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Considering a move to Portland, what to see?

We welcome any opportunity to share the Portland love. An urbanMama from New York recently emailed:

We are making a trip from Brooklyn to Portland next week. Given that we may consider this trip as a vacation with our kids, but also as a potential place to live, we need more insights for the following-
- neighborhoods that are family and provide the good schools zoned
- any places to visit to to get a real sense of the area outside of tourist attractions
- any one we can visit along the way to get the real scoop

I am a mom to two boys 5 and 8. Life is Brooklyn is interesting and comfortable as we are from here. I guess we are searching now for different, smaller, natural feel- while having good educational opportunities for out kids. Any input would be fantastic!!


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Don't miss the World Forestry center, Rose Garden and Voodoo donuts.

Schools intown can be spotty. Get the latest ratings before you fall in love with a funky neighborhood. The dirty little secret here is that folks drive their kids past neighborhood schools to better schools .. even if they do live in a cool, hip spot.

Non-tourist stuff? I love Tryon Creek state park. Powell Butte. Forest Park for hiking. The artist market downtown on weekends.

Bring your raincoat. It rains nine months out of twelve. That's what makes the air so sweet and the plants so green. If you get SAD, don't bother to move here.

Good luck. We moved here 6 years ago from Atlanta. I love just about everything here except the pro weed vibe.

NYC has much better schools. We moved here a couple of years ago and regret it.

" I love just about everything here except the pro weed vibe." Thanks for mentioning this Wilson mom... this is a big issue for me too and I'm considering leaving Portland as a result. Wish I would have tuned in to it before making the decision to move here.

Thank you for these posts. Are other families feeling same way about pro-weed vibe and schools? If so, is there a better reason for still staying? Nature, quality of life, slower pace, etc? How are the schools that are considered good? Of course we want to see oregon regardless, but are concerned about negative feedback. The point is- is it worth for a family to make a move across country?? More feedback from all of you already there and doing would be wonderful. Anyone from NYC/brooklyn? Does it compare? Thank you so much!!! Lastly how about rain? Alana.

We moved away from Portland 3 years ago but loved the 3 years that we spent there... It's a different place, for sure but I will admit that I still miss it terribly. I loved the fact that we lived a very urban lifestyle with small kids in tow, without the high cost of living or the fast pace that comes with most big cities. Yes, it's very liberal. Enough that I'm sure I was viewed as more conservative than I have ever seen myself to be. (And here in my new city, I'm viewed as super liberal, crunchy mama!) The bigger concern for us was the job market in Portland. Hopefully things have improved in the years that we've been gone, but it was terrible when we were there. So depending on your field of work, I would be sure to look carefully at the career options in Portland before making a move. Our perspective was that there are lots of over-qualified/under-employed living in Portland because of the quality of life. We're not hard core corporate America types, but we felt that it was critical to find a career opportunity for my husband in which he would be paid for his experience and his education and that was really difficult to locate in Portland so we left.

I am originally from New York but spent the last 10 years in LA getting my career off the ground - same with my wife. We brought our jobs with us when we moved to Portland and that's the key. If you can bring a NY salary to Portland you can afford great schools and live a very high quality of life. NY & LA are both cities of Industry so they have more opportunity but are also more of a rat race. Portland is a mellow laid back city but still has lots of culture to keeps one's weekend schedule loaded. It's now the size of Boston. We came here specifically for our son. We have been able to provide a nice house for him to grow up in, the schools are WAY better then LA, and hiking in the woods in a minute away every morning with No Lyme ! My brother who lives in Brooklyn sends his daughter (10) to a very amazing private school but it's so $$$ that he says they're not sure how they're to pay for their younger child. He has told me that the public schools in Brooklyn are terrible and he wouldn't even consider it.

Amanda, it's true. I wish I had known more about this but as a non user, I wasn't clued in. My kids at the high school have very easy access to weed if they so choose. So far, they have listened to their parents on this one but it makes me nervous when so many kids do it.. so many parents think its okay and even help the kids set up "smoke safe" zones near the schools. A couple of kids we know even share their parent's stashes. Unbelievable. I love, love the politics, the hiking, the kayaking, amazing food and literary stuff... but I am so disappointed with the weed issue.

If you're looking for a smaller feel, you might look into Vancouver, WA which is just across the river. The schools are good, the downtown area is walkable, great parks/trails for kids and Portland is a short drive across the river. I am sure it would be a change from Brooklyn though...but maybe that's what you're looking for. My advice, after having moved my family around a few times, is to look for an area that you think you want to settle down in and then rent a home/apt in that area. See if the commute works for you, the shops, the schools, etc. With one of our moves we bought a house before moving into the new town, and we regretted it. The next time we moved, we rented in an area we thought we wanted to buy in. Turns out that we didn't like the area after all and found a neighborhood that we really liked with a fantastic school for my boys! Best of luck in your decision making. It's never easy to decide if a new job is worth the move or not. Who knows, it could be a great adventure for your family! The Northwest is a fantastic place ;)

Come visit Eastmoreland neighborhood and its award winning Duniway Elementary School. The homes here are beautiful with tree lined streets, and yet still very urban. Located in deep SE Portland, you'll get a great taste of family life in the Pacific Northwest! If home prices are too high, the adjoining Woodstock neighborhood is a wonderful option, with it's own little "Woodstock Village" full of shops, boutique's, and restaurants. We live here and we love it!

Most of Portland is like most of Brooklyn, except we have more trees and less people of color.

I grew up on Long Island, and I miss "the city" terribly (because, for real, NYC is the only "city" to a NYer). I miss people of different ethnicities, I miss the smell of the city, I miss seeing giant shows at MSG. I really, really miss the Atlantic ocean and that clean, white sand. I also miss the east coast sense of humor--sarcasm just does not go over well here.

But I love walking to our neighborhood school. (Chosen for its proximity and high percentage of non-white children.) Portland likes to think it is a city, but it's really a collection of adorable little neighborhoods. Our school in no way compares to the school the kids would have attended in NY (that school had a planetarium...but only, literally, 2% non-white kids), but their Portland school has a lot more heart. That being said, we will probably only stay in our neighborhood school until middle school, for a variety of reasons not really relating to your question.

Ditto what the above poster said about a job. It's crucial to have one before you move here, cause dang, it can be rough to get a decent paying, full-time job. It seems many Portlanders work more than one job--on the flip-side, almost nobody asks "What do you do?" when they first meet you.

The rain doesn't bother me too much. It's better than shoveling snow, is how I like to look at it. Portland is about as pro-weed as Brooklyn, except it's slightly more legal here. If it doesn't bother you in Brooklyn, you'll be fine here.

We had to cut back alot when we moved here, almost five years ago. Fortunately, Portland is all about living on the cheap, so nobody blinks an eye about other people being broke. We downgraded our home size, but that allowed my husband to stay at home with the kids, essentially full-time, something that never would have been possible in NY (where we both had full-time jobs).

This is turning into a really long post, to essentially say that I love Portland and the slowed-down quality of life it has allowed my family to live.

Huh. Interesting regarding the pro-weed comments, especially those of Wilson Mum to Many.

I live on the east side of the river, in a very diverse, working class/lower-ish middle class area. My kid's high school--Madison--has the reputation of being rough and underachieving (although we have been happy there--the staff is great and I think the school gets a bad rap.) I would say that my kid has less access to weed than I did at the same school thirty years ago, back when our area was less diverse and more middle class/stable.

I spend ample time in the presence my kid's friends. I know what weed smells like, and I know what a stoned person looks and behaves like. It's just not happening in my kid's circle; I can't say it won't ever, but it's not right now.

To some extent, drugs are going to be present in any high school, in any city. It is an extremely unfortunate fact of life. Portland, generally speaking, may be more tolerant to marijuana use than other cities, but to characterize it as "pro-weed" is unfair (it's like saying pro-choice is the same as pro-abortion.) Maybe it's the same everywhere, but Portlanders are more open about it?

I don't get the "pro-weed vibe" comments. I grew up in suburban NJ, and I can't imagine that kids here have more access to pot than my classmates did. It was everywhere, readily available. I think that is just a fact of HS, not specific to pdx.

I miss the diversity of the NY area and feel that it's a real loss for my kids to be growing up without it. On the other hand, we live in a walkable neighborhood (Sunnyside, close-in SE), our kids attend a fabulous, nurturing public school with a curriculum very different from most public schools in the city, they ride their bikes and scooters around the neighborhood alone, and as native Oregonians, they take the rain in stride. (After 14 years here, I'm starting to, myself). I can't imagine living anywhere else, to be honest.

What K3 said about making sure you have a job is true. Don't move here without one. On the positive side, its very okay here to thrift shop, patch holes in clothes with cute appliques and do lots of "make do". The only time I ever feel under-dressed is at the Lake O playhouse. It's awesome that my kids are growing up free of the crass materialism we used to encounter in the south.

Sounds like as parents no matter where we are - we are up against the "weed" thing as our young children get older. I wonder if it's better to be in a place that's more open about it generally, so as not to make it that interesting/taboo for kids once exposed.
I have a feeling nothing is quite like brooklyn. As for Portland it sounds like it has a brooklyn "feel" minus the hectic and detachment to nature. I so much appreciate all these posts! As for the job thing - that would be something we sort out prior. Sounds like everyone is in on loving Oregon life - with some caution. Alana.

Funding for education in Oregon is shockingly low, especially when coming from the northeast, I think. Schools are not awesome. Having said that... I think a lot of white families don't give their neighborhood schools a chance, especially when they live in more integrated or working class neighborhoods. Make sure to talk to people who do have kids in the neighborhood school before dismissing it outright.

The "better" school systems outside of Portland may mean you aren't living in Portland, which, to me, would defeat the whole purpose of moving here.

Some schools in wealthier neighborhoods do a lot of fundraising, so they are able to pay for more teachers, etc. Coming from Brooklyn, I'm wondering if something like the NW 23rd area (Nob Hill) might appeal to you. Though admittedly I don't know the neighborhood and schools all that well.

You definitely need to have a job lined up before you move here. Don't assume the other parent, if you are both working, will be able to find something easily.

You will be surprised by how white most parts of Oregon and Portland area. But there are some tragic historic reasons that African-Americans, for example, primarily lived in one neighborhood for many years. So, yeah, they're here--just not as visible as in a place like Brooklyn. And if you hear people talk about the "hood" or the "ghetto"--please ignore them.

But I think the big think I've heard from folks who have moved from Brooklyn to Portland is that they are expecting it to be just like Brooklyn, but without the bad stuff (whatever that is for them). But we're much smaller. You might not be able to walk to a grocery from every neighborhood. You might find you really do need a car or two. The public transit is solid, but not like what you are used to. I have gotten the impression that in NYC, Portland is painted as mini-Brooklyn with cheap housing.

We moved here from Brooklyn (Park Slope) 5 years ago to be closer to family. My husband was able to take his job with him which was a help when it took me about a year to find a job here.

It was hard at first to get used to driving. Everywhere. But in time I found day to day life was so much easier here with the kids. It also helps that people here are very friendly and welcoming. We settled in rather quickly.

I miss the seasons in theory but not the oppressive heat and humidity of the summer nor dealing with snow in the winter. Love being close to the mountains, but the Oregon coast is definitely not "the beach."

Our kids are still young so I can't really comment on drug use. Good luck with the school thing- we thought we were buying a house in a good school district. When it came time to do kindergarten tours we were sadly disappointed and now this mama who used to walk everywhere in NY now drives her kid cross town to attend a different school.

Good luck with your decision!

I agree with many here. The public school system is badly underfunded and broken. There are some neighborhood schools that work for some families, but I am in the midst of searching for options for my daughter and have determined that it's not enough for my daughter to luck out be "fine" -- I want her to thrive. We are in a neighborhood with what is supposed to be a stellar public option, and I was appalled at the class sizes, lack of PE or art, and crumbling playground. Kids don't have friends in their neighborhood anymore, because parents are driving all over to get their kids to a school they can live with. Another consideration for you might be the lack of diversity. Portland is a very, very white city. Finally, the rain and lack of sunlight -- it's no joke. We have very few sunny days per year, and this affects overall health in a big way (not to mention kids are inside a LOT). I've been sick more often and for longer since moving here, probably due to molds, etc. There are two seasons -- the glorious summer (which starts after 4th of July), during which Portland is beautiful and everyone comes outside again -- and winter (which means rain and grey from October-June with a very few breaks here and there). We don't see our neighbors for most of the year because there isn't an outdoor life. It's true that the beach is most often very windy and cold, but it is gorgeous if you put on your parka and go for it. Your car window seals will grow moss! This is all coming from someone who fell madly in love with Portland 15 years ago and, for awhile, thought I would never leave. The lush green, etc, was great. Now that we have a five-year-old, it feels much less livable or healthy. Great for young urban people with time for nightlife and disposable income, glad I had those times here. Now I'm ready for sunlight and true accessibility to walking paths and outdoor sports that aren't mudsoaked and full of dog poop. Now, to get positive: for your visit, you could spend time in some of the fun neighborhood retail districts. Do some walking around. Despite my disillusionment, if you can find your sweet spot, the neighborhoods really are built so that you never have to leave them ... which could be good or bad. And the food scene lives up to the hype. There are LOTS of families because so many are moving here after all of the great press in recent years. Echo the statement about securing good jobs beforehand, and factor in the need for LOTS of time volunteering for the schools and raising extra money. Good luck, and I do hope you enjoy your visit!

Feeling slightly dismayed by the somewhat negative tone here. Of course, Portland is not perfect (especially on a gray, rainy day like today), but having grown up in NYC, I can say that I think this is a much healthier place to raise a family_ there is much more of an emphasis on work-life balance, instead of the insanity of a rat race. To address the original questions: The city is full of family-friendly neighborhoods. Depending on your price range for homes, check out Sellwood/Westmoreland, Beaumont Village, Multnomah Village, NW23rd around the Thurman Street corridor. These are on the spendier side _ for less expensive, though spottier schools, consider St. Johns, Kenton, Woodlawn, all in N/NE Portland. I hope you'll visit when the Portland Farmers' Market is up and running, as it is wonderful, and there are tons of kids running around. Rent a bike and go around the river with your family and stop in at the Oregon Maritime Museum, or for a ride on the tram. Check www.pdxkidscalendar.com for a locally compiled weekend events calendar. If you're here in the warmer weather, Jamison Square in the Pearl district is overflowing with kids splashing in the fountains. Good luck and have fun here!

My family has lived in a few cities, including New York (Astoria) and Atlanta and Portland. We lived in Portland for 8 years and recently relocated to the SF Bay Area.

We love Portland. I cannot ever express how much. LOVE. People will talk about it on this thread: close to nature - mountains, snow, ocean - and amazing terrain. Easy to tread lightly on the earth - car-lite/car-free, DIY, homemade everything. Easy to get to downtown and find parking in front of your destination. The neighborhoods are great. Every one is pretty tight and every one has its own positives. The public schools aren't the greatest, but I think there is more to work with here than in NY. The private schools are fine as well and they are exponentially cheaper than in NY. Creativity and art abounds, especially on the smaller scale and personal level. We supported some local artists & could afford their work.

There are two things that we missed when we lived in Portland: people of color and the bigness of the city. We have family in New York and San Francisco and would frequently visit Seattle. We really enjoyed our visits to the big cities because we like them and Portland isn't a big city.

When people asked us how we liked living in Portland, two things we would often say are "it's so easy" and "the quality of life is great".

People have drawn similarities between Portland and Brooklyn. Here is one take, from Portland's Willamette Week: http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-17831-the_portlandification_of_brooklyn.html

I see plenty of people of color and various cultures in Portland. Not just in my home neighborhood of Woodlawn, but also near my kid's school in Hillsdale. When people say we are so white, I think of the schools I went to as a kid in some parts of California where there was ONE black kid in the school, not like here where I can easily go into a business and be the ONE white person. I suppose it can depend on where you live and where you go, but I do not feel Portland needs to be considered a white-only town.

Silver and to those before and after - I appreciate the positive, yet real perspective on things. The very negative posts seem like this can happen anywhere. I myself would never really compare brooklyn to anything. It has become an amazing place in the last 10 years for a variety of reasons. At the same time, it has it has it's negatives. I think we are just looking to get to a more calm environment with natural beauty. We've considered burlingotn vt, but too cold and maybe too small. Jobs are a big one as schools. NY is no easy ride when it comes to schools. Luckily my children are in a great elementary- but one in a few. We've looked into suburbs which are bland, sleepy and trapped in a NY webb. Yes, most suburbs boast of great schools, but what else?? I think we need to make this trip to see if there's an alternative. And, if anything, to experience the PNW! Again, thanks for all the feedback. I would love to know for those who have moved from brooklyn or Manhattan - how was the adjustment and do you stand by the quality of life in exchange.

I have never lived in New York so I can't make a direct comparison, but we love living in Portland. I think there is a nice urban-feel, yet you still have easy access to wonderful parks, hiking, biking, skiing, beaches, etc.
As for schools, our children attend Ainsworth Elementary and we have been very pleased. They offer plenty of extracurricular opportunities in addition to PE, art, and music for all students.
I hope you enjoy your trip!

Alana, I moved here from Manhattan 14 years ago, long before starting a family. I came here for much of the same reasons you mentioned; I wanted to experience the other coast, I wanted to slow down long enough to figure out what I wanted from my life and I longed for the backyard I never had. It took two years for me to fully adjust to the weather (it's a lot of grey and it does start to wear on you, especially right about now) and to stop being annoyed at anyone who was being overtly friendly or who got confused by my dry sense of humor. As you may have noticed from this thread alone, there are tons of east coast transplants here, though, and plenty of people to be playfully snarky with. The biggest thing for me now that I am raising my family here, is that I really love the prevailing culture. People strive to carve out their own happiness here and no one cares if that happiness is being a doctor or a lawyer, or a tattoo artist or a stay at home parent. I like that unique is celebrated here and that my daughter, who has a small physical deformity, has never been teased for it in all of the eight years of her life. The down sides of living here are the same as Brooklyn; tough decisions when it comes to schooling (we love our magnet school in PPS, but we entered the lottery to get in), what we don't pay for in sales tax (we have none), we pay in income and property tax, and *everybody* has an opinion about *everything*, including me (not much of a change from NYC, really). Portlandia paints a pretty funny-because-it's-true caricature of life here. Oh, and one thing no one has mentioned here is that the food here is unreal. So much fresh local produce, fresh seafood and nearby small farms means really really yummy food!
While you're here, be sure to take the kids to OMSI and Saturday Market, if it's open (It closed between Christmas and sometime in March). The soaking pool at the Kennedy School is great, is all ages before 8pm and free for kids under 7 (every one else is $5). You two boys will LOVE the black-lit pirate themed indoor mini-golf at Glowing Greens downtown. If you and your spouse can get away for an evening, I highly recommend the ceviche at Del Inti on NE Alberta, if you like oysters, be sure to go to Dan and Louis' on SW 2nd Ave and Milo's City Cafe is a great place for breakfast with the whole family (get the salmon benedict!). Oh, and Salt and Straw ice cream will ruin every other ice cream shop forever. Sushi here is sooooo good and super cheap by comparison and don't forget the obligatory trip to Voodoo donuts. If you're vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, your kids have allergies or you love your steaks farm-fresh and grain-fed, then there are restaurants, groceries, bakeries and cafes that will cater to your every need.

We moved here from the midwest 5 years ago. I still love it, the teenager hates it. Pros: food is far far better, lots of ways to volunteer and be creative. Cons: the hipper-than-thou crowd and for east coasters, sometimes you guys take the pressure to be "hip" too seriously and end up feeling alienated and stressed. Another con is all the people who think nobody should move here and who hate on the Californians. Please. Nobody likes a hater! Good luck with whatever you decide.

Portland Monthly has a great article this month about the dismal treatment of African Americans. Portland has very little diversity and there is a great deal of hostility towards different races and ethnicities. As the editorial pointed out, Portland is 15-20 years behind other cities in regard to race relations.
If you are a family or person of color Portland is not a great place live.

Just wanted to chime in and say you get a lot of information about Portland schools and how the lottery system works at www.scooponschools.com.

I was born and raised in NY and moved here from Bayridge 10 years ago. I love that Portland is a cool little city, without the "rat race" feel of NY. I think for raising a family Portland definitely is a better place for many reasons...
Portland as a whole is a family/pet friendly city. I found the school system to be a learning process, but would second that you should check out scooponschools.com. Excellent resource.
The things I miss most about NY are, friends, family, diversity and (believe it or not) the hot humid summers!

As one of the seemingly few native Portlanders left here, I'd love to weigh in.
First of all, check out Willamette Week's guides:
as well as their Best of Portland issue and Cheap Eats guides to get some ideas and flavour of the city.
Yes, the schools are drastically underfunded and weigh on parents to pay for a ton of things. Sabin in NE is a good K-8 school with an IB program. Woodstock is K-8 with Mandarin Immersion. Beach is K-8 with a Spanish Immersion. Buckman is an arts magnet elementary school. There are a ton of charter schools for all sorts of temperaments and focuses, including a public Waldorf school. Definitely check the PPS website to see which middle schools and high schools your neighborhood feeds into, though, as choices there get fewer and it becomes harder to transfer.
Yes to having a job plan before you move here. It's brutal.
It's a good idea to rent somewhere first to check out the neighborhood.
Don't be afraid to put yourself out there! Us Portlanders can be a shy lot, but if you try you'll find us quite nice. It gets really easy to get into your own little bubble here and it can be hard to make friends. Getting involved in school and other projects will help, but don't be afraid to contact people, as we're not good at making the first move.
I recommend checking out one of our many micro-brew movie theaters for a kids' matinee while you have a beer - one of the best things about Portland, in my opinion! If you are lucky enough to be here during one of the You Who kids' concerts - check that out. Just Google it and get on their newsletter list.
The great thing about Portland is that it's very kid-friendly. The bad thing about Portland, as people have mentioned, is the rain and the lack of diversity. I've found that if you just dress for the weather then you can enjoy yourself year-round, and all that green is beautiful.
Rent some bikes if you like, but you don't have to.
Go to Powell's.
Eat at a kid-friendly but not high-quality food place like Hopworks or Laurelwood just to have that eating-out-with-kids pressure off for a meal.
Go to the playground at Washington Park and the indoor pool at Mt. Scott Community Center.
Check this site for weekend kids activities.
Check out Sellwood, Hawthorne, NW 21st/23rd, West Hills near Washington Park, Hillsdale/Multnomah Village (West Side).
Go to Alberta Street and Mississippi Streets in N/NE Portland.
Go to Mt. Tabor Park.
I'm happy to represent Portland and give more recommendations if you like. Not sure how that works, but if this site can pass along my email address to you, feel free to contact me!
Hope you have a great visit!

Thanks again everyone for all the "various inputs" - whether hopeful, honest, or slightly discouraging. We leave this week for Portland and look forward to, if anything, to seeing the beauty of Oregon! Again, we will talk with families, visit areas, eat a lot, and get on the road. It looks like a beautiful place from here. Alana.

At the risk of annoying so many, we just moved here from Scottdale without jobs and found numerous great opportunities after we arrived (for a lawye
r and landscape architect). We just bought a house in the alameda school district which gets top marks but is overcrowded (which they are addressing with a recent boundary re-districting that just passed). We also considered Laurelhurst and Grant Park (Beverly Cleary school). Long before I had kids I lived the high life in Manhattan (originally from CT) but life is so much better-paced here for kids. I make less $ but I work half as much and everything costs SO much less here. We have so much better quality of life here than we would in NYC. I could not be more excited to raise our family here, and in the NE in particular. Check out Beaumont Village and the shops on Fremont for a very Brooklyn vibe. Good luck! (sorry for typos, am on my phone).

Chining in (my other post didn't make it) to say that neither NYC nor Vancouver have better schools than PPS. Great Schools.org gives NYC a 4 out of 10, Vancouver a 5 and Portland a 6. This is based on national averages. Yes there are excellent schools, yes there are weak schools---just like any large, urban district.

For the record, I'm a former, native New Yorker, myself. Our pot problem is certainly no worse than in NYC (where drugs and violence are a much bigger issue), precisely because we have a more progressive attitude towards it.

In general the west coast takes a more tolerant stance towards marijuana because we recognize that like gay marriage, it will soon be legalized. Along those lines, I personally don't smoke, but I do agree with the west coast position of "no different than a cocktail, but adults only, please".

Along those lines, PPS takes the attitude that since alcohol, tobacco and marijuana are illegal for minors, possession of any of these is handled in the same vein.

Alana, you'll find housing (renting or buying) to be ridiculously cheap in comparison to NYC. Likewise property taxes. And you'll laugh at people whining about how high our taxes are since we only have state income tax. No sales tax, no city tax. You'll be impressed by a quite good public transportation system for such a small city.

It might be rainy all winter )though it's more of a constant drizzle), but it's waaaay warmer. Likewise summer is cooler and no humidity. Weather-wise I do get somewhat nostalgic for snow (until I have to deal with it), but sadly, we don't get thunderstorms here.

I love the waterfall hikes here in the summer--but honestly, there isn't nearly as much to do here as (obviously) there is in NYC, And while there's no sales tax, there's also a lot less to buy.

I also miss being able to walk everywhere and despite the hype, our restaurants don't even begin to approach New York's. But I do enjoy the slower, better overall quality of life here.

P.S. Alana a lot of the east side is very much like Brooklyn--but you will also miss the quality bagels, pizza and Italian food.

BTW, where in Brooklyn do you currently live? Before moving here, my husband and I lived in Park Slope, South (the super rough part) Slope while he went to grad school and Gravesend. He also lived his high school years in Kensington and I grew up on the Upper West Side and Cobble Hill.

I hate to pile on here, but Oregon's school funding really is much less than New York's. Unlike in most Eastern and Midwestern states, Portland schools outperform the state average in terms of testing. So, Portland Public Schools really does try to do the most it can with the few resources it has, and parent involvement is extremely high in many schools, likely including those in the neighborhoods in which you will be looking for housing. I grew up in suburban Chicago and went to school in Boston and DC. I am continually shocked at how much less money there is for pretty much everything in Oregon compared to those other places. I have now lived here nearly 20 years and it still has the power to shock. There is a lot going on in Portland, but Oregon is a low-revenue state.

Before you move here, please check out this excellent series from Oregon Public Broadcasting on Learning with Less, which illustrates the school funding situation in Oregon:


Good luck to you! This really is a great place to live and a very nice lifestyle for families, but there are trade-offs for sure!

Neisha, to be fair, amount of funding insn't an entirely accurate comparison. Everything in NYC, DC and Chicago (teacher's salaries, building costs, property, taxes, etc) are much higher than they are in Portland.

If by suburban Chicago, you mean Winnetka, I have no doubt the schools were MUCH better funded, just like Lake Oswego, here.

Again, there's a LOT of mythology surrounding PPS sucks (and FYI, I have plenty of issues with them, myself)---and much of it is based on hearsay.

When all is said and done, PPS reates above the national average. Which is no small feat for ANY large, urban, diverse school district. I'd say compare our actual stats before I'd look at funding, because $1 in Portland is like $2 in NYC.

Nope, not Winnetka. Not even close. My high school was around 30% free and reduced lunch. Please re-read my post. I didn't say PPS sucks, and it certainly doesn't at the elementary school level. But, the older kids get, the less you get compared to other states. High school students in Oregon get a partial day of school. Talk to any middle school parent and you will find that they are *extremely* anxious about high school and the fact that kids may have a school day that starts around 11 a.m. or ends at 1 p.m. This doesn't happen in other states. That's why OPB is doing a whole series on learning with less in Oregon.

Also, please read this Register Guard article that could have also been written about any high school in Portland:


Schools really are better funded in other states.

Enjoy your trip out here! don't forget to check out Hollywood, Laurelhurst and Hawthorne areas. As for PPS - the funding is awful, but there is a lot of parent involvement and support financially to make sure the kids are getting a rich experience. My kids aren't high school age yet, so I don't know about the weed thing, but I went to high school in wealthy areas outside of DC and outside of NYC, and there was easy access to weed at both. I don't think it's a new or local problem.

Good luck with your decision...

Actually, I am a middle school parent---both my daughter's focus option middle school (da Vinci) and her neighborhood middle school (Tabor) offer infinitely more extenisve resources than her elementary school did. Even though ehr elementary school benefitted from Title 1 funding.

For high school--my only concern is that there isn't (again) an arts focus option. Otherwise, our neighborhood school (Franklin) is an "8", with a "9" school (Cleveland) and another "8" school (Grant, where many da Vinci alum go) within relatively close proximity.

Honestly, based on my research, Cleveland would be too challenging. KIds there can take classes at Reed and Lewis and Clark. I never had options even close to that at either Stuyvesant in NYC or the extremely well funded, award winning suburban high school I attended in suburban Kansas City.

I really don't see kids younger than junior or senior riding the bus to or from the high schools in my area (I'm entirely bus dependent, BTW) during hours (except lunch sometimes) other than the usual kid gridlock. Nor do I see lots of them trolling around. When I attended high school (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) it wasn't unusual for seniors who had (or were close to having) all their credits attend half day.

As for the article, it isn't unusual for newspapers to slant things in one direction or the other--particularly on hot button issues like education. If it leads, it bleeds.

Mind you, I have about nine billion issues with PPS: I think the whole K-8 model was a colossal waste of time and money---with minimal, if any improvements; I think they don't always address their issues, particularly with bad administrators well at all and I definitely think they sometimes fiddle while Rome burns.

BUT, overall it's a large, economically diverse urban district that still manages to perform better than average. Which is something right there.

BTW, apparently this is hardly an issue unique to Oregon http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/06/education/06time.html

Wow - so many ex east coasters we should start a group...
I moved here in 1997 from Williamsburg, Bklyn - back then it wasn't then W'burg it is now it was a "cheap-er" place for rent close to Manhattan. I grew up in Queens as a kid growing up. After being in Portland 15 years next month I can say if I had my choice I would have stayed East... more career opportunities, better schools and yes it's a rat race but there are so many magical things about the "city" and I am talking the boroughs as well that I think my kids now miss out on, diversity, street smarts, drive (survival of the fitness). Yes it has been great to live in a city where I bought my first Craftsman bungalow in 1998 for $106K but now when I see how this city is not a city of industry and how the schools fail because of that... I see all the over qualified people workoing at jobs that in larger cities they would have more options... that I worry about my kids and their options. We were just back in Bklyn and had the best time... I actually felt safer on the subway since NYers are very outspoken and for the most part have your back where as on Trimet I don't feel that.... just a lot of random thoughts... I think UMs have given you a lot to think about.

We currently live in Ditmas Park (an old victorian neighborhood in Brooklyn). I used to live in center Park Slope, but moved once priced out with our kids. South Slope, by the way, is my favorite spot. It's grown and developed over that past 7-10 years with lots of families and neighborhood schools improving. I can't really imagine (let you know after trip) how Portland could be anything like Brooklyn in any way - other than walkable, growing feel. Brooklyn is massive with so many hoods and diversity. I've found responses on this blog to be intellectual, enthusiastic and at times concerning (in approach and warning). I appreciate your school insights. I never thought that school prospects in Portland were perfect and to differ from anywhere else. I think that a move from coast to coast with kids approaching middle school would be for many reasons. I just wanted to check-in with families already doing it for the best guidance. This way the navigation can be cut-down on my end. THANK YOU!! We leave tomorrow...

Hi Alana,

I know exactly where and what Ditmas Park is! One of my best friends in high school lived on East 5th and Ditmas. Plus it's the stop right before my MIL's old stop in Kensington (she's in South Florida, now).

As for being similar to Brooklyn, seriously a LOT of it is Victorian row houses and craftsman bungalows. Plus we have very specific urban growth boundaries, so our yards are generally kinda small. A lot of our friends who visited were struck by how much it reminded them of Brooklyn.

Oh one other thing you'll probably enjoy here is, believe it or not, basic grocery shopping. While I know many natives find Fred Meyer a bit pedestrian, even tacky, my NYC transplant family and I think it's glorious.

The big ones are hypermarts, so imagine Walmart or Target, but with a complete, high quality supermarket, pleasant surroundings, amazing service and name brand clothing and electronics. Plus they have terrific sales (especially on non-food merchandise) and possibly the best points program ever (everything earns points, you get a rebate coupon for about $20 every quarter that can be applied to anything there, in any way you like).

It's actually why I never understand my neighbors blathering about how Target is their favorite store--Fred's would doubtlessly have the same item (or better), probably cheaper, with other stuff you need and more attentive assistance.

Have a great trip! :-)

Alana, I'm curious about what you thought after your visit! I hope you'll post some impressions when you have the time.

Hi All!
We had a wonderful time! We had the opportunity to visit the coast, Mt. Hood, take a walk (in the rain) in Forrest Park, eat out at many (loved Wildwood), and spent time in and around town. We loved Ladd's Addition, Sellwood and Laurelhurst. I liked the dynamic sky, weather and colors of Oregon. We are trying to sit with it all right now and see if we can do it!? Can anyone help us dig deeper about the areas mentioned above in terms of schools, likes, and whys?? We think you all have a gem!! Thank you for sharing....

Alana, all three of those neighborhoods have EXCELLENT schools---among the best in the city. They're also three of the most expensive and affluent east side neighborhoods (though it might still seem pretty moderate to a New Yorker).

Beverly Cleary (she's from here!), Alameda and Laurelhurst all serve the overall Laurelhurst area. These are 9, 10 and 9 on national testing. Ladd's Addition's elementary is Abernethy, 9. Sellwood has Lewis, 8 and Duniway, 10.

There are other SE neighborhoods you might also like along with strong schools and good magnet schools. Ladd's Addition and Sellwood both have good, but not great middle schools. However, bascially the best middle school in the East Side is da Vinci, a arts focus option magnet middle school, anyway (it's walking distance from Laurelhurst, BTW)

Hope all this helps and good luck!

Sellwood actually has Lewellyn, and I don't know the national score. I lived in that neighborhood for 10 years and moved north to Montavilla. I loved Sellwood and miss it a lot sometimes, but it truly felt isolated from the rest of Portland. It really seemed more like we were part of Milwaukie, which it borders.

Llewellyn is also a "10" school.

I'll add that I live in a very economically diverse neighborhood, where my local elementary school was a "5". I had plenty of issues with how they handled a myriad of issues and simply despised the principal the last year my daughter went there, but I never had issues wiht the quality of instruction she received.

Laurelhurst elementary serves Laurelhurst neighborhood. Beverly Cleary serves Hollywood and Grant park neighborhoods. Alameda serves the Alameda neighborhood. There is some extension in the bouderies beyond the neighborhoods, but in general, that's it. All are great schools, and great neighborhoods, but not one and the same.

Love Sellwood, but access to the freeways is limited, so if you will be working anywhere west of the city, it's kind of a pain.

Ladd's, Sellwood, and Laurelhurst are all really wonderful. I think it would be hard to go wrong in terms of quality of life and schools. We have friends in all of those areas, and everyone seems happy, though for what it's worth, Abernethy (Ladd's school sounds a little more unconventional) than Laurelhurst. Both are great: it's more of a gut-level, where-do-we-fit-in thing. We found movingtoportland.net helpful for resources about different neighborhoods. I know the prospect of renting with little ones might be daunting, but I think it makes so much sense: you'll really get a feel for the city and its distinct neighborhoods after living here for a while. I think you'd be happy in any of those neighborhoods. I moved here from the Philadelphia area almost 13 years ago. I love it here and would never want to leave (I can't even seem to leave Northeast Portland, which I love). I've found it to be so easy to meet friends and make connections, and it's turned out to be a really wonderful place to raise children (4 and almost 2 now). Best to you and your family!

Glad you enjoyed your trip!
As you drill down on information on neighborhoods and schools, it's good to double check the middle school neighborhood.
You can go to http://www.pps.k12.or.us/schools/maps.htm and enter an address, or pick a school to see the boundaries. Da Vinci is a great arts magnet school, but it's all lottery.
Here's an article from a few years ago that highlights the difference between two east side middle schools:

Sellwood is very friendly, cute and quaint. My only reservation about Sellwood is that it can get pretty insular and you may not end up leaving the neighborhood to explore the rest of Portland that much. Also, traffic in and out of the neighborhood can get pretty slow during rush hours, so it depends on where you work. If you get to work from home then it's great! If you tend to stick close to home anyway, then this could be an ideal neighborhood because everything that you need is right there.
Ladd's is a wonderful neighborhood - I highly recommend it! Close to everything but still quiet, a great neighborhood feel and oh, those roses! Wonderful restaurants and coffee shops (Oui Presse on 17th & Hawthorne), and great public transportation access. Abernathy is a great elementary school with a wonderful garden and full kitchen, where the kids help to prepare meals - that's pretty extraordinary. And their after care is run by an arts org, so that's a bit better than normal, too. The middle school is Hosford, which is pretty good. The Abernathy neighborhood border goes up a ways and there's a lot of great stuff happening up on Division St., and some great houses around there, too.
My friends who have kids at Laurelhurst have said that it's meh. It's fine, very neighborhood-y, but not great. It's a nice neighborhood, though, and does spread out over more area than just that elementary school. It is K-8, which might be nice. The neighborhood itself is not as walkable as Ladd's, as far as walking to amenities like restaurants, grocery stores and coffee shops, but it's close to I-84, if you need to commute East or West.
My kid goes to Buckman and we love it. It's an arts magnet school and has very involved parents. Buckman as a neighborhood borders on the Ladd neighborhood, so that's worth a look, too. I'm sure there's a much higher % of rentals in Buckman than in Ladd's, so if you wanted to rent and be close-in while you make a decision that might a good option.
Also, when looking at houses I find this site quite helpful. Just type in the street address and you can get all sorts of useful info:
Good luck!

I was in Portland about 8 years. Portland is so great! Take a look at the list of popular places:

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So what did you do???? Did you move to Portland? We live in Brooklyn with a 3 and 5 year old and bat around the idea of moving to Portland.

I would love to know what happened as well. I am on the brink of movie to portland. I have 2 boys, 6 and 3 and school and quality of life are very important to us.

Portland is awesome because the weather is mild, you can bike or take public transit everywhere and you don't really need a car, it's a foodie city and you can't throw a stick without hitting a microbrew. It's very neighborhood centric and feels European in that way. Plus the Cascade Mountains and Pacific Ocean are an hour away.

I know this is a really old thread, but I'd like to post my cautionary tale.

I moved to Portland 18 months ago, and I've come to the realization that moving here was a terrible mistake. There's a lot to love here. We are in a walkable neighborhood with good schools. I love the greenery. I don't mind the rain. The thing I dislike about Portland is the people. You may have heard of the "Seattle freeze", and I'm here to tell you that it's not unique to Seattle. I volunteer at my kids' school and the other parents barely talk to me. It's miserable. I don't understand. I'm nice. I'm liberal. I'm interesting. I grew up in one of Portland's "weird" sister cities and was born in another. Nobody wants to get to know me. I think they'd like me if they'd just talk to me! At my kids' previous school, other parents reached out to newcomers and invited them for coffee, and told them all the details about the school community and encouraged them to volunteer even more. At this school I feel horrible every time I interact with the other parents. Maybe I'm not cool enough?

People should really think twice about moving here.

The weather is the BEST thing about Portland. Seriously.

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