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Moving to Seattle

So, I’ve decided I’m moving to Seattle regardless of the outcome of my most recent job interview.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Portland dearly. I’m not a huge fan of Seattle, the city. As I’ve said previously, it sort of has all the things that annoy me about San Francisco and Los Angeles combined into one city. I don’t like the traffic. I don’t like the way the transit works: granted, the transit is pretty good compared to Los Angeles, and almost on-par with San Francisco. Seattle also “smells funny.”

But increasingly there is little opportunity in Portland for me to thrive. I’ve been struggling with this for years. Even when I’ve had a job and doing financially well, there are things that just never quite fall in place for me. Things always seem just below the threshold of “awesome,” and it’s frustrating operating at just under optimal for me. I’d almost rather be operating at 75% “awesome” than 98%. I can work around that 25% difference.

Except I have this feeling that life for me in Seattle is going to be 75% awesome. Increasingly, it looks like it’s going to be, at worst, me switching out a collection of 2% annoyances with another set of 2% annoyances. Considering that one of the annoyances of life in Portland has been opportunity, that seriously skews things.

See, Seattle is a Big CityTM. Portland is, at it’s best, a small city.. but in reality, it’s perhaps the biggest small town you’ve ever seen. There are few big city opportunities here. Unemployment here is historically high, and given the financial situation of the past few years it’s been downright appalling.

I scan the job boards in Seattle, and there’s a ratio somewhere around 40:1 of jobs advertised. It’s that bad here in Portland.. for every job I see here in Portland, there’s at least 40 in Seattle that I could apply for. I understand there’s a huge talent pool up there, too.. but the odds are just overwhelming.

Add to that the social element. I’ve made friends in Portland, don’t get me wrong. But every time I’m in Seattle, I come home with at least one new friend there. EVERY TIME, WITHOUT EXCEPTION. It has taken me the better part of eight years here in Portland to collect 1/4 of the friend circle I have in Seattle, even though I don’t actually LIVE in Seattle. The social groups I’d be involved in there have hundreds of members, not just a dozen or two. All of my interests are hyper-present in Seattle. Hell, the Seattle anime scene (something I’m not completely immersed in, but have a passing interest in Japanese culture generically) hosts the [arguably] largest con of it’s kind outside Japan. These scenes are healthy and vibrant, to varying degrees. There’s living, breathing hacker spaces (the ones here in PDX seem to die the minute I find them), a couple of wonderful occult groups I’m already involved in, and very interesting communities that appeal to my more.. um.. prurient interests.

Portland is an oddly insular city. I still don’t understand that.

City life is always a collection of compromises, regardless of the city. I’ve tolerated Portland’s compromises to the point that they are seriously challenging my ability to thrive. Being unemployed for .. what, well over a year now? … has created a situation that is unsustainable. If things were financially going well for me here, I’d have no reason to leave. But with the job situation being so sucky, it makes no sense to stay here, even though I love everybody I’ve met in Portland, and would do anything to bring all of you with me…

One Comment

  1. Brian Garrett wrote:

    I kind of get what you’re saying about Portland. Even when I lived there, I always thought that Portlanders felt like they had it so good, they couldn’t see how they could possibly make things better, even when they needed to. The news media seemed to have the attitude “if it didn’t happen in the Northwest, it didn’t happen.”

    Haven’t spent much time in Seattle so I can’t really say aye or nay about it, although I agree re: traffic. They’re just as bad as SoCalians. Must be all the coffee.

    Anyway, best of luck in Seattle. I’ve always had the impression it’s much more cosmopolitan than PDX ever was. At least the climate’s no worse. Now,if only they had a Powell’s…

    Monday, July 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

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