1. square-footage- Our year-long house hunt featured seven (yes, seven) offers. The majority of these offers were in the city (that is, the city of Portland), on what we referred to as "shoe-box houses". They averaged around 1400 square feet of actual finished living space, most boasting of two bedrooms, one small bath, and some sort of partially finished basement or sketchy attic room. All these miniature houses were adorable and would have made wonderful little starter homes, but we would have quickly outgrown them. When we found out about baby number two we began to look outside the city. We were shocked at what the same amount of money could buy: 2400 square feet?! On the water!? Next to a park?! In a safe neighborhood?! Mind-blowing.
2. small-town feel- Lane was gone last week, so I tried to keep the kids and I busy. One night after dinner, I surprised James by telling him we were heading into "downtown" Gresham for frozen yogurt. We parked about a block away and, as we walked toward the fro-yo shop, we saw some friends through the window of the local Italian restaurant. We waved and then met up with some other pals for our dessert. It is so fun that this is a common occurrence here in the 'burbs. I seem to run into people I know (which really isn't all that many since we moved here not even two years ago) everywhere we go- the grocery store, restaurants, the library. It isn't uncommon for me to meet a mom at a park and then see her again at library story time, another park, or even my hairdressers. I know Gresham has a large population, but it is feeling smaller and smaller to me.
3. easy (and free!) parking- You are always guaranteed a spot in "downtown" Gresham, no further than three blocks from your destination. Even on busy farmer's market days, or even sunny afternoons when everyone is out and about, there is always parking. And it's free! I am so used to this now, that I actually forgot I had to pay for parking until I arrived in the Pearl last time I went into Portland.
4. proximity to the Gorge- Oh, the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge. It is amazing- full of waterfalls, hikes, views, and tourists. However, you can avoid the tourists if you go on weekdays, which is exactly what we do since we live so close. When the weather warms up, I go out there with mom friends and our kiddos for day hikes, or Lane can get off work early and we head up there for an evening hike. It is so beautiful and refreshing.
5. local places that the big city folk haven't discovered (or don't bother to come out here for)- I went out to lunch at a local burger place with a couple mom friends the other day. As we were sitting at a rustic wooden picnic table chowing down on fries made with truffle oil, rosemary, garlic, and parmesan, I couldn't help but think "This place would totally make it in Portland". As would the home brew supply/ bar that shares a courtyard with the burger joint. Come to think of it, the Lebanese restaurant down the street, the authentic Mexican joint in Gresham, the hip coffee shop and delicious Italian place would all make it in Portland as well. But they aren't in Portland. They're here.
6. thrift stores- Thrift stores here are not nearly as picked over or as pricey as the ones I have gone to in Portland. I'm actually a little nervous to admit this, because I don't want all you big city folk to realize how great even our Salvation Army is and come out here on half price day and steal all the good stuff. I have found so many awesome treasures there, ranging from leather boots to gaudy jewelry to black-and-white photos of the Schnitz.
7. nearby farm land- Every summer we drive about three minutes once or twice a week and go blueberry picking at a nearby farm. James watches the horses that live next door, the sweet owners remember our names, and we have buckets of fresh, inexpensive, non-sprayed blueberries. At Christmas time we drive about two minutes and cut down our tree at a nearby farm while Christmas carols belt out through a loud speaker and the smiling owners pass out hot apple cider. There are also roadside farm stands with fresh produce practically year-round. So many perks to living near the farmland.
Do you live in the city or the suburbs? What do you love about where you live?