I'm pretty sure the cost of living is higher than NC, but lower than say SF or NYC. Houses run from about $200k up. No sales tax, just property and income tax. It's a fun town to live in, great public transit and parks, lots to do, liberal politically. It is getting more expensive though and the weather isn't for everyone.
Expensive is a relative term. Portland is probably one of the most affordable cities on the west coast, but it's certainly more expensive than the midwest, for example, though I don't know how it compares to the SE. BSD is right, houses start at $200K, but that's the bottom of the barrel, at least in the city. Or it's a condo. My neighborhood is working class, though gentrifying, and a 3 BR 2 BA early 1900s house goes for around $300K. A dumpy 4 BR 3BA (though they'd quickly added 2 BAs just to sell it and they were shoddy) just went for $360+. A nice 2 BR ranch is on the market for $360K and I'm sure they'll get it. I hear lots of stories about bidding wars, too, and houses going $50K above asking.
Food is getting expensive, but I imagine that's all over the country and due to gas prices.
IMO, salaries aren't really keeping pace with the cost of living, though that seems to be improving slowly. But then it's also starting to feel like inflation may be setting in...
All that said (and remember, I'm not an economist, this is just my opinion), there are a ton of things to do around here that are free or low-cost. It's a really social city now (wasn't 15 years ago, it's changed since all the newcomers have landed), and the people are super friendly and it's easy to meet people and make friends. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
Where in NC are you? Friends of mine used to live nearby and I remember there was a city they said reminded them of Portland/Seattle.
KatSG- We're in Boone, NC. My guess is that your friend was talking about Asheville or surrounding areas. It is nice here. People compare it to Oregon a lot because it is lush and green and rains a lot. I'm just craving a change and curious about Portland for some reason. How bad are the winters. Does it literally just rain all the time? Do you get outside during the winter if not, what do you do all winter?
Well, we just moved here 3 weeks ago *because* it's cheaper.
But we came from the San Francisco bay area where you cannot buy a house for below $500,00 unless it is an abondoned meth lab built a million years ago. Our home here is actually in Beaverton, the city just west of Portland. It's a 4/2.5 & 2000 SF & was $300,000. I LOVE telling our friends in the bay area alllll about it because you just don't get houses for that price there.
We're so excited. No sales tax has been really fun, restaurants are cheaper, as is gas & the Goodwill thrift stores are GREAT! The only things I can't seem to find are cheap produce & cheap used kids clothes. After asking around, I just don't think I'm going to find the rock bottom cheap produce I was able to find in Berkeley, but I still have hopes for cheap kid clothes, I just need to spend more time searching.
Since we've only been here 3 weeks I can't say anything about the winters. It's been well over 100degrees for several days & at this point I can't WAIT for winter.
I can't gush enough about the friendliness of the people though! Wow, so noticably different from the bay area. It's way cool. I like happy people.
the winters here in the portland area are more like a regular state of gray with a light drizzle. rain as east coasters know it is very rare (like 1-2 times in a rainy season, we have a hard pouring down raining storm day or two). sunshine is also rare in the fall/winter/spring from about mid-october until end of march. we do get a few sunny days in there, just nothing regular. our longest stretch of rain/mist/drizzle this past season was 31 days in late december through end of january.
that said, i wouldn't move back to the east coast ever if i can avoid it. generally speaking, it is more expensive there, not to mention the jobs that my partner would be looking for simply don't exist there (high-tech software engineeering). i find the people here way more friendly and easygoing and low-key, and while the cost of some foods are higher, during the summer we have lots of local produce, much of it organically or no-spray grown, which is cheaper because the shipping costs are much lower. the farmer's markets are a great source for cheaper produce, and there is one on wednesday at lunch, saturday morning and sunday morning in portland and most weekends in surrounding towns around portland.
We also came here from CA because it was cheaper. Everybody has hit it right when they say it is relative. We are also in Beaverton. It is definitely more suburby, but it was a tradeoff for us because we wanted trees. We got a nice place with a forested yard backing to a forested greenspace for $250,000.
The winter was not nearly as bad as we expected. Yes there were long periods of not seeing the sun, but then we had whole weeks of sunshine. Several locals told me that this last winter was unusual though... it is the only one I have to go on, so I hope we are not overwhelmed next year!
Aubrey, there are several consignment stores for kids. I haven't checked them out, though, so I don't know how good their prices are. Also, one of the API moms recently organized an event at the Hillsboro fairgrounds for selling used kids stuff. I think she is going to do it twice a year. This is the website: http://www.passitonsales.com/ I don't see a date for the next one yet, but that is the place to watch.
We just sold our 3b 1 bath 1200sf 1910 NE portland home in for 200$, but it wasn't in a very good neighborhood - The neighborhoods in PDX very greatly. Houses on the west side are closer to downtown and generally very expensive - houses on the east are generally centered around little nighborhood areas where people hang out and do their shoping/dinning. I don't recommend buying a house near 82nd st. on the eastside. The closer in to downtown, the more expensive, but you'll find a stronger sense of community and less of a reactionary mindset. We bought our house while living in a different state and regreted not doing more research about neighborhoods before hand. http://www.movingtoportland.net/homes_neighborhood.htm
The areas in the SE surrounding Hawthorn are nice and those surrounding Hollywood in the NE are nice.
Here is a good link for checking out homes you're interested in: http://www.portlandmaps.com/
Property taxes are high - we were paying about $1750 for our little house per year and we pay only a little more for our much bigger and better located home in WA state
What I miss about PDX is the sense of community and the large amount of forward thinking people - it is a very easy place to make friends in / find like minded people. It also has great pub. trans. What I don't miss, at least in my old neighborhood, is the lack of green space. Also, once you get past about ... 55th or so eastside, if feels like suburban sprall.
The thing you gotta love about Portland is that even if you live on the one side you can cross town and run into someone you know on a random street. For someone who grew up in a town of 50,000, it has small town feel with big city opportunities/cultural threads.
Neighborhoods all over the city are strong - you have to be slightly more assertive in some places, but dive in and connect with people who may or may not look or think like you! P-town is the city where the current mayor got elected by putting a $25 cap on contributions for the primary/$100 for the general election, and whipped the pants off the big money candidate. It's also where developers from CA are squeezing in McMansions on small lots, just because they can. But citizens are organizing to publicly buy the last best lots for noble purposes like growing food & living more lightly on the planet (e.g. www.tryonfarm.org)
BTW - dh bought our lot on the west side <10 years ago for $56K - it's now worth something on the order of 5X that amount, although we've done a lot of remodeling along the way, since he does that for a living. But it does make me wonder that the end of oil won't mean the bubble bursting? Or the magnitude 8 or 9 megaquake that's supposed to hit the Cascadia subduction zone sometime in the next 100 years?
No matter, since I don't want to be anywhere but Ptown when that happens...it just seems like people know how to talk with each other & work together better here.
I grew up in Beaverton, and there used to be a great kids consignment store on Hall right in downtown Beaverton called Wee Three. It was in a little house and it had great quality stuff. I haven't been over there in years, so I don't know if it's still there, but you might want to take a look, because it used to be great!
Beaverton is a very different kettle of fish from close-in Portland proper. The moods are radically different betwen the two. And between neighborhoods there are radical differences, too. I have to say PDX is NOT cheap, no way, no how. Not for a working-class mama. I
our close-in neighborhood (7 Corners) so much, words cannot express, but we'll never be able to buy here -- houses start at $350 (fixer-uppers) and go up into the $700 range. Yeah, 3/4 of a million dollars for a nice old 2-story house on a small lot ... twice in our neighborhood in the past six months. Food is expensive too - loads of fair-to-middlin' little places that charge $9 for a mediocre dish that would be $4.50 (and fantastic) in the Bay Area. We came here for the mood and scale and lifestyle, and we love it so much we will never ever complain! But I'd never call P-town "cheap".
I agree with what everyone said..... it depends on where you're coming from. I moved here from Long Island, NY.... so yes, Portland is cheaper. In NY, minimum wage was $5.15 .... here in OR it is $7.50.... that was amazing!
I'm living in Beaverton right now because it IS cheaper than Portland.... but Portland is where I really want to be. I'm just kind of stuck out in Beaverton for a little while... since I'm a single mama that can't really afford a lot. Hopefully that will change, someday!