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Is Portland as bad as they say it is?

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I realize jobs are hard to come by.


But I'm talking about depression. Magazines and websites are saying Oregonians are the most depressed citizens in the 50 states.


I have also been reading that the gang problem in Portland is bad, and getting worse?


I am looking to move to Portland for school. PDX. I am moving from Utah, perhaps the nicest, less depressed city in the States. (according to those magazines and websites I mentioned, heh).


Anyways. Am I in for a culture shock? Should I be worried about gangs if its such a big problem? Id probably be living on or around campus anyways.


How hard is it really to get a job, even just a part time job?


All these websites are fightening me away from P-town lol.

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I recently moved to portland from boston massachusetts, so i feel like i am pretty qualified to answer your questions


But I'm talking about depression. Magazines and websites are saying Oregonians are the most depressed citizens in the 50 states.


its the grey. plain and simple, the grey is depressing. it took its toll on me this passed winter for sure. i hated it. even in boston wehre it snows up to eight foot drifts easily, at least the sun comes out to make it sparkle and cheer the air. but someone told me when i first moved here, to stay active no matter what and the grey wouldnt affect me so much...easier said than done, but it was helpful.


I have also been reading that the gang problem in Portland is bad, and getting worse?


as far as i can see-this is a load of crap. yeah there are problems here, and bear in mind i moved here from BOSTON, so take that for what it's worth. There are a lot more homeless people than i expected and there is definately a "working class", which i am proud to be a part of. As far as actual "gangs"-yeah they probably exist, but i live in one of the "roughests" neighborhoods (and i use that term loosely as it makes me laugh when people are shocked that i live there) and aside from one house of shitty neighbors, everyone around here is super-friendly and awesome and i have never once felt uncomfortable to walk the streets here, although i have heard other people who live in other neighborhoods say differently. I suppose it is a matter of opinion. call me rough around the edges, but i think this place is about as dangerous as a rubber room full of marshmallows.


How hard is it really to get a job, even just a part time job?


I dont know about the rest of the ocuntry currently, but this has, by far, been the biggest issue for me personally. I work in the restaurant industry with a decade of SOLID experience and it took me nearly four months to find ANYTHING and six to find something (quasi)stable. If i were to move back home, i feel like i could have job ten times better than the one i do now in under 2 weeks. Come here with a little nest-egg for sure. i certainly didnt bring enough for the long wait for a job. BUT from what i've heard around recenly-they job market is getting marginally better.



Now-my overall thoughts.


i wouldnt move back. i love it here. I dont know what your interests are, but there is so much beautiful nature here-ive never seen a place so green. there are more parks per sq mile than anywhere in the country-trails-waterfalls-mountain-deserts-rivers-beach...all less than 2 miles away. there is a GIANT farmer's market every saturday morning to get fresh, local and organic produce, food co-ops everywhere, vegan friendly places everywhere you turn. People are extremely open-minded to new alternative ideas, the music is great, and people are just friendly overall like nothing ive ever seen. I've made better friends in 7 months here than i did in years and years at home. there is a sense of community here that blows me away constantly.

and the slogan is "keep portland weird"...i mean c'mon, you cant beat that with a stick.


have you ever visited before?

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Yep. My brother used to live there. Then a x-girlfriend. So I have been up there a bit. I love the city, especially downtown. Most of all I love how you can drive to the beach and its only an hour or so out of the way.


My mom doesn't want me to move I think. She is the one that sends all this stuff to me to scare me out of moving I guess. I'm still not 100% positive I'm going because I want to see how school is going to work out.


Getting loans to go to school sucks but ~shrugs~.


I really like Portland but Im such a sun person, which I'm kinda worried about. Like you said, winters hit hard here, but we get sun to brighten up things. I dunno. The WHOLE CITY is green and that's what I love about it.

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I posted this on another board just after NYE:


One of my resolutions this year is to conquer seasonal affective disorder

(SAD). If you are not familiar with it here's brief description, excerpted

from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195:


Like many people, you may develop cabin fever during the winter months. Or

you may find yourself eating more or sleeping more when the temperature

drops and darkness falls earlier. While those are common and normal

reactions to the changing seasons, people with seasonal affective disorder

(SAD) experience a much more serious reaction when summer shifts to fall and

on to winter.


With seasonal affective disorder, fall's short days and long nights may

trigger feelings of depression, lethargy, fatigue and other problems. Don't

brush this off as simply a case of the "winter blues" that you have to tough

out on your own.

I wanted to share this for awareness purposes as I know there are many

people who suffer through the winter months as I have. I wasn't aware of

this disorder until last spring, as winter was spilling over into April &

May. I had a sense that something wasn't right. I had the symptoms described

above but I've always loved winter - I like the cold, snow etc. But the dark

days were starting to take a toll on me.


This year I decided I would be proactive about SAD but I forgot about it

until the week after Halloween. Daylight savings time ended & all of the

sudden days were much shorter & darker. I was miserable. So I did some

research to see what would help me as I wanted to hold off using

antidepressants as the treatment of last resort. I found out about light

therapy & vitamin D supplements which help compensate for a lack of

sunlight. I also found that moderate to strenuous exercise daily has been an

excellent relief. Obviously getting outside often helps too!


Again, I am sharing this resolution for educational purposes as I suspect

that there are many of us in the Northwest that suffer from SAD and do not

realize it. My coping & self treatment is successful so far, so if this is a

condition with which you are afflicted, I can assure you can feel 100%

better. That said I would never discourage anyone from seeking the guidance

of a doctor or taking medication for SAD. However from my limited research

it does seem that many people respond quite well to the treatment &

management regimen I have described. If anyone has any questions or comments

regarding this exceedingly long rant, please reply : )


Now that winter is over I have a few reflections on my self treatment described above. I found that the light therapy, vitamin D, sunlight & exercise have a cumulative effect: if I am consistent daily with these activities then the SAD symptoms are essentially gone. Conversely, if I miss a few days, one day back on track is not going to make me feel 100%. Also, heavy lifting seemed to help consistently & immediately, deadlifting & squatting FTW! One regimen I would like to implement next winter is to get on my bike & ride every morning, rain or shine. For me, I am much happier getting out in bad weather than I would be if I only exercised indoors. Since it doesn't snow or freeze here frequently, I would recommend anyone concerned with winter depression make their peace with the rain & bike or run every AM.


Its not bad, its actually great here, I agree w/thendanisays on all the amenities & cultural advantages. I was resistant to moving to Portland from Hood River, OR but in 2006 my wife got accepted to the master's program in Public Health @ Portland State. We've been here for almost three years now & are quite settled in. Despite my challenges with SAD I think the move was well worth it & am content to stay here for the foreseeable future.

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Even if it is getting more "Depressed" in Oregon, I'm still planning on getting out there by November/December. I'd rather be poor in Oregon than poor in Texas still. As for work, I can transfer with my current job, which may be of great help.

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I arrived in Portland, OR on the last day of August 2008. I grew up in Minnesota and have previously lived in Boston, MA. I have the option to live anywhere. I considered San Diego and San Francisco, but after spending a week here in PDX, I knew this was the place for me. It took all of two weeks on Craigslist to find a job and a place to live. I do have a lot of skills, so that helped with a job. My living expenses are low. I don't have a car and get around almost entirely by bicycle at all times of the year. I've been told that this winter has seen below average rain fall. I can say I love it here and have yet to get bummed out by a stretch of cloudy days. Being able to bike outside comfortably year-round is enough to keep a smile on my face! My theory is that much of the negatives spoken of Portland are a way to deter more people from moving here so we can have this magnificent place to ourselves! If you've heard the expression, "April showers bring May flowers", they really need to change that to "February showers bring March flowers" for Portland's sake. It is absolutely beautiful here.


Depression - I've heard the stats on depression are derived from the per-capita fulfillment of anti-depressant prescriptions. So, this can mean one or many things:

1) People here are more aware of and open to treating mental health.

2) Those taking medication would (hopefully) be less depressed after taking the medication.


Jobs - Stats on unemployment are taken from State unemployment filings. It's possible that Portland has a higher filing rate than other cities. This also doesn't take into account the underemployment rate. I know the rate of unemployment is high in Portland, but you can live cheaply and still have a high quality of life if you so choose.


Gang Activity - I think there is novelty in reporting on violence in Portland as it is so infrequent that few people are desensitized to it. Portland is probably the only large city I've been to that doesn't have a section that locals would recommend avoiding.


Note: I think it would be harder to adjust to Portland if you can from the east coast. The social dynamics are a bit reversed here where most people are very laid back and chill about everything. If you make plans, don't be surprised if people show up 2 hours late. Having spent last year on the east coast, it took me a couple of months to adjust to the relaxed culture.


Hope that helps allay some of the unsubstantiated fears being spread. I'm happy here and have developed some really great friendships. And there are so many people from the board that show up at the local gym, it is a bit ridiculous!




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  • 2 weeks later...

My 2cents:


I've lived in Portland 16 years and I can honestly say that what gets written in the Press about Portland (both positive and negative) is rarely true.


So here are the real issues:


Weather - It rains in Portland. Sometimes for very long stretches, sometimes it seems like it'll go on forever. But other times it doesn't. It's a lot less grey than say Upstate NY, a lot less brutal than Boston and there's rarely any humidity like in the South. We get maybe 5-6 snow days a year (some freak years more) and when we do the city shuts down. But if you're moving to a city for weather, Portland probably isn't the top of your list. You live here long enough you cope when the weather is bad and enjoy every moment when the weather is good.


Jobs - If you come to Portland it's a good idea to bring a job because one may not be waiting her for you. Oregon is #2 in the nation for Unemployment and yes that figure goes WAY up because of other cities in the state, but the brutal truth is the job market in Portland has never been great. Having said that, Portland may be the best city in the nation to make your own job. Many people give up trying to get hired by someone else and they start their own business. This is VERY do able here and the support for local businesses is unrivaled.


Gangs - No more or less a problem than in any small city. But the real question is how is crime, and that is very low. There isn't a part of town you must avoid, no dark alleys or side streets where you're in imminent danger. Yes your car may get broken into if you leave in unlocked in some areas or if you leave you stuff in plain view, but that's the same with any city. The whole Gang thing is really a myth.


Food - Welcome to Vegan Vahalah. I think you'd be hard pressed to find another city more friendly to Vegans. There are more options and more support for being Vegan here than anywhere. And if you love Thai food, be prepared to be in Heaven. More choices than you can possibly imagine and most places will even do thai iced teas with coconut milk rather than cream and will hold the fish sauce in their curries! Also there's Papa G's, Vita, Bye and Bye, Portabellos, Los Gorditos II, Sweet Pea, Red and Black, Food Fight and many more veg restaurants. Also Isa Chandra call Portland home (she wrote Vegan with A Vengeance)


Culture - People in Portland work to live, they don't live to work, and so it's a city rich with activities, culture, art, music and entertainment. Unless you need to be in a city with a Major League Baseball or Football team, you're going to find almost everything you need here.


Cost of Living - Don't believe the hype. Portland isn't as cheap as everyone says. Things aren't cheap here, people are. You can get by on very little but it's not because things aren't expensive. There are ways to economize in the city to make living cheap possible, but the cost of living compared to the salaries paid here is off and it's a real issue. Know that going in.


Getting Around - Portland is referred to as stuptown but I think they could easily rename it Bike City USA. Bike culture here is amazingly strong and in certain neighborhoods the bikes on the street can almost equal the cars. I walk, take the Max train and bike almost anywhere and everwhere I can. It's an amazing culture in that respect.


Finally I'll say.. Don't move here We have a great thing going here in Portland and having more and more people here just ups the congestion and competition for jobs. I mean why not go to LA where it's more sunny..... Austin more weird... San Francisco has better jobs, NY Better food. Chicago has better sports and Seattle more coffee.


But wait... You're A Vegan in Utah.... Ok I think we can make an exception. You're on the refugee list coming from that state. Seriously, you'll love it. It's one of the most amazing cities in the world.

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Wow, so many Massachusettsian Portlanders up in heeah!



Most of the index crime here statistically happens in the poor white section. There are gangs here, but small compared to other cities, and it also depends on how you define gangs. i was downtown yesterday and came across more than once some really incredibly rude young people, they were rich and flashing credit cards and driving awful, conspicuously gross SUVs like idiot maniacs. Most of what you hear about gangs in Portland is hyper racialized reporting by the media, due in part to the fact that Portland is the whitest city of its size in the United States. The whole place is becoming gentrified, and what people of color and poor people there are here are being pushed out of the city. I wonder if it's a coincidence that we're the most depressed city in the US too.

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I have also been reading that the gang problem in Portland is bad, and getting worse?
Dude, you make it sound like you're moving to or going to serve a prison sentence in California.


Gangs founded in CA:



Hell Angels

Ayran Brotherhood

Black Guerilla Family

Mexican Mafia

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