What Portland, OR neighborhoods would you recommend for a someone moving to PDX for the first time?
January 6, 2009 7:15 PM   Subscribe

What Portland, Oregon neighborhoods would you recommend for someone moving to PDX for the first time?

A friend of mine is interested in moving to Portland after years in the Bay Area. She'd be looking for a single apartment ($1100 all included or less, ideally much less) in a safe, walkable neighborhood (she has neither car nor bike) with easy access to transit, healthfood stores, etc.

Although I grew up in Portland, the city has been changing fast, neighborhoods have been undergoing rapid gentrification (good and bag) and I'm somewhat unfamiliar with much of these changes. Based on my Portland experience in the 90s I would suggest something in NW Portland between say 18th and 23rd (although I'm not a huge fan of what 23rd has become) or SE Portland in the Belmont/Hawthorne area. I'm sure she'd like something with quirky wamth and charm (hence SE Portland). Anyway, I'm sure I'm missing out on many other possibilities. Suggestions?
posted by Auden to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (23 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I live in a 1 bedroom apartment in Beaverton. I pay $600 a month. It's nice, quite comfortable (but most of the apartments here are somewhat more, on the order of $900/mo). I'm within walking distance of a Mexican food store, an Asian food store, a Trader Joe's, and a Fred Meyers (big chain) grocery store. And there's one other big grocery store a bit further away (in the Beaverton Mall). I don't know specifically of a health food store here, but Trader Joe's carries a lot of that kind of thing; it's a yuppy store.

I'm also within easy walking distance of the Beaverton Transit Mall, which is a MAX station and also the main bus hub for this part of the metropolis.

Center Street in Beaverton is lined with apartments, some nicer than mine, some less nice. It's a safe neighborhood as far as I know; I haven't heard otherwise. Lots of Mexicans and Koreans living here, but they're families.

It's a good area. I like it a lot.
posted by Class Goat at 7:30 PM on January 6, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Class Goat, I went to Beaverton High. But I think she's shooting for something close to downtown (that's my impression). Hence, NW or SE neighborhoods came to mind. I would say suburbs are out for her (no offense, I'm in your area all the time when I'm in Portland and miss Uwajimaya for my easy Asian mega grocery shopping)
posted by Auden at 7:38 PM on January 6, 2009


The problem will be looking for the criteria within the budget. I was in the market a couple months ago for the same type of apartment, and couldn't find anything for under $1200, not including utilities. Portland is no longer an inexpensive sibling to Seattle or San Fran. Portland has become popular in it's own right. With popularity comes higher cost of living.
posted by whycurious at 7:51 PM on January 6, 2009

whycurious, I'm surprised you say that. I live in a studio in nw portland for less than $700 a month. I walk to work and school and am a few blocks from a lot of major transit. Maybe it depends a little on what sort and size of apartment one is looking for.

Compared to my experiences in San Francisco, Portland is a lot less expensive, especially when factoring in other expenses like eating out or paying sales tax, but I digress.

Inner SE is still a great place to check out. Perhaps look into North Portland (Alberta arts/mississippi area) very bikeable to downtown area, local natural foods stores, lots of public transport, etc. There are always arguments on gentrification, as nearly every city in the US has gentrified a lot in the last fifteen years, so I don't know how you'll feel about North Portland.

I also think Sellwood is a great neighborhood...I've never looked at apartments there so I'm not sure how cheap or expensive but it's just enough off the beaten path with lots of great shops and restaurants and cafes and antique shopping to feel like a quaint small town that happens to be in Portland.

Good Luck to her!!
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 8:05 PM on January 6, 2009

oops, sorry, I thought you said she had a bike....North Portland is still very public transit friendly though...I would argue Sellwood is too, because it's pretty close to downtown.
posted by thankyouforyourconsideration at 8:06 PM on January 6, 2009

Response by poster: Sellwood is a good idea, as is the Alberta arts/mississippi area (which I'm less familiar with). My only concerns with the latter would be her safety worries. I also think $1100 should be enough for her for a studio or one bedroom in an older building (hard wood floors, etc). A friend has such a place near the Hollywood dist for about $600 (not including electric), rather old building though.

Thank you for your consideration!
posted by Auden at 8:14 PM on January 6, 2009

Inner SE would probably be her best bet. The Belmont and Hawthorne neighborhoods might be out of her range (they've gone all yuppie in the past few years since I left), but the area around Division (below the 50s) sounds like it would serve her well. There's lots of residential areas, a major bus line (with two or three more if she's willing to walk a bit), the New Seasons grocery store, and tons of funky shops. It's also near the Clinton St Theater and Noho's Hawaiian place. I've also heard the Alberta area has become super-gentrified and the hipsters have moved on to Missisippi Avenue. But your friend might not be bothered by hipsters like I am.
posted by calistasm at 8:33 PM on January 6, 2009

If she wants close-in, I'd say you're on the right track in suggesting NW (Nob Hill/NW 23rd/Goose Hollow area) and SE (Belmont/Hawthorne). I've lived a happily car-free life in both of those areas, and I did just fine on public transit and foot. I now live in a studio condo in downtown Portland, near Portland State University, and love it even more.

Another possibility to consider is the Hollywood/NE 42nd area, close to Sandy Blvd. or the Hollywood Transit Center. I don't know what the rents are like there nowadays, though.

Before I moved into the condo I'm in now, I rented a nice 1BR (500 sq. ft.) just off NW 23rd and Burnside. When I left, the market rate for that place was $960 for a year lease (including utilities) and $1025 for month-to-month, and that was one of the cheaper units in the building. Great location, though - I was within walking distance of Fred Meyer, Trader Joe's, Zupan's, various restaurants, PGE Park, Powell's, bus and streetcar lines, etc.

Your friend can almost certainly get a comfortable studio or 1BR for $1100/mo. or less in any of these areas, especially if her needs for space are relatively modest.

Feel free to MeFi mail me if you'd like more info. Good luck to your friend - Portland is a great place to live without a car!
posted by velvet winter at 8:38 PM on January 6, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, calistasm. Those are good suggestions. Next time I'm in town I'll check out those areas for her (she won't be moving for several months from now, if even at all). I didn't know there was a New Seasons over there; a good health food store nearby is high on her list of priorities, actually, and nothing is better than New Seasons.
posted by Auden at 8:41 PM on January 6, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great info, velvet winter. I may take you up on your MeFi mail offer (it may be a few months though).

One problem is that I don't really know the names of all the little micro areas in Portland. For example, the area around, say, Movie Madness and Belmont station. Is there a name for that? I think that would be good for her, relatively quite yet close to Hawthorne and Belmont, etc.
posted by Auden at 8:47 PM on January 6, 2009

I was in the market a couple months ago for the same type of apartment, and couldn't find anything for under $1200, not including utilities.

i don't know why you would say that either. i live in hawthorne (albeit as a homeowner) but i have a lot of friends who rent in the neighb (hawthorne/belmont) and they pay on average $800 to $1000 for a 1BR. i have a friend who just moved here this week and she and her bf found a 1BR for $650 (altho that is, admittedly, not the norm) and it's not a dump either.

and uh, portland is STILL a lot cheaper than SF.
posted by violetk at 9:09 PM on January 6, 2009

auden, there is a new seasons in clinton and they will be opening up a new one soon at 40th and hawthorne.

and i wouldn't consider alberta or mississippi any less safe than inner southeast.
posted by violetk at 9:12 PM on January 6, 2009

on second thought, according to my friend who just moved here, the 1BR apartments that are $1200 and up that she looked at were all the yuppified new condo developments that have sprung up in the neighb in the past few years (yes, a "not in my neighborhood!!" moment…).
posted by violetk at 9:16 PM on January 6, 2009

You might point her toward the damnportlanders community on livejournal, and suggest that she read the archives. This question gets raised frequently there, and she could find some great advice amidst the snark!
posted by apollo at 9:17 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

But I think she's shooting for something close to downtown...

Close in distance, or close in travel time? Taking the Max from Beaverton to downtown is going to be faster than taking a bus from SE Portland, and a lot more comfortable. The map shows a travel time of 22 minutes, and trains leave every few minutes so the wait for a train will be minimal.
posted by Class Goat at 9:57 PM on January 6, 2009

I don't really know the names of all the little micro areas in Portland. For example, the area around, say, Movie Madness and Belmont station. Is there a name for that?

That's the Sunnyside neighborhood (my old stomping grounds...ah, how I miss it sometimes!)

A list of all the Portland neighborhoods can be found on Wikipedia.
posted by velvet winter at 10:34 PM on January 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are bargains to be found in Goose Hollow, which is literally between downtown and NW 23rd. The trick is to walk the neighborhood - especially up the hill! The location is great, and there's a Zupans on Burnside plus all of 21st and 23rd across the street.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:00 PM on January 6, 2009

I live on NW 22nd and pay ~ $825/month for a decent-sized one-bedroom. I don't have a car. It has been a couple years since the hunt so I don't know precisely what the rates are like hunting for new spots. I did have to walk the neighborhood to find the place, though.
posted by furiousthought at 11:58 PM on January 6, 2009

Response by poster: Awesome. Thanks, everyone! (and I really appreciate the price data points... other examples along with neighborhood suggestions are a big help for me). Velvet, thank you again, that Wikipedia link is just great. And.... Sunnyside. Perfect!
posted by Auden at 12:47 AM on January 7, 2009

I lived at the bottom of Ladd's Addition (14th and SE Division)and highly recommend the neighborhood. It's a short bike ride to downtown, the neighborhood is very walkable, and the rent in SE was reasonable. Compared to what I'm paying now in Los Angeles it was an outrageous bargain.
posted by mullingitover at 3:54 AM on January 7, 2009

One more for the list: I used to live in the Kerns neighborhood and loved it. That's the stretch of NE 28th between Burnside and Glisan and surrounding areas. There was lots to walk to (movie theater, grocery store, shops, restaurants, even Lloyd center wasn't that far) and there is a lot of transit (Sandy, Burnside and Glisan buses). I don't know how expensive it is now, but three years ago I was paying $630/mo for an awesome, albeit old, 1 bedroom that included heat and a parking spot in a garage. I still miss that place.
posted by slowfasthazel at 7:09 AM on January 7, 2009

Here is a big PDF with all the different neighbourhood districts. It isn't the prettiest, but it should give you a rough idea where things are.
posted by geckoinpdx at 9:55 AM on January 7, 2009

No car? I'd totally recommend NW Portland. I've lived in that neighborhood without a car for going on five years and it's lovely. Close to grocery stores (a new Safeway just opened, there's Trader Joe's, Fred Meyer, New Seasons, etc.), public transit, theaters, restaurants, galleries, everything.

If your friend is ever in need of a car (Target trips, large grocery trips, etc.) she can get a Zipcar membership. My husband and I have been very happy with ours.

The most expensive apartment I've had around here is the one I'm in currently, which is a large 1bd for $825 (was $795 when we moved in). The cheapest was $525, and for a while we got a $100 discount on that one for vacuuming the hallways and emptying trash 1x/week. NW is more expensive than other areas, I think, since I could probably get a 2bd for way cheaper if I wanted to live more on the outskirts of downtown, but I really like it here.
posted by meggan at 5:03 PM on January 7, 2009

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