If you’re considering moving to Portland, Oregon, you may be weighing your options. Any move comes with excitement and adjustments, and it can help to know what to expect.
We’ve got a rundown of the pros and cons of living in Portland – and there are a lot of things we love about Oregon’s largest city. Check them out!
10 Pros of Living in Portland
The vibe in Oregon’s largest urban center is laid back and casual, in tune with the city’s creative spirit, outdoor lifestyle, and younger demographic. People are friendly, the attire is comfortable, and the energy is relaxed.
Summers in Portland are spectacular, with brilliant blue skies and sunshine that make the rainy months (see cons below!) a distant memory. Oregon’s natural beauty is on full display from late June into October. And Portlanders get out and soak up every ray.
Portland and the surrounding metro area comprise distinct neighborhoods and districts, each with unique characteristics. Whether you want a downtown urban experience, a vibrant creative scene, a small-town village vibe, apartment life, or a single-family home with yard, Portland has a place for you. Broken into six sections (North, South, Northeast, Northwest, Southwest, Southeast) with the Willamette River used as a dividing reference point, Portland includes over 90 recognized neighborhood associations.
Portland is ideally situated. The city runs along the Willamette River at the point where it meets the Columbia, just south of the Oregon/Washington border. It is located midway between the Oregon Coast to the west and Mount Hood and the Cascade Range to the east; you can be at the Coast or “The Mountain” in just over an hour. Portland is at the crux of easily accessible freeway systems, and Portland International Airport (PDX) is just 20 minutes from the downtown core.
Because Portland is a hub for creatives and startups, shopping is a fun experience. Big box stores and indoor/outdoor malls are available. But the “shop small” scene provides other exciting and varied shopping opportunities. Many unique, small independent shops throughout the city’s neighborhoods feature locally made, creatively sourced, sustainable products.
Portland boasts a stellar “foodie scene” that stands on par with any major city. The unique local cuisine is recognized for its innovative use of farm-to-table ingredients. Chefs here are inspired by the region’s bounty, including produce, wine, and livestock from the rich Willamette Valley and fresh seafood from the coast. Portland’s iconic food carts are serious cuisine contenders, as popular as the city’s many exceptional cafés and restaurants, large and small. Explore a new culinary experience each day of the week!
Craft beer is synonymous with Portland. For over forty years, local brewers have created innovative, artisan beers utilizing fresh hops from the Willamette Valley. There are around 70 breweries in the Portland metro area, and brewpubs are prolific, where local patrons gather to sip and savor creamy stouts and thirst-quenching lagers. Mark your calendar for one of the many craft beer festivals around the area each year.
8. Cultural Scene
Portland’s vibrant arts community has much to offer, including theatre, music, opera, museums, art galleries, and dance. From new works and world premieres to familiar favorites, Portlanders regularly turn out for the symphony and opera, art gallery events, seasons of theatre and dance, and the city’s many museums. The concert scene is exciting and varied, from large venues to small nightclubs. There’s always something to do!
9. Day Trips
Portland offers great access to a variety of easy day trips, from wine country to overnights at the coast to exploring the Columbia Gorge to skiing on Mount Hood. Take a day or a weekend. There is always something fun and interesting to discover year-round within close driving distance of the city, whatever the weather.
10. Outdoor Life
Portlanders embrace the outdoors year-round, walking, biking, hiking, boating, paddleboarding, and more in every weather. And the city makes it viable with readily accessible bike routes, walking paths, trails, lakes, and riverfronts that invite exploration. Get out with friends, family, and pets, rain or shine. There are beautiful parks and places to discover throughout the metro area.
3 Cons of Living in Portland
Yes, it rains in Portland. The skies are often gray and overcast from late fall into spring, which can trigger seasonal mood swings. But the rain makes things beautifully lush and green, and the typically mild weather brings early springtime blossoms. Many Portlanders love the rain or use a SAD lamp for a mood boost during the grayest months of the year.
2. Cost of Living
Portland has become one of the more expensive cities to live in the country. The cost of living is 17% higher than the national average, primarily due to housing, and state income tax adds to living costs. However, higher wages somewhat offset expenses, and Oregon does not have state or local sales tax.
Population growth in recent years has brought an increase in traffic. Primary routes around Portland’s metro area are frequently bogged down. Drivers in the know plan ahead for congestion and slowdowns, avoid peak hours, look at alternate routes, and plug into podcasts and playlists to ease traffic stress.