The city of Eugene is comprised of many different neighborhoods with specific names. For example, we are currently renting a house in the hilly, forested Churchill neighborhood named after the illustrious Winston Churchill. In a couple of weeks, we are moving to the flatter, open Santa Clara neighborhood — slightly ironic having just moved out of Santa Clara County in California. This is Eugene’s most northerly district lying on the edge of farmland and the city with easy access to the Willamette River bike paths. There are other neighborhoods with historical names such as Cal Young, named after the son of a couple who homesteaded the area in 1851. College Hill retains its name from the days when Columbia University was located there. Whitaker, known as “The Whit”, home to many breweries and other colorful businesses is Eugene’s hip neighborhood. Trainsong as the name suggests is surrounded by the Southern Pacific’s tracks and switching yard. Each neighborhood has its own character, ambience, and topography. My favorite is Goodpasture Island — what? There’s an island in Eugene?! Well, there used to be when the Willamette River would flood its banks each winter before flood control dams were built in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s… a reminder that it is necessary to think about whether or not your house is on the flood plain. We made sure ours was not!
There’s even a neighborhood called Friendly named after one of Eugene’s mayors and reputed to have very friendly residents. However, I would say that moniker could apply to the entire city. We have been welcomed with open arms by everyone since we arrived over a month ago. It feels like traveling in a time machine back to the 60’s. We started off with house-hunting in February and met our realtor, Amy. Who knew we were going to like our real estate agent so much that we would want to adopt her into our family when business is done?! She has been amazing not only doing an outstanding job of finessing our search for and acquisition of the right home, but also checking in with us from time to time just to see how we’re doing or if we need anything. Having been born and raised here, Amy is a fountain of knowledge. She has been able to provide all kinds of references and information that have helped us get settled.
Once we decided that Eugene would definitely be our next hometown, we had to find a place to rent in order to make the transition. We were fortunate to find a furnished house available through Sabbatical Homes. As it turned out, we have a lot in common with the owner, Nancy, such as our love of jazz and travel. She has been nothing but accommodating as our needs have changed extending our rental window as much as possible both at the beginning and end of our agreed contract so we can make a smooth move from her house to our new home. She even reached out to friends when it appeared we were going to need a subsequent rental. Nancy checks in with us to see how things are going and joins in cheering the successes of our pursuit of a new life in Eugene. We have experienced a wonderful sense of support in our new community.
At one point, we thought our new house would not close until two weeks after we had to vacate Nancy’s place. In the process of looking for another rental, we met Richard and Marjorie who were renting out their house for a month while off to visit Marjorie’s family in Marseilles, France. We spent quite a bit of time talking with them. While, in the end, we didn’t need to rent another place, we have kept them in our contacts for the future hoping we will be able have more than just the acquaintance and also gain an opportunity to continue practicing our French. Another AirBNB contact regarding a rental introduced us to Milo and his wife who are retired educators with, as they suggested, “lots of stories to share”. They weren’t sure they could accommodate our timeline but offered the guest bedroom in their house if we needed a couple of days leeway to get into our house. Such a thoughtful gesture from people you have never met.
Shopping and interacting with clerks and other employees has been another simple pleasure we have experienced in Eugene. If you ask where an item is located, usually they will not only know but will take you directly to it. More often than not, they ask you first if there’s something you need. Upon checkout, the clerks always take their time with every customer and engage you in a short but sincere conversation. While Anthony was checking out our groceries at Fred Meyer, we discovered his parents live just around the corner from the house we are buying. It’s refreshing to be greeted every day like this. It makes us feel like we can actually become part of the community rather easily as opposed to what would have been years and years of effort in that endeavor with limited reward had we moved to France.
We were a little leery about revealing the fact that we had moved here from California, but we are not alone. Some of the houses we have watched go on the market and then sell very quickly have ended up with California cars in the driveway. An enthusiastic “Welcome to Eugene” has been the response from everyone whether our dealings have been in person or online. We’ve come to the conclusion that Eugenians are just plain friendly and we’re thrilled!