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PDX Moms - what areas should we visit?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

We have contemplated a move to Portland from the Bay Area for years, and it's back on the table.  There is a 90% chance my dh could keep his job, which is in Boring and be able to telecommute at least one day a week maybe more.  He is in IT.

 

Dh is taking a business trip to Boring in about a month, and I am going to go with him to check out different areas.  I am very marginally aware of various areas, but we'll only have two days so I was hoping some of you moms could give me an idea of what neighborhoods you think would be a good fit for us.  A little bit about what we are looking for:

 

We would rent initially, but would eventually like to buy in the $400-$500k range - less is always better of course!  For rent, we'd love to keep it $1500 or under.  Up to $2k would work if it was big enough for my mom to come with us.

 

Safety and clean streets are huge for me.  We lived in SF for 15 years, and while I loved it, I have no interest in dealing with dirty streets and graffiti and stolen cars again.  BTDT.  I want my kids to be able to walk to their friend's house, or ride their bike to the store when they're a bit older.

 

We realllllly want a large backyard.  We have one now, complete with chickens, and use it daily.  (Large is by Bay Area standards, btw.  Not Midwest.  :))

 

Although we are alternative in our parenting, and very liberal in our politics, we are admittedly fairly yuppie on the outside, so we do tend to like "yuppie" kind of stuff.  Dh is really interested in checking out Lake Oswego, but I know many Portlander's scoff at that area.  We like good restaurants, but don't care too much about nightlife.

 

Good schools and homeschool community are important to us, as we've done both and both are still a possibility.  I don't see being able to afford private school.

 

Community!  I want to live in an area with lots of kids and families and neighbors and a lot going on.

 

Parks, greenspace, hikes, etc.  If we can't walk to a downtown area, I'd at least like to easily be able to walk to hiking or a big park.

 

So, any suggestions you have would be much appreciated.  Right now we will be checking out Lake Oswego, NW Portland, Laurelhurst . . . . anything else?  Thank you!

post #2 of 25

It has been almost a year since we lived in Oregon. So I will leave most of the questions for someone who is there.

When we lived in the Portland area we loved Lake Oswego area.   From NW Portland it would be a really bad commute most of the way, but it is a very pretty area.

 

I homeschool my children so I do not know how good or bad any school districts really are, but mattering how much you are willing to drive to activities there are lots of homeschooling activities all over the Portland area.  There are several yahoo homeschooling groups pm me if you want names or just do a search for Portland area homeschool.

post #3 of 25

Your husband's IT company is in Boring?? I live out by Boring. It is a rural area about 45 minutes from Portland. My sister was recently looking at homes in this area (she lives in SF), and for 400-500K, you can get a palatial home on beautiful acreage witha nice barn. Lake Oswego would be a very long commute. I'm sorry I can't think of any suburban upscale neighborhoods very close to Boring! Maybe something in Troutdale? We moved here a few years ago from the Bay Area and I still don't know some areas very well.

 

There is a huge homeschooling community in the Portland area, just tons of things going on every day. No matter where you live, there will be plenty of homeschoolers.

 

Good luck! We are very happy we moved, and vastly prefer Portland over SF.

post #4 of 25

There are very few neighborhoods in Portland proper that are as rough around the edges as much of SF.  The areas that are, probably aren't even areas you'd look at, they would be so far opposite from Boring.  I wouldn't avoid Portland proper at all for the crime reason...

 

I would probably ask you to prioritize what's most important to you when searching for an area.  Schools?  Square footage?  Acreage?  The ability to keep small farm animals, or arrange your yard as you see fit?  Walkability and proximity to the best food, markets, and things to do (not nightlife...  who has time for nightlife with kids...)?  Character of neighborhood and buildings (such as architecture)?  What is most important to your family?

 

There are perks to the suburbs (even Lake Oswego), and there are perks to city life.  Regardless, I think that in city, suburbs, or rural, you can expect to find better schools than in SF, more square footage than in SF (by a LONG shot), and WAY more acreage, if that's something you desire.  But is it possible for you to prioritize, at least for me?  Recommendations are easier when I know what's really important, because the things that made me choose the city, might very well not be important to you!

 

post #5 of 25

If your husband is going to be working in Boring, you definitely want to on the East Side. I wouldn't recommend Lake Oswego because the commute would be a pain. The commute from West to East (or reverse) can be maddening.

 

I would look at Gresham, Boring, Damascus, the east side of Portland, West Linn, and Oregon City. Of those, West Linn is the highest income and the schools have the best reputations. (It's also the farthest from Boring, but not bad). Gresham is particularly variable in terms of schools. Some are great, some are very much not. Portland Public Schools are variable too. Oregon City schools don't have a great reputation, but I don't know anyone with kids there, so I can't say. Damascus I think is pretty good. I haven't a clue what district Boring is in, but probably Damascus-Barlow.

 

If schools are important to you, then I would base my decision on schools you feel comfortable with. You really have to drill down and look at individual schools sometimes, especially in places like Gresham. In Oregon, because of the urban growth boundaries, it's not uncommon for very different neighborhoods to be juxtaposed. So, for example, my kids' school (we live on the westside) pulls from our neighborhood (middle - upper middle class), a neighborhood with $1 million + homes, and a slew of apartments. The middle class neighborhood was built in the 60s, the rich neighborhood in the 70s and 80s, and the apartments after the area got serious about filling in undeveloped areas with dense housing. Because of this, 85% of the kids at our school get free and reduced lunch. It's a good school, but a lot of middle class parents are scared off by those numbers.

 

If you want a decent yard, you're not looking at a new house. Newer houses have no yards because urban growth boundary rules have limited lot sizes/increased the number of houses per acre. So that means either a rural house (not easy to get because those are generally working farms) or a house built pre-1980.

 

For $400-$500K you can get a very nice house in a good neighborhood that shouldn't be too bad of a commute.

 

post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone!  Hmm, if I had to prioritize:

 

1.  Safe and clean neighborhood.

2.  Lively family community.

3.  Good schools

4.  Yard size (acreage sounds magnificent - we have a 1/4 acre lot here in the 'burbs and it feels huge!)

5.  Easy access/walkability to either parks and trails or shopping and dining.

6.  Commute - there is a chance he could telecommute part time, or at the very least work off hours.  Also, he may very well be looking into a new job at some point, which would probably put him back in downtown Portland.

7.  Square footage of house.  2 bathrooms is more important than square footage!

 

If anyone can point me in the way of specific neighborhoods/boundaries to check out, I would much appreciate it!

post #7 of 25


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post

Thanks everyone!  Hmm, if I had to prioritize:

 

1.  Safe and clean neighborhood. You can get this in the city proper, as well as in the suburbs, or in the rural areas.  Google street view is a great resource for looking in the city proper...  You can "drive" through actual neighborhoods.  There are neighborhoods in Portland's eastside that are beautiful!  Lovely, big old houses (that should be in your price range), pretty decent schools, near amazing food and quality local groceries.  Check out listings in the Laurelhurst, Hollywood/Grant Park, and Mt. Tabor neighborhoods.

2.  Lively family community.  We moved back into the city for this reason.  I think the community(ies) within the city are easier to find...  That it's easier to find your niche here.  I can't speak for Boring/Damascus, but living in a few of the suburbs that have been tossed around, we found folks to be very conservative.  Which is FINE, if that's who you are!!  But while we fit in in some ways, we are very much not conservative in our in our politics or ideas.  It made it harder to feel that we truly fit in.

3.  Good schools  I don't think that the Portland school system is by any means bad.  The public schools in the neighborhoods above should offer a pretty darn decent education.  Another thing to consider is that Portland does channel a lot of money into public charter schools.  It can be a PITA to work through the paperwork to get your kids in, and it runs on a lottery system (which can be frustrating).  But my impression with those is that once you're in, you're in.

4.  Yard size (acreage sounds magnificent - we have a 1/4 acre lot here in the 'burbs and it feels huge!)  In the city proper, you pretty easily find something near what you have now.  In suburbs like West Linn you could indeed get a larger lot, and a larger house for the same amount of dough.  If you've always dreamed of having over an acre, that is TOTALLY possible within your price rance out in the Damascus/Boring/Happy Valley area.  Again, check on chickens and livestock though, because quite a number of the suburbs have restrictions.  In Portland you can have 3 farm animals within the city limits (3 chickens, 3 goats, 1 goat/2 chickens).

5.  Easy access/walkability to either parks and trails or shopping and dining.  Places like West Linn would situate you nearer to longer trails or larger parks, with more densely treed forests.  In Portland proper, you would be near smaller parks and shopping and dining.  In the Boring area it might be a little boring on all fronts.

6.  Commute - there is a chance he could telecommute part time, or at the very least work off hours.  Also, he may very well be looking into a new job at some point, which would probably put him back in downtown Portland.  Your husband would be commuting against the main traffic, which would be nice in that regard.  From the city proper is going to be your longest commute, I'd say probably 30-40 minutes each way.  I think it would honestly be about the same from West Linn, closer to the 30 minute end from there.  Obviously, living near Boring is going to provide a pretty darn short commute, no traffic out there!  BUT, if your husband were to change jobs, and he went to commuting INTO the city, that commute is WITH traffic, and can be quite a bear!

7.  Square footage of house.  2 bathrooms is more important than square footage!  You'll get more square footage in West Linn, or out in the Boring area.  You will get at least 2 bathrooms in your price range whether you're searching in the city proper, the suburbs, or rural Oregon.

 

If anyone can point me in the way of specific neighborhoods/boundaries to check out, I would much appreciate it!  Again, I'd start with Laurelhurst, Hollywood/Grant Park, and Mt. Tabor neighborhoods.  There are loads of others, honestly, but those would be a start.


 

post #8 of 25

Check out west linn.  It has a great community (fire house community center), and great schools.  You could apply to Opal and get in and want to live near there, though.  There are benefits to the Portland schools  MLC is a great school in a cool area.  I think you've gotten some great advice.

post #9 of 25

I agree with Italiamom about living in Portland vs.the 'burbs.  And what constitutes a 'good school' really varies.  Having lived in San Francisco for 10 years, I think Portland is more like Berkeley or Oakland then SF-- smaller, has a more neighborhood-like feeling then a "big dirty city."  The suburbs here are much different then in California as well, much whiter, far less diverse then Portland.  Plus if you don't live in Portland you can't take advantage of the wonderful charter schools, which are really cool.  You have everything from Montessori, environmental, Reggio, to Trillium (constructivist) to Waldorf.... which is a super huge choice!  You may fall in love with one of these schools, and your kids may get in, and then you may want in live in the city limits. 

post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post

Having lived in San Francisco for 10 years, I think Portland is more like Berkeley or Oakland then SF-- smaller, has a more neighborhood-like feeling then a "big dirty city."


YES!  This!!  Sooooo much so.  Thank you for putting that into words!  There are very few parts of Portland that remind me of SF, but a lot of Portland (especially the nicer neighborhoods), remind me a lot of nicer neighborhoods in Berkeley.  Although in Portland proper, you'll still pay less for prime real estate here than you would in Berkeley.  One of our good friends recently bought a house in Berkeley, and I remember thinking, "That's all you got for that price?  Damn!"  Of course, we don't have the Cheeseboard or Bakesale Betty's here, so it's a tradeoff winky.gif

post #11 of 25


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Italiamom View Post




YES!  This!!  Sooooo much so.  Thank you for putting that into words!  There are very few parts of Portland that remind me of SF, but a lot of Portland (especially the nicer neighborhoods), remind me a lot of nicer neighborhoods in Berkeley.  Although in Portland proper, you'll still pay less for prime real estate here than you would in Berkeley.  One of our good friends recently bought a house in Berkeley, and I remember thinking, "That's all you got for that price?  Damn!"  Of course, we don't have the Cheeseboard or Bakesale Betty's here, so it's a tradeoff winky.gif


I dream of Arizmendi Cherry Corn scones and peet's coffee together! 

 

Yes, or the Claremont are of Oakland, and the nice areas of Berkeley.   But it really is such an individual choice.  And the schools here are pretty good.  Even our North Portland title one schools have great communities, and great staff. 

 

 

post #12 of 25

Here are some nice neighborhoods that meet your criteria, I am surprised no one mentioned any of these yet. In northeast there is Beaumont, Alameda, Grant Park, and Irvington. And in southeast you might want to check out Laurelhurst, Clinton, Sunnyside, Mt Tabor. You can definitely buy a nice house for the price range you mentioned and should be able to find a good house to rent too (although it might range from $1400-$1800 depending how big and which neighborhood its in). There are good schools, big parks, and great restaurants in all the neighborhoods I mentioned. We live in Grant Park, which I love. We are a couple blocks from the Max train that takes you downtown (or all the way up to the zoo or children's museum), a block from the library, a short walk to the post office, schools, bakery, whole foods, trader joes, the park, and the pool (The walkscore for our neighborhood is 97!). It is clean with huge trees, and beautiful, big old houses. Beaumont is also great for walkability (it is just a short walk up the hill from Grant Park). There are lots of shops and restaurants on Fremont, and lots of families with kids. The houses are smaller and a little closer together, but the feel of the neighborhood is awesome. Neighborhood block parties and all the neighborhood kids running from house to house. The elementary school for the neighborhood is Alameda, which is highly desired.  

post #13 of 25

Quote:

Originally Posted by carmel23 View PostThe suburbs here are much different then in California as well, much whiter, far less diverse then Portland. 


Depends on your 'burb. My kids are in a school with 74% minority population, 65% ESL. Parts of Beaverton are quite diverse (there's a huge Hispanic, big Korean and growing SE Asian community). Forest Grove is actually one of the more diverse school districts. (Given where your husband is working, however, you don't want to live in either Beaverton or Forest Grove -- waaay too far away.) But parts of Gresham are actually quite diverse too.

 

I will warn you that the alternative schools in PDX proper can be very hard to get into.

 

post #14 of 25

I am another Oakland to Portland transplant. We moved about 6 months ago. My husband is in the tech world and works from home too. We have a son who is 2. We bought our first house in Irvington in the price range you mentioned. It is soooo quiet here at night, beautiful, family friendly and just friendly in general. We are working on getting chickens in our backyard too! (we need a fence and to make the backyard not a dirt pit. I love our area. We are walkable to Grant Park and bikeable/short drive to Alberta for good food and fun stores. This area would suit you as it's got your average yuppie types but everything else is still close if you want to be in the hipster areas too. (I'm kind of a posh/hipster/yuppie/hippie so, ha! I'm everywhere) I personally wouldn't move to Beaverton as it lacks culture, artsyness, etc. 

 

I had this same post months back asking the same questions. Once you are here for a few weeks you pick up on areas you like super quick. 

post #15 of 25

I really don't have much that's helpful to add, but I couldn't help commenting because we too moved here from Oakland! :) We lived in Montclair, before that I lived in Concord for many yrs & my DH lived in SF.

 

We've been here near 5 yrs now. I lovelovelove it & had no idea what I missing when we lived in the bay area. We never want to leave the Pacific Northwest  treehugger.gif. BUT, I can't handle this rain. Or, it's not really the rain, it's the cloud cover that goes along with it. For half the year it's dark dark dark. Gloomy, depressing, sucky. We have plans to escape northward, probably to Idaho.

 

I don't think I've been to Boring, but I have seen lovely acreage listed for sale out there on Craigslist! If I were you & could spend that much on a home, I would TOTALLY get an amazing hunk of land out there with a fabulous farm house. Then I'd start filling the place with goats & critters. :) If you're looking more for suburbs, I think Lake Oswego is gorgeous! Flowers, trees, hills, sooo many plants. We decided against living there because the MAX train doesn't go out there & my husband needed (at the time) to commute into Portland.

 

We homeschool, and there is an enormous homeschool community in the portland area. As for bathrooms, for $4-500,000, I don't think you're going to end up with less than 3! :p

 

BTW, we ended up in the suburbs west of Portland.

 

Edited to add: I might be off base here, but I think if you're looking for uber liberal minded people, you'll mostly find that IN Portland. I doubt there's much of that out in Boring, or Lake Oswego, or any of the other rural areas. Liberalism is pretty much a big city thing in my view. With exceptions here & there of course. And just as a funny (to me) side note, my husband & I were super liberal when we first moved up here, because what else can you BE in the bay area? :p But since being away from the crazy bay area & stepping back & questioning EVERYthing, we've since gone entirely in the opposite direction. :p

post #16 of 25


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

Quote:


Depends on your 'burb. My kids are in a school with 74% minority population, 65% ESL. Parts of Beaverton are quite diverse (there's a huge Hispanic, big Korean and growing SE Asian community). Forest Grove is actually one of the more diverse school districts. (Given where your husband is working, however, you don't want to live in either Beaverton or Forest Grove -- waaay too far away.) But parts of Gresham are actually quite diverse too.

 

I will warn you that the alternative schools in PDX proper can be very hard to get into.

 


I guess what I meant that in CA that wouldn't really be worthy of mentioning... It is just the reality.  It just seems very, very segregated compared to places I've lived before.

 

And another thing worth mentioning, the population diversity is greater among children here, then adults.  So while you may have 74 per cent minority population in a school, that does not mean that the city is 74 per cent minority, yk?

 

post #17 of 25

We need a bay area to portland meetup group!

post #18 of 25

Lol- I'm another bay area to portland transplant!! A meetup group would be fun- there are definitely enough of us :)

 

zjande- I grew up in Concord!! (And I also ended up in the westside 'burbs)

 

OP, I don't know much about the eastside except that it always seems super windy every time I'm out there. Boring and that area are beautiful, but I've only been a couple of times. And I agree: the further out from Portland you get (in any direction) the less diversity you find, and the communities get more conservative. There are exceptions, of course, but so far in my experience and from what I've heard from others, that basic rule of thumb holds pretty true. So if you want diversity and open-mindedness, you'll probably want to be closer in.

post #19 of 25
I agree that you definitely want to be on the east side. My advice would be to check out Sellwood and Eastmoreland. It's definitely less gritty than inner SE (although that's where I live and I love it). There are lots of families, good schools, and old houses where big yards are to be found.
post #20 of 25

Not my thread, but since I have similar questions, I've been tracking it. Might I ask, what county is Portland - the city itself - in? I've been searching Craigslist for rentals and it would go so much more quickly if I knew where these areas mentioned ARE.  (There are tabe for the different counties). and is CL a good place to search for rentals? Here in Bc (where I currently live) CL is used for everything. 

 

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