Moving to Portland
Sitting in the shadow of Mount Hood in northern Oregon, Portland is the largest city in the state. The city is known for its parks, eco-friendly way of life, thriving arts scene, coffeehouses, and microbreweries. If you're thinking about moving to Portland, it helps to know everything you can about the city to make the transition easier. Learn more about what life is like in Portland so you can decide if it's the right city for you.
What's It Like to Live in Portland?
When you move to Portland, you might find the city weird or fun. It depends entirely on your comfort level with progressive politics. For example, when people started to raise animals like bees and chickens in their backyard, the city didn't outlaw it. Instead, it simply adopted codes and permits to make it safer and easier. Portland often skirts the line between playful and shameless, which might explain why the unofficial city motto is "Keep Portland Weird."
Here are a few other nicknames you might hear people say when referring to Portland:
- Rose City or City of Roses: The official nickname adopted after the Portland Rose Society planted roses on 20 miles of Portland's streets for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition.
Stumptown: A nickname coined after the booming growth of the city in 1847 left behind a number of stumps.
PDX: The call sign for Portland International Airport.
Bridge City: A nickname earned because the city has 12 bridges that span the Willamette River.
P-town: An affectionate named created by locals.
Respect for the environment is crucial in Portland. The city has banned plastic bags, and recycling is second nature to residents. You'll find plenty of vegan and vegetarian restaurants around the city. You'll also discover specialized boutiques that sell beauty products created with natural ingredients. If you're interested in consuming more organic and locally grown produce, the city has 21 farmers markets selling everything you need.
Weather in Portland
If you're moving to Portland from somewhere sunny, start adjusting now. Portland gets a lot of rain. However, the city also has four distinct seasons.
Summer in Portland is often mild and pleasant. The area gets plenty of daylight, the trees are green and leafy, and the flowers are in full bloom. Typically, June through August has average high temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit. However, since the city sits away from the coast and has the Oregon Coast Range to its west, it can experience heat waves with temperatures that climb well above 90 degrees for days at a time.
Early fall is just an extension of summer in Portland. You'll still experience plenty of sunny days, and average high temperatures in September are in the mid-70s. However, by the time October rolls around, you'll likely need a jacket, as highs drop into the low 60s. October is also when the rainy season begins. In November, the weather really starts to cool off with average highs in the low 50s.
Winters in Portland are cloudy, cool, and rainy. The coldest month is December, with average highs in the mid-40s. While January and February also have highs in the upper 40s and low 50s, the area rarely sees lows drop below freezing. This means that snow isn't very common in Portland. In fact, the area only gets a few inches of snow each year, and it almost always melts within a couple of hours.
The weather in Portland continues to stay rainy until late spring. During this time, the days start to get longer, and you'll begin to see the first plants start budding in February. Spring doesn't really hit its stride until May, though. At that point, the trees and flowers are in full bloom, and Rose City lives up to its name. Average high temperatures also slowly climb throughout the season. While temperatures start out in the upper 50s in March, by May they've reached the upper 60s.
Best Neighborhoods in Portland
When you're planning your move to Portland, you need to start by deciding where you want to live. If you're interested in living north of the city, consider the Mississippi neighborhood. Named after North Mississippi Avenue that runs through this area, the Mississippi neighborhood has an impressive variety of housing options. You'll find everything from condos to Victorian homes, and the warehouses and factories that were once abandoned are now hip boutiques and restaurants.
If you have some room to stretch your housing budget, Nob Hill in northwest Portland is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city. Here, you'll find narrow streets that offer a mix of Victorian homes, restored Craftsman houses, and newer lofts and condos. In Nob Hill, it's easy to walk to the neighborhood's boutiques and cafes.
If you want to live right in the middle of all the action, downtown Portland is the spot for you. The city has what every good urban center needs and then some. You can easily walk to restaurants, bars, and shops. You can head to the Portland Saturday Market to get fresh produce or check out a show at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. The streets are narrow, which encourages foot traffic, and Pioneer Courthouse Square, which is nicknamed "Portland's living room," always has something fun and exciting going on.
If you're moving to Portland specifically for the free spirit lifestyle, check out Hawthorne District. This neighborhood has a unique blend of hippies, entrepreneurial singles, and couples. The bungalows and Victorians still offer modest housing options, but new condos are also popping up in the neighborhood and driving up rent.
Top Schools in Portland
Portland has a variety of options when you're looking for primary, secondary, and higher education schools. The city has six public school districts and numerous private schools providing education to children. Riverdale School District is one of the best in Portland. The district has two schools that serve over 600 families living just south of downtown Portland. Riverdale Grade School provides education to children in preschool through 8th grade, and Riverdale High School serves children in 9th through 12th grade.
Portland Public Schools is another top district in the city. With over 49,000 students in 78 schools, it's also the largest. The district consists of 39 elementary schools, 18 K-8 schools, 13 middle schools, 10 high schools, and one K-12 school. The district also offers several educational and enrichment programs in its schools, including career learning, language immersion, early childhood education, the arts, and athletics.
If you're interested in higher education, Portland State University is a public research university that has the second-largest enrollment rate in the state. The university offers undergraduate degrees in 123 fields and postgraduate degrees in 117 fields. The schools at the university include the School of Social Work, the Graduate School of Education, the School of Business Administration, the College of the Arts, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Fariborz Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, and the College of Urban and Public Affairs.
Another option for higher education in the city is the University of Portland. This is a private Roman Catholic university that offers six divisions of study: the Pamplin School of Business Administration, the School of Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Nursing, the Shiley School of Engineering, and the Graduate School. Some of the popular majors at the university for undergraduates include elementary education, nursing, biology, finance, psychology, and marketing and management.
Jobs in Portland
Portland's location makes it beneficial for a number of industries. Like the majority of the West Coast, the technology industry plays a significant role in Portland's economy. In fact, more than 1,200 technology companies exist within the metro area. This has led some people to call Portland the Silicon Forest. The city has everything from online startup companies to large technology firms. Computer components manufacturer Intel employs more than 15,000 in Portland, making it the largest technology employer in the area.
The apparel industry is also a major component of Portland's economy. Apparel and footwear companies like Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Adidas, Dr. Martens, LaCrosse Footwear, Keen, and Hi-Tec all have global, North American, or United States headquarters in Portland. Additionally, Under Armour, Merrell, and Amer Sports have local offices and design studios in the area.
Industrial goods and metal fabrication company Precision Castparts is another Fortune 500 company headquartered in Portland. Other notable companies based in the area include commercial vehicle manufacturer Daimler Trucks North America, animation studio Laika, advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy, and retailers Storables, New Seasons Market, and Fred Meyer.
Best Restaurants in Portland
You might be familiar with the James Beard Foundation Awards, which are often called the Oscars of the food world and the highest honor given annually to culinary professionals around the country. However, what you might not know is that James Beard was born in Portland. As a result, it's easy to see why Portland is known for its foodie scene.
The overall theme for dining in the city is one that focuses on quality. When you eat here, you'll quickly learn everything you need to know about organic, locally grown, artisanal, and seasonal ingredients. Residents in Portland work hard to avoid chain dining, which means you'll be able to experience some one-of-a-kind cuisine.
If you're interested in traditional Southern cuisine with a Northwest twist, check out Screen Door. Popular menu options include the crispy fried buttermilk-battered chicken, blackened rockfish and Creole seafood jambalaya, and a half-pound of Carolina pulled pork barbecue. If you still have room after your delicious meal, you can top things off with a slice of the Creole pecan pie, chocolate peanut butter layer cake, or Cara Cara orange upside-down cake.
If you're interested in something different, make plans to dine at Imperial. Here, Chef Paley uses local ingredients and time-honored cooking methods to explore menu ideas that have a historical significance. Some of the signature dishes on the menu include the duck meatballs, grilled flatbread, fried chicken, stuffed cabbage rolls, crispy octopus, and roasted half chicken. If you save room for dessert, the restaurant offers warm apple bread pudding, coconut rice pudding brûlée, chocolate orange cheesecake, and a pie of the day.
While people in Portland are serious about their meals, they also know how to have fun with their sweet treats. This becomes extremely evident when you visit Voodoo Doughnuts, a quirky bakeshop known for making one-of-a-kind doughnuts. You'll find classic options like the powdered sugar jelly-filled doughnut and bacon maple bar. You can also try unique creations like the Tangfastic, which is a cake doughnut topped with vanilla frosting, Tang, and three marshmallows, or the Memphis Mafia, which is fried dough containing banana chunks and topped with a cinnamon glaze, chocolate and peanut butter drizzle, peanuts, and chocolate chips.
Top Breweries in Portland
If you're serious about enjoying good beer, Portland is the city for you. With over 100 breweries in the area, Portland consistently ranks as one of the best places in the country for local beer. One great microbrewery to try is Ecliptic Brewing. This modern brewhouse has an impressive selection of craft beers, such as Phobos Single Hop Red Ale, Starburst IPA, and Capella Porter. If you're feeling hungry, the brewery also serves salads, burgers, sandwiches, and desserts.
Burnside Brewing Company is a warm and inviting pub located in a historic 1927 building. When the weather is nice, grab a seat on the patio and enjoy one of the perennial beers, such as Burnside Stout, Burnside IPA, or Smooth Premium Ale. Inside the pub, you'll find a menu offering popular dishes that include grilled salmon, Pacific seafood chowder, and the Pub Burger, which has Northwest-raised natural beef, tomato, onion, gem lettuce, house pickles, and a special sauce all held together with a brioche bun.
Culmination Brewing is a hip brewery built around the idea that sustainable practices will lead to better products. Some of the fresh beer options include Evergreen NW Red Ale, Phaedrus IPA, Sour Flower with Salted Plum and Lemon, and Four and Twenty Imperial Black IPA. In case you want something to eat with your drink, the brewery serves small bites using locally sourced ingredients. Some popular options include the artisan cheese board, candy bacon BLT, and wedge salad.
How to Get Around in Portland
You can travel through much of Portland without a car. In Portland, bicycling is a major form of transportation. Portland ranks as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, and around 8 percent of commuters bike to work, which is the highest figure of any major city in the United States. If you're interested in taking your bike out in Portland, you'll find around 315 miles of bikeways around the city.
Portland also has a top-notch public transportation system. The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, better known as TriMet, is the public agency that operates the mass transit system in the region. Part of the system includes the highly acclaimed Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) light rail. MAX covers the entire city and has a light rail that runs every 15 minutes. Supplementing MAX are around 80 bus lines that run every 20 minutes during busy hours, streetcars in the downtown area, and a commuter rail that connects Beaverton to Wilsonville.
If you need to fly out of Portland, the Portland International Airport is the largest in the state and is located about 10 miles north of the city. The airport offers direct and connecting flights to most other major airports in the country. Additionally, you'll find non-stop international flights to Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan.
If you have a car, the city has several major highways that traverse the area. Interstate 5 runs north and south, and Interstate 84 runs east and west. Interstate 405 forms a loop around the downtown area, while Interstate 205 forms a loop on the east side and connects to the airport. Of course, you know a place with the nickname Bridge City is sure to experience traffic congestion, and Portland is no exception. Therefore, it helps to check traffic conditions before you have to leave.
Best Parks in Portland
Residents of Portland love to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty surrounding them. With 11,697 acres of parks in the area, they certainly have their options. One of the most popular parks in the area is Forest Park. At 5,200 acres, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the country. It stretches for 8 miles on hillsides that overlook the Willamette River and offers 70 miles of recreational trails. The most popular and longest trail in the park is the 30.2-mile Wildwood Trail, which meanders from the southern end of the park to the northern terminus.
Laurelhurst Park is a 26.81-acre park located in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. Amenities here include a picnic area, playgrounds, a basketball court, a soccer field, a horseshoe pit, a tennis court, a volleyball court, and walking paths. If your four-legged family member wants to join you for an afternoon of fun, the park also has an off-leash dog area for playing and socializing.
Washington Park is situated near downtown Portland and offers an impressive variety of activities for everyone in the family to enjoy. You can check out the animals at the Oregon Zoo, stroll through the International Rose Test Garden to see more than 10,000 rose plants, test your aim at the archery range, play a game at the soccer field or tennis courts, enjoy a scenic and calming escape to the Portland Japanese Garden, or explore the miles of hiking trails inside the park.
Another great option is Mt. Tabor Park. This park not only offers plenty of fun recreation but also has some interesting geological history: The park is situated on a dormant volcanic vent. Head to the peak where the outdoor amphitheater and basketball court are located to see part of the cinder cone that has been cut away. The park also has hiking trails, picnic areas, a playground, a volleyball court, and a tennis court.
Things to Do in Portland
While spending time at local parks is popular, it isn't the only thing you can do in Portland. If you're looking for something to do on the weekend, make plans to check out the Portland Saturday Market. Although it's called a Saturday market, it's actually open on Saturday and Sunday. The market has 400 artists participating each season, so you'll always find an excellent mix of products for your home. You can shop for jewelry, clothing, art, pottery, home decor, soap, pet treats, food, toys, and much more.
You can learn more about animals from around the world when you visit the Oregon Zoo in Washington Park. Established in 1888, it's the oldest zoo in the West and home to more than 1,800 animals. One of the most popular exhibits at the zoo is Elephant Lands, which houses three female and two male elephants. You'll also want to take a stroll through the Great Northwest exhibit to learn more about the animals that call the Pacific Northwest home. Other top exhibits at the zoo include the Africa Rainforest, Africa Savanna, Penguinarium, and Primate Forest.
To explore some history of the area, take a tour of the Pittock Mansion. This stunning French Renaissance-style mansion was constructed in 1914 for Henry and Georgiana Pittock. As you walk through the 46-room estate, you'll be able to learn more about this influential family and follow Portland's transformation from a pioneer town to a modern city. While you're there, be sure to take some time to explore the grounds. Pittock chose this location for his mansion to take advantage of the stunning views of Portland and Mount Hood.
When you want to explore the artistic side of Portland, head to the Portland Art Museum. The museum was established in 1892, which makes it the oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest. Its permanent collection has over 42,000 works of art that range from ancient times to the modern era. The museum is known for its collection of Native American art, English silver, and graphic arts. Other parts of the collection include American art, European art, Asian art, modern and contemporary art, photography, and Northwest art.
Annual Events in Portland
With so many festivals and events that happen every month, you'll always find something exciting happening in Portland. One of the biggest events is the annual Portland Rose Festival. The festival kicks off on Memorial Day weekend and continues through the month of June. During the celebration, you'll find a variety of special events occurring all over the city. You can watch one of the three parades, enjoy the concerts, check out the dragon boat race, shop the Rose Festival CityFair, enjoy the art show, and more.
Another notable event in Portland that occurs in June is the World Naked Bike Ride. This event is exactly like it sounds. Thousands of people gather together to ride around Portland in nothing but their birthday suit. The ride is actually part of an international event that wants to bring attention to society's dependence on polluting transportation and the vulnerability of cyclists. The official motto of the event is "bare as you dare," so you'll see cyclists in everything from wild costumes to nothing at all.
Since craft brewing is so popular in Portland, it should come as no surprise that the area has a beer festival. While Portland actually has several festivals celebrating beer, one of the most popular is the Oregon Brewers Festival. This four-day festival is held every July at Tom McCall Waterfront Park and has become one of the most popular in the country. When you attend, you'll be able to purchase samples from 80 craft brewers. Minors and designated drivers are also able to enjoy free root beer from the root beer garden.
The Waterfront Blues Festival, which takes place around July 4 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, is the largest festival of its kind west of the Mississippi River. When you check out the activities happening at the festival, you'll enjoy a long weekend filled with all types of fun. You can jam along with the amazing performances across four stages, check out the harmonica competition, enjoy good food, take a riverboat cruise, and more. The festival also celebrates the Fourth of July with an incredible fireworks display.
Sports in Portland
While Portland has limited options when it comes to professional sporting events, the city does have a few teams with a loyal fan base. If you're interested in basketball, the Portland Trail Blazers are the local NBA team. To check out a game, head to the Moda Center, which is located just north of the city center.
When you want to enjoy some soccer action, the Portland Timbers compete in Major League Soccer (MLS), and the Portland Thorns are part of the National Women's Soccer League. Both teams play at Providence Park, which is an outdoor sports venue located in the Goose Hollow neighborhood.
As previously mentioned, Portland sports fans are passionate in their support for their home teams. The Trail Blazers have the second-longest sell-out streak in American sports history. They sold out every home game from 1977 to 1995, which was a span of 814 consecutive games. The Timbers entered MLS in 2011 and have since sold out every home match. That streak currently sits at over 100 games. Additionally, the wait list for season tickets has over 10,000 names on it, which is the longest in MLS.
Things to See Near Portland
Not only will you find plenty to see and do in Portland, but you'll also discover some amazing attractions a short drive away. After you've settled in from your move and you're ready to explore, consider checking out a few of these great things to see near Portland.
About an hour and a half north of Portland in Washington sits Mount Saint Helens. This imposing active volcano is known for its major eruption in 1980. The force of that massive explosion triggered the collapse of the north face of the volcano, which gives it its unmistakable appearance. When you visit the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, you'll find over 200 miles of trails to explore. Be sure to take some time to stop by the Johnston Ridge Observatory to learn more about the geological, biological, and human stories from the eruption day.
Travel about 30 minutes east of Portland to explore the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. This stunning stretch of land includes an incredible canyon created by the Columbia River. If you want to go hiking, you'll find countless trails that lead to tumbling waterfalls and soaring overlooks. One of the most popular waterfalls in the area is Multnomah Falls. From the parking lot, a five-minute walk takes you to this 611-foot roaring waterfall.
If you travel south of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, you'll find Mount Hood. This is Oregon's tallest mountain and a popular spot for skiing and snowboarding. With six ski areas around the mountain and the country's longest ski season to enjoy, you won't run short of winter fun. If you visit in the summer, the 40-mile Timberline Trail circumnavigates the entire mountain and offers outstanding views of the area.
Located just over an hour west of Portland is Tillamook State Forest. Whether you're looking for a scenic drive, hike through the woods, or fun spot to go kayaking, you're sure to find it at the forest. Head out on some of the 80 miles of trails to discover the beauty of the forest. In the spring, the wildflowers on the Peninsula Trail are a sight to behold. If you're looking for a challenge, Kings Mountain Trail has a steep climb that rewards you with breathtaking views when you reach the top.
With its outdoor beauty and quirky sense of fun, Portland attracts plenty of new residents every year. Now that you have a better idea of what life is like in Portland, you can decide if you're ready to make the move to the City of Roses.