It's official. Jessalyn and I are moving to Portland next week. Stumptown, Bridgetown, Rose City, P-Town, Portlandia, whatever you want to call it, we're about to call it home.
We're actually returning to Portland. It's where we're from (we both grew up just outside Portland), and we each attended college there (she went to PNCA, I went to Concordia). We left Portland in 2002 for Seattle, then Chicago, then San Francisco, where we've been for almost a decade now.
It's sad for us to think about leaving San Francisco. We love this city so much and it has been really great to us. I became an entrepreneur here. Jessalyn became a professional artist after grad school, and ran an art studio with 7 other contemporary artists, all women in the latest group.
We learned and saw so much in the Bay Area, and made so many incredible friends who we're going to miss like crazy.
The move to Portland wasn't an easy decision. When you don't have to live anywhere in particular, choosing where to live is surprisingly difficult. We've talked about it for a few years, and made a pros/cons list each year (a weighted average decision matrix, actually). This year there were finally enough compelling reasons for us to make the move.
The factors in favor of Portland include family/friends, cost of living, the fun of making a big change and how much we love Portland as a city. The food and wine and cocktails are incredible. My business partner Chase lives in Portland as well. I also feel a strong connection to the DIY / down-to-earth brand of entrepreneurship that happens in Portland.
For as good as San Francisco has been to us, it has also changed over the past decade. It's no longer a place where artists can afford to live. Same for musicians and writers and people with "regular" jobs. Even galleries can't afford it. Waves of friends leave every few years, and replacing close friends is a drag.
It has become a city for the rich, and the rich are getting younger and younger. The new rich don't appreciate what made this city so great in the first place, and the vibe is changing. All those high-paying jobs have driven up rent so high that we literally know people who have moved to Manhattan because it's easier to find a reasonably priced apartment.
I won't complain too much about SF. We plan to spend a lot of time here next year, and it will always be in our hearts. We may live here again some day, who knows. It is one of the world's greatest cities, and it's expensive for that reason.
Plus, I know San Francisco has always been a boom town. We moved here chasing opportunity ourselves, so I won't knock all the newer faces around here for doing the same. All the money and tech makes life interesting at the same time, and there is plenty of good with the bad. For every Google bus clogging my neighborhood, there's some new convenient service starting here first.
Portland won't be perfect; we know the grass is always greener. But we've made Portland's green grass our home before, and we know we loved it. Portland has a fresh energy, and we can't wait to be part of it, and learn about everything that has changed since we lived there 12 years ago.
We're most curious and unsure about what the art scene will be like in Portland, and how easy it will be to make new friends and get plugged in. I have big plans for being overly social next year, so if you live in Portland I hope you're ready to hang out :)
In fact, if you live in Portland, leave a comment below. Maybe we can get a little group together soon for beers, or coffee, or whatever is most appropriate in my new home town.
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Hi, I’m Corbett Barr. I’ve been writing here since 2009. Join my email list for new articles about supporting yourself doing something you love: