Neighborhoods in Portland or Vancouver?
May 21, 2018 1:21 PM   Subscribe

We're looking at moving to the pacific northwest in the next few years. We'd love to find a neighborhood of Portland or Vancouver that's walkable for groceries, library and restaurants. We'll be bringing our jobs with us, so that's one concern taken care of. We'll be taking a trip out there to investigate on our own, but are there any recommendations from the hivemind? I did see this question, but we're not bound to WA, and didn't know if things had changed in a year.
posted by korej to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you buying or renting? What’s your budget? Loads of places in the metro area fit those 3 requirements, but are highly desirable and very expensive. Even Vancouver locales that fit those requirements are $$$ (and the rest of Vancouver very much does not fit those criteria).

Things have been changing dramatically here, so asking this question a few years in advance of a move might not give you great utility. Especially if your get priced out of your dream hood (most if Portland has been priced out of those hoods). I mean, my house doesn’t have any of that stuff, and property values in my direct neighborhood have jumped almost 35% in 3 years.

Standard moving to Portland advice; rent somewhere for a year. Get your bearings. Plan on settling longer term after you’ve gotten to know the city.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:42 PM on May 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

The plan is to rent for a year or more. Our budget is reasonably flexible, but we'd like to try and find something that's as inexpensive as possible. We're not particularly interested in new/trendy/hip/upcoming but it sounds like that might not make any difference.
posted by korej at 1:50 PM on May 21, 2018

The Venn diagram for “walkable, libraries, groceries” and “hip and expensive” nigh overlap here. There are very few, of any hidden neighborhoods left.

Rent had been stabilizing though. Still expensive historically, but cheaper than the rest of the west coast.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:02 PM on May 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think this question is really hard to answer. I agree with furnace.heart above about how everything walkable and nice and near stuff is getting crazy expensive. There are also a lot of neighborhoods like this, and I like some over others, while my friends might like some of the ones I don’t... I guess that’s to say that if you can afford it, where you’ll like will be highly dependent on your tastes, the kinds of traffic you want to deal with when getting around, how close to the Max or bus stops you want, etc. I think your best bet is to come and check things out and go from there. Rent for at least a year is good advice too. The City is rapidly changing and who knows what some of these neighborhoods will look like in a few years too.
posted by FireFountain at 2:15 PM on May 21, 2018

Portland's generally denser and hence more walkable than a lot of the Vancouver area, and also more expensive, though it's not cheap anywhere at this point. Just about everywhere within a few miles of downtown Portland is going to be reasonably walkable, and likely to have groceries in the vicinity, between full-on grocery stores and gap-filler stuff like the Green Zebra chain. Library branches are a little more scattered but the Multnomah County Library system itself is pretty good so having holds queued up at your nearest branch is an easy way to split the difference if the library is a bit more of a schlep (and they'll also do home delivery for a nominal fee if the main concern is access to the books rather than the building). Transit coverage in town is pretty solid too, with the bus system providing reasonably frequent and reliable service across a lot of the city and lightrail picking up some of the commuter corridor stuff too.

Which is to say that with these fairly general priorities you may be able to throw a dart a map. There's lots of particularly neat neighborhoods that are also gonna be the priciest to try and find a place in; aiming for the gaps between is probably your best bet to try and keep the cost down a little, if you're willing to aim more for "walk a half mile" than "walk out the front door" for getting to the nearby business clusters. I think you will learn more about the feel and economics of the town and the neighborhoods from a visit and from renting than anything.

My wife and I live in North Portland, in what has for the ten years since I moved to this part of town been sort of a quiet dead spot between the St. Johns neighborhood to our west and the Kenton neighborhood to our east, and it's worked out well for us to walk the mile into "downtown" St. Johns for food and entertainment stuff. We get exercise, the area's relatively quiet for the city. But now even our dead spot has been building up lately, with a new fancy grocery store in the last couple years and some business and property turnover and a lot of housing redevelopment. House prices are up by enough since we bought that I wouldn't really be able to consider buying my house now if I had to; we just got very lucky with timing. A lot of that rise has been just the last five years and it's hard to predict how it's gonna look in five more, but "cheaper" doesn't really seem to be in the cards and for Portland proper this area had been one of the inexpensive ones back 10-15 years.
posted by cortex at 2:37 PM on May 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

this won't be what you want to hear, but i've lived in portland since 1992 and it's become an unfortunate victim of its own success post-portlandia.

traffic is terrible. everywhere is crowded. housing is unaffordable. we have a homelessness crisis the likes of which i have never seen and hope to never see again. the progress that was being made ten years ago in terms of funding infrastructure for alternative forms of transportation, bicycling especially, seems to have largely fallen to the wayside as gas prices have dropped and more and more people have moved here.

it's upsetting, frankly, to see my city becoming a place i no longer want to live. i don't recommend moving here.
posted by hollisimo at 3:09 PM on May 21, 2018 [4 favorites]

Are you talking about Vancouver, WA which is really close to Portland or Vancouver BC which is not?
posted by joan_holloway at 3:21 PM on May 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

My apologies, I meant Vancouver, WA.
posted by korej at 3:47 PM on May 21, 2018

You could go ask in the Portland subreddit, but without any sort of a budget guidelines, it's hard to say. The walkable areas tend to be hip and expensive. The most walkable part of the city, in my opinion, is the Pearl District. It's also the most expensive.
posted by AspirinPill at 4:12 PM on May 21, 2018

I agree with everyone above that Portland is jammed with such neighborhoods, and also the city is in a major crabby gentrifying metropolitan bad mood. That said, more affordable neighborhoods include St. John's, Montavilla, Cully, Woodstock; and you can also check out Hawthorne, Belmont, Mississippi, Alberta, and NE 23rd and environs.
posted by hungrytiger at 4:27 PM on May 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

In Portland, I like the Hollywood district! It's got groceries, library and restaurants, and has the Hollywood Theatre and the Max (light rail) to boot.

"Industrial NW", around like Thurman to Vaughn from NW 23rd to NW 30th, is also good, but maybe smaller. It also has groceries, library and restaurants.

They're both nice!
posted by middlethird at 4:29 PM on May 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Hi! I live in Vancouver, WA! I moved here from Atlanta in September 2016. I have family in Portland and always wanted to move, but knew Portland proper was wayyyy out of our budget and sought out Vancouver on purpose, much to many people's very judgmental dismay. I will say first that I LOVE living here so so so much, like, sometimes I cry just thinking about it, but Portlanders as a whole are very, exceptionally rude, about Vancouver, in a way that hurts my feelings a lot more than I wish it did. It is honestly the worst part about living here--the constant snide remarks from Portlanders, and it keeps me on this side of the river.

We live in the Rose Village neighborhood. We initially stayed in an airbnb in Carter Park for a couple months while we searched for a house--we knew we didn't want to have to move a couple times and that buying immediately would be best financially. Carter Park is a gorgeous neighborhood, but out of our budget. Shumway, Arnada, Hough, and Esther Short are all also excellent urban neighborhoods.

If you have any specific follow up questions let me know, I could talk about Vancouver allllll daayyyyy! You can check my profile for my IG and check out photos of local stuff!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 4:55 PM on May 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Do you mean walkable or “walkable for America”? The actual walkable neighborhoods in Portland where 90% of your life’s needs can be reasonably walked to (half mile or so) are few and far between. I found NE Portland to be insanely UNwalkable. Like, yeah, there might be a corner store and a bar around but a real supermarket? Nope, unless you are very strategic about what rental you choose.

I don’t know where you’re coming from but: Portlanders will tell you traffic is terrible and everything is expensive and crowded. None of this is true. BUYING a house is a completely different beast, but compared to a lot of East Coast/California cities, traffic and expense are not bad.

And outside of a few super hip restaurants, nothing is crowded.

I lived downtown and I liked it well enough. It wasn’t even that expensive. I had a 1 bedroom apartment in an older building and it was $1100 a month.

All that said—I would not recommend moving to Portland.
posted by Automocar at 5:18 PM on May 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

Location should be determinant on your work location(s). Will you both be working from home, or do you know where your jobs will be? If you have to commute, I strongly recommend that you live the same side of the river (both rivers) as your job, if at all possible. The bridges are all bottlenecks, and will add 15-20 minutes to your commute, generally speaking.

Portland is indeed a city of neighborhoods. Almost every neighborhood has a nice little business district - some are bigger and better than others, but you can find this throughout the city, and even into the suburbs. There really aren't 'bad' or dangerous neighborhoods in Portland.

Think about whether you want to rent an apartment for a year, or do you need a house? Do you have pets?

Padmapper will give you an idea of prices right now, but in a few years, who knows where they'll be.

Another hint: When looking at Google Maps (in map view, not satellite), they have a feature where they indicate 'local business areas' on the map, by marking them in a tan color. Take a look along Fremont Street, here. See how the area from 40th to 51st is a different color than the rest? That's showing that there's a higher cluster of businesses here. Here's another one on Sandy from 51st to 54th. When you start looking for them, you'll see them all over. Doesn't mean there aren't other businesses throughout the city, but it just shows concentrated clusters.
posted by hydra77 at 5:24 PM on May 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

This question is tough to answer without knowing your budget. As Cortex said, throw a dart on a map of Portland and you'll be in a walkable neighborhood.

There are basically no neighborhoods in pdx that are really "new/upcoming." They've all come up. It's all hip. It's basically how hip you can afford/want to pay for.

The pdx situation is basically like do you want the $350k for a house walkable neighborhood or the $2M for a house walkable neighborhood.

Vancouver is a bit cheaper, but then you'll want to consider tax issues.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:05 PM on May 21, 2018

As long as you're willing to look at Vancouver, there are other walkable(ish) neighborhoods in some of the other outlying cities.

We have family that lives near downtown Gresham, not far from the bikeable hikeable Springwater Trail.

Downtown Milwaukie or Oregon City are also decent.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 8:56 PM on May 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

This all very useful , thank you!
posted by korej at 5:21 AM on May 22, 2018

Maybe consider Beaverton or Hillsboro? Both have downtown cores which are walkable -- I lived and worked in Hillsboro for almost a decade and it is rapidly getting nicer and has a lovely Main Street with good restaurants. There will be a food co-op opening shortly, which will be awesome because if you live in the downtown core, that's the one thing you can't walk to. MAX blue line goes from Hillsboro into Portland. Beaverton is denser, more restaurants, much closer to Portland, better transit, great Farmers Market on Sundays, but it's also rather sprawly and the nicer areas are going to be very expensive. But from Beaverton, you can be in downtown Portland in 10 minutes by car or 20 by MAX.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 5:59 AM on May 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

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