Portland Oregon, Lay of the Land
Whether you are new to the Portland area or a local resident, searching for a home can be a tedious task. With over 95 different neighborhoods in the Portland Metro area, deciding where to buy a home or how much a home is worth can be confusing. It is my goal to make your purchase as easy and enjoyable as possible. If you’re new to the area, let me be the first to welcome you to Portland. It will be my pleasure to assist you with all of your real estate needs!
To begin, let me give you a basic idea of the lay of the land. The Portland Metro area consists of 95 different neighborhoods. Most of these neighborhoods have their own park and/or shop and restaurant district. The neighborhoods are divided into 5 sections: North, Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Southwest.
The east and west sides of the city are divided by the Willamette River. Once you’ve visited here, you’ll understand why one of Portland’s nicknames is the City of Bridges. Each time you cross a bridge, you’ve crossed into either the east side or the west side. The north and south sides of the city are divided by Burnside Street. Burnside is neither north nor south. You will either be on East Burnside or West Burnside depending upon which side of the Willamette you are standing.
As a rule, the east side of Portland is geographically fairly flat and the west side is hilly. The east side is also easier to navigate than the west side because it is mostly set up in a grid pattern. Imagine the Willamette River as being labeled “0 Street.” Almost all streets running parallel to the Willamette (and are thus going in the north/south direction) are numbered. So SE 50th Ave is 50 blocks east of the Willamette River (and also downtown Portland since the downtown district begins immediately on the west side of the river). When you hear neighborhoods being described as “close-in,” this means close-in to downtown Portland. Locals typically think of all homes located west of 82nd Ave as being close-in.
As previously mentioned, the west side is geographically more hilly. Streets tend to dead-end (sometimes for no apparent reason) or curve into other streets. The west side is much more difficult to learn because of these issues.
<h3>Real Estate – East Side vs West Side<h3>
Generally speaking, homes located on flat ground are usually less expensive than homes that are on hillsides. This means that the east side is typically more affordable than the west. Keep in mind though that there are some very pricey neighborhoods on the east side and some fairly affordable neighborhoods on the west despite the geographical factors.
The standard lot size on the east side is 50’ x 100’ or 5,000 sf rectangular lots. Lots on the west side are usually larger, around 6,000 – 8,000 sf, and tend to be irregularly shaped. The larger lot sizes on the west side contribute to the higher prices of homes in this area.
The east side was primarily built from 1910 – 1940’s and home styles tend to include Bungalows, Cape Cods, Old-Portlands (covered front porch and steps leading upstairs that are visible as soon as you enter), Victorians and Traditionals. The west side (other than downtown Portland) was developed in the late 1940’s – 1980’s. Home styles tend to consist of the Ranch, Dayranch (looks like a ranch from the front but sits on a hillside, so from the back, it looks like a 2-story), Split-level and Contemporary. North Portland was the site of the first development and has the smallest and oldest homes. Home styles are similar to those mentioned for east side properties. Due to their small size and age/condition, real estate is typically most affordable here. North Portland is currently experiencing a great deal of gentrification and revitalization and many investors see this area as prime property for flips (purchasing fixer-uppers, renovating them and then reselling for a profit).
Almost all of Metro Portland has an urban feel to it with the exception of some neighborhoods in SW. Most neighborhoods on the east side have sidewalks throughout and are very pedestrian and bike-friendly. Many of the neighborhoods on the west side lack sidewalks and tend to be a bit more difficult for pedestrians and bike riders because of the hills and traffic patterns. Despite these factors, many SW neighborhoods have a somewhat more suburban feel to them.
If suburban living appeals to you, this can be found in the immediate outlying cities of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Hillsboro, Sherwood, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Wilsonville and Gresham. I would be happy to help you find property in all of those cities if they would fit your needs better than Metro Portland and I can provide you with more details of those cities should you choose to want that information.
<h3>Shops and Restaurants and Arts District</h3>
Metro Portland consists of mostly mom & pop shops and restaurants. People who live in the close-in neighborhoods tend to gravitate towards local businesses and artists. There are some pockets of corporate big-box retailers and fast-food restaurants, but these areas are few and far between. There are 2 shopping malls located close-in. Pioneer Place Mall is in the heart of downtown Portland, and Lloyd Center is just east of the Willamette River. Lloyd Center has a large ice-skating rink as its center court. The department stores at these malls are Meier & Frank, Sears, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Ave. The suburban outlying cities mostly consist of corporate retailers and restaurants and have very few locally owned businesses or artist galleries.
The majority of our fine arts district, including the Oregon Symphony and the Center for the Arts, is in downtown Portland. Most rock concerts and our NBA basketball team, the Portland Trailblazers, play at the Rose Quarter stadium, which is located in the Lloyd Center district just east of downtown Portland.
Again, I appreciate the opportunity to work with you on your home purchase. Please let me know how I can best assist with all of your real estate needs!