"Well Portland, Oregon and sloe gin fizz. If that ain't love then tell me what is." (-Loretta Lynn, "Portland Oregon") Read Guide >
Every region boasts a unique set of perks and challenges to human survival. Here are some considerations you ought to weigh in choosing a place to live.
Rain: Oregon’s called the Evergreen State for a reason: rainfall amounts to forty inches a year in Portland, over half this amount accruing between November and February. So you’ve got to be prepared to conduct your daily existence in the bald threat of wetness. Invest in some good boots and a raincoat. And—if you’re a bike commuter—front and back fenders are absolutely essential.
Sun: The maritime climate may keep temperatures mild (it rarely strays more than fifteen degrees on either side of 53° F, the annual average), but latitude dictates surprisingly short winter days. If you’re worried about seasonal affective disorder, be sure to choose a pad with lots of natural light and south-facing windows.
Transport: Think of Portland as the littlest brother in a trio of Pac NW cities: Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seattle, Washington, lie to the north along the heavily trafficked I-5 corridor. Portland has decent public transport options, and Amtrak offers rail travel north as well as south (to Corvallis and Eugene). But if you aim to make it out to stunning Cannon Beach or up to staggering Mt. Hood, both within a 100 miles of the metro area, you’ll need a car. (Just make sure it’s a hybrid!)
Portland is bisected vertically by the Willamette River and horizontally by Burnside St., rendering four quadrants: Southwest, Northwest, Southeast, and Northeast. Yet the ubiquitous “Keep Portland Weird” slogan characterizes even the city’s geography. That’s right, there’s a fifth “quadrant,” North Portland. Accordingly, each neighborhood has its own distinctive accommodation culture and price tag ($ to $$$$).
• SW Portland: Home to two of the city’s largest universities, Portland State and OHSU, Southwest is the quieter option for those hungry for downtown amenities. Upscale dining without the touristy bustle? Find it here. Brownstone duplex apartments: $$$.
• NW Portland: The veritable heartbeat of Portland’s financial sector. PGE Park hosts MLS soccer games, Powell’s City of Books always has a world-renowned author lecturing, and Nob Hill’s got the highest per capita boutique greeting card stores. The only quadrant where the average building height exceeds five stories. Chic and contemporary studios: $$$$.
• SE Portland: The original bohemian ghetto. This neighborhood birthed Stumptown Coffee almost 20 years ago and Hawthorne St. has more vintage clothing stores than stoplights. Can’t stop showing off your fixie? Contemplating yet another tattoo? You’ll love Southeast. Room in a shared co-op: $$.
• NE Portland: Highest percentage of homes on the historic registry. Beautiful, tree-lined avenues scattered by the occasional brewpub or roastery. Serene and suburban (but not, ya know?). Renovated “Old Portland” craftsman house: $$$$.
• N Portland: Recently revitalized, North is quickly becoming the new artist hotbed. Home to Adidas, a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge, and a slew of Ethiopian restaurants. Condo near the Mississippi Arts District: $$$.
Portland is a diverse town—in more ways than one. Fitting yourself into that diversity can be a trial, but feeling comfortable in your place of residence is propriety number one. Good luck, and welcome to Bridgetown, USA!