House Hunting

Searching for a house in the “right” neighborhood in a city you don’t know can be daunting.   Schools were a huge factor for us but I’ll get into the schools in a future post. Commute time was an area we had identified to improve our quality of life so I didn’t want to be anywhere farther than a 20 minute commute. Fortunately, I learned that 20 minutes is the quoted commute time for pretty much anything in Portland.

So, we drove the 4 quadrants of Portland in search of what neighborhood and home felt like a good fit.

Once the cat was out of the bag about the move, it turned out many of my friends had friends who lived in Portland. So, I asked to be put in touch with anyone who was either still here or had lived here in the last few years.   Urban neighborhoods change fast and I needed current intel. I also discovered I had two former co-workers living here and both have children-thank you Linked In!

This has become one of my favorite maps and has some good neighborhood data.

I also used the descriptions in Newcomers Handbook for Portland to help me get a feel for neighborhoods ahead of getting here to drive them and look at houses.

When it came to looking at houses here is what surprised this Midwestern girl:

  •  They count the basement square footage. I’m not talking finished, walk out basement. We looked at multiple houses with unfinished basements, no egress windows that had included the square footage in their listing. This made the rest of the house much smaller than I expected.
  •  Many houses don’t have a basement at all.
  •  Many houses do not have a garage
  •  It is not uncommon for Portlanders to use their garage for the kayak, paddle board, bikes, etc. Garages are not necessarily a car thing.
  •  The shared driveway-in some of the SE/NE neighborhoods there is one driveway that leads to both your garage and your next-door neighbor’s.
  •  Some of the “backyards,” especially on the SW side, were the side of a mountain. This provides beautiful dinner party views of the city. It also scared the hell out of this mother of young children.