The Ultimate Portland Neighborhood Guide for Newbies

Portland is becoming one of the country’s most popular metropolitan areas. That’s not because it’s sprawling or industrious like other cities. Rather, it’s because every part of Portland is jam-packed with unique culture and charm. From quirky food carts to gorgeous Victorian architecture, there’s a place for everyone here.

However, finding that perfect place in the city isn’t always easy. We’ve made this guide to highlight some of the best neighborhoods in Portland. Whether you’re looking for a new place to live or just a place to hang out, our comprehensive guide will steer you in the right direction.

Let’s get started!

A Little About Portland, Oregon

The Willamette River cuts directly through the Portland dividing it between west and east. Over the years, this division has also cultivated a difference in lifestyle on either side.

An eclectic mix of craftsman, bungalows, and Victorian homes grace the neighborhoods of the east side, with lots of boutiques, local restaurants, and cafes scattered within. The west features many bungalows and ranch homes, as well as some of Portland’s most luxurious original mansions overlooking downtown from Council Crest, Skyline, and Vista Avenue.

Second in importance is the divide between north and south. Burnside Street is the official marker between the two regions splitting Portland into several major zones: Southeast, Southwest, Northeast, and Northwest, and just plain North.

NE Portland Neighborhoods

Just a hop over the bridge from downtown, Northeast Portland has established its own culture and style within the east side framework. The neighborhoods of Northeast provide an eclectic mix of residential and commercial areas with great public transit. In comparison to Southeast, it is more cosmopolitan and compact. Check out our Portland neighborhood guides for Alberta, Alameda, and Hollywood!

Alberta Arts District NE Portland Neighborhood Guide
Alameda Portland Neighborhood Guide
Hollywood NE Portland Neighborhood Guide

SE Portland Neighborhoods

From the warehouses along the Willamette River to the iconic Ladd’s Addition neighborhood, Southeast Portland provides a variety of more laid-back neighborhoods with lots of amenities.

Portland residents from throughout the metro area often travel to Peacock Lane every holiday season, where a street in the Laurelhurst neighborhood with classic bungalow and cottage homes all feature dazzling Christmas lights. Most of Southeast sits on what was once farmland and eventually became part of the city of Portland in the early 1900s. See what it’s like to move to and live in the Hawthorne, Sellwood, Laurelhurst, Mt. Tabor, Eastmoreland, and Milwaukie neighborhoods of Portland, Oregon.

Hawthorne Portland Neighborhood Guide
Sellwood Portland Neighborhood Guide
Laurelhurst Portland Neighborhood Guide
Mt. Tabor - Portland Neighborhood Guide
Eastmoreland Portland Neighborhood Guide
Milwaukie Portland Oregon Neighborhood Guide

NW Portland Neighborhoods

NW Portland is home to trendy industrial neighborhoods, bustling boutique shops, and fine dining experiences. It is one of the most walkable areas in Portland, and its residents take advantage of the close proximity to Forest Park— one of the largest urban forests in the United States. Whether you’re looking for a high end condo or a refurbished victorian home on the hill, NW Portland is one of the most desirable areas in the city. Learn what each neighborhood in this area has to offer! Check out our Portland neighborhood guide for the Peart District!

Pearl District - Portland Neighborhood Guide

SW Portland Neighborhoods

The neighborhoods and nearby suburbs of  SW Portland give residents easy access to the heart of the city while offering homes nestled in the hills or homes  located in quieter suburban areas. There are several of large companies with headquarters located in the SW suburbs of Portland, so many people choose among these SW neighborhoods as a prime location between work and the city. Discover which SW Portland neighborhood fits what you’re looking for in our Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, and Jackson School neighborhood guides!

Hillsboro Neighborhood Guide
Beaverton Neighborhood Guide
Tigard - Portland Neighborhood Guide
Jackson School - Portland Neighborhood Guide

North Portland Neighborhoods

Not strictly falling within the 4 quadrants of Portland neighborhoods, North Portland— known as Portland’s “Fifth Quadrant” is an area of Portland that stretches up to Portland’s peninsula where the Columbia meets the Willamette. The St. Johns Bridge connects North Portland to NW Portland, but the river divides these two areas resulting in unique characteristics for each! Find out which neighborhoods in NoPo would work best for you in our St. Johns, Overlook, and Kenton guides!

St. Johns Portland Neighborhood Guide
Overlook Portland Neighborhood Guide
Kenton North Portland Neighborhood Guide

Surrounding Portland Metro Community Guides

Several areas surrounding Portland Metro don’t necessarily fall into the quadrant layout, but many of these communities offer the perfect balance between city life and suburb calm. With easy access to the city, many metro suburbs are great options for families and homebuyers. Discover the right area for you in our Lake Oswego, West Linn, Oregon City, Bethany, and Vancouver, WA community guides!

Lake Oswego - Portland Metro Neighborhood Guide
West Linn Neighborhood Guide - Portland Neighborhood Guides
Oregon City - Portland Metro Neighborhood Guide
Bethany - Portland Neighborhood Guide
Vancouver, WA Moving Guide