Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Portland, OR

We are considering very seriously to move to Portland, OR and we could not find any information on this site. We appreciate any comments on Portland, OR for 1) school (middle), 2) house affordablility, and 3) manufacturing jobs.

Thank you for your great help!

Sent by Kerry from Pittsburgh, PA

4 Responses to “Portland, OR”

  1. transplant Says:

    My reply may be irrelevant, considering that I stumbled on your comment here a month after your post, but as someone who has lived in Portland for nearly two decades, I’d be wary of making the move. In fact, have been thinking of visiting Pittsburgh lately, because job prospects here are so dire.

    Flat out, it’s very difficult to find meaningful work here, and it’s tougher if you have bankable skills and experience. So many folks have been moving here for so many years out of love for this city, but they move here without work, and often end up in low-wage service jobs — if they are lucky. Portland is overflowing with smart, over-educated, under-utilized people, which is a shame.

    Manufacturing has been the traditional economic leader, but so much of this area’s manufacturing is in high tech, which seems to suffer more feast or famine swings than most.

    I do love this town, but it probably ain’t what someone coming from Pittsburgh would call affordable. I’m from the Atlanta area originally, and even 20 years ago, this place was expensive in comparison.

    To sum it up, Portland’s often-touted quality of life here is pretty hard to come by unless you have a decent job.

  2. Transplant to Portland Says:

    I would agree with the above post. One of the biggest criticisms I have is that the “creative class” (of which I am one, I suppose) relies heavily on manufacturing / heavy industry in order to ply it creative trades. Whether that is advertising, marketing, art, you name it – the creative class needs some OTHER sector to generate the value on which the creative class feeds.

    Portland has been acquiring a ton of bright people, but w/out some core industries, the creative class is lost. I accepted a 50% pay cut to come to Portland and then w/in 18 months moved back to the Bay Area b/c the local job I had was too dependent on the local economy. 1 year later, I was able to secure another job back in Portland at my Silicon Valley salary – but that was only b/c I was able to find a firm whose customers were not drawn from the local market and whose investors were Bay Area investors. W/out that, I’d never have been able to earn the 6 figure salary that I have here.

    Advice to you:

    come here w/ a job in hand.

    Stay nimble, do not buy a home.

    Network like crazy – even if you are employed. Oregon has a very very insular mindset here.

    Leverage church contacts if you have them. Oregon is also filled with fundamentalists. Don’t let the liberal Portland mystique fool you. Oregon is a giant rural state.

    Be prepared to move again. Don’t burn your local bridges. You might have to go back if things turn south for you here. Not all new comers are lucky enough to keep their job for long.

    Be prepared to stay in that job for 2x as long as you’d otherwise imagine. Opportunities to jump into new positions do not emerge frequently. That leads to a stagnation, or a low turn over. Good for employers, but equates to poor mobility for the worker class.

    Be prepared to adapt to a mindset at the middle ranks (depends on what mgt level you are at) that is provincial, insular and suspicious of outsiders. Fortunately, my CEO commutes from San Francisco & my boss is from European. Otherwise, I’d be dragged into that mindset. I railed against that in a past company and found myself instantly on the outside of the Stepford-Wives Oregonian Not-invented-Here mindset.

    Lastly, Oregon has a chip on its shoulder. It’s not Seattle and its not San Francisco. It has no major research university in the downtown area. It doesn’t get a lot of Federal or Defense money for research. There is no major military bases here, etc. As a result, Oregon is left to its own devices. And you can see that from its roads. the roads are pitted, narrow, the bridges are older, etc. The infrastructure in Portland is scary. The schools are worse than the roads.

    Portland does put its money into show pieces for marketing, like light rail and new high rise condos for empty-nesters. That draws a lot of aesthetes that spend their money on restaurants and coffee but what else? How many hair salons and doggie day spas can one city sustain?!

    Portland was the beneficiary of the equity boom w/in Seattle and CA. People took their winnings up here and bought giant houses and flung their cash around like the market would go up up up forever. But now, unemployment here is truly close to 14% and the strain is showing. Another year or more of this sort of economy and you will see crime go up beyond the systems’ capacity to handle it. The unmet civic need is rising and the city’s capacity to hold back that demand is slim at best.

    One Urban Planner here described Portland as Zurich surrounded by Houston. Truer words were never spoken.

    That said, if you have the capital, this area is a marvelous place. As I would imagine NYC would be were money no object. But 90% of America is not so fortunate. And as long as the chasm between the haves and have nots grows, everyone’s quality of life will suffer for it.

  3. Tracy Says:

    I live in Northern CA and love my town of Chico. Never ever entertained the idea of moving until few visits over a year ago. A few deciding factors—you can live big city life without the headaches bc of excellent mass transit and bicycles use, the neiighborhoods REALLY embody communtiy, and Portland has my “tribe-” the values I live by. I get that there are no jobs but Portland has not one Fortune 500 company located there and althoug there are the Walmarts, there is also a general public sentiment again letting big corporations who can weild enough power to affect zoniong laws, etc.
    I am closing on a house there one Friday. I am fortunate to retire at 55 so I am free not to have a job (but don’t forget—I put in my time, And San Francisco is beautiful but the traffic is enough to keep me out–Portland any day. Good luck.

  4. David Says:

    I’m interested to hear more about what kind of personalities inhabit Portland. I am interested in moving there myself, I’ve felt that the other places in America I’ve lived (Hudson Valley NY, Florida, Chicago) are just not open minded enough, perhaps, just not right. Any advice is helpful. I’m not too sure what “Open to Experience” means, vis a vis this site.


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