Notes For Angelenos Thinking About Moving To Portland
Welcome! You join a long and storied history of people moving to OR in search of a better quality of life, myself included. We're experiencing a boom right now that's brought ~2000 refugees a month and some inevitable, rapid change. I've seen some lists from folks in LA thinking about moving and thought I'd share my notes. You guys love notes! 😘
- •It's OK to stop liking the Dodgers!First things first - There is very little baseball culture in Portland so you'll find equally little pressure to adopt the next closest team, the Mariners. Hell, most people in Seattle don't even like the Mariners. So you're off the hook. There is a collection bin in Pioneer Square for you to drop off your fitted caps, tshirts and license plate frames once you're settled in. This will also ensure that no angry Oregonian will yell "GO BACK TO CALIFORNIA" at you. Yes, that happens. A lot.
- •You can help us raise four-way-stop awarenessOne of the greatest contributions anyone moving to Portland from a sprawling, auto oriented city can do is help locals be more alert and aggressive at four way stop signs. Native Oregonians and anyone who moved here from NYC are awful at knowing when it's their turn. I've been doing my part since I moved here from Florida in 1998.
- •Know that the Zillow/Redfin fantasy you have is probably not realIt's very easy to be seduced by the idea that you can easily buy an amazing old portland estate for less than 500k. What you should know is that supply in those desirable and charming central city neighborhoods is extremely limited and because so many people are moving here or are simply looking to invest in a growing market, it may take you a very long time to buy, probably 6-12 months of being outbid by cash offers. You can do it but be patient and prepared for bidding wars.
- •Know that the rental market is also bananas right nowThe good news is that there is a ton of new supply thanks to the rebounding market but the bad news is that you will find high rents in those new buildings. Not quite SF crazy but certainly WeHo crazy. If you don't have a particular neighborhood in mind, I'd suggest targeting an older apartment building in NW Portland for your initial entry. A little cheaper in an older, established part of town and a good place to base yourself while you get the lay of the city.
- •Know that diversity is dwindlingPortland was already shockingly white when I arrived from the South in the 90s, but it's become even more so since then and along with the rapidly increasing cost of housing, its one of the things I'm least comfortable with. That's also because those two things go together - rising rents, demolitions, new developments have adversely and disproportionately affected populations of color in Portland. Be aware and sensitive to that when you move into an "emerging neighborhood."
- •All that said, Portland neighborhood life is exactly what you expectFriendly, walkable, lush and tree lined, close to amazing public transport and bike boulevards and unfortunately full of meth driven petty crime, so don't leave your expensive REI stroller out on the front porch, even during broad daylight.
- •And the live-work balance can still be exactly what you hopedIt may take some finagling but it is possible to spend more time living---swimming in rivers, laying in parks, painting weird murals, doting on your children--and less time working here. The reality is that "the dream of the 90s" was mostly dead by the time Portlandia coined it, but with a little ingenuity you can still build that optimal balance you seek. I say this as a dad with an awesome job at a progressive nonprofit currently encouraging me to enjoy three months paid paternity leave.
- •So what will you add?One of the reasons Portland has become a west coast beacon for people looking for something quieter/cooler/weirder/more progressive/more affordable/whatever is that so many of the people before them brought and integrated those same elements from the place they left. Bring your art, your music, your ideas for crazy house colors, your ambition for a food cart that only serves frog legs and make some time to do it and share it so we can keep Portland as weird as it is bougie.