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Regional Culture Shock: Moving to the Pacific Coast

Regional Culture Shock: Moving to the Pacific Coast
January 23, 2019

The Pacific Coast states enjoy a reputation of being mostly progressive, outdoorsy, and generally more relaxed compared to the rest of the country.

Also, it’s weird; Portland’s motto is “Keep Portland Weird.” As the birthplace of Starbucks, the region features a strong coffee shop culture (open mic performances and black java), which can be a good place to sit and get to know the area inhabitants while hiding from the rain.

But don’t let the rain discourage you; in addition to boasting a large amount of environmentally friendly cities, the region makes use of many outdoor activities including hiking, surfing, and biking. And you’ll get to experience Cali Mex cooking, which is like Tex Mex with more herbs and vegetables.

The Pacific Coast Food and Beverage Basics

Speaking of food, food truck culture in the Pacific Coast has boomed in the last decade, which is amazing if you’re old enough to remember that food trucks were once referred to as “roach coaches” and were generally confined to construction zones and out-of-the-way office buildings. Ten years ago, the notion of getting a meal from a mobile kitchen would have been questionable at best; now it’s delicious. That’s progress.

And if you’re going to partake of food truck cuisine, make time to also see the sights and scents of Napa Valley. Considered a Mecca for wine lovers, the region fills with wine enthusiasts during September through November and March through May, all looking to enjoy some of the best wine on the planet.

The area is so popular that guests can take a train tour to several of the better-known wineries.

The Pacific Coast also features some of the most environmentally-conscious cities in the United States. We don’t mean conscious like just separating the recyclables and not using plastic bags at the market: these cities have been ranked as the most environmentally sustainable, including Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland. If you’ve ever considered the idea of trying to be friendlier to the environment, these cities can help encourage you to do so.

The Pacific Coast Weather

The winters on the Pacific Coast tend to be fairly mild, like in the 40s and 50s. Of course, if you’re relocating from Florida, 40s and 50s might as well be just above freezing. Regardless of whatever your personal freezing zone has been set at, it’s still no excuse to wear Ugg boots; this is the Pacific Northwest, not Alaska, so stop dressing like an Eskimo. And because California makes up part of the region, the clothes on display here may be slightly more trendy and chic than what you’d find in most stores. Just remember what we said about the Ugg boots. Friends don’t let friends walk around in those things, particularly during the rainy season.

Overcast weather is a frequent occurrence in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in Oregon and Washington. Now that “Twilight” has passed out of cultural significance, the romance of perpetually rainy weather has been restored to the coffee houses and book shops were it rightfully belongs. Still, moving to Washington will require acceptance of constant wet weather conditions, including overcast skies.

This will also lead to a heightened enthusiasm in sunbreaks, or when the sun manages to get out from behind the clouds for a few minutes. Sunbreaks can be much more exciting if you imagine you’re living in a post-apocalyptic world and the moments when the sun breaks through the clouds. Of course, if there really was an apocalypse, you probably wouldn’t be moving to the Pacific Northwest; anybody that didn’t make it to Canada would probably be making a beeline to Texas just for the guns and ammo.

If you’re moving to the Pacific Coast from anywhere near the Atlantic Coast, the culture shocks may be more prominently experienced. The accents will be harder to place, for example. While East Coast accents stand out (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and the big regional gumbo that is the South), West Coast accents will be slighter and harder to place. Also, as it is no longer the 1980s, the “Valley Girl” and “Surfer Bro” accents will no longer be on display.

Technology is kinda their thing…

You certainly won’t see many stereotypes on display in Silicon Valley, either. Famed for housing some of the biggest tech companies in the world, Silicon Valley serves as home for Apple, Cisco, and Google, among others. It’s here that you’ll find some of the best and brightest working to open new technological doors, which is why you shouldn’t drive by any of the offices and yell “NERDS!” at the top of your lungs; they don’t appreciate it.

Pacific Coast Cultural Influences

While many kinds of people call the Pacific Coast home, the region does feature a very strong Hispanic influence. This can obviously be seen in the cuisine, including the previously mentioned Cali Mex food offerings, but also in the area’s arts and architecture. In addition to the numerous mission buildings which date back to 1769, the Hispanic architectural influences can be seen in everything from the Mission District in San Francisco to Alcatraz and Mexican Heritage Plaza.

With the Pacific Coast, however, the culture shock comes from the fact that residents don’t just pay lip service to outdoor activities. While other areas encourage you to visit the state parks, the diverse landscape and weather offerings practically scream for everyone to get outside. Go hiking, get surfing, run through the mud, repel down a wall, zip line through the forests, whatever you like. The outdoors are calling; go outside and scream in joy.

While we’re on the subject of screaming, you may notice the Pacific Coast has a bit of a noise imbalance compared to the East Coast. True, larger cities like Seattle and Los Angeles feature all the racket and clamor you’d expect from an urban environment, but the rest of the region can also be comparatively quieter compared to the other side of the country. Partly this has to do with the interactivity among the natives; while East Coast residents stereotypically like to yell their conversations, West Coast residents can seem a bit more plainspoken.


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