With a metro population just over 2.4 million, Portland is a much smaller city than other neighborhood-centric cities like New York or San Francisco. The rapid population growth in Portland over the past few years has facilitated the development of dozens of “new” walkable neighborhoods complete with food carts and tea houses, wine bars and micro-breweries, coffee and tattoo shops, grocery stores, cafes, dispensaries, boutiques, parks, recreation trails, and vibrant neighborhood associations.
Portland’s neighborhoods, like her citizens, have widely varying personalities which make them unique and different from one another. The population-dense, apartment-filled Northwest Alphabet District featuring (Trendy-third) 23rd and 21st Avenues offers packed sidewalks, high-end local boutiques, national chain stores like Williams Sonoma, delightful dining options including our beloved Salt and Straw ice cream and Blue Star donuts, and easy walking access to Forest Park, but no live music and difficult parking.
On the other side of town, the Laurelhurst neighborhood features grand entrance gates that mark the neighborhood’s boundaries, large historic homes, one of the city’s most enjoyed urban parks, a second-run movie theater, eclectic shops and cafes, and the longest-running local music venue in the city at the neighborhood hang-out: The Laurelthirst Public House.
Each neighborhood in the city has a unique character, and that’s also true of the surrounding suburbs. The Portland Metro does not cover a huge geographic area, thanks to our rigid urban growth boundary, and it can be reasonably explored over the period of a week.
It’s important to explore and target a specific neighborhood or two that suit your lifestyle when you’re planning to buy a home here. Price or size of the home you need may limit your choices, so either ask a real estate professional for some guidance or do your homework before you start identifying homes to tour. One of the worst things you can do is to fall in love with a home that’s located in a neighborhood you won’t be happy living in. I see this happen more often than you might think.
If you’re considering a move to Portland or changing locations within our metro area, here are some of my favorite resources to get you started.
Neighborhood Overview & Relocation Guides
- Great city of Portland neighborhood overview https://www.travelportland.com/things-to-do/neighborhoods-regions/
- Detailed personal neighborhood guide by Portland photographer Andrew Hall http://www.portlandbridges.com/portland-neighborhoods/
- Surburbs and surrounding neighborhoods http://www.pdxrelocate.com/
Neighborhood Walkability Info
City demographics, weather, crime, etc.
There’s no real substitute for getting your feet on the ground and snuggling up to your future neighborhood in person, so when you have a list of likely matches, go enjoy a run, have a cup of coffee or splurge for a night on the town, and get to know them up close. After you know which neighborhood has the quirks and oddities that turn you on, go there to find a house to fall in love with.