Rural living close to the big city?
May 7, 2011 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to live in a green/rural area while commuting to downtown Portland?

We'd want to buy a house on at least an acre, maybe two, with lots of trees and privacy, for under 300k. I'd like the commute to be less than 35 minutes driving, or less than an hour on public transport. Would this be doable? If so, which areas would we be looking in?

We don't care about the neighborhood itself in terms of culture, walkability, etc as long as it is reasonably safe. In fact we'd prefer not to be in a "neighborhood" per se.

*This is all theoretical and in the future, but we're just assessing our options.
posted by ohsnapdragon to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Portland, OR or Portland, ME?

If the former, there are a few basically rural areas close enough to the city that you're not way the fuck out there. Sauvie Island might be a great choice. Close enough to Portland that there's Trimet Bus service (the #17 bus goes there), but mostly rural / agricultural. Under 300K might be pushing it to get a full acre of land, but it's certainly in the rough ballpark. You could also look around the far northern reaches of the Skyline Blvd / Forest Park area. More wooded than agricultural, but still, close in, rural, and relatively affordable. (Both of these are the 97231 ZIP, btw.).

If you mean Maine, I can't really help you.
posted by dersins at 10:27 AM on May 7, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry, yes - Portland, Oregon.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 10:30 AM on May 7, 2011

Response by poster: Also, "wooded" rural is better than "agricultural" rural. We want trees, trees, and more trees, and lots of green and plants everywhere! Thanks for your suggestions - that zipcode will be helpful.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 10:32 AM on May 7, 2011

Beavercreek is about a 35 min drive from downtown. I have a coworker who lives out there and loves it - I've never been, but she always describes it as a "hamlet" with tons of trees and land. No idea about cost, either, but it fits your bill otherwise I think.
posted by pdb at 10:38 AM on May 7, 2011

It's possible, but under 35 minutes to downtown might be tough, if you're going to be commuting during rush hour (which sort of varies in times depending on where you are, but it's generally pretty early here, like 7:30-8:30 and 4:00-6:00).

I have a friend who lives on a farm in Camas and commutes. I've also had friends commute from a farm in Wilsonville, and that's probably a 30-50 minute commute, depending. So yes, it's probably doable. The 300k might be on the low end of things, but not not impossible.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:53 AM on May 7, 2011

"wooded" rural is better than "agricultural" rural

Like this? Then you might also consider Troutdale and other towns on the outskirts of the east side: Wood Village, parts of Gresham (I know, I know, but seriously-- parts of Gresham are pleasant) Damascus, or, pushing the edge of your commute time, Boring (and how could you NOT want to live in a place called "Boring").
posted by dersins at 10:54 AM on May 7, 2011

Response by poster: These are all great. Dersins, the land on that house you posted looks just about perfect. It sounds like this would be easier with a bit more than 300k so we will keep that in mind.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 11:18 AM on May 7, 2011

Basically anywhere in larger Portland metro can be a 30-45 minute commute during non-rush hour traffic. That means west at least out to Beaverton, maybe even to Hillsboro, south to Wilsonville, east to Sandy (really; it's about 20-25 minutes from downtown Sandy to I-84 coming through Gresham, and another 15-20 to downtown Portland), and north up to.. La Center, maybe, I don't go into Washington enough to have that timed well.

Public transit is another matter. If you're within Portland city limits proper, you're generally a short bus or bike ride away from the MAX, and that's fine. Beyond that it gets pretty iffy; the MAX runs out a fair distance to Hillsboro and Gresham but there's very little in the way of frequent buses to get you to the train (and it's not a speedy train, either).

I would say to look for something in the Columbia Gorge area. I have no idea what the housing is like out there or under what city lines it falls under (some of it's probably Corbett but I forget what else is up there). Lots of trees, easy to get onto I-84. Plug stuff into as driving directions to get an idea for times.
posted by curious nu at 12:05 PM on May 7, 2011

Sorry, should specific: getting from anywhere in larger PDX metro to or from downtown PDX is in that 30-45 minute zone.
posted by curious nu at 12:07 PM on May 7, 2011

It lovely out the Tualatin valley highway (47) west of Portland. Gaston, Yamhill, Carlton are all lovely liitle towns. There's lots of smallish farms and hillside acreage out there kind of abutting the forest to the west. Very serene area, and an okay drive into Portland. I especially love all the little fruit stands that spring up in season.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:03 PM on May 7, 2011

I glanced around using Google Maps. Areas that are 1. rural, 2. have trees, 3. 35 minutes or so to downtown, no particular order:

North Plains, Banks, Helvetia (warning: future growth imminent), US 30 all the way up to Scappoose, areas around Battle Ground, Camas, Washougal, Troutdale, Corbett, Damascus, Beavercreek, Aurora, Wilsonville, Sherwood, Scholls.

I like Devils Rancher's advice on Gaston/Yamhill/Carlton. It's nice out there, but the commute definitely gets longer, more like 45-50 minutes due to the mileage.

As for public transport in one hour: This Mapnificent map should show you the areas that would work for that.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:32 PM on May 7, 2011

Best answer: Wow I think more than ever this question was intended just for me to answer.

Like dersins suggests above, Highway 30 out toward Sauvie Island is the perfect blend of what you are looking for. I personally live just above highway 30 about 1/10 of a mile south of the Sauvie Island bridge on 3/4 acre overlooking the multnomah channel, the island, with a view of all the mountains. My neighbors raise chickens and goats, and we are part of the Sauvie Island/Multnomah Channel Scenic Area, which has a commercial forest use (rural) land zoning. $300k may be a challenge to get what you want, but given house prices right now it may be possible.

While the public transport commute is very lengthy (well over an hour, because the 17 bus does a full circuit in St. John's before continuing downtown), my commute to my office downtown is a flat 20-22 minutes, even during the middle of morning rush. You won't find another commute in Portland that allows you to be in a rural area but arrive in town in that short amount of time. (The only caveat to that is that point is that 2-3 times a year something happens on 30 to close it down, and there are many, if any, alternative routes without going all the over the west hills and back again.)

We tend to be close with our neighbors and have a real sense of community on our street, without it feeling like a neighborhood, since we're only about 10 houses together. I get the sense that other pockets of houses in the area have similar neighborly relations.

Advantages of this area are that it's unincorporated county land, which means lower taxes. Disadvantages are that it's unincorporated county land, which means limited cable/high speed internet, etc. Also, the rural zoning codes can be a mixed bag. They prevent significant development in the area, which is great, but I've been trying to put an addition on my house for over 18 months now and it's been absolutely hellish to deal with all the regulations.

If I were you I'd consider looking in and around this area, both on the island itself, up Newberry Road, along Skyline, McNamee and Cornelius Pass Road. There are lots of sheltered rural properties in that area and I'm sure you'll find something.
posted by saladpants at 3:18 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Correction: there aren't many alternative routes when highway 30 closes.
posted by saladpants at 3:20 PM on May 7, 2011

I know what you're looking for. I was looking for it too before I moved away... If I were you, I would first take a drive out to Corbett and explore that area. Alternatively, I would explore Sandy. Good luck.
posted by pwb503 at 12:34 PM on May 20, 2011

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