I was not born in Portland, nor did I grow up here. But like many people, I have chosen to make Portland my home. Most of my family lives either north, in Canada, or south, in LA. I tried living back in Canada but it was too expensive and I had spent too many years enjoying the conveniences of American life (Canada VS, America- a whole other blog post!) As for LA, well, I have three kids. Los Angeles is a great city to live in if you’re single, thin, beautiful and have quite a bit of disposable income to throw around. In my opinion, it is not a great place to raise kids and its citizens seem to focus on things that aren’t important to me. A lot people ask me why I chose, seemingly at random, to live in Portland. Then they come and spend some time here and all is made clear. If you have never been to visit this great town, or haven’t thought to put it on your “to see” list of places, I hope these little tidbits persuade you:
- People Love To Make Things Here. The heart of Portland beats to an Artisanal beat. It’s true, as seen in Portlandia, the things we love to make can be a little odd- but our people take pride in crafting things by hand. There are more yarn stores here per capita than any other city in the US. Citizens make their own beer, clothes, wine, whiskey, pottery, art found from things in dumpsters, cheese, bread, bicycles, unicycles, donuts, butter, comics, old timey stuff- the list goes on and on. Every city has artisans but Portlanders take it to a whole other level.
- There Are More Strip Clubs And Bars Than Churches– if that’s your thing. It also seems like people go out of their way to find the dive-iest bar to hang out in. What other cities might consider a cool, hip place would probably be the opposite here. You’d be hard pressed to find some super sleek and glittering night club where people wear designer clothes. More than likely the “hip” place to be is some weird tiki bar built in the ’50s with shredded bar stools and lots of flannel.
- The Food Is Amazing, Full Stop. Many people say it’s the best food in the US. It’s a foodie paradise and not just because of the incredible restaurants. There are more food trucks here than anywhere else in the country. They are everywhere, selling a fusion of incredible offerings. They also have super cool names. My two faves are a breakfast truck called “Fried Eggs, I’m In Love,” and “Starchy and Husk”, which sells comfort foods.
- No Sales Tax! We pay state taxes, of course, but it is really nice (at least psychologically) to only pay what’s on the price tag.
- It Does Not Rain All The Time. Despite having a reputation for it being bleak and rainy (as does most of the Pacific Northwest), the weather is actually pretty great here. It never gets insanely hot or miserably cold. During the summer, we can go for months without rain. There are four actual seasons and all of them bearable.
- We Love Tattoos. It is more common for a person here to have a tattoo than not have one. I myself have three tattoos and I really dig the notion that as a 40-year-old mom of three, that fact does not even register apart from the occasional compliment.
- You Will Not See Much “Generica” In This Town. You probably know what I mean by Generica- those shopping centres which all look the same and could be in any city in the country. Usually there’s a Best Buy and a Bed, Bath & Beyond taking up space there. We have one or two out by the airport, but mostly Portland is all about small boutiques, mom and pop stores, neighborhood communities and thoughtful retail. You also won’t see much Corporate America, either. There are large fortune 500 companies headquartered here, but most seem to understand their location. Or maybe they are deliberately located here for that reason. Case in point: one of the strongest chapters of Occupy America is located here in Portland and the last demonstrator from 2011 finally left in March of this year.
- It Is As Common To Commute On Your Bike Here as It Is In Scandinavia. I personally am not a cyclist, but everyone else I know is. The bike lanes are crazy good here, often as wide as regular car lanes. Bicycle seats hurt my lady parts, so I could never really get into it, but I totally see the appeal.
- There Is Something For Everyone, And I Do Mean Everyone. Are you into outdoor adventure sports? We can do that- kyaking, hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding- all in town or a short drive away. Maybe you’d prefer a good book, We’ve got Powell’s, the country’s largest bookstore. Maybe you like dressing up like a steam punk anime soldier goth, I’m sure there’s a club. Enjoy entertainment? There are plenty of period movie theatres where you can not only watch and eat but drink a micro brew too. Also, a lot of great shows are shot here, like Grimm, so we’ve got just a touch of the Hollywood vibe too. Enjoy vintage clothes? There are dozens of amazing shops. Roller Derby? Yep. Sushi making classes, yes to that too. From the most obscure to the absolute mainstream, the coffee here is just as full bodied as the museums.
- The People Are Really Nice. I’m not just saying that because I live here, either. I’ve lived in the South and that’s a different sort of nice. The South is all sweetness and pecan pie. The people in Portland are genuine. When you meet someone, you might get asked what neighborhood you live in or what you’re into, but what you do for a living comes much later on in the conversation. No matter where you go or who you meet you are made to feel like you are part of of the greater community at large, like of course, you belong here. And really, who could ask for more than that?
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