Wikinvest Wire

Portland area or Euguene area?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thanks again for all of the (mostly) constructive debate on the topic of our Northwest relocation quandary. The many comments on previous posts and the hefty number of private emails that have been sent my way are most appreciated.

For those of you just joining in, see:
11/06 - One more reason to leave California
01/12 - Vancouver, Washington?

Since so much is being learned about Oregon and southern Washington during this process, it seemed like a good idea to, at this point, flesh out the differences between the greater Portland area and the greater Eugene area (those red circles on the map should probably be a little bigger than they are shown - don't let that distract you).

For a number of reasons, we're pretty much set on the Pacific Northwest, but don't feel compelled to go as far north as Seattle or to leave the Willamette Valley for the California-like weather of Southern Oregon.

As we've quickly tired of having to drive an hour-and-a-half to get to a Costco and refuse to live that way again (yes, restaurants, bookstores, and other retailers are important, but it's mostly about the nation's largest warehouse club), this pretty much leaves the greater Portland area and the greater Euguene area from which to choose.

Come to think of it, either those circles should be made much bigger or a third one should be added - for some reason we've never even thought much about Salem.

Anyway, we're willing to have a go at the winter gloom and doom to see if we can handle it. We've become sufficiently scared of the gray, colder months that the chances of us buying something without a trial run first have dropped precipitously - plus home prices will surely be lower in 2010 than 2009.

So, it boils down to the Portland area, the Eugene area, or, maybe, somewhere around Salem.

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

It depends on what you want. Eugene is more of a university town, more of a hippie town (I mean that in both good and bad ways). Portland is more of a major city, with more amenities and a lot more going on--but higher costs, too.

One thing I'll note is that jobs are very hard to find in Portland even in good times, so if you ever need to go back to work, you might find it difficult to do there. My uncle ended up finally getting a job as a meter reader for the city; he had worked in tech in other cities, but nobody was hiring. (He's since worked his way further up the chain.)

I love Portland, though. Love visiting, love spending time there. I lived in Seattle for years before moving to Vancouver, BC, but if the right opportunity ever knocked, I'd go to Portland.

If you have more specific questions, I'm happy to take a stab at answering them.

JCD said...

If you want to see if you can handle the dreary winters, go to Eugene. To quote Frank Sinatra, "if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere" in the Northwest.

donna said...

Well, if it's books you want, it's Portland you want. Powells!!!

Anonymous said...

I lived in both and its Portland for me. Eugene was just too small and not enough avenues of interest. Anyways Portland still has that 'small town' feel to it for a city of its size. Great choices either way though. Cheers...

Anonymous said...

If you've read any of the "crash" books I'm sure you're already aware of the potential for societal breakdown and rampant crime that might follow. If that happens, I wouldn't want to be anywhere too close into things. I find the "crust" at the edge of a metro area to be a good compromise. If things go really bad you'll be glad you live where criminals are afraid to come around because they stand out like sore thumbs and most natives are armed. It's hard to blend in on a road with cow pastures when you're trolling for homes to rob. Get yourself a couple of acres and be willing to drive 20 minutes further to get to things and you'll be better off that going the typical yuppie tract home route.

It sounds like you prefer warm weather. As a west coaster I'm sure most red states are anathama, but one thing they do well in the rural south is law and order and our governments don't mind citizens defending themselves. So criminals tend to stick to the urban and denser suburban areas where the herd is more
"corporate softie" than "well armed redneck" and its easier pickin's. Not much crime in the counties north of the Atlanta metro area, for example. Yet you're 30 minutes from a costco. I have cows accross the street and I'm 8 miles from a shopping center with everything from Target to restaurants to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. But if someone drives up my driveway when I'm not home my neighbor sure knows it. And anyone walking through looking for an open back door would stand out like a sore thumb.

The last place I'd want to live in a sustained downturn would be a high spending liberal state where they're going to look at you as a revenue source if you have two nickles to rub togeher. Like the other poster said, out of the frying pan and into the fire. Oregon sounds like California lite to me from what I've been told.

Nostradamus, apparently said...

I was born in Oregon and I've lived in both cities for years and it's an easy choice: Portland.

Portland has so much more going for it than Eugene because it's a bigger city, much prettier and a more interesting area with better weather.

They cost about the same, too. Also, you've got a major airport in PDX which Eugene doesn't have.

Traffic is worse in Portland but that is mostly a function of where you live/work. If you don't have to work for a living, you can control it.

I wouldn't waste any time considering Salem. It has none of the good things about Portland and all of the bad things about Eugene.

Tim said...


Any thoughts on Portland vs. Vancouver?

Anonymous said...


I grew up in the Medford/Ashland area.

I went to the UO in Eugene and lived there for four years.

I went to law school in Salem and lived there for three years.

I worked in Portland and now live in Seattle.

Obviously, it depends on what you want. Eugene is a great place to live and has everything you could ever want unless you are into professional basketball. Salem is a very underrated town. It is only 45 minutes from Portland and has everything you could want. If you are looking for something smaller, consider the Medford/Ashland area where the weather is considerably better.

You can find Costco in any of these four areas. All have access to incredible unlimited outdoor recreation.

dearieme said...

One answer to grey winters is to spend January and February in the Southern Hemisphere. If you like desert-edge heat, try Adelaide in South Australia. If you'd prefer a cooler variant of a Mediterranean climate, try Christchurch in NZ. Then fly back home for Spring. I've lived in both - highly recommended.

Fred Chamberlin said...

I live in Springfield and live in Eugene. Born in Salem. Spent time in Colorado, California, Washington, Oklahoma and Guam. Eugene and Portland are Liberal, just check out the government. Salem not as much. Springfield are good ole boys and proud to be redneck. Within 5 years, Springfield will be bigger than Eugene.

Mr. 808 said...

We'd rather you stay where you are - Californians have been raising our property values (and property taxes) for too long. Cars w/ CA plates are regularly vandalized. If you do come, be prepared for grey skies from Oct.-May. SAD hits some people really hard.

If that doesn't dissuade you, consider where you want to be when the demand for oil catches up with decreasing supplies again and the price of gasoline is north of $5.

Vancouver is strip-mall hell, suburban sprawl with absolutely no planning. Lots of Republicans who like to stiff their local govt. by shopping in Portland where there's no sales tax. I'm sure they'll be armed & angry when they can't afford to fill up their 4x4s to make the trip.

I haven't visited Eugene enough to know whether it follows the typical "empty downtown, Wal-Mart on the edge of town" model so common in this country, but if you like hippies & VW micro-buses, you'll love Eugene. Things are much more redneck across the river in Springfield.

Portland has very strict zoning laws, and has been following the European model of urban planning since the 70s. City government has prioritized light rail and bicycles over automobiles (which I think is a good thing). But they're also complete idiots when it comes to encouraging business, hence the employment problem. We have lots of tattooed, multiply-pierced, college-educated 20-somethings w/ minimum-wage jobs who like to drink & smoke (I'm glad I own a bar). It's a pretty laid back place; definitely doesn't feel like the 23rd largest metro area. Muggings are up recently, but I don't feel in danger of getting shot, like I would in other big cities.

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