A ‘Happy’ Medium

After years spent hopping around Portland, Angela and Damon Pryor were finally ready to stand still.

It was summer 2015. The Pryors were expecting their first child, the market was hot, and the time felt ripe to trade their Beaverton starter home for something more permanent.

“We’ve moved a lot since we’ve been together,” says Angela Pryor. “We’d been through lots of apartments and already owned a house, and I really wanted to stop moving.”

Their Beaverton home (purchased in 2012) sold quickly for a tidy profit, landing the Pryors in a rented Pearl condo, where they paused to draw up a homebuyer’s wish list: family-friendly, closer in and less than $350,000.

Just one problem: The only homes that met their criteria were either very small, in disrepair, or selling for a sky-high premium, and sometimes all three — not workable options for a very pregnant Angela.

“We didn’t want to get trapped in the bidding wars, which were crazy,” she recalls. “I knew people who had gone in and bid on houses and had been outbid on house after house after house, and we didn’t have the energy to do that.”

As Angela’s due date edged closer, they reevaluated, expanding their search. St. Johns appealed but didn’t thrill, and their nest egg wouldn’t go far in the booming burg anyway, so they looked to outer southeast.

Happy Valley’s Rock Creek Meadows community was still a huge empty lot when they chanced upon it, but the Pryors sensed opportunity. Buying early meant a better price and their choice of lots, floor plans and upgrades — enticing propositions after inner Portland’s picked-over, mid-budget offerings.

So they jumped, purchasing a to-be-built 2,100-square-foot home on a large lot abutting a walking path.

The home cost $390,000 before upgrades — slightly over budget, but worth the upsell, notes Angela: “I felt like everywhere we lived before wasn’t quite right, and I really didn’t want to stick to the budget and sacrifice things and then end up wanting to move again in a couple years,” she says.

How’s life in the burbs? The Portland food renaissance hasn’t quite reached Happy Valley, says Angela, and her thrice-weekly commute downtown can take an hour, but the setup has its charms. She revels in the serenity of her new locale: They’re close to Mount Hood, the neighbors keep horses and goats, and there’s lots of wiggle room for their daughter Maggie (now 14 months), and the family dog, Neil, who wander happily among four bedrooms, a bonus room and a generous yard.

Someday, the Pryors might revisit their dreams of close-in living, but for now, this is definitely home.

Angela advises other house-hunting families to manage expectations, and stay optimistic: “Unless you have tons of money, you’ll have to sacrifice something. For us, it was being farther out and getting the house we wanted. For others it’s being [closer] in Portland and getting a smaller space … Don’t get discouraged. There’s going to be something out there. You’ll find it eventually.”

Erin Bernard

Erin Bernard

Writer & Photographer at Erin J. Bernard Writing Studio
Erin J. Bernard is a freelance writer, editor and photographer who just can’t get enough of the Pacific Northwest.
Erin Bernard

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