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Safe Neighborhood for Single Mom

If you're a single mom in Portland, how much does neighborhood choice matter?  We recently received this question from a soon-to-be-single mama.  Any advice for her?

I will very soon be a single mom to my beautiful 2 year old daughter. And i am seeking advice as to what neighborhoods you know of that are safe and secure and have great schools. I currently live in NE Portland but outside of a good school district. I work in the Pearl district, 5 days a week.I would love to get feedback from other moms and if you know of a house or apartment for rent please let me know.


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when I became single (my son was 3) I moved from a very isolating suburb to inner NE. It was a great move from me in terms of connecting to other moms and being in a vibrant community.

I know ideally you would want to live in a safe neighborhood etc... I would consider an area that you think might allow you to be connected to neighbors or friends. If you can find a place to rent walking distance to a library, food stores, public transportation, etc that would be great. I think NE is great for all those things.

I know another single mom that chose a studio in the Irvington area because it allows her son to go to irvington school. I also know that my sons school (sabin) has free Pre-k so you might want to look for rentals that place you within resources such as free pre-K or good schools. Even though your daughter is only 2 it is worth considering the school angle when considering where to live. I think also choosing a place where you are not dependent on a car is key.

Just some thoughts.

Good luck with the transition!

When I was a newly single mom (with a 2 year old) I moved to an apartment in close-in NE (Irvington). I agree with elizabeth's post above, it's nice to be close to public transit, and in a vibrant, active neighborhood. More important, though, I lived near people who could be a support to me if needed. My sister was in apartment a block away, which was great. And the four-plex where I lived not only made me feel safer with its locked front entry and intercom system, but the people in my small building all doted on my son and offered babysitting.

Wherever you choose, I hope you have a support network, whether its friends or family or community members. Good luck!

I think that "tolerance of some uncertainty" is key as a single mama. I have lived in very few "desirable" neighborhoods since I became a single mama. On the up side we haven't been the victims of violent or property crimes and our neighbors often looked out for us.

If you have a relatively stable and higher than median income, you may be able to stay in the same rental for a number of years (there's no rent control in PDX) but most single mamas I know have moved more than once in their kids' early years.

Like elizabeth says, a neighborhood where you have a support network is key. We recently moved to outer SE after 7 year in N/NE Portland, but my kid is still in N.PDX school. Today, she got sick and my friend picked her up from school. Even with a teenager having our "people" close by has been super important. I have friends who could live in a studio with their kid to be closer to a "better" school, like elizabeth's friend. after about age 2 1/2 my kid, was over shared space.

You really have to graph out what's most important to you, and be prepared for change. car-free friendly? closer to fam/friends? a highly rated school? Mom and Pop landlords who may be more flexible when you have to pay emergency child care before the rent?

Here is an interesting website that you may find helpful in your decision. You input an address and neighborhood crimes come up.

There is a lot of info on the site, including a sex offenders tab. Oh my, I just ran my address and found a rapist moved in 5 blocks from me.

Anyway, good luck to you. I live in Sellwood/Moreland by the way and love it. It's a great family neighborhood with stores, parks and a library in very close proximity.


Here's another source for renting:


The guy who runs it is knowledgable and likes to help people if he can.

After living in Irvington for 5 years (and loving the neighborhood itself), we moved to have our baby because there was so much crime in our neighborhood and we wanted safe as possible for our son while still close to downtown. We now live in Burlingame (although I ache for NE often) and it is a wonderful, safe, family neighborhood. I even walk my dog at 5am before work and feel totally safe. The school, Capitol Hill (my son is a baby, but the neighbors like it), is good and you are still very close to downtown/Pearl (takes me 15 minutes to get out of my garage and parked in the Pearl on weekday mornings). There are also several cute little houses for rent. One tip...don't live on Terwilliger or Taylor's Ferry or any of the major thoroughfares. You won't like the speeders. Of course, that is true for any neighborhood.

My sister lives in Sellwood with her 6 year old son and she loves it. If I didn't live here, I would live in Sellwood with a family. I love that it is walkable, but still close to downtown/Pearl. Sellwood also has plenty of rentals.

I would look in SW near Multnomah Village. There are great parks and a wonderful community center there.

I have moved all over the place due to militray. I had to be able to walk my dogs at night while my husband might be out to sea for months. Here are some tips we discovered "the hard" way.

Drive through at night. It can be a great neighborhood today, but with the recession tommorow might not bring glory. So, making sure you live in a well lit area can really make a difference. Besides it is dark at 4pm around here half the year. :)

Drive through Saturday afternooon. If you see lots of people hanging off the balconly drinking and playing loud music, well then you know that it might be more "rough".

Check out the cars. The more older and run down the cars the less money in the neighborhood. Also right now, the more SUV's the less recession proof the area.

Call the non-emergency police number and ask them about the neighborhood. I have done it several times and they are usually very nice. Just say I think thinking of moving to this district can you tell me about the violent crimes responded to this month and within the last 6 months.

I am a single Mom of a soon-to-be 2 year old. I live close in SW in the Gabriel Park area. I originally chose this area because I could run with my dog in the early mornings and feel safe, had some friends over here, and it was closer to my NE Pdx office.

I've actually been in my neighborhood for over 4 years and intentionally made my neighborhood safer for my kiddo and me. I started an annual block party for my neighbors. I invite/d neighbors for spontaneous events . . . rootbeer floats, cookies & milk, and wine & appetizers, etc. My neighbors are appreciative of the interaction, and I have created relationships with households throughout the neighborhood in case I ever need help.

This summer our neighborhood pooled funds and rented out Wilson Pool. It was a nice way to connect with those beyond our block.

Long winded way of saying you can probably add safety to any neighborhood with a little effort.


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