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What’s new, you ask?

June 23, 2018
Saguaro forest

This is a forest. Not trees, Arizona’s signature saguaro cactus. (Photo: from the Internet)

I know, it’s been a while. Sorry about that, but there has been a major upheaval in my life. Details follow the jump.

I’m guessing you’ve heard about the price of housing skyrocketing in Seattle and Portland. In fact, a crappy little broom closet in the Emerald City will now run you upwards of two grand a month. If you can find one.

The beginnings of that trend (among other things) drove me to Portland back in… what, 2009?

In 2010, I moved to Bellingham, Wash. because it was more affordable. Emphasis on “was.”

If you wonder just how a college town with no economy to speak of can have a median home price over $400,000, look to Seattle. Or Vancouver. Four hundred grand is a screamin’ bargain compared to those two places. If you’re actually looking to buy a house so you can live in it, The ‘Ham is the place for you, for sure. That the commute is at least an hour and a half in either direction is not really an issue for those who can work remotely.

For those of us who lack the means to own a home, Bellingham has become a nightmare. The vacancy rate is almost zero, and what is available isn’t cheap.

Not even the Foothill Villa. The offspring of the original owner are now in charge, and their thought seems to be anyone who can afford $12,000 to send their kid to Western Washington University for a year can afford way more than I was paying.

What to do?

Sadly, every city and town in Washington and Oregon has become as pricey as Bellingham. A grand a month in Astoria, Ore. would make even Goonies say die. The price of admission to the Pacific Northwest has become prohibitive. For me, anyway.

An article in the Seattle Times a while back piqued my curiosity. It told the story of a popular KEXP dj and his partner pulling up stakes and joining a minor exodus of artists and musicians to Tucson, Ariz.

In many ways, Tucson resembles Seattle in the 1970s. Rents are low, there are lots of empty commercial buildings holding the promise of cheap studio/rehearsal space, a scene has developed.

A quick look at Craigslist showed an abundance of apartments that were larger and nicer, with amenities, than my Foothill Villa pad, for less money. Interesting. File for future reference.

Well, the future is now.

I packed everything that would fit in the More Expensive Ford Taurus With a Different Grille and headed south, then east.

To say that Tucson is as different from the places I’ve lived previously as one could possibly get is an understatement. I’m writing this at 8:30 pm Mountain Standard Time (Arizona don’t do Daylight Savings), and the temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit. There are spectacular mountains in three directions, but not a speck of snow on any of them. You are warned to be mindful of rattlesnakes. The Monsoon is coming, and several Tucson streets have warning signs saying “do not enter if flooded” (because flash floods).

There are scooters on the (six-lane, quasi-freeway) streets. Not very many, but they are out there. There’s even a scooter club that I’m told is quite active. Needless to say, I intend to learn more. Stay tuned.

  1. Cyn permalink
    June 24, 2018 12:27 am

    Well heck, I’ve looked too, & still am. It gets too hot to ride part of the year, but that’s the same as too rainy, so a wash. There are some nice mountains, but no ocean so points to the PNW. Crime rate and rents are a bit better than Aberdeen, so point Tucson. Go figger.
    Keeps us posted mon frer.

  2. Doug permalink
    June 24, 2018 4:34 am

    Well, at least the heat is “dry heat”….more tolerable than humidity with heat. But….latest USA Today sez Tucson is becoming a high crime locale….so be alert.

  3. June 24, 2018 8:39 am

    Cyn, it’s been over 100F the whole time I’ve been here, and I would not be inclined to ride, either. Especially a bicycle, though I have seen Tour de France cosplayers out and about.

    Doug, there has been an uptick in crime just about everywhere in the U.S. since the Presidential election. But it’s still nowhere near the levels attained when I was in high school. These days Chicago has hundreds of homicides annually, but in the 1960s and 70s, it was THOUSANDS. Likewise in New York, Detroit and even sunny Los Angeles. As Cyn points out, Tucson is not as bad as Aberdeen, Wash…

  4. Mark Morris permalink
    June 26, 2018 7:54 am

    I wish you well on your move. I hope you enjoy it there. : )

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