A recent study (sponsored by regional land-use planning agency, Metro, and conducted by Portland-based DHM Research) asked 6,500 respondents living in Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington, and Clark counties where they really want to live.
Respondents were asked initially about their housing preferences without considering tradeoffs. Then they were asked if their initial preferences held when faced with the usual real-life choices. You know, like higher costs and longer commutes.
The results may surprise you.
Based on this extensive survey, it appears that Portlanders really want to live in, gasp, single-family houses. I know, I know, how shockingly “normal.”
I’m feigning surprise, because our local Portlandia lore tends to suggest (ad nauseam) that we all want to live in densely populated urban settings, in ultra-cool, minimalist condos, preferably under 400 square feet, stacked a mile high, sans motor vehicle, on streets teeming with retail, restaurants, and cars.
(Now don’t get me wrong. That’s exactly how I live, except for the 400 square feet and ultra-cool part. I love it. For now. And it’s not for everyone.)
And despite predictions from housing analysts that the younger generation might prefer renting apartments in an urban environment, respondents between the ages of 18 to 34 showed the strongest preference of all age groups for single-family detached homes. A full 88% of millennials want to live in single-family homes.
The survey also asked residents under what conditions, all other factors being equal, they would choose a different neighborhood. As it turns out, size does matter. For example, 12.1% of downtown residents would move elsewhere if the downtown residence was 500 square feet smaller than other options. So much for the currently trendy build-400-square feet-condos-and-they-will-come theory.
But here’s where it gets slightly more Portlandia. Even though most Portland area residents want to live in single-family homes, they don’t want those homes to be in a suburban setting. They want them to be in either a compact neighborhood or rural setting.
You can see the issue here, right? Compact neighborhoods are already built out to maximum capacity and built out rural settings become, well, suburbs.
So now regional planners must reconcile these ambivalent findings with their plans for accommodating Portland population growth over the next 20 years. Plans that currently focus on increased construction of high-density apartments and condominiums within the city of Portland.
The very thing that no one apparently wants.
Tell Me More
- Portland Residential Preference Study | Oregon Metro
- How do Portlanders want to live? Planners’ survey finds complex picture of housing preferences | The Oregonian
- DHM Research