A Bit More on Portland

Published at 08:44 on 8 October 2014

It’s both the job market and the allergies that pushed me away, probably in about equal measures.

Of the two, the job market is the one that, fifteen years ago, I wouldn’t have thought could be that big an issue. I’m really not all that focused on material things, and am quite willing to downscale my life and live modestly.

But, it’s more than just that. If the job market is bad, people will not only offer jobs for less pay. They will also offer less benefits, in particular less vacation time. In general, such a market appeals to businesses who focus on maximizing profits by spending as little on their employees as possible. So you can expect to have a less comfortable office surrounding and worse resources to work with as well as lower pay and worse benefits.

You will be working under managers who tend to be clueless and inept, as well. The good ones tend to be working in other cities where they get better compensated for their talents (and don’t have to contend with the subpar benefits or resources, either).

A job takes up such a huge chunk of one’s waking life that all this extra suckiness really ends up making one’s whole life suck more. Particularly when the stingier time off benefits make for one spending more time in that sucky office.

So sure, Seattle sucks a lot when compared to Portland. It is in general more establishment and less bohemian. Access to nature is much more strictly meted out by ability to pay for it. The mass transit is nowhere near as good.

In the end, however, those minuses don’t matter so much. There’s more time available to get away from the office and out into nature, because the jobs come with better benefits.

Because the jobs in Seattle pay more, it’s possible for me to pay for that access to nature. (It sucks that many can’t pay and have the easy access, and I will continue to advocate for fixing that, but it’s possible for me to fix that problem for myself alone in the here and now, so why shouldn’t I?)

It’s also been possible to pay for the privilege of living someplace where I can use the ferry system and a bicycle to avoid the need to choose between driving in awful traffic and coping with subpar mass transit. Again, that’s not a fix for everyone, and it sucks that this is a privilege Seattle metes out to the few who can pay, but why shouldn’t I opt to fix the transport mess for myself if I am one of those few? Again, it doesn’t stop me from advocating for more general and widespread solutions.

There’s thing that suck about both Portland and Seattle. No place is perfect. It’s just that, for me, coping strategies generally exist for dealing with Seattle metro area’s suckiness much more than they do for Portland’s.

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