Establishing oneself in our area
Lewis County is one of the least wealthy in Washington, but it is still a very nice place to live. Just about any form of outdoor recreation one could want is within a couple of hour’s drive, and all of the comforts of a major city can be gotten by driving 90 minutes north or south. One of our members maintains an Instagram account dedicated to nature photography, most of his pictures are taken within 20 miles of Centralia.
Housing prices are much lower than they are to the north, although they are still creeping up as people are priced out of Olympia. We do recommend looking primarily in Lewis County, as Thurston County has much higher property taxes and is much less agreeable when it comes to building permits and related issues. Land is available in the area, but flat land suitable for agriculture and not prone to flooding is in short supply and therefore spendy. Smaller parcels suitable for a homestead (or with a house already on it) are available at generally reasonable prices. There are a number of issues associated with buying land in this area, both practical and legal in nature, so we suggest consulting with a local realtor for advice suitable to your particular situation.
With regards to employment: bottom-rung employment is extremely plentiful, you will see “NOW HIRING” signs everywhere. There are a number of machine and fab shops in the area, as well as all of the types of work associated with timber (logging, trucking, mill work). The skilled trades are booming, there is a shortage of electricians and a skilled mason (or even a mediocre one, for that matter) could almost write his own ticket here. There is a fair amount of agriculture, mostly tree farms, dairy cows, and poultry. However, many farms are either family-owned and only employ their kin and people from their own small circle, or are owned by large companies who prefer a distinctly swarthier workforce. It may be difficult for an outsider to work themselves into the loop at first.
At the professional level, there are a fair amount of jobs associated with Centralia College and the hospital. Both appear to be expanding, there is a large elderly population here and health care jobs are plentiful. There is also Olympia to the north, which may be a better choice for Folk who work in tech or in the bureaucracy. There’s little opportunities for either in our immediate area, although if your employer is agreeable to telecommuting this limitation falls away.
Whatever your economic or skill level may be, I do strongly encourage you to do whatever is necessary to get into a position where you have some control or at least influence over hiring decisions, in order to help give other Folk a hand up. My shift at my shop is half Folk at present. It may be possible for a prejudiced employer to get rid of one of us, but if we can get to the point of comprising a majority (or powerful minority) in a given place, a very different picture starts to emerge.
City-Data is an extremely useful thing for anyone who is considering moving to a new area, they have economic, demographic, and climate data for almost every area, and a message board for questions that cannot easily be answered with raw data.