Well, suburbs, actually. My spouse has asked me to see if Dopers can help out with some information on Clinton, a suburb of Portland, OR and Columbia City, near Seattle.
We’ve looked at internet info, but there’s nothing like personal experience from people who live there. If you are familiar with either of these, I would really appreciate your impressions of them as viable places to live as a retirement home, as we’re planning to settle in the PNW next year.
Are you talking about the Clinton neighborhood, like the area around SE Clinton in the 20-40 blocks? If that’s what you mean I can tell you that it’s an up-and-coming artsy area, becoming more like the Hawthorne district but less crowded and commercial. Older, well maintained houses, rising home values generally, and a very good small business district with excellent cafes and shops within easy walking distance. It has its own specialty movie theater that shows an eclectic mix. Not much in the way of big stores in that area, nearest Fred Meyer will be at 39th and Hawthorne and that’s the closest big grocery store. Not a lot of traffic, and the side streets are small and not busy. My daughter really wanted a house in the Clinton but couldn’t afford it at the time and ended up buying at the far end of the Mt Tabor district. Great area to ride a bike in.
ETA: Oh yeah, and the local Drinking Liberally chapter holds meetings at a pub at SE 11th and Madison, so that’s right close as well.
I lived close to the Columbia City neighborhood but that was 20 years ago. The area was in decline but according to Wiki, things are much better now.
Twenty years ago the “business district” was nail salons, storefront churches, abandoned buildings, bad fast food places and crappy discount stores. The residential part was mixed – there was a low income housing project (Rainier Vista – I’m not sure it’s even still there) and smallish older homes, lots of Craftsmans. No high rises or apartment buildings, but Wiki says that’s changed too.
The area has nice views of the Cascades and Mount Rainier, and it’s within walking distance of the lake (the eastern part is anyway).
One big negative about Seattle’s charming older neighborhoods is that there’s no place to park your car except on the street. Houses are very close together and yards are small.
Columbia City is actually in Seattle - inside the city limits and not even as far south as you can go while still being well inside city limits. I wouldn’t consider it a suburb at all, it’s a neighborhood (one of the older neighborhoods, in fact). So if you’re looking for a suburban experience, that’s not it.
On the other hand, it’s a cool neighborhood; it’s one of the places I looked when I was moving. Great restaurants. It had been “in transition” for a while, but is growing. I know you said you had looked at internet info - but here’s some more
We’re definitely NOT looking for suburban experience, but rather neighborhood living, with friendly bistros, coffee shops, restaurants, etc., walking distance to public transit, trails, parks, that sort of thing.
Good info so far. Hopefully, others will chime in so I can prove that all this time spent on the Dope is not a waste of my life.
What the above poster said about it. And I’ll just add this: I hope that you are an artsy-fartsy tree-hugging kind of person (couple) – or don’t mind living in a neighborhood where 99% of your neighbors always look one-day removed from being at a Greatful Dead concert. Because that’s SE Clinton in a nutshell. If that’s what you’re searching for, you’ve got it. If you’re searching for something else, search elsewhere.
Also good to know: inner neighborhoods of Portland are riddled with homeless people pushing shopping carts and picking through your garbage. Again, if you’re okay with that, then there’s no problem. If that’s what you’re looking for, than SE Clinton is your kind of place.
I’m not knocking SE Portland, but the poster asked about the realities of it . . . and I’m just being honest. I’m sure someone else will have no problem posting the rose-colored “Portland Chamber of Commerce”-approved description of that neighborhood.
I absolutely love the Clinton neighborhood of PDX, but I guess I’m the people Shallora describes-- that’s fair. Good coffee shops (I expect the Flying Saucer is still open), a number of good buses, there USED to be (lived there a few years ago) a big local natural grocery but I think they got huge and then eaten by Wild Oats or something. Neat restaurants (is Dot’s still open? The Hawaiian place next door?), and the rest of SE PDX is awesome. I’d move back in a heartbeat.
I don’t live in Columbia City but visit there often. It’s a fun area, with a small movie theater, some good places to eat, some basic services (though I can’t for the life of me remember right now if there is a grocery store in that area), and a weekly farmer’s market. Housing prices tend to be a little higher than similar areas.
If you are willing to look at similar nearby areas, consider West Seattle, esp. near the three major intersections of California Ave. (Admiral, Alaska, Morgan). All have good services, are walkable to parks, stores, etc., and are near sites of recent new residential buildings so housing may be a bit cheaper.
uncle squeegee speaks truth. West Seattle’s a really nice option. I didn’t live there but a good friend did, and she introduced me to the Husky Deli and a really good Thai place. We saw a lot of movies at the Admiral Theater and spent a lot of time at Lincoln Park (saltwater swimming pool).
It’s probably closed now, but we used to have car repairs done at a teensy little gas station with the best mechanic. He always got the work done fast, and he’d put air in the spare tire, check battery cables, etc. We loved that mechanic.
Well, help us out–what’re you looking for? We know that a definite walking-style, busy neighborhood is what you want, but how tolerant are you of city stuff like homeless people, traffic and noise? Are you crunchy granola or yuppie? What’s your target home price, or are you looking for a rental? You say you’re retiring–is it important to be in a neighborhood that reflects your age or are you more okay with an area that has a higher population of young people? Do you have outdoor pets that need lots of walkies and a good sized yard, or would you actually prefer a small city lot? Do you like old houses or newer ones? Are you okay with two story houses, and what kind of square footage are you expecting to get for your money?
Give us more to go on and we can probably find you the exact house you want!
Ouch. Well, noise is certainly problematic. We’ve looked at downtown condos in both cities, and traffic noise plus price pretty much rules those out. Right now we’re thinking a house in the $250-350K range in one of the neighborhoods. Age demographics are definitely NOT an issue. Geezer communities don’t interest me in the least. No labor-intensive pets at the moment. Prefer a house that doesn’t require mountaineering experience to get around in (lots-o-stairs), but age doesn’t matter.
Square footage isn’t all that important, as we can adjust to most anything. It appears that for the money, PDX offers larger homes, but like I said, we’re not looking for a ‘trophy house’. A yard is good. A garage is good. Room to park the RV would be very good, but not required. We like jazz clubs, good restaurants, funky businesses, proximity to something like a farmers’ market, parks, that sort of thing.
Have you considered the Minneapolis area? Or are you tired of winter weather? Because Minneapolis has all that, and you’d get more house (and parking space) for your money than you would in any Seattle neighborhood.
Plus, no earthquakes. And maybe Al Franken as your Senator!
Yeah, the winters are part of the reason we’re leaving here. My kids all live right across the border in River Falls, but that’s not enough enticement, I’m afraid. No earthquakes, but tornadoes are not a plus.
Columbia City used to (~10 - 15 years ago) be an urban-blight-rundown-crime shithole. The place where public parks were more likely used for drugs instead of places for kids to play.
About 5 years ago it really started to turn around, property was dirt cheap since it was a hellhole, but it was in the city and everywhere else was too expensive for homebuyers. It very rapidly turned around into good homes, bistros, restaurants, and the city has poured some good money into parks and playfields. Now, it is one of the up and coming great neighborhoods in Seattle and is rivaling Capitol Hill and Fremont as the “cool spot” to go to.
Are you specifically looking for a place in Seattle proper? Because you’re more likely to get a yard and RV parking if you look in neighborhoods around either the northern or southern tip of Lake Washington rather than in the city itself.