For awhile now, I’ve been drawn to the Pacific Northwest. Not sure what it is…maybe it’s the amazingly clean air…or the beauty of all the green foliage as far as the eye can see…or the earnestness of smaller town people…or even the romance I somehow find in gloomy weather. I’ve always thought that the PNW was perhaps a bit more ‘me’ than LA.
I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve been to Portland. I think it lived up to expectations…and then some. The best way I can describe it is, it’s like the entire bay area (SF and East Bay)…except 10 times smaller, thus easier to get around and way more convenient. Imagine if you can ride your bike from Berkeley to the heart of SF in 10 minutes, that would be Portland. It has all the modern conveniences of a big sophisticated urban city…in a small town package and feel.
As I’ve been thinking of moving up here…I also imagine a better “quality of life”, which is becoming much more important to me. Just as early Americans trekked the Oregon Trail to seek a better life…I’m beginning to see a similar need in my life for such a journey. People there seem to eat healthier (‘organic’ and ‘local’ are not just a buzzwords…it’s a way of life). Cars are optional, as most people walk, take public transport, and bike around (it’s the most bike friendly city in the US). They value work/life balance (brunch is the most loved meal of the day). And people are just overall friendlier to each other (I lost count of how many conversations I had with strangers).
The food scene there is amazing…as top young chefs from around the country have migrated there to setup shop in search of more affordable restaurant space. The outdoors scene is unreal. We thought we had it good here in LA, where we can go to the beach and ski in the same day…they have the same thing there, except arguably more epic. Real estate is probably 25% cheaper there. The tech scene is growing…especially in the mobile app space, and I keep hearing about the great collaborative culture within the creative/design community. Finally, in LA…when people are weird…there’s almost a snobby pretense about it. Kinda like, “look at me, I’m weird…therefore, I’m cooler than you”. In Portland, people seem to just revel in their quirkiness in a down-to-earth way.