People in Their 40s Are at the Tipping Point Between Loving and Leaving Portland

Regardless of how seriously I love Portland, I can’t deny that this has become an incredibly hard place to live.

Enjoying the Winter Light Festival in downtown Portland. (Mick Hangland-Skill)

This week’s cover story examines why, after decades of consistent boom, Portland’s population is suddenly shrinking.

Depending on how long you’ve lived here or where you immigrated from, you may have an entirely different perspective on how this city looks, how it got to where it currently is, and whether or not better days lie ahead. You might have a different conception of what constitutes better days in Portland. And, honestly, it’s so emotional to get into. When we talk about Portland like this, I feel like I’m talking about a bestie or partner or a family member who is at rock bottom. I feel like I’m talking about someone I love deeply and intimately enough to fight for, you know?

But regardless of how seriously I love Portland, I can’t deny that this has become an incredibly hard place to live.

The spiraling murder rate, the crippling cost of living, the gun violence, the hamstrung school system, the acknowledgment that the longer you live here, the more likely your catalytic converter (or just your whole car) will be stolen, the lack of housing and gross indifference to poverty. the proliferation of mental health crises and anemic support systems to address them. The utter failures in leadership. Yes, I love Portland. I will always love Portland, but does she love us? Or should we all be trying to kick rocks?

Today, Anthony Effinger and I are unpacking his cover story, “They Left,” an examination of the causes and effects of Portland’s population decline and how the exodus might affect the city’s political and cultural landscapes in the years to come.

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