Off the Beaten path

    Portland is famous for being a great place for young people. People flock here from all over the country for our cheap housing, incredible nightlife and distinctive neighborhoods. Portland State is in the heart of one of the most vibrant cities in the nation. Chances are, there’s a good reason you attend PSU, either as a lifelong local or a recent arrival. The personality of the school and the community that surrounds it help to make our school a fun and interesting place to get an education.

    But where to live? Each neighborhood has its own feel, and in each of the city’s "quarters" there are tons of people who wouldn’t want to live in any other part of town. You probably know all about it by now – the hipsters in the Southeast, the trendy and upscale residents of the Northwest, the artsy and accessible Northeast, and the in-the-center-of-it-all excitement of the Southwest quarter and downtown. Each area is much hyped for its individual merits (and cursed for its faults), so it can be hard to know where to settle down.

    With this year’s renter’s guide, we’re trying to explore some parts of town that you don’t usually hear about. While our areas of interest do fall into the four distinct quarters of the city, we’re trying to look just a bit off of the beaten path, into the smaller neighborhoods that make up the larger whole that is Portland. You don’t have to live on Hawthorne or Powell to live in the Southeast, and not everyone in the Northwest lives on 21st or 23rd. We want to talk about where we actually do live and why you might want to live there too.


Not quite Beaverton

    Snuggled in the Southwest, just an eight-minute bus ride from PSU, lies the neighborhood of Hillsdale – far enough from the city center to lend it a quieter, more suburban feel, but just a quick jaunt from all the great stuff Portland has to offer. You can party downtown or in the Southeast and then hop on a bus and be home in no time, away from the tweakers and bums and into the quiet of your own spacious apartment.

    If there’s a downside to living in Hillsdale, it’s this: everyone assumes it’s not “close-in.” Since we don’t have a flashy facade or a hipster scene, we must live out in the boonies, right? Wrong. I live closer to PSU than all my little scenester pals in the Hawthorne or Belmont regions, and when I want to go into town there are four frequent bus lines that go right past my apartment building and two more within easy walking distance, all of which can whisk me to work or school in about as much time as it takes to make a cup of tea.

    Here’s what Hillsdale has to offer: accessible and efficient buses, tons of parking, a library, a laundromat, a grocery store, several restaurants (including Thai, Mexican and Caribbean), a couple thrift stores and a McMenamins all across the street or within a three-minute walk. There are two schools and several parks nearby, and we’re about 10 minutes from a Fred Meyer and several other chain stores. We’re also near OHSU and the West Hills, and just a short bus ride or vigorous walk from Multnomah Village.

    Glamorous and exciting it is not. But it’s safe, cozy and affordable, and very much close-in. It’s a great little neighborhood for someone who wants to get away from the busy-ness of downtown while still enjoying all of Portland’s virtues. It would also be a great place for young parents who want to live someplace safe and have a bit more space to occupy while still in easy reach of the city center. As a recent transplant from a small town, I enjoy being able to leave the tall buildings behind me every night and come home to my peaceful little corner of Portland and relax. It’s a good fit.

?”Kate Folsom


Milwaukie – the future of hip?

    A bland little slice of 1992, the city of Milwaukie boasts miles of used car lots, a giant airplane that sits over a gas station, the largest number of non-ironic mullets per capita in the state of Oregon, and the Acropolis, the best (and sleaziest) booby-and-steak joint in the metro area.

    Milwaukie, like most suburbs, is thought to be largely for “average” stock – a place that creative, intelligent college-bound kids escape from rather than move to. But as folk with culture and learnin’ like you and I are priced farther and farther out of the city, this depressing little ‘burb could very well become the new hip Southeast.

    And as child-molester- and meth-infested as Milwaukie is now, it has its nice areas and nice people just like any other non-Portland craphole, and it seems to be hipping up to welcome us in the near future. Milwaukie has been on Wal-Mart’s hit list for a couple of years, and they’re pissed about it. There’s a farmer’s market on Sundays, and they’ve recently redone the crosswalks of their main drag in always-chic brick. Sound familiar?

    The old Safeway was torn down to build a giant apartment complex next to downtown Milwaukie where there’s a Dark Horse comics, an action figure store, a Chinese restaurant, a quickie-mart, a second-run theater/arcade, a bar, a library and a pawn shop.

    The Vanguard’s advice: hip Southeast is becoming more and more unaffordable. Think about renting a brand new 1,500 square foot, three-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house with vaulted ceilings and walk-in closets for less than $1,200 a month while you still can. By the time you realize it will cost a billion dollars annually to live anywhere else, it may be too late.

?”Treasure Porth


Living among hippies: the Sellwood experience

    Once known as a bastion of hippiedom, Southeast Portland’s Sellwood area remains a charming neighborhood community that provides a quieter alternative to the bustle of downtown living options.
    Sellwood is nestled between Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard and the Willamette River below Holgate Boulevard. Two very nice family-orientated parks, Westmoreland and Sellwood Park, bookend the area, with the Eastmoreland Golf Course just east of Westmoreland Park.

    A number of small shops, boutiques and restaurants populate the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Milwaukee Avenue, including Fat Albert’s, a tasty and very greasy diner in the best tradition. No spinach and feta nonsense here, just heart-clogging goodness.

    Mostly residential and populated with small, charming houses, the area’s more inexpensive housing (and hippie heritage) can be found south of Tacoma Street, though any properties near the waterfront fetch significantly higher rent. On Ninth and Sherrett thoughtful flower child neighbors maintain a free coffee stand, book exchange and “free stuff” box.

    A smattering of older apartment buildings can be found, but the best option, at least economically, is to rent a house with one or two friends. Most houses cost around $1,000-$1,500 a month for a three-bedroom and an easy-to-maintain (read: small) yard. Typical one-bedroom apartments go for just under $700 a month.

?”Owen Smith


Beyond 39th

    The definition of “close-in” is changing. A little less than 40 blocks may have been considered too far from downtown in the past, but with better transportation, rising rents, and younger people yearning for more space, residences beyond 39th Avenue are becoming more and more desirable. The reality is that the housing is clean, safe and comes at an amazing price.

    With one-bedroom apartments starting as low as $485 for 624 square feet, and $425 for 590 square foot studios, the 20-minute MAX ride into downtown may easily be worth the cost.

    The amenities are similar: up to two cats with a deposit, no dogs, and the always-exciting fitness center.

To rent an apartment with two bathrooms, however, a three-bedroom apartment ranging from $785 for 950 square feet to $915 for 1,200 square feet in many buildings is the only option. Many three-bedrooms only have one and a half baths.

    The Overlook At Causey Lane at 11408 S.E. 90th Ave. is a nice choice, and so are the Stonehenge Apartments at 11614 S.E. Division St. and Creston Villa at 3608 SE 40th Ave. off Powell. Though closer in to Portland, the prices at Creston Villa are comparable to the apartments much farther out. This is a great location, just 10 minutes from downtown.

    The area around 80th and Foster is also unique. The park beckons families to bring their children for a day at the Mt. Scott Park and Community Center. A Fred Meyer is close and the neighborhood is safe. It will take 30-40 minutes to get downtown on the MAX and 15-20 by car.

?”Emmery Raw


U of P

    To the west is the amazing University of Portland area off Willamette Boulevard. The campus is beautiful and nearly every other house is for rent.

    Many houses are within sight of the campus and renting for $1,200 to $1,800 a month for three- and four-bedroom homes. The closer the homes are to Willamette Boulevard and the university, the more expensive the rent.

    A home on North Syracuse can be a great deal. With three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a one-car garage and tons of storage, this home rents for $1,195 per month, putting three people at a cheap (yet annoying) $398.33 per person.

    Don’t even think about not having roommates at these prices. Four-bedroom, two-bathroom houses are the most common and three bedrooms with two bathrooms are a close second. Each person within the home would be paying between $400 and $450 per month.

    Many homes have driveways and parking on the street is free.

    There are two beautiful parks, the Portsmouth Park and the Columbia Annex Park, within walking distance of the school. The school grounds are also inviting. The view off Willamette Boulevard is amazing and the neighborhood vibe is safe and peaceful.

?”Emmery Raw



Some things to consider:

?フᄁ  Do you need to live near frequent bus lines? How long it takes to get somewhere in a car can be very different from how long it takes on the bus.

?フᄁ  Will parking be an issue? How about auto theft?

?フᄁ  Are utilities included? Which ones? Make sure to factor that into the cost of rent.

?フᄁ  How important is it to be within walking distance of a grocery store? A bar? A methadone clinic?

?フᄁ  What’s crime like in the part of town you’re considering? Does it bother you that there’s a drug dealer on the corner? Are you HAPPY there’s a drug dealer on the corner?

?フᄁ  Do you want to be in the middle of the action, or do you want to go home at night to something a bit more peaceful?

?フᄁ  How important is it that you have your own place? You can save a lot of money by rooming with someone, but then you’ll have to deal with other people. How much is privacy worth?