Welcome to Portland

Crossing the Buckman Bridge
Crossing the Buckman Bridge. It’s windy.

The past few  weeks have been a bit of a blur. My good lady wife Rachel and I decided last year that we should move to Portland (PDX) from Raleigh-Durham (RDU) for several excellent reasons, to wit:

  • The weather in RDU is overbearingly hot and sweaty in the Summer, a period that spans Apr-Oct, roughly.
  • I’ve suffered constant flu-like allergies every year I’ve lived in the state, mostly due to ragweed pollen.
  • We’d like to downsize our lives as much as possible, but that’s not really an option in a city where two cars are more or less mandatory due to sprawl and poor public transportation.
  • My wife would like to start her business in a location that has a good blend of tech and a strong independent art/comics scene.

Portland really seems to fill all of our requirements, and then some – the cost of living in a high-density urban location is about the same as RDU suburbs, with lower costs for food and transportation.

And so, we’ve moved! The house was listed in early January, and we had a reasonable offer in less than 30 days. (Mad props to the best realtor ever, Tina Hackett) Once that happened, the chain of events sped up – Rachel sold her car and went out to PDX in advance, and I remained behind to deal with the details of the closing, as well as packing the house into a U-Box (storage /moving pod), holding a moving sale for the last of our furniture, cleaning out the house, selling my truck, and finally, flying out.

Sunny PDX
Sunny PDX

So now we’re in Portland! (We’re also 100% debt-free, yay!). Here are my impressions after a week in the city:

  • PDX is the first city I’ve lived in with a truly functional public transportation system. Download the app, buy some tickets, and you can go from Bus to Train to Streetcar with no issues – the service is reliable, fast, clean, and covers the entire area.
  • I’m using public transit far less than I thought, because the city is amazingly walkable. I was tad footsore at first, but just yesterday I walked from our AirBnB to the downtown REI and back, about 8 miles of walking. Not once did I encounter significant or dangerous obstacles. (Having Google Maps also helps).
  • The food culture here is fantastic – so much fresh, local, well-prepared food, and at very good prices. The food cart scene is fun, and there’s a great beer/cider/sprits culture as well. Bonus: no car also means no drinking and driving.
  • The people of Portland are almost Canadian in their friendly, polite demeanor. Cars will stop to let you cross the street, friendly conversation with strangers is perfectly normal.
  • The weather is far nicer than I predicted. Granted, it’s only been a week, but so far, even the rainy days seen mild.

We’re still apartment-hunting, and we’re living out of suitcases, but even that isn’t bad because it’s so easy to get out of the house. I’ve joined half a dozen Meetups in an effort to socialize, and look forward to making friends in the area, which is the most obvious thing I miss about RDU.

So far so good!

2 thoughts on “Welcome to Portland”

  1. Welcome to PDX! My wife & I did the same about 10 months ago, except we came from Florida. We left the South for Portland for all the same reasons you listed, and haven’t looked back. The weather is awesome, and there is so much to do that costs little or no money!

    One thing to keep in mind that isn’t obvious by looking online: The rental market is extremely competitive here, because of the low supply of apartments and houses. I think you’ll see that rent is significantly higher than most of the south, but you’ll easily make up for it by having one car (or no car). You’ll need to act fast if you see something you like, and it’s quite normal here for landlords to expect you to commit sight-unseen. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, just something to be ready for.

    Please feel free to hit me up if you have any questions about relocating. Overall it was a pretty easy process for us, with a few hiccups. josh(dot)riggs(at)gmail(dot)com or @joshriggs on twitter.

  2. Hi Josh!

    You’re so right about the the competitive housing! Luckily we did our homework before coming out. About an hour after I posted this we had an application for a 2-bedroom, 1.5 bath apartment on 33rd and Division accepted. :-)

    Thanks for the offer of assistance though, it’s appreciated!

    Regards,
    Joe K

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