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Generations of people came to the Midwest in hopes of finding a better life. But economic opportunity has been harder to find since the recession began, and people have left the region in record numbers in search of jobs or a better housing market. Changing Gears “Midwest Migration” project is collecting photos, stories, and voicemail messages from former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.We’re mapping where people ended up, and we're sharing their stories about why they left and whether life is better for them now.We’ll also hear whether they plan to return to the Midwest.You can share your Midwest migration story here, and see responses on our Midwest Migration tumblr page.The Midwest Migration will run through mid-February 2012.

Two snowbirds make a permanent move to the west coast

Harley Sachs

Changing Gears'Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the 2008 recession.

Name: Harley Sachs
Midwest Home: Houghton, MI
New Home:  Portland, OR

I took a sabbatical leave in Portland, Oregon in 1979-80 and my wife loved the city so much she didn’t want to leave, but my job at Michigan Technological University paid more than I could get in Oregon, so we stayed until I could take early retirement at age 55.

We then traveled during parts of winters for several years until my wife was hit by a car and badly injured.

When my wife’s condition grew worse we decided to sell everything in Michigan. It has been a hard transition. As an author I had to dispose of my library. As a sailor I had to dispose of my boat. Gov. Snyder’s punitive taxes on seniors were a further inducement to leave the state. We have turned the corner as senior citizens. Life is good.

I don’t think we’ll ever move back. Winters in Northern Michigan are too difficult with all that snow for six months of the year. It is too expensive for us to maintain two residences, and air travel is no longer feasible. The $1400 round trip for the two of us is just too much. Travel is no longer fun. I can write my books in Portland. 

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