Should I move to Oregon?
August 15, 2004 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Oregon Is it nice? I fancy living in the US, and those spooky coincidence things are pointing to Oregon. [>>]

You know the type. You're sitting thinking about where you can work in the US and you find your original design textbook and it's all about the Oregonian; you look at the newspaper design awards results and discover your paper beside the Oregonian; you're discussing the move with your family and someone suggests Oregon as a place they've "heard good things about"; Oregon pops up on a news segment; you go to the movies and see F9/11 and doesn't Oregon look pretty; you look up states-with-a-similar-size-as-Britain and ... you guessed it. All in the space of a few days.

So it seems like it has everything I'd like: A bustling media that I could (hopefully) get myself into, an appropriate amount of homesickness-dispelling rain, it's a manageable size and it's pretty. Is it cool? Fun? A nice place to live? Or are we talking nightly shootings and seething suburban crack dens beneath a social veneer? What's the job market like? Are the people easy to meet (like Glasgow) or surly and standoffish (hello, Paris).
posted by bonaldi to Society & Culture (34 answers total)
Two words: Nazi cannibals.

Seriously though, why would you leave Europe for Oregon? I'm sorry I know that's no help, but I'm curious.
posted by tetsuo at 8:44 PM on August 15, 2004 [1 favorite]

Oregon is absolutely wonderful, and I think Glasgow is a good comparison in terms of local folks' attitudes.

I grew up in and have lived all over in Oregon. I would suggest choosing the Portland metropolitan area. It is one of the most desirable places in the world to live, in my opinion. Progressive, lots of great music and art, close to outdoor recreation, superb beer.

If you want a bit smaller town, Eugene (home to the University of Oregon) has a cool college-town feel. In southern Oregon, there is Ashland, the most rural of the three. Very beautiful, and home to the region's Shakespeare Festival.

Unfortunately, Oregon has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country, and The Oregonian is a tough paper to get on at. It's a destination paper, and the market is very competitive.

But if you can get there, yes, you'll love it. I lived in Portland for the better part of 10 years, loving every minute.

[I'm a journalist also -- if there are specific questions you'd like answered about Oregon generally, or the newspaper job market, my e-mail's in my profile and I'm happy to help if I can.]
posted by jeffmshaw at 8:47 PM on August 15, 2004

The job market sucks, the people are friendly to the point where it's creepy if you've come from an unfriendly part of the world, and homicides are generally limited to the poor parts of town. The cops are assholes, but hey, what can you do.

I love it here.

I'm really not sure if it has a "bustling media", though. And keep in mind that while it may be the size of Britain, you really only have three urban areas: Portland, Salem and Eugene. The rest of the state is pretty unpopulated.
posted by cmonkey at 8:49 PM on August 15, 2004

I grew up in Oregon and it's a state with a huge amount to offer. If you're going to the Willamette Valley (Eugene, Salem, Portland) you will be within two hours of ocean, mountains, urban, rural, desert and forest all in-between. The outdoor opportunities are outstanding: hiking, skiing, biking, backpacking - you name it.

Politically, Oregon is a wierd. You've got some very liberal/flower-power/earth first urban areas surrounded by conservative/economically depressed rural areas. Most of the state's funding is based on property taxes - there is no sales tax - so things like school/police bond measures are only passed through property tax increases, which no one wants to approve.

You can't pump your own gas in Oregon, which people complain about but creates a few small jobs. I guess Oregon has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country in the last four years but I can't verify that.

If you've got a job lined up, Oregon is an awesome place to live. Depending on the city you choose, cost of living isn't too bad. Enjoy!
posted by spslsausse at 8:51 PM on August 15, 2004

I also had a friend who moved to Oregon solely for the weed, but you know. . .
posted by spslsausse at 8:52 PM on August 15, 2004

What cmonkey said as far as the people. Let it also be known that if you suffer from seasonal depression, or any sort of depression that is magnified by dreary days, don't move here. It's not so much how much it rains in quantity, but how often it rains. The summers, and being an hour and a half from a beach in one direction, and an hour and a half from a mountain with lots of skiing in another direction, more than make up for it IMHO.

As far as getting a media job, don't arrive without one. Seriously. One of my friends has a masters in journalism, interned with the Washington Post covering part of the DC politics beat, and is now working for the Oregonian ... covering a small suburban school beat from one of the more remote metro bureau offices. And she traded limbs and kidneys for that job.
posted by SpecialK at 8:53 PM on August 15, 2004

Portland is very, very nice and if I were looking for a new place to live, it'd be high on my list of considerations. I don't have much experience with the rest of the state, though.

Why were you looking up states with a similar size as Britain? I don't get why that's relevant.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:05 PM on August 15, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies, everyone. It all sounds exactly what I'm looking for actually. I'm a Scot, so dreary days cheer me up, especially rain. And I'm too lazy to pump gas. Now to find the right job.

Zed_lopez: Because I'm British, and we have this thing over here where we actually think our country is big. And that driving from one end of it to another is some sort of a big deal, requiring sandwiches be made and maps consulted. The vastness of other parts of the US would very possibly frighten my tea-drinking mind.

Now for sale: One kidney
posted by bonaldi at 9:10 PM on August 15, 2004

What kind of media work do you do, bonaldi?
posted by cmonkey at 9:12 PM on August 15, 2004

Response by poster: I'm a newspaperman. Currently a combined copy chief and designer (if I've translated the British terms - chief sub-editor and page editor - correctly).

The Oregonian looked ideal mainly because it appealed to two of my strengths: it has big projection and plenty of words.
posted by bonaldi at 9:17 PM on August 15, 2004

In that case, you should also see if the Portland Tribune or the Portland Business Journal have any openings.
posted by cmonkey at 9:28 PM on August 15, 2004

Oh, there's also the Salem Statesman Journal and the Eugene Register Guard in other parts of the state.
posted by cmonkey at 9:29 PM on August 15, 2004

It confuses me as to how exactly the Oregonian is a "destination" paper, considering how badly they dropped the ball on the whole Goldschmidt thing. Sure, they've got two Pulitzers, but that was under another editor, I think. I would shoot off a mail to the Willamette Week as well as the other papers mentioned above.

Otherwise, what everybody else said. You will also eat well here. And there's even a few UK-ish pubs around should you ever get homesick.
posted by calistasm at 9:51 PM on August 15, 2004

And there's even a few UK-ish pubs around should you ever get homesick.

Really? I know about the Horse Brass, but what are some others?
posted by cmonkey at 9:53 PM on August 15, 2004

A UK friend that visited here in Portland told me he loved it because it was just as grey and rainy as back home. So you'd probably feel at home here.

Right now we're kind of baking away in a long dry summer though.
posted by mathowie at 9:57 PM on August 15, 2004

It's a beautiful state, particularly if you love trees (although there are fewer and fewer of those to be found) or the coastline, but if you don't have especially white skin, you'll find that outside of the major urban centers, people will treat you peculiarly. It's not unfriendly, but there are entire towns full of people who've never seen nonwhite folks.

The Oregon economy has been in a decades-long slump, especially again outside of urban centers.

Much of the state is by and large quite redneck and full of freaky Christian types, although there are hippies in the trees everywhere.

It's very rainy.

If you have children or plan to, they will likely try very hard to escape when they reach a certain age. And because of Measure 5, they will be poorly educated unless you can afford private school.

Eastern Oregon can be very, very hot in the summer.

The cops are almost universally dicks.

Portland is a wonderful town surrounded by a nearly limitless scary suburban sprawl.

One word: Powell's

The Oregonian is an unabashedly conservative newspaper, as is the Eugene R-G (although slightly less so).

Oregonians have a special loathing in their hearts for Californians, but are quite warm towards just about everyone else.
posted by majick at 10:05 PM on August 15, 2004

That's okay, because Californians hate Oregonians too.
posted by keswick at 10:25 PM on August 15, 2004


Having lived in Glasgow while attending the university and now living in Oregon for the past 14 years, I can attest to the similarities.

The job market does suck but it is doable. Let us know when you arrive and we can try a mefi meetup so you'll know at least a few people here.
posted by karmaville at 10:41 PM on August 15, 2004

There is also the Rose and Thistle, which does Scottish-style cuisine. Haggis is available upon request, if you so desire it. ;) And there are a couple Irish bars (Kell's, Fado) scattered about the downtown area. There might be more, but those are the ones I know about.
posted by calistasm at 10:50 PM on August 15, 2004

The Oregonian did drop the ball on Goldschmidt, no question.

I called them a "destination paper" because tons of journalists aspire to get there and never leave, thus making openings rare.
posted by jeffmshaw at 11:22 PM on August 15, 2004

I'm in the newspaper business in Oregon--Portland actually. It's a tough city to get a decent paying job in. There are lots of folks with good experience willing to work for $10 an hour. I actually commute 50 miles each way, and am one of at least three people at my paper that does so.

I'm a reporter, though. Copy desk positions seem more prevalent.

The Oregonian advertises at, but a copy editor I know there indicates that a lot of jobs are filled through connections, not advertisements.

The Portland Tribune is hiring back after a round of layoffs, but I don't think that paper has ever been profitable.

The Portland Business Journal, a weekly business paper, if pretty good, but they've only hired one new person in three years--and that was because of growth, not replacing anyone who left. Don't count on getting work there.

Reasonably decent daily papers outside Portland can be found in Salem, Eugene, Bend, Corvallis and Eastern Oregon. Probably elsewhere, too.

The Salem Statesman Journal pays well, but they have alarmingly high turnover, which makes me wonder about the quality of the work environment. (jobs here)

Astoria is a great town, but their paper pays crap and has high turnover.

You could also live in Oregon and work in Washington state at the Daily News (jobs here), in Longview and at the Columbian (jobs here), in Vancouver (right next to Portland).

I've been here three years. It took me a year to land a crappy newspaper job, another two years to land a decent job. I moved here with only a year of experience under my belt, though, with more experience I hope you'd have more luck.

Unemployment is high, but there do seem to be more openings lately.

Other places to look for Oregon newspaper jobs:
Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association
Employment Dept.(Option 11 under "occupation")
Alt Newsweeklies(Willamette Week advertises here)
Mid-valley online
McMinnville News-Register
Editor and Publisher(Classifieds-->View all jobs-->Zone nine)

Portland is a wonderful city to live in. To someone from the DC area, crime seems non-existant, though I gather suburbanites are put off by the homeless people.

The local population is small--about half a million in the city and another half million in the suburbs. There is a decent art scene, a varied and interesting music scene, a wide array of clubs and restaurants. Hundreds of restaurants offer brunch. Rent is affordable, considering the amount of culture up for grabs. There are enough hipsters that you can feel appreciated if that's your thing, but not so many that you feel oppressed if you just want to be a slop. This is a city for people who love leisure and quality of life. As long as you don't mind clubs that close at 2 a.m., you can have a great time. The public schools are not so great, but for a single person or a couple there's little bad to say about life in Portland city proper.

If you've got questions, feel free to write the e-mail address in my profile.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:03 AM on August 16, 2004


Me writer. People pay me no make grammer mistakes.


Please pretend commas are where they belong and all other punctuation is where it needs to be.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:09 AM on August 16, 2004

The Oregonian is an unabashedly conservative newspaper

Hardly. The Oregonian is a fairly straight up the middle American newspaper (which may be conservative to someone outside the US). The Tribune is definitely Dr. Robert Pamplin Jr.'s baby (as is his right wing radio station, KPAM).

To me, Portland seemed like a big Potemkin village. Definitely much of the town doesn't live up to the hype. Still, housing costs are very cheap, as long as you want an apartment or condo, and it's very green. The people are relatively friendly and it's fun to people watch on the MAX train. (I lived in Vancouver for two and a half months and in Portland for two and a half months during my summers working for the feds.) Still, I decided against moving there permanently when I got the job offer and instead to move back home with my folks in California.

There is a strong left/right dichotomy in the town. You ahve a lot of liberal people in town, with their liberal organs (the Willamette Week and the public radio stations) and some very conservative local talk show hosts like Lars Larson and Victor Boc. Not that sprawled at all, at least on the Oregon side, although Vancouver rivals anything I've ever seen in California.

A note on the housing prices is that if you want a single family home, it's pretty expensive, thanks to the Urban Growth Boundary. But one and two bedroom apartments are plentiful, well distributed (even in the rich areas like Lake Oswego), and inexpensive by West Coast standards.
posted by calwatch at 12:22 AM on August 16, 2004

Portland is the place to live. Don't live in any of the suburbs of Portland, trust me. it's a big city but it feels nice and homey. The job market isn't great, but trust me, this is the best city in the US. It is really hard to find somone here in Portland who was born here, and only slightly easier to find someone born in the state. 90% of the people I meet every day moved here and love it.


P.S. Eugene and Ashland ain't bad either if you don't mind a small town and lots of hippies. Either way though no matter what city you end up in you'll have no trouble finding good coffee and good vegeterian dishes.
posted by pwb503 at 12:29 AM on August 16, 2004

Oh yeah, and if you're looking for places to live, check out - it'll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about specific houses, lots, neighborhoods, whatever.

posted by pwb503 at 12:33 AM on August 16, 2004

bonaldi: I hope you have a degree! Otherwise you have almost not a hope of getting into the US. I speak from experience, a company in the US has wanted me over there for 18 months now, and has fought tooth and nail, but it's still a no go. The British are also one of the few European nationalities to be exempt from the green card lottery, so that's not a go-er either.
posted by wackybrit at 12:48 AM on August 16, 2004

Portland is only three hours from Seattle as well (that probably seems like a long drive if you're British, but not so long to us!), so you would also have the ability to visit Seattle occasionally for sightseeing or events. Or MeFi Meetups!

I live in Seattle but have spent a lot of time in Portland, and like it a lot. If I had to move there, I wouldn't have much of a problem with it. It's really a great place. The rest of Oregon, though... eh, go for Portland.
posted by litlnemo at 2:22 AM on August 16, 2004

If you're willing to sacrifice a certain amount of "journalism honor" you could always try technical writing for one of the firms out around Beaverton (eg: Synopsys). It's an easy commute from Portland on public transit, so you can live in the city.

Nike & Adidas might also be interested, assuming they haven't closed their local offices or something (it's been a couple years since I lived in Portland)
posted by aramaic at 7:46 AM on August 16, 2004

Bonaldi -- I'll actually be visiting Portland in about 10 days for the first time.... when i get back I'll give you my "first impressions from an outsider who doesn't know anybody or anything."
posted by spilon at 9:49 AM on August 16, 2004

Let me add that I also want to move to Portland (in the Net industry), have visited, have fallen in love, but until I can find work, it doesnt make sense for me to sell my house in Florida. If anyone ever has a good job opp for me in Portland, I'll do whatever it takes to get there.

10 days in the city was enough for me to be smitten.
posted by Dantien at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2004

Yes, but Portland is ecocrazy. It also has a funny tax system.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:20 AM on August 16, 2004

tfylm - You get used to the "recycle everything" thing. I was in Chicago and found myself holding onto a soda can and looking for a recycle bin and not finding one.

Dantien - Email the addy in my profile and let me know what you do. I'm fairly tied in and there are three or four companies I know that are hiring for various things... IF and only if you have a) the right skills and b) the right personality.

Nike and Adidas and Columbia Sportswear, et. al. have no intention of moving out. Their employees would riot in the streets.

There actually are a lot of people that were born here in the early 20's bracket, but people tend to move away from Portland after being here for ten or twelve years of adulthood.

Portland's suburbs are great, and rent is unbeleivably cheap. I only know one person now that lives downtown. If you're older and can afford it, downtown rocks. If you are younger and prefer to spend your money on fun things, live in the suburubs. I rent in the richest, snottiest burb in the world and love it ... the town is well maintained, and I attract all of the rich daddy's little blonde daughters when I'm out working on my motorcycle on the side of the street. ("Hey, Mister, I really like your daughter...")
posted by SpecialK at 11:11 AM on August 16, 2004

Actually SpecialK, your email addy is not in your profile. Ack.

Go ahead and contact me at mine!
posted by Dantien at 1:34 PM on August 16, 2004

Wow, no comment here from Ignatius G. Reilly. He really has left us. That is really sad.

On topic--Portland is a wonderful city.
posted by y2karl at 2:10 PM on August 16, 2004

« Older Why is English the de facto language of the...   |   How hard is it to get publishing work in Glasgow? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.