Ok Krista. Low taxes, good transportation, low crime, walk to shops, access to the freeway, health clubs, night clubs, wetland trails, and other fun stuff can all be found in the following areas:
In the City:
Definitely NW Portland close in between the 405 Freeway and NW 25th street. For a true urban living experience this can not be beat.
In the Suburbs in Order of where I would go:
Bethany Village area: 7 miles to Downtown PDX. Close to Nike, Columbia Sports Wear, Intel. Tons of Parks and shops and the entire area is connected through walking and bike trails. Great Health clubs, a few good restaurants. Out of the Traffic grid. Right at the base of the Tualatin Mountains with access to Forest Park trails. Enhanced Sheriffs Patrol area with very LOW crime. Very YUPPIE Country Club nice feel. Good place to set up camp if you are just getting started.
Tanasbourne area in the High tech Corridor about 10 miles West of PDX has it all.
Orenco Station. Very Cool and pedestrian and light rail friendly: About 12 miles west of town. This area won the best new home community in America three times in a row and there are good choices of apartments, lofts, and homes for rent.
Lake Oswego Old Town: Most affluent area but really cool. Very Country Club with lots of stores and shops and all of the "beautiful people" of course.
Murray Hill. In the Beaverton area.
These are a few.
Use Craigslist in PDX for Rentals. There are a ton on there and lots of people here use it.
Krista this must be a very exciting time in life for you. Jobs may ultimately determine where you guys end up. I wish you all the best in all your endeavors and if you ever need to talk through things just give me a ring at 503-799-8383. I have been here my whole life and lived all around!
Dirk T Knudsen
Re/Max Hall of Fame