Portland, the major financial and commercial center of Oregon, leads Money's survey of best American places to live. This City of Roses is an hour's drive from the snow-capped Cascade Mountains, the stunning Columbia River Gorge, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Seventy miles from the junction of the Columbia and the Willamette Rivers, Portland offers a beautiful juxtaposition of shimmering waterways, lush forests, and urban landscapes.
The cost of living is low. Housing is affordable. Land and utility costs in Portland are nearly the lowest on the West Coast. The people are friendly. The water is known as the purest in America. The award-winning public transportation system ranks among the best in the nation. The world's biggest book store, Powell's City of Books, is located downtown. There are urbane attractions such as the Portland Opera and the Portland Art Museum. Although it has a reputation as a wet city, it's not always raining in Portland. On average, the months of July and August get only seven days of rain.
Portland has been experiencing a cultural rebirth in the last 10 years. Once a conservative stronghold, Portland has evolved into a socially progressive community. Nicknamed "Little Beirut" because of the large-scale protests during visits from both Presidents Bush, the city continues to keep an eye towards the future with a focus on progressive, 21st-century ideas. Portland is a city with much diversity. Affluent millionaire communities are spread throughout the southwest side of the city. Tight-knit, multicultural, working-class neighborhoods are up north; and Reed College, home to liberals and aging hippies, is located on the southeast side.
Public transportation in Portland is a marvel. The bus system, called TriMet, for the three Metro areas it serves, is tightly organized. No one misses his/her bus in Portland. The light rail, MAX, is extremely effective. Trains come every 10 minutes. The main line covers 33 miles, from the suburbs of Hillsboro, through Beaverton and downtown, and across the Willamette River. A shorter extension line connects to the airport. Since 2001, the new streetcars have offered more localized transportation. Smaller than the MAX, the streetcars pass through neighborhood streets from Portland State University to the Pearl District. The Pearl District, once an industrial area, is now being converted to feature condos and trendy shops.
Downtown Portland, with streets lined with numerous tiny cafes, is compact and always bustling with activity. Old Town, home to scores of new restaurants and breweries, is a hodgepodge of restored buildings. Every weekend, Portland residents stroll down to the Burnside Bridge for the outdoor Saturday market to search for homemade foods and handcrafted wares. Great values are always to be had here because Oregon has no sales tax.
A candidate interested in practicing law in Portland from Washington or Idaho would not need to sit for the Oregon Bar because of Oregon's Tri-State Reciprocity. A candidate with three years of experience and 15 credits of CLE could waive in without taking the bar. The legal market shows great potential for growth. We're encouraged that things are starting to pick up. A major player in the Portland market just hired two corporate associate laterals. Portland's market has nowhere to go but up.