An entire city that pushes for sustainability and environmental-consciousness, with as many trees to live up to its reputation. A city that is obsessed with beer and coffee, and has a food scene that perfectly complements it. A city that has a neighborhood for everyone. Now imagine a city that has all of this. Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. Welcome to Portland, Oregon, the city you’re thinking of calling home.
The U.S. News and World Report conducts an intensive survey each year to rank the best cities to live in in the United States, compiling data that includes the job and education quality and cost of living from 125 largest metro areas around the country. Portland comes in at an impressive 6th place for the year 2020-21, outranking several other cities. Read on about moving to Portland, and figure out just why the City of Roses is this desirable.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Portland, OR?
Portland is gaining a reputation as a great place to live, and the records reflect this reputation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Portland gains an average of 82 people each day, totalling to around 30,000 residents each year. Its 2020 population is estimated to be around 664,103, making it the largest city in Oregon and the 25th largest city in the United States. Portland spans over 145 miles, and has a population density of 4,978 people per square mile.
Portland has quite the interesting vibe, reflected in their unofficial motto of “Keep Portland Weird”. Originating from the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan that originally promoted local businesses, the motto evolved to become a representation of Portland and its residents’ expressionism, local art, individuality, originality, and atypical lifestyle. There’s loads that add to this motto, whether it is the most strip clubs per capita in the nation or the progressive and hippie nature of its residents.
Each year, people participate in the Adult Soapbox Derby, and you’ll spot thousands of people riding bicycles in their birthday suits on June 27th. This is World Naked Bicycle Day, a day to take to the streets wearing nothing but a helmet (no compromise on safety) to protest the world’s dependence on oil and promote bicycling as a mode of transportation.
The residents’ concern for nature doesn’t stop at fancy events; Portland was the first city to pass a ballot measure in favor of the environment, the first of its kind. The Clean Energy Surcharge, or CES, imposes a 1% surcharge on revenue for large retailers. These retailers make a minimum of $1 billion in sales nationwide, as well as a minimum of $500,000 in revenue in Portland. The money raised is donated to initiatives for clean energy projects, green infrastructure, and other sustainable moves. It is prioritized to help Portland’s people in need and communities of color. Moving to Portland means not only living among a community that pushes for change in the right direction, but also having a government that helps enact it.
On the more normal side of the coin, there’s loads of museums, art galleries and parks, as well as the oldest public library on the West Coast. There’s also loads of breweries to be found and excellent coffee to be had, with the mountains and the ocean an hour away.
Crime Rate In Portland
A more sobering note is the crime rate in Portland, which while not terrifying, could be worrying nonetheless. The rate of violent crimes (rape, assault, murder) per 1,000 residents is 5.27, while the rate of property crimes (theft, vehicle theft) is 56.37 per 1,000 residents. Your chances of becoming a victim of vehicle theft in Portland is 1 in 93. While these numbers are concerning, keep in mind that Portland has loads more to offer that makes it more bearable, and that following basic safety precautions will keep you safe no matter what.
An important part of moving to any new location is the weather, since you’d want to avoid any seasonal allergies, hay fever, or even worse, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Portland has four distinct seasons, and a fair bit of rainfall. Summers last from June to September, with average high temperatures of 81°F, and days are dry and sunny.
October brings about drizzles and the occasional downpour. However, the skies get overcast and cloudy, and Portland is known to have weather that can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder. You can always use sun lamps and heaters, but if the accessible hikes and treks are what best help you cope, then keep in mind that these are almost always not easily accessed in the winter months.
The rain continues through December, which is also one of the coldest months of the year. This may make it particularly unpleasant for those who dislike the damp and the cold. Temperatures dip to as low as 35.2°F, but snow isn’t a common feature. If it ever does snow, it disappears within an hour or two. Day time is fairly chilly as well, so you’ll need to hold onto those woollies. By March, the showers thin down and disappear all together, making way for the summer months.
Is Portland Expensive To Live In?
You might already be enticed with the promise of nature abounding, beer and coffee. But before you stube over your feet in a rush to pack those bags, there’s a few important questions to be answered. Bust out that bank account and calculator, as you find out how expensive Portland living really is.
P.S.: Oregon has no state sales tax, which means the price you see on the tag is the price you pay at the counter.
Cost Of Living In Portland Oregon
How much do you need to live comfortably in Portland? A family of 4 can chalk this amount up to around $3,703.55 a month, while a single person will have monthly expenses of around $1,043.25. These figures have been calculated as an average and do not include the amount you would spend on rent. Read on for rental-related information.
A visit to the doc is $118.57 and the dentist is $101. Healthcare in Portland happens to be 7% higher than the national average, but hopefully with their emphasis on environmentalism and accessibility to nature, you’ll avoid falling too ill. A loaf of bread in Portland is $3.84, and a gallon of milk is $2.23. A carton of eggs is a similar cost, at $2.09, and bananas join the bread at $3.87.
If you find these prices steep, your gut instinct isn’t wrong, as the cost of living in Portland is around 29% higher than the national average. This sure toughens things up, but the absence of a state income tax, and utilities that cost 22% less than the national average can help balance things out.
Buying A House
The median price of a house in Portland is around $620,783. Portland is clearly a valued city to call home, as the average home value in Portland is $487,177, and estimated to rise by another 8.7% in the coming year.
Renting A House
The average monthly rent for a house in Portland is $1,493. This is calculated using an average apartment size of 769 square feet. 56% of the apartments in Portland are up for anywhere between $1,000 and $1,500 a month, with more expensive places between $1,500 and $2,000 numbering at 25%. A whopping 48% of the households in Portland are renter-occupied.
As mentioned, utilities in Portland are 22% lower than the national average. A monthly energy bill can be about $130.77, while a phone bill can be around $139.40. Gas in Portland is $2.78 per gallon. On an average, your water bill each month would set you back approximately $44.89.
Also See: Moving to Oregon – Relocation Guide
Portland Economy And Employment Opportunities
Portland is home to several outdoor companies like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas, fitting in even better with its attachment to nature. Even more befitting is its nickname; due to the recent tech industry boom, Portland is known as the Silicon Forest. Elemental Puppet, Jama Software and Daimler are some big employers in the tech industry here, accompanied by Intel’s largest and most comprehensive site in the world. Manufacturing and healthcare are two other major players in Portland. As of 2017, there were over 54,000 jobs in the healthcare industry in Portland, and some of the highest paid people in Portland are medical professionals.
Portlanders take their education seriously, which only means good news for those of you with young families and kids in school and college. According to the U.S. Census data, over 44% of residents above 25 years of age have a bachelor’s degree. It ranks much higher than the national average, which is a mere 28%. There’s a range of public schools to choose from, notably those like Beaverton’s School of Science & Technology, Riverdale Grade School and the Hope Chinese Charter School. Alternatively, you also have private schools, some of which are the Northwest Academy, St. Mary’s Academy and Central Catholic High School.
Oregon gives its students access to the SAT and ACT: two exams most commonly accepted by universities and colleges across America. There’s also a range of colleges and universities offering different courses, so you know education is well-rounded when it comes to Portland.
Getting Around Portland
TriMet is a public agency that provides Portland with mass transit via bus, light rail and commuter rail services. It was formally known as the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, shortened so as to not be such a mouthful. It has been serving the city of Portland for the past 50 years.
MAX Light Rail
The Metropolitan Area Express or MAX Light Rail, has over 90 stations and runs for over 60 miles of track throughout the city of Portland. There are 5 routes through Portland, and the rail runs at a schedule of 15 minutes or less. Service begins around 4 a.m., and ends before midnight. A 2.5 hour ride costs $2.50, and a day pass costs $5, with discounts for seniors and youth.
The Portland Streetcar service started in 2001, and after 5 extensions, operates 3 lines in Portland. It covers 16 miles of track, helping over 55 million riders with their commute. It runs approximately every 15 minutes, and every 20 minutes on Sundays. The timings of the streetcar operations are 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday, 7.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Sundays. A ticket for an adult for 2.5 hours costs $2.50.
The bus system for Portland is extensive, covering over 80 lines and running at intervals of 15 minutes or less. Buses are wheelchair accessible, and almost all have bike racks. You can pay for your tickets using the Hop app on your phone. A special feature when travelling by the buses is that you can ask the operator to stop anywhere along your route when travelling between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. This means not having to wait for or get off at the scheduled stop; simply let the operator know a few blocks in advance.
Portland International Airport
The Portland International Airport located in Northeast Portland offers over 500 scheduled arrivals and departures each day. It also has a light rail connection to the city, making it easy, pocket-friendly and convenient to get to and from the airport.
Apart from all of this, Portland is fantastic for bikers, with several roads and routes that are bike-friendly. The city is also trying to push for bikes that are accessible for people with disabilities through their Adaptive Biketown Rental Program. Portland is also walkable, and there are several walkable bridges to get you across short distances in a jiffy.
Best Neighborhoods To Live In Portland
Alluding to its weirdness and quirky style of doing things, Portland has 6 main geographical sections, known as the city’s “quadrants”. These quadrants are each as unique and characteristic as the next, each with their own communities and vibes.
North Portland, otherwise known as NoPo, is arguably the one area of Portland with the least accessibility. You face a 20 minute commute, if not longer. However, it also offers monthly rents that are cheaper than most, attracting the younger crowds of working professionals. Besides, you have the MAX Light Rail to rely on, and it is considered to be fairly bikeable.
Northeast: Northeast, while established and sturdy enough for families, is beginning to take on its own interesting hippie vibe. There are a number of cultural and artsy trends here, be it the attractive neighborhoods of Alberta Arts District and Mississippi Ave, or chain restaurants with mouth-watering food.
Northwest: Northwest is the locale with a mix of industrial and residential homes, with a bonus of sweeping hills. It is one of the more urban areas of Portland, and offers great transportation and some top-notch shopping. Residents have easy access to nature in the form of the 70-acre Forest Park. The typical home value in Northwest is $605,841.
The more historic of the districts, South Portland has some old stately homes as well as some of the most recent development in Portland. There’s a range of parks, but the lack of public schools may deter young families.
Southwest: Three universities dominate Southwest Portland, as do apartment-style high-rise buildings. College students definitely form part of the crowd, but there is an undeniable lack of nightlife. Instead, you have the peace of nature and a river to turn to.
Southeast: Head to Southeast Portland to truly live the “Keep Portland Weird” motto. There’s a great range of dining, eating and shopping options, and the vibe is dynamic and hip. Many youngsters are drawn to this area’s eclectic charm.
Is Moving To Portland Oregon a Good Idea?
Portland seems to have everything that anyone could want from a city they call home, with neighborhoods and quadrants fulfilling every need. A common complaint of Portlanders is that there’s a fair bit of traffic, making it a bit problematic for vehicle owners. Nevertheless, the city’s public transportation systems reduce the load of vehicles on the street as much as possible. Portland tries to be as eco-conscious as possible, which means no plastic bags in grocery stores and no bubble wrap when moving houses. Employment opportunities are rife in Portland, and considering the cost of living, you definitely have to make a certain amount each month to live comfortably.
Overall, it may come across as life here is on the slightly pricier end, but every cent is worth it when moving to Portland. Make sure you have the right kind of movers when planning your move to Portland. This is even more important if you’re moving from out-of-state and into Oregon. Look up the Oregon DMV details and head to the nearest DMV to register your vehicle. Make sure you bring those bikes along, as you sure can put them to good use here in Portland!
See also: Best Moving Companies in Portland Oregon