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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Eugene?

The question I have been most asked so far, by both British and American friends, is not why we are moving to America, but why we selected Eugene as the place to move to.

Eugene is a city with a population of about 154,000, second largest in Oregon after Portland. That makes it a tad smaller than London which has an estimated population of 7,700,000 in the 32 boroughs, or 12,000,000 for the Larger Urban Zone centred around London. The population of Ealing, the borough in which I have lived for most of my 42 years, was 305,300 two years ago. Eugene is thus much smaller and less crowded than London, while still being a large enough city to offer all modern conveniences.

It has a University, The University of Oregon. My wife's employment history is mainly in University Administration, so this provides a potential source of employment for her. My employment has been mostly in Credit Control and Finance, but I'd like to do something more physical and not be stuck behind a computer for eight hours a day.

The population are generally liberal and democratic, with a sizeable "hippie" element. We would like to be as environmentally neutral or beneficial as possible, and that is clearly a focus in Eugene.

Eugene is about an hour's drive inland from the west coast and the Pacific Ocean, and another hour east will get you up into the Cascade Mountains which run north-south through Oregon, splitting it into the more populous west 1/3 and a less populous east 2/3. The Willamette River runs through it, with the McKenzie River splitting off east towards the north end of the city. Eugene has a good network of cycle paths. All this allows surfing, skiing (in season), rock climbing, white-water rafting, canoeing, cycling and many other outdoor activities to be enjoyed with ease. Such activities are hard to pursue in London .

Eugene is reasonably safe from volcanos, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, avalanches, forest fires, and other natural or man-made phenomena which can make life in the US hazardous. After visiting Texas and Florida after recent hurricanes this was important to us. We should also avoid the problems of deep snow in the Winter, and stifling humidity in the Summer. The climate is temperate, not dissimilar to London's, but with the average rainfall focussed more in the winter, with warmer dryer summers.

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