The five corners

North Portland
The Next Big Thing Since ‘04
As it stands, if you were smart/lucky/broke enough to stake your claim in certain areas five years ago when they were still affordable, consider yourself victorious.

North Portland
The Next Big Thing Since ‘04

As it stands, if you were smart/lucky/broke enough to stake your claim in certain areas five years ago when they were still affordable, consider yourself victorious. Unless that is, of course, you’ve been subject to a very likely rent spike, in which case let’s hear it for landlords, eh? That said, a majority of North Portland is still pretty “up and coming” as the people say. Along its lifelines of North Williams Avenue, North Mississippi Avenue and North Killingsworth Street, you’ll find ample bounties of primo amenities. If you’re the McMenamins type, you’ll find its headquarters on North Killingsworth Street in the form of the Chapel Pub. Though parts of North Portland are growing just a little too bourgeoisie (an oyster bar? Please), other parts are gems just waiting to be discovered (I’m looking at you, Dekum).  If house shows are your bag, you’ve got plenty of venues to choose from. The once dirt-cheap property values mean that Portland’s youngest entrepreneurs can snatch them up and destroy them for your entertainment! Dedication to a scene? I think so.

Northwest Portland

Puttin’ On The Ritz

One huge plus about living in Northwest is that you’re amongst the huge buildings, pretty people, excitement and everything else generally thought of as “downtown living,” though you’re just a stone’s throw away from the real deal. Parking is free if you go deep enough (Northwest Johnson Street and up is generally a good rule to follow). There are tons of things to do—ample bars, eateries and even two very formidable karaoke joints within blocks of each other (Gypsy and Voice Box). Northwest oozes class and refinement—if you have a Northwest address, everyone’s gonna want to party at your house whenever the idea is tossed around. You’re within walking distance of everything you’ll need. You will have five grocery stores at your fingertips. Many banks and ATMs are all over the place. You’ll rarely have to leave Northwest! The world is your oyster! Alas, living in this magical land comes with a price, and that price is astronomical. Sure, there are $400 studios, but even stretching your wingspan to its fullest potential in them is a task in itself. If you’ve got money, by all means—go for it. But finding a nice, cheap space anywhere in Northwest is a monumental undertaking—just ask all the Chinese businesses that used to populate the neighborhood that bears their namesake.

Southwest Portland
Trees or Towers?

Unless you actually want to live in the labyrinthine mess that is Garden Home or on the long, straight and boring Tigard gateway that is Barbur Boulevard, downtown and its immediate surroundings are your best bet. Northwest charges scads of dollars to live a quick jaunt from downtown, so actually living in downtown Portland must be a financial nightmare, right? Surprisingly, that’s where you’re wrong—living downtown is, surprisingly, very affordable. Choosing downtown might not be for everyone, however—If you’re accustomed to large volumes of noise, by all means live amongst the hustle and bustle. On Friday and Saturday nights, this choice might prove to be wrong, and if you have a car, forget about it. Street parking is good for five hours maximum in certain areas, and if you actually want to own a car, you must pay parking garages hundreds of dollars a month to store your car whenever you feel like it. This, in turn, puts your rent up somewhere near the Northwest stratosphere. Is living in downtown just as expensive as in Northwest? No! There’s a solution. On the outskirts of downtown, just before Goose Hollow, there exist a ton of cheap apartments, priced nearly the same as student housing without all the noise rules and quiet times. Sell your car, you’re in Portland now!™

Intro to Portland

For most newcomers, this is the first quadrant to call home. Cheaper than the west side (ostensibly), safer than every other part of town and chock-full of coffee shops, bike shops, co-ops and more, southeast Portland appeals to transplants of all ages. There are also large immigrant communities in both inner and outer Southeast, and these streets offer easy access to the best Chinese and Vietnamese food in the city.
Hawthorne is popular and (surprise!) totally overrated. Unless the bars are nearly closed and you need a hot dog or french fries with rosemary ketchup stat, venture out—Stark Street and Powell and Woodstock boulevards are this area’s most underrated streets for food, drink and entertainment.

As far as shopping goes, the thrift stores on Division Street are pretty great and the Goodwill on Grand Avenue is one of the biggest we’ve got. And here I will concede—Hawthorne’s House of Vintage is not to be missed.

Parks are nice! In the Southeast you have everything from the Springwater Corridor Trail and the Eastbank Esplanade (a lovely bike ride) to an extinct volcano and a couple of buttes to explore. Laurelhurst Park is a personal favorite; there are ducks.
Illegal activities are available on Southeast 82nd Avenue and the Reed College campus. Enjoy!

Very Interesting…

Home to Portland’s only ice skating rink, the Banfield, IKEA and most of the Portland Police shootings, Northeast is at once fabulous and depressing. Lloyd Center: very depressing; Franz bakery: absolutely fabulous! The airport: strangely unnerving; Marine Drive and its bike path: pretty perfect. Northeast 82nd Avenue is super creepy; around the corner is Rocky Butte Natural Area or Rose City Park, and those are super awesome.
Northeast Portland is also gentrification central: “New” neighborhoods are located on Alberta and Killingsworth streets and Williams Avenue, but all they seem to house are yoga studios, art bars and boutique clothing stores that no one under 35 can afford without their parents’ help. That said, Alberta does offer fresh late-night donuts, cheap burritos, mojitos and an extensive whiskey selection.

However, the same can be said for Northeast Sandy Boulevard. No fancy renovations, just an ugly, busy street with a whole lot of bars and shops (with some serious gems sprinkled into the mix). And when you’re a little closer-in, Northeast Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard may be as good as it gets. Ethiopian restaurants outnumber coffee shops, there is a candy store, a 99-cent record store and not one, but two Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits. Mmm hmmm.