Small Farm. Big City.


Tabitha Oullette Hufnagel has lived in Portland for 10 years, but she grew up on a small farm near Longview, Washington and wanted to return to a rural area to raise her children, Beatrice, age 8 and Llewelyn, 17 months. She and her husband, Jordan Hufnagel, spent two years considering buying a home in Corbett, about 22 miles east of downtown Portland.

“We liked the culture of farmers and artists there, and the gorgeous scenery,” says Oullette Hufnagel. They searched for a plot of land large enough to include a metal fabrication shop so Jordan Hufnagel, a metal fabricator, could work close to home.

But low inventory and the frustration of two unsuccessful bids eventually turned their search to Portland.

When they decided not to buy in Corbett, they began looking in the Cully neighborhood, close to Beatrice’s school and Jordan’s work on Columbia Boulevard, jumping straight into the frenzy of the Portland housing market.

Meanwhile, a mom from their daughter’s school had mentioned she was interested in taking over their rental if they moved. Eventually, she told the family that she was getting divorced and would be selling her own house. And that’s when inspiration struck.

“We knew their house was in the school boundary, so we asked how much they were asking for it, and if we could take a look,” says Oullette Hufnagel. “They had a super-dreamy house, set back from the road, on a double lot with fruit trees, room for cnov16_movingto_cullyhickens and a little gem of a hidden garden.”

The price was in their $299,000 to $399,000 range, their realtor agreed to represent them at 3 percent and the owners chose to sell “for sale by owner,” avoiding realtor fees and agreeing to a slightly lower offer. After two long years searching in Corbett and two “insanely frantic” weeks bidding on homes in Portland before making this connection, they closed on the house in 45 days, on Beatrice’s first day of second grade this fall. And the seller was able to take over their rental.

“I’d love it if there were a few more amenities in walking distance,” says Oullette Hufnagel, though she’s got a shout-out for Ira’s Deli on Northeast Prescott as a great place for ice cream, gyros and yummy burgers. But she admits it would be tough to have both a rural feel and lots of shops close by, and it’s likely such amenities would have been farther away from any property they bought in Corbett.

Cully isn’t the Gorge, but the Hufnagels are pleased to live just a few minutes drive from both their jobs. Children from Beatrice’s class live on their street, a Safe Routes to School walking path runs by their home. And they feel lucky to live in a small community of tiny urban farms, complete with chickens and goats. They’ve only moved a few miles, but it feels like they’ve moved to the country after all.

Heather Lee Leap

Heather Lee Leap

Heather Lee Leap’s articles and essays about parenting, family and health have appeared in two dozen regional parenting magazines across North America. When she is not driving her three daughters to soccer practice and music lessons, she looks for new ways to supplement their education. Heather writes from her home in northeast Portland.
Heather Lee Leap

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