Moving to Portland, Oregon


Our rating

5 out of 5

  • Affordability 3 out of 5

  • Safety 4 out of 5

  • Healthcare 2 out of 5

  • Traffic Flow 4 out of 5

  • Property affordability 5 out of 5

  • Climate 5 out of 5

  • Environment quality 5 out of 5

As far as US cities go Portland is far from the largest – it’s at number 28 on the list of most populous – but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in personality. There’s a whole Wikipedia page devoted to the nicknames of Portland which goes to show the high regard in which its citizens hold it and the many facets of this diverse, progressive and green city.

Located where the Columbia and Willamette rivers meet in the north west corner of Oregon, Portland has fostered a vibe that could only exist on the west coast of the US. In keeping with its geography it is home to a large technology industry with Intel among its largest employers.The city has a large amount of green space and is famous internationally for growing roses. The excellent public transport infrastructure and urban planning have made it one of the most environmentally friendly cities in America. The tolerant, liberal and frequently bohemian culture has also attracted artists, musicians and creative types from all over the US to relocate to Portland.

Relocation to Portland is increasingly popular among young professionals leading to a low median age and a declining population of children, making many elementary schools in the city redundant.

Moving to Portland from the UK

There should be no great culture shock for anyone moving from the UK to Portland. The metro area population of just over 2.2 million makes for a city size which is far from overwhelming and which is also compact enough, and well connected enough, to feel easily navigable. The population is predominantly white American but does have enough diversity to appeal to big city types (9% Hispanic or Latino, 7% Asian, 6% Black or African American and 1% Native American).

Crime is not so much a concern as in other US cities either: Portland was rated the third safest city in the US by Forbes magazine in 2009.

Due to the planning regulations and desirability of Portland among the affluent young, property prices barely stumbled during the global financial crisis and median sales prices are currently rising at a rate of around 11% per annum. At the time of writing the median sales price is around $300,000 (£187K) with the most expensive properties in the neighbourhoods around the centre and along the west bank of the Willamette.

The state of Oregon is a strong protector of freedom of speech and expression so Brits in Oregon shouldn’t be surprised to see lots of strip clubs as well as the odd naked cyclist.

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Comparing Portland vs London

Portland and London see fairly similar temperature variations. Portland’s average low temperatures in winter are a similar 2 °C (December, January and February). Portland has warmer summers though – average highs reach 27 °C in July and August as compared with 23 °C in London. Portland experiences more precipitation than London – 55% more annually, on average, to be precise – but this falls much more predictably than in London, confined mostly to the period between November and March.

While property prices and rents are fairly high in Portland as compared with the US average they still make London’s look astronomical, contributing to a lower cost of living overall. Meals out, groceries, transport and consumer goods also generally cost less than in the UK capital.

On average, Portlanders report themselves as feeling safer than Londoners, as receiving better healthcare, as spending less time commuting and as putting up with far less pollution.

As well as a large amount of green space and two large rivers, Portland is surrounded by state and national parks which means prime hiking, cycling and wildlife watching opportunities are never more than a hour’s drive away.