Portland, Oregon is a great city to introduce people to. I love the aspect of my job that allows me to play tour guide for a few hours and guide people through the city. During this time in the car, I’ll often get drilled with questions. Here is a collaboration of the top questions I get about living in Portland Oregon.
1. Does It Rain All The Time?
Portland is definitely known for its rain, but that isn’t all bad. We are also known for being green, as in having tons of beautiful green trees that dot our city landscape. The climate in Portland is relatively moderate. We don’t get too hot or too cold. We average a nice 63 degrees throughout the year and get 36 inches of rain. So is that a ton of rain? By comparison to other parts of the US this is a lot. We’re not going to candy coat it, November to April is tough to get through. Rarely do we get a day without rain. However, its not as bad as some make it out to be. The rain is a slow drip for the most part and is typical in the morning and evenings. But when the sun peeks out during the day, it is glorious.
2. Where Is The Best Area To Live?
Portland is the city of neighborhoods. In fact there are 95 distinct neighborhoods that all have something different to offer home seekers. In addition to living in Portland Oregon, the suburbs have a lot to be desired as well, especially since the sprawl is very limited making commutes to downtown short. So where is the best place to live in the metro area? Well that depends on your needs and what is important to you. Take a quick quiz and we can match you with a few great places to begin the search. Check out our Portland Neighborhood Guide for more of an introduction to the city.
3. Can I Survive in Portland Without A Car?
Absolutely! Not only does Portland have one of the best light rail systems in the country, it is also one of the most bike-freindly cities. The Downtown core of Portland is pretty small so getting from one side to the other is simple. The street car goes just about everywhere including across the river now, hitting all of the hot spots, and bike lanes are the norm. The MAX (Light Rail) runs from the outer suburban limits in all directions and is expanding to the south. It hits all major destinations including the Portland Airport. Many commuters choose to bike to work both for the exercise and the environmental impact. Portland was named the Most Bike-Freindly Cities In The Us by Bicycling Magazine.
4. What Is The Economy Like?
The economy in Portland is fueled by tech companies like Intel and apparel companies like Nike and Adidas. It is hard for big business to move here because the tax benefits and other legislation is limiting. However Portland was named by Forbes as one of the Best Places To Launch a Startup. There is no shortage of creativity and highly skilled workers with degrees making job competition fierce. The unemployment rate in Portland at around 6% is lower than the national average. The median income at $66k is higher than the national average.
5. Where Are The Best Schools?
If you have kids, no doubt schools are an important part of living in Portland Oregon. For families where quality schools outweigh commute, then Lake Oswego, Sherwood and West Linn rank highest among the communities with excellent schools. If living in the inner urban core is most important yet you don’t want to sacrifice education, then look to the Lincoln and Wilson districts. Portland also has some great options for private schools like Oregon Episcopal School and Catlin Gabel School (both K-12) as well as great Charter School programs.
6. How Does The Cost Of Living Compare?
Oregon is known for it’s high income tax (9%) and no sales tax, which cancels out for most households. For those that out earn their spending dramatically, Vancouver Washington (close Suburb) becomes a great option with no state income tax. Housing affordability in Portland is pretty even with median incomes. Meaning the average income can buy the average house in Portland. Apparently though everything else is expensive as Portland is 6.8% above the national average for cost of living. Maybe that can be attributed to the fact that Portlander’s like locally sourced products and will pay more to support local businesses. Additionally products need to be green, organic and natural which all cost more to produce.
7. Is Portland Safe?
Well that is a great question and one that is hard to answer. If you look solely at crime rates, then living in Portland Oregon is only safer than 6% of other major cities. It has a crime rate that is above the national average, however the state as a whole has a rate that is well below the national average. This tells me that the suburbs are really safe and the urban core is not. A neighborhood crime map will show you that the higher value neighborhoods are safer than the lower value areas. So it is possible to find safe urban neighborhoods, it just comes at a cost.
8. What Is The Culture Like In Portland?
There is a famous saying that says “Keep Portland Weird.” Well, portland is a very eccentric city full of Hipsters and free spirited individuals. This plays out in the art, music, and food scenes around the city. It is interesting and diverse. As a generalization Portland is very liberal both in politics and worldview. The city embraces its sports teams with passion and are fanatical about coffee and craft beer. Portland has become nationally recognized for restaurant cuisine and food trucks. So if you like to eat, then you are in luck. Things that you might see living in Portland Oregon include, cutting edge architecture, urban farmers, vintage clothing, coffee shops, and micro-breweries. If this sounds too wild for your taste, you can still enjoy the city from the comfort of a more conservative suburb.
9. I’m Thinking About Visiting Portland Where Should I Stay?
If you really want to experience Portland, then I would suggest jumping on Airbnb and checking out the plethora of affordable places to rent. You’ll essentially be getting the opportunity to stay with a Portlander and connect as part of the community. If a hotel is much more your style, the Residence Inn by Marriott in the Pearl District is perfect for extended stays. For a more affordable option look into the Courtyard By Marriott in Downtown which is the companies first ever LEED Platinum Certified building. And if Luxury is a necessity, you’ll want to stay at the Nines Hotel, a wonderfully restored Meir & Frank Building that sits right on Pioneer Square.
If you are considering living in Portland Oregon, then you are going to want to get one of our relocation packages which you can sign up for here.