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What Living in Portland is Like | 🏆 Is Moving to Portland a Good Idea?

Portland is the largest city in Oregon and the county seat of Multnomah County. Due to its proximity to the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, Portland is a major port in the Pacific Northwest. Portland is known for its many parks, thriving arts and music scene, and eco-friendly philosophy. The city is just 60 miles east of the Pacific Ocean in the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s most populous region. 

Portland was named after Portland, Maine, and has many nicknames. Among the most popular Portland nicknames are the City of Roses or Rose City, Stumptown, Rip City, Beervana, Soccer City, P-town, Portlandia and PDX. Portland’s culture is artistic and creative. Famous people from Portland include NASCAR racer Jim Brown and animator Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons).

The establishment of Portland dates back to the 1840s, when the Oregon Trail brought many settlers to the region. Portland was first named Stumptown, due to the number of trees that were cut down to create the settlement. When Francis Pettygrove purchased roughly 320 acres in 1845, he renamed the area Portland, after the Maine city from which he hailed. The city was incorporated in 1851 with a population of about 800. Portland’s location at the convergence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, as well as its proximity to the Pacific Ocean gave the city major advantages as a port city. This, and its early agricultural success, led to Portland’s early success.

Its reputation in the late 19th century was one of a dirty, dangerous city of disrepute. That didn’t stop Portland’s population from growing – in fact, the city tripled in size between 1900 and 1930. Portland continued to flourish after World War II when Henry J. Kaiser chose Portland as one of his shipbuilding work yards, which brought another 150,000 residents to the area. In the 1960s, Portland was a major home to the hippie subculture, and social activism became a calling-card of the city. The 1990s saw a tech boom in Portland with companies like Intel setting up shop there. The 2000s and 2010s brought more population growth, most notably with young professionals. Today, Portland continues to be considered a very progressive city and tech hub.

Portland Population & Demographics

Portland has a population of 652,573 and is increasing at about a 0.7% annual rate. The Portland Metropolitan Area is home to almost 2.4 million residents. Portland is somewhat diverse, with a demographic breakdown of 70% white, 8.8% Asian, 6.1% Black or African American, 9.3% Hispanic, and 5.8% mixed/other races. Currently, 13.6% of its population is foreign-born, a rate that has decreased by 0.1% annually. Most foreign-born Portlanders come from Mexico, Vietnam, and China. Portland’s metro population is 2,478,810.

The median age in Portland is 37.5 years, with 69% of the population’s ages being 18-64. About 50% of Portland’s population is male and 50% is female. Portland is a great place to be single – 59% of its population is single!

The median household income in Portland is $76,231, which is about 10% higher than the median household income across the state of Oregon. Income is on the rise too – Portland saw a 10.4% increase in annual median income from 2017-2018. The biggest industries in Portland are healthcare and social assistance, professional/scientific/technical services, and retail. The most common jobs are management, office/administrative, and sales-related positions. About 52.8% of Portland residents have obtained their Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Cost of Living in Portland

Overall, the cost of living in Portland is 29% higher than the national average. Most of that is due to housing costs in Portland being 79% higher than the national average. Groceries cost about 15% more, healthcare is 7% higher, and transportation is 6% more expensive in Portland. However, utilities are 22% less expensive than the national average. Portland has a 0% sales tax rate. Portland’s income tax rate is 9.9%. Property tax in Portland is 1.04%. The average monthly utility bill in Portland is $174.97.

Typical Living Expenses in Portland

  • Gas: $2.78/gallon
  • Internet: $66.00/month
  • Full-time preschool: $1,248.31/month
  • Transportation (one-way): $2.50
  • Monthly Transportation pass: $100.00
  • Fitness club: $38.47/month
  • Milk: $3.20/gallon
  • Bread: $2.76/loaf
  • Eggs: $2.85/dozen
  • Fast food meal: $8.00
  • Restaurant meal: $15.00
  • Mid-range restaurant meal for two: $60.00
  • Movie ticket: $12.00

Portland’s Real Estate Market

The real estate market in Portland is considered somewhat competitive. Homes sell in about 9 days, usually at 1% above asking price with multiple offers. The median sale price for a Portland home is $489,000, which is about $286 per square foot. Housing prices are rising in Portland – median sale prices are up 11.1% over last year. About 54% of people in Portland own their homes. Click here to see Portland, OR homes for sale. Property taxes in Portland are around $3,000 annually.

About 46% of Portland residents rent their homes. Average rent in Portland averages to about $1,537 a month, which is down 3% since last year. Portland’s most affordable neighborhoods to rent are Bridlemile, Parkrose, and Powellhurst. The most expensive rental areas are Pearl District, Roseway, and Hayhurst.

Portland Neighborhoods

Portland is home to 95 neighborhoods, so choosing the right neighborhood might seem daunting. Want to know which Portland neighborhood is right for you? Here’s a list of some of the best Portland neighborhoods and what they have to offer:

Hillside – Amazing Homes, Endless Recreation

Perhaps the most exclusive neighborhood in Portland is Hillside. Though there are some affordable options along the edges of Hillside, the heart of the neighborhood is home to sprawling architecturally interesting homes. Hillside also boasts access to a long list of gorgeous outdoor spaces.

Northwest Heights – Safe, Family-Friendly Neighborhood

  • Population: 6,030
  • Median Home Cost: $895,000

Northwest Heights is considered a top place to live in the entire state of Oregon. Though the median home price looks high, this neighborhood also has affordable real estate! Residents enjoy stunning views and take pride in keeping their lush neighborhood beautiful too. There are lots of kids in Northwest Heights. Check out nearby Forest Park, the largest city park in the US. Portland Audubon and Forest Heights Park are also within Northwest Heights.

Southwest Hills – Affluent Community Set Among Nature

  • Population: 5,849
  • Median Home Cost: $860,000

Just 6 minutes from downtown Portland sits the upscale neighborhood of Southwest Hills. Surrounded by the famed Council Crest Park and Marquam Nature Park, Southwest Hills’s greenery sets it apart from other neighborhoods in Portland. Residents enjoy gorgeous views of the city and mountains. Moving to Portland with school-aged children? Southwest Hills is home to top-rated schools including Ainsworth Elementary, Lincoln High, and West Sylvan Middle School.

Goose Hollow – Historic, Affordable Neighborhood

  • Population: 5,849
  • Median Home Cost: $349,000

Goose Hollow is one of the first established neighborhoods in Portland. It’s adjacent to Downtown, so it’s a great option for working professionals looking for a quick commute. Goose Hollow is also known for its beautiful architecture – the historic homes have been very well maintained. Residents enjoy easy access to tons of amenities. Sports lovers will enjoy being close to Providence Park, home of the Portland Timbers and PSU Vikings.

Linnton – Safe, Affordable Community

  • Population: 1,884
  • Median Home Cost: $300,000

Located between Forest Park and the Willamette River is Linnton. Crime rates in Linnton are 60% lower than the Portland average, which is a contributing factor to the large number of families with children who live here. Parents can choose among great schools like Skyline Elementary School or Jacob Wismer Elementary School.

The following neighborhoods are considered the least safe in Portland:

  • Sunderland: crime is 55% higher than the Portland average
  • Centennial: crime is 49% higher than the Portland average
  • Powellhurst: crime is 46% higher than the Portland average
  • Lents: crime is 42% higher than the Portland average
  • Bridgeton: crime is 39% higher than the Portland average

Portland Neighborhoods Map

Portland, OR Weather

Though Portland has a reputation for being gray and rainy, it has more sunshine and less precipitation than other large cities in the Pacific Northwest. Portland’s climate is categorized as warm-summer Mediterranean, meaning cool/cloudy winters and warm/dry summers.

The best time to visit Portland is from June to August. Not only are these the drier months, but summers are known as “the season of roses,” during which endless flowers are brightly blooming. November through February is the least pleasant time of year in Portland, when temperatures are colder, sunshine is scarce, and the area receives the most rain and snow. December is the coldest month in Portland, with average highs of 45.7°F.

Portland has about 154.5 rainy days a year, during which 36” of rain falls. November is the wettest month with 19 days of rainfall, and July is the driest with 4.1 rainy days.

Portland, OR Restaurants

Portland is known for its doughnuts, microbrew/craft beers, and amazing coffee. Here are some of the best places to try each kind!

Voodoo Doughnut

 

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Perhaps the best known doughnut shop in Portland is Voodoo Doughnut. This quirky shop immediately grabbed national attention, and has grown to include nine locations. Patrons come for the innovative flavors and stay for the people watching.

22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204, (503) 241-4704

Cascade Brewing Barrel House

Looking for some great sour beer? Cascade Brewing invites patrons to partake in the “sour beer renaissance” by choosing among 28 taps serving their carefully brewed, complex flavors.

939 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97214, (503) 265-8603

Deadstock Coffee Roasters

The self-proclaimed “snob-free” coffee shop offers delicious coffee in an eclectic, sneaker-themed atmosphere. The limited menu includes beverages named after the owner’s favorite celebrities. Try a Lebronald Palmer!

408 NW Couch St Suite 408, Portland, OR 97209, (971) 220-8727

Things To Do in Portland

If you decide to move to Portland, you won’t have a hard time finding something to do. The city is pulsating with activities for foodies, nature lovers, art and history buffs, sports fans, and shoppers. Here are some of the best activities in Portland:

Top Attractions

  • Forest Park is the largest city park in the United States. It’s full of trails and lush wildlife.
  • The 400-acre Washington Park offers a long list of activities from archery to playgrounds, to picnicking areas and beyond.
  • Within Washington Park is the Oregon Zoo, one of Portland’s most popular attractions. Spanning 64 acres, this zoo is home to many unique animals.
  • The Portland Japanese Garden is one of Portland’s most unique attractions. Explore 12 acres of peaceful, pristine gardens, learn about the Japanese culture, or enjoy traditional tea and cuisine at the cafe.
  • Oaks Amusement Park is a fantastic outing for families! In operation since 1905, Oaks offers roller coasters and other rides, a rollerskating rink, picnicking, and more!
  • The Portland Children’s Museum has endless activities and exhibits, and the museum is home to the Opal School, which offers extensive learning programs for children aged 3 through 5th grade.
  • The Hoyt Arboretum is an expansive refuge within Washington Park. There are 12 miles of hiking trails and over 2300 species of trees.

Art & Entertainment

  • Cinema 21 is an indie art-house movie theater that has served the Portland area since 1925.
  • Snap Haus is a one-of-a-kind, interactive photography studio in Downtown Portland. Go enjoy its 20 exhibitions or snap selfies in its unique settings!
  • Rainbow City is another unique space for visitors and artists alike. Host an event, attend an art collaboration event, or just stop by to browse!
  • The Window of Wonders is an ever-evolving window display created by Hilary Pfeifer, aka Bunny with a Toolbelt.

Museums

 

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  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a wonderful place of learning. Whether you’re interested in world history, chemistry, space, or natural sciences, you’re bound to be fascinated!
  • Founded in 1892, the Portland Museum of Art is one of the oldest museums in the United States. In addition to its permanent and temporary exhibits, the museum’s calendar is full of interesting events and programs.
  • The World Forestry Center is a 20,000 square foot museum that offers an interesting look at humanity’s relationship with Earth’s forests.

Parks & Outdoor Activities

  • International Rose Test Garden, also within Washington Park, is home to about 650 varieties of roses. It’s the oldest continuously operating garden of its kind, and contributes to Portland’s “City of Roses” nickname.
  • Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a nature and photography lover’s paradise. It’s the country’s largest designated National Scenic Area whose stunning vistas will take your breath away.
  • Lan Su Chinese Garden, located in Portland’s Chinatown area, takes up an entire city block. The garden contains over 100 species of plants, beautiful pavilions, and the artificial Lake Zither in the center.
  • The Portland Aerial Tram offers visitors and residents sweeping views of the Portland area and the gorgeous nature surrounding it.

Shopping

  • Powell’s City of Books is the largest new and used bookstore in the world! Occupying an entire city block in the Pearl District, this is a bibliophile’s haven.
  • The Portland Saturday Market is a city favorite. Every weekend, residents enjoy shopping, live music, amazing food, and family-friendly activities.
  • Washington Square mall is a shopper’s paradise. Home to over 170 stores, including the state’s largest Nordstrom, Washington Square is sure to have everything on your list.

Map of Portland Attractions

Setting Up Utilities and Driver’s License Change of Address in Portland

Depending on where you’re relocating from, you may need all your utility accounts transferred, or start with new providers. Here are the utility providers in Portland:

  • Electric: Portland General Electric (PGE)
  • Gas: NW Natural
  • Water: Portland Water Bureau
  • Trash collection: City of Portland
  • Top Cable/Internet Providers: Verizon, Xfinity/Comcast, RCN, AT&T/DirectTV
  • Driver’s License Change of Address: Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicles Services
    • Call (503) 945-5000 or click here for more information
  • Voter Registration: Multnomah County Elections Division
    • Call (503) 988-8683 or click here for more information

Portland Sports Teams

Portland is home to three major league professional sports teams. The Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), the Portland Timbers (MLS), and the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League all call Portland home. Collegiate sports include the University of Portland Pilots and the Portland State University VIkings. Both universities (who are rivals) have popular soccer, baseball, and basketball teams.

Soccer fans head to Providence Park and Hillsboro Stadium to take in games.  The Trail Blazers play at the Moda Center, as does the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks ice hockey team.

Transportation in Portland

When it comes to transportation, Portland is highly ranked in the United States. It’s one of the nation’s most walkable/pedestrian-friendly cities, but its transit system often draws praise as well.

Most Portland residents own two cars. The average commute in Portland is 23.3 minutes, which is 2.4 minutes less than the national average. Though 58.5% of commuters choose to drive to work alone, the second most popular mode of transportation is public transit. 12% of Portland residents use public transportation to get to work.

Portland residents have several public transit options. The region’s bus system is run by TriMet. Portland’s light rail system, The Metropolitan Area Express (MAX), operates 5 lines that serve nearby suburbs. Portland Streetcar offers two routes in downtown Portland. The Portland Transit Mall runs along 5th and 6th Avenues, where traffic is restricted to transit vehicles only.

Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US. In fact, the city boasts 385 miles of bikeways (comprising neighborhood greenways, bike lanes, and paths). The city hosts a bike sharing program called Biketown, with 1,500 bikes and 180 pickup/drop-off locations.

The main airport serving Portland is the Portland International Airport, which is about 20 minutes from downtown. Portland International Airport is often ranked as the best airport in the US. The Portland Downtown Heliport is the state’s only heliport available for use by the public. The Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, and Amtrak Cascades rail lines serve the area as well, operating out of Union Station. Need directions from downtown Portland to the Portland International Airport? Click here for directions!

Portland Crime Rates

Portland is considered safer than 9% of other cities in the United States, and crime has decreased by 4% year over year in Portland.

The total crime rate in Portland is 131% higher than the national average. Property crime occurs 147% more than the national average. That may sound intimidating, but here’s a closer look at Portland’s crime statistics:

  • Violent crime rates in Portland are 545 cases per 100,000 people
  • Robbery rates in Portland are 147.9 cases per 100,000 people
  • There are 55.6 rape cases per 100,000 people in Portland
  • The rate of murder in Portland is 4.4 cases per 100,000 people
  • There are 336.1 assaults per 100,000 people in Portland

Crime rates in big cities can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. When considering a move, it’s important to look at each area’s statistics to ensure you’re moving to a community in which you feel safe. Click here to look through Portland’s interactive crime dashboard provided by Portland Police Bureau.

Portland’s Economy

Portland’s economic success is due to its location, low energy costs, and easy access to transportation. The Port of Portland is a major export tonnage port on the west coast, and the second biggest wheat port in the world. Steel is also a major industry in the Portland area, which is home to Schnitzer Steel Industries, ESCO Corporation, and Oregon Steel Mills. The tech industry is also huge in Portland, earning the city the nickname Silicon Forest. Software companies, startups, and incubators are all big industries in Portland, and Intel is the city’s biggest employer. Many outdoor/athletic clothing companies are headquartered in Portland. Major companies like Adidas, Columbia Sportswear and Dr. Martens, all have global or US offices in Portland. Under Armour, Merrell, and Amer Sports also have offices and design studios in Portland. Portland is also home to two Fortune 500 HQs: Nike and Precision Castparts.

Healthcare in Portland

Portland provides residents with extensive healthcare options. Portland’s best hospitals include OHSU Hospital, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Providence Portland Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center, and Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. OHSU Hospital is a nationally ranked medical facility and ranked the #1 hospital not only in Portland, but in all of Oregon. Portland is also home to many other medical institutions including to Randall’s Children’s Hospital, Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital, Legacy Emanuel and Legacy Devers Eye Institute, the Legacy Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, Legacy Obesity and Diabetes Institute, the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing, and the Legacy Rehabilitation Clinic of Oregon. Portland’s teaching hospitals include Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Oregon Health & Science University Hospital.

Jobs in Portland

According to PayScale, the average salary in Portland is $69,000. The average hourly rate in Portland is $19.84; wages are increasing at about a 0.3% rate annually. The most popular jobs in Portland are software engineering, operations management, and project management positions. A few of the major employers in Portland are Intel, Nike, and Oregon Health and Science University.

Intel Corporation and Nike are the top employers in Portland according to Glassdoor rankings. Software companies New Relic and Mentor Graphics are highly rated as well, followed by Apple, Portland State University, and HP.

If you’d like to work for the City of Portland, there are a lot of great opportunities available! Click here for more information about Portland government jobs. For additional job opportunities in Portland and nearby areas, click here to see what’s currently listed on Indeed.

Portland Schools

Portland is served by 9 public school districts comprising 171 schools, and 88 private schools. The largest public school district is Portland Public Schools, which is made up of 85 schools. Students in Portland receive test scores 3% above the national average, and the high school graduation rate is 6% higher than the national average. The student/teacher ratio in Portland is 19:1. Portland’s top schools include Skyline Elementary School, Winterhaven School, and Riverdale Grade School.

Portland also has a great selection of higher education institutions. Portland State University has a student body of almost 30,000, making it the second largest university in the state. It is ranked among the top 15% of universities in the region, and has earned international recognition for its urban planning and MBA program. Students may also choose to enroll at Concordia University-Portland, Oregon Health & Science University or Portland Community College. Private universities in Portland include University of Portland, Reed College, and Lewis & Clark College. Average tuition costs in Portland are $29,620 for private colleges, $10,524 for in-state public colleges, and $24,885 for out-of-state students. The most common majors among Portland college students are Liveral Arts & Sciences, Curriculum & Instruction, and General Studies.

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