With the upcoming sketch comedy show “Portlandia” on the way, some intrepid souls who haven’t already heard the siren song calling to them from the Pacific Northwest may finally make the trek up here, belongings in tow. For the most part, I say “Go for it”. I did it, and I don’t regret it in the least. BUT…it’s not for everyone, and not just because of the quirky, liberal culture. The winters here can be difficult for certain types of people, and not necessarily for the reason you might think.The common complaint and conventional wisdom is that it rains constantly in Portlandia, but that is a half-truth. It is misty and drizzly pretty much constantly for about six months out of the year (November through April), and the other six months are about as nice as weather gets, sunshine and all. Well, May can be a little rocky, but I like to think we get a 50/50 split, so I’m putting it in the “good weather” column.
So, yes, it can be quite rainy, and if you don’t like that, you are probably not going to enjoy it here. However, that isn’t the difficult part of the winter, at least not to me, and from my observations, I think it isn’t for most people around here (whether they know it or not). The real problem stems from Portlandia’s location, specifically, how far north it is. If you are used to viewing the standard U.S. map, the projection used (equal-area projection, for fellow map geeks) generally makes it look as though Maine and New England are much further north than Portland and Seattle. In actuality, the northern tip of Maine is about even with the southern suburbs of Seattle.
The point being…we are way up north, more so than you would probably think. It’s not all that cold though, thanks to our proximity to the ocean, so that’s not the problem. The problem is that the days are ridiculously short in the winter. Surprisingly short. Waking up and heading to work in the dark and then coming home in the dark after a normal 8-hour day short. And during the 8-hours the sun is “up”, it isn’t up very far. The sunrise seems to finally peak and then quickly fade into a sunset around noon to 1 o’clock. This, of course, is assuming it isn’t cloudy or raining (which, as we’ve established earlier, it normally is), when the sun wouldn’t stand a chance on a summer day and is almost negligible in December.
You may scoff but the effect of this is pretty substantial, particularly if you are prone to depression. Someone who could easily trudge through months of rain in an equatorial region can melt down in one winter up here. I don’t know this from experience, of course, but being a blogger I can just say things like that without really having to back it up. It certainly seems true.
So, if you are considering a move up here to see if the dream of the ‘90s is truly still alive in Portlandia (spoiler alert: it is), you should simply consider your general constitution. Are you prone to depression? Have you ever used the phrase “cabin fever”? Can you imagine a life without swimming pools? Questions like these might help you determine if Portlandia is truly right for you.