Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to Pick a Great Neighborhood

I've been getting mail from folks looking to move to Portland and trying to pick a neighborhood, and with so many great neighborhoods to pick from, it's tough to recommend just one.

But I recently found a tool that makes it a whole lot easier. www.walkscore.com allows you to see what stores, schools, bars, restaurants and parks are within walking distance of any location.

Here's an example in the Alberta Arts district: http://www.walkscore.com/get-score.php?street=ne+going+and+29th%2C+portland+or&go=Go

Check it out, it's a great tool. And if anyone has any suggestions for Mark, please feel free to add a comment. They're coming to visit tomorrow to take another look around.

"Maybe you could help us with a new route. We are a 30ish couple that enjoy both the outdoors and urban environs. We would like to have a good grocery store and a good pub(I'm a homebrewer). Big bonus if they were in walking distance. Proximity to bike trails and public trans is vital to us at first since we're selling one vehicle to cut costs. We really enjoy eating out although we don't mind driving a little to do so. We love Farmer's Markets. We love the Portland vibe. Any suggestions for two days of exploration? Thanks in advance."

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ick. Just seeing the word "Alberta Arts" in print makes my skin crawl.

Could this city be any more pretentious?

PDXOutsider said...

so what would you call it? it's officially concordia, but being new to the city that' what we know it as.

Anonymous said...

Cool! Our condo gets a 95/100. Thanks for the link.

Jamie said...

I love walkscore, and am glad you are recommending it! When using this, though, make sure you use the specific address you are interested in.

Walkability of a location varies greatly between even just a few blocks. Especially around St. John's , where there is a concentrated walking center, and lots of wider streets around it.

Anonymous said...

I got a 66 out of 100. In my opinion over rated. I love off Barrows / Scholls Ferry Rd. The only places to walk are Barrows Rd and Scholls Ferry Rds. It would probably be more fun walking down Highway 217 or 205. We live in a gully so everywhere we can walk is uphill. Then on the way back you got downhill but traffic speeding uphill against you, so the wind resistance from traffic actually makes it equal to walking on a flat surface. My rating is 10/100. But the condos in this area (there are thousands, all the exact same) are HOT. That's what a Realtor told me. He said buy it now while they're available.

PDXOutsider said...

as with most tools, it's not perfect. but it's a good start, trying to figure out what's close to a house or location you're looking for.

and of course a Realtor told you that those cookie-cutter condos are "hot", it's always a great time to buy when you're 100% paid on commission, just like a used car salesperson!

skeptictank said...

We love the Portland vibe. Any suggestions for two days of exploration? Thanks in advance."

Not sure where these Yuppies are coming from, but maybe they should also look into the "vibe" in other areas of the country? Austin is said to have a pretty good "vibe". Santa Fe has a nice "vibe". It's even been suggested that Bloomington, Indiana has a nice college town "vibe" at a much lower cost than the Portland "vibe" - there was a story a while back about a Portland 'zine that moved to Bloomington to escape the high real estate prices in PDX.

After looking at what it costs to get into some of the more "walkable" neighborhoods last year (I really wanted to move to a more walkable neighborhood) I decided that I wouldn't be able to afford any of the wonderful things I would be able to walk to. I'd have to put too much into mortgage payments/insurance and prop tax. Decided to stay put so I can still afford to visit micro-brews & trendy restaurants while still being able to save a good chunk of change for retirement.

AllanF said...

As Gov. Tom McCall said, "Please come and visit Oregon, but don't stay."

Anonymous said...

Ick. Just seeing the word "Alberta Arts" in print makes my skin crawl.

Could this city be any more pretentious?


Fantastic towns outside Portland await you. Be sure to take a pair of blue overalls.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where these Yuppies are coming from, but maybe they should also look into the "vibe" in other areas of the country? Austin is said to have a pretty good "vibe". Santa Fe has a nice "vibe". It's even been suggested that Bloomington, Indiana has a nice college town "vibe" at a much lower cost than the Portland "vibe"

Those towns, with the exception of Santa Fe, which has a nice little cultural area, are hot dry cultureless shitholes.

there was a story a while back about a Portland 'zine that moved to Bloomington to escape the high real estate prices in PDX.

..the guy had moved here in 1999 from Cleveland. Gee..

Anonymous said...

I would check out TriMet's webpage for bus schedules/frequency/etc. Plus, Google maps has a nice feature for locating cafes, markets, etc from a specific local.

skeptictank said...

Those towns, with the exception of Santa Fe, which has a nice little cultural area, are hot dry cultureless shitholes.

Hot and dry, maybe, but Austin is far from being "cultureless". The music scene is perhaps even more active there than it is here. They still have SXSW there, for example (whatever happended to NXNW?).

...then again, some people prefer hot & dry to cold & wet. I'd certainly take Portland's summers over Austin's.... though the winters are probably a good bit nicer down there.

Anonymous said...

in my opinion ne 82nd is good b/c lots of ladies of the night. we are going to buy there so i can get a sneak-a-poke late at night after the family goes to sleep

Anonymous said...

skeptictank, this is what happened to NXNW:

http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/Content?oid=23927&category=22153

To sum up: Good riddance.

By the way, did you know Portland has about a dozen film festivals a year, including the big one (Portland International) that's wrapping this weekend that has been going on for three weeks?

The answer to your question re: SXSW is we didn't need it.

The winter thing.. well, I've always laughed, and heartily, at Portlanders complaining about the winters here. They ought to go freeze in the winters of the Midwest, South, and Northeast and boil in a humid August. Northwest weather is nothing less than extremely mild.

By the way, the air quality in those desert towns? Disgusting.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet those condos off Scholls are hot. I'm gonna go get me a few !

Anonymous said...

Oh, I just love the trendy put down, "make sure and bring blue overalls".

My, you trendy Portlanders sure can be scathingly pithy. I could hardly get my head up off the pillows after that verbal thrashing!

I'll bet you're one of those eastsiders with the disheveled affectations, too short pants, thick rimmed glasses and studied attempts at being oh-so-hip. Perhaps even a porkpie hat to don on outings to Stumptown.

Blech.

Anonymous said...

2 for 1 special no Scholls Ferry Condos! If you get 2 for 4 they throw in a used Hyundai too (gas not included) HOT!!!!

skeptictank said...

By the way, did you know Portland has about a dozen film festivals a year, including the big one (Portland International)

Yeah, and little Park City Utah has the Sundance film festival.

You think Portland is the only place that has film festivals?

Sure, I generally like Portland, but my point was that it's not the only "trendy" or "cool" place in the US. There are alternatives out there if you can't pay the admission price (high real estate prices) and even if you can afford to but want your money to go farther.

BTW: "trendy hipness" has a way of evaporating pretty quickly after the next trendy hip place gets identified... It's not a sustainable attribute. Actually, I'm looking forward to the day when Portland isn't considered a trendy-hip mecca anymore. Then people will get back to living instead of focusing on how they look while they're pretending to live.

PDXOutsider said...

boys and girls, if we're going to get in pissing contests over who's cooler (it's me by the way), what 'hoods are better, etc... can we at least have the cahones to pick a name?

i can't track it, and i can't enforce it, but i find it rather pathetic that the people that bark the loudest do it anonymously.

kirk coburn said...

Banks is the best neighborhood in the portland metro area. Why -- because they have a liquor store that opens at 7 am. no other liquor store in portland can touch that.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I just love the trendy put down, "make sure and bring blue overalls".

My, you trendy Portlanders sure can be scathingly pithy. I could hardly get my head up off the pillows after that verbal thrashing!

I'll bet you're one of those eastsiders with the disheveled affectations, too short pants, thick rimmed glasses and studied attempts at being oh-so-hip. Perhaps even a porkpie hat to don on outings to Stumptown.


Actually, I'm from one of those towns. They don't have any parts of town nicknamed "Arts." Just pointing out your alternatives if you don't like it.

Anonymous said...

And yes, as a native, I can say with confidence - bring your overalls. Another popular look is "methhead."

pdxinsider said...

pdxoutsider -

What you do is go to Settings, then Comments, and select one of the options besides allow anonymous comments - fixes it right up! :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and little Park City Utah has the Sundance film festival.

You think Portland is the only place that has film festivals?


This is what's known as a "strawman" in logic. You attempt to make it look as if I was stating that Portland is the only place with film festivals and argued that point. Not at all the case, and I don't appreciate the insinuation of stupidity on my part. I showed you what happened to NXNW, and you showed no recognition. It was a) unneeded and b) a sham.

Other cities have bigger film festivals, but Portland is in fact a cultural mecca for filmmakers.

I've lived in many places in the U.S. and spent time in many others. Austin is a place I've spent time in. You recall the film "Office Space" from 1999? Remember the dull soullessness of the surroundings? That was Austin.

Austin and other cities of the central part of our country will always have lower real estate prices than the cities in green, mountainous coastal areas. It's easy and fast to build new homes in the central flat plain areas rather than fix the old ones up, resulting in sprawl. New business parks replace the old offices, and new cookie cutter restaurants surround them.

Even on humble, lower class 82nd Ave here you have hundred year old homes and restaurants that have history and have been established for decades. Great prices when you step out of the trendy parts of town, too.

Anonymous said...

Adding a name like Smokey Joe doesn't change the substance of a post on a blog.

Why add restrictions? Pithy anonymous posts add spice.

Anonymous said...

BTW: "trendy hipness" has a way of evaporating pretty quickly after the next trendy hip place gets identified... It's not a sustainable attribute. Actually, I'm looking forward to the day when Portland isn't considered a trendy-hip mecca anymore. Then people will get back to living instead of focusing on how they look while they're pretending to live.

As a Seattle native I can promise you it never goes away. It only gets worse, because then you don't have the underground arts culture; you are left with the yuppies.

Portland is what now what Seattle was in the 1990s. They were both blue collar working class towns in the decades prior to that. Let's hope Portland doesn't go the same way Seattle did.

PDXOutsider said...

"Adding a name like Smokey Joe doesn't change the substance of a post on a blog.

Why add restrictions? Pithy anonymous posts add spice."

i'm not trying to add restrictions, i'm trying to avoid that. what i'd like is to be able to tell people apart.

i'm all for pithy comments, i'd just like to see who really has pithy comments, vs. those who are just bitter and rude.

skeptictank said...

Other cities have bigger film festivals, but Portland is in fact a cultural mecca for filmmakers.

Anonymous, my point is that there are Portland cheerleaders who want to say that Portland is the very best place to live in the US. The implication is that everybody either wants to move here or should want to move here. Now, Portland is a pretty nice place to live in my opinion, but I don't think it's for everyone. Not everybody is an artist or filmmaker, for example, so the fact that filmmakers have been drawn to Portland doesn't appeal to a lot of people (especially if it means you have to pay a premium to live here).

What are other alternatives to the dusty SW? How about Vancouver BC - more culturally diverse than Portland, lots of walkable neighborhoods and they have universal healthcare.

Anonymous said...

Vancouver BC is beautiful. It's also in no way comparable to Portland except weatherwise, being a real city; it has the price tags to match.

Anonymous said...

What many newcomers may not realize is that Portland is a city with working class roots that have been burnished a bit in recent years by folks who have promoted the city as artsy, loaded with shabby chic, etc.

Portland, by the standards of other metropolitan areas is like a small town. It's got it's old timers who resent the newcomers who act as if they've invented the place. It has its traditions which are largely overlooked by newcomers.

When I arrived here, I was suprised to discover that the "charming" neighborhoods actually were pretty dingy. Hawthorne, Clinton, etc. have character because it's apparent that these were once real working neighborhoods inhabited by people who worked for a living and didn't have a lot left over.

From my perspective, the charm didn't derive from the bookstores, restaurants, or vinyl shops, but from the fact that the rents in these shops was still low enough to attract small local merchants. They were low because it wasn't chic. Too bad these neighborhoods can't sustain all the businesses that make a community vital, e.g., hardware stores, small grocers, and other retail businesses.

It's ironic that Portland is being flooded with well-educated young people from privileged backgrounds, who regard the shabby as chic, without really honoring the fact that shabby wasn't a lifestyle choice for the people who started those neighborhoods 60 and 100 years ago. They just couldn't afford better.

Even though I came from somewhere else, I cringe when I hear people looking for a cool place. It ain't in the restaurants and bookshops, it's in the history. If you want cool, go to Santa Cruz.

Anonymous said...

What many newcomers may not realize is that Portland is a city with working class roots that have been burnished a bit in recent years by folks who have promoted the city as artsy, loaded with shabby chic, etc.

Portland, by the standards of other metropolitan areas is like a small town. It's got it's old timers who resent the newcomers who act as if they've invented the place. It has its traditions which are largely overlooked by newcomers.


Which makes Portland absolutely and completely no different from any other city that became trendy.

Anonymous said...

Mark me down as bitter and rude.

PDXOutsider said...

LOL, marked!

Sac RE Agent said...

Damn, I just punched in my address and got a 34 for a score. Guess that makes me a Portland Outsider too!

PDXOutsider said...

are you in sacramento? unless you're in the old part of town that doesn't surprise me, most cities these days' are designed around the car.

skeptictank said...

As far as Portland area neighborhoods go, I think we need to think of what's next, not what's now. Sure inner SE has a lot of great neighborhoods, but they're out of reach for most people now. So that's put pressure on other areas to gentrify like FoPo (PoFo?) which now seems to be up and coming.

But this whole idea that people should move "close in" may be misguided. Certainly we've seen a major move in Portland towards living "close in" while the 'burbs are becoming blighted (been to Gresham lately?). Now I agree that suburbia as we know it is probably doomed due to peak oil, however I'm beginning to have my doubts about the Portland "close in" mania. Why? Because many of the people I know that have moved "close in" don't work anywhere near where they live. Intel workers moving to the Pearl, for example: how is that sustainable?

I think we need to realize that the jobs aren't all "close in" and try to encourage many of our suburban areas to urbanize. That said, if you work at Intel, why not look at central Hillsboro near the old courthouse? Close to light rail, lots of older homes with character and even some good restaurants (Syun in the basement of the old library building is THE best Japanese restaurant in the metro area and it just happens to be in Hillsboro which most people find hard to believe).

Then there's Nike - they employ a lot of folks, but they're not close in either.

Perhaps we need to change zoning laws so that it's easier to mix housing and business buildings? Make it easier for people in the current 'burbs to be able to walk to stores and restaurants.

We're not going to be able to house everyone in "close in" neighborhoods and we probably shouldn't even try to do that. Instead, perhaps we need to aim for more decentralized urban areas kind of like the way Vancouver BC has done. The most sustainable route to take is to try to make all of the neighborhoods even in the 'burbs more walkable. We can't eliminate the 'burbs because they contain too much housing. So lets transform the 'burbs into something that looks more like the "close in" neighborhoods. More little street cars that wind all over the place. More light rail spurs. Tax incentives for creating walkability.

Perplexed said...

Skeptictank many of the employers you mentioned are located close to light rail and have corporate buses that connect with the nearest stop.

It costs a lot of money to provide employee parking, their facilities managers are cheerleaders for transit.

Anonymous said...

It's getting to the point where the only jobs close-in are over-rated overpriced restaurants. Their workers are probably not buying the real estate.

Anonymous said...

Skeptictank states:
Not sure where these Yuppies are coming from, but maybe they should also look into the "vibe" in other areas of the country?
And in the same post:
Decided to stay put so I can still afford to visit micro-brews & trendy restaurants while still being able to save a good chunk of change for retirement.

Maybe you should define “yuppie”. Because if that doesn’t sound like yuppie talk, I don’t know what does. And for the record, I could care less if my neighbor is a yuppie, hippie, hipster, or normal joe (my category) as long as you’re a decent human being.
I can appreciate the resounding concern over the gentrification of good neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the rich usually do what the rich are going to do. The nice thing about America is that we the people have the ability to stand up for what we believe in. Maybe if you and those like you were more involved in building the strength of your community rather than your image, you could protect your neighborhoods. Or at least participate in the democratic process to promote reasonable change. You don’t live in a vacuum, ya know? The problem with most scenesters and skeptics in my experience is that they’d rather sit on their ass in coffeshops and bars flaunting their coolness, bitching about everything than actually doing something productive. I know, I was one of those kids. Every great city has those types so I see it as an indicator of Portland's livability. I like a lot of the same things that the "cool kids" like but outgrew the pissy attitude. Life's too short.
But we are coming, whether you like it or not. And we will probably appreciate your city more than you do because we’re coming from the wastelands of the Midwest, far from the yuppie heaven you must have imagined when you so blithely posted your response. And we will be productive members of your society, helping autistic children and designing building mechanicals for a sustainable future. (I decided to stop bitching and do something.) And hopefully, you and yours will come to accept us, maybe even befriend us, because we’re good people. If not, well, we’ll make friends with all the other transplants.

Anonymous said...

8:21: That was beautiful. *sniff*

Should be the "new Portlander manifesto."

Anonymous said...

But we are coming, whether you like it or not.

Uh oh. Here they come. Where's Tom McCall when we need him...

skeptictank said...

Maybe you should define “yuppie”. Because if that doesn’t sound like yuppie talk, I don’t know what does.

You're not gonna visit Microbrews and trendy restaurants? Why are you coming then? ;-)

Seriously though, I enjoy a nice microbrew now and then. And an appetizer at a "trendy restaurant". But I drive there in my 20 year old Honda - not exactly a yuppie-mobile. And I do save for retirement because I'm not as young as I used to be (I'm no yuppy, I must by a MASubPy - Middle Aged suburban professional). My point though, was that I occassionally like to enjoy some of the finer things of life that I don't think I would be able to afford if I lived in inner SE - so I drive there occassionally instead. In my 20 year old car that was paid off about 18 years ago wearing clothes I bought at the Goodwill bins.

skeptictank said...

Skeptictank many of the employers you mentioned are located close to light rail and have corporate buses that connect with the nearest stop.

It costs a lot of money to provide employee parking, their facilities managers are cheerleaders for transit.


You're right, perplexed, however I know that a lot of these folks drive instead of taking the MAX - they consider the MAX to crowded or slow or whatever.

...and have you ever seen the parking lots at some of these Intel facilities? It can take you 10 minutes to get from your car to your cube - they certainly didn't skimp on the parking.

skeptictank said...

It's getting to the point where the only jobs close-in are over-rated overpriced restaurants. Their workers are probably not buying the real estate.

That's kind of the impression I get too. Oh I'm sure many of them live "close in" but I suspect they're renting a house and splitting the rent several ways (I have friends that live in communal houses close-in. They pack as many people into a place as possible so that the rent is cheap. More power to them. ).