Crime & Safety in Portland>Question Details

Kayt, Home Buyer in San Mateo, CA

What Portland neighborhoods are walkable and safe?

Asked by Kayt, San Mateo, CA Mon Mar 3, 2008

My husband and I are going to be visiting Portland in two weeks during which time we're going to figure out if we'd like to buy a home there. Right now we live in the downtown area of a suburban Californian town, and we enjoy having dozens of restaurants, a gym, library and park all within walking distance of our apartment. We also feel really safe here at all times of the day. I spent my single years in New York City, and I'm trepidatious moving back into a city where crime may be a daily concern for my growing family.

In which Portland neighborhoods would we be able to live a lifestyle similar to the one we have now? I would love to sell my car and still be able to get groceries-- even after dark. We'd like to spend no more than $400-500k on a single-family bungalow or mid-century modern house. A community with a lot of telecommuters and/or working artists would be great, too.

I look forward to reading your advice. Thanks!

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17
Dirk Knudsen’s answer
Kayt;

Hmmmm.... The livable city and greenest city in the world has an ugly problem raising its head. Gang Violence and Activity is at an All time High. To much emphasis on other spending and the Police have not been taking care of business as well as they could be. Better check your Crime Stats. I love the City but would not live in it other than very few locations. But it is all based upon your reference point.

I was in New York recently and found the City to be just about the same as Portland. I would definitely stay close in to the Core and or downtown. the NW Pearl District area would be nice but $500 K won't get you a house. But Lofts are a natural and you may find a small home for $500K. This is the telecommuter and artisan center of the city. A great place for culture and life after Dark. You will encounter some Crime but not as much.

Other options would be some subutban settings like the revitalization of old town in Lake Oswego...Portland's most affluent area. I would also check out Murrayhill in Beaverton, Villebois in Wilsonville, and the three time award winning Community of the Year in the US...Orenco Station. That one is in a self contained community with stores, shops, parks, High tech Central next to Intels Largest Facility in the World and one block or less to MAx Light Rail. The Property taxes are much lower as well with Property Taxes running 1.5% of Value versus Portland where you face a 2.6% tax or higher. This can mean an extra $5 to $7K per year to live in the City. Check http://www.orencostation.net/ and or http://www.orenco.info to see homes and more info.

Otherwise Close in SE, Sellwood, and Johns Landing are other possible areas. I think you can find Crime Maps for the City on this site and several other sites. The City has its warts and teh main thing I think is to find a place witht he best combination of things for you and your family.

Let us know if we can help. Hope this straight forward approach helps you realize we have some issues here no matter how rosie others may feel things are.

Let me know if i can help;

Regards;

Dirk T Knudsen
Re\Max Metro
Hall of Fame
#1 Rated Re\Max team in Oregon 2007
503-799-8383
Web Reference: http://www.nwhomecenter.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 3, 2008
Sorry I didn't read your question months ago. I lived in downtown San Mateo and moved to this area in the past year looking for a comparable neighborhood. There is nothing like that downtown area here, but you can find some neighborhoods that may have some similar features.

Some here have mentioned Multnomah: it's really small, its one grocery is small/limited, no movie theater, no drugstore, a few shops and restaurants, drive/bus to the nearest library. It's a pocket of small businesses.

The Hawthorne area has more to choose from WRT groceries, but imagine a smaller El Camino Real. A couple groceries along a long stretch of avenue, shops, restaurants, but generally strung along a few miles of street rather than compact blocks.

You have to keep in mind that as cities go, Portland does not have an affluent history and therefore the old houses on the east side (and there's lots of them) may have been rentals for a long while, may not have been even middle-class when built, so the charm is limited. If you visit in the winter, especially after reading all the Portland booster materials, you may be surprised that many of the residential neighborhoods look kind of ratty compared to the cities of the Peninsula.

Be aware that a lot of Portlanders don't think too highly of the "Calis" who come here with the kind of money you have, overpay for a house, and thereby contribute to driving up the cost of housing (which is out of reach for most in the median income range). You could probably get a McMansion in the suburbs for what you have, or a flipper special in close. But you'll probably be paying too much unless you're looking for a McMansion. The conventional wisdom among the non-realtors is to watch the market and get a feel for housing here before you jump in, because there's a likelihood prices will continue to slide downward and next year you could get more for your money (and maybe not need to spend as much for what you want).
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 21, 2008
Perception of personal safety can be--- well, personal. My wife is from a northside Chicago neighborhood and considers Portland safe in comparison. I came here from a suburban area in North Carolina and the panhandlers and homeless here freaked me out at first.

For start to some research on this subject, I suggest a visit to: http://www.portlandmaps.com/ There's a lot of very detailed information there on crime statistics. Just enter an address or street intersection.

Another great source of information is at: http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/auditservices/citizensurvey/ That's a yearly survey done by the Portland Auditor's office. In it you'll find out what residents have to say about the neighborhoods where they live.

I've got a few other links for research on this page on my website: http://edburnham.mywindermere.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=conte…
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 9, 2008
Hi Kayt,
I would recommend that you check out the following neighborhoods, they each have their own charm and a variety of price points for homes, condos etc. Each has a varying size of commercial district, but all have some restaurants, shops and services within walking distance - the East side is covered pretty well by our Max line transit system so you are very close to reaching anything via the streetcar. The West side has the streetcar line but most of the max lines head out to the suburbs. Also we have a good distribution of 'zip car' or 'flex car' locations so you don't need to own a car to be able to use one for a few minutes/few hours if you don't want to walk.

SE area: Hawthorne - Belmont - Clinton- Sellwood
NW area: Alphabet District also called NW 23rd/Nob Hill
NE area - Alameda - Irvington

The good news is that there are lots of choices and it depends on how the areas appeal to you - each has some distinctive characteristics. There are a few more neighborhoods that are in transisition where you might be able to find a better price on a home, but if safety and school quality are of immediate concern you may not want to look in these n'hoods at this point.

There are many websites with Portland n'hood info and you can use the names above to google for more details. I specialize in helping folks build their sustainable lifestyles by exploring housing options that fit lifestyle choices, there are quite a few options in Portland so good luck on your investigations.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 19, 2008
Hi Kayt,

I recommend either the Belmont or Multnomah Village neighborhoods for your growing family and artistic interest.

Is the growing family high school, middle, or elementary?

My wife went to Rutger's Mason Gross school of art for print making and she loves the urban life, but all the while prefers to be close to great dining, public parks, but would not hesitate to farm a 5 acre plot.

I recommend something west...knowing that is a vague answer...if you want to be near downtown check out NW Portland of course. If you can stand being within a short commute, I suggest a neighborhood community such as Sellwood, Belmont, or Multnomah Village.

Regards, Chris@HouseNow.com 541-284-2511

HouseNow.com
Search Real Estate
Single Family - Multiple Family - Bare Lane
Web Reference: http://www.HouseNow.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 18, 2008
Kayt,

As a native New Yorker and a Relocation Specialist, I am acutely aware of the challenges you and your family are facing and will face with a move to another city. While I echo a lot of what my colleagues have stated regarding neighborhood, you really need a tour to have an understanding of the various neighborhoods.

When we moved to Portland from NYC, we felt your concerns regarding walkability. As a VERY active family of four, we manage to have only one car. My husband is a huge fan of public transportation, and while it can be done here (as we are proof of that), it will not be as easy as jumpin on the nearest subway or hailing a cab from the corner.

If you and your family would like a personal PDX neighborhood tour during your visit, I would be more than happy to provide you with one. Feel free to call me or email me with any additional questions or concerns. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 17, 2008
Hi Kayt --
Unfortunately, I think you will be greeted by rain if your visit is this weekend -- but I hope you will not be discouraged -- Portland is a beautiful place to live. I know you are looking for a single family home, but based on your comments, you might want to take a look at the Pearl. The condo market is actually pretty soft here, and the Pearl offers everything you mentioned. Another suggestion might be the Hollywood area or Laurelhurst. Ladds Addition is close to a New Seasons, and Sellwood is a great neighborhood with close grocery stores and librarys. Good luck!
Web Reference: http://www.aimeevirnig.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 13, 2008
With all due respect to the people who have already answered, quite a number of the neighbourhoods quoted e.g. Hawthorne, The Pearl etc are not low crime areas. A quick visit to http://www.portlandmaps.com will confirm that.

I don't want to give the impression they are crime ridden ghettos, they are very far away from that. Both the neighbourhoods I mentioned have a very unique feel and loads of amenities. I also would have no concern walking there at night.

However that is me, and you're "safe feeling" might vary. I recommend checking out the crime stats and best of all visiting the places you like after dark to see how they feel to you.

At the end of the day it is the peace of mind of you and your family and not others personal preferences that matters.

If I was looking for a low crime walkable area, Lake Oswego or Multnomah Village/Hillsdale might be places to look at. Good luck with your search, Portland is a wonderful city.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 10, 2008
Thank you so much for all of your insightful replies. The information you've provided will be very helpful to us on our visit to Portland this weekend.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 10, 2008
Well you will feel right at home here in Portland....As yourself, I grew up in New York, and lived in Brooklyn. So when I made the move out to Portland, I was looking for much of the same...walkable neighborhood, places to eat, live music, local artists, and a great culture.

There are quite a few neighborhoods that fit the bill...and I've lived in a few of them.
The one that jumps out is The Pearl and NW 23rd. As you continue to do your research you will see there are all types of condos, townhomes, and homes. If yo definitely want a home, there are also close in neighborhoods that offer great options in your price range. I recently moved from The Pearl to Beaumont/Alameda area. There are a few villages nearby that offer great brewery's, small shops, and a great art scene just north on Alberta. The last Thursday of each month there is a large art walk with plenty of local artists, music, and open lounges.

A third option would be the Hawthorne District...very eclectic group of shops, cafes, music scenes, and residents. It really depends on your personality. Porltland in fact reminds me quite a bit of New York in the fact that it is very "Districty"...meaning there are lot's of different neighborhoods that have their own personalities and can operate very independently...

I'd love to chat with you about some these neighborhoods and a few others that might appeal.
Feel free to email me or call me anytime!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 5, 2008
Hi Kayt--

Having lived in the Bay area myself, I know that there is nothing better than having amenities at your doorstep. I moved to Portland twelve years ago with a 6 week old baby--having a strong community where I could interact with other parents was critical. Book Babies at the library, coffee shops and bookstores were key for expanding my network. I would suggest that given your budget, Northeast neighborhoods such as Alameda, Irvington, Beaumont, Concordia (close to the Alberta Arts area) would work well for you. They have many highly rated schools which is critical in appreciating home values. You won't be disappointed by the wealth of shopping, dining and drinking opportunities! What's more, dedicated bike streets throughout Northeast exist as well as great public transportation options. For example, in the Irvington area, it's a quick jaunt to Fareless Square near the Lloyd Tower MAX station for easy travel to downtown. As an EcoBroker, I personally appreciate the many opportunities that exist for folks looking to limit their auto travel. Hope that helps...

Good luck!

Suzanne
Web Reference: http://www.pdxsuzanne.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 5, 2008
I grew up in New York and like any city there are many walkable neighborhoods. Portland is good about having restaurants and shopping nearby to most neighborhoods. Do you need to commute to work? That might be another consideration. Are you going to take public transportation or a car. I particularly like the northeast areas of alameda, irvington and hollywood as well as the southeast areas of westmoreland, belmont and hawthorne. For suburbs Lake Oswego is great but prices will be higher. Downtown Lake Oswego is walkable but you will spend more. The old part of West Linn, the Willamette area is walkable. Multnomah Village in southwest is walkable. There are many options and I personally feel very safe in Portland. But as in any city.......it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings. If you go to Portlandmaps.com they will give you crime statistics for any portland address.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 4, 2008
Hi Kayt - I speak from from my personal life that the Inner SE areas (Hawthorne, Belmont, Sunnyside, Mt. Tabor, Lauralhurst ) are all extremely walkable with great artistic, urban vibe. (Check out this website: http://www.walkscore.com/ It will give you the walkability factor of any home you're considering along with a list of restauraunts, shopping, coffee shops, schools, parks, everything!) Furthermore, you'll be able to find the vintage of home you're looking for in these pockets. As for "safety", I've always felt more than comfortable - and I have 3 little ones. (You can also do your own evaluation of "safety" by checking out neighborhood stats at http://www.portlandmaps.com. Just type in an address and all stats will be at your fingertips.)

When you get to Portland be sure to pick up a Portland Quickfind map (at any grocery store) to help you get around the city. (It is laminiated, easy fold, and really nice for innercity jaunts). And - enjoy!! This is an amazing city with a rich cultural scene, wonderful people, and unbeatable neighborhoods.

Cheers, Elisha
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 4, 2008
I walk with Women Walk the Marathon and we have training walks all over the Portland Metro Area...I have always felt safe walking in Portland...Portland is a great vibrant city to be out in all year long...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 4, 2008
The City of Portland publishes a survey asking local Portland residents their opinions regarding their neighborhoods. It addresses issues such as safety, ratings of government , and water quality. It will give you a better idea of what people think about particular neighborhoods: http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=176204

To help you navigate Portland neighborhoods here is a link to a map: http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=60598

I have also lived in different parts of Portland for over 18 years and there are several places that feel safe to me, that have homes priced in your range, and that have that artistic vibe you're looking for - Sellwood, Multnomah Village and Hawthorne are a some that come to mind.

Good Luck!
Web Reference: http://www.pdxmojo.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 4, 2008
Hmm. And now for a completely different viewpoint!

I have lived in Portland for over 20 years. I've lived in waaaaay outer southeast, and inner northeast, and currently live in North Portland. The scene is vibrant and exciting, and I can walk to sushi, italian and american food, a wine bar, and a coffee place, along with a knit shop and a few vintage stores. Additionally, I can hop the train - Portland has one of the best mass transit systems in the US, imo - and be downtown in 15 minutes.

Crime is actually considerably lower in most of Portland than it was 20 years ago. Your best source is http://www.portlandmaps.com -it has crime stats for every neighborhood.

Welcome, and if I can give you a tour of the neighborhoods when you're here, give me a call!
Web Reference: http://www.welcometopdx.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 3, 2008
Kayt;

Hmmmm.... The livable city and greenest city in the world has an ugly problem raising its head. Gang Violence and Activity is at an All time High. To much emphasis on other spending and the Police have not been taking care of business as well as they could be. Better check your Crime Stats. I love the City but would not live in it other than very few locations. But it is all based upon your reference point.

I was in New York recently and found the City to be just about the same as Portland. I would definitely stay close in to the Core and or downtown. the NW Pearl District area would be nice but $500 K won't get you a house. But Lofts are a natural and you may find a small home for $500K. This is the telecommuter and artisan center of the city. A great place for culture and life after Dark. You will encounter some Crime but not as much.

Other options would be some subutban settings like the revitalization of old town in Lake Oswego...Portland's most affluent area. I would also check out Murrayhill in Beaverton, Villebois in Wilsonville, and the three time award winning Community of the Year in the US...Orenco Station. That one is in a self contained community with stores, shops, parks, High tech Central next to Intels Largest Facility in the World and one block or less to MAx Light Rail. The Property taxes are much lower as well with Property Taxes running 1.5% of Value versus Portland where you face a 2.6% tax or higher. This can mean an extra $5 to $7K per year to live in the City. Check http://www.orencostation.net/ and or http://www.orenco.info to see homes and more info.

Otherwise Close in SE, Sellwood, and Johns Landing are other possible areas. I think you can find Crime Maps for the City on this site and several other sites. The City has its warts and teh main thing I think is to find a place witht he best combination of things for you and your family.

Let us know if we can help. Hope this straight forward approach helps you realize we have some issues here no matter how rosie others may feel things are.

Let me know if i can help;

Regards;

Dirk T Knudsen
Re\Max Metro
Hall of Fame
#1 Rated Re\Max team in Oregon 2007
503-799-8383
Web Reference: http://www.nwhomecenter.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 3, 2008
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