ELDER MUSIC: 1950s – Pre-Heartbreak Hotel, Part 2
There's No Place Like Home

Finding a New Place to Call Home

EDITORIAL NOTE: Time Goes By reader, Dee Hayes, has posted a photo of her computer space at home. You can see it here. Others who would like to post their workspace, instructions are here.

category_bug_journal2.gif Those of you who have been reading Time Goes By for several years will remember a companion blog I started during the months I was selling my home in New York City's Greenwich Village in 2006, to move to Portland, Maine. That blog was called A Sense of Place and I really liked – still like – the banner I created for it.


I won't go so far as to start another blog this time, but I will post updates here now and then as this new move goes forward.

For more than a year, the sense has been growing that I would rather spend my last years in Portland, Oregon where I was born and lived until I was 14 and where my brother still lives. I visited him in 2007 (some photos here) and I suppose the idea of moving was planted then.

I want to know my brother better before one of us dies and after all these years away – more than half a century – I find myself missing the grandeur of the northwest – the mountains visible from the city, the Pacific Ocean only 90 minutes away, the green-ness – in the nature sense.

Even so, if I had my druthers, I'd be back to New York City in a New York minute. But I can't afford that and Portland, Oregon has grown in my consciousness during these past four years in Maine. It's pulling at me more strongly every day.

I have often thought that as we grow into our late years – the winter of our lives, if you will – there is an emotional pull, for those of us who have wandered away, to the homes of our youth. There is no way to tell if that is part of my yearning for Portland, Oregon, but it's kind of interesting to think about.

It is the real estate market that has kept me from pursuing the move. But on Saturday, my real estate agent stopped by. He told me that my apartment is in the hottest property market in the city, that it will sell in the high end of the price range for its type. It will “show” extremely well, he says.

Plus, I've been checking out home prices in Portland, Oregon for the past couple of months. I can afford this move. So I made the decision on the spot Saturday while the agent was here.

There are a couple of inexpensive cosmetic fixes to do to the apartment in the next three or four weeks. Nothing big, so I expect to have a For Sale sign out front in March when I will also make a visit to Portland, Oregon to look at homes there.

I could be wrong, but I have the impression that quite a number of Time Goes By readers live in Portland, Oregon or nearby. It would be helpful to me if you told me about the neighborhoods you live in or others that you like. A few of things I am looking for are:

• An easily walkable area for the daily necessities of life. I'm tired of driving for nothing more than a quart of milk or bulb of garlic.

• As close as possible to downtown or easy transportation to it. If/when the day comes to turn in my car keys, I don't want to lose the freedom of getting around.

• A lively neighborhood with people out and about doing things.

My impression from real estate listings is that there are few or no small condominiums in Portland, Oregon and I cannot afford large ones because maintenance charges for apartments in big buildings are too high for me and they always increase over time. So I will probably buy a single-family home. I don't want a lot of yard to keep up, but I do want some gardening area.

I'm not willing yet to post my price range for a home, but you will get a sense when I post photos and particulars of this apartment when it is officially for sale.

Meanwhile, tell me about Portland, Oregon, and the rest of you – what is your best advice about moving.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ann Berger: Material Witnesses


I had to move from where I lived for 40 years. The worst decision I ever made.

The image I've had ever since I met you, Ronni, is that you dug yourself out of the soil of NYC and carried yourself to Maine in a pot, intending to re-plant yourself, but that your roots are still in the pot. (Not all of them. Sadly-but inevitably-some broke off in the digging.)
So I think everything will happen fairly effortlessly now that you've made the decision.
There's a sense of rightness about your choice of location,too. And as you say, circling back to one's origins is common in the later years. I did the same thing. I got 'green lights' all the way and I think you will also.

I think you won't regret this decision, Ronni. You haven't felt "at home" for a long time. Although moving is a great big pain, going home is worth it. While it isn't New York, it is "home" and having your brother there will be good for both of you. Congratulations on making that huge decision.

Oh boy, that's exciting news--your plan to move to Portland, 5 hours north of where I live in Ashland.

There are many great neighborhoods in Portland. I always liked the Hawthorne district, which is a very lively neighborhood with great bookstores, movie theaters, delis and cafes. Also NW 24th street area is great, not as down home as Hawthorne, more upscale, but with similar amenities. I haven't spent time in the Pearl district, but I know it is an artistic center of the city.

Good luck, Ronni. I like Marian's comment - your roots are definitely still in the pot!

Great news, Ronni. We did the same, 7 years ago. Lived near Philly for 38 years, then returned to family in this small Ohio town....there has been a culture shock, but far more affordable with lots of supportive family & extended family nearby. The move will be an adventure especially since it's the best one for you. If I could, I'd help you move. Dee

Ronni--How exciting! I am thrilled for you! Just being close to your brother should make the move worthwhile, if no other reason does. Go for it! I'll be cheering you on.

Ronni - I am thrilled for you. Excited for you. I relocated 6 months ago to my much loved country property. Built a smaller home and the good news is - I have a contract on my city home. I had to take a small loss - but it is worth it. I need to move on and the last piece of the puzzle is falling in place.
All I know is that my heart is at peace.
Best of wishes to you in all that is going to take place. I am looking forward to reading about your journey.
My journey is similar but different in many ways. Bottom line is whatever years we have left on earth - we need to be where our heart leads us.

Well speaking for 'following the heart' that's what I did when I moved to Newfoundland, part time for a while easing into full time now and it was the best decision I ever made. Knew no one here but it has always felt like home to me, more so now that I'm so into the community and actually writing for the daily paper, holding workshops and organizing community gardening, etc.
Tons of luck, Ronni, you will be finally home!

Good luck with the new chapter in your life! I look forward to following along from my own place here. :-)

I lived in Portland for 3 years and now living in the Caribbean Isle of Barbados. I still have a home base there renting with 5 other people. I am 57 yrs. and I am still working as a Walking Wellness professional Racewalking, Nordic Walking, and recently Hatha Vinyasa Yoga instructor. I was born and raised in Boston. I understand your feelings about not driving, and the community connect, along with the beautiful outdoor opportunities. Portland is the place for retirees. I learned a lot being there. It's a city which is a small town though. And with the recession things have definately changed. You can reach me at my email if you want some inside scoops about a few great condos near the hills, with transportation. I have a dear friend who has a great condo after selling her home in the NE. She lives in the NW side where I lived. Upper NW near Forest Park which is a beautiful area.

I have a daughter in law-Anna Marie Salisbury who is a Journalist and just got her MS from CUNY, who turned me onto blogging and TGB!! Today I checked in on my emails and synergy has it that I saw this story. : )

The pictures were beautiful! No wonder you feel called to return. Family relationships become more and more important as we age and realize our own brevity. When we are young we think we have forever to strengthen and maintain those relationships, but age and loss of loved ones make it clear that delaying isn't always an option.

Portland is such a creative city. That alone is a way of prolonging life's feast. I just read that in a new book I'm reading called The Wisdom Paradox. And right now, I'm all for appreciating every moment of that feast.

Good luck on finding a place with all of the qualifications you are looking for! Bon Appetite!

Ronni, this is wonderful news. My feeling is that this is not as much as a 'spur of the moment' decision as it seems. You have been yearning to be near your brother for a long time, as I recall.

I think the winters in Maine would be very difficult for an elder living alone. Especially so because your apartment was up a flight of stairs. I know firsthand how these barriers impede freedom as you age.

I think you made a very wise decision and when time comes to move I hope you will take a detour to Tucson where my guest room is just waiting.

Oh, Ronni, I am so happy for you that you have made the decision to go back to Portland ,and I am doubly delighted that you seem to be able to do it fairly easily,at no great sacrifice.

The fact that your current place is so saleable and you have family and friends at the other end of your move to help you is just wonderful and you deserve all that.

I suppose most of your loyal readers feel exactly as Marion does. Since you have written often about your move from Manhattan, we all have the feeling of you being like a fish out of water. Or at least like a fish in the wrong aquarium..

We can afford to be very happy for you because, through the wonder of the Internet, you will still be be here with us..

Great news, Ronni. Everything about your move seems to be pointing in the right direction.

I visited the suburbs of Portland for many years because we had a branch office in Tigard. Just a stones throw from Lake Oswego, as you know. But, if I were looking for a city place I would look around the University. Between Salmon and Clay and Broadway and 12th. There's a nice Safeway store there and usually I don't say much about their stores. It's pretty much 'downtown' so you will see the street people and Portland has many, but the benefits of being downtown certainly outweigh the trouble of an occasional panhandler. That's my nickles worth!

I live about 85 miles south of Portland but grew up in the hills outside of Camas, Washington with relatives in Portland; so I was in the city quite often as a child and today am up there whenever I can. I absolutely love it and if I didn't feel the need to live the country lifestyle, it'd be my first pick because it offers so much. It's a very vital city with an artistic and intellectual climate that makes it appealing to many people. I personally like the area around Nob Hill (NW 23rd) and it does have quite a few townhouses, not sure about yards. A lot of the homes up there have been formed into condos but there are also new townhouses going in. It has a grocery store again which for awhile there it was lacking. Sellwood always looks interesting to me whenever I drive through as it seems to be upgrading. I have been told the Laurelhurst area is still very appealing as a neighborhood. The Pearl is where Powells bookstore is at but now many restaurants, art galleries, condos, and interesting shops as it has totally reinvented itself from a manufacturing area. Everything in Portland seems to me to be convenient to buses, trolleys or MAX. Recreationally it cannot be beat anywhere with its proximity to the mountains, the gorge, eastern Oregon, or the beach.

I don't think you will regret moving back as it really does offer a lot and being close to your brother again is one of the big benefits for you.

From my reading of your life in Maine, I felt that you always felt a pull toward returning to Oregon. I am glad that you have made your decision. Wishing you all the best in your move to Portland. Gladys

Great news!!!!! I'm so glad to hear this. Things have a way of falling together, don't they?

Ronni, I'm in Salem, but on an unrelated issue--have you thought about renting first?

I have no particular dread of the Oregon real estate market, but I've moved about 20 times in my life, and I never truly feel I know any place for sure until I've lived there 3 years.

And yes, I rent, as I have the in last two states. I sold a Florida home--in six hours--at the height of the boom.

No one gets that lucky twice.

So, why not rent til you see how you like the neighborhood, because Portland has lots of nice ones to choose from.

Great news -- you've been prepping for this for awhile if I've read you rightly.

I know little of Portland as it is now. I enticed my partner away from there 30 years ago, so our acquaintance with the place is out of date.

And yes, I feel that pull back to closer to where we came from. I fled the East Coast over 40 years ago, never wanting to feel the crampedness I experienced in New England again. Now I wonder if we might ever return there. This is a longing I never expected to feel.

I remember when you were pondering "Which Portland?" Beth and I were looking into Portland, OR then. It was fantasy-driven for us. Couldn't really afford it, but while we looked we spread out our search along the MAX lines all the way out to Hillsboro.

There is, in Portland just east of the Willamette, a neighborhood that just knocked me out, a neighborhood of parks and sidewalks and little rose gardens with streets set on the diagonal to the rest of the urban rectilinear grid. It's bounded by 12th Ave SE, 20th Ave SE, SE Division Street and SE Hawthorne Blvd. The houses in these little diamond shaped blocks look well maintained, and it has a bus line. For all I know it's a neighborhood of muggers and thieves and a person wouldn't dare be on the streets at night. But the people might be good neighbors. Don't know, but it sure was pretty when we drove through it. And it's flat. It would be exciting to live up the hill across the river near Washington Park, but the slopes--well, one's mileage will vary.

Good luck with the move, Ronni. I'll enjoy reading here about your progress!

Well the first thing you know old Crabby's a millionaire*
Kin folk said "Ronni" move away from there!
Said Oree-gonie is the place you oughta be
So she loaded up the truck and she moved to Clackamas Val-ley
("Happy", that is, conifers, waterfalls)

Well now it's time to say goodbye to Maine Crabby and to all her kin(Ollie)
They would like to thank you folks for kindly dropping in
You're all invited back again to this locality
To have a heaping helping of their hospitality
(Oregonie Nature Gal, that's what they call her now,
Nice folks, Y'all come back now, ya hear?)

*sorry, couldn't think of any good substitution for "millionaire" -LOL

The feeling of "my homeland" is so familiar to me. I left No. Calif. in my 20's and life's events took me eventually to Iowa where all my daughters were raised. Finally, after 45 yrs. I joyfully returned to the Sacramento Valley, my homeland where I got to be near my brother and my Mom until she died. But, since all my husband's 3 kids and my four and their families live in the midwest and beyond (Portland, ME, too!), I sucked it up and moved back to Iowa 2.5 yrs ago. (After enduring one winter, we now flee to So. Texas in Dec.) The pull of family is stronger than the tug of homeland, but I still long for my "sunny California". So, lucky you, Ronni, to have the choice and the means to go home.

Dear Ronni;

So glad you're moving to the Portland Oregon area. I think you'll enjoy living here again.

I live in Vancouver WA but still feel like I live in Portland. I'm 12 minutes from the airport and WA has no state income tax.

I'll keep this brief but please contact me if you wish because I've lived in this general area for a long time. I live in a community that has reasonable condos.

With best wishes,

After fifty years away, my husband and I returned "home" after a snap decision. We bought a home over the phone from a friend. We awaken happily in our childhood town every day. Five years later have never doubted the wisdom of this move. Best wishes and good luck.

Best of everything in your next phase of ytour life, Ronni!

And - don't forget St. Joseph!

I was wondering what had happened to this idea of yours. You couldn't pick a better city to nose into, I don't think. Portland is progressive in its urban development and there are several small neighborhoods developing with all the amenities within walking distance. The mass transit is the best in the country, too. I was always happiest in the Northwest area of Portland - close in to downtown - but that was a long time ago and things may be different now.

Good luck on this adventure, Ronni.

What simply wonderful news to read. I've always felt that you ended up in the wrong Portland. Now you have a chance to shake your roots free of their pot and set them loose in a new homeland. Imagine Powell's books, the wonderful neighborhoods, and that great train station. I wish I lived near enough to help.

Congratulations on your decision. The comments show you have more than the average number of advisors! Here's my thought: Don't dally too long in selling or buying. If you lived in your Maine place for five years, and you buy another home in 2010, you will be eligible for a $6,500 federal income tax credit. After that, who knows? Go for it, and pick up a nice check in the spring of 2011 to help glamorize your new home.

Good luck with the move. I live south of the city in Wilsonville - not a good spot if you want to be walking distance of lots of stuff (although there are some townhouses that are near the main shopping, Wilsonville is a relatively quiet community in terms of other stuff - not really Portland proper at all - the distance to downtown would be a bit much).

Keep your eye out for things on a MAX line. The WES commuter rail is not as good and the buses are tedious, but a MAX line is a great way to go - runs often, easy to deal with, fewer transfers than the bus runs. And more reliable and frequent than WES, which appears to have been an expensive and still questionable experiment.

Be careful with your moving company. Some of them quote low prices and then jack them up on delivery - make sure they're licensed and reliable, and ask if there are any extra fees that might be added. (I've seen that happen to a couple friends now, and a few thousand extra is an ugly surprise.)

I hope you are able to find a good neighborhood that you like out here.

Ronni, I've been a fan of your blog ever since I found it last year. As a Maine native who lived in Manhattan for 14 yrs and is temporarily "squatting" at my sister's in southern Maine, I empathize with the "where to live" quandry. I thought Maine might be the place for me, but not so sure at this point. I think the earlier comment from Paula is a wise one - rent before you buy and give yourself a year to explore the "new" Portland. I lived in Seattle for 14 yrs and am very familiar with Portland too. You still need a car. Portland OR's public transport is better than Portland ME's, but still not great. Have you ever considered a neighborhood just north of Manhattan, like Bronxville? Now, you're talkin' access to the REAL city, with a wonderful "small town" feel. Multi-generational and lively. Stimulation abounds. I'm looking for a job working with the old/older/elder population back in NYC, that will allow me to live in a great nearby community, and not in a 260 sq.ft. shoebox like the 4th flr walk-up I just sold in the East Village. NYC is still the best place to age, in my opinion. EVERYONE IS WELCOME. Thank you for the opportunity to share my opinion. Go with your heart and all the best to you.

It was just a matter of time.
We, your readers have seen this coming, and cheer from the sidelines.
You and destiny have saddled up.
God speed.

"Home" is such an ambiguous word. I was born in Chicago, left there at the age of three (It would be a real stretch for me to call the windy city "home".)
Raised in and around NYC and left there when I was 18. A year in college near San Francisco. Then six years in the Marines ("Home" was where I dumped my sea-bag) 5 years in Paris, 7 in Milan, 12 in the UK and, and.. finally (I thought) 13 in Santa Barbara. Now celebrating my tenth anniversary in Austin.
"Are we there yet?"
Probably not, I guess I'll wander til I can't move under my own steam.
Good luck to you Ronni. I hope you find what you're looking for in Portland.

Who said elders can't, don't, shouldn't move — cross-country, out of country, upstate, downstate, across the pond, around the world. I love it. You have exercised your right to change your mind, and your residence. My perennial advice to self during a move: Keep it simple, and minimal. And toss, toss, toss things, to the extent time permits now.

I recall your mentioning this in a previous post, and I'm glad you haven't dropped the idea. I think it would be a good move, and hope all goes smoothly.

As a starting point for information, I would suggest looking at the About.com site on Portland:

There's a section on neighborhoods that looks informative.

I think everybody has said it. Portland, OR has been the place you really need to be. The other one was just a practice at moving. Good luck to you. Has Ollie picked up the scent?

Never lived either place, but visited both and my vote goes to Oregon hands down in spite of the rain. Far better than the cold and snow and ice in Maine, and far better as well since you like gardening. All that rain makes for georgeous roses. I did think the suggestion about a place north of Manhattan might be worth a think-through though. One possible negative about transportation in NY is the necessity of climbing upstairs or downstairs to reach the subways in NYC--most of the elevators smell like urinals or vomit so they're basically useless as an alternative. It may be easy to climb stairs now, but eventually may not be. I think my personal choice would still be Oregon. When things fall into place so easily like this has so far, I tend to think it was meant to be. Best of luck!

As Joseph Campbell said, Ronni, follow your bliss.

Now, moving advice- my mother always said that when you move into a new house set up and make your bed first because you will be too tired to do so at the end of a hectic moving-in day. It will be your raft of tranquility in a sea of great change.

Sounds like you've made a fine decision. Best of luck on your move! All your readers will enjoy following your progress.

My advice, Ronni, is not to compromise on that list you have. If you can't find a home that ticks all the boxes it's better to rent in Portland, OR than buy somewhere you are not 100% happy with.
Good luck!

Good for you! Great decision, and I know it will be a happy move. Congrats!

And I would go read Little Red Hen's blog and ask their advice -- she's been there a while now and moved there from New York

Ronni, I am so happy for you! How nice that you can follow your heart. That cold and snow in Maine might become more and more troublesome, and the gardens in Oregon are lovely. Best of luck!

Hi Ronnie,
Good luck with your move. Try renting in Portland instead of jumping in and buying again.

That will give you time to see what's best for you.

All right! Welcome to the Pacific Northwest! The Pearl is a nice area and there are condos there. It's very hip, though, and might be expensive. On the other hand, if you're in a position to sell high in this market, you can probably buy pretty well. Just be close to Powell's!

Ronni, big hugs to you. I could tell you wanted to make a move home to be with your brother. When we downsize, we will make sure to live walking or short bus ride to a library, groceries, medical clinic. We will then buy electric bikes and only have one small car. I wish you an easy move.

Though a little late to party, I'm another supporter of your moved. Of course, there's bias on my side: we're delighted with our move to Portland, O., 5 months ago to be closer to our daughter and her young family.

"Openness" is the word that comes to mind right away about people in PDX. Will email you with thoughts on neighborhoods and agree with the pluses on living in downtown area.

Very good wishes on selling your apartment. yours, naomi

I'd say it's a great idea to move. Oregon Homeland/family/and, NO SNOW. How nice.

Yep. Good move. Portland has lots of amenities, and you will have family and friends there. It's an easy place, pretty much.

How exciting. Don't know what was more fun, to read about your decision, or to read all the comments and suggestions. Please do keep us posted on your thinkings and persuit in finding a new home. Love it that so many of your readers are in that area as well.

As someone who's only really moved once in her life and hated every minute of the move, although I do enjoy living in the new place, I am flabbergasted, and full of admiration! Go for it, girl!

Coming to this late. But, I say go for it, too. There is no point in living in a place that does not feel right. I lived in France for 25 years. That always felt wrong. Coming back to the USA felt like putting on a favorite old shoe. I bet Oregon will feel the same way to you.

Wow, I'll have to come back and read all the interesting comments your post generated.
I live in Silverton, about 40 miles away from Portland -- but I did live in Portland for a year in the 1980s. I had a condo in the Hawthorne District, which is an area I loved and still love. There are many single family homes in the area and the neighborhood is wonderfully eclectic. The homes are older, real Portland-y type places.

I have a friend who has lived in Ladds Circle for decades. Again, it's an old neighborhood, really close-in, and seems great although I know nothing about it really.

I just love Portland SO much. Really hope that some time after you're settled we can meet for coffee!

Well, as we say around here...and we mean it...< href="http://www.keepportlandweird.org/">KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD! Really. Follow the link to the website!

Let's try that link again. KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD

I just noticed that Frank Paynter also mentioned SE Hawthorne. The area where I lived was off 34th, so a bit further up from the 20th street boundary Frank mentioned. But, yes, that's an area you might want to spend some time looking over.

A good time to think of a move, Ronnie, while you're young and fit enough to handle it.

I look forward to hearing how it all develops and wish you a smooth passage.

I've created 10 homesteads since 1975, criss-crossing the country with my belongings. The best advice I can give you is to be ruthless in purging your possessions before you have to unpack those things you've never/will never use but which you've paid to ship anyway.

When people ask "which place did you like the most" I always say that each was perfect for its time in life. Best of Luck as you move into the perfect place for this time of your life.

Write this down somewhere you won't forget. Next time you are in Oregon, drive over to Newport and stay at the Sylvia Beach Hotel. It's on the beach. It is for book lovers/writers. You'll like it.

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