Because I've written a lot of blog posts about Salem, quite a few of them critical, among some people I've got an undeserved reputation as a Salem-hater.
Actually, I love this town.
Below I've shared recent emails I've gotten from two people interested in possibly relocating to Oregon, along with my reply. You can see that I'm positive about Salem -- which fits with me having happily lived in and near Salem for 37 years.
My attitude is similar to how I felt when told in the 1960's "Love it or leave it, hippie!" I'd think, "Hey, I can not want to leave this country, and also want to make it better, since I don't love everything about the United States."
Same with Salem. I can love it, not want to leave it, and also be critical of it.
So, yeah, it's fair to say that I'm a cheerleader for Salem.
Read on for the mildly edited messages from Person #1 and Person #2, along with my initial replies. Since, I've exchanged additional messages with them.
Stumbled on your site while researching Salem. My husband and I (along with a human baby and two furry babies) are looking to re-locate to Oregon.
While we originally looked in and around Portland and Eugene (we both love Portland -- I lived in Seattle in my twenties during the mid 90's and spent many a free weekend at Powell's before catching the train back to Seattle), I've noticed there are quite a number of positions open in Salem. Since you have spent a goodly amount of time there (37 years!) I thought I'd email and get your insight on it.
About us -- liberal, crunchy but not dopey, atheist but follow the middle path for guidance, avid hikers (our honeymoon was John Muir Trail), and a bit artsy (my husband is an actor on the side, I'm more the nose in the book kind), and at the end of the day down to earth, hopeful, and looking for the positive in most people and sitches.
We are mainly looking to re-locate as it is impossible to buy a house in CA and the schools here suck. I would really love to live in a place which is multi-cultural, open, kid friendly, and has good schools. It would be a bonus if we could buy a house, but the focus is primarily a good place for families. We are hoping to give _____ a sibling or two in the next few years before we run out of time on our biological clocks.
With that in mind-would you say Salem might be a good option for us?
Thanks in advance!
My reply to Person #1:
Salem is a good family town. I’m glad my daughter grew up here, from 1977 until she graduated from high school in 1990. It lacks the “coolness” factor of Portland and Eugene, but there are some promising signs we’re getting cooler. Probably will write a blog post today about attending a recent city council meeting that offered up some hope along this line.
I could share some advice about where in Salem you might feel most comfortable, and other thoughts about the town. If you ever want to talk, my home number is ___________.
A good thing about Salem is the comparatively low housing costs. Also, the comparative lack of traffic/congestion. My wife and I get antsy about driving to Portland, since nowadays it seems like freeway rush “hour” can be almost any time of the day. However, I know quite a few people who live in Portland and work in Salem, because they prefer the Portland lifestyle and amenities.
Anyway, when I read your message I thought, “they’d fit right in.” We also mostly associate with liberal, atheist, outdoorsy people. As I’ve written about fairly recently, Salem is a liberal town, albeit with a (hopefully temporary) conservative Mayor and city council majority.
And here's an email from Person #2:
Just stumbled on your article about “planned communities” in Oregon for those of us nearing retirement. I found it as I was researching for a vacation/retirement exploration trip my husband and I (and daughter) are taking at the end of August 2015.
We’ve never been to the Northwest but everything we’ve read and heard makes us think we would be really happy to retire there. As I read your article, your description of yourself and what you’re looking for is identical to our goals. (Aging, active hippy types) Just wondering if you’ve found anything or any new builds since you wrote that piece in 2013?
Where can I get a good breakdown of cities we should check out while we’re there? Well, I hope you’re still communicating with the cyber world as I would appreciate whatever help/guidance you can give.
Thanks so much, _______
This is my reply to Person #2:
_______, nice to hear from you. If your tour of the Northwest brings you to Salem, let me know. We could get together for coffee and a snack, or whatever.