The Rose City is one of the best-kept secrets in America. Portland is an amazing place, as is all of Northwestern Oregon. You won’t find more beautiful scenery anywhere else in the country. With nearly every kind of climate and terrain within easy driving distance, Portland provides the perfect home for those who love to play outdoors. The legendary Oregon coast is only about an hour and a half west of the city. About the same distance in the other direction you’ll land right in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge — a high-desert paradise for windsurfers and water sports enthusiasts.
The city earns every bit of its reputation for quirky “weirdness.” Walk around Portland for long, and you’re bound to see some bumper stickers saying, “Keep Portland Weird.” One of the greenest cities in the country in more ways than one, Portland is on the cutting edge of green technology and environmental consciousness. They also love their sports, especially Timbers soccer and Trailblazers basketball. Portlanders are proud of their whimsical, wonderful city, and they absolutely should be.
Living in Portland, OR: What to Know Before Moving to Portland
The Rose City offers residents the opportunity to live pretty much any lifestyle they want. One of the most progressive cities in America, Portland offers many great neighborhoods with things you won’t find anywhere else. We’ll give you the inside scoop on all of the things you need to know about living in Portland – including schools, quality of life, tax information, and employment prospects.
Pros and Cons
Portland is quirky. There are no two ways about it. Boasting urban gardens, progressive laws concerning the preservation of the city’s natural beauty, and a community for just about every type of personality out there, Portland is a city that allows its residents to be who they are. As wonderful as that is, however, there are some drawbacks to consider as well.
- Nature. Everywhere. It doesn’t matter what kind of outdoor activity you’re into, Portland and the surrounding Oregon wilderness have opportunities galore. Hikers, bikers, kayakers, skiers, boarders, windsurfers, climbers, campers, hunters, and anglers all find Portland to be a paradise.
- A vibrant young community. Hipster jokes aside, the city of Portland feels very young. Even though the median age in the city is in line with the rest of the country, Portland is very much a place where age is just a number.
- High Literacy Rate. Portland is one of the most literate cities in the US and has a reputation for being very bookish.
- Diversity. Though Portland’s racial demographics are still predominately white, the city has become much more diverse in recent years. Portlanders are inclusive by nature, and people from all walks of life are welcome in the Rose City.
- Traffic. Like most large cities in the nation, Portland has significant traffic issues. The city’s roads are a confusing maze of freeways, bridges, and interchanges that can take a while to get used to. Fortunately, though, Portland has a great public transportation system and is very walkable and bikeable.
- Rain. Portland is at the foot of the Cascade mountains, and only a couple of hours south of Seattle. It rains in Portland, too. A lot. But that doesn’t mean the sun never shines. Over a year, Portland sees about 156 days of sunshine, and often, even on rainy days, the sun will make an appearance.
- You can’t pump your own gas. Yep. That’s one of the quirks of Portland, and the entire state of Oregon. It’s illegal to pump your gas. The state law requires that gas stations employ service attendants. It employs thousands of people, but it does mean slightly higher gas prices.
Quality of Life
With nearly 650,000 residents in the city, Portland ranks as the third largest city in the Pacific Northwest, behind Seattle and Vancouver, BC. The pace of life in Portland is a bit more relaxed than other cities of its size, however. Even with the infamous West Coast traffic, Portland offers many innovative and convenient public transportation options and is one of the most pedestrian and bike-friendly cities on the west coast, if not the nation.
Portland sports fans love their Trailblazers basketball, Timbers soccer, and University of Oregon Ducks Football. Portlanders also love craft beer (with 84 breweries in the metro area), gastro-pubs, live music, antique book stores, and the myriad unique shops and attractions in the heart of the city.
Portland experiences all four seasons. Like so many places on the west coast, if you live in Portland, you can go windsurfing, skiing, and bodyboarding in the Pacific within a single day or a weekend. Mount Hood offers something for everyone looking for alpine adventure, while the Columbia River Gorge is a paradise for windsurfers and anglers.
Oregon has a relatively high personal income tax rate, with the majority of employees paying 9%, and the top earners paying 9.9%. However, there is no state sales tax, and even though cities have the right to impose sales taxes of their own, neither Portland nor Multnomah County does so. Property tax rates within the city are between $16 and $20 per $1000. Oregon imposes a $0.34 tax on each gallon of gasoline in the state, and Portland recently voted an additional ten cent tax on gas in the city.
Despite being one of the fastest growing cities in America just a few years ago, that growth has slowed significantly. As such, the Portland housing market isn’t as hot as it was in 2016. However, some homes are still expected to see an increase in value this year. The median home value in Portland is around $425,000. The most popular type of home in Portland is the Craftsman/Bungalow style. Many were built in the early twentieth century and are filled with charm.
When it comes to rentals, Portland has a lot of options, but not many of them come cheap. The median rent in the city is over $1600 per month. The average rental size in the city is 768 square feet, but that can vary depending on the type of unit for rent.
Cost of Living
According to bestplaces.net, living in Portland costs nearly 50% more than the national average. The biggest factors that contribute to this rating are housing and transportation costs. Portland’s housing costs are nearly double that of the national average, while transportation costs are 47% higher than the rest of the country.
On the other hand, groceries and miscellaneous goods are on par with national figures, and healthcare and utility costs are significantly lower than the national average. The median household income in Portland is around $65,000, and the state boasts a higher than average minimum wage of $12.50/hour as of July 1st, 2019.
Climate and Weather
As mentioned earlier, it rains a bit in Portland. The city sees fewer sunny days than the national average, but the winters and summers are generally milder compared to other places at Portland’s latitude. Portland’s climate is influenced and moderated by the Pacific Ocean, only 60 miles to the west. Winters are usually cool, cloudy, and rainy with highs in the forties while summers are usually dry, warm, and sunny with average temperatures in the low eighties. The rest of the year, the weather is pretty much always “partly” something. Annual rainfall is about 43 inches per year. An average of four inches of snow falls annually, usually between December and March.
When it comes to natural disasters, there’s the possibility of earthquakes and volcanic activity. Active shallow fault lines crisscross the metropolitan area. Other severe weather events, even thunderstorms, are rarer in Portland than they are in other parts of the country. The mountains protect the city from tornadoes, and the city is far enough from the coast that oceanic storms don’t impact it much.
Economy and Job Prospects
The majority of jobs in Portland are in the management or professional category (37.2%). The next highest category is sales and office occupations at 26.5%. By industry, most of Portland’s jobs are in education, health, and social services. Manufacturing jobs take the number two spot by industry, while careers in professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services industries are nearly as common.
The largest employer in the Portland metro area is by far athletic wear giant Nike. Portland is also known as the “silicon forest” for the growing number of tech jobs opening up in the area. Additionally, the University of Oregon and the State of Oregon provide many of the area’s careers. Finally, as a major port city, transportation and manufacturing jobs are quite common as well.
Traffic and Transportation
Several major freeways and state highways crisscross Portland. Bridges abound, as do odd-angled intersections. Portland marks a major stop along the I-5 corridor, which runs north/south from the Canadian border at Blaine, WA to the Mexican border just south of San Diego. Fortunately, I-5 isn’t your only north/south option. I-405 runs through downtown, as well as highway 99E. As for east/west travel, I-84 runs along the northern edge of the city.
Once you’re in Portland proper, you have a lot of great transportation options, and if you live downtown, having a car is by no means a necessity. There’s a light-rail system that runs to nearly every corner of the city, as well as a first-rate bus system. Of course, you can catch a ride from any ridesharing service, and there are also innovative inner-city travel options like bike-sharing and motorized scooter services.
PDX is a fantastic international airport and makes Portland proud. From PDX, one can fly nearly anywhere in the world in one stop – London, Guadalajara, Hong Kong — you name it. You can get there efficiently from Portland.
What to Do
Portland is a bustling and thriving city. There’s adventure around every corner, activities for personalities of all types, and some of the best outdoor scenery the United States has to offer. Here are some of the best things to do in Portland, OR:
Portland Nightlife and Activities
Portland has nightlife o’plenty. There are local craft breweries, growler houses, dance clubs, dive bars, and everything in between in nearly every corner of the city. In addition to the traditional selection of bars and restaurants, however, you’ll find tons of other opportunities for fun and adventure. From the Rose City Rollers roller derby team to comedy clubs, Portland offers something for everyone.
Theater, Arts, and Culture
If you love live theater, music, opera, concerts, dance, and other performing arts, you’ll be in culture heaven with Portland ‘5 Centers for the Arts which consists of five theaters throughout downtown. Centers for the Arts is home to The Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, and Oregon Ballet Theatre. Famous names from around the globe perform at the Centers for the Arts year-round. The Portland Youth Philharmonic was the first youth orchestra in the nation, established in 1924.
Museums and galleries abound in Portland. Thirty-five art galleries, ten history museums, and 19 specialty museums can keep you and your family busy on rainy days. The Portland Art Museum is one of the highest rated attractions in the city. Recent exhibits have included everything from Holocaust photography to Japanese abstract masters, to Modern American Realism.
Some film theaters offer ‘Brew and View’ so as you watch feature, revival, and cult films; you can enjoy a brewski with your popcorn. The TV series Portlandia, which ran for eight seasons, was filmed on location in Portland. The series satirized Portland as a center for organic food, alternative lifestyles, liberal politics, and anti-establishment attitudes. Maybe the mockery highlighted in Portlandia isn’t far off from real life in Portland.
No matter which outdoor activity you’re into, access to it is less than a couple of hours away from Portland. Skiers and snowboarders will find many local mountains nearby. Those mountains also play host to climbers, hunters, anglers, campers, horseback riders, mountain-bikers, trail-runners, hikers, and off-road vehicle enthusiasts, to name a few. Boaters and windsurfers will find the perfect conditions just an hour or so east of Portland in the windswept Columbia River Gorge. Fans of ocean fishing, whale watching, beach combing, surfing, and general beach activities will find the legendary Oregon coast just a couple of hours to the west.
If you’re into hiking, you can’t do much better than the trails around Multnomah Falls, just about a half-hour outside of the city. Of course, Mount Hood offers all of the alpine adventures you could ask for, and it’s not the only such mountain within easy driving distance. Just north, in Washington, Mount Adams, and Mount Rainier are each just a day-trip away, as is the famous Mt. St. Helens, which offers a unique volcanic landscape that should not be missed.
Portland loves their NBA team, the Trailblazers, as they do their MLS team, the Timbers. When it comes to football and baseball, most Portlanders get their fix by attending Seahawks or Mariners games a couple of hours north in Seattle, or they can watch their own University of Oregon Ducks play at the top level in the Pac 12.
Schools and Universities
Out of the 119 public schools in Portland, 13 appear on US News’ Best Schools list. Overall, the website rates the city’s schools at 6.7/10 in terms of college readiness. Niche.com gives Portland Public Schools a B grade.
Higher education in Portland is top-notch. The city is home to Portland State University, as well as a satellite campus for the University of Oregon. Portland also has a great community college system and a myriad of trade schools. Portland State is known for its architecture program, while the University of Oregon is a full-research university and offers many great research opportunities within Portland itself.
Despite being far and away the largest population center in the state, Portland is the third least safe city in Oregon. The much smaller coastal towns of Medford and Coos Bay are less safe according to this report. When compared to cities of its size nationally, Portland shines with crime ratings lower than other US cities of similar size. The violent crime rate in Portland is much lower, with 283 violent crimes in 2017, while the national average for cities of similar size was 389.
Having glowing lights, flowing water, and other functional utilities ready to go when you move in will make your move a lot easier. Portland’s major utility providers are listed below, so you can make arrangements to have your services ready before moving day.
- Gas: Northwest Natural provides gas service to Portland.
- Electricity: Portland General Electric and Pacific Power provide electricity.
- Water, Garbage, and Sewer: services are all handled by the city.
- Internet and Cable: The major telecom companies servicing Portland are Frontier, Dish, DirecTV, and Xfinity. You can compare prices and services here
Best Neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon
We considered several factors when choosing the best neighborhoods in Portland. Based on population, housing cost and availability, school quality, crime, and the overall “vibe” of the neighborhood, we’ve curated a list of the best neighborhoods Portland has to offer.
Eastmoreland sits in a pocket of southeast Portland that is full of wonderful nightlife activities, residents who own their own homes, and trees – lots of trees. The Eastmoreland neighborhood association is very proud of their efforts to contribute to the beautiful greenery of Portland. The neighborhood’s western border is Highway 99E, which is a major north/south route through the city.
Most residents like Eastmoreland because it has an urban feel and a lot of things to do. It’s also family-friendly; Niche.com gives its schools an A- rating, and Eastmoreland is one of the safest neighborhoods in Portland. The average house in Eastmoreland is around $500,000, which is much higher than the national average, of course, but not much higher than Portland’s overall median home value of $422,500. The average rent in the Eastmoreland neighborhood is just over $1300/month, which is somewhat than other neighborhoods in the city.
2. Arlington Heights
Just west of downtown Portland and neighboring the Southwest Hills, another neighborhood on our list is Arlington Heights. The neighborhood is nestled in the middle of Washington Park, and many of the 300 homes in the neighborhood are terraced up to 1000 feet, a feature which allows for terrific views. If you want spectacular views of Portland and Mount Hood, then Arlington Heights is the right neighborhood for you. Residents and tourists come to Arlington Heights not only for the beautiful views, but to explore the Oregon Zoo, the Children’s Museum, The Vietnam and Holocaust Memorials, The Forestry Center, The Japanese Gardens, and the Rose Gardens.
The spectacular views in Arlington Heights come with a price, however. Because the neighborhood is close to many different attractions and activities, the schools are highly rated, and it’s a very safe neighborhood, home prices are high. Many of the homes there sell for over $1,000,000. While only about 25 percent of the neighborhood’s residents rent, the rent is much lower than the rest of Portland at just over $1000. According to Niche.com, the schools in Arlington Heights are some of the best around, with an A rating.
3. Alberta Arts District
Up until now, we’ve broken you in gently with Portland neighborhoods that are fairly “normal” for cities Portland’s size. Now we arrive at the neighborhood that gives Portland its “weird” reputation. For those seeking the true Portlandia experience, the Alberta Arts District is full of one-of-a-kind boutiques, shops, bistros, galleries, and much more. Folks come from all over Portland to investigate Alberta Arts District monthly Last Thursday Street Fair. Residents love the dining out choices, savoring casual, organic cafes, ethnic bistros, to fine dining restaurants.
Homes in this quintessential Portland neighborhood vary in value, but for the most part, they tend to average around the same $450,000 mark that other properties in the Portland metro area average. Rent in the district is in line with the rest of Portland at around $1300. The Alberta Arts District is located in North Portland and offers a great urban Portland lifestyle for those looking to soak up one of America’s most unique cities.
The schools in the Alberta Arts District don’t rate as highly as Eastmoreland or Arlington Heights, but the neighborhood isn’t really for families so much as it is for young people and creatives wanting to experience the heart of Portland life.
4. Pearl District
Portland’s Pearl District also has quite the reputation for being one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city. Powell’s Bookstore, a Portland staple, sits at the heart of the neighborhood, and the Pearl District has great access to Portland’s waterfront. The Pearl District has many top-quality restaurants, some great local theaters, and one of Oregon’s oldest craft breweries.
Homes in the Pearl District average around $399,000, which is slightly below the city’s average of $422,500. The median rent is $1350, in line with the rest of our neighborhood picks. The schools in the Pearl district get an A rating from Niche.com. Though the neighborhood does get a lower crime rating than some other Portland neighborhoods, its proximity to downtown, along with the attractive nightlife and other opportunities for fun, makes the Pearl District is a very attractive option for people looking to move to Portland.
5. Healy Heights
If you’re looking for the more suburban side of life in the Portland metro area, Healy Heights is a good place to start. Just south of the junction between I-405 and I-5, the neighborhood still has quick access to the heart of downtown but offers a more suburban feel than the Alberta or Pearl districts.
Healy Heights has some of Portland’s highest ratings when it comes to crime and safety, schools, and nightlife.
As with so many other neighborhoods, though, the great schools, safety, and suburban lifestyle come at a cost. The average home price in Healy Heights is nearly $750,000, and rent is nearly double the other neighborhoods we’ve profiled at almost $2400. Still, Healy Heights has a lot to offer those who can afford it.
The Hawthorne neighborhood is one of Portland’s oldest and most iconic neighborhoods. Rife with vegan food, theaters, live music venues, comedy clubs, vintage clothing shops, and other awesomeness, Hawthorne is at the heart of what makes Portland great. The neighborhood is named for the boulevard that runs through the Southeast Portland neighborhood from 30th to 50th avenues.
According to Zillow, housing prices in the neighborhood have a pretty wide range. There are properties for well under the city average at around $350,000, and there are also homes priced at over a million dollars. Schools are rated very well – especially at the elementary level. If you’re interested in living in a great historic neighborhood with a lot of old charm and new hip, Hawthorne is for you.
7. Southwest Hills
Nestled in between Arlington Heights and Healy Heights, Southwest Hills is another one of Portland’s most prestigious neighborhoods. The median home price for this neighborhood that borders downtown Portland is a bit higher than the city average at just over $650,000, and rent is more in keeping with the city average at more than $1500. Residents of Southwest Hills, however, enjoy a lot of perks for the money they spend living there.
The Southwest Hills neighborhood offers fantastic schools, easy access to all the nightlife downtown Portland has to offer – plus plenty of its own – and an urban feel on the edge of suburbia. It may just be the perfect geographic location in the Portland area. Many of the residents are young professionals, but with highly rated schools and lots of beautiful parks, Southwest Hills is a great neighborhood for families, too.
This neighborhood feels like one of Portland’s best-kept secrets. Similar to the Hawthorne district, the neighborhood revolves around a stretch of Division Street from roughly SE 14th Ave to SE Caesar Chavez Blvd. Along this stretch are a plethora of unique restaurants, shops, and other one-of-a-kind Portland attractions. Fans of exotic fare can sink their teeth into the legendary Pok Pok wings, which feature tantalizing flavors and vegan options you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
Average home prices in the Division area are around $450,000, right in line with the rest of Portland. Average rent in the neighborhood is also in line with the city standard at around $1500. On the upside, residents in the Division neighborhood typically make about $20,000 more per household than the average Portlander. If you’re looking for a great urban Portland feel without a super hefty price tag, Division may be your neighborhood.
Yes, Portland is a city with a lot of quirks, but those quirks give it a personality like no other city in the country. Portlanders are proud to march to the beat of their own drum, and they are doing quite well at it. While some of the stereotypes – like lots of rain, coffee shops, used bookstores, and breweries around every corner hold true, there are also a lot of surprises around every corner in Portland.
There are many neighborhoods with great suburban feels to them, and even the urban-feeling neighborhoods are close-knit and proud of the communities they’ve created. Whether you’re looking a place to be just who you want to be or looking for a place that offers nearly every kind of natural beauty available within easy driving distance, Portland is a great place to call home. Regardless of which neighborhood you end up in, be sure to use the checklist below to make sure your move is stress-free and as easy as possible.
How to Move to Portland: Interstate Moving Checklist
Take all of the worries and stress out of your move by planning properly. This checklist will help you work out every detail before you move to Portland:
1. Prioritize Scheduling
The ideal time to schedule your move is at least six weeks from your planned move date. By giving yourself this much time, you’re able to ensure that any snags in your plans get handled right away and leave you without any last-minute stress. We recommend getting started right away by using our “Get Quote” button. Quickly compare rates among our network of expert Portland movers. We’ll collect a small amount of basic info from you; then we’ll send over estimates from our licensed movers in Portland, OR.
2. Start Packing Immediately.
Pack your goods according to the rooms they belong in and use several box sizes for each. It’s a good idea to take a general inventory of each room and plan how many boxes you’ll need.
- Use label makers and Sharpies to identify the contents of every box. Each label should include the room and contents. DO NOT FORGET to label boxes with breakable or fragile items. One of the other things to remember when packing fragile items is that a newspaper can ruin fine China or crystal by staining them with ink. Use unprinted packing paper or other packing material instead.
- Using old boxes from grocery stores or other free sources isn’t advisable. These boxes are made from inferior cardboard and may fail when you need them the most. Nobody wants to pick up a box full of paperbacks from a staircase after a banana box rips open. Instead, purchase actual moving boxes from our movers. The cardboard is much stronger and designed to carry heavier loads.
- Remove drawers from your dressers and other furniture. Also detach the feet from your couch, tables, and chairs if applicable. Use a plastic bag to keep screws, bolts, and other parts together. Label, then tape the bag to its respective piece of furniture.
Again, get started right away. The sooner you’re packed, the easier your move will be.
3. Take Care of Financial and Other Affairs
There are, of course, concerns other than packing when preparing for a move. Finances, special care items, and many other issues can pop up, and without proper planning, they can cause real headaches.
- Take care of finances first. If necessary, change banks and set up new accounts. Ensure all of your bills are current, and that any other financial issues are taken care of.
- If you’re planning on transporting special care items like pets, livestock, flammable items, or guns and ammunition, you should arrange for those next. Make sure you secure proper permits and arrange for appropriate transportation.
- Arrange for the transfer of any homeowners or renter’s insurance policies you have. Finally, if you don’t have time to do it yourself, hire a cleaning service to ensure you’re leaving the new owners a clean home.
4. The Week of the Move
In the week before moving day, you should have most of your items packed, your financial affairs resolved and balanced, and have arranged for transportation of any special care items. One you can check those off the list, you’ll need to work on the following:
- On moving day, be sure to have sitters arranged for your children and pets. This precaution helps ensure everyone’s safety while the movers are at work.
- Find a pharmacy close to your new Portland home and arrange to have your prescriptions transferred there.
- Switch all of your subscription services (cable, online shopping, magazines, internet, etc.) to your new Portland address.
- Properly dispose of any hazardous material that’s on your property. Drain yard tools such as lawnmowers and weed eaters of all fluids before you move.
- Make a kit for the car trip on the day of the move. Be sure to include a first aid kit, emergency provisions (blankets, water, extra clothing, etc.), child care and pet care items, personal electronics, wallets, purses, or anything else you think you might need for your journey to Portland. Keep your passport with you during your move.
5. The Day Before Moving Day
Unplug your refrigerator and freezer so they’ll defrost. After you defrost these appliances, use baking soda to clean and freshen them. Before disconnecting, use your phone to take photos of how complicated electronics are connected. Then unplug all cables of large electronics (TVs, computers, etc.) and tape them to the appliance to which they belong. Finally, be sure to clearly label anything that’s not going with you so that the movers know not to load it.
6. Moving Out
Again, be sure that pets and children are supervised or are in a safe part of the house while the movers work. Take your beds apart and be sure to keep all hardware taped to the frame in a plastic bag. Make sure you’re there to answer any questions the movers have. Finally, you can finish the final cleaning details and hit the road!
7. Moving In
Plan in advance where you want your things to go in your new home. Use room numbering, color coding, or any other system you can to make things run more smoothly. Again, make sure you’re there to answer any questions the movers have and help direct things. When they’ve done their job, you can get started turning Portland into your home.
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Get ahold of Great Guys Moving to get a free quote for your move to Portland. Remember, we only feature licensed, insured, and reputable movers in Portland, so you can be sure your belongings get to your new home safely, and you can keep your stress level at a minimum. Get started by clicking the “Get Quote” link now.