For some newcomers to the Pacific Northwest, it’s only a matter of unpacking boxes before they feel “home.” For others, it’s that first long hike, knowing how to pronounce Puyallup and Sequim or finding a local tavern with decent draft beer and some personality.
But for longtime Northwest residents, the bar’s a bit higher — quite a bit higher, according to a poll commissioned by PEMCO, the Seattle-based insurer that prides itself on its Northwest roots and got a lot of attention a decade ago featuring exaggerated Northwest personalities like “Socks and Sandals Guy.”
Earlier this year, 1,200 residents of Washington and Oregon were asked by FBK Research of Seattle how long they think a person must live in this area to be considered a “local.” Nearly one-quarter of those polled said they believe a person must live here their entire life — yeah, you read that right — to be included in this circumscribed group.
Others are not as strict: About 18 percent of respondents said the minimum requirement for local status is to have lived here at least three-quarters of their life, and about 26 percent said it takes living here half a lifetime to legitimately be called local.
Few people, about 16 percent, said people can consider themselves locals after living here one-quarter, or less, of their lives.
Interestingly, of those polled, 72 percent called themselves locals and 24 percent considered themselves transplants. The pollsters, however, did not appear to have investigated which definition applied to those those who claimed to be local.
“There are proud locals wherever you go across the country, and that status seems to be especially revered here in the Northwest,” said PEMCO spokesman Derek Wing. “And while most of our poll respondents believe they meet their own strict requirements to be considered a true local, it’ll be interesting to see if attitudes change if we continue to see an influx of new people moving to the region.”
But there appears to be at least one thing most of those polled agree on: They feel they’re “home,” whether anyone else agrees or not. Almost two-thirds of respondents say they aren’t very likely or not at all likely to leave the region.
Whether “local” or not, it seems people are here to stay.