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Thursday, July 21, 2005
The high cost of living in Stumptown
For years Portland has been heralded for it's low cost of living. Supposedly, artists and bohemians flock here because real estate (*snicker*), utilities (*snort*) and transportation (ha!) are oh so cheap. Well, maybe that was still the case a decade ago but Forbes finally confirms what I've been saying for years now:
Livin' in Portland is gettin' hella' expensive.
In fact, it's #3 on the magazine's list of the ten most overpriced cities in the US. Apparently, this isn't the first time Portland has made the cut. Here's the blurb from Forbes:
Portland comes in on the northern end of the list once again. Like Seattle, it took some hard knocks during the dot-com bust. "Oregon's economy has not yet recovered from the recession of 2001," according to the state's official fact book, the Oregon Blue Book. At the end of 2004, the state's unemployment rate was lingering around 7% (it was 5% nationally in June). The quality of life is good, but real estate comes at a price. From the end of 2003 to the end of 2004, the median home-cost price increased by nearly $20,000 to $201,500, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
While the blurb focuses on the fledgling local employment rate and soaring cost of housing, it doesn't dip into the dramatic increase in water rates in recent years and the price of gasoline. If memory serves from all the articles the Oregonian ran on pump tabs last winter, Portland usually gets stiffed when it comes to fuel costs. For it's worth, gallons of gas have once again crossed the $2.40 mark at my neighborhood Chevron.
For friends living in tiny, overpriced apartments on the east coast this probably comes across as bellyaching. While rent on a studio on the other side of the country is no doubt pricier, I'm willing to bet utilities cost the same- inexpensive, Columbia River-fueled electricity aside. Plus, east coast cities have far more efficient mass transit systems. Portland's a town where you have to own a car if you don't live and work within the city's core. Tri-Met's service always has and always will suck for those of us that live in neighborhoods without a view of the Big Pink. If I didn't drive to work I'd face a two-hour commute home every night.
While the quality of life here in Stumptown may still be higher than that of New York (#2 on the list), quality doesn't necessarily come cheap.