With its picture-perfect scenery, beautiful greenery, weird and wonderful traditions, and friendly locals, it’s no wonder people make the move to the City of Roses. Like all cities across the globe, there are ups and downs to life in Portland. We've therefore put together a list of pros and cons of moving to Portland to give newcomers a better idea of what to expect from life in the city.
Accommodation and neighbourhoods
+ Pro: The city’s neighbourhoods are unique and all have something different to offer
Portland has a wide selection of neighbourhoods, each with its own charm and characteristics. From trendy neighbourhoods in the city centre that boast a thriving nightlife and shopping scene, such as the Pearl District and Downtown, to more family oriented areas, such as Laurelhurst and Sellwood-Moreland, Portland’s got it all.
- Con: Housing is expensive no matter where you live
Although there are areas of the city with slightly cheaper rental prices than others, housing prices in Portland are expensive across the board. Newcomers to Portland should therefore take into consideration the facilities included in the rent as well as any amenities that are nearby their home. Spending a little extra per month may be worth it if the home is situated in a good school district, close to transport stops and the city centre.
Working and Cost of living
+ Pro: There are plenty of job opportunities
With a growing job market, skilled newcomers shouldn't struggle to find a job that can afford them the high quality of life that Portland boasts. From tech and healthcare to sports apparel, Portland has a variety of thriving industries that are contributing to its booming economy.
- Con: The cost of living is extremely high
With almost everything in the city costing more than the national average, the cost of living in Portland is rather high. With extraordinarily high prices for accommodation and utilities, as well as for healthcare, private schooling and even transport, newcomers can expect to pay handsomely to live in Portland. Luckily, the standard of living in the city outweighs the costs involved for the majority of the population.
+ Pro: It’s green
Not only does Portland have an abundance of parks and green spaces throughout the city, it also prides itself on its eco-friendly nature. One way in which they show their support for the environment is through hosting the Pedalpalooza bike race and the Naked Bike Ride each year. Both of these cycle races are done in protest of the negative effects of vehicle emissions on the environment, and in support of choosing to cycle or walk around the city as an alternative to driving.
+ Pro: There’s tons to do
If it’s even possible, there is almost too much to do in Portland. With hundreds of festivals and events being hosted annually, as well as tons of attractions in the city, Portland has plenty of options for entertainment for everyone, including the kids.
+ Pro: The city has a great food culture
Known for its food trucks, breweries and coffee houses, newcomers to the city can expect to taste food and drinks of the finest quality in Portland. From fine-dining restaurants, to 24 hour doughnut stores, to hipster microbreweries, Portland has it all.
- Con: Eating out is expensive
Unfortunately, exploring the city’s food culture comes at quite a cost. Newcomers will find some pocket-friendly restaurants scattered throughout the city, but trying out many of the local favourites may well make a dent in their budget.
+ Pro: Portland has excellent hospitals and highly trained doctors
With some of the top hospitals in the country, newcomers can rest assured they will receive first-class healthcare in Portland. Many of Portland’s doctors study in the city itself and are well trained. In fact, the university’s hospital, OHSU, is the best in the city.
- Con: The costs for healthcare are exorbitant
Without a health insurance plan, newcomers to Portland can expect to pay through their teeth for even the most simple medical procedures. The Oregon Health Plan does cover healthcare for people below a particular poverty line. Anyone sitting outside of this bracket should invest in a comprehensive health insurance plan that gives them access to the best facilities and specialists the city has to offer, and covers any day-to-day health expenses.
+ Pro: The city has world class public transport
Getting around Portland couldn’t be easier. Despite the fact that the city centre is extremely walkable and is one of the most bike-friendly places in the world, the city’s public transport networks are efficient, easy to use and travel to even the most outlying neighbourhoods. No matter where in Portland one lives, owning a car is wholly unnecessary thanks to the city’s train, bus and streetcar networks.
- Con: Traffic in Portland is terrible
Even more reason to ditch the car and use public transport, is the terrible daily traffic in the city. It seems even with all its transport options, people are still choosing to clog up the small city centre and its one-way streets with private cars.
►See Lifestyle in Portland, to learn more about the shopping, nightlife, eating out and outdoor activities the city has to offer.
"I love the Bohemian vibe of Southeast Portland and how friendly people are in Oregon. Most people actually say hello when you meet them in the morning, as opposed to in Copenhagen when they look right through you as if you don't exist. Here in Portland, I live in a very green area with lots of squirrels and the odd raccoon and I can walk to six or seven cafes which is important to me since I write a lot outside my home." Read more about Peter, a Danish expat, and his experience of life in Portland.
Are you an expat living in Portland?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Portland. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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