I went to Richmond today to look at apartments and found the most amazing one. It's in a safe, convenient location, it's not-too-expensive, is on the same street as my best friend's place, has a huge bedroom/back porch/front porch/huge living room/nice kitchen/dining area/allows pets/includes utilities and is all around amazing.
It's not so cheap that there must be something wrong with it, as my two best friends who lived/live in Richmond had equally amazing places for comparable prices. Richmond is cheap because the career market sucks, but I'm not looking for a career at the moment. Actually, that's why the current tenant is leaving. (She's moving to Charlottesville for work.) I'm not too concerned with that because I'll be looking for a mundane job that pays rent while I work my ass off on the GREs and possibly get some internships.
I know I was sort of torn about Richmond vs. Portland, but for now, it seems like a good intermediate step before moving out west. The thought of lugging everything (my car, my whiney cats, my furniture) across the country and then schlepping back here for the GREs makes my head hurt. I kind of love the idea of being close enough to go home but far enough to feel removed, at least for a year. Then I can go to grad school in New York and on to bigger and better things!
I'm cynical enough to assume there will be some major roadblocks, but for now (and with the inauguration tomorrow), I'm feeling pretty wonderful.