Updated 5 months ago

Portland is one of the country's greenest cities, both because of the abundant foliage and the city’s dedication to sustainable living. As an environmentally conscious city, Portland is both highly walkable and offers a fantastic transit system made up of buses, a light rail, and an extensive cycling network. Even so, its rapidly growing popularity means that expats might face some challenges when looking for accommodation. Start your housing search early because this city has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the country. Additionally, while Portland is liberal and progressive, it isn’t the most diverse American metropolitan city.

For general advice on searching for a home and signing a lease in the United States, see the article Accommodation in the USA.

Neighborhoods in Portland

One of the most important things to remember when choosing a neighborhood in Portland is that downtown isn’t the only area that offers a walkable lifestyle. Most cities require a car the further you get from the center but Portland’s walkable neighborhoods are equally spread. The city is grouped into five major zones which appeal to different lifestyles and stages.

North Portland is a former industrial neighborhood that has been gentrified in recent years. The former warehouses are now home to cool restaurants and boutiques, and the area is well connected to downtown via a light rail. This area has a mix of small houses and new condos and is popular with young professionals, creatives, and blue-collar workers.

Northwest Portland is home to the most affluent area of the city. Here you will find restored Victorian homes and luxury lofts as well as gourmet food markets and upscale shopping. It is popular among renters and families of all ages.

Southwest Portland (downtown) is surrounded by the Willamette River and is home to both the Oregon Zoo and Portland State University. It has a big variety of establishments, from restaurants, shopping centers, and spas, to a bustling Saturday Market and a performing arts center. This part of the city is busy and most suitable for singles or those enjoy being in the hustle and bustle of a city.

Southeast Portland was formerly a distinctly bohemian neighborhood. While that flavor is still there, you will also find new condos and rent prices that are quickly rising. It is home to an international food scene and is home to one of the best public school districts in the city. Housing is a pricey mix of modest bungalows and luxury apartments.

Northeast Portland is home to the most ethnically and culturally diverse population. Streets are lined with small shops and family restaurants as well as more well-known retailers. It is home to one of the higher-ranked public school districts in the city and is an in-demand area for families of all types, as well as young couples and singles.

Accommodation and cost of living

Portland’s rental market is tight, and competition can be as fierce as in other urban centers such as New York and San Francisco. When it comes to price, the accommodation size tends to shrink and costs tend to increase as you get closer to in-demand areas. In Portland, people live in a wide mix of housing including apartments, townhomes, and all sizes of single-family houses. Cost can vary greatly by accommodation type and neighborhood, but for an 85m² (900 ft²) apartment you can expect to pay from USD 1350 to USD 1850. A smaller apartment of about 45m² (480 ft²) averages between USD 900 to USD 1350.

Generally, an apartment lease will include charges such as water, gas, trash service, and building maintenance. It is usually up to the owner’s discretion if those services are included or not. Most Portland accommodations are equipped with some kind of heating system and include major appliances such as a refrigerator and stove/oven. Although it is highly walkable, many people in Portland drive as well, so most apartments and houses will include at least one parking space.

Life in Portland

Life in Portland is meant to be lived outdoors. It is full of gardens and parks including the International Rose Test Garden, Japanese Garden, and gorgeous Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Mt. Hood and the Oregon Coast are both just a short drive away and offer easy access to skiing, camping, and kayaking. Those looking for cultural activities will be pleased to know that the city is home to the Portland Opera, the Oregon Symphony, and a ballet company. It is also quickly becoming one the country’s premier food cities, famous for its focus on locally and sustainably sourced seafood and produce.

Portland’s climate is characterized by warm, dry summers and wet winters. August is the hottest month with an average temperature of 27 °C (about 80 °F) and the average wintertime lows range from 4–9 °C (about 39–48 °F). Even though the winters are mild, every couple of years the city does experience storms that bring snow or ice. Portland is, however, a cloudy city. There is only an average of 68 clear days per year and weather is consistently rainy from November to February.

 Useful Links:

Oregonian housing ads
Craigslist - Portland housing ads
City of Portland - Crime map
Free and almost-free things to do in Portland

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