Moving to Portland, Oregon

Parent Q&A

Advice on Portland, Oregon public schools? Jan 11, 2018 (2 responses below)
COL differences between Oakland, CA and Portland, Oregon May 1, 2017 (6 responses below)
  • Advice on Portland, Oregon public schools?

    (2 replies)

    My family is considering a move from Berkeley to Portland (for work reasons only), and my chief concern is the public school situation. We love, love, love our school here (Rosa Parks) - my older son is currently in first grade there, and my younger would be starting kindergarten next year. What is important to us: small class size (under 24); real diversity (racial, ethnic, socio-economic); well-treated, well organized corps of teachers; intentional academic program that takes into consideration child development; institutional commitment to social justice, and gender and racial equity education. Am I dreaming that we can find this in Portland? I would really appreciate any advice on school districts/zones/process, as this would likely guide where we would look to live. Thanks so much! 

    My cousin's son goes to Sunnyside Environmental School (K-8) in the Sunnyside/Hawthorne neighborhood east of the river.  They love the school, and based on what they told me, it sounds pretty amazing.  They moved to Portland from Brooklyn in early 2016.  Jack had to start in the middle of second grade, but he immediately took to the school.  Although he was in advanced placement classes in Brooklyn, he did not enjoy school.  Right after starting at Sunnyside, he was excited to go to school, made friends and found community.  We don't live there, so I can't say for sure, but there is a good chance it has most if not all of the qualities you seek.  Families actually move to that neighborhood specifically for the school.  They have student gardens, chickens, etc.  The "Back-to-School" night is actually the Riparian Festival at which the students give presentations to the families.  Last year, one of the classes gave a presentation on how development along the Willamette River affected the salmon population and local indigenous tribes.  I wasn't there so I'm summarizing second-hand, but it sounded pretty awesome.  I would definitely put it on your list.

    We moved from Berkeley to Portland for two years and then back to Berkeley. There's a lot I can say here so I'll try to sum it up. First, Portland is not an ethnically diverse city, and it is socio-economically segregated, so often the most diverse schools are the poorest and have the worst ratings. Neighborhood matters a lot - if you're in a good neighborhood with good schools, chances are almost all the kids are caucasian. We applied to a bunch of charter schools when we got there, but they are notoriously difficult to get into. The class size at our neighborhood school, rated a "9" was 31 kids in 1st grade, with no aide. They had so little space that kids had to rotate from different stations since there weren't enough desks. It felt like a crisis. Also lead in the pipes, bottled water, huge expense to fix. Public education is horribly underfunded in Oregon because of property tax limits and no sales tax. Because we had Bay Area money, we could actually afford private school there, so we picked The International School - it was ironically more diverse than our Portland neighborhood school, probably as diverse as my son's public school in Berkeley. If you can afford it, it's great (although I hated the location, right next to the freeway). You might look into Southwest Charter, it's kind of off the radar. A lot of the charters have big drawbacks with location and amenities because they're underfunded. There's a Montessori one we looked at that seemed good. It's a lot of research to do - definitely check out the charters, and check out the private schools if you can swing it. If you're willing to compromise about diversity and you live in the right boundary, the schools are good - if you're not in the right neighborhood they are not so good. Greatschools is a good online resource for ratings and reviews.Good luck!

  • My husband and I currently live in Oakland with 2 little kids (4 and 1)and we are seriously considering relocating to Portland, Oregon.  The main attraction for me is a sister who lives there and our kids growing up together.  I've been up there many times and the pace of life seems to be slower and more calm than the hustle and bustle and competitive feel of the bay area.  I hear people say that the cost of living is less in Portland.  Is this really true?  I'm wondering if anyone has done the research to identify where the cost of living is truly less. Selling our home in Oakland would afford us a comfortable home in pdx.  My husband, an elementary school principal, would make about the same as he does here.  I'm an RN in SF County and I understand my salary would be cut dramatically (almost half!) up there.  What else?  

    I so want to make this a go, but I don't want to settle in only to find that our income is less and that the cost of living is equal to what we deal with in the bay.  

    I'd love to hear from folks who have recently moved there and from folks who seriously considered it and decided not to and from anyone else is this wide, wise community!

    Sharon, I don't have an answer--I'm interested in other's advice as well.

    But another factor is that Portland is so close to the border.  If you can live in WA and work in OR, can you take advantage of the fact that WA has no income tax and OR has no sales tax? I assume it is not that easy, and I know the commute from Vancouver WA to Portland can be difficult.  So I wonder how property taxes compare.

    Have you seen Numbeo? I've checked it out while doing my own escape-from-the-Bay research. :) You can select different criteria to compare; maybe it'll be helpful. (sorry, embedded link not working on mobile)

    I've done that and came back home to Oakland. (Just recently)
    Weather was just awful - rainy almost every day, cold, so you are locked in the house with a kid - it was killing me. Than suddenly VERY VERY hot in the summer (just some days though, but 105 and no air conditioner).
    Farmers markets their are much more expensive. And fruits don't taste as good as here, I missed Oakland farmers markets a lot. I believe, that veggies and fruits were more expensive in general in Portland. 
    I was paying about the same in utilities.
    Property taxes are pretty heigh up their
    Toddlers classes were cheaper in Portland
    Traffic just awful their. 
    Air quality was incredible. 
    PDX - hard to fly internationally, almost no direct flights to Europe and other parts of the world. Tickets were more expensive to fly to/from Portland
    Many families with kids. 

    I was so bored and didn't like it. It feels very much like a suburban city and I need a dynamic place. No ocean close by made me sad too. There are some mountains close by (with some snow and winter activities, but I like the beach). 

    Portland was not for me and my family. I am back in Oakland and just LOVE LOVE and LOVE it. People, weather, ocean, friends, farmers markets, nature, SF, life style - can't imagine anything better than Oakland.

    But many people really like it up their.
    Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


We can move to the South Bay or to Portland - which one?

Oct 2015

My partner got a job offer that gives us the option of moving near Santa Clara or moving to the Portland area(Beaverton / Hillsboro). We love Berkeley and we're hesitant of moving to South Bay / Peninsula because it def has a different feel than Berkeley. We love being able to walk anywhere, the neighborhood, weather, etc. With the high cost of living in the Bay area, we're really considering the move to Oregon. We have a toddler and planning on having another soon so would love to have more space and not pay an arm and a leg for it! My biggest concern is diversity and the weather...we love the sun(but not too hot!). We've visited Portland once, and noticed we were always the minority every place we went. Ideally we would like to raise our kids in a diverse there any place like this?!

Any honest feedback of these places would be truly appreciated! I haven't found much on this topic the past few years so would love an updated feedback since Portland seems to be more up and coming lately. Would love to hear more Information on schools, neighborhoods, weather, diversity, suggestions of either Portland/Beaverton/Hillsboro and South Bay/Peninsula.

Thank you!

My husband and I lived in Portland... gosh, 13 years ago now. We still have friends there, and about 3 years ago we considered making the move back - we were living in Berkeley at the time. So we took a trip up, met with a realtor, saw some houses and neighborhoods, etc.

Ultimately, we decided to move to rural West Sonoma County, which is a whole other, unrelated story. But we went up for that Portland house-hunting trip in the fall, which is the beginning of rainy season there. We'd forgotten how *dark* it is there when it rains, even in the middle of the day - the clouds are lower in the Pacific Northwest, I think, and heavier. It's strange, and kind of hard to explain, but both my husband and I experienced a qualitative difference in light between a rainy day in the Bay Area and a rainy day in Portland.

I will be honest and say that the weather is the biggest reason why we decided to stay. Being back there, we remembered how the seemingly-endless months of rain affected our outlook on life (it starts raining in earnest in late September/early October and really doesn't let up until early June or so). I'm from the Bay Area and therefore spoiled, weather-wise... 9 months of rain/overcast days was too much for me, and I remember getting depressed.

HOWEVER... all that being said, everything else about Portland is awesome. The residents, for instance, are probably among the nicest, friendliest people we've met anywhere. We made friends way easier in Portland than when we lived in Berkeley... people (especially families) move there to put down roots and stay, while in Berkeley it seemed like people were always leaving (for a job transfer, to move somewhere cheaper, etc.).

You mentioned diversity and while it's true that Portland is more homogeneous than Berkeley, it's still a major city (and very liberal) and you will still find a good amount of diversity, I think. I'm Latina and my husband is white and we did not have any sort of problem with regards to this.

I did just see that you mentioned living in Hillsboro or Beaverton, which are actually 2 cities we looked at while in Portland for house-hunting. I would discourage you from this area, personally. The stuff that makes Portland awesome (culture, cool people, good food, walkability, bookstores, etc) END, for the most part, outside of Portland city limits.

Although I will say here that apparently by the actual numbers, Beaverton is supposed to be more diverse that Portland... however, we did not experience that when we were house-hunting. Both Beaverton and Hillsboro are very suburban and boring (my opinion). However, you do get more for your money out there, house-wise.

I have a lot I could talk about but I feel I'm going to run out of room... if you'd like to email me, I'd be happy to speak with you further. I could also put you in touch with my friend who lives there now... she and her husband have 2 kids in elementary school, and they absolutely love Portland. So you can get a different perspective. Anyway, feel free to contact me at the email address below if you're interested.

Hope this helped!

Moving to Oregon

Jan 2015

We are possibly moving to Oregon due to some changes in our lives, and wonder what we should be thinking about or how to prepare. Any ideas would be appreciated because this is unfamiliar territory for us. new to moving

I've done the move from the Bay Area to Portland. You didn't say where in Oregon you were considering so I can only comment on a city to city comparison. I want to advise you of a few misconceptions I had going in to the move:

Myth #1: Portland is a bastion of liberalism Reality: Portland is very conservative on the whole. It is a far cry from Berkeley in terms of its social climate and presence of conservative values. For example, in a public square in the middle of downtown recently, my son came across a Pro Life rally. You would never see that in downtown Berkeley. Another example: at my son's middle school in the hills (suburb of Portland) religious proselytizers were allowed to be at the campus gates handing out religious materials to the kids. Even though Democrats hold high office and they tend to lead progressive causes, the day-to-day culture of the city is right of center, in my opinion.

Myth #2: The city is extremely arts focused. Reality: The city is very small. There are a few galleries and there is a First Thursday evening open house. But, truly, you have to seek out the arts that the city has to offer and it is a pittance in comparison to the bay area. They have a film festival, something which I am very fond of in general, but I found the caliber of the offerings to be substandard when compared to San Francisco. The theater scene is pretty good, but again, limited offerings. The music scene is quite good however, but you have to put up with standing up in a crowded room more often than not.

Myth #3: The preponderance of rain is tolerable. Reality: I'm spoiled by year-round mild weather in the bay area. The winters here are downright depressing. Hawaiian Air has direct flights but they know the Portland spring break calendar and they BANK on it! For your sanity, you have to book a warm vacation from Nov to May or you will go nuts.

Suffice to say, I'm not very happy here and plan to return to the bay area some day. I commute there regularly for work and I miss everything about it, but mostly the vitality, the energy, the expansive cultural offerings, and creative people with a point of view. For those things there is a price, and I realize it isn't always a choice of practicality.

To its credit, Portland summers are gorgeous - the gardening scene and the food scene are really top rate. And, property is much more affordable. Left my heart in San Francisco

Considering a move to Portland

Oct 2013

Hello, We are considering a move to Portland, but we've never even visited and aren't sure where to start on a house hunt. We'll need a 3-4 bedroom house in an area with good schools. We'd love to be close-ish to the city, but will let that slide in favor of a nice house and garden/schools. Does a neighborhood exist where we might pay around 500k for such a house? Perhaps we're being woefully unrealistic/hopeful that it's really that much cheaper than the Bay Area, but it was worth a try! On the same note, how much cheaper is the cost of living there, really? Thanks for any advice/experience. Possibly Portland-Bound

In short, yes, Portland is cheaper than the Bay Area. You didn't mention why you were considering Portland, though. Do you have a job lined up? Portland is a great town, very affordable and family-friendly, but it is almost impossible to find work there. Over and over, I've seen friends move there from the Bay Area and move back 6 months later, completely broke because they couldn't find work. the catch

My husband grew up in Portland and his brother and cousin recently bought homes in the Bethany area. Great schools (Stoller, Finley, Westview) and $500k can get you a beautiful home. There's some newer developments like Arbor Heights and Arbor Oaks too. You'd be 30 min away from downtown. Hope that helps! Wouldn't mind living in Portland too

Move to Pasadena area or Portland? (Lake Oswego)

Jan 2013

Raising 4 kids under the age of 10 by myself is becoming a real financial struggle.. I have the option of relocating with my Company to either Lake Oswego or the Pasadena area (or stay here in the Bay Area).

I know next to nothing about either place, other than the weather.

Everything we love about the Bay Area (food, weather, shops, natural beauty, ethnic diversity, progressive thinking, etc.)is what I will be looking for if we move.

Please be candid. Share the good, the bad and the ugly. The more information I have, the better equipped I will be to make a decision. To go and if so, where?

I have two friends from college (UC Davis) who both live with their families in Lake Oswego. I know they are both happy there.

I noticed you didn't get much info on Lake Oswego. Pasadena sounds lovely but Lake Oswego is also stunning. I have never lived there, just occasionally visited some relatives who live there and am always, every single time blown away by the beauty and vow to move there at some point in my life. Portland is also beautiful, with lots of beautiful old craftsman homes.

This is not very useful info, but just encouragement to look into Lake Oswego more before dismissing.

Altho there is quite a weather difference between the two places - so if you or your family really prefers one type of weather over another that may be a clear indicator for your choice. I guess that is the thing with the bayarea, the weather is a nice compromise between the two. anon

I grew up in Lake Oswego and later, after many years away, moved back to Portland. Lake Oswego is great in many ways--it's got Tryon Creek park for hikes, 'award winning' schools, and a lake that is really fun (by Oregon standards) if somewhat toxic due to fertilizer run off. Most importantly, you've got Portland right there. All of that said, I found Lake Oswego a stifling place to grow up. Small-minded football players and cheerleaders rule the school, there's very little diversity, the stores are primarily chains, all culture exists in Portland. I fled at 17 and have felt little desire to return since. Portland, on the other hand, is truly a remarkable city--full of natural beauty, the spirit of individualism, great food and fashion, and thoughtful city planning (why not move there instead? If it's a quaint small town spirit your after, try Sellwood; if it's moneyed neighbors and grand houses--which LO ostensibly possesses--try Kings Heights or Irvington. You'll find better architecture, more walkability, and better access to everything). So if I liked Portland so much, why did we move? The weather. It sucks. After having lived in NYC and the Bay Area, I moved back to Portland, stayed 9 years, and now I'm so SO happy to be back here and out of the gray. Between Pasadena and LO, I'd pick Pas strictly for the weather, but are those really your only choices? What about South Pasadena? It's terrific--so cute and charming with great schools and houses. Anon

Editor note: reviews were also received for Pasadena

Equivalent of BPN in Portland OR?

Sept 2011

Does anyone know of an equivalent of BPN in Portland OR or Vancouver WA area?

Moving to the Northwest

We just moved back to the bay area after living in Portland for two years. I grew to really love the town (despite the weather that makes you a little stir-crazy). I loved our neighborhood (NE Portland/Alameda)and met some great moms that way. I never found a service like BPN there, but did use the site and also joined a mom group through - that was a good way to get out and meet other moms who would then share their knowledge. Good luck and enjoy the NW! It's a great place to raise a family. Gwendolyn

Portland area....the good and not-so-good??

May 2011

So, I GULP my pride to admit that the financial struggle of being a solo parent (with no financial support) of 3 elementary-school-aged kids in the Bay Area has finally caught up with me.

I have the opportunity to move to Portland with my job. Lay it on me - I want the good, the bad and the ugly about the area. PLEASE BE CANDID I really need to know

My sister, BIL and their 6 year old 1st grader live in the Alameda district of Portland. There's a lot they love about PDX but their big struggle right now is around their son's public school which is considered a 'good' school. There are 27 kids in his 1st grade and one teacher. They are really concerned and trying to figure out options, which seem slim. Good luck with your decision making. Rachel

I grew up in Portland and think that it is really a wonderful place be a kid and grow up. There are wonderful parks, the public transportation is fantastic and it is really very clean and safe. I really miss living there.

However, I would have to say that both I and the majority of my friends from high school have left and remain content to enjoy home during visits. This is for a very simple reason; Portland has a very terrible job market. My sister and I both cannot find reasonable careers there (while we have our pick of jobs elsewhere) and my brother (who still lives in PDX) has been unemployed for several years. The friends I have that have remained in Portland are mostly under- employed. There are tons of over educated people working waitressing jobs since there is very little industry. The low cost of living there is way oversold. It is not really any cheaper if you don't have a job or don't earn nearly as much as you would in the Bay Area. Many employers also know that they have a captive audience. One thing that makes life much easier in the Bay Area is that it is comparatively easy to find a new job if the one you are in is terrible. In Portland, if you do have a job, your employer knows that you don't really have other options. There are a lot of employers who know they don't have to treat their employees well at all since they really have nowhere else to go.

So, unless you already have some sort of fabulous job lined up I would not recommend moving up there looking for a really better lifestyle. Even when the economy was good, Portland's wasn't and it has not improved in the past few years. Kate

Portland is a BEAUTIFUL city!! The nations template on green living, accessible transportation, progressive thinking and sweet old houses. Alot of young people there.

It rains alot (but Im sure you know that) and IT IS NOT THE PLACE to be out of work, cause its hard to find work there.

I took a really great walking tour and learned alot about the history, the people and the culture. I would recommend it strongly

Feels right to me. Go for it! Reenie

Considering moving to Portland but concerned about the weather

Jan 2011

I am considering moving to Portland, OR, but am concerned about the rainy, dreary weather during the weather. I've heard everything from 'you get used to it' to it making people nearly suicidal. (In fact, a survey in some magazine a year or two ago rated Portland the number one city in suicide attempts...) So I'm looking for input and information. How bad is it, really? Sun-lover

I lived in Corvallis (down the road aways from Portland) for 2 years while going to school. The first thing I noticed about the weather is that every picnic table in the parks had a roof over it.

Locals told me if you wait for a sunny day, you'll end up never going out. So you just deal with it.

Sorry to be so 'gloomy' about it. I enjoyed my two years, but I was glad to come back to CA. --Temp OR resident

After the first few winter seasons in Seattle, WA (she went to school at U. Oregon in Eugene), my warm-weather-loving sister was diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). At the recommendation of a doctor she sits under an indoor sun lamp in the winter and that seems to help. CC

If you already know that extended spells of grey weather get you down, don't do it. The annual rainfall isn't actually that bad; it's the grey. You can get 30+ days in a row where the sun isn't ever strong enough to cast a shadow, even if it only rains on 6 or 7 of those days. Beware, though: the cost of living *is* low there, but the local salaries are even lower. In terms of affordability -- ratio of cost-of-living to salary -- Portland isn't much better than the Bay Area. Cory

I live in Portland. Except for July, the only honest answer is 'If it isn't raining now, it's about to.' But rain keeps our grass green and our skin from drying out. Rusty

Considering moving to Portland for more affordable life

Aug 2009

My husband and I are considering moving to Portland because life here in the Bay Area just does not seem affordable. We have a newborn and the Berkeley Parents Network has been a great resource; does anyone know if there is a similar network in Portland? Has anyone had a baby in Portland and can recommend great resources to find childcare, groups, exchange baby items etc.? ccs

I'm writing from Portland right now, and it has rained only once in the last 3 weeks! My wife and I keep moving closer to making that move from the Bay Area. 7 or 8 years ago, our twin daughters, each with small children, were really missing each other. Neither ones husband would ''give in'' and move near the other (one Berkeley, one Boston). But they all agreed on choosing a neutral 3rd city, and they have loved life in Portland ever since. They and we both found this site very helpful, in so many ways, for thinking through the possible move: John

Moving to Portland, Starting Family, Need Advice

Feb 2009

My partner and I are moving to Portland in April to start our family, and I'm wondering if anyone knows of good resources, like BPN, up there.

The craigslist search for houses is difficult, too, since I don't know what neighborhoods to look in. Both my partner and I work from home. She'll be telecommuting to her current job and I'll be trying to start over my dog training business.

So if you've lived in Portland and have recommendations, anything from great neighborhoods to resources for lesbian family planning, doctors, listserves, etc., I'd hugely appreciate it. Katrin

You need to join Urban Mamas ( It was started by a Mom who moved to Portland from Albany. It's the closest thing you'll find to BPN. dawn

The Pearl dist. and Hawthorne areas are very cool, fun areas that are alot like Berkeley. Good luck! anon

I am so jealous, Portland is a great place to raise children. Look into the Sellwood area and also SW Portland. We lived in Salem for a few years and would go to Portland all the time for events and the great restaurants. There is a free transit area in downtown Portland too.

For kids, Portland has a nice zoo, and children's museum. The annual Rose Parade is lots of fun, and there is always something going on at the waterfront park.

Plus, you will be so close to hiking, skiing, and the amazing Oregon coast is a mere 1.5 hours away.

I joined a moms group as soon as we moved up there and it turned out to be my savior. anon

Husband's job might be moving to Portland

May 2008

My husband's job may be transferring us to the Portland, Oregon area. I've never been and don't know much about it. Does anybody know the area? Main similarities or differences between bay area and there? Public school system, shopping, Mommy's groups? Pros and cons welcome. Thanks a bunch. jen

Portland, Oregon, is a wonderful city. My daughter has been going to college there for 3 years and we have visited frequently. It is both physically and philosophically ''green'', has less crime than one might expect from a city of its size, has nice people, good cultural activities; and is very much like the Bay Area as far as its culture is concerned. Cost of living is lower than in California, and there is no sales tax!

The only downside is the fact that Portland is a bit grey and rainy in the winter (not as much as Seattle), and the climate is a little cooler (occasional snow).

Portland was recently cited as one of the ''most liveable cities in the USA''. Robert

I have lived in Portland my entire life, until we moved here 8 months ago for my husband's sounds like we are trading places!

I may be biased, but I love Portland. So much that this move has been very, very hard for me and my husband and I made a deal that we'd move back in a few years. Portland is similar to the Bay Area in that people are very progressive, good music/art scene, lots of great restaurants, close to an endless amount of outdoor activities, etc.

Some differences...

Portland has an urban feel, but a lot less traffic and crime, or at least it seems that way?

You will notice less pollution and litter...everyone always comments on how clean it is there.

While the Portland prides itself on its leftist politics, I will say it's less racially diverse...I didn't realize that till we moved here.

The seems like there is a bigger ''up and coming'' factor there. Or maybe a bigger middle class...I've noticed here it seems like there are ''rough'' neighborhoods and then expensive neighborhoods, with not many in-between.

Cost of probably goes without saying that the cost to buy a house here is so high that things will seem very cheap there. Although, from what I hear, the cost of living there isn't that cheap compared to many other cities. No sales tax though!

The many neighborhoods with so many great little shopping areas. From boutiques to thrift stores to can find it all. Pearl District, Downtown, NW area, NE Broadway street, Hawthorne, Division steet, Alberta Arts district...all FILLED with shops and restaurants.

The does rain a lot, or is at least cloudy. Altough the summers are beautiful and nothing compares to the colors you will see in the fall. The rain keeps it wonderfully green and lush, but it's something to consider if you love the sun.

The schools are the same as most places, it depends on where you live. I am a teacher, so of course dedicated to strengthening the public schools...and there are many wonderful public schools in Portland, but you have to do your research on that. Most schools in SW and NW are good (more expensive neighborhoods over there) but SE and NE also have some of the best schools as well. It just depends on where you are (try Alameda, Hawthorne and Abernethy neighborhoods.)

Sorry so long you can see, I'm missing my city!:) PDX native

Earlier Reviews

moving to Portland with kids

April 2007

We are planning a move up to Portland, and are looking for the areas/suburbs with the best school districts. This, along with safety, it our number one criteria. We are looking for a sense of community, with parks and great shopping and restaurants nearby. Any suggestions? What do you do with kids all through the long rainy season? Are there any great websites that describe the neighborhoods? What about a parents listserv like this one? Thanks! anon

Portland is terrific, and very diverse. LOTS for the kids, OMSI (I am not certain of the URL) has a lot of kids-oriented activities. What kind of housing do you like? Portland has the older neighborhoods, that have lots of young families these days, as well as the suburbs, with more modern (70's and later) housing. My sister lives in Portland now, she would be happy to be a local contact if you like. Colleen

Considering moving to Portland

Feb 2007

We're considering moving to Portland in the future. I haven't seen anything in the archives about the Alberta Arts District, and I'd like to know more. We want to be within walking distance of shops, restaurants, parks, theatres, etc. (like Rockridge, Solano Ave, Elmwood). We plan on going up for a visit this Spring; what should we see when we're there? Tired of Working so Hard

My family recently moved to Portland in November, near Alberta and 15th, and it's great. The area has gentrified incredibly quickly in the last 5 years, and is a weird mix of young artists, hippies, and 30-40-something white yuppie families, awkwardly blending in with the pre-existing African American community. Alberta (between MLK and 33rd) is lined with restaurants, cafes, boutiques, art galleries, and a few older businesses. The housing stock has skyrocketed in price, but there are lots of cheap and/or cruddy houses left in the less-attractive areas. There is not much in the way of apartment housing. There is still a fair amount of property crime in the area, and we see police cars on Alberta several times a week. The area is great for us (poor and carless), as there are two high-frequency buslines intersecting at Alberta and 15th, a nice organic co-op grocery store, several good restaurants, a swanky toystore, etc., all within short walking distance, and lots more great stuff in longer walking distance. There are some parks close by, and some fantastic community centers (not in walking distance, sadly). No movie theaters in walking distance, no bookstores. (But you can take the 8 bus downtown to Powells!) It is significantly less yuppie than the Bay Area neighborhoods you listed, and has no chainstores at all, not even a Peet's, probably due to the effort to keep it ''arts''-y. I expect it will become increasingly like Rockridge etc. pretty soon, so if that's what you want, move here now! The whole town is really kid-friendly and generally just plain friendly. Also full of seriously underemployed people like me, so I suggest you either be ready to spend some savings, or have a job lined up before moving. Good luck! Miss Oakland, But So Glad We Moved

We are considering a move back to Portland as well; we lived there for 2 years pre-kid and left about 8 years ago because of the job situation. Of course, that may not apply to you--we're both in the internet/wireless tech sector, but it's something to consider. I don't think the job market in Portland has ever gotten to the level that the Bay Area has, so that's one reason the housing is more affordable for those of us coming from here.

But, I digress--this isn't the Advice Given newsletter. Portland really is a great place, it's got a lot of the charm and character (maybe even more) of the neighborhoods in the Bay Area. SE Hawthorne is great, kind of a cross between the Haight and Piedmont Avenue, and I like to compare NW 23rd Ave with the Solano Ave area here, or maybe the Gourmet Ghetto. The Pearl District just north of downtown is a very gentrified warehouse area, sort of like the condos down by Jack London Square or Emeryville but maybe a little more upscale, and a slightly different character. Oh, and Sellwood is a great area too, in the SE quadrant by the river--it's kind of a family area with a walking shopping district, maybe sort of comparable to Rockridge or Elmwood.

Unfortunately I don't know much about the Alberta Arts District, or some of the other areas I've heard about but didn't frequent when I lived there. If we move back, we're targeting Hawthorne, which is quite long; I think the walkable area goes from something like SE 20th through SE 50th or so, and then you get to Mt. Tabor, which is very cool too. We're also thinking of Sellwood. But if you visit the Hawthorne area, check out the Bagdad Theater--it's a cross between the beautiful art-deco restoration of the Orinda Theater and the pizza/beer/movies idea of the Parkway. Every other row of seats has been removed and replaced with long tables; it's very cool, but it is 21 and over so hopefully you can find a sitter. The beer is from a local microbrewery, McMenamins, and they have made a name by restoring lots of old buildings to their former or in some cases all-new glory, and repurposing them as pubs and movie theaters. Not all are 21 and over so if you can't find a sitter you have some other options.

Unfortunately most of my experience there was with places you don't necessarily think of as kid-friendly, such as Saucebox downtown, but I actually take my daughter to a lot of the restaurants here that I used to frequent before so maybe it's OK. I think Saburo Sushi is great in Sellwood and is probably decent for kids but I remember it getting really really crowded. Try to go early, and/or on a weekday. Can't really think of a lot else right now, but definitely check out those neighborhoods, you'll be glad. --a once and possibly future PDXer

Neighborhood Recommendations for Portland OR?

Oct 2006

My family is moving to Portland, and we're looking for recommendations on neighborhoods for renting an apartment or a very cheap house. I checked the website, but would like more recent and specific (for hunting apts on craigslist) suggestions. Our dream neighborhood is (relatively) diverse, (reasonably) safe, and has a commercial area within walking distance (video rentals, coffee, bakery, pizza, bookstores, etc.). We live in the Grandlake area of Oakland now, and would love to live somewhere similar (but cheaper!) in Portland.
Buying a Raincoat Soon

We too are planning a move to Portland (hooray!) Here are some of the great resources I've found re: neighborhoods. The Insiders Guide to Portland actually has a pretty comprehensive section on relocating, including good descriptions of a number of neighborhoods (and our trips to Portland seem to have confirmed much of what we first read in the book). The website also has tons and tons of information. Once you've narrowed down your options a little bit, you can search specific addresses at which will give you crime stats and demographics by neighborhood. Finally, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement also maintains a website that helps give you an idea of what's going on in specific neighborhoods: is also a fun site that describes some of the ''hip'' shopping areas (with some photos), announces events, etc. Best of luck. In our experience, there are so many great neighborhoods in Portland, it's kind of hard to choose!
Portland bound

June 2006

My family is planning on moving to Portland, OR and I was wondering if anyone had recommendations for both moms' and dads' playgroups, good day care centers that accept infants, pediatricians, etc. Nikki

Hi Nikki, I grew up in Portland but have been in the Bay Area for many years. A friend from the ''old days'' is really into the parenting scene in the area & I know she or her website would have some good info for you. Check out (her contact info is on the site). Good luck to you & your family, it's a great place to live! Dawn

Feb 2005

My husband and I are considering a move to Portland, OR. We are a one income family living in our own home in Berkeley. We have a toddler and are talking about trying for #2. I think 2 kids in Berkeley will be almost impossible on one income, so that's why a move may happen in the next few years I'm disabled, so me finding work out of the home isn't really practical. I'm thinking Portland may work for us. Does anyone here know of websites or books that would be helpful in figuring out what a good area of Portland is? How are the public schools? I cannot drive, so I know the public transit there is pretty great. I don't see any other way that we are going to stay in Berkeley. Does anyone have stories of how they have monaged to keep their family in Berkeley on one income, short of living off of beans and rice and borrowing against our home? Any advice would be apprecited, thank you! anon

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Aug 2004

I've read the previous advice regarding moving from the Bay Area to Portland, but I'm looking for more....

We've realized that there's really nowhere in our beloved Bay Area where we can afford to buy a house. We stumbled upon Portland quite by accident on the internet looking for property listings and were simply ASTOUNDED at the price difference. I've never even been there but became intrigued. We've booked a 4 day weekend for Labor Day to go take a look around and see if it's where we're supposed to go. We've already contacted a realtor, husband is polishing the resume, and I'm trying to keep the trip a secret from my parents for right now. (Certainly not a conversation I want to have with them unless I have to!)

About us: we have a 14 month old and hoping to add to that in the near future. I'm working part time right now simply because I have to, and even then we're just scraping by. Tired of renting an apartment, want more kids, want to stay home. We could get 3 times the house in Portland than we could afford down here. School districts seem exceptional....I'm trying to find the bad part, other than the weather (and distance from family).

Any advice to maximize our short visit? It will be a whirlwind for sure. Any neighborhoods to avoid, be sure not to miss? Anywhere we can be sure to visit to get a vague feel for what life with kids in Portland is like? What about trip- specific advice....we're flying on Alaskan Air. Do I need to bring a birth certificate for a then 16 month old? We did not buy him a seat, he'll ride on our laps. It will be his first flight (yikes!) but I can pick up the air flight specific advice online.

What about any Bay Area transplants? What do you miss about Portland or vice versa? It's a big decision which will seem like it's coming out of left field to the grandparents and break their hearts so I want to make sure it's the right decision before we bring it up.

Thanks, **I don't wanna leave!**

I have a good friend who has been trying to move to Portland for about two years now. Here is the problem up there: the job market. My friend is a highly skilled manager in the health care industry and has had no luck. Whatever you do get the job first beofre the move. Best of luck to you! Anon

Portland is a small, progressive, pretty city with very bad weather. Our family moved there in 1997 in search of a calmer life where we could work less and enjoy a larger home in a pleasant neighborhood. After three years there, my partner and I decided to return to the Bay Area, despite the fact that real estate prices had almost doubled in the meantime, necessitating that we both work FT again. Having grown up in California where one can enjoy the outdoors almost any day of the year, I found the weather profoundly depressing. The rain is bad, but what is worse is that even when it's not raining, the skies remain a cloudy gray for about 9-10 months of the year. Kids play indoors for months on end. I also found that I missed the phenomenally rich cultural life of the Bay Area much more than I thought I would. And, I realized my kids were really missing out on the connection with their grammy, who lives in Monterey and did not visit as much as I had hoped.

So, it didn't work for us. There are certainly a lot of good things there, and we left many friends who are very happy there. There is good family skiing within two hours of the city, and the Gorge area is great for hiking. The people we met were warm and friendly. During the rare sunny months, the city practically explodes with free outdoor cultural events (e.g. the city ballet company holds its summer rehearsals in the park, and the symphony plays programs in neighborhood parks every week.) The schools are pretty good, but you should know that Oregon cut the state school budget quite severely in the last two years, and Portland had to pass a city tax to make up the large funding shortfall. Currently, there is a measure pending that would repeal that school tax, and I do not know whether it is likely to pass.

Good luck on your decision. alison

My parents live in Portland so we just returned from a fun, sunny week there. Some random advice: There is a fountain specifically designed for young kids to play in at Jamieson Square in the Pearl District (10th St.?) which is within walking distance of downtown. Definitely worth a stop. The Hawthorne area is a funky-ish neighborhood that is on the east side of the river, lots of cafes and feels like Berkeley. The Zoo and Children's Museum are right next to each other and our kids love them both. We have friends from SF who moved to Southeast Portland and they love it. We also have friends who live in Portland but are in the Beaverton school district and the elementary schools seem great.

Peanut Butter & Ellie's is a restaurant specifically designed for the under 10 set. 1325 NE Fremont St, 282-1783.

Portland is really kid friendly, easy to get around, not so hectic as the Bay Area. But there is the weather...

Right now Portland is beautiful so it isn't exactly fair to judge what it would be like to live there ... my advice would be to go for a long weekend in the winter or early spring when the cloud cover never leaves. It isn't really the rain that gets people, its the absence of sun sightings for weeks at a time.

Have fun! Elizabeth

Greetings, I read your post about moving to portland with a sense of tremendous familiarity! I am a Bay Area native who moved to portland - for hte first time 13 years ago, then back to the east bay for 5 years, then back to the portland area 2 years ago, where we intend to stay. I would be happy to correspond with you about details, and i will be in the bay area visiting from the 28th of august through the 8th of sept, if you would like to talk on the phone before your visit.

We moved for much the same reasons, moved back to be near family (all of it in the bay area) when we had young kids, but moved away again despite the fact that it meant moving away from beloved family, exactly because of the quality of life/cost of living issues you mention. I absolutely love Portland, and it would be perfect if we also had our family and close friends here, but I am building a community of new friends as well, adn we keep our connections through visits, emails, and the phone, with bay area relationships.

Portland is a stupendous place to raise kids - very progressive and diverse, yet small, safe and extremely clean by bay area standards.

As far as schools, it depends what you are looking for, but Portland offers a wide array of special focus schools and charter schools, and the variety is growing.

if you tell me what type of neighborhood and what price range you are interested in, i can guide you toward some must-see areas.

In terms of activities, try to go to OMSI (the museum of science and industry) where they have a great baby/toddler room in addition to the whole museum. OMSI is right on a new 4 mile (i think) walking path that loops through downtown waterfront areas and over bridges to the east side and back again to the west side.

If hte weather is nice (and the reputation is worse than reality!) go to Grant Park - there are statues of ramona and henry from ramona the pest books, since the books take place in NE portland! there is a wading pool (like many parks in portland) and a fountain too. A really amazing park is Washington Playground by the zoo, but with a 16 month old, it might be a bit chaotic . ..

the chinese garden downtown is really nice to walk through. What you should see really depends on what you like - outdoors/indoors, upscale/funky? Portland has it all! Give me a call if you want more input! Lyla

We made the (gradual) move in 2001-2002. I came up to Oregon while wife and child stayed in Oakland to sell the house, etc.

The two things off the bat:

-House prices are indeed lower than the bay. We sold our 2 bedroom in Rockridge for over $500,000 and bought a 3 bedroom in a very nice neighborhood (near the zoo) with GREAT schools for half that.

-Getting a job here really sucks. Unemployment is pretty high and a lot of industries and companies are leaving the city, county and even state. It is very tough. I would recommend you have a job lined up first, but a lot of employers will not even touch an out-of-state resume.

Neighborhoods to see: we are in Bridlemile and love it but also see Irvington and Hawthorne and everything in between. Ones to avoid: Beaverton and Hillsboro (traffic is a nightmare on the freeway) and North Portland (like West Oakland or Potrero Hill that no one wanted to visit but with gentrification [read: everyone moving from Cali] is getting nicer).

After our daughter was born, we realized that Portland was a better place to raise a family. We moved when she was 6 months. I grew up in N. Cali and I do not think I will ever go back. Portland is nice and the people are great. It helps that my wife's family is fairly local, though. As for your parents, my folks visit a LOT! It is a short, cheap flight and the drive is pretty. They love it.

We really miss the bay area restaurants but with a child, we probably would not go out even if we lived in the bay area. In Oregon, there is so much natural things to do. We head to the coast or central Oregon a LOT. Two hours to Bend is very different than 2 hours to Tahoe. happy

Hi, We just returned from a 10-day ''scouting'' trip to Portland, for the very same reasons you mentioned. We loved it! (As well as the surrounding areas, e.g., wine country, beach). We were able to hook up with a couple of friends-of-friends, which made a big difference for us in getting the real low-down. Would be happy to chat with you before your trip if that would be helpful. Lorelei

Your post on Portland made us curious, so we started researching -- the search led us to Austin instead. However, we found a really nice realtor group who were extremely helpful. Phyllis Ghazi / Jan Groff RE/MAX Signature Properties 2717 NE Broadway, Portland 97232 Office: (503) 282-4000 ext. 119 Toll free: 1-866-454-1445 ext. 119 Cell: (503) 421-2407
They asked good questions and had a lot of pointers and sent a neighborhood info pack via email that I would be glad to forward to you or anyone else who would be interested.

July 2004

Hello! Our family is moving to Portland, OR in a few months and I haven't able to find any network like this one up there. Any recommondations? Shannon

You could start one. It might be easiest to use something like for infrastructure. David

May 2004

We're moving up to Portland next month and I would love advice on resources for toddlers, such as playgroups (like the one at Epworth Church), listserves like this one, indoor rec centers, etc. (I looked in the Berkeley Parents Network archives but none of the responses to prior questions included any specifics.) We have a 13-month-old and are moving to the Northeast part of town. Thanks! Portland-bound SAHM Amy

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2003 & Earlier

June 2003

Well, we're going to do it. We're moving from the beloved Bay Area to Portland (Lake Oswego) for quality of life issues - schools, cost of living, family enviroment, safety, etc. I would love to hear from anyone about their experiences in the Portland area and/or any recommendations on places that our family can experience a similar funkiness that we so love in Berkeley. Also, is there a resource as fabulous as this (Parents Network) up there? Thanks in advance for your thoughts. Siouxsie.

You're going to love Portland! My family lived there for several years while I was in college, and three of my siblings ended up there after college, though our parents had moved away. If you're looking for fun urban neighborhoods, Northwest Portland has lots of fun shopping and good restaurants, in a College-Avenue kind of way; Southeast Portland is a bit grittier, but has a hip feel, and lots of cool places. The area generally has lots of beauty and outdoor activities -- tons of open space even in Portland proper -- but you have to be prepared to get wet. Bite the bullet and get good rain gear, GoreTex or the like, so that you don't wait for the sun to do outside stuff. (I will say, though, that if you have toddlers you might want to sign up for an indoor gym/playgroup, as that age doesn't do too well in the rain but really needs physical activity. My sisters-in-law both had to get on waiting lists to join one of these places -- even though they're all over up there -- however, they said it was well worth the wait and the money to join.) One other thing: don't buy a house surrounded too closely by trees, because it can be REALLY dark when it's overcast or rainy, as it so often is. Pamela

My family moved to the portland area in july from the east bay, and I also lived in portland for 5 years, 5 years ago. I would be happy talk with you via email or phone if you like! Lake oswego is not the first place that comes to mind when looking for ''funkiness'', but you can drive to portland for funkiness! feel free to give me a call or send me an email! Lyla

Portland is great. I moved up here 9 years ago and I love it. I live in Lake Oswego and really enjoy the small town feeling of the city (local farmer's market, totally redeveloping downtown, lots of beautiful parks -- yet really close to downtown Portland).

However, Lake Oswego is not at all like Berkeley. It's very high- end due to good schools, the lake and housing prices (more similar to Los Altos or Los Gatos).

The funky parts of Portland are on the eastside, downtown and northwest -- Hawthorne area, Broadway/Irvington, NW 23rd, Pearl District. It's a great city -- good size as downtown is very easy to get to and attend events. Great for kids as it is very family centric here.

The downside coming from California is the weather -- you just have to adjust and either chose to do things and get wet or find lots of indoor things with the kids (OMSI, Children's museum, indoor pools, etc.). But the summers here are fantastic and I always make plans to leave Portland during other times of the year. Leah

May 2002

Hi -- we're considering moving to Portland, and I'm looking for some recommendations. Can anyone give me advice about childcare, neighborhoods, and general community resources? I have a new baby, so I'm particularly interested in resources for new parents, including best ways to find childcare. I've already reviewed the existing postings on Portland, and am also curious if anyone has an update on what the economy there is like these days. Also, is there ever any sunny weather there, or should I be prepared for endless rain and gray days? Thanks! Lisa

I lived in Seattle for 10 years and my cousin lives right out side of Portland. I moved to the Bay Area when pregnant, so I really can't speak to your childcare questions, but I can speak to the weather (Seattle and Portland have very similar weather patterns). Be prepared for long rainy gray winters/springs (and sometimes summers). The standard joke it summer doesn't officially start until after the 4th of July. The year I left Seattle it had rained for 3 consecutive months!! That being said, when the weather is nice (usually middle summer/fall), it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Very green, lots of mountians and tons of outdoors stuff to do. Portland has a great community feel to it and it close to a lot of stuff. The wine country there is also fantastic (my cousin has a winery in the Yamhill county area Amity Vineyards. There are lots of them around and some amazing wine). Lots of good beer and coffee too! In Portland there is a an amzaing bookstore- Powells and there is a fantastic science museum that has lots of hands on stuff for kids to do. Seattle is about a 3-4 hour drive and British Columbia is not too far away. So I think if as long as you can deal with getting wet and lots of gray during the winter, it is a pretty neat place.

Just doing a quick search on Yahoo here are a couple of websites you may want to look at: (Portland visitors association website) (city of portland website) (local paper) (has stuff about local wineries and other attractions)

August 2001

We're going to Portland for a week at the end of July to check the place out and see if we'd like to move there. Can anyone give us recommendations on either the move or the visit? We'd be interested in your opinion on what it would be like to raise a family in Portland, what the public schools are like, neighborhoods with good public schools, realtors, places to stay with a 3 year old, fun things to do, places to buy organic food. many thanks

we lived in portland for 6 years, and we intend to move back. i'd be happy to talk to anyone about it - its a wonderful city, imo. Lyla

My husband, almost3yearold daughter, and I just moved to the Portland area from Berkeley this past summer. So far we all love it up here! There are *lots* of family things to do, the housing is still much more affordable than they Bay Area (both apartments and homes), there are several good public school systems in the area, etc. To respond to the question about the economy up here right now... I think it's being hit like the rest of the country, but not more so (although maybe it's too soon to tell). I know of people who have been laid off (mostly from small companies, computer/internet and otherwise), but I know of even more people who have recently been hired by the big companies up here (like Intel and Nike). Affordability aside (although, admittedly, it was a big factor in our decision to move up here), I would still choose to to live in the Portland area (I live in Hillsboro, a suburb on the West side of the city). I tend to warm to new places slowly, yet I've felt integrated and a part of the community here, even thought I've only been here a few months. Reyna

I was born in Portland and lived there up until a few years ago. Indeed it is more affordable than the bay area, but it has some disadvantages too. It rains a lot! It can be cloudy for 3 months straight. Although jobs are more secure there, they are a bit harder to come by than here in the Bay Area (I mean any old job, different industries are different). There also isn't as much to do there. As a family it might not be a big deal. There are plenty of things to do for kids. The Portland Civic theater academy, the Art museum, theater groups, and many other organizations offer a wide variety of experiences for children, but if you're 20 something and like to go out, you won't be nearly as satisfied. The restaurant scene is pretty good. Katie