Tired of the daily grind? Find a slower-paced, stress-free life in these dream towns
Moved: From Vancouver, Washington, to McMinnville, Oregon, in 2006
Old life: Preschool teacher in the burbs
New life: Bakery owner (rubycakesbakeries.com)
The aha moment: My husband and I had never been to McMinnville before and went for lunch on the roof deck at McMenamins, the place every nonlocal knows. It was a cold winter day, but cozy, romantic. He was considering a job with a blueberry company here. One visit and, we thought, Yes, let's live here!
What I gave up: Having my family nearby.
What I gained: The ability to walk down the street and say hello to people by name. A house—with character and crown molding—that was cheaper than our new-construction subdivision in Vancouver. A weekly farmers' market that allowed me to try out my gluten-free cupcake and meet my business partner, Amy Israel. She came every week, and one day asked if I'd be interested in opening a storefront. I don't think that kind of repeat interaction would take place in a big city. Now the two of us own a full-on bakery, Ruby Cakes.
Take my advice: If you want to start a business here, finding a niche is important. I don't know if I would've succeeded with a regular bakery; it helped to be vegan and gluten-free. The Saturday market is a great place for people who have an idea and want to try it out before opening a full-fledged business.
I knew I was a local when: I started getting my weekly duck eggs from my neighbor.