Movers and shakers - Monocolumn | Monocle


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17 January 2014

Thank God for United Van Lines. If you’re not familiar, they are one of the biggest moving companies in the US and now they’re in the business of generating headlines.

United Van Lines recently released its Annual Migration Study which told us that nearly 61 per cent of its Oregon business is inbound. That’s a higher percentage than anywhere else that the company operates. Now, if I wanted to be super critical I would say the survey is highly unscientific and slightly misleading (United Van Lines is not the only company moving people to and from the state). But, if, hypothetically, I were a news editor looking for, say, another excuse to cover Oregon and how hip its biggest city is, then this is the jackpot.

Coverage of Oregon and more specifically Portland now seems a pastime of news editors and TV executives. Articles in The New York Times regularly ponder whether the incumbent hipster culture was first hatched in Portland or Brooklyn, and a surprisingly funny TV show called Portlandia accurately captures the spirit of local brunch maniacs or the 20-somethings who’ve moved there to retire. Admittedly, there are far too many “freelancers” running around.

The news of Oregon as a top spot to move to was spun by local and national media outlets as positive – even an ego boost. There is evidence beyond the anecdotal that Portland is the new hot spot and recent drops in unemployment are a welcome shift from the time when I lived there. Still, the numbers aren’t great.

I called Portland home for nearly 10 years. I’ll admit that I finally left because opportunities elsewhere were better. But if you like shoes, apparel or semiconductors – Nike, Adidas and Intel employ a good part of the area’s residents. Never mind that the lions’ share of them are in an area near Portland named after beavers, literally. It’s called Beaverton.

I never perfectly fit the bill for a Portlander. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t really like beer and I don’t eat a lot of hazelnuts. As most people seem to superficially point out, those are the very things people love about Portland and Oregon. Yet, I still love it. There truly is something for everyone. It’s no coincidence Portland regularly ends up on Monocle’s Quality of Life survey. To Hell with economic indicators. It’s just a great place to live.

So, if you are thinking of calling the movers for an estimate, do it. I think everyone needs a bit of Oregon in his or her life. Don’t worry, when you’ve had enough of all of the young people who’ve moved to Portland to retire, you can leave.

Tristan McAllister is transport editor for Monocle.


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