After a bit more than two years, I’m writing a follow up to the post I wrote when we moved here – rather than Boulder, Colorado – from Italy.
First and foremost, I have been enjoying the things to do in Bend, primarily mountain biking. There are tons of great mountain bike trails here ( https://bendtrails.org ), and some decent road rides, although of course nothing like what there was near Padova where we lived in Italy. With lakes, rivers, mountains and forests to the west, and the “high desert” to the east (which is probably more aptly described as steppe), there is a lot of natural variety to explore and enjoy, and plenty of good weather. Like Colorado, the “300 days of sunshine” thing is completely made up, but it’s pretty dry and sure beats the other side of the mountains. Snow is still something of a novelty and it’s a bit disconcerting to have several months of the year when bike riding is not really possible, but snow and clear weather sure beats rain. Of course are various places to have a beer – although the part of me that got used to life in Italy misses wine. There are a lot of parks and fun stuff for kids, and the kids are doing well in school. Life is good in Bend.
This is something a lot of people have figured out, and what with the housing crisis everywhere on the west coast, prices here still look cheap to a lot of people in California, Seattle, and elsewhere. Bend’s prices haven’t hit Boulder levels, yet, but they’re climbing. I am trying to get a YIMBY group going to encourage the supply of housing: https://bendyimby.com/ – now is the time to act before things get even worse. A town where nurses, firefighters, teachers and so on can’t afford to live is doing something wrong. One of the positive things in a smaller town is that it’s possible to interact with local politicians in a meaningful way.
Bend’s “startup scene”, for lack of a better term, is small, but has a lot of the right ingredients. The new university, OSU Cascades is investing in computer science, there are venture capitalists here, and Bend’s an attractive place to live, which pulls in talented people. I’m pretty peripheral to the whole thing, but if you want to get a better sense of what’s going on, or talk to some people, your first stop should be startupbend.com which has all the latest news and information about companies, people and jobs. There’s more of everything – bigger universities, more VC, and more people – in more established startup hubs, but the way I think of it, if you are interested in startups, you’ve got some of the pioneering spirit, so if you’ve got ‘enough’ for what you need to do in Bend, why not?
If you need a place to work, or just want to meet people doing cool stuff, BendTech and E::Space are pretty nice. The former tends more towards software and has much more space, while the latter has a bunch of neat electronic stuff and is smaller and cozier.
Like I found in Boulder, there is a lot of enthusiasm for people doing things here, something that is good to be around. I love to see people building cool stuff – it’s inspiring. Beyond the tech world, there are a lot of outdoor startups because it’s a great place to test a variety of equipment under a variety of conditions.