I've lived in Florence a few years and will be moving back to Eugene next year. I would recommend you look elsewhere, but I'll tell you about this place.
Violent crime isn't much of a concern, and there is nowhere in Florence I feel unsafe. Like much of Oregon, property crime is the real concern. That said, I fairly regularly see bicycles left unattended without a lock and they don't disappear in 0.5 a second like in Eugene. Most of Florence police efforts are spent dealing with the same small, shitty group of tweakers. Crime here doesn't personally concern me any more than most places.
One thing you might have overlooked is the median age here is *60*. It's a retirement town. There's plenty going on if you're 70, not if you're a young couple with a toddler. Entertainment-wise, there's a movie theater and a library. There's also a casino and some bars if that's your thing. A few times a year there will be a cool festival, but day-to-day there's not much. Lots of restaurants close at 8:00 pm, and some have odd hours/days to accommodate tourists. Speaking of tourists, Florence varies wildly by season. While it's rainy, it's pretty dead. When the weather gets nice, there are suddenly people everywhere. Florence government and accommodations are mostly centered around pleasing tourists and the retirement community, which gets old real quick.
Outdoor activities is about the only thing this area has going for it. The beach, river and lakes are nice, and you can go crabbing, clamming, or fishing. There are plenty of areas with nice hikes. There are sand dunes and beach for sand boarding, ATVs, off-road vehicles, or riding horses.
I don't have any personal experience with the school system, but the reputation isn't great. I can tell you there is practically nothing in the way of higher education. Lane Community College has an extension campus here, but the mostly offer non-credit and remedial classes. I believe there might also be some nursing training and things of that nature. Opportunities in Florence are also extremely limited. The only substantial industries are healthcare and things catering to tourism.
I would highly recommend you look into Newport. It's similar in population, but it's a *much* nicer town. They have more amenities, a community college, more industry, their port is way better, they have the Hatfield Marine Science Center and NOAA operates out of there. It's better in virtually every way.
With its flourishing economy, decadent vibe and staggering beauty, Florence is a popular choice for expats. Life in Florence combines a youthful, international atmosphere coupled with the traditions, culture and history of the Florentines.
If you live and work in Florence you may start the day by joining the runners by the River Arno. Or less energetically, you might saunter over the boutique-lined Ponte Vecchio, browsing the Murano glass and jewellery shops. The Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station is well-placed in the middle of the centro storico, where you can commute to offices outside the city.
For the long lunch break, traditional in Italy, you might order pasta and a glass of Chianti in a quintessentially Florentine spit-and-sawdust trattoria near the Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, a spot relatively unknown to tourists. After work you can catch one of the free jazz concerts in the ornate Piazza SS Annunziata (Jun-Sept) or hang out with the locals and students in the laid-back bars around the Piazza Santo Spirito.
For many, moving to a new city (and country!) is synonymous with pushing boundaries, getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. You often can’t speak the local language, the public transport system might be totally different and you don’t have the faintest idea where anything is.
But moving to Florence should also be a time of excitement! You’re opening yourself up to a new world, filled with incredible opportunities, interesting people and endless possibilities. In spirit of helping you focus on the good parts of moving away, the boys and girls at HousingAnywhere decided to put this guide together.
From advising on the average cost of living, to finding housing in Florence and even just giving you a pointer on some of the incredible things to do and places to see around the city, we’ve done our best to cover everything.
We hope you’ll get settled soon and enjoy your stay in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
Hi! I was born and raised in Florence, but have had opportunities to travel a good bit. Maybe I can offer some insight, but I love it here. I probably have a slight bias.
First, where are you now? Giving differences would be easier if we knew your general location.
The community here is good and getting better. The city finally seems to be embracing that it is a college town, and are catering to the young adults a little more.
I don't know where you heard that there is a lot of crime, but Florence is relatively safe. Much like any other city, there are areas to avoid, but I have not felt unsafe in downtown Florence ever.
UNA is what you make of it. Some people love it, others hate it. I work there and went to school there. I had a great experience and I think it would have been even better if I had been more involved.
I have traveled across the country and The Shoals has always been where I want to be. I absolutely recommend people move here. If you are undecided, come for a visit and then decide. I'm sure everyone here can give recommendations on what to do when you are here.
I hope this helps!
Just to be clear, Florence is a retirement community. There are not a wealth of young families in the area.
The economy out in Florence is very depressed and hinges almost solely on tourist traffic. During the fall, winter, and some spring months there is not a ton going on.
Additionally the school system is not fantastic given the lack of funding for what can basically be called a rural school district.
That said, if you want a quiet, relatively clean, extremely safe, and pretty small town [it varies but it is roughly 9600-10k], Florence is not a bad place to check out.
Junction City is another reasonable option and it far closer to Eugene if you are a young couple. There are more youth, housing prices are significantly less expensive than in Eugene, the schools are not lacking in funding comparatively, the weather is not nearly as wet and windy as Florence, and it is also a decent sized place with more to do than Florence.
Creswell, Veneta, and Cottage Grove are also worth looking into.
What are you hoping to get out of your move here? A better place for your kid to grow up? Better schools? Better job opportunities? Safer place to live? Why did Oregon become the spot of all places?
Robs Robs is offline
We are moving to florence in the fall for a year abroad. We are from Canada and traveling with 3 daughters (4,8,10)and our lovely Cat. We have been to florence a couple times now as visiting tourist so this time it will be much different. Our two major hurdles so far are finding long term accommodation and a public school that might be a good fit for children who speak english. We will be brushing up on some Italian before we come and we can look into a tutor for them but I would really love to know if there are any public schools that have easier transition into learning Italian as their second language? Are there any newer built locations in Florence (suburbs) with new schools? We are very excited and florence is a very lovely city! It is a little difficult to organize from so far away however your forums are wonderful
Florence has a richer and more fascinating history than most nations. Once a critical hub for European trade and finance, it is credited as the birthplace of the Renaissance and produced some of the history’s finest artists and intellectuals, including Dante, Da Vinci and Machiavelli, to name a few.
The modern city boasts nearly 400,000 inhabitants in its centre and is visited by 40 times than number every year by tourists from across the world. Major attractions like the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti are still exceptional centres of art and Florentine culture. In fact, the entire city has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Being one of the fashion capitals of the world, you risk, by living there, falling head-over-heels in love on a near daily basis. It’s a phenomenally attractive and intriguing city, and is also blessed with fine weather for most of the year - any northern europeans or Canadians out there, prepare your suncream!
I can't say much about the job market because I don't know what jobs you're both looking for, but Florence is a great town! It has a lovely sense of community and a low crime rate. I don't know where you heard the crime was bad but it's not true!
There's a pretty decent music scene here and there are frequent festivals like W.C. Handy Festival and the Renaissance Fair. First Fridays are always fun too. There's a Frank Lloyd Wright house and Helen Keller is from Tuscumbia, which is right around the corner. You can tour her house as well as W.C. Handy's house. Fame Recording Studio is in Muscle Shoals, also a note able attraction.
The cool part is you're in a sort of central location from lots of major cities - Huntsville, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham, all only a couple hours away.
The humidity is rough, but I don't think your asthma will be affected very much. I'm not a doctor though, so take that with a grain of salt. We have lovely fall weather (definitely drive on the Natchez Trace when the leaves start to change) and the winters are fair.
If you ever want good coffee, I recommend Rivertown Coffee (okay, I work there, no shame...we also serve tasty food). There are some great restaurants too - Odette, Pie Factory (pizza), City Hardware, a really awesome hidden taco place called Taqueria Juarez, Ichiban (sushi), and Ricatoni's (Italian) to name a few.
Decent bar scene too - Wildwood Tavern, On the Rocks, Odette, Pie Factory, Rivertown, and the famous bar in a cave - Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia.
Hope this helps a little!
I agree with everything posted thus far. Florence is the bomb!