On the weather in the Pacific Northwest: I agree summers there are great, but when I lived in the Bellevue, WA area for 5 years, I hadn’t realized just what a huge psychological impact the constant overcast and drizzle would make on me. 9 months out of the year, Sunny days were just really really rare, and it took a toll on me. I used to love rainy weather when I moved there, but everything should be in moderation. Constant small rain and drizzle and overcast skies just wore me down after a while. I was so happy to move out of there.
I really love the suggestion of Missoula, MT, because of all the places I’ve driven through, Western Montana is one of the best places I’ve seen in the world. I would love to take up that suggestion myself one day, if I could find work near there, especially if the weather isn’t that bad in the winters.
Colorado also sounds great. My brother lived there in the mid-90s, and our visits there were really great. But I don’t know much about the housing problem.
I also lived in Birmingham, Alabama for a while, and visited one of my brothers when he lived in Fort Wayne, Alabama. The neat thing about Fort Wayne is that it’s close to some absolutely beautiful hiking spots with lots of little waterfalls. Unfortunately it was really hot down there, so you have to be okay with sweating a lot as you walk through those beautiful trails.
I also like the suggestions of North Carolina. When I lived in Birmingham (AL), we took several trips out to South Carolina and a couple of times to North Carolina, and there’s some great beauty in those States, and fairly pleasant weather. We also took trips to Georgia a lot, and there’s some really great places to visit there. I love their giant trees in Savannah that make the place feel so different from the rest of the U.S. Being a fairly short drive away from all that, and being close to the Appalachian mountains is also really appealing. There were some really beautiful areas in the Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia areas of the Appalachian range. And if you live in the Carolinas, that’s a pretty short drive away.