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Moving to Oregon, Washington, or Idaho in the Pacific Northwest? Starting your new home journey is exciting but can be a little overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with the area. Settle in and feel like a local in no time with this guide on the culture, climate, activities, food, and transportation of the Pacific Northwest - a region with a vibrant culture and beautiful nature that makes every day an exciting adventure.
Your Guide to Moving to the Pacific Northwest
One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is the diversity of culture seen in art and museums. Along with art, there is also a focus on the various native cultures that began in this region. They are honored in museums like the Suquamish Museum in Seattle. From the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle to the Boise Art Museum and Oregon Maritime Museum, you can immerse yourself in the culture of the PNW no matter which state you live in.
For all of you festival lovers, get excited because there are plenty to choose from year-round. The Seafair festival in Puget Sound, Oregon’s Gresham Arts Festival, and the Idaho Winter Carnival in McCall are just a few you should check out.
While the climate varies depending on which state you’re in and where you are located, there are general climate patterns to go by. The region experiences a range of temperatures, with winter lows averaging about 30 degrees and summer highs reaching 90 degrees. One item you must invest in no matter where you live in the PNW is a raincoat!
If you’re moving to Washington state, the weather west of the Cascades is Mediterranean mild with cool summers and moderate winters. You probably think of Seattle as the country's rain capital, but its annual rainfall is less than that of major cities like Boston and New York. Nevertheless, be prepared for a good amount of storms! East of the Cascades, you can expect a more arid climate that’s relatively dry with hotter summers and colder winters.
A large part of Western Oregon has a temperate oceanic climate with cool summers and wet winters and frequent overcast and cloudy skies. If you’re moving to Oregon but want to stay away from that wet climate, eastern Oregon is the place for you. Because of its arid climate, the weather is a lot drier.
Lastly, although Idaho is further away from the coast, its climate is diverse and influenced by the Pacific Ocean's weather patterns. In general, the state's northern region receives more rain than southern Idaho, which has warmer summer temperatures. Like Oregon and Washington, you’re pretty much guaranteed to experience a lot of rain and some snow during the winter months.
Things to Do
If you love being in nature on hikes and adventures, be prepared for the most awesome sights you’ll ever see in the Pacific Northwest. From the Pacific coastline to the eastern mountains like Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier, this region's geography is one of the best in the nation. To get your must-do list started, here are some outdoor activities you can explore in the PNW.
Washington → Hike through a rainforest in Olympic National Park and go sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands.
Oregon → Go windsurfing on the Columbia River and climb around Smith Rock State Park.
Idaho → Go whitewater rafting through Hells Canyon and paddle around Redfish Lake.
Those who want to keep their weekend activities low-key and local, take a trip into the city. The Pacific Northwest is known for its delicious food and beverage scene. As for food, you’ll be drooling over locally-sourced meals. Thousands of acres of grazing lands and fresh seafood make for five-star dining you can’t get enough of. From Idaho’s “finger steaks,” to Washington’s cedar-planked salmon and Oregon’s Dungeness Crab, this region is truly a gem for foodies.
When you get parched from the food or tired from all the exploring, check out the prevalent coffee scene in the PNW. We all know that Starbucks originated in Seattle, but there are so many other coffee shops to try, like Preserve and Gather and Herkimer Coffee’s three retail locations.
Unless you’re traveling between cities, having a car or motorcycle is important for transportation in the Pacific Northwest. If you want to explore the beautiful outdoors previously listed, there’s no way to get there without your vehicle. Gas is relatively inexpensive, so don’t let that sway your decision too much.
If public transportation is more practical for your new lifestyle in the PNW, there are various options for you to consider.
Boat: This is a great way to reach the most amazing destinations in the Pacific Northwest you otherwise can’t get to with a car. Check on the ferry policies beforehand because some are passengers-only, while others take both cars and passengers. Here are the main ferries you can use: BC Ferries, Black Ball Transport, Clipper Navigation, and Washington State Ferries.
Bus: Greyhound service is a good option, but you have to deal with its infrequency, especially in remote areas. Greyhound buses largely stick to the interstate-freeway system.
Bicycle: Whether you use your own or go through a bike share program, biking around the region can be an option if your destination isn’t too far. Roads are good, shoulders are usually wide, and there are many decent routes for bikes. Be aware that the best time for this mode of transport in summer. Other seasons can be risky with unpredictable weather.
LMH in the Pacific Northwest
LMH proudly offers military service members and their families premier on-base military housing in the Pacific Northwest at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
If you are about to call the Northeast your new home, apply for military housing today and become part of the LMH family!
While there are many variables to research before you pack up and move to the PNW, this guide should give you a great head start to becoming a local in no time. Whether you’re moving to Oregon, Washington, or Idaho, the Pacific Northwest has many gems to be discovered, so just remember that as you get ready to head out!