The answer is different for everybody.
How do you decide where to move in Portland? We are just in the process of buying a new house and had to go through the decision making process of what part of town to live in and what kind of home we wanted. As Realtors, we get to look at houses all the time. So it is always in the back of your mind. It seems that there are trade offs to every neighborhood and area. I personally love new construction and the homes that are on cute cul-de-sacs with lots of neighbors. Unfortunately, that is Charles’s idea of hell so the new construction was out.
We both do like the larger lots with big trees and lots of grass. But then we also like the classic character you can find in homes built between 1900 and 1930. We love the built-ins, crown molding, and hardwood floors. Our current home fits within these criteria as it was built in 1909. Location-wise, Portland is unique in that the closer you are to downtown, the more expensive homes seem to be. There are exceptions of course, but usually this holds true.
We had to decide do we want Beaverton or Gresham or Hillsboro or Tualatin or Wilsonville or???? There are so many choices. With our office on the west side of Portland and most of our friends living in the SW Portland area, the far east-side was out. It is just too far to drive every day. Especially since as Realtors, we are in the car all the time anyway.
Then we also decided that we aren’t ready for the suburbia life. Since we currently live NW Portland, we are enjoying walking to restaurants, shops and taking our dog to Wallace Park. We would stay where we are except the life of living in a triplex can get old with neighbors below us. And our house is so close to the houses on each side that there is really no privacy there either. Plus, we both crave a garage and off street parking. And our dog has voted for a little yard. He says he doesn’t need much but definitely some grass is in order. And as we get closer to having kids, I would love to have a house where you don’t have to walk up a flight of stairs to get to the living area. I think this sounds difficult with stroller, baby and groceries in tow. We decided to concentrate our search closer in so that we can keep that “urban-living” feeling.
I like the fact that being centrally located; I can sell a lot in Kalama, a house in Tualatin, a duplex in Gresham and be relatively close to it all. So “close-in” it was. But this means that you can’t get as much house for your money. And your lot size gets smaller and your neighbors closer. You also have to then decide if you like the old class of Irvington, the hip, funkiness of the Alberta Arts District, or the quiet peacefulness of Burlingame.
For awhile I lived in a house on SE Belmont at 22nd. This was a great neighborhood to sit on the front porch and people watch. You would be amazed what you see walking by. And the house had the cute character of 1911 construction and a large fenced back yard. But of course it was on Belmont and that is such a busy street. We both really want a quiet, tree-lined street (yes, I like picket fences too!). We have a house in the Boise-Elliot district that we bought as an investment about 3 years ago. This area has been going through a transition and getting better and better every day.
The other challenge of course is that there are two of you buying the house. This is really the first house we have bought together. We bought our current house, but if you are looking for a triplex in NW there are not a lot of choices. We didn’t even look at the inside of the home before making an offer and getting it accepted. I asked the other Realtor, “is it nice?” He said it was and we made the offer. And we love it. But this next house will be more of “our house” versus an investment. Although as Realtors we are always looking for both. So we have been looking for that perfect home. We both keep an eye out while we are out with clients. We search neighborhoods at night as we have time. We were in no hurry. We figured the right house would come along. And ideally, we would find it next spring/summer. Maybe even into next winter. But sometimes these things happen on their timeline and not yours. The new house closes Friday. Wow. Did we get everything we wanted? No. Are we getting more than we bargained for? Definitely. I will post more about the new house later. When we show people pictures, the usual response is, “Damn, what are you thinking????!”