Bike to school day

As part of a national bike month, today was Bike to School day and so we did. We appeared to be the only ones, which wasn’t all that surprising, but I’m still glad we did it. Ben is getting better and better at understanding traffic and when cars might turn. It’s nice to ride right beside him on the sidewalk instead of behind him scanning his surroundings for danger while yelling “Watch that car, they don’t see you. Watch that car, they might turn. Slow down until you make eye contact.” I still say those things, but he is generally doing them before the words even come out.

Downtown or bust

The last six months have been spent weighing the pros and cons of various living situations.

*Do we give up the best time zone in the US and proximity to family for the foodie, hippie, public transit rich, most-bike-friendly-city of Portland

*New York provides opportunities to expose our kids to so many experiences and diverse environments that will teach them tolerance and understanding. And Brooklyn appears to be a great fit for us. With the best transit system in the US, we could live car-free. But, what if the city is too much for us? What if it chews us up and spits us out like an alternate plot line of Kimmy Schmidt

*Then there is downtown Greenville. With the Swamp Rabbit TrailFalls Park and a picture-perfect Main Street, it’s the city that we fell in love with, moved 1,000 miles for, then settled for the suburbs. Could the life we want be right up I-385?

For the next year at least, option #3 is the winner. We found a great condo to rent (different one from last update) that is short walk from downtown and an even shorter walk to the kid’s school. The back yard is N. Main Park and it is within walking or biking distance to everything we like to do downtown. It is smaller than our current house which is going to give us a great opportunity to downsize and live with less. This is something that we both want, but is much easier to preach than to practice. I suppose this also means my non-kid friendly t-shirt signed by Jimmie’s Chicken Shack is going to have to meet an awful end, but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Leaving is always bittersweet and it seems particularly hard this time because we have grown so fond of our neighbors. As I type this, our kids are playing “chess” with our neighbor’s kids. This is after they all got married, had kids, defeated dragons and rescued queens. Our kids play and fight with them as if they were siblings and our weekends will be sadly much quieter.

Click here to read previous posts in the Southern Expat series.

Southern Expat update: PDX or maybe not an expat at all

I mentioned in my original post that I’d like to document this process and provide updates so here is a quick rundown of recent events.

We are leaning more towards Portland for several reasons. Spring has sprung and with it, pollen is in the air. This season is always really rough on our youngest son (more about that here) and wouldn’t ya know it, PDX ranks pretty consistently as one of the best cities for pollen sufferers. Additionally, over the last four or five months, I have followed many people on Twitter that are from Brooklyn and Portland. I need to write an entire blog post on this experiment of adapting a new hometown online, but the overall takeaway is that Portlanders are generally just happier (hypothesis here).

In other news, we found a place here that might just be perfect. The location is right downtown and is within walking distance of one of the better elementary schools in the district and is a beautiful 10 minute bike ride from my coworking location. This house is also a little cheaper than some of the places in PDX and BK that we are looking at. We wouldn’t be able to live car-free, but we could have a low-car lifestyle. We would have to buckle down to prepare and sell our house in the next 7 weeks. Financially and timeline wise it would be tight, but accomplishable in a vacuum of catastrophes.