Portland hacks?
March 28, 2009 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Portland Filter: Tips, tricks, and hacks for Portland. What does my brother need to know before moving there?

My brother is moving to Portland, OR in May. What is the one thing you wish you knew about Portland (or about moving across the country) beforehand?
posted by doppleradar to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Where is he moving from? Does he have a job? Will he be looking for a house or renting?

Honestly, Portland is a very easy city to live in. It's big enough that there's stuff to do but not so big that it is in any way overwhelming. Unless, you're from Podunk, I suppose.

If your brother is a minority, he may find that Portland is overwhelmingly white which I, as a white person, find disconcerting sometimes. If he's from a big city, he may find that lack of diversity very strange.

The public transportation options are pretty great for a city this size. I don't know if our homeless population downtown is outsized for a city of this size but sometimes I wonder why there are so many.

It rains, yes, but moving in May is the perfect time. He'll get to experience sunshowers and then it'll be summer, glorious summer. Tell him to wear sunscreen. I hear that Oregon is quite high in its melanoma rates because we're fools for the sunshine.
posted by amanda at 3:29 PM on March 28, 2009

Response by poster: He's a white, 21yr old moving from Boston and will (probably) have a barista-type job upon arrival
posted by doppleradar at 3:49 PM on March 28, 2009

Response by poster: Oh, and he'll be renting with a few others
posted by doppleradar at 3:49 PM on March 28, 2009

1) You don't need a car in Portland. Public transit is amazing. There is also that Zipcar thing where you can rent a car by the hour if you _really_ need one.

2) I hope he has a job lined up, a good paying one is hard to come by.

3) Come September, he will need a good raincoat.

4) Just make sure to check out all the awesome stuff there is to do in Oregon. The mountains, the coast, the oregon caves, the waterfalls, crater lake, etc... there is TONS to do.

5) I had success in meeting folks and finding cool events to participate in on meetin.org -- apparently Portland has the largest active group of any city.
posted by bengarland at 4:26 PM on March 28, 2009

Well, then, perhaps he knows that we have some world-class barista champions -- tell him to bring his A-game!
posted by amanda at 5:10 PM on March 28, 2009

Portland is great, but he should really try to get a job here before he moves.

The one thing I wish I knew more about before I moved here was the rain.
It's not that it rains copious quantities of rain, but it is overcast from September to June.
The constant overcast kind of gets old.
posted by j at 6:34 PM on March 28, 2009

Best answer: Tell him to go to the Powell's on SE Hawthorne (3700 block, near the Bagdad Theater -- which he should also check out for beers and pizza on the patio) and pick up a copy of the Zinester's Guide to Portland. Everything a guy wants to know is right there, I swear to God. Other necessary items include a bike, a Tri-Met pass, and a rain jacket.

Beyond that, he should know that Portland is a small city made up of tiny micro-neighborhoods whose hubs are often only a few blocks long. The best way to learn about town is to just get on that bike and go wander for a while. You can't help but find neat little things that way.

Some other points:
World-class coffee can be found at Stumptown and Albina Press.
Powell's is a crazy-cool indie bookstore with several locations.
Portlanders exist at extremes when it comes to beer: be prepared for super-obscure craft brews and Hamm's on tap side-by-side. That goes for most anything edible, actually.
There's more music in Portland than seems possible for one town; go see some shows.
Movies: Laurelhurst, Clinton Street Theater, any of the McMenamins locations.
Outdoors: the Columbia Gorge, Mt. Hood, and about a million parks and wild areas are right here.

...and there's so much more. Good luck!
posted by fracas at 7:53 PM on March 28, 2009

Bike + bus = go anywhere. The buses have front-end bike racks. Rules.

(caveat: I hate riding bikes)

The food carts downtown (on 5th?) are good--esp. Indian.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:19 PM on March 28, 2009

It really depends on where he'll be living. SE is very different from NW. NE is kind of strange (sorry), but has some absolute gems of places. Stumptown and all the other coffee shops are awesome. A raincoat is necessary. A good quality bike with brakes that work in the rain is necessary. A reflector jacket for riding said bike is a Very Good Idea.

If he drives, make sure he figures out all the bridges as soon as possible. They're very different in terms of traffic patterns, and utterly important when traffic gets busy.

Two other landmarks to check out are the Japanese gardens (in the hills) and the Chinese gardens (I think its in NW, but I don't remember).

fracas's comments about extremes are right-on. Big generalization time: Portlanders (and Oregonians in general) are complete snobs about certain things (beer is a big one, coffee can be, bikes in some circles, how great Oregon is, how much Californians suck) but then we realize we're being a bit too elitist and make up for it by going full circle the other direction (drinking PBR, $0.50 truck stop coffee, riding a $30 mountain bike from walmart, saying how boring and idiotic the state is, how northern California is actually a pretty cool place) in an effort to show it doesn't bother us.

Most of all, though, he'll have Mt. Hood, the oregon coast, silver falls, the gorge, the cascades, the coast range, St Helens, Rainier and Crater Lake all within more or less sane driving distances. It rocks.
posted by devilsbrigade at 12:07 AM on March 29, 2009

Some observations:

- Be prepared for lots of panhandlers.
- The MAX lightrail system is awesome.
- Finding (non-garage) downtown parking is nearly impossible.
- Get used to someone else pumping your gas.
- No sales tax!
- Very close to a beautiful coastline and amazing waterfall (Multnomah Falls).
posted by karizma at 10:34 AM on March 29, 2009

One more thing I feel I should point out:

Yes, the coast is amazing, and close -- go there and enjoy it. But be aware that there are strong rip currents all over the place and (speaking from personal experience here) given half a chance, the Pacific can go from fun to deadly in a matter of seconds.

Educate yourself about rip currents, and check with the local ranger station about local conditions so you don't become a statistic.

(Further reading: http://www.beachconnection.net/news/rescu080607_613.php)
posted by fracas at 4:41 PM on March 29, 2009

I had to leave Portland because I completely ran out of money. Because I couldn't find a job. Not even like, entry level restaurant stuff.

Also I was the only roommate with a car, so yes, while you totally don't need a car in Portland, when it was raining or they had to go somewhere a little farther, it was like "Oh, Meredith has a car!!!"

Finally, and this is the one that I think I really wasn't prepared for, is that I feel like if you're going to move to Portland, you have to have a very good sense of who you are. I moved to Portland after living in L.A. for a few years, which was incredibly disorienting, and so when I got to Portland and found all these people who were super sure of every opinion they had, i was a little jarred. And I'm usually totally confident in my opinions. I like to (jokingly, mostly) tell people "Portland is full of people who know exactly who they are, and move to Portland so they can be that person."

(I lived in the Alberta Arts district, in the NE)
posted by dithmer at 7:22 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Okay, a few things:

First of all, Oregonians are not snobs about anything--Oregonians are some of the most honest, down-to-earth and polite people you will meet, but you will be hard-pressed to meet many when you move to Portland, as the city is filled with transplants. And yes, the transplant hipster population are indeed ironic snobs who drink PBR yet scoff at those who don't ride bikes (e.g.), though they are the most egregiously annoying in bar situations, as Portlander bartenders seem to be exclusively comprised of this group.

TriMet is alright, but the bus does not run late enough on the weekends so get used to taking a cab home if you like to have late nights, or leaving the bar at 1 AM (sometimes earlier depending on the line and whether it's a weekday or Saturday night) in order to catch the last bus. It's really a pain in the ass.

Portland is extremely, extremely white, and getting whiter by the day, seemingly. Apparently we are the whitest city of a comparable size in the US. Indeed, the more diverse neighborhoods have been totally gentrified, so places like North Mississippi and NE Alberta are now hipster havens filled with trendy boutiques, art galleries and coffee shops.

Oh, coffee: there are about a million great coffeeshops in this town, and your bro will just have to check them out and find out which ones he vibes. I know a lot of people swear by Stumptown but I think that's just more posturing. Especially once you're over on the eastside, you will be blindsided by the number of small, charming coffeeshops at your disposal.

I don't know, there's obviously a lot more I could say, as I was born here and still live here (though I'm counting down the days until I can peace out, as this city has changed a lot in the past 5 years and I'm not sure I can handle it anymore), but a lot has been covered in this thread. Additionally, there are loads more Portland threads on AskMe, so feel free to search for 'em.
posted by nonmerci at 9:11 AM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older Name this children's book.   |   Can you live on it? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.