Having read this week’s cover story (“The Portlandification of Brooklyn”, Willamette Week August 10th, 2011), which paints Brooklyn as Portland-plus-money-and-ambition, you may be considering a move to this faraway promised land. (Realistically, you are probably rage-blind with wounded regional pride—but let’s pretend.) I moved to Brooklyn in 2009 after four years in Portland, so let me help you contemplate the pros and cons of such a move. Consider:
People: The key difference between Brooklynites and Portlanders is in supply and demand. Busy Brooklynites have less time in which to socialize with a larger pool of people. In Portland, you may be forced to spend hours chatting about craft beer with an underemployed graphic designer thrilled just to be out of the house. In Brooklyn, you will meet amazing, ambitious people who will give you exactly three seconds to prove your worth before moving on. This is still better than Manhattan, where you get half a second.
Bikes: Bicycling around Portland is a dream. Bicycling around Brooklyn is also a dream, albeit a dream where you’re chased by bellowing steel demons over an obstacle course made of shattered glass. Don’t move to Brooklyn for the biking.
Jobs: There are no more jobs in Brooklyn (unemployment rate: 9.8 percent) than in Portland (9.2 percent). But where unemployment in Portland is perversely celebrated as a totally chill way to pass a month or 27, in Brooklyn you’re just a bum. Coffee shops, for example, are largely not thrilled to provide daycare for the unemployed and their Macbooks. Think sealed power outlets and Wi-Fi time limits.
Housing: This makes me sad remembering all the big, cheap rooms in Portland. Let’s not talk about it.
Livability: People are too busy actually living in Brooklyn to worry about livability. Sure, the place is dirtier, more infested, louder, less curated than Portland. But Brooklyn has the world’s best park (Prospect Park) and the world’s best bagels (everywhere). You can take the subway to the beach for $2.25 and get back to Manhattan in time to see a new movie, then tweet about the good parts, ruining it for your Portland friends who won’t be able to see it for months. Then meet the director. On the other hand, there’s no street car.
So, consider these points carefully, Portlanders. If you do end up in Brooklyn, please buy me a beer. I spend all my money on my tiny apartment. —Adrian Chen, a former WW intern, now works for Gawker