Welcome to the Open Doors NW real estate team, serving the greater Portland-Vancouver metro area…and sometimes beyond. We are focused on professional guidance with jaw-dropping customer service for people making transitions in their lives: moving to the area, buying a first home, selling a home and upsizing, selling a home and downsizing, investing. Life happens, and we’re here to help you on the home front.
Customer service is our mantra and guiding principle. At each step in the process, we always lead with the query “What can we do to make this transaction as smooth and beneficial for our valuable client?” We do this with proactive communication, open dialogue, effective negotiations, simple language for complicated concepts, and outside-the-box thinking for unique situations.
So, check out the blog, look at some listings, let us know what questions you have and let's get started. You can even set up a search profile and save your favorite homes.
Some of the most popular blog entries on my site are the Moving to Portland guides. I want to make it a little easier for those of you considering a move to this beautiful city by putting all of the information in the same place.
Portland author Chuck Palahniuk once wrote a terrific off-the-beaten path guide to Stumptown called Fugitives and Refugees, and that might be the best assessment yet of who lives in this incredible, eclectic, funky and beautiful town. A lot of people seem to be here from somewhere else. I moved here for the environment, for the food, for the family and friends, for the strangers yet to be my friends, for the weather and terrain, and to be with fellow fugitives and refugees who love the Portland area. (I even kinda moved here to be somewhat geographically closer to Chuck Palahniuk, but it would be too creepy to admit that, right?)
So, why are you moving to Portland? I’m not here to convince you to move to Portland. I’m not here to tout all the magazine articles that declare Portland to be the best town in the US for walkers, for bicyclists, for foodies, for readers and writers, for artists, for techies, for environmentalists, etc, etc. If you are reading this, you probably already know that Portland is the place for you.
No matter what your reasons are, there are always some things to learn, and I want to share my experiences to help guide you. There are many travel guides and city guides, so I think of this as a “Welcome to Portland” guide.
Yep, there is no sales tax in Portland, or anywhere in Oregon for that matter. On the other hand, state income tax and property tax is a little bit higher than other places.
And, yes, it is true that many people choose to live right across the state border, right across the Columbia River, over in Vancouver. In Washington, there is no state income tax and property taxes are generally lower. Washington has a sales tax, but it is quite easy for Vancouverites to come shop in Oregon, especially for big ticket items. So, you can see why a lot of people choose to live in Vancouver.
The DMV here is really nice and easy to use. I’m not kidding. Go check out the Yelp reviews of the DMV. People actually Yelp about their good experiences at the DMV here. If you have a license from another state, you will probably only need to take the written exam to get an Oregon driver’s license. Most of it is common sense, but do take the time to review the Oregon Driver Manual and take the online practice tests. When it is time to get your car registered, you need to have the smog system checked at the state-run DEQ facility. If you are from California, like me, you will find this very affordable and simple. Then go right to the DMV and register your car. This should all cost you about $300, and your car registration is good for 2 years.
Speaking of cars, you can not pump your own gas in Oregon. Just sit in your car and the attendant comes to help you. This was started many years ago as a safety jobs creation program. You would think that gas prices would be a higher here because of that, but they are not. Smile, say “thank you” and enjoy the service.
Some people with strong independent streaks do not like this, but come wintertime, they don’t seem to complain as much. Just don’t forget to get out and pump your own gas when you go to Washington or anywhere else outside the state. You will look quite silly sitting there waiting, won’t you?
There are two electric companies here, but you don’t get to choose which one you use. It depends on where you live. I live in the Northeast and use Pacific Power. Portland General Electric, which also has its name on the downtown ball park/soccer arena, handles electric in most other parts.
One great way to find out which electric company to use, as well as other utilities and neighborhood stats, is to visit the Portland Maps website. This site has a tremendous amount of demographic information about every block and corner in town.
Don’t be afraid to eat at one of the 500+ food carts scattered about town. The food cart movement started here in Portland a few years ago, and they have quickly become an institution. Downtown is full of them, and there are “pods” of carts and single stands all over town. Every cuisine imaginable can be found if you look hard enough. On Hawthorne? Try the Hawaiian-Korean pulled pork stand. Up in Alberta? Stop by the French themed converted rail car or the now-famous Grilled Cheese Grill, where you can chow down in a converted yellow school bus.
Walk across one of the seven bridges crossing the Willamette. All of the bridges, except the freeway passovers, are bike and pedestrian friendly. Walking across the bridge, especially at sunset, is a great way to see the city views. And, when the bridge has to raise for a big ship passing under, an impromptu community forms during the wait. Maybe you will make a new friend on the bridge.
Want to know all the cool fun stuff going on in town? Follow Byron Beck’s blog . He’s got the lowdown on celebs in town, great new restaurants, can’t miss gallery events, political brouhahas and more.
The public transportation in Portland is fantastic. The Tri-Met bus lines are affordable and stretch throughout the region, running on a very regular basis. The MAX is a wonderful lightrail system that will zip you from the far reaches of Portland metro to downtown, the airport, the zoo and many other important destinations. You can even ride the MAX line through downtown for free! To supplement these two great systems are the Portland Streetcar, connecting OHSU and PSU to the Pearl District and NW 23rd, and the WES line, connecting commuters from Beaverton to Wilsonville.
And, you can easily get around this town on foot and by bike. It is highly walkable and rideable. The pedestrian and cyclist communities are very well-organized and vocal, working hard for bike lanes and safety. Check out Portland Afoot and Bike Portland for more resources. We also enjoy the walks suggested in the book Walk There.
Through a combination of public transportation, walking and light driving, I only put gas in my car about every two weeks or so, which makes me happy and healthy.
Another interesting thing you should know about Portland is that it is in fact included in two different counties: Multnomah County and Washington County. In fact many cities in the Portland metropolitan area straddle two counties. Because of that, there is an additional government entity here, simply called Metro, an elected government that coordinates activities and resources between cities and counties throughout the region.
Speaking of elections, Oregon is a “vote by mail” state, meaning that there are no polling places on election day. Your ballot is mailed to you in mid-October, and you must mail it or return it to your county election board in time for election day. While this is convenient and has led to higher voter turnout, I must admit that I miss the excitement of the polling place on election day.
Well, you’re on the wrong tab, sweetie. Just click on the LGBT tab up there are the top of the page. Don’t miss the link to my column on LGBT neighborhoods over at FabulousPDX.com.
Couch Street=”Kooch Street”
Be careful out there…Portland has a number of place names with interesting pronunciations. Saying them incorrectly will mark you as a newbie or tourist!
Yep, Matt Groening is from Portland and there is a lot of Portland geography that inspired the show. I have a whole blog entry about it right here.