Portlanders are used to praise. This little rainy hamlet has been getting accolades for many years now on our food, shopping, sights, and general quirkiness.
But it was surprisingly nevertheless to see that the Guardian, a big British news agency, would name Portland among their Top 5 Places To Live in the World! Now, if only they didn’t choose this photo, a view of housing development sprawl under a grey sky?!?
Portland – the city has been the capital of liberal, hipster USA for decades. Photograph: Getty Images
What’s going for it? Do you like letterpress? Do you like vintage clothes? Do you play in a nu-folk band? Then get ye to Boise, Eliot and Overlook in Portland. The city has been the capital of liberal, hipster USA for decades. The Dandy Warhols wrote Bohemian Like You about their very home town. There are some, indeed, round these parts who’d like the entire Pacific Northwest to break off from the rest of the US and go it alone. So very liberal is Portland that it’s a home from home to anyone from Europe, especially if they read the Guardian. Cyclists are loved, not loathed. There are planning restrictions on crappy developments. Portland has the highest number of microbreweries in the world. Everyone is lovely. My auntie lives there and will make you a nice cup of tea if you’re homesick. H.E.A.V.E.N. Shockingly, it still remains relatively good value. Especially the patch north of the Willamette river above the railyards. When I first visited in the early 90s, Boise, Eliot and Overlook were the kind of spots you sped through: always the first sign of a neighbourhood you should buy in. Now you can’t move for contemporary modern antiques shops and dinky record stores.
The case against Bit too cool for school. Everyone’s like you. Who will you have to hate? Oh, yes, everyone like you. The weather: like Britain, but more so… hotter and colder and danker.
Well connected? Unusually again for the US, cycle and walk without abuse: the most bike- and foot-friendly city in the country, packed with proper cycle routes (15 minutes to downtown from the northside). You may use the car. Occasionally. Perhaps for a surf trip to the coast, or a ski trip to the mountains (both 60-100 minutes).
Property The area is full of 1910s and 1920s bungalows that the local real estate guys call “craftsman style”, with handsome stoops and carved wood decoration. There are a fair few vacant lots, too, for the brave, plus 1960s and 1970s infill apartment blocks that, with a zuzz, could be nice. Look off the main drags, like Mississippi and Interstate regeneration projects. Huge detacheds, £415,000-£575,000; four-bed-plus detacheds, £225,000-£415,000; two- or three-bed detacheds, £140,000-£215,000. Condos below this.
Bargain of the week Two-bed detached on NE Sacramento, £128,000, with propertiesofportland.com.