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Thinking about moving to Washington after college, advice needed

1948 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  18943
Hello Jeepforum members, hope everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving break last week!

As the title of this thread suggests, I'm interested in learning more about the great state of Washington. I currently live in northern Michigan (where I've lived my whole life) and attend school at Kettering University downstate in Flint. In a little under 2 years I'll be out of college with a Bachelor's in Business Administration, and will be looking for a place to live and work.

My interest in Washington started last spring when I flew out to Seattle and drove a truck (early 90's F150 5 speed with the I6 for those curious) solo back to Michigan for a relative. Awesome trip! So glad I had the chance to take it, but wish I would have taken my relatives up on their offer to stay longer and see more of the state. I did get the chance to walk downtown Seattle, and experience some of the markets, places to eat, sights, etc with the family I was staying with.

I'm currently 21yo, single, and a HUGE outdoors guy. I'm passionate about anything to do with the outdoors, I'm very mechanically inclined, and I like the country lifestyle. I Jeep, dirtbike, snowmobile, and can do anything from home repair to fixing your diesel injection system. Political views are democratic, I'm into the be green, eat healthy, do it yourself lifestyle, and I really love the mountains. I understand the cost of living is pretty crazy compared to MI, and the average home prices do make my eyes pop out of their sockets. The state just seems like so much fun though! (Plus I'm not opposed to living in a Micro House lol.) I consider myself a small town person, I'm from a touristy town of roughly 2500, and Seattle was definitely too large for me to feel comfortable in, although I loved to vibe the city gave off

I'm use to the overcast Michigan weather from late October through late March, so I don't think that would be a huge issue, and I don't mind rain. I had originally wanted to move to Colorado, but it's just to dry. Everything is sparse, and looks like it's a fire waiting to happen. The sun is nice though. Washington reminded me a lot of a more mountainous, fun version of Michigan, and that's why I'm drawn to it.

I've been planning another trip out there at some point, and maybe even will go the route of couchsurfing and staying with locals around the state. Anything to get a better feel for where I might want to end up after school.

With this being said can you tell me a little more about Washington? How's the camping, hiking, mountains, Jeep scene, etc? Any insight to what life is like would be helpful : ) I don't have a lot holding me down here in Michigan friend and family-wise (everyone is planning on going their separate directions also) and I feel like Washington may be a good fit. Feel free to ask me anything you need to know! Happy Jeeping!

P.S. as far as emissions go, would I be SOL if I tried to register my CJ in WA? I swapped a Mercedes diesel into it (2 years newer engine), but don't know if it'd ever pass emissions or not? MI doesn't do the emissions thing, but I could always tune it and put a cat on it
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If I recall correctly anything 25 years and older can be registered as a "classic" and exempt from emissions.

From my point of view, and based on your bio, you'd fit right in. If you love the downtown Seattle atmosphere, but don't want to live there there are lots of suburbs that are less expensive to live in. At least you can go to Seattle whenever you want and enjoy less traffic and congestion living south of Seattle. With a BA degree you would probably do pretty well. There is a ton of industry and the businesses that support the major industries.

The 4x4'ing and camping is great, and the climate covers everything from skiing to hiking to mountain biking, boating.

I could go on and on. Watch....

Thanks for the reply! The scenery in the videos look really beautiful
Yes, you'll love it here. Most of the State is mountains and wilderness. I moved to Vancouver, Washington because of two big reasons. Basing yourself there, you have access to Washington and Oregon. One side of the Columbia River is Portland, Oregon and that area resembles a smaller Seattle. Both States have an abundance of off-roading, fishing, camping, and anything else outdoors. If you live in Vancouver, you get the benefit of a mild climate because it is in a valley. Coming from Michigan, you'll be able to wear a light jacket during Vancouver's Winter season. For snow, you just have to get higher in elevation. Weyerhaeuser is the owner of a lot of forest land as they are in the timber business. They always have acreage for sale. Average price, last I checked, was 50k for a plot to build your cabin on. Originally I was an Easterner until a friend told me about the Great Pacific Northwest. Love the place! People are nice. Also, Safeway supermarkets have Chinese take out as part of their services. Also, there is a Mexican place called Muchas Gracias. Google it. Their food is cheap and awesome. You spoke about cost of living being high. Yes it is but once you move, you'll get paid well and be able to fit in economically. So don't worry!
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Thank you for the post! I am after a more mild climate, so it'd be nice to have something a little milder. Where I'm located in northern Michigan, our summers probably average around high 70's, and the winters maybe in the 20's (last winter we had weeks of consecutive of below 0 averages.) It's just too freaking cold! You can't do anything outside without looking like the michelin man. From the temp maps I've looked at, it appears the western part of Washington stays in the low 40's in the winter. Does this sound right? If so that'd be perfect for me (that's like 70% of our weather here it seems like!)

I had considered Oregon (I've never been there though) but from what I'm gathering it really only has better beaches then Washington, and isn't as rugged. Maybe this is incorrect though? Being close to the border would definitely allow for the best of both worlds!

I appreciate the posts, it's definitely nice hearing other's opinions
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Oregon is as rugged as Washington. You are correct about the beaches being better in Oregon. Awesome jeeping in both States. I chose Vancouver, Washington for other reasons also. Oregon grows some of the best and juiciest fruit in America. The Tillamook Cheese Factory has some great cheese, google that! The Tilamook Forest has a lot of Jeepers every weekend as it is one of many meet up spots for wheeling. From Vancouver, Naches is close but most offroaders don't see the areas in Clark County and east of that. There is a trail in Oregon that goes from Goose Lake on the southern border and meanders on dirt till you get to the Mt Hood area. Google Oregon Back Road Adventure Trail. Total wilderness with huge herds of antelope and elk. Great white water rafting in southern Oregon too. Long Beach in Washington is close by and a lot of jeepers play there on the beach! There's a unique Jeep event in Naches every year in the warm weather. Both States are awesome but Oregon has been expanding alot with new people moving in. My advice is to move to Vancouver, stay there two years and investigate both States and then choose. Mt Hood is well known for Winter sports too.
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Look at the taxes too. WA is really good at separating you from your money and always trying to figure out new ways. WA is sales tax, OR is income tax.
The I-5 corridor is good for business but might look at the eastern side too. Eastern side doesn't have as much business but some areas are good for 300 days a year of sun, but dryer, and within a couple hours of the I-5 corridor.
Bob's on to something with Eastern Washington, Spokane should be able to accommodate your degree for employment. Even better is just over the state line into Northern Idaho. Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Hayden, and Rathdrum are all excellent places to live, state tax is 6% and you file a personal income tax each year, but the lifestyle is so much more laid back and property values are very acceptable.

If your vehicles are registered to an address in most of Spokane County, you'll have to do an emissions test every other year, until the vehicle is over 25 years of age, then it's exempt. I'm not aware of any emissions requirements in Northern Idaho.
There are several wheelin' groups based out of CDA, ID and the trails around here are endless, both north and south of I-90 from CDA all the way to Montana.
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Will definitely check into Eastern Washington also, although it is a little colder than I was aiming for. It seems like the PNW has lots of 'micro climates' depending on what elevation you're at, your proximity to the ocean, and where the mountains are in relation to your location. How is the crime around the Spokane area compared to Seattle?
I'm sure that Spokane itself has it's fair share of crime, I haven't done any comparisons. But, you don't have to live in Spokane, there are a dozen outlying communities that are much better. Spokane Valley borders Spokane on the east, even farther out and closer to Idaho are Otis Orchards and Liberty Lake. North you have Mead. I like the weather on the East side much better than the constant raining the West side sees. As long as you don't go north much farther than Rathdrum, North Idaho's weather mimics what we have in Spokane.

Spokane County does have one of the highest sales tax rates in the state at 8.7% so high ticket items are best purchased across the border in Idaho, CDA has the same stores Spokane does, ie Home Depot, Lowe's, Best Buy, Sears, etc.
I've lived in Cd'A and Post Falls. People from Northern Idaho go to Spokane for entertainment. Spokane is noted for prostitution also. There are a lot of people that travel to Portland, Oregon or Seattle to escape Spokane and Idaho. I enjoyed the people in Idaho. It is an impoverished area. In Cd'A, one man controls the economy. He's the guy who own the resort on the lake. There are soup kitchens six nights a week in Northern Idaho. Don't believe what I say but do visit Main Street in Cd'A on a Saturday night and watch the locals parade up and down the main drag. That's a typical night. The restaurants are geared for the tourists and are pricey. The only other entertainment is the Indian casino south of Cd'A. Spokane is also noted for its many pot holes.
East of the Cascades is high desert and quite dusty. Interesting geography but better left to visit than live there unless you like the dry climate. Went jeeping in my TJ in Naches. At the end of the day, my face was black with the dust of the trails. Never had that happen on the west side of the Cascades. Great jeeping all over the state. Seattle has the most rain. Vancouver had a smaller amount because it is in a valley.Way more employment on the West Side. Yes, there are micro-climates there but there is far more things to do west of the Cascades. Portland is known for its progressive tilt. Seattle is great for the many things to see and do in that area.
BTW, I just remembered, I saw more snow from Spokane to Cd'A than Vancouver where I moved to. True, there is alot of light rain during rainy season. On the plus side, you have beaches on the coast! Long Beach allows jeeps on the beach and many jeeps go there weekly. Oregon has a large amount of sea-side attractions in the many towns that dot the coast.
Something else to note: your business degree. The density of businesses is on the west side. Seattle is the leader in that arena. To make money, you have to go where the money is! That is definitely Seattle and Portland. Seattle is home to a thriving music industry also. Lots of micro-breweries too. Computer tech is in Seattle and Portland too. Way more restaurants on the west side too. Northern Idaho rolls up its sidewalks in the early evening and all you have left is "Shari's" which is a diner. Read Craig's List for insight to this large area. I, also, put an ad on Craig's List to ask the locals questions about the areas I am looking at. Locals will always tell you what they don't like about the area.
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I'd recommend the SPokane / N Idaho area.

THe commute can be a bear coming to SPokane From Idaho...and back to Idaho in the evening
How is the crime around the Spokane area compared to Seattle?
Probably less, since the population is less.

King County has about the highest sales tax rate in the state, they also tack on a bunch of additional fees to vehicle licensing.

If I had to live on the wet (west) side, I'd pick Pierce County or Thurston County
Only the larger counties require emissions testing, and the state is supposed to have the entire program phased out by 2020 anyway due to newer cars exceeding the requirements. Anything pre-1990 should be exempt by now, but I'm not sure how that works if you bring in a vehicle from out of state since it's not registered yet. Worst case, you'd get tested once upon registering and that would be it (assuming you have it reg'd to an address within a testing county).

Housing costs will eat you alive if you try to live in a big city. Fortunately, there are still plenty of rural areas nearby if you want to stay close. Just drive 1/2 hour east of I-5 and you're in the sticks, away from the chaos and the crime. Or anywhere N/S/W of Olympia.
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