Portland, Oregon, thanks to pop culture myth, reports on up-and-coming cities in national media and the TV showPortlandia, has seen it’s reputation as a “hip city” expand drastically in the last decade (Travel + Leisure declared it the 2nd best “city for hipsters” earlier this year). Now,I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, a couple hours south of Portland and when I went away to college, my folks decamped to the “big city”, so Portland feels a lot like home these days. That said, I was curious how Portland seemed to a transplant, who’d lived in other cities, and for whom the Northwest’s culture of microbrews and college football obsession wouldn’t be second nature.
Enter Danish Aziz, a San Francisco friend, internet savant and an astute cultural observer. Danish moved to Portland a year ago, so I wanted to get his impression of life in the city, in your late 20s, for a non-local. So I hit him up on his lunch hour a little while a back and we rapped about Portland living and how it compares to other cities.
So first of all, what are you doing in Portland?
When I graduated from college, my parents lived in California. Then, once I’d moved to California, they’d decided to move to Oregon. So after I had to leave my last job, my dad was sick and I wanted to be near them, and Portland was the closest city to where they lived on the coast. So basically I want to be close to them in case anything happens to my dad.
And I wanted to try a new city and Portland seemed cool.
So what was your impression of Portland before you moved there? Had you visited before?
Yeah, because that’s where’d I flown in previously to visit my parents. And my brother lived here and I had a couple friends from high school who lived here so I’ve known Portland for five years.
I think as an outsider, it seems like a west coast Minneapolis. Or a sort of townier version of San Francisco. It’s a pretty small city but it has the amenities of a larger city. It seemed very Pacific Northwest, woodsy and green and with mountains. Most of the people seemed to be white. And they’ve got public transportation and lots of places to eat and drink and a lot of good music coming through. So it seemed like a good a mid-market city. Just like their basketball team.