Packing up to move to a new region isn’t something that should be done on a whim or taken lightly, especially if you’re raising a family. Some people move here for work reasons, or more affordable housing, or maybe simply because it’s a great place to be if you want to be near mountains, forests, rivers, ocean beaches, and city life. For whatever reason you’re looking at Southwest Washington, there’s a lot to love here. We have green neighborhood parks, wide open spaces, natural areas and good schools. Also, a network of off-leash dog parks your fur family will love too.

Here are the Big Questions:

Where will you live?
Southwest Washington has diverse areas to explore for housing options to suit a variety of lifestyles. Do you like biking for recreation or to work? Vancouver is becoming more bike-friendly with a network of paths and city bike lanes. Do you prefer urban density, suburban sprawl, or a rural landscape? Downtown Vancouver has a small city feel with new multi-use highrises for those who enjoy all that urban life has to offer just steps away. The east side of Vancouver has new home community developments springing up with Columbia River views, green spaces, great schools, and all the shopping and services you need nearby. North county has a more rural feel but is seeing a steady increase in residential development and businesses moving in to serve the growing population. Websites like homesnap.com and realtor.com can help you gauge the cost of renting or buying here.

Where will you work?
With the shift to more people working remotely, not everyone is moving here to be near a job. Yet even if you have secure employment as a remote worker or are moving here for a solid job offer, you should still look around at the local job market for a contingency plan if things change or your new job here doesn’t work out like you thought. Are there similar employers and enough options for comparable jobs in your field on this side of the river? Or will you have to look across the river to Portland? While Portland seems close, and employers there seem to pay more, you’ll want to think of the downside. Morning traffic over the bridges and into Portland can eat up hours of your day. And since Washington and Oregon can’t come to an agreement on a bridge solution, the traffic problem isn’t going to get better any time soon. Also taxes. Washington doesn’t have income tax but Oregon does. Even if you work in Portland but live in Washington, you still have to pay that Oregon income tax. But with a job on the Washington side of the river, you can avoid these headaches.

Do you like rainy days?
Some people in more expensive regions start to look longingly at Southwest Washington for more affordable retirement among other reasons. There are new home communities with easier living and amenities for seniors to enjoy as well as affordable small acreages to build on outside the city. But unless you’re relocating from an even gloomier climate like Seattle, the long rainy season and number of sunny days versus cloudy days in Southwest Washington can be dreary. For gardening enthusiasts, the growing season here can be challenging due to too much rain and not enough sun. Yet we have many die hard gardeners here who are not deterred such as the WSU Master Gardeners who are a valuable group of volunteer community educators. They are a great resource for gardening questions and volunteer opportunities. Overall, compared to other parts of the county with harsh weather extremes we seem to have more year-round opportunities to get outdoors for nature walks and wildlife watching, as long as you put on your slicker and rainboots. Also, as we’re experiencing right now, the summers here are the absolutely the best!