It’s been 5 and a half years since we’ve been living in Vancouver, WA, on the border <of Oregon and Portland, 3 and a half years since we bought a house and our next project… Going far away from here! Many will ask why and tell me that we are crazy to leave this beautiful area, but I will tell you more about our motivations and our desire to move back to Tennessee. You would have told my husband two years ago that he would dream of going back there, he would have taken you for a fool. I’ve been dreaming about it for a while, but he didn’t want to, and yet… That’s why we want to leave here.
The cost of living
The most important point that makes us make this decision. The cost of living in the northwest Pacific is very high and it is not going to get any better. Oregon a few years ago was a very quiet state, with a medium-sized city, Portland, and all around it there were towns in the middle of the countryside. Today, downtown Portland is being transformed, destroying the beautiful old buildings and replacing them with skyscrapers, and the forest that is the pride and joy of the locals is being cleared away and apartments and houses are being built. In 5 years the center has completely changed, it’s impressive. Why is that impressive? Because certain factors make many people decide to come and live here and the 3 main reasons are:
Strange you may say but not really. A lot of Californians can’t stand the heat of the Californian desert anymore and decide to come further north. Especially retired people who sell their expensive house in California to buy something more affordable in Oregon.
The big head offices
For those who don’t know, Nike was created in Oregon, so the head office is in a suburb of Portland. This brought a lot of people and a lot of other headquarters decided to move to the area to make sure they could be close to the “talent” that Nike could have. It is also very common for a foreign couple to be transferred here, and the spouse goes to work in another of the headquarters. Among them are Intel, Columbia Sportswear, Adidas, Under Armour, Keen and so on.
The trendy new city
And yes Portland is the new fashionable destination for young professionals, a liberal city that attracts many different communities and that attracts all the young people who are graduating from college or are looking for a professional reconversion.
So you’ll understand that the more people come in, the higher the cost of real estate as there is more demand and everything else follows. The problem also is that many young people don’t realize the cost of living here, and are willing to take any job to be able to relocate, so the salary for a lot of work is going down.
We’re very lucky, we’re homeowners, so we pay less than a lot of people who rent, but the local taxes go up a lot every year, as well as the bills, state taxes (in the US we’re affected by two types of taxes, federal and state), and so on.
One reason for this price increase is also that the minimum wage keeps going up, so automatically everything goes up at the same time, whether it’s taxes or service prices because employers have to pay their employees more. A concept that people apparently do not understand here because they vote every year for the government to raise the minimum wage instead of pushing employers to pay more. Well, that’s a whole other debate!
I’ve always lived in cities, but in small towns. Whether in France, in Albi or Bayonne, or in the United States. I lived in Toulouse for 2 years, but I didn’t like it at all. I also lived in San Diego but despite the fact that it’s a big city, it’s very spread out and so each neighborhood feels like a small town. We currently live in a small town, but going to Portland is almost a must, especially to work. The trips of more than an hour in the morning between the car and the tram or bus, the increasing insecurity in the city and especially the world, I think I’ve had enough of it, so I can’t wait to get away from it all.
We have a house with a fairly large garden, we have been able to have our own vegetable garden, but this “simpler” life in the country is something we are looking for. For my part I grew up in a family that loved to have its own vegetable garden, my grandfather had a farm in Algeria before the war, so it stayed in the family, tomato plant competitions every year, to see who grows the most! I also spent much of my childhood at my father’s sister’s house in the country, feeding the chickens in the morning and exploring the property, which has since been taken over by my cousin who raises poultry and makes honey. A family story you will tell me, and the friends in France have made me want to live in the country by sharing their life on the farm with us. For my husband, I think the desire came with time. Already he doesn’t like big cities and preferred to live thousands of miles away from everyone. He is also passionate about everything related to agriculture (on a small scale), and his dream is to have a huge space with lots of dogs.
Having a lot of land or even buying a farm is almost impossible in the Pacific Northwest. Everything is already expensive, and the possibilities of buying a farm are very limited. The climate is great here for a vegetable garden, we managed to manage everything well but we didn’t see ourselves staying here, and we know that in Tennessee, our possibilities will be unlimited (or almost), we could even think about just buying a piece of land and building something in our image.
So that’s one of the reasons why I’m not so much on the blog anymore. I don’t just have one job, but 2 at the moment and a few months ago I had 3 or even 4! And this for several years. Having masters in communication and marketing I tried to get one job but it didn’t work out too well. As I said before, the salaries are pulled down, so it’s hard to get underpaid for our work. Then in the US (at least in the North West Pacific), Americans hire differently than in France. No need for diplomas here, just experience, but no real control on the validity of the experience. Indeed the law forbids a former employer to speak negatively about a person to a future employer. It’s also easy to lie and give away a friend’s contacts… so I found myself several times working with people who sold themselves superbly to the employer, but who knew nothing at all about the job they had to do. I may have been unlucky, but it made me a little disgusted with the marketing environment in the area.
So I’m working in a textile store where I have a management position, and I’m setting up my own business. Well I’m not setting up my company anymore, it officially exists, Digital Marketing Lab, but being a startup we’re still in the launch phase which requires a lot of work and doesn’t pay much. The goal will be to live only from my company, but knowing the cost of living here, it gives an extra pressure because we have to bring a lot of income to be able to live from it. In addition, relocating will allow us to expand our client base!