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Fri Mar 14, 2014, 12:16 PM

Seriously considering returning to Portland; need input

Hi, Everyone.

I lived in Oregon from 1984 to 2003 and moved back to my home state of Minnesota largely for family reasons. However, those family reasons are no longer a concern, and the last two winters have just about driven me mad. Walking is my major form of exercise, and when the day's high temperature is -15F or the snow is up to my arthritic knees, I end up staying home, and exercising at the gym just isn't the same. Today I fell on the ice trying to board a bus. (Yes, I know the Willamette Valley and Portland have ice storms, but the ice doesn't last for months at a time.)

In addition, although Minneapolis has improved from its previous status as what I thought of as "Los Angeles with blizzards," the whole Twin Cities area is so spread out and I so hate to drive that I look nostalgically upon the compactness of Portland and the ease of getting around. Yes, I know that Tri-Met has cut service and raised its prices, but a look at the schedules online tells me that it's still miles ahead of the Twin Cities' Metro Transit, which still thinks that it's only job is to take people to work downtown and keeps adding lines that have nothing to do with one another.

While there are a few things I would miss, there is nothing that I would find absolutely wrenching to leave.

So here's my question. I lived in Corvallis (nice, but a bit isolated), McMinnville (a "good place to raise kids," not so good if you're single), and Portland's Hawthorne and King's Hill districts (both of which I loved). My inclination is to move back to Portland, where I lived from 1993 to 2003 and still know quite a few people. I was back for a visit in 2011 and hated to leave. However, I've noticed that Portland has suffered the fate of all popular cities, namely, sky-high rents, like those places in the Pearl that charge $1200 for a studio.

What I'm looking for is a walkable neighborhood with groceries, other kinds of stores, and attractive coffee shops and restaurants, with good Tri-Met connections that may be on its way up or holding steady but isn't totally gentrified. I can't afford to move right now--I work free-lance, so my income varies from "Oh no!" to"Oh wow!"--but I'm definitely working toward at least leaving my current neighborhood, which is another one of those "good places to raise kids," a virtual small town in the midst of the city, isolated by being between two lakes. If I don't move to Portland, I'll move to downtown Minneapolis.

So, what are the good-but-not-too-expensive neighborhoods these days? Hollywood? Sellwood? (I think Multnomah Village and the area along Barbur are be too car-oriented--my goal is to give up driving), Irvington? St. John's? Belmont Avenue? The Lloyd District? Upper 23rd Avenue near Food Front? Are any of the suburbs developing interesting little enclaves?

Input from people on the ground who can tell me things that aren't evident from the Internet would be most appreciated! I hope to make an exploratory trip out there late in the summer or early in the fall, hopefully with an eye toward leaving Minnesota before it gets ugly.

Thanks in advance.


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Arrow 30 replies Author Time Post
Reply Seriously considering returning to Portland; need input (Original post)
Lydia Leftcoast Mar 2014 OP
jollyreaper2112 Mar 2014 #1
Iwasthere Mar 2014 #2
Lydia Leftcoast Mar 2014 #3
KamaAina Mar 2014 #12
jeffrey_pdx Mar 2014 #4
love_katz Mar 2014 #5
grasswire Mar 2014 #6
Lydia Leftcoast Mar 2014 #7
grasswire Mar 2014 #9
Lydia Leftcoast Apr 2014 #19
grasswire Apr 2014 #20
cascadiance Mar 2014 #10
Lydia Leftcoast Mar 2014 #11
0rganism Mar 2014 #14
Lydia Leftcoast Mar 2014 #15
0rganism Mar 2014 #16
Lydia Leftcoast Mar 2014 #17
davidpdx Apr 2014 #18
SoapBox Mar 2014 #8
LWolf Mar 2014 #13
Lydia Leftcoast Feb 2015 #21
former9thward Mar 2015 #22
Lydia Leftcoast Mar 2015 #23
quakerboy Mar 2015 #24
Lydia Leftcoast Mar 2015 #25
grasswire Mar 2015 #27
fredamae Mar 2015 #26
Backwoodsrider Mar 2015 #28
Paka May 2015 #29
CentralMass Jun 2015 #30

Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Fri Mar 14, 2014, 12:30 PM

1. interested in this as well

Looking forward to hearing about things here.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Fri Mar 14, 2014, 01:07 PM

2. We live in Salem Oregon

So I cannot be much help to you. However I can tell you that we have been having remarkable summers AND very mild winters. Palm trees will soon become common place imo. Weather patterns have definitely adjusted, beginning to look permanent (Climate change). As nice as it is here, it is still not quite nice enough for us. As much as we love the Northwest (Seattle, Portland, Salem , Eugene etc...) We are planning to move to the Big Island of Hawaii in the next couple of years, the southern area of the island is touted to have the cleanest air on earth.

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Response to Iwasthere (Reply #2)

Fri Mar 14, 2014, 01:19 PM

3. Salem seems as if it would be bike-friendly, especially with an electrically assisted bike

for my poor knees, but I'm not sure that it would be a good place to be an older single.

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Response to Iwasthere (Reply #2)

Tue Mar 18, 2014, 01:28 PM

12. Srsly?

 

Kilauea volcano is in the southern area of Hawai'i (Big) Island. Every time the trades die down, its emissions produce "vog" that gives people respiratory symptoms.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Fri Mar 14, 2014, 04:31 PM

4. Gotta love the eastside.

I lived in Sellwood for about five years. Its a very walkable neighborhood. I never drove except to go to work. Houses are expensive, but you can still find reasonable apartments. I think most of inner SE is like that. Trimet service does stop going to Sellwood at about 12, so you have to plan for that. Granted, all my experiences there were over two years ago, so some things might have changed, but I can't imagine its by that much. I just loved the fact I could walk to bars, restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, hardware stores, hell anything I needed or wanted.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Sat Mar 15, 2014, 05:20 PM

5. Some folks say the Rose City Park area is good to move into.

I don't know about rent costs. My parents own my home...I could not afford to live here if I had to pay the full rent. (My income is way low. )

Connections to Tri-Met are very good. And, there are lots of shops and stores within walking distance.

Population in this hood tends to be a mix of young families, and retirees, working class and middle class. Will see if I can provide a link to the neighborhood association: www.rcpna.org

Also, St. Johns seems to be getting more shops and restaurants, etc.

And, Portland has a thriving food cart culture.

On the Tri-Met front, they are constructing a new bridge over the Willamette River, to carry the Max line, buses, and I think the street car as well. I think it is to connect with the new Max line which is going to connect the Milwaukee area to the rest of the town.

My cousin used to live in Southeast PDX, over near S.E. 41st ave. There are lots of shops and restaurants along S.E. Woodstock street.

Good luck to you, whatever you decide to do.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Sat Mar 15, 2014, 10:05 PM

6. lots to think about

Woodstock is going to be up and coming NOW because a New Seasons store is moving in right smack on Woodstock about 42nd.

Portland is one of the tightest rental locations in the country. Still, it's possible to get an offbeat place for well under a grand if you are flexible and would consider a basement apartment, an apartment in a home (MIL or such), or some other accommodation.

And, as you know, the advantages of living in the Portland metro area just can't be beat. Tri-Met has gone back to more service, and the cost of a bus pass is very very reasonable, considering. You can go just about anywhere except the outer burbs with much ease.

Here's something else to consider. The new MAX line to Milwaukie opens next year. If you haven't been to Milwaukie in years, you might consider making that a priority visit. I don't know how old you are or what perks might be available to you due to age or income status. But I know that a VERY ATTRACTIVE property is smack dab in the middle of Milwaukie city center, and they have a waiting list for beautiful apartments at $750 with income limits. This property is across the street from the very good library and a block from the new park along the riverfront. A block from the farmers market, and about three blocks from the new MAX station. A block from the transit center with buses going every direction. Smack in the middle of some restaurants and shops. The apartments are just a few years old with nice appliances. No pets, though. There is a walking/biking trail that is marvelous, all the way to Gladstone.

Other parts of Milwaukie can be attractive, too, and reasonable.

Sellwood, of course, is quirky and very sweet. However, house flippers are a real menace there as they tear down small settled homes and build huge plexes on the plots, with no parking. It's a battle.

I don't think you want to be east of 82nd. Rents may be a little cheaper out there, but there is increased gang activity and lack of city services.

Belmont/Tabor/Richmond neighborhoods are all booming. Just booming. Division street is now the hottest restaurant row in town. It's still possible to find housing there, but it will take a lot of footwork and craigslist time.

Hawthorne, of course, is everyone's favorite in S.E.

Oooo. St. John's. You might have an idea there. It's still the "little town that time forgot and the centuries cannot improve" as Garrison Keillor would say. Quaint, still. Funky to the extreme. St. John's is definitely not totally gentrified.

I think some time spent on craigslist would tell you an awful lot about what might be available. And taking a look at the Willy Week every week online would give you some clues about what's going on.

I didn't write anything about NW or SW. The Pearl has been usurped in trendiness by what is called the West End.

Oh, the Portland Streetcar is a great boon! Soon there will be a whole circular route 'round the inner city. Through the industrial close-in east side up through the Lloyd district, and up to Legacy Good Samaritan on the NW, and down to the waterfront where OHSU has a major presence.

What a great town.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #6)

Sat Mar 15, 2014, 10:23 PM

7. Thanks.

My plan is to spend two or three weeks in Portland at the end of the summer or beginning of fall, first exploring the neighborhoods and narrowing it down to some favorites, and then tramping around each neighborhood on foot, cell phone in hand to call likely-looking places that have For Rent signs out. That's how I found my unadvertised, owner-occupied building with rents below the norm for this part of Minneapolis.

When I lived in Portland, I subscribed to the Oregon Symphony, the Oregon Ballet, the Portland Opera, and Artists' Repertory Theater as well as practically camping out at the Portland Film Festival, so good access to downtown is a must, along with interesting hangouts in the neighborhood. King's Hill was ideal in that regard, but maybe too pricey now.

One reason I'm unhappy here is that even though the Twin Cities are full of cultural institutions, they're far apart and accessible only by driving, and as I mentioned above, I hate to drive. The Minnesota Opera, for example, is in downtown St. Paul, which is about as far as you can get from my apartment (in the southwest corner of Minneapolis) and still be in the city.

I have no interest in going past E. 82nd, either. Things start to get spread out and car-oriented and suburban-looking, aside from any concerns about crime. (I used to take the bus down E. 82nd from Hawthorne when I needed to go to the Kaiser Clinic at Clackamas.)

Anything decent out west along the MAX line? Or is that all suburban-y, too?

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #7)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 12:23 AM

9. I think that Hillsboro has an active cultural life.

Aside from that, I don't know much about out west. I don't roam much farther west than the civic stadium (now the Portland Timbers soccer field).

Rose City is considered a good rental spot nowadays, but Hollywood, Grant Park, etc. are priced out of consideration. Whole Foods opened a store a few years ago on 45th & Sandy. A big new development is going in on N.E. 33rd and Broadway; I don't know if that will be a mixed-income development or not, but would be adjacent to MAX and easy to downtown. Another booming area is Overlook in North Portland. The MAX yellow line runs out that way, but there has been some notable crime along that MAX line.

It sounds as if quick access to downtown would be good for you. It would be a lovely life to live right downtown. Sweet.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #9)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 11:21 AM

19. Is Rose City the Vietnamese part of town? Or what used to be?

I remember thinking years ago that it would be an interesting place to live.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #19)

Wed Apr 23, 2014, 11:34 AM

20. there is some Asian influence in Rose City

I was sort of out that way a few weeks ago driving east from 42nd Prescott all the way to 102nd. From the restaurants, I would not characterize that area as Asian influenced. Popeye's, a pancake chain, a taco house, etc. But Sandy Blvd. west of 82nd -- probably from 82nd down to 60th -- has definite Asian influence in the retail shops.

That said, the hot spot for Asian restaurants is clustered around 82nd and Division. Many Asian people have moved from downtown Chinatown to that area around Division. It's also home to many eastern Europeans. Russians, Ukrainians, etc.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #7)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 01:54 PM

10. If you have more of a high tech career, living someplace like Beaverton might help you commute-wise

 

... as probably more of "Silicon Forest" is on the west side of the river than the east side. If you live in Beaverton close to the city, that's not a bad location to be able to commute to a high tech job and still be close to more cultural activities to the east of you.

Some places along the max line, like where I was earlier is in a tunnel right between the city and Beaverton transit center, and you therefore have to go on a bus to get to a train stop, so perhaps less attractive. I'm further west than I ideally want to be now, but am within walking distance of a Trimet station, which makes it better, especially since I'm starting a new job soon in the Pearl district in about a week.

One thing to note is that the Washington County Democrats on the west side are a significant element of the Democratic Party here locally and statewide, and often times make a difference when it comes to moving the whole state to the left moreso. As the Democrats get more political positions here in this area, the state tends to go more Democratic in power. So if you want to make a difference, being here can help too.

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Response to cascadiance (Reply #10)

Sun Mar 16, 2014, 09:07 PM

11. Actually, I'm self-employed as a translator

so I can live any place that has broadband Internet.

I've thought about places on the Westside MAX, but I haven't been there since 2003. I took a class at Rock Creek the last year I was there, and while the transit access to the campus was impressive, the area was standard issue suburb. I also visited Orenco, but it had a Disney-like artificiality to it, although it may be more "lived-in" now. I'm also concerned that places that are too inexpensive might have crime problems.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #7)

Wed Mar 26, 2014, 07:29 PM

14. the Orenco (Hillsboro) area might be perfect for you

It's populated largely by young and young-at-heart tech workers, supports several coffee shops and ethnic restaurants, is pretty close to things as much as a suburb can be, has lots of apartments intermixed with some mid-scale homes, and it's on the Max line. It's more designed/artificial than SE Portland, but almost anywhere else is too. When i read your OP it jumped to mind immediately but i wasn't sure if you'd be interested in suburban alternatives.

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Response to 0rganism (Reply #14)

Wed Mar 26, 2014, 11:43 PM

15. Hi, Organism. I think we may have met at one of the early DU gatherings (on Hawthorne?)

Anyway, I saw the Orenco area when it was first being built, and at the time (ca. 2000), it looked really artificial, but perhaps it has grown into a real community in the intervening 14 years. It is certainly on my list, and rents are lower than in the city.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #15)

Thu Mar 27, 2014, 01:06 PM

16. yes i seem to recall that - Lucky Lab maybe?

there hasn't been a meeting in a while - i keep thinking maybe it's time to start them up again.

Orenco looks pretty nice now. That's one of its problems actually, it looks a bit like a mad god tried dropping a west Portland neighborhood with high-density housing directly onto the suburbs, doesn't quite fit the surrounding area. But it's still a nice enough place in its own right.

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Response to 0rganism (Reply #16)

Thu Mar 27, 2014, 05:20 PM

17. I think we were actually sitting outside at one of the restaurants or pubs around 20th and Hawthorne

I definitely recall sitting outside with a bunch of DUers.

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Response to grasswire (Reply #6)

Mon Apr 14, 2014, 04:01 AM

18. I love Milwaukie

Lived there for several years prior to moving to South Korea and still consider the area as well as Portland my hometown (much more than the small backwards town that I grew up in). It has the feel of a small town in a way.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Sat Mar 15, 2014, 11:00 PM

8. Good luck with your decision!

I grew up in Oregon City, went to OSU, move to Portland and then left town on December 26, 1983...did about 2 years in Phoenix, moving to Los Angeles in the Spring of 1986.

I've been here since and have become a dyed-in-the-wool Californian...yup, I admit it. I love the sunshine and really figured out how much I hated gray and wet...it was never for me...I was sick constantly as far back as I could remember but that stopped when I left.

Again good luck...it's no longer for me but know many love it.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Wed Mar 26, 2014, 06:47 PM

13. I can't really be of any help,

since I'm on the icy winter side of the Cascades.

I love to visit Portland and other areas west in the summer when the mountains are easy and I have more time, though, and would look to move that way myself if my job weren't here.

Let us know where you end up.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Sat Feb 28, 2015, 10:22 PM

21. Hi, Everyone, I'm still in Minneapolis, and it's been a cold, although un-snowy winter

I never made it out to Portland this past fall, because I spent too much money on my trip to Japan and Korea, and then business wasn't very good after I got back.

But it's definitely on my list. I've continued to research online, and in less time than I'd like, I'll be eligible for Tri-Met's "honored citizen" pass for $26 a month, and Kaiser has better Medicare supplement plans than anyone in Minneapolis does.

Housing will be tricky, though.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Mon Mar 2, 2015, 05:47 PM

22. I would try North Portland.

Many nice neighborhoods along the TriMet yellow line and housing is cheaper. Traffic is not as congested as Hawthorne and some of the other neighborhoods on the SE side.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Tue Mar 3, 2015, 12:33 AM

23. That may be worth looking into

I moved to Minneapolis a few months before the Yellow Line opened, so I'm not familiar with the area. I occasionally went to events at the University of Portland, and one time a dinner group I belonged to went to one of the soul food restaurants up on MLK, but unlike looking at listings in other neighborhoods, I can't visualize what the area is like now.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Fri Mar 13, 2015, 11:41 PM

24. Heh. I will weigh in belatedly

First.. Portland is spreading like wildfire. And Traffic/getting around has gone to hell. In the late 90's/early 00's, it was pretty good. You could get pretty much anywhere in 30-45 minutes. By 2010, it was acting more like traffic in any large city, it could take an hour or more to get places in rush hour. In the last year it has gotten WAY worse. It can take an hour and a half to get across town.. during normal traffic. Rush hour is even worse, and its been starting earlier and earlier. We now have a lunch time rush hour, along with morning and afternoon. And afternoon rush hour seems to be starting closer and closer to 2pm. I84 traffic at 10PM often appears to be equivalent to what I remember it to be during rush hour in 1999.

I hear the rental market is now one of the tightest in the country. Ive been helping someone look for housing, and I can personally testify that even in outlying areas prices have jumped at least $200 a month from where they were 5 years ago when I was last looking for myself. And the options are far more limited than they were at that point. Plus anything that gets listed seems to disappear rather quickly

Pretty much most of the areas you have mentioned are now "popular". Gentrification... sorry, Urban Renewal, means that even formerly less expensive areas are often now more expensive. Belmont/Hawthorne is nutty popular with the hipsters, and therefore expensive. Hollywood and Lloyd are close to everything.. Expensive. Sellwood is getting a new bridge. Already a bit spendy, expect it to rise in price once that's done. Irvington area is gentrifying, lots of little boutique-ish restaurants and the like, not cheap. Anything downtown is going to cost, especially if you get on 21st, 23rd, the pearl. Plus, in my experience, your chances of gaining pet Bed Bugs goes up exponentially anywhere in downtown.

10 years ago, I would have said PDX was a great place for virtually anyone to move to. Now... I don't think I would recommend it to anyone without personal ties to the area.

The cheapest area is probably the Outer west side.. Hillsboro, for instance. Or maybe Vancouver, I haven't really checked prices there. If you want cheap and reasonably transportation friendly, I would say your best bet is outer east side. Gresham or near it. Along Sandy, Burnside, Powell, on the east side of 122nd. Near the Max line might be the easiest for transport, but comes with its own drawbacks. Milwaukee would be next on the list.

82nd has a growing Asian influence. There seems to be a growing African influence along 122nd. Both seem to be leading to more interesting culture and better food.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #24)

Sat Mar 14, 2015, 11:27 AM

25. I've been reading the Oregonian and checking out apts. online, so

I am aware of the problems, but what I'm looking for are the following:

1. Not needing to drive. Not at all. I resent every dollar I spend on the car and hate how I have to help pollute the environment to get anywhere. The increased traffic is the fault of people driving out of habit when they don't need to. For that reason, Vancouver is out. It's too car-oriented. Here in Minneapolis, younger people bicycle in all weather, but I no longer can.

2. Warmer winters. I grew up in Minnesota when it was much colder than it is now, but as I get older, I find winter pretty much intolerable. Walking is my favorite form of exercise, and I've been wary of walking in the winter due to two injuries (a broken elbow one year and a badly wrenched knee another) from ice.

3. Convenience. I love going to things like opera, ballet, foreign films, classical music, and live theater, and the Twin Cities have those in abundance, but they are spread out all over the metropolitan area instead of being concentrated within a few blocks of one another. And they require driving and parking (expensive). Yuck. The only things I attend regularly are the ones I can bus or walk to, and that's not much.

4. Better medical coverage. In 13 years, I have not found anything as user-friendly or as economical as Kaiser, and that includes what I see of their Medicare plans.

By the way, the best parts of Minneapolis and St. Paul are gentrifying in the same way as Portland. If I decide to stay here, I may have a great deal of trouble finding a place to live in my preferred parts of town.

At the moment, I can't afford to move anywhere. I would not move anywhere sight unseen, of course. If I can manage it, I'd like to spend a month in Portland and maybe a couple of other West Coast areas to scope things out before making a final decision.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #25)

Sat Mar 14, 2015, 11:42 AM

27. Max to Milwaukie opens this year.

While Clackamas County is not the cultural equivalent of SE Portland YET, affordable housing is still available. And when culture is a simple MAX ride away, it's a good mix of both worlds. I have lived in Milwaukie for about seven years now. Portland is my home town, although I lived elsewhere for much of my adult life. D.C., L.A., Bay Area, etc.

I searched craigslist for many many months, and turned up an absolute dream of a dwelling. An apartment within a large expensive house, right on the river. Reasonable rent,everything included, and very nice neighbors. Million dollar view. I feel very lucky.

And those kinds of "irregular" housing opportunities are not uncommon. MIL apartments in nice homes, cottages, and so on. Downtown Milwaukie is quite charming and quaint, with coffee shops, excellent library, farmers market, and so on. Sellwood is a very quick bus ride away. Transit options are very good, and getting better when MAX opens. Plus there's the river front park, newly refurbished.

Keep on the search!

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Sat Mar 14, 2015, 11:36 AM

26. If you're not

absolutely set on the PDXMetro area..I love and find Eugene/Lane County area to be wonderful.....a bit less congested than PDX
I don't live there, so I don't know about housing etc...
The Eugene Register Guard and Willamette Week are two of the local papers.

Welcome back!

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Sat Mar 14, 2015, 12:19 PM

28. I like Rose City down to Milwuakie on east side

East side is more realistic unless somebody wins the lottery. Went to school in Eugene love that town but its getting to big for its britches and now has big city attitude. Either way as climate change amps up the pacific northwest is a good place to be

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Mon May 25, 2015, 11:56 PM

29. I grew up in Portland and it is a very livable city.

I have relatives in both Portland and Eugene that I do visit occasionally. I spent most of this last year in Oregon helping to care for my sister who recently died from ALS. There are areas where you can still find reasonable rent if you have any income at all.

Since retirement I can't afford to live there, so I moved to Thailand where it is super-budget friendly and I have terrific medical/dental care, great public transportation and a wonderful climate. I know I couldn't survive a Minnesota winter.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Tue Jun 9, 2015, 04:05 AM

30. i moved to Oregon last December (employment).

I found an apartment in Beaverton. I pay about $1k/month with utilities if I am frugal with my electric usage.
The winter was amazingly mild particularly in comparison to the extreme winter we had back in my home turf in Ma where we had 115" of snow. The Region had a fairly dry winter and near record low snowfall in the cascades.

We had no snow or icing events in the Portland area .

While I am not an urban kind of guy I find Portland to be a cool city. The river front and outdoor market with the food trucks and all of artists and other vendors is a lot of fun. The train system, which I admittedly don't use that often is excellent. (You can park in Portland for $5 for the day on the weekend.) I have a station less then a mile from my apartment but there are a lot of apartments right next to stations in the Beaverton/ Hillsboro area.

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