Sunday, October 21, 2007

Portland Trip

So, I spent last week in Portland Oregon. We read up on the place a lot before we went, and it really sounded like somewhere we would enjoy relocating to. When you work in public service jobs, you realize really quickly that no matter how cool your city may be, a well run, well paying state is a lot more important. So the possibility of the "if I had to live anywhere else in this state I would move" situation had to be tossed out. There are a lot of surprising and interesting cities in miserable, disorganized, under funded states. Louisville, Austin, Kansas City.
Portland is a lot different. For one, teacher salary in Oregon vs. Tennessee puts me in a position to make a LOT more and retire a LOT earlier. They start out the same, and then after a few years Oregon pulls ahead, with the gap between them as high as $20K at times!

My Review of Portland(What I did on my fall vacation):
Everywhere we ate except for one place
was amazing. I'll spare that place the embarrassment because I'm confident they're doomed anyways. We ate at Esan Thai, and it was the best Thai I've ever had. I had a pumpkin curry that was so hot the steam from it burnt my eyes. I didn't intend for it to be that hot- tolerance for overall food heat seems a lot higher out there. Tons of great pizza, tons of great everything available. People in Portland clearly have very high standards for food and ingredient quality.
But the stunner: had coffee at 5-6 places and it was ALL terrible! The only places serving anything passable were just slinging stuff like Seattle's Best or Tully's. Most of the locally roasted stuff was unbearable.
Oh yeah, and Bubble Tea is amazing. Amazing.

The majority of the interesting visuals in Portland came in the form of the beautiful downtown buildings. Everywhere it was possible to cram in a local
artist's work, it was done. The city looks like a really good place to be as an artist or a musician. I didn't really see anything in particular in the way of visual art that amazed me, but I was very impressed at the good taste in design I saw in most houses and businesses. There's a real emphasis on green spaces within the city, and it's a wonderful thing.
Parks were tucked into every nook and cranny around town. Looking at a map, it would appear that about 40% of Portland's geographic area is public land.
Real Estate:
We think we can hack it money-wise in the city. But I'm not sure how much
"hacking it" I want to do. Real Estate is not nearly as expensive as it is elsewhere on the West Coast, and most of the properties we saw were priced fairly. We could get a craftsman/bungalow in a neighborhood we like for about $239K right now. But the sub-prime meltdown has hit that market hard, and I think we'll rent for the first year or two and let it blow over. The market looks like it's going to be flooded with foreclosures soon- TONS of empty condo high-rises downtown asking ridiculous prices.
Gas: about 35-50 cents higher/gallon.
People: way nicer than expected. So nice that they all get in conversations with each other on the trains. People were really surprising, and broke so many of the stereotypes and expectations we had for them. We saw old people that listened to techno and had tattoos. We met an old guy who retired to Portland after holding cue cards for 30 years. He knew Vincent Price . The barriers that exist between people in the Southeast just don't exist as much in Portland. But it would appear that their immigrant communities are a lot more marginalized than ours. As a community, the city of Portland needs to ask itself what it's doing to drive immigrants into all moving to certain neighborhoods.
I met up with 6-7 musicians that I knew in town at a nice little restaurant. We all wore the same glasses, and couldn't figure out why. They were all extremely nice people, and I hope if we move we can stay in touch.

We are hoping that because of Portland's great mass transit system, we can sell one of our cars. All the transit is bike friendly and really safe compared to a lot of cities. So one of our goals is to live in a location convenient to a light rail line that I can take my bike on.

We had such a good time, and were so surprised and overwhelmed by the city that it's taken us a good while to figure out what we thought about the place. It's hard to resist a place thats 90 minutes from the Pacific, and noted for it's liberal government, good food, and tolerance of diverse groups of people. I'm just not
going to find good pay in a Red state, and no matter how silly I thought a lot of Portland was, at least they'd respect my right to be just as silly. It also seems like a good place to pick up some extra money DJing and playing a show now and then. They even have a couple venues that lend themselves to electronic musicians, something I had never heard of.

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