This Blog is About Living in Portland, Oregon.
I am a Realtor, who is also a real live person, who is a Portlander, who moved to Central California for two years, got a real estate license, sold real estate, got a little perspective, and moved back. I am now in the process of getting my Oregon Real Estate License that will allow me to practice here, in the Portland Area.
This blog is not an effort to convince you to buy or sell your home with me. I’ve made a lot of friends who want to know about life in the Portland Area and – Portlanders know this well – it is a very unique place to live that just happens to be an affordable hub of creativity.
I admit, I took Portland for granted. Then I moved to a subdivision bedroom community in Cali, East of San Francisco, and felt as though I’d been transported to another planet. Seriously, it was a weird and humbling experience. I missed Portland so much I ached. This blog is my forum from which I will talk about what I missed so much about Portland while I was gone, what I love about being back, and it will be a candid account of what it is like to live here now. Yes, I’ll talk about the weather.
But, I’ve got to be honest here, I think the weather is largely responsible for Portland’s most wonderful features. And I think I can convince you this is true.
My name is Amy Munsey. I worked in construction engineering for 22 years in the Pacific Northwest. I worked as a designer, drafter, and project coordinator. Before that, I worked as an energy auditor for Puget Power. And after engineering (actually, during) I went to school for way too long to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up. I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and have completed the course work in two graduate programs and actually almost finished a third. I bought my first house when I was 19 years old and sold it a year later for a tidy profit. Real Estate has fascinated me for years. When my last son moved out and I didn’t have kids to support any longer, and we moved South, I decided to give real estate a try. It is a tough market down there. There are some smaller, outer, towns that are experiencing dramatic losses from the burst of the housing bubble. The town we moved to was one of them. I was working in the land of short sales and very traumatized people. I did well and met some wonderful people. Several are my friends to this day. Tom, Jody, I miss you guys and your kids too!
I’m a typical Portlander in that I love to garden and have a gazillion other hobbies. I sew (a lot), knit, crochet, try to play my cello, read a lot, write, paint, sculpt, weld, and I have a knack for interior design. I have tried and tried to become a great cook but you know what? I don’t think it’s in the plan. I can paint any canvas but cooking eludes me. So that means I love a good restaurant. And I know more than a few. I raised my kids in Southeast Portland, gardened with them there, and got them into magnet Jr. Highs and High Schools. As adults, they call Southeast Portland home today. One lives right across the street from his childhood home with his wife.
I’ve bought houses, sold houses, made money, lost money, and am now a renter for the time being. I bought with conventional financing, FHA financing, know what to do to get the maximum return for my effort and investment, and know well what it is to lose all of my investment and then some. I’ve worked at different jobs, even at Powell’s downtown for a while (that was a great job!), and know what it is like to have great financial times and cruddy ones too. Right now, life is on a tight budget. From my perspective, it’s just part of the ebb and flow. I maintain a positive attitude and find humor in every day. I tell the people I am close to that I appreciate them and try to be the best person I can be. And now that I work for myself, I get to practice business the way I have always wanted to, with ethics and compassion.
What I missed about Portland while I was gone
I missed: trees, cafe’s, restaurants, air that feels so clean and full of oxygen (comes with all the trees), Portland’s Eastbank and Westbank Esplanades, riding my bicycle with relative safety because most folks around here watch out and share the road with bikes. I missed the vast expanses of park space that is free to enjoy, the art scene, First Thursdays downtown and Last Thursdays on Alberta. Speaking of Alberta, I missed the fantastic Ultimate Margaritas at Halibuts II on Alberta. I missed The Real Mother Goose, the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Symphony, and the Pearl District hipster scene. I missed Hawthorne’s hippie vibe and the little place that serves the most fantastic eggs and hash browns with a spice I can’t identify. I really missed Bolt Fabric Boutique on Alberta and Muse Art and Design Supply on Hawthorne. And if you haven’t been to Dazzle on NW 23rd, oh my goodness, what a treat! Seriously, you;ve got to go. And while you’re there, it’s right across from Pap Haydn’s…don’t forget to stop in for a lunch-time sandwich and an espresso…and dessert if you’re up to it. I missed Powell’s downtown and on Hawthorne. Their Art and Garden Store next to the regular book store is fabulous, world-class…no! It’s better than world-class. I missed Forest Park and Mount Tabor Park and Tryon Creek Park. There is some challenging hiking, biking, running to be done in those parks on the trails. Your calves will complain and thank you. Trust me. I missed critical mass rides that clog up downtown and I missed the huge piles of bicycle that would mysteriously appear overnight to wow us the next morning. I missed urban gardens. I missed the Belmont, Hawthorne, and Alberta Street Fairs. And I missed Rose Festival and the Twilight Parade. I missed wearing clogs. Yes. I. Did. I missed my family and friends terribly. I missed tattooed, pierced, and plugged people who check me out at the grocery store. And I missed the benevolent Mount Hood, guarding over us in the distance. And, get this (!), I missed clouds. I did!
The Portland Metro Area – Some Tasty Factoids
Weather: We have four seasons here. It rains in the Fall, Winter and Spring. In the Summer it is stunning and gorgeous with mild temperatures and lots of great things to do.
When it rains, it rains a lot here. I mean it. It does. But! The rain isn’t really a factor that keeps Portland Area residents indoors. Sure, we get annoyed when it really dumps, but the normal rainy, drizzly stuff…get a raincoat and you’ll be fine. I’d get one with a hood. When the wind blasts through downtown and your umbrella decides to brazenly show its underthings to the world, you may find yourself with a precariously wet head. It’s not fun. If you have a hood, it’s one less thing you have to hang on to anyway. Hoods are good things to have. Detachable ones are especially practical. I’m all about the detachable hood.
You can expect cloudy, dark skies between late October through April. It starts to break in April and you can expect to be realllllly ready for clear skies by then. Normally, it warms up in mid June. When the skies are cloudy (and grey) it can feel like the ceiling of the sky is rather, well…low. And that’s because it is. But it is the cloud cover that keeps Portland pretty temperate in the Winter.
You probably won’t need a heavy parka here. It doesn’t get that cold. It rarely snows. When it does snow, things close down. Because it’s relatively rare. When the first big rain hits, the streets become very slick. Drivers are not always smart about driving in the rain when that occurs.
We do not mow our lawns in the Winter here and because the ground becomes very wet. Attempting to mow one’s lawn in that slop is a sure recipe for lots of mud.
Beer: There is a lot of beer here. We have more micro-breweries per capita (per person) than any other place in the U.S. There are beer festivals, people who brew their own beer, chocolate beers, light beer, a LOT of dark beer, and any kind of beer you can imagine. Portlanders love their beer. But that’s not all they love…
Coffee: There is a lot of coffee here too. Good coffee. The kind of coffee that tastes more like a delectable dessert than a beverage to pick us up. You will be forever weaned off the energy drinks after you drink Stumptown Coffee.There are more coffee places here per capita here than any place in the U.S. too. Portlanders like their diuretics!
Strip Clubs: Yep! Portland’s got em. There are more strip clubs here per capita here than any place in the U.S. too. Portland likes its strip clubs. There are clubs that cater to specific genres and tastes. You be the judge for yourself.
Shopping: The weather has caused the construction of some beautiful malls. Some have huge atriums in the centers. Some feel more like arboretums than malls. They contain all the large stores you would expect such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, JC Penny, Sears, and every other store you could imagine. Downtown Portland has Saks 5th Avenue, BCBG Max Azaria, J. Crew, Abercrombie, Banana Republic, and many other high-end venues.
There are shopping districts that each have their own character. Some Highlights are:
NW 23rd is full of Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma Home, Restoration, and many, many small boutique shops. It has an upscale, artistic feel to it. The trees on tree-lined NW 23rd are lit with Christmas lights at night. Many of the store fronts are made of brick or stone. It’s really nice. I love shopping on 23rd and visiting Vivace for some dessert crepes or Beesaws for lunch. There are so many fantastic restaurants up there, there are too many to list.
Hawthorne Boulevard has a very Bohemian vibe. There are small boutique stores with anything you can imagine. There is an art supply store I love. The houses nearby are built between 1890 and 1920s. There are some great places to eat on Hawthorne. There are second-hand shops and interior decoration shops. There are places to buy hemp clothing and that will help you with your urban garden.
The Pearl District is upscale and contains some of the most expensive real estate in Oregon. It is full of newly built lofts and restaurants that cater to larger budgets. Powell’s Books, the “World’s Largest Bookstore” is in the Pearl District. There are cafe’s, a theater (for live performances), and several small boutique stores. There are some fabulous home furnishing finds in the area. A warning: Powell’s Bookstore is a universe unto itself. If you visit, the bookstore can easily eat up an entire day. It’s a magical place and you won’t want to leave.
Open Spaces: There are many. I’ll chat here about just a few of my favorites. I missed the parks so much I ached. Forest Park is the only inner-city park of its size, in the United States, that has old-growth timber in it. These trees are hundreds of years old and to stand next to one of these giants is an experience. Most of the parks are free to enter and huge, and well-maintained, and contain large open spaces perfect for picnics and frisbee throwing and admiring of gardens. The Rose Garden is one of my favorite places to visit. Its test gardens contain hundreds of elegant roses. Tryon Creek Park is a State Park that has well-maintained trails and a dedicated group of volunteers that maintains it. It is a gorgeous park – perfect for taking kids to. Mount Tabor Park is a huge park built around some of Portland’s Open Reservoirs. The large open bodies of water are fenced in with tall, wrought-iron fences that are beautiful works of art in themselves. The reservoirs have walking paths around them. The park is full of paths to walk, ride, and hike. From the top there are stunning views of the surrounding landscape including downtown Portland and the West Hills beyond.
That’s all for now.
To Contact Me: I’ll keep writing about the Portland Area. If you want to reach me directly, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to answer your questions about what it is like to live in Portland, Oregon. I cannot give you real estate advice yet but will be able to address that topic in November, after I have my Oregon Real Estate Broker’s License. For now, I have a California Real Estate Salesperson’s License, DRE # 01864834 and I am an active member of the National Association of Realtors.