Posted by: Shanna Germain | 10/05/2009

Pg. 168: Help Shanna Find a Home!


Lightning over a Texas highway.


Vagabond no more! Well, once a vagabond, always a vagabond, I suppose. It’s hard to get wanderlust out of one’s system, I think.

But… but…

I would like to settle down for a while. Try my hand at a new American city. Traveling and couch-hopping and mooching off friends (ahem) is a ton of fun for the moment, but I know that at some point I’m going to run out of friends and couches (not to mention money and time), so I’m looking for a place to land (and live) next.

So, here’s my dilemma: I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon for the past twelve years or so, and I really, really loved it. But it’s time for a change — Portland has gotten too big for me, too crowded, too commercial and too focused on the external for my tastes.

So, it’s off to a new area of the country for me! I know many of you are well-traveled, and have lived all over the U.S., and this is where you come in. Can you help? (For incentive, I’ll even put together some sort of prize package for anyone who suggests the city where I actually end up. Hehe. Couldn’t resist that!)

Here’s what I’m looking for:

–Small to mid-sized town or city (Portland has 500,000 and is just too big for me at this point)

–Green sensibilities / local and organic food options / bikeable and hikeable / public transportation

–Cultural options and activities / college? / libraries / literature / coffee shops and book stores

–Open-minded / GLBT friendly / A liberal lean

–Ideally semi-mild climate. Sun is good, rain is good, snow is fine. Tons of heat is bad. Freezing my ass off year-round is also bad.

–Semi-affordable to rent and to live in (I keep hearing Santa Fe, Calif. would be perfect for me, but then I look at the cost of living. Ouch.)

–An airport within an hour’s drive (at most)

What doesn’t matter to me:

–Anything kid-oriented, since I don’t have them

–Religious options

–Job market, since I’m self-employed and can work from anywhere

I’m sure there are more than that, but those are the big ones for me. People so far have suggested: Eugene, Ore.; Corvallis, Ore.; Middlebury, VT; Northamton, Mass.; Portland, Maine; and a few others, so I’m looking into those. But I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

Thank you thank you thank you!

Far and fast, s.




  1. […] truth is, Shanna needs a home. Help her find one here! Pretty please with cherries on top and big thank yous with sprinkles on the […]

  2. I suppose it has to be in the USA? Otherwise, Victoria BC would be perfect for you. I’ve moved all over the damn place and generally consider it the best city in the world. It fits all your criteria, but isn’t in the USA. Except for city size, your criteria and mine are identical 🙂

  3. Western NY…Central NY…? Gorgeous weather(most of the time), fairly liberal, decent public transit(in Buffalo), generally liberal leaning, I think, great local foods/organic movement with awesome farmer’s markets! Oh, and Buffalo’s about half the size of Portland!

    I know…no one wants to live here…but it was worth a shot! 😉

  4. Have you thought about Boulder, CO? Very bike friendly, green, nice climate. Not sure about affordability. I’ve got friends there if you want contact people.

  5. Asheville, NC suits your needs

    I like it farther up in the mountains near Highlands and Cashiers but the rent goes up and the options thin out.

  6. My personal experience is mostly northern (i.e., not temperate) and fairly large cities (Boston, Minneapolis, Portland). I can recommend Madison, Wisconsin (perhaps too large and too cold in the winter, but a friendly zeitgeist), and I’ve heard that Rochester, MN is one of the recommended Smaller Towns To Live in (but I don’t know how liberal it is). I’ve also heard raves about one of the New Mexico cities — I apologize for not knowing the difference, but I’ve heard that either Santa Fe or Albequerque are fabulous, but the other is not.

    What a nice conundrum to have!

  7. I’ll second Northampton, MA. Not only is Smith College there, but four other colleges are in the immediate area. There is lovely countryside all around, and VT is a hop, skip, and a jump away. You are close to Amherst and Brattleboro, VT, two other great towns. You are also an hour away from Bradley Airport, a major airport in CT. And Cape Cod is relatively near as well, so you can get to the ocean. Boston is just a couple of hours away as well.

  8. How about a different Portland? Portland, Maine is a pretty cool city (my oldest daughter went to college at Maine College of Art) – It’s like a mini San Francisco. It’s near the ocean, it’s got an airport, it’s got great restaurants, great shops, colleges, public transportation, independent bookstores (!), plus, it’s Maine. (and I’m very partial seeing as we are planning on moving up there – to the mountains though – about 1 1/2 from Portland so I can get my culture fix). It has all the weather (no not).

    Though I will also say that Northhampton is a great choice (my other daughter is at college in Amherst) – And Peter above has covered all the great stuff.

    Methinks we’re all suggesting you move close to where we are (though I’m not suggesting you move to Stepford -ala stepford wives – nope, you don’t want to move here)

  9. aachen!!! come to aachen..:-) you dlove it here..:-) about main???there are so many nice places..:-)

  10. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tons going on and super livable.

  11. Hi Shanna,

    Liberal leanings? I know one place you don’t want to live…I’ll put it this way, I won’t be sending you the “For Rent” section of my local paper, and leave it at that. 🙂

    However, Boise Idaho (250,000 population) has many of the attributes you’re looking for. Climate is more mild than many think. Not much rain, not much snow but a short drive to get to snow if you wish. It usually doesn’t get very cold, and the dry climate makes even warmer summer days (it rarely gets very hot anyway) fairly pleasant. Downside, last I was there mass transit was iffy, but may be better now. Lots of bike trails, hiking, and such. Politics-wise, Idaho in general runs toward the conservative, but Boise has always been a bit of a more liberal haven. Cost of living is pretty good too. Boise State University is a growing state college, and nearby Albertson College is a good private one.

    Another to think about in the northwest is Spokane Washington. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, so I’ll just say that the size, climate and cost of living would probably be a good match leave it at that.

    In the east, Frederick Maryland is a bit smallish at around 50-60,000, but it’s in close proximity to Baltimore. Very pretty, historic town with a lot going for it. Climate is good.

    Hope this helps.

    Happy home hunting!

  12. I’ve personally never lived there, but from what I’ve heard of Northhampton, its about number 1 or 2 on the places the Dak would like to live. So if you move up there, it totally gives me a reason to as well 😛

  13. Nashville!

    Everything you listed is right here in Music City. Though you would have to put up with the country music scene…but all the handsome men with pretty guitars can make up for that in a hurry.

  14. Seems like you’re looking for Antigua Guatemala. That would suit you, I believe. It’s almost an American city anyway (because of the ammount of americans living in it); and since you can work from anywhere it sort of becomes practical. Besides it has the best weather in the continent, and at a 45km drive from the big city where you take a 4 hour flight into the US. Plus, American dollars are worth x8 in local currency.

  15. Forgot to mention the culture, the heritage, the coffee, gourmet food… the colonial intoxicating atmosphere and that you can walk arround the whole city in a couple of hours.

  16. The home you are looking for is …home.
    Read your list of wants, it’s Ithaca.
    Remember what Dorothy said..
    “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
    ok- so the weather is an issue and you probably have forgotten how to drive on snow, so live near here and live in the city where you don’t have to drive.
    just a thought.

  17. As much as I’d love to be selfish and say Madison, WI (because it’s like an hour from me) I won’t because of all the freaking snow and bitter wind chill, and lets face it; I still remember standing hip deep in snow last year so I could shovel out enough space to open the garage door to get to the snow blower.

    Though some scientist say that soon our climate will be like that of Mississippi. I think they are all full of shit.

    But where to live? I don’t know sweetie. I lived in So. Cal for a time – love it. Spent many a summer down south with relatives (hated it – nothing like picking ticks off dogs for fun).

    Our family traveled a lot between western and southern US but never really went east.

    Good luck in your search honey ❤


  18. @ shannon are right..nashville actually is perfect..

    but maine is too..:-)

  19. […] PS2 — Also, if you haven’t been playing along, you can see my list of criteria for a city here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: