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Old 09-08-2009, 11:54 PM
 
40 posts, read 102,489 times
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I currently live in Oklahoma City but am looking to make the move to Portland. I wanted to live in the New England area and the choice was between Philly, Buffalo, or Portland for me. I dont expect there to be as much to do in Portland as there is here is OKC, considering it's metro pop is about half as much as OKC, but I was wondering what do the locals recommend to do? Are there any kind of local sport franchises? And how about Portland's nightlife? I know the city looks gorgeous but Im trying to learn more about it. Also, how is Portland's economy doing? Because I thought about delaying my move as OKC is a very safe place to be right now in this harsh economy.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:45 AM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
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What do you look for in a city? An age may help too.

As far as size goes, Portland's metro is REALLY about 5 times smaller than OKC's. The MSA statistics for Portland combine the smaller metro areas of Biddeford and one other (I can't remember) and lump them into one. According to that data, the entire area from Kittery (in the bottom corner of Maine) all the way up to about Brunswick (part of the midcoast) constitutes the Portland MSA. This is ALL of Southern Maine and a portion of the Midcoast area and the population is still roughly around 490,000 for that entire area. The immediate Portland Metro area is much closer to about 230,000 as that combined data covers a huge area that is very largely rural. Metro areas are confusing in the Northeast as the numbers often overlap. Some estimates show Boston to have over 7.5 million people in its metro while others more accurately show it as closer to 4.5 Million. Portland is much closer to 230,000 and you'll feel that right away when you come here. To me, it has the feel of a small-mid size town more than it does an urban area.

Also, aside from Portland, the cities you mention are not in New England (or even close for that matter). They're also VERY different. Philly is one of the largest, most active cities in the country while Buffalo (very similarly sized to OKC, btw) is a bit burned out and decayed, but does have some nice spots. I'm wondering... why the vast difference in urban areas? Maybe a cost of living thing? If that's the case and you want New England, check out Providence, RI too.... has a lot of that New England beauty, proximity to Boston (and hour by train, less by car), and nowhere near the cost of Boston. It's also similarly sized to OKC (about 1.6 million metro) and would offer a lot to do (New Haven, CT is a great place as well) .

"Not as much to do" is relative to what exactly you like to do. If you're outdoorsy, I would say that Portland has plenty to offer year-round. Probably more than OKC. Portland has a good restaurant scene for such a small town, but absolutely not on par with larger cities (frankly, I don't know anything about OKC's dining scene). It's restaurants are casual with good food, but there are no trendy or super fancy upscale places to eat like you'll find in bigger cities (this is a recurring theme in Portland... everything is laid back and casual like in a small town). Portland has an average local music scene. It's what you would expect for a town like this. It's artsy and there are a number of galleries and a nice art Museum if you like that. Nightlife is pretty weak in Portland as it's really limited to a small pub-crawl type scene (centered around 7 or so bars on Wharf Street). There are no nice lounges or dance clubs and NO large sized venues. Every nightlife spot is small and casual. It's OK if that's your scene, but Portland isn't known outside of Maine (where there is nowhere else to go) for its nightlife at all. Last call is also at 1am (earlier at many places) which puts a further damper on things. If you like loud, flashy nightlife, you'll be miserable in Portland. Most people in Portland looking for a big night out go to Boston. If you like small-scale, quiet "sip a brew" places, you may find it is just fine. There is a big micro-brew culture in Portland, so if you like that, you'll enjoy it.

There are 3 minor league sports franchises in Portland. They're very closely followed (more so than in most cities that have minor league teams). The Seadogs are Portland's AA Baseball team (Red Sox Affiliate) and the Pirates are Portland's AHL Minor League Hockey Team (don't know who the affiliate is... Sabres, I think?). They also have a brand new Developmental League Basketball team called the Maine Red Claws. They start this fall. The UMaine Black Bears are competitive on a national level in Hockey but that's the only sport. That campus is located about 2.5 hours North of Portland so there isn't a TON of passion for it in Portland. The major league teams that Portlanders follow are the Boston ones predominantly.... Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox. There are people who follow other teams, but Portland mostly follows Boston sports.

Portland is gorgeous. If you've seen pictures, it's most likely of a tiny chunk of the city known as the Old Port. It's a small area, but an active/pretty portion of Downtown Portland. It's known for it's walkability, great architecture (wonderful examples of the Federalist Style), and many shops. Portland's West End neighborhood is also very pretty and so are parts of the more suburban neighborhoods in town. Portland is REALLY known for it's natural beauty. It sits on a nice harbor and the city's hills give it great views of Maine's unspoiled wilderness and Islands (you can see the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Atlantic Ocean from spots in Portland). Like any city, it's got some ugly areas, but for the most part, it's VERY pretty (it's a very safe city too).

Portland's economy is, well, Portland's economy. It IS the economic hub of the state, but Maine's economy is typically, "meh." The good news is that during a down economy, not too much changes, but don't expect it to boom off the charts with a nationwide economic recovery. Portland's biggest industry is tourism (again, something else that adds to the small-town feel). Tourists feed money into businesses regularly. Healthcare and maritime shipping are also big employers here. Your ability to find a job will really depend on what you do.

I would advise that you take a few trips out here and see 1) if you like the feel of it when you're here (come once in summer and once in winter because they are VERY different). AND 2) if you can't get the gears going in terms of employment. Most companies won't hire someone unless they are located here for sure. It would be tough to get a job while still being in OKC.

Hope some of that helps, good luck!
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Old 09-09-2009, 12:33 PM
 
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Thanks for the info. Im 23 and already have a job going for me. Im currrently able to promote and I told them that I at least wanted to be in or around the New England area and these are the 3 citites they told me they had opening for in the area. So, Ive just been dooin some research online. But, Buffalo does house my fav NFL team lol. None-the-less, I seeming to fall in love with Portland's charm but wasnt sure what all it offered.

As far as what I would be leaving, OKC is a really fast growing city right now and has turned into a boom town since the recession started. It's art, food, music, and nightlife scene are more alive than ever and its just gettinbg bigger as well as an NBA team here now and theres talk around town of the MLB (the MLB have long said OKC is the city in waiting) and NHL (Edmonton possibly looking to relocate as team owners were in town and then shortly after OKC's minor league hockey team shut down) scouting the city. But, I would be looking to leave OKC at a really great time to be here and was just seeking what would be the best transistion and place for me.
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Old 09-09-2009, 03:02 PM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
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Glad to hear about the job. That's a big help when moving to Portland (or any area for that matter).

I can relate to you a bit as I'm 23 as well. I lived in Portland for 4 years and left this past may to live in Boston.

Portland is a charming town. The best thing I can recommend is that you come spend some time in Portland first. It's not like medium and larger cities at all. In fact, it has more in common with seaside "cities" (really towns) like Annapolis Maryland, Newport Rhode Island, Portsmouth New Hampshire, etc than it does with cities like Oklahoma, Buffalo, or Philly. It really does have that "town" feel, particularly to someone moving from a larger city. It's not out in the sticks by any stretch, but don't come in expecting a major, bustling urban area because that's not what Portland is. It's an active little city, but it's very small.

The big drawback to Portland, in my opinion, is its lack of something for everyone our age. 23 is a transitional age. You're older than most college kids, but many 23 year olds aren't ready to have a family or settle down. Portland is a wonderful place to start a family as the schools are wonderful and the city is safe. It's not crazy expensive, but not cheap either. It has access to plenty of recreational activities (particulalry outside) and adequate suburban amenities. However, for a single 23 year old who is into the urban atmosphere, Portland really doesn't deliver. The restaurants are good, but they're not what you will get in bigger cities with that real flash and vibrant atmosphere (here, they're casual and quaint). The nightlife is REALLY laid back with the pub scene (like you'd find in just about any municipality of size)... upbeat nightlife is not Portland's game. The singles scene is weak as the town is small and many young adults move elsewhere until they're ready to settle down (then they move back). For some people, that's wonderful and exactly what they're looking for. For others, it's not. I count myself in the latter of those two categories. If you want to really enjoy Portland in your 20s as a single working adult, you really have to fit into one of a few little niches. If you want big city style (or even medium city style) and atmosphere, Portland's not the right place.

I can tell you that in my time in Portland, the perspective (among our age group) of Portland was wildly different depending on where the person was from. If they were from Maine, then Portland was IT. Portland was the place to be and the hub of activity. To 20-something Mainers, Portland was THE city (because, well, in Maine it is THE city). To people from outside Maine, it was a different world. Yeah, it was a cool town, but it wasn't THE city. It was a place to get a degree and leave. 9 out of every 10 kids I know that came to Portland from out of state left relatively soon after (very few finished up degrees here even, choosing to transfer somewhere larger instead). The ones who stayed were the outdoorsy, laid back types (hence, fitting a niche).

Look, I'm not trying to scare you away, but I am trying to emphasize that you should come to Portland first for a little while before making your decision. Portland is going to be a LOT different than OKC. It seems like a lot of the things you enjoy about OKC (or the other cities) don't exist in Maine.

It's a great town, don't get me wrong, but it's not for everyone. If you were a 23 year old and you were telling me you were about to get married and want to go somewhere where you and your sig-other could raise a kid in safety and comfort, I'd say get on the next flight. If you were 23 and said that you wanted to live in a town that had some amenities, but was close to the outdoors where you could ski, hike, bike, shoot, etc, I'd say Portland is perfect. If you wanted to join a small arts community to make a name for yourself, I'd say, check out Portland. However, looking for big-time sports, nightlife, etc in Portland isn't the best thing to do. I know it's pretty, but looks will only get you so far. There's a lot of substance in Portland, but it doesn't seem like what you're into (judging from your brief posts).

From what I've read so far, Philly seems to be the best bet with Buffalo coming in a distant second (Portland not far behind that at all). Philly has the big time sports, GREAT nightlife, a lot of beauty (then some not-so-pretty areas too), and potential for a young professional. Portland just doesn't have that stuff.
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Old 09-10-2009, 01:11 AM
 
40 posts, read 102,489 times
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Yeah, thanks for that. Sounds like Portland might not be the place for me after all as I do enjoy sports and a nightlife. Philly was the other place I have been scouting hard, and Ive been to Philly before, since I read some bad things about Buffalo. Seems Buffalo's population has been shrinking slowly over the past few decades and forget the idea of any kind of nightlife or good food scene in Buffalo.
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Old 09-10-2009, 04:35 PM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
9,307 posts, read 17,355,175 times
Reputation: 10964
^Hey, no problem. I'd still say come and check it out a bit. I'm only coming up with an idea after reading two brief posts from you. you know yourself better than anyone here does, so maybe take a trip to Portland. Worst case, you have a few nice days of vacation in a place that's at least intrigued you.

Philly is a cool city, though. I love visiting.
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