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Portland vs Vancouver 🆚 | Pros & Cons of Living in Portland Versus Vancouver, Cost of Living & More!

Last Updated on: 23rd May 2023, 01:45 pm

Are you thinking about moving to the Pacific Northwest but aren’t sure whether to choose Portland or Vancouver? Both cities have amazing qualities, but which one is best for you?

Portland, also known as ‘The City of Roses,’ is the largest city in the state of Oregon and is known for its beautiful nature, sustainability, and diverse art scene. Vancouver, Washington is located just a few miles north of the Oregon and Washington border. Vancouver is known for its amazing waterfront views, gorgeous vineyards and breweries, and bustling downtown area. If you are trying to decide between these two cities, then let us help you out. Here’s what you should know about living in Vancouver vs. Portland.

Portland to Vancouver Distance

How far is it from Portland to Vancouver? The distance from Portland to Vancouver is 9.4 miles, or about a 15 minute drive. The two cities are separated by the Columbia River.

Pros and Cons of Living in Vancouver vs. Portland

One of the best ways to decide between Portland and Vancouver is to weigh the pros and cons of each city.

Living in Portland Pros

Portland is a very popular city among young professionals, couples, and small families. Portland has a big-city feel, making it perfect for those who prefer an urban setting. Portland is incredibly walkable and bikeable, making it a great option for those who do not have a personal vehicle. Portland has more job opportunities than Vancouver as well as a lower unemployment rate.

Living in Portland Cons

Living in Portland isn’t for everyone. Some of the cons of living in Portland include a higher crime rate, a higher income tax rate, and a higher cost of living. The population of Portland is also nearly three times higher than Vancouver, so if you prefer a smaller town feel, then you may not enjoy Portland.

Living in Vancouver Pros

Many people choose to live in Vancouver, on the other hand, due to its smaller town feel. The homes in Vancouver are more spread out and give residents more space to move around. Vancouver also has a lower cost of living, lower crime rate, and more nature-based activities.

Living in Vancouver Cons

While living in Vancouver can be amazing, there are a few drawbacks. Some of the main cons of living in Vancouver include a higher unemployment rate and a less-established public transportation system. 

Comparisons of Portland vs. Vancouver

Portland vs. Vancouver Population

The Portland population is 652,503, which is an 11.7% increase over the past decade. The Vancouver population is 190,915, which is an 18% increase over the past decade. Portland is a much bigger city; however, Vancouver is growing at a faster rate.

Cost of Living in Vancouver vs. Portland

When comparing Vancouver vs. Portland, it is important to consider the cost of living. Both Vancouver and Portland are a part of the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro area, so the overall cost of living is fairly similar. The Cost of Living Index for the metro area is 130.1. This means that living in both Portland and Vancouver is 30.1% more expensive than the national average of 100.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four would need to earn $103,344 per year ($8,612 per month) to live in Vancouver or Portland.

Although the cost of living is similar in both cities, you will likely find it more affordable to live in Vancouver. Portland is a much bigger city, and, therefore more expensive when it comes to everyday expenses. A listed look from Numbeo breaks down the cost of living in each place, showing how the two areas compare.

  • A meal at a mid-range restaurant is 38% more expensive in Portland
  • A pound of meat is 9.2% more expensive in Portland
  • Utilities are 35.4% more expensive in Portland
  • A gym membership is 89% more expensive in Portland

The average home price in Portland is $502,000. The Portland real estate market is slowing down, with homes sitting on the market for an average of 20 days compared to 6 last year. Home prices in Portland are down 8.6% from last year. The average home price in Vancouver is $486,250. Although houses in Vancouver are cheaper, home prices are up 3.9% compared to last year, and houses sit on the market for an average of only 18 days.

Graph of the median sale price in Portland, OR

According to RentCafe, the average rent in Portland is $1,763. The average rent in Vancouver is $1,710.

Portland vs. Vancouver Crime Rates

Portland has a higher crime rate than Vancouver. It is important to remember, however, that Portland is a much bigger city and will therefore have naturally higher crime rates.

Portland crime rate statistics:

  • Overall crime rate: 5,262 crimes per 100,000 people
  • Violent crime rate: 523 per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate: 4,739 per 100,000 people

The overall crime rate in Portland is 78.3% higher than the state average and 124.3% higher than the national average.

Vancouver crime rate statistics:

  • Overall crime rate: 4,073 per 100,000 people
  • Violent crime rate: 474 per 100,000 people
  • Property crime rate: 3,598 per 100,000 people

The overall crime rate in Vancouver is 34.6% higher than the state average and 73.6% higher than the national average.

Things to Do in Vancouver vs. Portland

There are many exciting things to do in both Portland and Vancouver and because the two cities are so close, you can enjoy them all! If you enjoy being outdoors, then you may like Vancouver more than Portland. On the other hand, if you enjoy attractions in a city setting, then Portland might be a better choice.

Vancouver is home to many fun outdoor attractions, such as the Vancouver Waterfront, Vancouver Lake Regional Park, and the Vancouver Farmers Market. The city is home to many incredible parks located along the Columbia River.


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When living in Portland, you will have access to many urban attractions. Some of the best things to do in Portland include the Oregon Zoo, OMSI, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and Pittock Mansion.

Schools in Vancouver vs. Portland

When it comes to education, both cities have a lot to offer.

Portland is served by nine different public school districts, with Portland Public Schools being the largest. When it comes to public education, Portland has more to offer than Vancouver. Portland is home to dozens of higher education institutions, such as Portland State University, which has the second-largest enrollment rate of any university in the state.

Vancouver is much smaller and is covered by the Vancouver Public School District and the Evergreen School District. The higher education opportunities in Vancouver are much fewer than in Portland. Vancouver is home to Clark College, Gateway Seminary, and Washington State University (Vancouver campus).

Weather in Portland vs. Vancouver

Because Portland and Vancouver are so close to each other, there is not much of a difference when it comes to the weather. Both cities have a warm-summer Mediterranean climate. This means that the cities experience cool and rainy winters and warm and dry summers. Because Vancouver is located on the river, it can get slightly colder and windier than Portland in the wintertime.

Transportation in Portland vs. Vancouver

Transportation plays a huge part when comparing Vancouver vs. Portland. Portland has a significantly better transportation system than Vancouver.

Portland has a bus and a light rail system that has dozens of stops throughout the metro area. In 2019, Portland was ranked #10 for best public transit system in the nation. When living in Portland, you do not necessarily need to own a car, as you can get everywhere by public transport. Portland is also popular among bikers. In fact, Portland was recently ranked as the #1 most bike-friendly city in the United States. The clearly marked paths make it safe and easy to get around the city on a bike.


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A post shared by Downtown Portland (@downtownpdx)

The only form of public transportation in Vancouver is the bus system, C-Tran. C-Tran offers transportation into Portland, making it easier for commuters to get across the river. However, on busy mornings, it can take nearly an hour to cross the Columbia River. 

Jobs in Vancouver vs. Portland

Thinking about getting a job in Portland or Vancouver? There are many things you should consider when comparing jobs in Portland to jobs in Vancouver.

Portland has an unemployment rate of 4.10%. If you work within the technology industry, then Portland is the place to be. There are more than 1,200 technology companies in the Portland area. Portland is also home to the U.S. headquarters of Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, LaCrosse Footwear, Dr. Martens, and Hi-Tec Sports. Portland is ranked as the city with the 7th most breweries in the nation. The 139 breweries in the Portland area are also a major source of employment for residents.

Vancouver’s unemployment rate is higher than Portland’s, at 6.10%. Due to Portland’s many employment options, many people living in Vancouver commute to Portland for work. If you want to stay in Vancouver, however, then you can check out the city’s largest employers, which are PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, ZoomInfo, Evergreen Public Schools, and Vancouver Public Schools.

Sports in Vancouver vs. Portland

If you are a sports fan, then Portland is the best place to call home. Portland is home to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Portland Timbers, and the Portland Thorns FC. The sports culture in Portland is incredible. From their entry into the MLS in 2011 until the pandemic in 2020, the Timbers completely sold out every home game in Portland.

Of course, if you are living in Vancouver, you are just a short trip away from the amazing sports scene!


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Portland vs. Vancouver: Where Are You Moving?

Now that you have a full comparison of Vancouver vs. Portland, which city are you going to call home? Both cities have incredible qualities to offer and are great places to call home. No matter which city you choose, PDX Movers are here to help. Give us a call today at 503-746-8795 to discuss your move and receive a free quote.


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