Has anyone here lived (and paddled) in both the Pacific Northwest & either Maine or CT?

Maybe a long shot but thought I’d ask. My wife wants to retire somewhere up north after living in GA for all her life. She’s not a paddler but I am. We are trying to find a place we can both be happy. It’s coming down to the PNW (probably Tacoma area or Portland) or coastal Maine or the eastern shore of CT (east of New Haven). If anyone has a paddler’s perspective (I should note that I’m a “sea” kayaker, not a WW or canoe paddler) on paddling or living in general in these two areas, I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have. I actually lived in CT for a while and think it’s a great place to paddle but swore I’d never live that far north again…but you know, “happy wife happy life” (she hates the heat more than I hate the cold. The coast seems a bit more interesting to me on the east coast, but the winter is a little less cold and the summer a little less hot and humid (I think) in the PNW. Not sure how the cost of living shakes out. If I was in the northeast, maybe I’d winter a bit down in Florida…if in the PNW, maybe down in baja. We have some time to decide and will have to visit at the best and worst times of year.

Most of us are getting as far away from CT as possible for retirement. Sucks really, I love living here, can’t take the stupidity of the business killing gov.
Kayaking is great, I have local lakes and the coast an hour away, great skiing in VT an hour away.

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Though I’ve never lived in ME or CT, it would be an easy choice for me (if I had to choose between the PNW and ME/CT).
I like to be able to paddle up to 365 days per year.
Unless you have enough whale blubber on you, might be tough in the (far) NE US.
The PNW has a number of reasons it’s a great place for a paddler (disclaimer - I lived in Kirkland, WA for about 10 years).

  • paddling all year (you ‘might’ get snow once in a while)
  • calm water paddling on Lake Washington (I lived in Kirkland - near Seattle)
  • interesting paddling in Puget Sound (wind, currents)
  • whitewater paddling in a few spots (eg: Deception Pass)
  • surf (coast)
    Many more, but part of the reason I’m no longer there - the water is always COLD.
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Are there other criteria like calibre of medical facilities? Asking because l am not personally a fan of retiring far away from a hospital with a bunch of floors, and that combined with paddling would leave within shooting distance of Portland in Maine.

Length of season a great point, if you are in Georgia you are used to a way longer season for paddling on the ocean without heavy weather gear than in Maine. You will need the stuff wherever you go north, but the warming ocean currents are a lot closer to the mainland in the PNW than in Maine.

The really only and best solution is to become a snow bird. :canoe:

I’ve paddled both coasts, and live in CT, so I can give you some info from a paddling perspective.

Maine would be my #1 choice of places to move to, with the caveat that winters there can be brutal depending on what part of the state you live in. My choice would be towns close to the coast, and just off the summer tourist trail that have a year-round population. My brother in law lived right on the shore for 30+ years, and he said as beautiful it is in the summer and fall, it’s pretty barren in the winter, and very few people. He said that just 5 miles inland was a whole different world in the winter. And the paddling there is spectacular from Portland all the way up to Lubec. I never get tired of going up there - too many great places to paddle to ever get sick of it.

CT paddling is pretty good, with access to the water being the main issue. Places like the Thimble Islands, and Fishers Island Sound are easy to get to, but parking can be a problem on the weekends depending on where you want to launch. During the week, and after Labor Day, it’s much better. The lower CT River has some really nice paddling, too. Polluted water is an issue west of New Haven, even though there are some nice paddling spots there, too. I demoed a kayak in Norwalk one time, and was warned about the cleanliness (Or lack thereof) of the water in the harbor by the outfitter. Basically said “Don’t capsize”. CT river can be an issue in spring high water, too.

I’ve paddled Johnstone Strait in BC, and been to Seattle for short stays (Mostly business trips), and found the paddling there to be completely awesome, but I don’t think it would compare to Maine in my book just based on the huge variety of conditions and scenery. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to paddle there again as a vacation though. But not having lived there or spent a lot of time there, I couldn’t tell you whether or not living there would be for me.

PNW or Maine would be my choices.

I lived in the PNW for a few years, within carting distance of the water, and I paddled in ME and other east coast locations. (I grew up in MA but that was before paddling.)

Obviously, I preferred the west coast and still do. The variety of padding in both places is huge, and both are beautiful.

However, I prefer the lower human density, fewer cities, vast spaces, and—last but not least—west coast WEATHER!!! Even though right now it is really hot there, which might become the new normal.

BUT be warned that the gray, drizzly climate for most of the year does drive some people crazy. You can definitely paddle there all year ‘round, though. Also, the sea temps are cold all year, mainly in the mid-40s winter to mid-50s summer; this varies with specific locations but it never gets to be nice swimming temps.

In contrast with east coast summer humidity, the west coast evenings normally feel clammy cool even on otherwise hot, dry summer days. At least, that’s what happened where I lived, but the town was surrounded by water on three sides. About mid-afternoon, strong winds would barrel east down the Strait of Juan de Fuca bringing with it coolness and the smell of open ocean. When it died down at night, things turned still and clammy, which I never liked.

Pikabike mentions something to consider - sun.

Maine as you get closer up to downeast also has a winter that goes to grey. A good college friend ended up living in Machias, way up, and he said that after 9 straight days of pea soup fog in the winter it was easy to see why the area had such a drinking problem. It took some discipline to make sure he did not participate - along with a decision to live off the grid that meant he was working at home whenever he was not at his job.

Machias is more extreme, but once you get anywhere beyond midcoast it becomes a huge factor. Compared to Georgia’s long sun maybe not even that far up.

Maine is most definitely a great spot for the right kind of closet hermit in the winter. If that is not who you are, suggest stay further south and more metro.

Ha, CT is not that far north!

You will have far more cold/snow in ME than coastal CT. Spring hits CT a month earlier than even the southern maine area. Maine will have much colder water that CT due to the Labrador current, which Cape Cod mostly blocks from CT. Even southern Maine to CT water temps can easily differ by 10degF in June/July. So expect to need a wetsuit/drysuit far more often. The Long Island sound also offers some shelter from big stuff.

The taxes in CT are high, but ME is no bargain either.

Lastly the heat sure did not spare the Pacific NW this past week!

I live in Cleveland, Ohio but my sister lives in Stanwood(?) WA. I went to Deception Pass and the tideraces were unbelievable. There was so much turbulence and huge moving water, I couldn’t believe people paddled it

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Yeah. It sucked to be us but it was very nice on the water.
Car to put-in / put-in to car was brutal. Getting wet was nice.

Lived in CT for 17 years and paddled every day. We lived in a town east of New Haven on Long Island Sound. Yes with a drysuit you can paddle year round.

But the summer traffic is just insane and we were helping run a camp in Maine and it was becoming increasingly hard to get to Georgetown ME from CT on the weekends. We escaped in 2000 after being offered a job in Maine.

With a dry suit you can indeed paddle year round. There are quite a few launches open in winter. The challenge is getting your keester out the door and then not falling on it on ice on launching.

We actually never go to the coast in the summer as it is insanely crowded ( especially this year). You will find us kayaking mostly from Harpswell to Boothbay Sept- May.

Heat waves are not usually an issue. We did have three days of low 90s and now its going to be a few days of 50’s. Monhegan hardly ever gets out of the 60’s.

Yes the water is colder due to the Labrador Current but sometimes coastal Maine does not get as much snow as coastal CT… The last two winters have shown that. Inland ME can get more ( we usually get about 50 percent more snow than Portland ME).

We have tidal races.

Have not paddled PNW but toured enough so I respect there are tidal races there. Skookumchuck Narrows was impressive.

What does not impress me about the Seattle area is Interstate 5. agh traffic jam. And the house prices? Yikes… CT is no house bargain overall and the taxes are awful but I could afford to buy a 4 bed house on 1.5 acres. I can’t afford a 2 bd 1 ba in the PNW! We have a 3 bd 2 ba on 3 acres lakefront for 2/3 the cost of the CT house. Our current house is bigger.

All true. Choose wisely.

Don’t worry about the cold in CT. I like it on Long Island. Taxes are murder on a house.

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If I were going to move anywhere in the US, or world for that matter, my number 1 concern would be climate change. Old climate descriptions for specific areas are outdated. The image of New England’s “cooler summers with comfortable nights—bring a light sweater” has not been been true for a very long time. Year by year, the tolerable summer season for outdoor activities is getting ever shorter. I hardly camp at all in June, July, and August now. In recent years I’ve had to postpone my annual September hike/bike/kayak trip to late October due to heat waves in Vermont and Maine. I wouldn’t want to deal with fires in the Northwest. Climate change is already having a major impact on quality of life in most parts of the US, especially if for you QOL means the outdoors. Recreational facilities haven’t kept up with these changes. Campgrounds still open in June even though it’s warm enough to camp in March, and they close October 15 before the heat waves finish.

We still have cool. Climate change is real but the sweater still a good idea
While the rest of the country was warm this weekend we had 3 days in the low 50’s for a high

Yup. I was burning wood for the last two and a half days, 4th of July outside gathering was jeans and wool socks and fleece layers up to top. Getting warm starting again today with sun but isn’t going to exceed 66 until tomorrow. Maine.

Which goes to my concern about exactly how unmoderated a climate the op’er would find comfy.

we were discussing “who’s putting the heat on” this past week on a southern New England gun forum…I didn’t, but found my windows closed and myself wrapped in a blanket…60’s today for a high, mid 90’s Wednesday predicted, weather’s been all over the place.

In NW PA we have had some 90s or close to it days last week. Quite a few people were complaining and I finally told one guy “I bet you are the same guy that complains in the winter when we get a week below –20F.” LOL

If you like climate change come to the Great Lakes we get lots of climate change every year.

My sister every winter if it gets bad tells me it is climate change and when we have a mild winter it’s climate change. I always remind her of Thanksgiving 1955 when it was so bad they called in the Army to open the roads. She tells me that wasn’t climate change that was just bad weather.

My advice above was to be a snowbird if you don’t want to be locked down 3-4 months out of the year.

Re snowbirding: probably some heavily discounted hi-rise condos in Coastal FL coming on the market soon.

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