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My Housing Options In Portland, Oregon

Housing Costs In Portland


I moved from San Diego, California about a year ago and found a small studio in NW Portland. Portland is generally divided into the N, NW, NE, SE and SW areas. I wanted to find a place to rent in the NE where I work but studios were in the $1,100-1,300 range. The NW had mostly older buildings so studio apartments were in the $800-900 range per month.

Renting In The NW

The rental market is very competitive. Smaller units >$1,500/mo don’t move as quickly. But more affordable units generally get snatched up within 1-2 days after they come on the market. I found my studio in the NW very close to all the action for $825/mo. There is a mandatory $35/mo water bill which of course you don’t find out about until you get the unit. So really, $860/mo. It was 400 sq ft with a lot of light on the 1st floor.

After my 6 month lease was up they were raising the rents to nearly $900/mo so I found this current place that I am renting for $740/mo which includes water and the only thing I pay for is electricity (~$20/mo). I started looking for possibly buying a house/condo right around this time.

The majority of the docs seem to live in the NW area, Lake Oswego (long commute into Portland), Hillsboro (also commute) and NE. The Pearl District is the Beverly Hills of Portland.

NW Home Prices

Homes in the NW are in the $600-900k range. There are the occasional $450k homes but they need a good amount of work. And of course there are homes for several million. NW is great because it’s easy to get out of NW to wherever you want to go and it’s very close to downtown. Generally safe and mostly high-class shit all around.

Older studio condos go in the NW sell for around $160k and 1-2 bedrooms for $300k. The condos in the pearl are easily in the $450k range.

NE Home Prices

The NE has gorgeous homes and really desirable neighborhoods. Still close enough to the NW and downtown and pretty much everything else you wanna go to in Portland. The neighborhood in the NE have a bit of a suburban feel which is great. Lot’s of little bars and amazing restaurants, just like the NW. Very rare to find a house in the $300k’s and if you do it needs a ton of work. Most desirable homes are in the $600k range.

Condos in the NE tend to be newer construction which means a bit higher HOA’s as well as prices starting in the mid $200k’s.

My Housing Flavor

I’m all about buying cash when I can. I do prefer having a house because there is more freedom in a house. I can practice homesteading and I can make changes to the walls, foundation and roof without any HOA objections.

I wasn’t about to pay half a million dollars for a house; this just wouldn’t work with my retirement plan. I believe that even though I will live in a small space I don’t have to exist in that same space. 300 sq ft might be very little for the average American. I don’t spend much time walking around in my apartment. I wake up, use the kitchen, the bathroom and head out of the house. I come back and use the kitchen again, then head back out. At night I come home and usually jump on my bed and read, watch a movie or snack. So, even the 140 sq ft studio that I have now is more than enough space for me.

For a nicer kitchen I would have to spend at least $300-500 more per month. I would rather spend that in a nice restaurant and support local businesses.

For a more spacious bathroom with a soaking tub and high ceilings and heated floors and fancy stone tiles I would have to spend probably another $300 more per month. For around $150 per month I can get a membership at an over-the-top fancy gym with spa-grade bathroom facilities which has a jacuzzi and sauna.

So, I have found my little gem here in Portland. For $140k I was able to buy a studio condo in cash. This will bring my housing expenses down to around $300 per month to cover HOA dues and property taxes.

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