Image: Leah Nash
Landy and Sophia in front of their North Portland home.
Portland: family-friendly bedroom community to the world?
Consider the maximally mobile 21st-century human, the person who could pretty much live anywhere. Landry Molimbi, for example. Born in France, the 31-year-old handles Western Hemisphere business development for a Cologne-based energy technology company. He studied in Barcelona. About a decade ago, he and his wife, Sophia, moved from Paris to New York—because, essentially, the world is his workplace.
Two years ago, with a child on the horizon, Landry and Sophia, an actor, picked a new spot on the map: Portland. (She was born here but had lived abroad since childhood.) They decided North Portland offered the connections and amenities they needed, along with qualities supercities could not. “It’s definitely easier here with kids than in Paris or New York,” Molimbi says. “And the property process is easier and quicker. You have remodeling flexibility that would be hard to find in an apartment or dealing with a co-op board. And the quality of life can be high.”
Such Portlandian characteristics—affordable square footage, check; walkable coffee shop, check; international airport, check!—are beginning to wield far-flung appeal. “We left America with two suitcases,” says Brent Gregston, a freelance journalist. “We came back with two boys.” After 18 years in Paris and Amsterdam, Gregston and his architect wife see Portland’s familiar charms through an international lens. “Cities coming into their own are more accessible,” he says. “Paris has had the most dramatic property rise since the war. San Francisco—we almost couldn’t contemplate it. It’s a tough scene. In Portland, you can do much of what you can do in those cities in a more realistic way.”