Moving to Portland, Oregon

Portland is popular, and each year it draws thousands of new residents. But of course, that’s why you’re here.

If you’re considering a move to Portland, we’ve gathered information and resources to help make the decision easier (and by the way – we’re Bellhops, your friendly Portland movers.

Portland: Overview and History

Portland is the largest city in the state of Oregon. Its history is rich in oral accounts of the Native Americans who lived throughout the Pacific Northwest. Several Portland landmarks were named by these original inhabitants. In the 1830s, settlers drew to the city for its lumber, and pioneers flooded in soon after.

Wedged against the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Portland became a haven for sailors. World War II brought cargo ship construction and the area boomed with new residents.

Less than 100 years after Portland was born, the city was pulsing with over 360,000 inhabitants. Since then, the city has continued to thrive and is now considered one of the country’s top places to visit and live.

Portland Cost of Living and Employment

Portland’s cost of living is consistently a good bit higher than the national average. Rent and home prices have been rising each year as the city grows in popularity. But city leaders are always trying to do what they can to help make Portland more affordable and available.

**Portland’s job market is substantial and thriving. In fact, the city has one of the most competitive job markets in the country with low unemployment rates and businesses growing or moving in regularly.

Getting Around Portland

Living in Portland without a car is definitely doable.

You’ll meet many Portland neighborhoods that have ditched the wheels. The city was the first to implement many public transit options that the rest of the country now offers. And Portland is home to the nation’s longest bridge dedicated to transit, bicycles, and pedestrians only.

  • MAX Light Rail: Portland's light-rail system transports throughout the metro area and downtown and connects to Beaverton, Clackamas, Gresham, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, North/Northeast Portland, and the airport.
  • Portland Streetcar: Portland was one of the first in the country to build a modern-day streetcar. It travels throughout downtown and the popular Pearl District.
  • The TriMet Bus System: Portland’s bus system thoroughly covers routes throughout the city and its suburbs. It offers low fares and full wheelchair accessibility. And now many of these buses have bike racks!
  • Car Sharing: Car-sharing began in Portland in 1998, and from there it spread throughout the country. The well-known Uber and Lyft drive throughout the city. But also check out Zipcar, Car2go, Turo, Getaround, and ReachNow for options like peer-to-peer car-sharing and “point-to-point” rental cars parked at ports throughout the city.
  • Biking: Portland has over 315 miles of bikeways and has been called Bike City, U.S.A. Don’t let the rainy and cooler seasons deter you. Plenty of locals cycle year-round on their own bikes or using the city’s bike-share system, Biketown.
  • E-Scooters: Electric scooters are the latest mode of transportation to arrive in Portland. Simply download the service’s app, unlock the scooter, and hop on.

How Is Crime in Portland?

As a whole, crime in Portland is higher than the national average. And like the rest of the country, Portland is seeing a spike in crime rates this year. That said, crime rates vary throughout the city. Once you begin narrowing down the neighborhoods you’re interested in, check out for Portland’s crime heat map to help determine the level of safety in specific areas.

Living in Portland: The Lowdown on the Best Neighborhoods

To give you some clarity, we’ve briefly highlighted some of the best neighborhoods in the city. If you’re interested in a more in-depth description of these neighborhoods and many more, check out our other guides: Best Suburbs in Portland, Best Neighborhoods in Portland, Best Neighborhoods for Families in Portland, and Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods in Portland.

Here’s a quick overview of our four favorites.

Pearl District

This region used to be full of warehouses and work yards but has been transformed into a hopping spot filled with upscale, world-famous restaurants, art galleries, and classy boutiques. Located in the heart of downtown, Pearl District is the place to be for young professionals looking for a hopping nightlife. But the area has great family-friendly activities as well.

Nob Hill

This population-dense residential neighborhood is home to many families and young professionals. The area is packed with cute homes, shops, restaurants, and cafes. The Portland Campus of Linfield College as well as the DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital call Nob Hill home.

West End

Wedged between West Burnside and Southwest Morrison Street, this section of the city is quickly emerging. It’s a walk away from Portland’s infamous Powell’s City of Books as well as quirky shops and restaurants like Self Edge and Boxer Ramen.

Arlington Heights

One of the most family-friendly corners of Portland, Arlington Heights is tucked against the Tualatin mountain range and has 323 acres of open space. This scenic neighborhood holds about 300 single-family homes as well as 20 public and private schools.

Portland’s Culture

Portland emits an offbeat and welcoming ambiance. It’s the city where thousands congregate for a naked bike ride, legal marijuana flows free, and patrons riding a unicycle in a costume don’t turn heads.

Portland is dog-friendly, bike-friendly, and people-friendly. It’s home to some of the best restaurants, bars, breweries, coffee shops, boutiques, book stores, music venues, and outdoor destinations in the country.

The Portland hipster scene is undeniably one of the most known caricatures of the area. People in the city are used to being unconventional, and while they’re at the top of the trends now, Portland used to feel like a misfit’s promised land.

An ironic culture from the start, this artsy liberal bubble is in juxtaposition with the surrounding rural Republican-leaning region. Tack on a wealth of music, visual arts, dance, theater, and film festivals that show off Portland’s unusual colors, and you’ve found yourself the birthplace of many an oddball.

The city-wide slogan “Keep Portland Weird” (suspiciously similar to the older “Keep Austin Weird” slogan), was created to promote shopping at independently-owned local businesses. Over time, this phrase has turned into a kind of rhetorical fist-raiser. Portland, let your freak flag fly forever.

Pros and Cons of Living in Portland

So far, you’ve seen us discussing a lot of Portland’s pros, and there are many perks to living in this city. But like any area, living here has its share of drawbacks as well.

We did the research to help you decide whether a move to Portland is the right choice for you.

Pro: An incredible food and beverage scene

Food. Beer. Coffee. Every corner and street of Portland’s downtown is packed with unique eateries and drinkeries.

There are near-countless breweries in the Portland metro area, tons of distilleries (even a district called Distillery Row), and coffee shops so hip they’ll make your mustache curl the moment you step inside.

The food is incredible: from the 500+ food trucks to the infamous sweets served at Voodoo Doughnut, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

Con: The weather

Unless you’re a waterbug, Portland’s rainy season can be rough. It rains for months, sometimes without seeming to stop. But from June to September, locals have a chance to see the beautiful greenery and realize the magic that so much rain brings. Just remember to pack a raincoat and that vitamin D supplement.

Con: Portland is getting VERY popular

Lots of people are moving to Portland. In a lot of ways, this is wonderful, and it's bringing social and industrial diversity to the area.

But popularity also has its drawbacks. The traffic in Portland has undoubtedly gotten much worse. Most locals avoid driving from one side of the city to the other as much as possible.

Rent and housing prices have also shot up so high that it's displacing a lot of long-term locals. New apartment buildings are taking over spaces that used to be cultural hubs or beloved neighborhood destinations (like long-standing buildings, event spaces, or food cart corners). This change is having an effect on the culture of Portland and the people who have lived there the longest.

Pro: The great outdoors

Surrounding and lacing through Portland is an abundance of incredible outdoor destinations, from lush green trails to the sandy and rocky coast, cascading waterfalls, and rose gardens. The city offers jaw-dropping natural oases, like Mount Hood, Smith Rock State Park, and Crater Lake.

Pro: A great community with tons of things to do

Living in Portland can feel a little like a party. The city throws festivals every week, if not more often--from the Rose Festival to food and beverage functions, music events, community activities, block parties, and cultural celebrations. If you’re bored in this city, you haven’t set a toe outside of your apartment.

More Resources for Moving to Portland

Looking to take the next step? Here are some helpful resources that’ll give you a closer look at living in Portland.

This site provides information about local government, services and businesses, resources for residents and visitors, and current city news.

This site offers an interactive map that rates public schools in the area. There’s also a list of the best neighborhoods for education and information about the city’s school districts.

Travel Portland has tons of helpful resources, including info about transportation, where to park in the city, upcoming events, closeby destinations, outdoor activities, and where to stay during a visit.

Like What You See?

So there you have it! With the resources and info above, we hope you’re off to a great start in finding your next home.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your potential move, that’s OK. Moving can feel like a long process. But hopefully what we’ve provided will help alleviate some of your anxiety and enable you to decide if Portland is the right place for you.

If you decide to take the plunge, get in touch. We know some people who might be able to help.