Considering moving to Portland.

By jamster777 on Sat, Apr 11, 2015 - 9:01am

Hello Portland Community!

I would like to solicit you for some advice. My partner and I follow PP and other similar sites and we are interested in starting a gradual transition into a more sustainable lifestyle. We are looking to start by giving up my military career that keeps me moving constantly and relocating somewhere that we can settle down and start building a sustainable home and community ties. We are not ready for subsistence farming in the boonies yet as we are young and want careers (not rat race jobs, but meaningful work). So we want to live near a city that has a culture of sustainability that would be better off than most in the non-cataclysmic slow collapse scenario where we can learn to live with a smaller ecological footprint and develop our sustainability skills. . We have visited Portland a few times and absolutely loved the feel of the city. So much so that we want to relocate to the area. I know that insiders probably have a totally different perspective so I wanted to ask what is your perspective on the area? Would you move there if you lived somewhere else? Why or why not? Any feedback here or via private message would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and take care!




Time2help's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 9 2011
Posts: 2890
Understand what you are getting yourself into

PdeB's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 29 2009
Posts: 39
Not fair!

Time2help doesn't even live in Portland!


And all of the ride sharing I've done is only half that annoying and creepy.



Terry L's picture
Terry L
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 25 2009
Posts: 17
My personal Portland perspective

Hi Jamie,

Of course, to gain an accurate understanding of what it's like living in different places would require actually living in a number of them. I can share from my experiences living on west-coast boy all my life (CA, WA, and now OR). The places I've lived have been from LA to Seattle; for the last 37 years I've lived in the Pacific Northwest (which for some people might include northern CA, but that's not part of my experience). I'm happiest here in Portland, where I've been for 25 years. Like Goldilocks might say, it's not too big, and not too small. I love visiting Seattle, as well as Eugene, but Portland fits me best as a place to actually live.

Does Portland live up to its reputation as a sustainability mecca? I can't really say, as that's not something I've been able to compare. I do know, from my recent travels "down under," that Portland's reputation is known far and wide. I'd suggest possibly Googling something about city sustainability ratings. I do believe that you could do worse, sustainability-wise, in other places.

The west coast in general has some particular advantages and disadvantages, IMO, as a function of what we're downwind from, as well as upwind from. Pollution from Asia (Fukushima's radionuclides, and mercury from China's coal plants, etc.) reaches us first, and maybe in larger concentrations than further east. On the other hand, we are not downwind from any of the nuclear power plants in the US (a possible exception being the Hanford site in eastern WA, with non-prevailing winds).

On a more pleasant note, I love how close Portland is to the many beautiful and natural places in and around our state: the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast, Mt. Hood, the Cascades, etc. I find these places far less crowded (if crowded at all) than similar spots near Seattle. Admitedly, Seattle has the most beautiful views, but the traffic situation there is a real turnoff for us (no pun intended).

Finally, for now, my wife and I live in a cohousing community (~50 adults), of which there are several such intentional communities in the Portland area (should that be of interest to you, google cohousing Portland). So we feel like we have a leg up on community-based response-ability to whatever the future may have in store.

Feel free to ask more questions, or for more details on anything I've mentioned. If you'd like a woman's perspective on Portland, let me know and I'll ask my wife to comment.

Terry L

lambertad's picture
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 31 2013
Posts: 185
Vancouver Washington?

I'm not from Portland and I've only been there once, but I have two sister-in-laws who did their undergrad work at the University of Portland. Suprisingly, as much as they liked their undergrad time there, neither of them plan on ever moving back. That being said, if you like the place, go for it. 

I talked quite extensively with one of my sister-in-laws about Portland, and she said that the ideal situation would be to live in Vancouver Washington, right across the river from Portland. This is because you can enjoy the city if you want to, but Washington state doesn't have a personal state income tax. Additionally, Oregon doesn't have a sales tax. So, you can take advantage of no sales tax and no income tax by living in Washington. 

The problem is if you have to seek work in Portland. We all know a daily commute is a no-no for sustainability as well as economic reasons. Live as close to work as you can afford is my motto. But, Vancouver is a fair size city, and my sister-in-law did a clinical rotation in Vancouver for her Physical Therapy program. Jobs like Physical Therapy, Registered Nursing, etc. can find work just about anywhere, and I know for a fact that Washington/Portland pays much better than where I currently live which is Salt Lake City. If you could swing it to where you live/work in Vancouver but get to play in Portland that would be ideal in my opinion. But hey, that's just my 2 cents. 

jamster777's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 2 2012
Posts: 21
Thanks, Terry!


Thank you for your response.  What you have said more or less confirms what we were thinking. We also have lived in CA (Monterey/Santa Cruz) and WA (Seattle area).  I liked both areas far better than the east coast places I've lived, but am worried about the property prices, water situation, and state govt in CA and found Seattle a bit too crowded (and terrible traffic as you said). I did, however, like the tax situation and ballots by mail in WA.  

I have been googling Portland, but I find that when most mainstream sources talk about sustainability, it's completely superficial.  I have found some of that in the Portland hype.  That sort of marketing stuff sometimes buries the real efforts.

I hear you on the natural beauty in the area.  That is one of the huge draws for us.  We have a great appreciation for natural beauty.  The crowding of the nearby natural places in CA and Seattle area was less than ideal, so it's great to hear that you see Portland as better off in that regard!

We have actually been researching the cohousing/intentional communities in Portland!  I'm curious to know which one you live in if you wouldn't mind sharing (feel free to PM if you like).  We have been parsing through the ones at  Unfortunately, I've noted that the ones that have places available (which aren't many!) are rather pricey. 

We'd love to hear from anyone that has anything to add,  but we're both men, so we don't need a woman's perspective per se! Thanks again!



jamster777's picture
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 2 2012
Posts: 21
Thanks Iambertad!

Having lived in WA state before, I have definitely been considering your idea!  I ran into the same concern you mentioned with regard to living close to work.  I have been bicycling to work here in southern VA and would really like to continue that--preferably in a place with actual bike lanes and drivers that don't see you as a nuisance to squash with their giant SUV (if they weren't too busy throwing garbage out the window with one hand and talking on their cell phone with the other!....not that I'm bitter or anything!).  I was disappointed to find that OR gets you on taxes whether you live in WA and work in OR or live in OR and work in WA.  So, yeah, it looks like it's live and work in WA or get ready to pay up!  That makes me wonder if the salaries and home prices have adjusted to offset the tax disparity?  Thanks again for your comment!




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