Portland Oregon has become a destination. It is a city on the map, and people are flocking to our grey northwest corridor. Most new acquaintances these days are recent transplants, and these newcomers are just the beginning of the influx. Although Portland seems to have struck the interest of many, the city scape is starting to lose its laid-back appeal.
Being an almost native Portlander, a transplant myself through a family move back in 1998, I feel that I know my cloudy home better than most. I also feel that I don’t fit in here as well as these northwest beginners. I realized almost immediately that people in Portland do not use umbrellas, they love the outdoors, and they truly love where they live. More recently though, I’ve discovered a new breed of north westerners that take themselves a little too seriously. A new preoccupation with being trendy hipsters, has led to a generation dedicate to maintaining their self-image in the most nonchalant way possible. Their presence has sparked new neighborhoods to pop up, and the gigantic influx of incomers has created a wave of growth that our city layout doesn’t support. As new apartment buildings are popping up on every corner, and the focus towards trendiness increases, our previously down to earth residents are falling off the bandwagon and gradually resenting the invasion of newcomers. Therefore, if you are considering a move to Portland, there are some additional factors that may diminish your intentions.
1. If You Come, So Will They
So you think you might like Portland? You’ve heard of the art scene, the laid back atmosphere, the accepting people. You think you can deal with the grey weather, and the drizzly days. You’re exited about Mount Hood and the hiking and recreation that you can enjoy there. You know Portland is not a huge city, and you might find a true sense of community here. The small neighborhoods that cater to your hip needs will also help you capture your inner trendy young person awareness. All these benefits you will find in Portland, but you will also be negatively impacting the city you think will meet all your needs. The streets become overcrowded, brunch lines that are already out of hand will become intolerable, you may intend to bike, but then it will rain, and you can’t hold your umbrella on a bike. You will love it here, and you will brag about your exciting new city to all your friends back home, and then just like you made your pilgrimage to the northwest, so will they. And the cycle continues.
Yes, it rains in Portland. Have you lived somewhere that rains more than Portland? Probably. It’s the type of rain we get here, that makes it so monotonous. It drizzles, for months. And months, and when summer finally comes, we complain about it being too hot. Portland is one of few places that have seen an improvement in weather because of global warming. Our summers have increased in temperature, and in length. This past summer, temperatures were warm starting in May and were high into October. The warming trend has created problems for our beloved winter activities at Mount Hood. The major ski areas on Mount Hood including, Meadows, Timberline, and Ski Bowl, all suffered during the past winter. As the trend continues, light snow fall becomes wetter and less desirable. Therefore, you may not find the recreation you desire here, maybe Bend is a better fit for you?
Portland population is increasing, and fast. “Portland's growth surged from 2013 to 2014, the Census Bureau said Wednesday, with the seven-county metropolitan area's population rising to an estimated 2.35 million. Portland's growth was 15th-fastest among the country's 50 largest metro areas.” (www.oregonmetro.gov/news/portland). People are flooding in, and our city isn’t prepared to accommodate the influx. This rush to Portland is causing congestion, overcrowding, and undermining what makes Portland so great. “Metro planners were estimating that Portland, Oregon will add 750,000 people to its metro area in the next 20 years.” (realestateagentpdx.com). The city is looking to expand its boundaries to accommodate the influx of newcomers, meanwhile the real estate is thriving.
4. Cost of Living
The more residence attempting to find homes in a city where real estate limited, is causing properties to become increasingly over priced. More and more apartment buildings are going up, yet it is still difficult to find a place to live. Almost everyone I know in the Portland area is unable to live alone, people of all ages are living with roommates either because of living cost, or availability. The housing costs have risen 12.7% in the last year alone, and continues to rise. Many people find refuge in the suburbs of Portland, which have a greater potential for expanding outward. Housing costs in surrounding areas are less than in the heart of the city, however those markets are also in demand, and are also rising in price. Major companies with Beaverton and Hillsboro suburbs include Nike and Intel, which are expanding creating more demand for real estate. Even though cost of living has increasing These trends will continue, as more people migrate to Portland, the more expensive it will become to live here.
5. Vancouver, Washington
Vancouver is the leech of Portland. Before moving to Portland, most people have never heard of Vancouver, Washington which is a major unintended suburb of Portland. This relatively large suburb is different from most, situated in a different state and plays by its own set of rules. The Columbia river divides Portland and Vancouver, therefore our city traffic becomes unbearable when it comes to rush hour. Vancouver residence that work in Portland cause the majority of our traffic during rush hour, avoiding I-5 North between the hours of 3pm to 7pm is greatly recommended, actually avoid all free ways. This may seem relatively normal in most cities, but Portland has not always suffered the traffic ridden streets and freeways that newcomers have brought and Vancouver relentlessly intensifies. Vancouver takes Oregonians jobs, yet escapes many of the state taxes that we are subject to. They live off of our economy, they work here, shop here (tax-free), yet come and go as they please. Vancouver creates traffic, excess pollution, wears down our roads, and pilfer our jobs. If you move to Portland, you will quickly despise our neighbors to the north and if Vancouver seems like your kind of place, please stay there.
Or lack thereof. Portlanders like to think that they are progressive, communal, and freethinking. Yet in a city that prides itself on being different, it remains relatively the same. Yes, there are more coffee shops, artisanal bakeries, microbrews, and gluten/dairy free vegan options for all, yet these are all targeting white hipsters who together relish in the fact that outsiders think they are keeping Portland weird. A surprisingly accurate evaluation of the city is exposed on the television show Portlandia. We like our local shops, we want a plethora of non-dairy options, we are serious about microbrews, what coffee we are drinking, and although we have a self-described diversity, we totally judge everyone that isn’t doing things the Portland way. I have began feeling less and less at home in the city I grew up in. Moreover, our diversity is seriously lacking. As the whitest city in America, 72.2% makes up the Caucasian population. We are home to lots and lots of young white people. Portland is where good intentions meet self-important people. Portlanders like to be thought of as unique, nonetheless the majority of these people are so similar that they fade into one culture, Portland culture.
Still Interested in Portland?
Overall, this low-key gem has become a haven for hipsters, and hipster wannabes. People love it here, but the incursion of newcomers have natives fleeing elsewhere. Every time I talk to a new resident, they mention their five friends who will soon follow in their footsteps. So if you think you are the lone cool person moving to Portland, get ready to get real cozy with your five new roommates in an overpriced neighborhood. Yes, Portland is cool, but I’m sure there are plenty of other cool destinations that will fit your needs, and keep you away from our drizzly, but cozy corner. Relatively small in comparison to other major cities, it offers distinct features which will fade as the population grows past city capacity.