Portland Surprised Me

pablo (2).png

When my husband and I quit our jobs to travel the world and left San Francisco for good, we didn’t know where we would end up after the trip. We made a list of all the things we wanted in a city and hoped that traveling would clear our minds and give us answers.

Fast forward to when we came back to the US in February 2017, our ideas on where to go were still blurry. The dream city in our mind was sunny and warm, not too big, close to the ocean, culturally alive, populated by liberal and progressive people. We considered some areas around LA and San Diego, but we felt that they were maybe too small and we weren’t sure about the political climate. We were also planning to buy a house, and California is an expensive place to live.

After much deliberation, we considered Portland, but we knew that the big compromise was the weather. On the positive side, we thought that life would be affordable, we would be able to buy a house, and I could take some time to develop my writing career. We knew we would miss the sun and the ocean, but we thought that we could use Portland as a stepping stone for a future life when, hopefully, we would be able to afford to buy a house by the ocean.

We didn’t have high expectations when we moved to Portland in May 2017, but we loved the food and the politics—that was enough to keep us content. Tyler landed a job, and we started to look for a house to buy while enjoying the sunny and warm Northwest summer. After seeing some of the houses available on the market, we thought we wouldn’t find the place for us by the end of the year—many of the houses we saw didn’t have much light and often the second bedroom was in the attic with a very low ceiling.

In fall 2017, we moved into a beautiful house in SE Portland. We fell in love with this place the first time we saw it, and we stretched out our budget to win the auction—it was worth it. It’s not raining this year; locals say it’s a weird winter—I am thankful for this opportunity to appreciate the Northwest and I’ll make the best of bad weather. Living in a welcoming house full of light, with a big garden certainly helps, but there are also other reasons to love Portland:

  • Food

As an Italian, good food is essential to happiness—and Portland doesn’t disappoint. We tried many restaurants and we liked almost all of them. There is a variety of food from all over the world and it’s easy to find vegetarian and vegan delicious options. Among my favorites: Tusk (Mediterranean), Revelry (Korean), Bar Mingo (Italian), Kati Portland (Vegetarian Thai), Ava Gene’s (Italian).

  • People

Honestly, I just met nice people in Portland—from shop assistants to neighbors. I heard rumors that Portland is not diverse, and in my experience, this is not true. I interacted with people from all over the world; I met Lyft drivers from many different places, from Mexico to Romania.

  • Culture

Portland has a vibrant culture, especially suited for people who love independent artists. There are countless workshops, classes, and events to choose from—from gardening to writing. The city wants independent creators and supports their ideas giving them a platform and resources.

  • Nature

The Northwest is known in the US for having an incredible natural landscape, but few people know the beauty of the Northwest outside of the US—it’s a shame (or maybe it’s good, so it doesn’t become a tourist hub). Oregon has gorgeous National Parks; Crater Lake National Park and the Columbia River Gorge are the perfect destinations for a summer hike—they harbor dazzling views and don’t disappoint explorers who prefer to find a quiet spot to retreat.