City Slicker

The Game-Changing Perk of Homeownership No One Told Me

On moving from "big city" downtown to the unofficial club that is "the neighborhood."

By Marty Patail April 1, 2020 Published in the April 2020 issue of Portland Monthly

The game-changing perk of homeownership no one told me: Postmates delivery drivers bring your order directly to your door.

Get this: Drivers walk up, knock on your door, and hand you your Hat Yai order. The transaction takes about four seconds, tops. You’d think a real estate agent or a friend or anyone with a house might have mentioned this to me? 

In our 14 years of moving couches into and out of apartments downtown, access to the outside world had always been mediated by—at minimum—two sets of keyed doors and an elevator. In various buildings, door codes and key cards and suspicious door people also came into play. Any outside food delivery required a carefully coordinated sequence of tracking the driver in the app, calling on the phone, giving advice on parking, buzzing in, and, occasionally, putting on pants. Nothing comes straight to your door in an apartment except bad news.

Still, I had few other complaints about the downtown Portland life. It’s the only thing my wife and I really knew—first as students at Linfield’s Northwest Portland campus and Portland State, respectively, and then as former students pretending to be adults. Our tastes and our budgets evolved: Cheerful Tortoise and Paccini (RIP) gave way to Kask and Multnomah Whiskey Library. We got married in the upstairs of Kells Irish pub in Old Town. We watched Fourth of July fireworks from balconies and walked home from Timbers games. And always, always, there was Suki’s.

We loved the “big city” feel—laughably small by the standards of actual big cities—the shade between buildings, the tidiness of the sidewalks, the relative anonymity. The hotels and Starbucks and big theaters and tourist traps made sure there were always strangers around, wide-eyed and confused about where to turn. I still find that sweet and refreshing. We rarely felt unsafe, even late at night, but there was always a thrill hearing sheltered east-siders describe it as “so dangerous.”

Last year, we finally moved out of downtown, a whole three miles east of the Willamette River. It’s easy to love it out there: the trees; the little bars and stores; the feeling of having joined the unofficial club that is the neighborhood, with its own rivalries and long-standing grudges; the revelation of having a backyard in the summer. And paging through this month’s real estate guide, an in-depth—and surprising—overview of our cooling market curated by news editor Julia Silverman, we have no regrets about jumping into homeownership when we did.

We’re still imposters to this Southeast bungalow lifestyle. It’s too quiet—especially at night—and we run an air filter to replace the constant blaring of nighttime trains I imagine has kept up all downtowners. There’s no dog yapping upstairs. (Yet.) There’s no MAX clanging outside our window. (Yet.) But damn if the food doesn’t show up faster.


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