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Eugene, OR

Scenic, But Plagued By Quality Of Life Issues - 12/28/2019
Eugene, Oregon is a college town (home of University of Oregon) that has grown in population significantly in the past decades. Springfield – smaller population-wise and a polar opposite of Eugene in many ways – is split from the larger city almost entirely by Interstate 5. Both cities make up the metropolitan statistical area (MSA). Before relocating out-of-state in recent years, I spent almost three decades living and working in the community.

Eugene is traditionally a close-nit community, where most people have grown up here and know people they have grown up here with them. This is generally true all over Oregon, despite the influx of people that have moved in from out-of-state since at least the 1980s or earlier (most “transplants” are from California, Texas, New York State, and the Midwestern states near the Great Lakes. Eugene and Oregon are almost entirely Caucasian non-Hispanic (White), with the next biggest demographic group being Hispanic. There are a lot of Native Americans from the local indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest. African Americans (Black), though a little more than before, make up a much smaller part of the racial demographic (Eugene’s percentage of African Americans is far exceeded by Portland’s, which is the state’s highest. Anyone, especially people of color, it is highly recommended that one does his or her homework & research on the area and make a thorough assessment of things if considering a move here. Thriving in Eugene is possible for anyone, but it’s important to know what one is getting themselves into ahead of time).

Generally, the people are not overly abrasive, until you tell them you’re from California or out-of-state. Eugenians are cordial, but mostly introverted. Social success is heavily based on knowing people and being well-connected to those who are originally from the community, if they like you. The southern part of town is the traditional demographic (liberal) and the west-northwest portion is the working class, conservative part of town. The more well-to-do or “good” neighborhoods are in the Sheldon area (north section, east of the Willamette River) and parts of the South Eugene area. Highway 99 area (northwest), downtown and surrounding neighborhood are the more sketchy, somewhat blighted parts of town.

There is a very big homelessness problem in Eugene and rivals that of Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Most are out-of-staters, some are native Oregonians struggling financially; much of the rest are suffering from mental illness, drug and substance abuse. You can find homeless camps and tents all over the city, especially downtown, in what used to be nice clean public parks, and even along the town’s bike and trail paths along the Willamette River.

Crime is a concern in Eugene, a growing one. Everything now happens here, whereas the biggest crimes used to be drug-related – drug use of meth, prescription drug abuse and heroin, thefts and property crimes. Those still occur as much as ever, but there has also been an increase in hate crimes, related intimidating behavior and displays, assaults, homicides from gun violence and stabbings, and breaking & entering/burglaries of homes and vehicles. These occur in quiet neighborhoods as well as anywhere else in the city. It’s not uncommon to see strangers walking through neighborhoods. Safety is a concern in regards to walking downtown (where you’ll, at the least, be harassed) or anywhere in town, as well as anywhere between there and around the university campus (where there have been muggings, knife attacks, and shootings reported). Safety is also a growing concern along the bike paths and the public parks, some of which have turned downright sketchy even during the day. It all came with the influx of people into the town over the years.

Employment opportunities – unless they are well-paying or professional careers lined up in advance – are not reasons one would ever move to Eugene. Do so at your own risk. Most jobs are minimum wage, part time, dead-end or hard to get on altogether. It is strongly recommended to have a good-paying work (living wage) before moving here (common sense for moving anywhere) or you stand a good chance of being homeless, especially if you don’t know anyone or have no family established here. Some of the country’s highest gas prices are here, but food is relatively affordable. Home prices and rents are notoriously among the highest anywhere (as is the West Coast in general), due to population growth and demand exceeding inventory. Most of the homes available were built before circa 1990s and cost about as much or not too much less than those that were built in recent years. The public schools are generally good and highly-regarded (including exceptional magnet schools and a couple of small private Catholic schools), the University of Oregon is a liberal arts institution with a research and philanthropic presence in the community. The infrastructure is limited, which contributes to overcrowding and inconveniences. Having been designed in the 1950s, the increase in traffic has added to commute times, traffic congestion and accidents are now a daily occurrence, especially during rush hour. The positive thing about the infrastructure is that there have been improvements to existing roads in recent years via reconstruction and resurfacing projects. Many people regularly use public bus transportation, which is rated among the best in the country, partly in terms of system efficiency and ridership compared to similar-sized or larger cities.

Weather wise, the climate is generally wet and not as cold as, say, the northern part of the country. The rain season is from late September all the way to about April. Temperatures range between just above freezing to the 50s (°F), without drastic daily swings. Winters have brought more significant snowstorms and freezing conditions in recent years, causing extensive prolonged power outages and road closures, mainly from fallen trees (Douglas firs are the predominant trees in the area) or week long ice-covered pavements. May and June are a mix of rain, sun, and everything in between on a daily basis. As for tornadoes, hail, lightning and thunder, the area is not immune to these occurrences; cold-core funnels rarely touch down and if they do, they are short-lived. These occasionally happen during spring and fall, if at all; hail gets up to pea-sized or so at worst; lightning strikes can happen, though the lion’s share of these happen during summer months in dry thunderstorms that less than occasionally drift to Eugene. July, August, and September bring the warmest weather. Temperatures 100 °F or warmer are possible, though they mostly hoover around the mid to upper 90s °F usually. Those with allergies, asthma and other respiratory challenges beware – spring months bring the grass seed pollen southward from the valley and the worsening summer forest fires bring an extended period of smoke into the city. Fall into winter, high winds accompany the low pressure systems that come in off of the Pacific Ocean. The stronger ones can bring 40 mph or more winds into Eugene. In 1962, the Columbus Day storm brought 86 mph winds to Eugene, causing millions of dollars in damage (the winds were far more higher in other Oregon cities to the west and north). Seismic activity, tremors, do happen here. Most are 4.0's and 5.0's off the coast or similar magnitudes into the Cascade Mountains to the east. Scientists have been saying the “big one” is grossly overdue for the region.

Valley River Center is the premiere mall in the community and many strip malls are in the city. Most of the dining opportunities exist near VRC and along the Coburg Road corridor between I-105 and Randy Pape Beltline Road (OR Hwy 569). Some well-known acts (bands/singers) do come through Eugene (Hult Center, Alton Baker Park’s outdoor Cuthbert Theater, Autzen Stadium, or UofO Matthew Knight Arena); many big concerts or events have traditionally gone through Portland, which is about a 90-minute drive north up I-5. Eugene is known as a track and field city, hosting its own marathon in the spring, which traverses the city’s extensive network of off-traffic paved bike & pedestrian paths and surrounding neighborhoods. Eugene also hosts a number of T&F events in the now-renovated Hayward Field (construction in progress as of this post) throughout the year. The coast and related recreation (including hiking, water activities, camping) is 90-minutes to the west. Lakes and reservoirs are summertime favorites and are within an hour or less of Eugene (Fern Ridge, Cottage Grove Lake, Fall Creek, Dexter, Lowell, and more). Hunting, hiking, camping, and skiing (other winter rec activities) is about 90 or so minutes to the east. The scenery is very green and buttes (Mount Pisgah, Spencer Butte, both on south end of town; and Skinner Butte, north of downtown) also provide hiking opportunities in the area, including the nearby national forests. Notwithstanding the crime issues, Eugene has several Sunday Street events during the summer, where streets in downtown and other areas in town are closed to vehicle traffic for a few hours and opened up for festival activities, venders, and community recreation. For spectator sports, you have the collegiate athletics from the University of Oregon, Lane Community College, and Northwest Christian University. Eugene has a popular minor league Short Season baseball club, the Emeralds.

Overall: Eugene is scenic and has the small town feel with a few big city amenities. However, one must consider the quality of life of the city, along with whether they can financially support themselves and their loved ones here. Scenery and natural beauty aren’t by themselves reasons enough to move here.

PROS: College & University; Recreational Opportunities; Green Scenery; Emphasis On Environmental Sustainability & Recycling. CONS: Housing Costs; Violent & Property Crimes; Some Lack of Cultural Diversity; Advancement Opportunities; Infrastructure; Traffic Congestion & Over-crowded; Lack of Cleanliness.

Lubbock, TX

High Crime Rate and Stagnant - 8/15/2019
Lubbock is said to be a growing town, but, it is not for everybody. I've lived here for two years now, but it's time to move on to better things. The big thing is the crime problem in the city, a segregated population, the lasting affects of institutional discrimination -- among other things -- and lack of progressive economic opportunity as compared to other places. The social vibe: Some people are cordial in passing, even some instances of "Southern hospitality" (people-wise, Lubbock is generally conservative and spiritually religious). However, some folks are generally shady or not particularly outgoing. You have to carefully watch who you associate with.

As far as crime, if you live in Lubbock, there's a good chance of you becoming a victim of at least a property crime. Law enforcement here is awesome at apprehending perpetrators, but, people here seem to be pretty oblivious to how dangerous the city is and how worse it has become. There are shootings weekly -- almost nightly/daily -- and there are homicides often. Even though no part of Lubbock is immune to crime, the worst area of town is the central part of the city -- between I-27 and University Avenue & the same area between North Loop 289 and South Loop 289. The further west and south you go from there, the neighborhoods are more presentable, commercially-developed and more economically advantaged (as the before-mentioned central and eastern parts of town are basically abandoned and neglected due to the southwestward sprawl). But, property crimes are more prevalent than violent crime in that "cleaner" southwestern quadrant of the city. Burglaries, robberies, and other crimes against persons is a problem all over the city. Some of those offenses happen in broad daylight, but first responders keep busy nightly in the "Hub City" for various calls (sirens blaring, to the likes of that of larger cities). Lubbock is not a safe place.

For a town of about 250,000 people, Lubbock still has that small town feeling, where folks seemingly almost know everyone. It's part college town and part mostly small city. Home prices are lower than average compared to other parts of the country, cost of living is a bit lower, but, utilities are notoriously higher than average for most citizens. Job wise, the market is limited and wages are quite low compared to other parts of the country & even other parts of Texas. It depends on who you are and what your labor experience is. As for traffic, commute is acceptable. You can go from any end of Lubbock to the other within about 15-20 minutes. The road network is remarkable and the infrastructure is adequate for traffic flow. However, Lubbock is known for bizarre traffic accidents (vehicles running into houses/structures), fatal motorcycle accidents, and high rates of DWI's/DUI drunken driving accidents (sometimes resulting in deaths).

As for the weather, Lubbock is sunny a lot of the time, but also notoriously windy. Winters have wide temperature swings. The nights and some days get frigidly cold (advancing cold front winds that funnel the air off the western mountains and across the flat area can dip temps well below freezing), while daily temps sometimes reach the 70's or 80's when the sun is out. Measurable snow and blizzards can and have happened during the winter months. Spring is windy and unstable -- Lubbock was directly hit with a deadly tornado in May 1970 -- damaging large hail is a constant multiple annual event and severe weather often threatens the entire area. The town may be overdue for another direct strike from a twister, but there is always a tornado event of some sort in the surrounding South Plains area. Dust storms or haboobs can kick up (sometimes generated from severe thunderstorms), mostly on clear days when sustained winds can reach 40 mph or more, with gusts up to 50-60 mph or more. When it does rain in Lubbock, it comes in buckets at a time or hours at a time (sometimes days at a time nonstop), mostly during any thunderstorms and during late spring months. Certain parts of the city are flood-prone (streets and most rural locations), due to inadequate drainage plans and naturally flat topography. A brief downpour is enough to quickly flood the roadways under standing water. Summers get really hot, easily reaching the 90's and lower 100's for highs in any daily stretch. The fall season gradually cools the high temperatures. Thunderstorms often bring more frequent lightning and rain during those months. Autumn is otherwise mild in nature climate-wise.

Finally, entertainment-wise, Lubbock is very limited in its offerings. Texas Tech athletics and restaurant hospitality dining are the most common things to do. Major musical artists rarely swing through the Hub City on their tours. The town has some municipal parks, Funland (a seasonal family & children's theme park), Adventureland (a developing family outdoor theme park with a nearby developing aquarium, still under construction as of this post), a concert hall under construction downtown, and a not so well known first Friday of the month art spectacle downtown near the Buddy Holly Museum. There is the South Plains Mall over toward the west end of town -- it's neither a huge nor small mall, but is billed as the largest mall between Albuquerque, NM and the Metroplex (Dallas-Fort Worth area). Other than these things mentioned, if you want more culture and options of entertainment, you have to travel out of town to find more things to do.

I have lived in the Deep South, been through most of the United States, and lived in the Pacific Northwest. More research would have been beneficial before making the move to this town. If given the choice to live anywhere, I would not choose Lubbock again nor would I personally recommend this place to anyone, based on my experience and above observations. The Hub City is for some people, but it is not for everyone.


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