New Home in Portland, Oregon


Hey everyone, welcome to the weekend edition of the Art of Nonconformity. It’s not really an official thing, at least not yet – it’s just for those of you who read by RSS or who happen to stop by the site on Saturdays. I figure I’ll use it for personal updates and random things that don’t fit in a Monday or Thursday post.

Today’s Big News Is that I No Longer Live in Seattle

Yes, it’s true. World Domination HQ is now located a few hours south of the original base in Seattle. Articles and other world-changing information is now published live from my new home of Portland, Oregon.

Jolie and I made the move last week, and we are now ensconced in the fun Hawthorne district across the Willamette river. So far, the running trails are great, Powell’s Bookstore provides free coffee refills, and we’re right on the bus line.

Speaking of coffee, I have nine coffee invitations I’ll need to work on when I get back from the next trip. It turns out that PDX folks are quite welcoming! Thanks, guys.

Unconventional Guide to Moving

For the record, I’d like to state that moving sucks. I am all about avoiding stress and finding an unconventional way to get things done, but I haven’t discovered that with moving yet. Damn. The day I was carrying an apartment full of stuff down to the U-Haul truck, I heard from someone who is getting ready to live out of one suitcase for an entire year.

I was appropriately embarrassed to hear this news. I can travel for weeks with no luggage, but the rest of my stuff takes up an entire large truck. Since I single-handedly loaded and unloaded this truck last weekend, I can attest that it’s a LOT OF STUFF. Shameful, I know.

Anyway, it was stressful, but all stressful things come to an end.

When It’s Not Working Out

Here’s the short version of why we left a city we loved. We came back from vacation in late December to find our apartment completely flooded. Everything we owned had been picked up and moved to the living room — see the evidence below:

House Disasterdecember-27-2008-003december-27-2008-008

This is what $1550 a month in Seattle buys you. Impressed? Me neither.

Over the ensuing days that followed this event, I listened to all kinds of people explain why they were not interested in compensating me for the damage created by someone else’s burst pipe. Days turned into weeks and the contractors did about 20% of the work they had promised in twice the amount of time. When I asked questions about it, I was perceived as impatient and told that I was in the way.

I’m really not making this up… and it gets worse.

I continued listening as various insurance companies and contractors told me with a straight face that the apartment was officially “inhabitable” — but they claimed to have no liability to pay for us to stay somewhere else. The same week, our landlord threatened to sue me (!) if we left the apartment before our lease was up in June.

Again, I’m not kidding. I started calling around to talk to people in the know, who unanimously told me that our renter rights had been violated by this experience. A rep from the city of Seattle said I should file a countersuit for all of the damages and expenses that had not been reimbursed.

That was interesting to learn, but I have no desire to deal with anything related to litigation. I learned a while back in the business world that whenever someone starts pulling out legalese and threatening to bring in attorneys, that’s when you should run as far away as you can. Relying on legalese when you are obviously wrong is a mindset of scarcity and fear, and I am most definitely NOT going to respond in the same way even when I know I’m right.

Personal Responsibility

Anyway, the point is that each of us is responsible for our own well-being. When no one else wants to be responsible, you can’t just whine about it. You have to do something.

I do try to walk the walk as much as possible. When something isn’t working out, the best choice is often to get away as quickly as you can.

So we did. We left the apartment we had lived in for two and a half years and moved three hours away to Portland, Oregon. I packed up the U-Haul, loaded all the stuff, put the cat in the front cab, and we drove away from Washington state.

Why Portland? Because it’s Awesome

As previously mentioned, moving sucks. If you’re going to do it, you might as well move somewhere you like. We like Portland. We wanted a change.

On the positive side, PDX is a bit more affordable than Seattle and has better public transit. On the negative side, American Airlines flies only to DFW from here. I’ll lose my JFK and ORD connections, but I figure I can make that work. Overall, we love it so far and are looking forward to getting to know it better.

Travel Ninja

Thanks to everyone who has purchased it already. I’m grateful. I’ll provide a more detailed update later, OK? But I’m glad to know it is already out there helping people. Yay.

Coming Up Next

On Monday I’ll be writing about the scarcity mindset and expanding the pie. The experience with the apartment is one of many things that have set me thinking about this. As much as I hate it, I am not immune to operating from a scarcity mindset myself. Details tomorrow.

Also, I live in Portland now, but naturally I won’t be here all the time. On Thursday I’ll head out for my Next Big Trip. This one will take me first to Washington, D.C., next to Southern Africa, and then all the way around the world. I’m excited, and I’ll post up more details later in the week.

Until then, keep rocking the universe over there. I’m doing my best.

Portland, Oregon
(the new World Domination HQ)


Hawthorne Bridge Image by Dead Air

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  • David says:

    Yay! Welcome to Oregon!

  • Mary-Frances says:

    I’m so jealous! We live in Western Washington near Canada and want to move to Portland as well. I hope we get there soon. Please post occasionally about PDX!

  • April says:

    I hope you enjoy Portland. I used to live there and it is an awesome city! You have an excellent website and I am waiting impatiently to hear about your next adventure in Africa!

  • Ed says:

    Welcome, new neighbor. I’m be very keen to see what kind of deals you find from “our airport” (PDX) and where you find them! My guess is that you will indeed miss the deals that a big city hub offers. B

    But, hey, Portland is wayyyy nicer than Seattle…

  • Chris says:

    Thanks all! As mentioned, it seems that PDX folks (and others) are super friendly.


    Well, the kind of travel I usually do won’t really be affected too much. Domestic travel deals are indeed sometimes better from SEA, but for Round-the-World and Awards trips, it will just require a small amount of restructuring (I think). And in terms of the actual airports, I already prefer PDX to Sea-Tac.

  • Steve K. says:

    Some of the coolest people I know live in Portland, including you and my sister-in-law. Rock on. I gotta get up that way someday soon …

  • Metroknow says:

    Welcome to Portland! We love it here. We are Seattle/NW Washington natives as well, but we discovered that our home dollars go much further in PDX, and the communities here are very welcoming. Add my name to the list of coffee offers – it would be great to get together sometime.

    On moving, and your trevails, I completely agree. I have yet to find a way to make it minimally stressful. Our last move, from L.A. to Portland, we used movers (first time I’ve ever done that, but with my wife 7 months pregnant at the time, it made sense for us), and even THAT was excessively stressful. I remember landing at my mother-in-law’s place and crashing on the bed with one pillow wrapped around my ears and another covering my entire face, just to block out the world for an hour or two.

    I was so wiped out, I fell asleep and rested like a sedated baby.

    Very glad to have you here, and I haven’t mentioned it before (not sure how long it has been this way), but the site looks incredible. Great overhaul.

    Take good care –

  • Jen says:

    Hope you enjoy your new home! Looking forward to hearing from Africa! Jen x

  • moom says:

    I spent a few days in Portland in 2002 and loved it. Also I think it has about the ideal climate from my perspective – warmer than Seattle by a couple of degrees makes the difference (I grew up in London which has about the same temperatures as Seattle and now live in Canberra which is close to Portland or maybe Eugene in temperatures).

  • Cameron says:

    Yes, PDX is wonderful. I’ve been there 9 years. Best of luck adjusting. Some of it will be easy: like public transit being awesome and relatively speedy from one side of the city to the other, unlike in SEA. Let the internets know if you need any local advice: I think you’d have a phalanx of supporters.

  • David S. says:

    Welcome to Portland! I’ve lived here most of my life and really love it. Oh, the place has its downsides, but I’ll leave them for you to find out – wouldn’t want to spoil the fun! Hawthorne is a really cool district – excellent choice for your situation at the moment. My wife (a Boston transplant) and I live near Multnomah Village, which is also a nice progressive neighborhood. Enjoy!

  • Bill says:

    Chris, I’ve only been able to visit Portland twice, but it’s definitely an awesome place. Have fun someday and experiment with everywhere you can go on the free public transport. Lots of fun ideas for things to do in Portland on my post. And hopefully soon, you’ll post about the things you’ve found to give me ideas for my next trip…

  • Asa says:

    As a Seattleite, I’ve been impressed with Portland every time I visit so I don’t blame you for making the move. Be sure to check out The Paradox – it’s a great breakfast and lunch place. As for JFK connections, I believe Jet Blue flies there direct from Portland.

  • Brother says:

    I’ve had one move that didn’t cause me any stress. My work paid for a bunch of dudes to pack my stuff up in boxes and then take it to my new house, where they were supposed to unpack it for me. I was absent for all of the packing and most of the unpacking (which was handled by The Wife) and my stuff (most of which was once Chris’ stuff) arrived mostly undamaged.

    The only drawback to this method is that it costs a small truckload of cash. Which is okay if the cash belongs to other people, but not if it’s your own. Oh, and your significant other may complain about being stuck with the moving duties for a few days, weeks, or months.

  • Ari Herzog says:

    …and I thought you were moving to Portland, Maine. Only on closer inspection did I see the opposite coast. Drats! Welcome to your new home, anyway!

    Oh, and I’m with you 100% on the small truck’s worth of personal belongings. It’s ridiculous how much junk I own.

  • MMC says:

    Moving- we’ve done it lots of times across countries and cities. While some of the issues can’t be avoided, we’ve always seen moving as an opportunity to clear out the Stuff one accumulates. So when we last moved continents (4 years ago now), all of my clothes and shoes- including winter coats and multiple pairs of trainers fit into two packing boxes. There is something wonderfully satisfying about cutting it down to size.

  • smayx says:


    Welcome to my hometown 🙂 I was born and raised a block off of Hawthorne so I am especially partial to the location you picked! I’m passionate about travel (and as such, an avid reader of your site) but I am always happy to come back. I’m looking forward to your hints to flying out of PDX when you get that dialed. cheers

  • Anthony StClair says:

    Welcome to Oregon! Coffee tip – tucked inside the Powells on Hawthorne is The Fresh Pot – great joe.

    If you find yourself heading to Eugene, drop me a line!

  • Akemi - Yes to Me says:

    Oh, hi, you are now my neighbor then. I live in Wilsonville (about 10 miles south of Portland). Moved here one and a half years ago, and love it.

    Welcome, and I hope you enjoy this very special place on Earth.

  • Mary Sue says:

    Hello! Welcome to the neighborhood!
    Chance of Rain Coffeeshop on 32nd and Hawthorne
    Haven Coffeeshop on 36th and Division
    Sound Grounds Coffeeshop on 37th and Belmont
    And for good nibbly foods and drinks and/or brunch when you don’t have to wait in line (rule #1 of PDX brunch, if there’s a line, it’s not worth it) Sckavone’s on 42nd and Division.

    That’s my usual rotation. I could get more in-depth, but I’m, you know, at work and you’re on your way out of town (to my other favorite town, DC! I’m jealous!)

  • Tomas says:

    Welcome to Portland! It’s nice to see PDX has attracted another writer!

  • leona says:

    I’m coming to Portland in July from Sydney Australia (to go hiking & kayaking in the Cascades) before continuing to the UK and then…well I have tossing up a few options which include El Camino Santiago/time in Turkey/time in Nepal and Bhutan. Maybe if you are in town we could catch up for a famous Portland coffee.

  • Rachel Byrum says:

    Sad to hear you left Seattle! You will be missed. Portland is cool too, though. Have you been church hunting yet?

  • pam hogeweide says:

    Hi Chris, I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog and it was his shout out for you today that put you on my radar. I did not hesitate to sign-up for your 6 Ways to Change the World series. I am interested in your take on the ways human beings search out for significance. If I discover that you are a motivational type communicator who is going to tell me to live my best life now and tap into my undiscovered potential, then our relationship is doomed to fail. The last thing I desire in my mailbox is another voice telling me that if I only follow these steps I, too, can truly live a life of significance and greatness.

    Hopefully your message is not that.

    I look forward to learning more about what you have to say. Maybe your insights will change my little world here in my north Portland household.

    And yes, welcome to Portland! We LOVE this city!!!

    See you around cyberspace, and perhaps at Powell’s some day. I tend to hang out in the Red Room. {i’m a progressive-christian-spirituality-geek}

  • Aaron Majors says:

    Keep Portland Weird! I came to Portland to visit and ended up staying. I love the city, state, and people! Thank you for such a good article!

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