is to have freshwater and saltwater so close. You can get to a lake within ten minutes from almost anywhere in town, so I was going on paddles before work or at lunch. Low wind days, I can drop a kayak at Marine Park in Fairhaven and paddle to Boulevard park and get some coffee, or if I have more time, to downtown. Low tide at Larrabee State Park is awesome, it's like paddling around in a giant aquarium. Haven't even gone out to the islands yet, so just scratching the surface.

    Three of the team members at my client in Redwood City have not left their apartments since March except to go to the grocery store. We have a virtual happy hour every week. I can't imagine how they haven't lost their minds. I feel incredibly lucky.

    April was nicer than we deserved.

    May was off the hook. The weather warmed up over the period of a week and was almost entirely nice. Halfway through, bugs and allergies hit hard. I keep getting bitten by these little black flies and the bites are annoying. Mosquitos love me. I have really annoying allergies at lower elevations. I'm mostly OK by saltwater and on the top half of Galbraith.

    June. Old timers tell me it used to cool down and rain for a long stretch each June ("Junuary"). No longer, but it was still iffy for two weeks. Such a tease, May felt like summer was here, then it got pulled away. Now the grass is finally starting to die, and my allergies are subsiding a bit. Back in the bay, allergies wouldn't be an issue in June. The waterfront bike park re-opened, but it's so dry and dusty I don't feel like riding it. Galby or bust.

    If I had to give a description of the weather, it's that you get gray and drizzly days and nice days... the ratio between winter and summer is just flipped. Saturday a week ago was meh, then it was nice for six days, then grey windy and partly wet again for a day. This pattern has stuck since the Junuary period.

    We broke our isolation to meet up with some friends from Mountain View in Seattle. Half a day in Seattle and I was ready to go home.

    One question I had for them... I find 70F uncomfortably hot. Is it more humid? or have I just acclimated. Our visitors thought it's both. You hang up a towel in the bathroom and it doesn't really dry, so the same temp here and down in SF does feel different, but they were putting on light jackets when I was sweating in t-shirt, shorts and sandals.

    We did a day trip to Burlington to walk along the Skagit River. It was 77F, humid, mosquitos out in force. No breeze. Misery. Back in Bellingham there was a bit too much wind, and it was just a bit chilly, but we all preferred it. Reminded me of rolling down into the bay from Sacramento and you get hit with that moist cool air from the Pacific.

    Everyone seems in a good mood these days. I remember winter, people aren't unfriendly, but they kept to themselves. Not so anymore. Guessing that's SAD.

    Oh yah and we're definitely staying here. We got hit by the economic effects of coronavirus (I'm self-employed, and income is down 60%) but now that businesses seem to have become comfortable with remote work, I'm starting new fully remote projects. Instead of having to fight over how much I'll need to be onsite, clients are saying they don't want me to come in at all, ever. Getting an outside resource into locked down biotech manufacturing buildings is more risk and trouble than it's worth, I guess.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention progression. I can keep up with locals on the climbs now. Also clearing the black line at the Cedar Dust jumps without any trouble (gave the double black a go, but cased the first feature hard). But I'm still really slow compared to the locals on the actual trails. Oh well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fitek View Post
    Three of the team members at my client in Redwood City have not left their apartments since March except to go to the grocery store. We have a virtual happy hour every week. I can't imagine how they haven't lost their minds. I feel incredibly lucky.
    That seems very unique. Unless they have some kind of specific health concern, everyone I know gets out and about a little bit in the Bay Area. Trails are plenty busy, road riding is off the charts, etc. I don't think there's any difference between Bay Area and Bellingham in that respect.

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    Yeah, as the weeks have gone by, I've seen more and more people in the South Bay taking to walking around their neighborhoods on the sidewalk, and on multi-use paths, if one is near.

    Unprecedented amount of people walking around, especially, it seems, during weekend evenings.

    It's not Manhattan of course, or even San Francisco, but dramatically different from the usual convention of suburban sidewalks being almost useless ornamentation.

    Bellingham sounds like a paradise for you. Hope it continues to be and that more work flows in for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini2k05 View Post
    That seems very unique. Unless they have some kind of specific health concern, everyone I know gets out and about a little bit in the Bay Area. Trails are plenty busy, road riding is off the charts, etc. I don't think there's any difference between Bay Area and Bellingham in that respect.
    I think you guys were more locked down before the opening up started. Our streets seemed oddly useless too, lots of people walking (and running out of sidewalk) but all the roads were empty. Those coworkers live in rough neighborhoods, walking around the hood isn't the same as when you live somewhere nice. Also stuff is farther away. I can ride clear across town in half an hour. It sucks but I can ride to Galbraith south lot in an hour (and I did, the lots were cordoned off cuz people kept coming from out of town-- could have been worse, Hood River and surrounding areas straight up closed all trails because of all the folks that thought the lockdown was a great time to road trip), less for the north entrance (but that climb was more crowded so I went to the south entrance instead).

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    Lived in B'ham from 94-2000. Both my kids are Bellinghamsters. Had to move back to NorCal for work and have been stuck near Sacramento ever since. Leaving B'ham may have been the single worst decision I've ever made, and since the wife is a born and bred Bay Area girl I may never get pardoned from this decaying and horrific state.
    B'ham may be one of the last gems of the PNW, until the crazed libtards and rioting jobless beats set there sights on it.
    Protect that little town, it's paradise!

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    Quote Originally Posted by firemedic.br View Post
    Lived in B'ham from 94-2000. Both my kids are Bellinghamsters. Had to move back to NorCal for work and have been stuck near Sacramento ever since. Leaving B'ham may have been the single worst decision I've ever made, and since the wife is a born and bred Bay Area girl I may never get pardoned from this decaying and horrific state.
    B'ham may be one of the last gems of the PNW, until the crazed libtards and rioting jobless beats set there sights on it.
    Protect that little town, it's paradise!

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    Bellingham has a thriving competitive paddling scene, sprint and surfski. Check out [email protected]

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    @zorg it's the new Calitude....if you're not angry you're not paying attention....lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by firemedic.br View Post
    Lived in B'ham from 94-2000. Both my kids are Bellinghamsters. Had to move back to NorCal for work and have been stuck near Sacramento ever since. Leaving B'ham may have been the single worst decision I've ever made, and since the wife is a born and bred Bay Area girl I may never get pardoned from this decaying and horrific state.
    B'ham may be one of the last gems of the PNW, until the crazed libtards and rioting jobless beats set there sights on it.
    Protect that little town, it's paradise!

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

    ...Wow. Have you considered moving out of the Central Valley? That's kind of the armpit of California. I wouldn't judge the whole state by that. 🤷*♂️

  46. #46
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    It's always great when somebody interjects CA hate, apropos of nothing.



    And it's especially weird since it came from one of the Village People!
    "I will absolutely apologize hopefully sometime in the distant future if I'm ever wrong." ~ Donnie Bonespurs

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Callender View Post
    It's always great when somebody interjects CA hate, apropos of nothing.



    And it's especially weird since it came from one of the Village People!
    Even better when they are stuck there... I say the California haters get what they deserve Either move, or deal with it.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by rafekett View Post
    Even better when they are stuck there... I say the California haters get what they deserve Either move, or deal with it.
    It seems strange to me how many people claim to be "stuck" in CA. It's as if Californian's don't know that there is a world outside of California or something? Like...jobs and things exist elsewhere oddly enough.

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