It’s no secret that Portland, Oregon is trending among transplants. For the last three years Oregon has been deemed the most popular moving destination in the country, and the city of Portland has experienced the largest gains. Drawn like a moth to the flame of craft beer and creative culture, newcomers are flooding Portland like rain in the winter. If you’re among these hipster hopefuls, consider these 7 truths before packing for P-town:
1. It rains here, A LOT
You may think you already know this, but nothing prepares you for actually experiencing it. Let me put things into perspective: last year it literally rained every day in the month of December, accumulating 63.20 inches of rain. Seasonal depressive disorder is a real thing, and if you’re not okay going months without seeing the sun (looking at you California), you may want to reconsider.
2. Passive Drivers
Since it rains so often, you’d think Portlanders would be good at driving in the elements, right? Wrong! Portland drivers are consistently among the worst in the nation. And it doesn’t stop with the drivers. Portland is also one of the nation’s worst traffic cities, experiencing some of the worst congestion in the US.
3. The Rental Crisis
If you think Portland is affordable, think again. Portland has consistently led the nation in rapid rental increase, and apartment vacancy rates are as low as 3% — second only to New York City. An increased amount of city newcomers combined with a construction backlog and strict urban growth boundary have pushed Portland into a rental crisis, so much so that the city had to declare a state of housing emergency.
4. Portland’s Homeless Problem
While on the topic of Portland’s housing emergency, the homeless crisis is also worth mentioning. The state of homelessness in Portland is one of the most visible issues in the city. You can hardly walk through downtown without getting hit up for change, or seeing people sleeping on park benches and in doorways. Furthermore three fourths of Portland’s homeless are addicted to drugs, and half have mental issues, making daily encounters at best difficult, at worst dangerous.
5. The “Big One”
Another big thing to consider is the impending “Big One”. At any given time a massive earthquake (expected to be the worst natural disaster in North America history) could strike the Pacific Northwest and completely obliterate Portland and nearby cities. If you’ve never heard of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, you may want to read up on it before committing to a city that runs the risk of being flattened by an earthquake, then swallowed by a tsunami within the next 50 years.
6. Portland Neighborhoods
Know your quadrants! Portland is broken down into five main geographic quadrants: North, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest. Burnside Street divides north and south, while the Willamette River divides east and west. Knowing these neighborhoods will make getting around the city a breeze. Plus each neighborhood has its own character, as well as its own pros and cons. Finding a neighborhood that fits is an important part of moving to Portland.
7. Proper Portland Pronunciations
Before you will ever be accepted in Portland, you must learn how to properly pronounce several key names/words. First and foremost, whatever you do, don’t call Oregon “Ory-gone” or “Or-uh-gone” — you will be judged. As for Willamette (that beautiful river that separates east and west Portland), it’s pronounced Wil-LAM-ette. Blend in with locals by pronouncing the name with emphasis on the second syllable. Other commonly mispronounced street names are Couch (pronounced Cooch) and Glisan (pronounced Gleason).
Love this post! I think a lot of people move here thinking it’s a foodie liberal outdoor utopia (which it is in many, many ways!) but get surprised by the weather, the traffic, the housing. And I always tell non-Portlanders to think of the phrase “It’s Willamette Dammit” because the two words rhyme and that’s an easy way for them to remember!
haha that’s how i learned it too from a friend of ours. 😛 Would have been saying everything wrong for ages.
If we shouldn’t pronounce Oregon “Ory-gone” or “Or-uh-gone.” How is it pronounced, Organ? 🙂
Closer to Or-eh-gun. 🙂
Haha, you’re kind of making me want to leave this city 😉
The traffic issue is for reals!!!! Man it makes me miserable. The rain I’ve learned to live with, most of the time anyways. Though with all of the cons there are certainly many positives that make it all worth it (like the summers here! THE PERFECT SUMMERS!!!). 🙂
Resident Of 71 Years, Please Donlt Move Here. We’ve Beev Californicated Enough
i miss Portland, be glad theirs actually mountains and the ocean. Jeezzz
and you do not “go months without seeing the sun.” You see it CONSTANTLY in July, August, September….and VERY often the rest of the year….yes, in winter. It hardly EVER rains here. It rains more often in New York than it does here. The sun is out a majority of the days, for at least some of the time. 2017 has been great because we got snow snow snow! But as I type this, there has been no rain for 70+ days. Consider that. And none in the forecast. NOT A DROP OF RAIN.
Great list! One thing I would add in terms of knowing about the quadrants is that because there’s only so many ways to get across the river from one side to the other, the side you choose to live in is going to really become your center so think about your stores and restaurants in that area carefully and where your work office is located!
How have I never read your blog before??? Love this so much and every point is so true!
Such good things to know! I’ve always wanted to visit portland but I don’t know if I could live there year round!
Rachel | The Confused Millennial
I love the passive driver one…
Ha, I feel you on the passive drivers! Seattle is exactly the same and even though I’ve been here coming up on 10 years now, I still can’t deal!
So this post is PERFECT timing for me! My husband and I were just discussing Portland and how we thought it might be a good place for us to relocate to 😉
I’ve always said I’m not cool enough to live in Portland. I did learn the pronunciations thought!
I think the City and State is beautiful always loved it since a teenager.
haha yeah my socal friend visited us, and nearly cried because he hadn’t seen the sun in over a week. The funny thing is now that the sun is starting to come out.. i feel blinded! haha
Portland is awesome! I live in Boston…talk about crappy weather. Been cold here for 8-months. 8-months of boots and hoodies and gloves and hats. Ugh! #PortlandSoundsAmazing
I’m from Portland, we self medicate heavily, that’s how we deal with the winter. Oregon itself contains magic , I think it’s from the trees & all the water & that rich soil! It makes the people there, well, weird, but in a creative – great- Earth Worshipping way. I live in Chicago now, and I can tell you there is no magic here and very little creativity and the water doesn’t taste good. It is the land of ordinary. But the drivers sure do move their asses!
Where can u find rentals
Portland was a nice place to live but the crime and traffic is getting worse every day so you might wanna check it out before moving here and watch our local news and probably stay where you are unless you don’t mind getting burglarized, vandelized, or even shot and robbed and harassed by all the homeless druggie and the mentally ill. Yup, we have the worst in the nation plus include Oregonized crime from the politicians that stealing all your money little by little making up and raising taxes on everything they can dream up. True Oregonians see all this and that’s why there moving out of here so you newcomers can make these guys rich. Have fun! Lol! Lol!
agree with your comment…what happened to beautiful portland..so so sad..im a native and now i have to leave because of all that…
looks are decieving
I’ll be moving to Portland next month due to an educational/employment opportunity there, but have never actually visited. I’ve been doing as much research as I can and this has been helpful! Doing my apartment search, I have noticed that things are very different there than any city I’ve lived in before. It’s very confusing, and difficult! I am also curious about this “Passive drivers” thing…coming from Houston, where traffic is horrible and drivers are legitimately deranged, it should be interesting! P.S. I love rain so I’ll enjoy that(so long as it’s not the torrential floods and hurricane/tropical storm kinds of rain we get here. Over that)
That’s awesome! I have a lot of posts on Portland if you’re looking for more info on neighborhoods or bars / restaurants. You will love Portland. It really is a great city (especially if you don’t mind the rain!)
I am considering moving there I was born in Multinomah county. How can I find your posts on neighborhoods
Here’s my post on neighborhoods: https://everydayrunaway.com/portland-picks/moving-to-portland-consider-these-three-neighborhoods/
Unfortunately the author is wrong about rainfall. It’s generally between 34 and 40 inches a year, FAR less than other major cities in the U.S. Cloud-free days average about 100 a year but it does NOT RAIN ENOUGH in Portland. Period. And excuse me, but ANY time you move you have to learn how to pronounce cities and streets. Duh. I am sorry you are moving here, because the traffic is completely unmanageable. PLEASE take Tri-Met (which is wonderful) and PLEASE ride a bike and walk. That’s what I do.
How has it been since you’ve moved?
I read post about homelessness. Does that mean it’s few jobs there. I’m not ready to retire (or become homeless). Also considering Portland due to hurricane HARVEY.
Great points! I think a lot of people love visiting a place and think they’d love to live there without really seeing the reality of it beyond being a vacation spot. But when we visited last month I did notice people living underneath nearly every overpass. It was pretty obvious the city is in crisis, despite having so many wonderful attributes.
HI GUYS! I DONT KNOW IF I COULD STILL LOVE PORTLAND, OREGON AFTER READING THIS ARTICLE OF YOURS.. =(
WELL, IM FROM THE PHILIPPINES AND SINCE IVE NEVER BEEN TO U.S. I WAS AND WILL ALWAYS BE A DIEHARD FAN OF GRIMM (TV SERIES)… THE SHOW WAS SHOT ENTIRELY IN PORTLAND SINCE DAY 1 UNTIL THEIR LAST AND FINAL SEASON. IT IS BECAUSE OF THIS SHOW, I EVENTUALLY FELL INLOVE WITH PORTLAND. I JUST LOVE HOW THE CITY IS MIXED OF BEING MODERN AND LAIDBACK AT SAME TIME. SO UNDERRATED YET THE BEST UNDERRATED FOR ME. I HOPE THESE NEGATIVE THINGS IN PORTLAND WOULD SOON VANISHED. HOPING TO VISIT AND LIVED IN PORTLAND, OREGON SOMEDAY IN THE NEAR FUTURE…. LETS ALL BE POSITIVE AND WORK HAND IN HAND TO SAVE THIS FAVORITE CITY OF MINE IN THE U.S. =))))
What a great & informational post this is! I never considered relocating to Portland, but I know somebody out there as I type this, that I barely get the pleasure of speaking with, but I hope he comes home soon.
Love the photography here as well.
I think this old grandmother is staying right here in upstate New York (Lol)
I grew up in Salem in the 1970’s, it was a great time to be a kid in Oregon…very little crime…people didn’t litter…everyone spoke English…NO drug dealers on every street…anyone who needed a place to stay had the YMCA…profanity and sex in public was not acceptable…lets just say it was different in the best ways possible because people had good morals and values then.
Now Oregon has become a dumping ground for illegals, drug pushers and addicts, the homeless urinate and defecate where ever they please. There is now an ugliness now that did not exist back then. And unless you live in a very rural place, Oregon can be a dangerous place now wherever there are a lot of people.
This once beautiful state where its legal citizens made living here a priority and took pride in being an Oregonian is gone and I am thankful I got to experience the past…it was great growing up here, and if people like the govenor Brown were banished from office, morals and values revived and Oregons reputation for being a respectable place to live reinstated, it could once again be an awesome state for a kid to grow up!
Hi! Here from Huntsville, AL…
Coming from someone who DIDN’T originate from Oregon, it feels like people should know that Oregon isn’t as bad as they say it is! The racism is NOWHERE near as bad as it is down south, Oregon is known for having the least carbon footprint in the U.S.! Getting comfortable with a city makes you much more familiar with the downsides rather than the pros. Portland is a beautiful city, and, yes, it’s big– Crime and homelessness is a requirement of a big population. Compared to other parts of the U.S., though, Oregon is a beautiful place to be! (Aside from the impending doom of a earthquake and tsunami, that is.)
I’m moving from DC where traffic is literal Hell, you trip over homeless people to and from work, coworkers sabotage your job to get ahead, and people only talk to you if they can use you for something.
I’m not worried. You folks need to toughen up.
You’ll be right at home in Portland, Debbie! ;0)
The only issue I see with your list is the “Big One”. Actually, the “Big One” is Old Faithful going off……they believe that it will most likely be a world wide disaster. As for rain, I love the stuff, not so fond of sunny days. I spent 6 months in Olympia Washington and it was wet all the time. Biggest issue was the green mossy sidewalks. Crappy drivers, traffic and crime, common for any large city. Portland is a growing city and it will continue to attract all sorts of folks from all over the globe (not just California). Nothing stays the same, ask me, I’m a native of Silicon Valley, where farm land was the norm, not anymore. Oh, and try renting here!
The problem with Portland is that WE are what made this city great. Did we suddenly fall off of the map for the Arts, Music, biking and other creative and healthy activities that are being subdued because all the guests to our beautiful city only seem fit to eat and drink their way through the fanfare like gluttons who don’t want to put any effort into enjoying the activities that abound? Build it beautifully. care for it as a precious breath of life, nurture it..but don’t wallow in its beauty, being wasteful, and give nothing back of similar splendor! What we have..had..was our Portland..our Oregon! We are what made it so. All those who come here as tourists..come to revel in what we are and created. You enjoy our small-town innocence gone wild with creative ventures and you want to become part of us..but you aren’t us. You cant keep us. We should all move out and let you enjoy bumping into each other and left to wonder where it all went wrong. Mind you, I don’t dislike visitors. Truly I don’t. I dislike the ones who move into our town and bring their status minded thoughts of fame and fortune with them. That’s what ruins us. If you want to be like us, why do you mention the top 10 things to do in Portland is eat, drink, shop, and eat some more? There’s biking, hiking, beautiful mountains, lakes, music of all types, dance, literary events, theater, even schools and neighborhoods that focus on environmental growth and neighborhoods involved in disaster awareness, to name just a few things that aren’t seen by those who cannot see. So, when you come to our city and state, kindly look around for the miracles that grow here. We’re trying very hard to keep our heads up while we’re overrun by sightseers who take our jobs and fling us to the streets because everything has gotten too expensive for us to survive. From what I understand, our kindness and generosity towards the less fortunate has also created an influx of homeless from your fine cities. You see, we are known to help those in need. So please, find the beauty..be tender with it, lest it spoil for all. Now I say ‘Welcome to our fair city’ and it’s up to you to do the honors. The door’s open.. C’mon in! And please, do have a nice time! Every day is an opportunity to grow a flower instead of a weed. Do you know that sunflowers detox the soil? Wow! What a gift! Pat Kiser
Thanks for all the details. To make things easier, it’s important to start collecting boxes at least a month (and preferably more) before the moving date.
Some of your issues sound like Sacramento, CA. Homeless epidemic downtown, high price rates, high home prices, but it’s HOT here from June-October. We got a first rain today, Sep 16, which is rare – must be getting tailwind of rain coming down from Oregon! I’m considering moving to OR because I’m tired of the heat here from June thru October we have many, many days from 95-105. I grew up in Bay Area; I prefer cooler weather and even occassional rain showers in the summer, but I’m going to look in cities south of Portland. Portland is getting almost pricey as homes in Sacramento; $400,000 plus for relatively small houses. All or Oregon is beautiful, I’d be happy living anywhere there!
Some of your issues sound like Sacramento, CA. Homeless epidemic downtown, high rent rates, high home prices, but it’s HOT here from June-October. We got a first rain today, Sep 16, which is rare – must be getting tailwind of rain coming down from Oregon! I’m considering moving to OR because I’m tired of the heat here from June thru October; we have many, many days from 95-105. I grew up in the Bay Area; I prefer cooler weather and even occasional rain showers in the summer, but I’m going to look in cities south of Portland. Portland is getting almost as pricey as homes in Sacramento; $400,000 plus for relatively small houses. All of Oregon is beautiful, I’d be happy living anywhere there!