I’ve been looking for a way to move up to the Pacific Northwest, and although I’ve lived in Eugene, I’ve never done more than pass through Portland. Any locals care to describe what it’s like to live there?
ETA- and by looking for a way I mean trying to decide the where before I focus on the how.
Outstanding restaurants, food carts, blues festival, jazz festival, multiple film festivals, free concerts in the parks in the summer, concerts at the zoo (some free), jazz clubs, food carts, excellent public transit, Portland State University smack in the center of the city, lots of bridges, two rivers, easy access to the Columbia Gorge, fresh fruit and veggies grown locally, terrific wine, multiple local breweries, extensive bike trails, and a naked bike race.
Politics: heavily Democrat
Crime: normal for a city this size, heavy sex trade (#2 in the USA), some gang activity
Housing and rents: depends on the neighborhood. Northeast Portland is probably the cheapest.
I really like the neighborhood feel of the place. Ours has excellent restaurants and a full range of businesses that we can walk to, including our doctor and dentist.
There’s a strip club on practically on every corner, not a lot of ethnic diversity, possibly the whitest major city in the US. Lots of homeless downtown.
Good indie rock scene, an NBA and MLS team, a microbrewery on every corner that doesn’t have a strip club, food cart pods instead of parking lots, but that’s okay because you won’t be driving your car much anyway. Powell’s is a candidate for best bookstore in the world and there’s a good library system too.
The library system just went from good to excellent with the addition of online books.
An honest to god jazz radio station that plays jazz, blues, some funk and some soul. No smooth jazz at all. And no commercials.
High property taxes, but no sales tax. Ours was about $3500 last year, and we have a small house valued around $300+K.
Vehicle license and registration are also high, but it’s every three years.
We’re an hour from the best and most accessible coastline in the country (thank you former Republican governor Tom McCall), and an hour from the ski runs on Mt. Hood. Lots of boating and kayaking on the two rivers. Less than an hour from the wind-surfing/kite-boarding/beer drinking mecca of Hood River.
More city parks than I can count, and lots of farmers’ markets.
There are a lot of homeless, but mostly non-aggressive types, unlike Seattle. The local business coalition hires a security firm to respond to people loitering in their doorways or causing other problems. They in turn call the cops if things get out of hand.
Hipsters. This city is clogged with hoody-wearing, Mac-staring chai drinkers, sitting in cafes and taking up table space for hours on end.
I live about 1 1/2 hour outside Portland, near the coast.
The thing about Portland is that within a couple hours drive you can be; on the beautiful coast with 400 miles of publicly owned beach, snow skiing on Mt Hood even in June, hiking or camping in one of the nearby wilderness areas, state parks or national forests, you can be in the high desert, boating or fishing on the rivers, in wine country, all within a few hours drive. A day trip. Well a weekend trip anyway.
Or if you are an Urbanite and enjoy the things that the city has to offer, it is all available too.
I don’t know when you last lived here, but this has become a foodie paradise. Top chefs have migrated here to be part of the burgeoning food scene. I’ve been all over the world and, with the exception of decent southwestern food, Portland can compete with any of them. In my neighborhood alone there are three top-notch sushi places, two exceptional Italian places, an excellent Greek joint, and two spectacularly good Viet/SE Asian places. After nearly three years, we have only scratched the surface of fine dining in this city.
So much great information, thanks everyone. I’ve seen Portlandia, hoping to live in a different section (quadrant?) of the city than those folks. I haven’t seen Grimm yet but now I have a reason to check it out.
What I really want is: weather, a small house that costs less than one million dollars (much much less), friendly people, local moving water, good food and live music, parks that are worth walking to/in, and a couple of chickens in the back yard.
What I’m hoping to get away from: people who drive SUVs with their knees so their hands are free for the blackberry and latte action, cranky entitled engineers who think money replaces good manners, completely unaffordable rent/real estate, boring suburban sprawl, and yes-sunny winters.
So far Portland tops the list of possibilities. I’d be dumping my whole life and starting over. I’m smiling a lot lately just thinking about it.
All of your criteria are met here (see my previous post), with the possible exception of traffic. I didn’t mention that the people are the friendliest of any city I’ve visited. They are more than willing to engage you in conversation and more than willing to help you find where you need to go. In fact, it’s a bit disconcerting at first when someone strikes up a conversation on the bus without any prompting.
Having a veggie garden in one’s yard is almost a given, and many people have chicken coops in our neighborhood. This is an excellent website. She’s a real estate broker, but the site has lots of information on local activity. You can subscribe to her free monthly newsletter.
Very helpful website, thank you. It seems people in Portland don’t have the same hate for Californians that I’ve heard about further north. Here’s an example of the nice-a coworker of mine lived in Portland years ago, and when she heard I was thinking of relocating she made a list of workplaces that might fit with my skills, and then a map of areas where I might enjoy living.
Plus, the idea that many people have chicken coops pretty much seals the deal for me. I’m sure I’ll be back for more advice as the plan thickens.