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I am staying in a Motel 6 while I look for an apartment. It’s just under $52 a night. I’m trying my best not to touch anything. The hotel room doesn’t have a tub or a shower stall but a flimsy fiberglass shower “pod” in the corner of the bathroom. I guess it’s cheap and functional, but it’s also another way of saying “$50 a night doesn’t buy you a way to clean yourself.”

My main focus has been to find a place as soon as possible. I’m staying in the SE part of Portland, near the Hawthorne district, which is where a few people said I should live. It is indeed a hip little area, with its own Powell’s Books, a bunch of funky shops and cafes, bars and restaurants. The side streets are lined with amazing old craftsman, Victorian and colonial revival houses. Many neighborhoods have these grand, well-kept old houses. Quite a few of them are mansion-sized fortresses, three stories tall and ornately decorated. These houses will live forever and never lose their charm.

“Close in” apartments are a bit hard to find. Rather, you can find 1970s, shag-carpeted, dark-paneled, linoleum-floored apartments quite easily. So NICE apartments take a little more effort. The further out of town you go, the larger and cheaper places get. Part of the appeal of Portland is that the housing prices are so much lower than California. However, it will not be long before the huge influx of people like me causes the whole city to become more expensive. Jerks.

I have been thinking that I wanted to get a place closer in town. It’s where all the hip stuff is happening. All the hubbub. It’s closest to where I want to work. I can walk to groceries, coffee, and breakfast. I can crawl home from bars. Because I do that a lot.

A studio in the NW section of town can go anywhere from $600 to over $1000. The majority of the apartments are big turn-of-the-century “brickers,” with anywhere from 20 to 100 units. I’m not sure if these building have always been apartments, but there are hundreds of them, all in various states of “vintage-ness.” Some are kept well. Others, not so much. I have seen half a dozen studios and they are all very similar: hardwood floors, small, separate kitchens with tile counter tops and checkerboard floors, bathrooms with claw-foot tubs. They are cute. I applied for a studio that is $695.

Of course, they are studios. Nothing makes you feel like you’re living la vida college student like renting a studio. I don’t know how I feel about being in my mid-30s and not having upgraded a little from my early-20s lifestyle. I can match it with my late-teens barista job and actually travel backward in time! Awesome!

The one other issue is parking. The dreaded street parking. I don’t like it. If perhaps, you don’t know me well, or if you haven’t guessed, I REALLY love my car. I can’t say that I have a “pet name” for my car, but I should. A dashing, heroic name. Something that reflects its confused heritage, maybe Kamikaze Sven, the Victorious. I will think about this.

Since the studio is close to everything, I won’t need to drive much. I can park the car for the week and walk everywhere. I could try to pay for a dedicated parking spot, probably for $100 or so. So total expense with rent and parking would be more like $795.

So all the way on the other side of the spectrum is a nice place out in the suburb of Beaverton. Yes, Beaverton. There are lots of trees in Oregon. I guess there are lots of rodents nibbling on them and making dams. And they deserve to have towns named after them. In Beaverton, seven miles outside of town, I saw a one bedroom in a newer development, with a fireplace, washer and dryer in the unit, a little deck, and a dedicated, covered parking spot. $735. I would be taking over the lease from a nice couple so I would barely have to pay a deposit. It’s big and nice and adult.

Now the problem there is that they can’t move for another 3 weeks. So I have to do something with myself for that amount of time. I don’t want to stay in Chateau de Shower Pod for 3 weeks. And “the Beav” is a ways outside of town on Route 26, which is notoriously bad at rush hour. I don’t know if it is “LA bad” or not. There are bus routes and a light rail, so there are public transportation options.

The other problem is that the city wrinkles its nose at the suburbs. People I have talked to in the city shudder when mentioning suburbs. The big-box stores, the strip malls, the cookie-cutter housing. Not a lot of character. It’s hard to be engaged with the city if you’re looking at your watch and wondering about traffic.

This, coming from someone who lived in Los Angeles for 6 years. I guess in LA terms, it’s like a Westsider being invited to a party in Glendale. All the way out there? Really? Do I like those friends that much?

So this is my dilemma. City or suburb? Small or spacious? Character and charm or fireplace and washer/dryer? Shitty street parking or 45 minute commute? Walk everywhere or drive everywhere?

Tune in for the exciting conclusion in the next post!


  1. Be city person! We have an apartment on what we affectionately call the Stairway to Heroin in Lisbon, but realize that we love not even being tempted to drive (of course, we’d need to buy a car first) because we’re walkable to nightlife and all kinds of stuff. And we’re frickin’ old! Don’t be tempted by suburbs!

  2. Me? I am so being tempted by the suburbs…

  3. Don’t move to Beaverton, stay in Portland, park your car and take public transporation, or ride your bike.
    Have you found Boring Oregon yet? There’s a Boring Grocery Store, a Boring Gas Station…I could go on…let’s just say it’s truth in advertising.

  4. I highly recommend staying away from Beaverton. If you need to go to a big box store it’s there for you, but if you want to be near everything and friends you’ll want to live in close-in NW, SW, NE, NW, or N. If you want to live in and experience Portland you have to live in PORTLAND! ;-)

    Beaverton is just like any American suburb in any American city. Except maybe wetter than average.

    NW and SW will present you with the parking problems, but you should be able to find plentiful street parking in the other “quadrants” (yes, there are 5).

    Close-in would be out no further than about 50th in the east side, 27th or so in SW/NW, and Killingsworth or so in N.

  5. Thanks, Dave. Staying close-in has been the RESOUNDING advice from just about everyone.

  6. Cutest thing ever.

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