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Relocating - Seeking Advice

Hi--I currently live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Looks like we may be relocating to Portland in the next couple months.  I have 2 young boys, 4 1/2 and 22 months.  I am seeking information about places to live, cost of houses, etc.  We currently live in a city neighborhood in Milwaukee that is inhabited by lots of young families, teachers, and city workers.  We have access to lots of good parks and shopping.  I would like to find the same in Portland.  The city seems great and we are really excited.  I am happy to find this website and am looking forward to meeting other moms in the area.  If someone would take the time to respond to me I would really appreciate it!  I'm wondering, most specifically, what it's going to set us back to own an older 3 BR home in a pleasant area. 

OH, and schools of course.  That's important too.  I understand that schools don't start until 5K there, is that right?  We have 4K here.

Thanks so much!!!
Amy

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Yippee, a fellow midwesterner! We moved here recently from Minnesota and are learning to love it (actually my husband thinks it is the promised land). Feel free to email me. Good luck with the move!

Hi, we just moved here from New England and we love it so far. The real estate prices were higher than we anticipated, but there still seems to be lots of options in every price range. We ended up buying in the "up and coming" area of North Portland, and we're really enjoying the neighborhood so far. Feel free to email me and I'll tell you a little about our recent househunting experience.

We're in NE with an almost 4 year old girl and a 2.5 year old girl. We moved here in August, and I feel like I've learned a lot about the city already. We're in NE, and if you have any questions, email me.

Hi Amy! We're on the west side so I could give you some info on that side of town. Also, I did a lot of research on elementary schools before we moved here. (yes, a child must be 5 yrs old by Sept 1st to enter kindergarten) and I'd be happy to share what I learned re: schools too. Feel free to email me... And good luck!

Hi Amy, my DH and I moved to SW Portland in June 2005 with our 2 kids who are now 8 and 3 years old. We tried to do as much research and investigation as we could before we moved here, so feel free to email me with your questions. Good luck with your move!

Wow! Thank you all for your responses. My dh has a phone interview tomorrow w/ the potential employer, so I'll wait until after that to email you all. I know I'll have a lot of questions if this goes forward. I'm so excited to have a few contacts!!!

Welcome... (maybe) - Here's the name of a FANTASTIC real estate agent. She's the best. Emial me and I'll tell you more.

Erin Task-Donnell
503-312-0323

If you are obsessive when looking for a house like I am, you might like (if you haven't found them already!):

-Residential Multiple Listing service http://www.rmls.com/
Check out houses for sale and their prices. It can be hard to figure out why things are priced the way they are when you don't know the city but it might give you some ideas.

-PortlandMaps.com advanced search http://www.portlandmaps.com/maps/raptor/index.cfm
Select "Property Data Search" for the search type and you can search for houses that sold resently of a certain age and sq footage and it will return a list that includes the sale price and a map with location pins. Then when you click on an address, it gives more info on the house (eg. # of baths, taxes, sale history) as well as links to crime maps, census info and public transportation for the immediate area.

I second the recommendation for Portlandmaps.com. It's a really great site.

Another resource: http://www.movingtoportland.net/. The realtor has an incredibly comprehensive web site with information about neighborhoods that we really found useful when we were getting ready to move out here in 2004.

We are in NE Portland, in a neighborhood called Hollywood, and while prices seem to be edging ever up, we love it completely. Feel free to e-mail me if you like - my husband was absolutely obsessive about real estate, schools, etc. when we were considering our move, so he got to know quite a bit.

We have lived in SE in the Hawthorne District since 2004 and I love it! We are able to walk everywhere. My husband and I share one vehicle and only fill up with gas once a month. He rides his bike or takes the bus to work downtown and I stay home with our daughter. I can walk out our front door and hike up Mount Tabor, stroll down to Laurelhurst Park and watch the ducks or dogs play and literally do all of our shopping besides Target on foot. We are moving back to Oklahoma, though, to be close to family. We just put our house on the market last week. Real Estate here is high, I think, but I am moving back to one of the top ten most affordable cities in the nations, so I suppose it is relative. We have a 3 bedroom/2 bath 1922 bungalow and it is going for close to 300k, that is cheap for our neighborhood. I would love to give you any info you need on SE if you want to hit me back. Good luck in your search and don't forget about www.portland.craigslist.com. There are quite a few properties on there as well. Also, www.windermere.com will allow you to put in your search requirements and update you when there are any changes. Good luck. You will be very happy with Portland. It is a wonderful place to live. I will greatly miss it!!!

I will also second, third, fourth, and fifth the suggestions on RMLS, portlandmaps, movingtoportland.net, and craigslist.org. We are also relatively new to Portland (how long can we say we're "new to Portland" - having been here now for almost 2.5 yrs?). We used all those websites to get a feel for Portland neighborhoods. We lived in Boise-Eliot (NE) for a year, and then moved to Overlook (N). We love our neighborhoods, and we love the N/NE. Like many of the inner eastside neighborhoods, we can walk to our favorite parks, market, coffeeshop and more. We live a block from the bus and also walking distance to the MAX. We felt like neighborhoods in North Portland were more of a comfortable price point when we bought 1.5 yrs ago.

Oh, and some of us write neighorhood blogs for oregonlive.com, so check us out! (links on the left) - Beaumont-Hollywood (NE), Clinton (SE), Foster-Powell (SE), Kenilworth-Abernethy (SE), Overlook (N), Sellwood (SE).

Finally, I found the Thomas Guide (http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=0528857142) absolutely essential to navigating the city and getting a feel for geography.

Michelle, your house sounds like a great deal! Lucky buyers!

I have to ditto Michelle's sentiments about SE Portland. My husband and I lived in the Hawthorne/Mt Tabor area for 10 years and we absolutely loved it. Awesome parks, shops, restaurants, libraries, grocery stores, etc. It's so cute and even though the prices are high, you can still find an Old Portland gem for a decent value if you have an awesome real estate agent (email me if you want my agent's name--she sold us our first two homes and is AMAZING--she always got us EXACTLY what we wanted, plus she's super fun, nice, reliable, works her butt off at all hours for you, and is one fine negotiator). We live out in the 'burbs now and I can tell you more about where we live now too if you want via email, but if you want to live close-in, I highly recommend SE Portland. We miss it sometimes.

Keep us posted!

We moved back to PDX after 10 years away - totally different priorities now that we have kids. We narrowed down neighborhoods based on a few key criteria: walking distance to a neighborhood core (restaurants, shops, etc.) and good public schools. We found helpful websites - greatschools.com and the Oregon Board of Education site - that give school report cards, parent comments, etc. Good Luck!

Thanks again ladies for all your replies. My dh had his phone interview last night and they asked if he'd like to come out for a visit. I am not sure when that will be, but I'll sure have more questions.

Betsy, you basically just described the home we're living in now, 1925 2 BR, 2BA bungalow. We expec to get around 200,000 for it. 300,000 is pretty high to me. That is my greatest fear is that we won't be able to afford a decent home there.

My husband would be working at US Bank at the Columbia Center on NE Sandy Boulevard. Would living in the SE be too far of a commute? We hope to go to one vehicle there and bike/use public transportation. My dh is an avid cyclist.

Thanks again and I'm sure some of you will be hearing from me via email soon.

ooops, sorry, the message I was referring to in my last post was from Michelle, not Betsy. I'm just getting used to this website.

If the address of the Columbia Center that he would be working at is 17650 NE Sandy Blvd then it is pretty far out of the inner areas that most of us have talked about. That part of town used to be farm land and has been annexed and infilled over the years so it doesn't have a lot of the little neighborhoods that inner SE, NE and N have. That said, it isn't too far from a couple of lovely little neighborhoods called Rose City Park and Beaumont/Wilshire. Try searching in rmls.com using 97213 an 97218 as the ZIP codes (and farther into town are 97211 and 97212).

I don't know much about the areas east of 82nd Ave. The addresses run up with the streets so Columbia Center is at 176th Ave and Sandy Blvd. The "inner" areas would be roughly 39th Ave (or house numbers 3900 if on a named street) and lower on the east side (NE, SE) and just about anything in N (some may argue that!). If that doesn't make any sense, don't worry about it. It really is an easy town to figure out. The Thomas Guide is invaluable!

I'm partial to the inner SE (Clinton, Ladd's Addition, Colonial Heights, Richmond...whatever you like to call it)myself since that's where I live. Aside from the schools, parks, easy access to shops and restaurants which a lot of the neighborhoods have, the one thing that I love about our 'hood is the fact that there are so many families! It's rare to go to Abernethy or Piccolo park and not chat it up with a fellow parent. It makes all the difference to be out and about and run into a friendly face.

We moved here six years ago, my mom moved here almost 2 years ago and my brother and SIL moved here 4 weeks ago. Over the summer we jumped into the real estate market on behalf of my mom, to help her invest in a property she could rent out. Her budget was $250K (which is limiting).

Houses in the 82nd area aren't great for the money. I don't see the property values going up. There were some gems in Sellwood and Mt. Tabor/Hawthorne, as well as near Alberta. We settled on a house in the NE 50s & Flanders area, which is being gentrified. It's walking distance to the MAX, easy to get downtown, close to Laurelhurst and Hollywood neighborhoods and other cool areas. We got 2,600 sq. ft, 3 BR, 2BA, detached garage for $269K (we had to be competitive in our bid to secure it). Good news is the market isn't as crazy so you will probalby find sellers more willing to negotiate. I'd be glad to give you more advice. Good luck! (P.S. I've been to Wisconsin -- Chippewa Falls, to be specific -- and milked a cow. And had a Leinenkugel.)

Okay, so it looks like U.S. Bank is going to fly my husband out there within the next month. Hopefully I will be able to come along. We'll need to find someone to watch the kiddos.

So, I've been reading various message boards about Portland (craigslist, etc.) Seems like there is a lot of negativity about Portland--the poor job market, homelessness, meth, etc. If my husband has a job, we're not so much worried about the employment aspect, but I am counting on some mamas to tell me the truth. Is Portland as lovely as it seems? Does the rain really get you down? Is it too WHITE? Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Thanks in advance.

Hi Amy, looks like you're going to get tons of advice from this site! But I'll throw my 2 cents in as a newcomer...We absolutely do not miss the frigid temps that we got accustomed to in New England (most days here you can throw on a fleece and go just about anywhere outside--I find it so much easier than all of the bundling and layering we had to do in MA). And I guess the price you pay for the mild temps is the grey sky...it's been an exceptionally rainy winter, and there have only been a few days when I've really had it with the weather, for the most part, you can still get out of the house and go to the indoor parks, Children's Museum, etc. And from our experience, when the weather's nice (like this week--mid 50's and sunny) you definitely cant beat it!

As for real estate...these gals are going to give you lots of detailed info (from reading earlier posts), but I'd recommend that you look into North Portland. A house just came on the market on our street this week that is 3 bed/3 bath, and needs work (I havent been in so I cant say how much, or what) but they're only asking $230 for it. And it's in a good location--we're in walking distance to the Max, minutes to I-5, and I think Lombard would be a great option for getting out East where your husband would be working.

Good Luck!

Also a transplant (we are from all over the east coast.) been here in PDX 4 1/2 years and LOVE LOVE LOVE it. never going back east. yes we have lots of drizzling rain and gray skys, but the summers are beautiful!! I know the NE well (we just moved from Rose City to Hollywood/Grant Park, sold our house for 335K and bought new one for 450K- ouch.) If you want that neighborhoody feel, you probably should try to stay west of 82nd. Rose City is very nice. So, portland does have a meth problem, but so do many cities now. Maybe we are just talking about it more (which is a good thing.) And yes, Porltand is fairly white, then, asian, and indian. Unfortuneatly, our black population is relatively small.
I too, have a fantastic agent : Trevor with C. Morgan Davis- Keller Williams Realty mdavis@worldstar.com or 503-748-8200. He would be happy to send you listings.

I can't help myself but send you some additional information. I moved here from northern IL about 10 years ago.... and live in NE Portland (Grant Park.) I love it! Houses are pricey everywhere in Portland. If you're going to spend a lot on a house, I'd suggest renting for a year in a good neighborhood while you shop around. Get to know the city and what's important to you. For me GP has everything in walking distance and a great outdoor environment for my young children. Additionally, I live on a street where I know all of my neighbors by name. It's nice and feels safe.

It will also prevent you from jumping into a house with a high price tag without learning more about the neighborhood. Fortunately, you can rent houses in all the neighborhoods you've been reading about. Additionally by talking with your neighbors, you might be lucky enough to get a great house before it goes on the market at a "affordable" price. My neighbor just did it and saved a bundle on their first house.

Good Luck and welcome.

Thanks everyone again for your advice. We will be in PDX from March 2-5 for my hubby's job interview. I have been looking at lots of homes online. Pretty overwhelming.

Now I need a suggestion for a place to eat while we are there. I LOVE Thai and Indian especially and want to make sure we have at least one fabulous meal while we're there.

Thanks in advance for suggestions.

Hi Amy, I am in the same boat as you almost. We are moving there in autumn but have already purchased a home. I didnt have ANY idea of where to look. We looked online at www.portlandmlsdirect.com got a list of 40 houses, got an agent from a friend, flew out for a weekend and bought a house with our toddler in tow! I still dont know much about the area we are moving to! (Hayhurst anyone?) If you want to explore together... feel free to email me. Oh! I am a midwesterner too..from Indiana, on Lake Michigan. I am 34 and have a 2.5 year old and a 2 month old. Boys. : )

The Oregonian just this weekend posted a great list of resources to learn about schools, neighborhoods, housing market, etc.
Woodward, Steve. "Personal tech/Data mining," The Oregonian. Friday, April 21, 2006. Living Section. Also online for a short time at http://www.oregonlive.com/living/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/living/114548911393780.xml&coll=7&thispage=1 but always available online through your local library's online newspaper databases.

This is great for Portland and the greater Portland area including Clark, Clackamas and Washington Counties... anything from sex offender info, restaurant info, school info, housing market info and beyond. Great set of sites!

Hi ladies! I am SO glad to have found this site! i just got back from a vacation in Bend, and have to say we have to move to the NW. We live in KC right now (actually read on hear of 2 gals that moved to Portland from KC...JJ and Marlynn...are you there yet? If so would love to talk to you) Anyway, my hubbie and I are from Denver, but living in KC right now, and have been wanting to move back to the mountains, green space etc...We were just about to move last year, when hubbie started school, so we stayed. We have 2 kids (6,3) and want them to be surrounded by like-minded people. Everyone on this site sounds a little like myself. I'm wondering if anyone has any good info on a suburb that has an urban feel to it? We just want a little more house for our money, but still want to walk to coffee shops, parks, pool, school, eats (you know...)Are there any cool mamas in the 'burbs? We want a street filled with kids and great neighbors to hang out with. Our neighborhood here will truely be missed. We have over 18 kids, and spend most of our time hanging out, but I just can't see myself living here anymore.
It seems like most everyone is either in NE or SE. What about the west? how did some of you newbies decided on an area? I'm just so confused. We were out there last year looking at real estate, but the neighborhoods we liked were out of our range, so that is why we may have to go to the burbs.
Thanks for any replies!
krissy (36 yrs old)

Thanks for the tips re relocating to Portland.
I'm retired. But still helpful even tho I am not in the having kids generation now.
Sharon

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