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Moving to Portland

Although not its capital, Portland is Oregon’s biggest and most populated city. Situated in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood, Portland is historically a port city, straddling both the Columbia and Willamette rivers. Nicknamed the 'City of Roses', Portland is known for its picture-perfect scenery, beautiful greenery, and hipster microbreweries and coffeehouses.

Living in Portland as an Expat

With thriving shipping and technology industries, newcomers with the appropriate skills should not struggle to find a job in Portland. They may also be able to find work in tourism, at one of the two Fortune 500 companies that call this city home, or in Portland’s successful creative and manufacturing industries.

Although costs can be high, newcomers to Portland will have plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation. The city is populated by small and simple apartments, as well as grand luxury high-rises, and large houses with big gardens, both in and outside of the centre.

Aside from being one of the top biking cities in the country, Portland is also known for its stellar public transport system. Newcomers will be able to get everywhere in the city on the TriMet buses and trains. In fact, owning a car is wholly unnecessary in the city, but those adventurers who want to explore further afield will be able take advantage of several car-rental companies in Portland.

Cost of living in Portland

While the cost of living in Portland is higher than the national average, it is still cheaper than in cities such as New York and the major European capitals. Rent and utilities are expensive, and food prices are not cheap either. In order to afford the high quality of life that Portland offers, newcomers should negotiate the appropriate level of salary before relocating.

Expat families and children

Portland is home to some top-rated public schools, all of which are state funded. As schools are allocated depending on which district one resides in, however, newcomers should consider this when choosing a neighbourhood. There are also a number of high-quality private and international schools in Portland. Parents wanting to send their children to these schools should be prepared for the exorbitant costs involved.

Climate in Portland

Although much of the year in Portland is cloudy, with above average rainfall compared to the rest of the US, this gives way to a beautifully green spring each year. These months stretch into a warm and dry summer with clear skies, while winter, on the other hand, brings wet and cold weather, with occasional snow falls.

Boasting a high quality of life, friendly locals, good public transport and oh so many food trucks, it’s no wonder newcomers to Portland never take long to fall in love with their new home.

Weather in Portland

Portland has been categorised as having a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, with cold and wet winters. This city has four distinct seasons, although newcomers will discover that much of the year is cloudy, with above average rainfall compared to the rest of the US.

This gives way to a beautifully green spring each year, which stretches into a warm and dry summer with clear skies. Although Portland does get the occasional heatwave, summers generally average between 53°F (12°C) and 81°F (27°C).

Mild Autumns bring overcast skies and wet weather back to the city, turning into cold winters with occasional snow falls. Temperatures average between 35°F (2°C) and 51°F (11°C) in the colder months.



Pros and cons of moving to Portland

With its picture-perfect scenery, beautiful greenery, weird and wonderful traditions, and friendly locals, it’s no wonder people make the move to the City of Roses. Like all cities across the globe, there are ups and downs to life in Portland. We've therefore put together a list of pros and cons of moving to Portland to give newcomers a better idea of what to expect from life in the city. 

Accommodation and neighbourhoods

+ Pro: The city’s neighbourhoods are unique and all have something different to offer

Portland has a wide selection of neighbourhoods, each with its own charm and characteristics. From trendy neighbourhoods in the city centre that boast a thriving nightlife and shopping scene, such as the Pearl District and Downtown, to more family oriented areas, such as Laurelhurst and Sellwood-Moreland, Portland’s got it all.

- Con: Housing is expensive no matter where you live

Although there are areas of the city with slightly cheaper rental prices than others, housing prices in Portland are expensive across the board. Newcomers to Portland should therefore take into consideration the facilities included in the rent as well as any amenities that are nearby their home. Spending a little extra per month may be worth it if the home is situated in a good school district, close to transport stops and the city centre.

Working and Cost of living

+ Pro: There are plenty of job opportunities

With a growing job market, skilled newcomers shouldn't struggle to find a job that can afford them the high quality of life that Portland boasts. From tech and healthcare to sports apparel, Portland has a variety of thriving industries that are contributing to its booming economy.

- Con: The cost of living is extremely high

With almost everything in the city costing more than the national average, the cost of living in Portland is rather high. With extraordinarily high prices for accommodation and utilities, as well as for healthcare, private schooling and even transport, newcomers can expect to pay handsomely to live in Portland. Luckily, the standard of living in the city outweighs the costs involved for the majority of the population.


+ Pro: It’s green

Not only does Portland have an abundance of parks and green spaces throughout the city, it also prides itself on its eco-friendly nature. One way in which they show their support for the environment is through hosting the Pedalpalooza bike race and the Naked Bike Ride each year. Both of these cycle races are done in protest of the negative effects of vehicle emissions on the environment, and in support of choosing to cycle or walk around the city as an alternative to driving.

+ Pro: There’s tons to do

If it’s even possible, there is almost too much to do in Portland. With hundreds of festivals and events being hosted annually, as well as tons of attractions in the city, Portland has plenty of options for entertainment for everyone, including the kids.

Eating out

+ Pro: The city has a great food culture

Known for its food trucks, breweries and coffee houses, newcomers to the city can expect to taste food and drinks of the finest quality in Portland. From fine-dining restaurants, to 24 hour doughnut stores, to hipster microbreweries, Portland has it all.

- Con: Eating out is expensive

Unfortunately, exploring the city’s food culture comes at quite a cost. Newcomers will find some pocket-friendly restaurants scattered throughout the city, but trying out many of the local favourites may well make a dent in their budget.


+ Pro: Portland has excellent hospitals and highly trained doctors

With some of the top hospitals in the country, newcomers can rest assured they will receive first-class healthcare in Portland. Many of Portland’s doctors study in the city itself and are well trained. In fact, the university’s hospital, OHSU, is the best in the city.

- Con: The costs for healthcare are exorbitant

Without a health insurance plan, newcomers to Portland can expect to pay through their teeth for even the most simple medical procedures. The Oregon Health Plan does cover healthcare for people below a particular poverty line. Anyone sitting outside of this bracket should invest in a comprehensive health insurance plan that gives them access to the best facilities and specialists the city has to offer, and covers any day-to-day health expenses.

Getting around

+ Pro: The city has world class public transport

Getting around Portland couldn’t be easier. Despite the fact that the city centre is extremely walkable and is one of the most bike-friendly places in the world, the city’s public transport networks are efficient, easy to use and travel to even the most outlying neighbourhoods. No matter where in Portland one lives, owning a car is wholly unnecessary thanks to the city’s train, bus and streetcar networks.

- Con: Traffic in Portland is terrible

Even more reason to ditch the car and use public transport, is the terrible daily traffic in the city. It seems even with all its transport options, people are still choosing to clog up the small city centre and its one-way streets with private cars.

Working in Portland

With a growing job market and labour pool, there is healthy competition for jobs in Portland. Although the impact of coronavirus on employment was felt in the city, Portland is back on track. With many thriving industries, expats with the right skills are sure to find a job in their field.

Job market in Portland

While Portland has always had thriving shipping and manufacturing industries, in recent years, the technology, health and sports sectors have grown and opened up the job market in a big way.

Healthcare is one of the biggest growing sectors in the Portland economy, and these professionals are in constant demand. In fact, healthcare is one of the highest employing industries in the city. High tech is also a booming industry in Portland, as is the manufacturing of sport apparel for companies such as Nike and Adidas.

Newcomers to Portland who are not able to find work in any of these industries may be able to work in tourism. Those in a creative field may also be able to find a job in one of the many companies that make up Portland’s renowned creative industry.

Finding a job in Portland

When moving to a new country, it is always better to secure a job beforehand. Transferring to Portland through a national or international company is often the most popular way for expats to work in the City of Roses. Otherwise, there are plenty of online job portals and social media sites, such as LinkedIn, on which people can search for a job from abroad or elsewhere in the US, or once already in the city. Local newspapers are also another source of job listings for those who have already arrived in Portland.

Finding a job through a recruitment agency is another alternative. These professionals are well versed in Portland’s job market and will be able to provide insights about the work culture in the city, as well as information about appropriate salaries. They will also be able to match newcomers to the city to an employer and company that will match their skill set.

Work culture in Portland

As in the rest of the US, work culture in Portland is individualistic. The workplace rewards 'go-getters' while those who lack independence, initiative and self-reliance lag behind. Status and age are irrelevant and, instead, merit, good ideas and hard work are the vehicles for advancement.

That said, Portland’s work culture is a lot more laid back than other big American cities. Most companies don’t require formal attire, and instead employees dress in jeans and more comfortable clothes for work. Relationships are valued, as is the happiness of the employees in most companies. The city also boasts a good work-life balance and many companies have ample employee benefits, such as health insurance.

Cost of living in Portland

While the cost of living in Portland is higher than the national average, it is still cheaper than in cities such as New York and some major European capitals. The 2022 Mercer Cost of Living Index ranks Portland 91st out of 227 major cities worldwide, compared to neighbouring Seattle's 45th and Vancouver's 109th.

Newcomers to the city will find accommodation to be their biggest expense but, in general, most things in the city do come at a cost. Cooking at home and cycling or walking to work are just some of the ways that savvy savers could cut down on their costs.

Cost of accommodation in Portland

Although areas outside the city centre tend to be cheaper, rent in Portland is expensive no matter where you live. Utilities are also expensive, adding to the high living costs. The type of home expats choose to live in will also impact the costs. While the rent for certain homes may be expensive, the amenities and facilities available to the tenants may outweigh the costs involved. It is therefore advisable to familiarise oneself with all the pros and cons of a property and the neighbourhood before making a decision.

Cost of eating out in Portland

Eating out in Portland is typically expensive. As long as new arrivals are willing to spend, they'll find fine dining and medium-range restaurants all over the city. While cooking home-cooked meals is always the cheaper option, there are also plenty of budget-friendly restaurants and food trucks in the city to satisfy every craving.

Cost of transport in Portland

Public transport in Portland is much more affordable than buying and maintaining a car which, aside from the cost, is also rather unnecessary. In a city that it so well serviced by train and bus networks, it may be more cost-efficient to hire a car when needing one and use public transport to get around the city. Newcomers may find that they'd be able to get away with cycling or walking, depending on where in the city they live relative to schools and workplaces, and saving on transport costs altogether.

Cost of groceries in Portland

Groceries tend to be expensive in Portland. Residents can make the most of their budget by finding deals online, buying in bulk and shopping for sales in big-box stores.

Cost of education and schools in Portland

Public schools in Portland are state funded and are therefore free of charge for all students. The city is home to some of the top public schools in the state of Oregon, and newcomers can therefore be assured that their children will receive a good education if choosing this schooling option.

Private or international schools, on the other hand, are incredibly costly. Although these schools are excellent and offer first class facilities, as well as international curricula and languages, the fees involved are exorbitant and don't cover the costs of school uniforms and other extras. Newcomers must therefore take this into consideration when choosing a school.

Cost of living in Portland Chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Portland in December 2022.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,760

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,430

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 3,200

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 2,500


Eggs (dozen)

USD 4.78

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1.01

Rice (1kg)

USD 5.85

Loaf of white bread

USD 3.36

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 12

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 10

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 10

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2.44



Bottle of beer (local)


Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 75


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

USD 0.34

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

USD 43

Basic monthly utilities (includes electricity, water and refuse)

USD 153


Taxi rate per km

USD 1.55

Bus fare in the city centre 

USD 2.50

Gasoline/petrol (per litre)

USD 1.27

Accommodation in Portland

Rent prices in Portland are high no matter where in the city one chooses to live, but the costs involved do decrease as one moves further from the centre. As the transport networks do span the entire city and its neighbourhoods, one can happily live on the outskirts of Portland for a cheaper price and still have access to the city centre without too much hassle.

Types of property in Portland

There are many different types of accommodation in Portland. From luxury high-rise apartments to houses with a view of the river, newcomers to the city will definitely be able to find something that suits their needs.


Newcomers will have a choice between one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, as well as between simple spaces and more luxurious ones. Many of the more upmarket apartment buildings also have communal amenities on site that are available to the tenants, such as a pool or even a gym.

Standalone houses

While standalone houses are less common as one moves closer into the city centre, newcomers will discover a wide range of houses available in good neighbourhoods that are close to public transport. Modern houses with spacious open plan interiors sit alongside old architectural style homes in Portland’s neighbourhoods. Quite a number of the city’s homes are large enough to be regarded as mansions, but those wanting something small and simple will also be able to find exactly what they’re looking for. Houses with large gardens for pets or children to run around in are also common in Portland.

Townhouses and condos

Townhouses and condos are becoming more and more common in Portland. While townhouses share exterior walls with their neighbours, each home is still a singular space, most having their own outside area, driveway and garage that they are responsible for maintaining. Condos, on the other hand, are generally a singular apartment but share many common areas and amenities among the other tenants in the building. The cost of maintaining these areas is also shared among all the residents, and they are generally cheaper to rent. Both townhouses and condos can be found all over the city.

Finding property in Portland

Finding a house to rent in Portland is not difficult, but there are a number of things to keep in mind when choosing a neighbourhood. As schools are allocated according to districts, parents should assess the schools in the city and keep their district preferences in mind when choosing a home. Access to transport is another factor that should be considered, especially for those wanting to live outside of the city centre. Those choosing to use public transport, as opposed to owning a car, should look for homes near transport stops, although the city’s outlying neighbourhoods are very well serviced by the MAX light rail and the bus system.

Once a couple of neighbourhoods have been selected, browsing through online property listings should be easier. There are a number of websites with property listings online that should give prospective buyers a good idea of the homes available as well as the price-ranges for the different types of property.

Alternatively, one could use a real estate agent to help with the process. These professionals will know exactly what to look for, as well as the most suitable areas in the city. They will also be able to assist with finding the best deal for their clients.

Once a couple of properties have been selected, it’s best to contact the realtor or landlord as soon as possible to request a viewing. It isn't recommended to rent a property without seeing it first.   

Renting accommodation in Portland

Making an application

It is important to request an application quickly after making a selection as there is an extremely high demand for property in Portland. The application process includes a credit check, proof of income, a rental history in the form of references from previous landlords, and a form of identification. A small screening fee may also be required.

Those lacking rental history and credit scores may be able to get around this by having their employer vouch for them.


A standard rental agreement is signed for a term of one year, which can be renewed at the end of the term. Depending on the landlord, however, tenants may be able to sign a shorter or longer-term lease.


Landlords generally request a security deposit of around one month’s rent before the tenant can move in. The deposit is meant to cover any damages caused by the tenant or a lapse in rent payments. The landlord is required to give the tenant a receipt for the deposit, and then return the money at the end of the term if it has not been used to cover damages or rent costs.


Tenants will generally be able to find apartments that do not include utilities in the monthly rent, as well as apartments that do. Tenants may also be able to negotiate with their landlord to either include or exclude utilities from the rent. Utilities are expensive in Portland whether a tenant pays them directly or through their landlord, but renting an apartment that includes them may save tenants some time and hassle.

Areas and Suburbs in Portland

Portland has an array of neighbourhoods, each with their own character, attractions and amenities on offer. Doing thorough research before choosing an area in which to live is highly recommended, as there are many factors that will influence the suitability of a neighbourhood for a person or family.

Where in Portland newcomers decide to live will depend on preference, lifestyletransport, whether they have children, as well as their budget. 

Choosing a neighbourhood in a new city can be a difficult process, so we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular areas in Portland.

Trendy neighbourhoods in Portland

Trendy neighbourhoods in Portland

The Pearl District

The Pearl District, in the heart of the city, is a sanctuary for young professionals moving to Portland and is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in the city. While the area was once packed with warehouses, the streets are now lined with art galleries, chic boutiques, trendy restaurants and endless nightlife choices. With property options ranging from historic homes to modern apartments, this walkable spot is the most expensive neighbourhood in the city. That said, those living here say it’s well worth the bucks.


Those looking for a luxury high-rise apartment that overlooks the river need not look any further than Downtown. This neighbourhood is the centre of the city’s retail industry and is home to an abundance of theatres and galleries, for anyone looking to experience some culture. With its central position and great access to the rest of the city, Downtown is perfect for those that enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life.

Nob Hill

Packed full of boutiques, cafes, bars and locally owned restaurants, Nob Hill is a cheaper alternative to the Pearl District, yet just as trendy. This authentically Portland neighbourhood is one of the city’s oldest, situated close to Forest Park as well as the Rose and Japanese Gardens. Victorian style houses can be found alongside newer apartments and condos in Nob Hill (also known as the Northwest District).

West End

Although not technically a neighbourhood, West End is a hidden gem next to the Pearl District that’s making waves for design in Portland. This funky, fashionable and forward-thinking neighbourhood is as trendy as they come. West End has a thriving nightlife and restaurant scene and is also an extremely popular shopping destination. A range of properties can also be found here, from townhouses to apartments.

Family-friendly neighbourhoods in Portland

Family friendly neighbourhoods in Portland

Arlington Heights

Arlington Heights is exceptionally family friendly. While it is in walkable proximity to the trendy areas of the city, it is also nestled in the Tualatin mountain range. With views overlooking the city, and its access to the great outdoors, including many of the city’s best parks, this neighbourhood is also only a short train ride away from many of the family-friendly attractions in the city. The Arlington Heights area also has an abundance of public and private schools and plenty of historic family homes to choose from.


An extremely popular neighbourhood for families, Laurelhurst is only a 10-minute commute from the city centre and surrounds a beautiful park that boasts a pond, sports facilities, picnic tables, walking paths, a restroom and a wading pool. If the 34 schools in the neighbourhood don’t give away the child-friendly nature of this part of the city, the Laurelhurst Kids Club might. This club is a way to meet others in the community, find babysitters and school reviews, as well as receive news about anything that may affect or benefit the children in the neighbourhood. The historic and artistic vibe of Laurelhurst can be found in the abundance of vintage homes in the area.


Offering some of the best views of the city, this neighbourhood is also quiet, safe and friendly. Containing some good schools and local hotspots, such as the Alameda Brewhouse, this neighbourhood is historically popular among the upper-class residents of the city. While there are many large and beautiful homes that come at quite a price in Alameda, one may also be able to get their hands on one of the cottages and bungalows in this area.


This Portland neighbourhood is a wonderful blend of urban and suburban living, with gorgeous residential streets but plenty of city amenities. This family-friendly area has some of the best schools in the city and a variety of attractions, while also being less expensive than its surrounding neighbourhoods. Perfect for families on a budget, Sellwood-Moreland is dotted with cute homes, an array of shops and restaurants and good access to public transport. Food trucks abound in this area of the city, as do movie theatres and parks.

Goose Hollow

This residential neighbourhood with a historical feel blends the old with the new and offers the biggest variety of activities in the city. One of the oldest Portland neighbourhoods, and tucked away on the outskirts of the city centre, Goose Hollow is also one of the more affordable parts of the city. In close proximity to some of the best schools in the city, the neighbourhood also has a great sports and culture scene, housing the city’s soccer team, the Portland Timbers, as well as the longest running theatre company in the city, The Artist Repertory. The neighbourhood's quiet and private streets, and selection of historic and modern homes, make it a superb spot to raise a family in Portland.   

Healthcare in Portland

Portland is home to an array of world-class health facilities and highly-trained doctors. As with the rest of the country, though, the problem with healthcare is the extraordinarily high cost involved.

The Oregon Health Plan (OHP) is the state’s Medicaid programme that provides free health services for people below a particular poverty line. This coverage includes doctor visits, hospital care, mental health services, dental, and some eye care.

For those that aren’t eligible for OHP, however, major traumas can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, those that can’t afford it have limited access to medical treatment. By law no one can be turned away from emergency services, but patients can expect to pay substantial fees afterwards.

It is recommended that newcomers to Portland get a comprehensive medical insurance policy that gives them access to the best facilities and specialists the city has to offer, and covers any day-to-day health expenses. This can be with either a local or international health insurance company.

Newcomers will be able to find pharmacies all over Portland, in grocery stores, department stores, hospitals and clinics. Some pharmacies in the city are also open 24/7.

Hospitals in Portland

OHSU Hospital

Address: 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, Portland

Providence St. Vincent Medical Center

Address: 9205 SW Barnes Rd, Portland

Providence Portland Medical Center

Address: 4805 NE Glisan St, Portland

Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Centre

Address: 10180 SE Sunnyside Rd, Clackamas

Education and schools in Portland

Portland is home to some of the best schools in the state. With the city offering an above average standard of schooling, parents can rest assured that their children will be well educated. There is also a range of school options available in Portland, from public and private to international and special-needs schools.

When choosing a type of school, parents should take into consideration the length of their stay and their budget. While public schools are great for integration and budget, those who do not plan on staying in the states long may want to consider an international school that teaches the curriculum of their home country.

Public schools in Portland

Around 80 percent of school age children in Portland attend public schools. These schools are state funded and are therefore free for everyone. Unless one chooses to attend a private or international school, one will be allocated a school in the district in which they live. Parents should therefore take this into consideration when choosing a neighbourhood.

Although the quality of facilities and schooling varies throughout the city, as a whole, the education offered by public schools in Portland is above the national average. Those wanting to send their children to a public school should familiarise themselves with the top school districts in the city and choose a neighbourhood that’s situated in one of these districts.

Private and International schools in Portland

There is quite a large number of private and international schools in Portland, with around half of them having religious affiliations. There are no school districts for these schools, so children can live anywhere in the city while attending a private or international school.

There are both single-sex private schools and those that have boarding houses for students that don’t live in the city. This therefore means that people from elsewhere in the country or even the world can attend these schools and live in the boarding house.

The international schools teach either the international baccalaureate or a foreign curriculum. This therefore gives foreign children the option of being taught their home curriculum in their home language.

Fees for both private and international schools can be exorbitant and often do not include the costs of school uniforms, lunches and school trips. That said, these schools do offer smaller classes and lower student to teacher ratios, as well as better facilities and access to after-school activities.

If wanting to send their children to one of these schools, parents should negotiate a school allowance into their work contract that can assist with the fees involved. These schools are in high demand and, as spaces are limited, parents should apply as soon as possible to secure a place for their child.

Special-needs education in Portland

There are quite a few special-needs schools in Portland that are equipped with highly trained teachers and facilities for children with a variety of special needs. Due to state funding, the fees for these schools are also not as high as other private schools in the city.

Public schooling is also accessible for those with minor special needs, however. Many schools in Portland are equipped with special-needs teachers and facilities that can assist these students and integrate them into the public school system. Only children with needs that are above what a public school can offer, are required to attend specific special needs schools.

Tutors in Portland

Tutoring is highly popular in the US, and Portland is no exception. While tutors can assist a child with a specific subject in which they may be struggling, they can also help prepare students for big examinations or college applications, as well as assist them with adjusting to a new curriculum or language of instruction. This can be specifically useful for children coming from a non-English speaking country.

While some schools offer tutoring for their students, parents can also hire private, home or online, tutors from specific websites. There are also a number of tutor companies and learning centres that offer private or group sessions. These include companies such as SquareOne, Brighter Futures Group and Futurelink.

Lifestyle in Portland

Portland’s weird and wacky traditions and customs make for an exciting life in the city. With plenty of festivals and events to suit every taste, an array of family-friendly attractions, a quirky restaurant scene and thriving nightlife, Portland is a bubbling metropolis that’s becoming the city of choice for more and more expats.

Although the city is by no means cheap, the quality of life it offers is seemingly outweighing the high costs involved. With young adults coming from all over the country, and even the world, to study in this university city, Portland is also a student hub and is equipped for their tastes and shallow pockets.

Shopping in Portland

Portland is split into districts and neighbourhoods with each boasting its own flare, and the same can be said for shopping in the city. From Downtown, Portland’s retail core, to the Pearl District, to Nob Hill, newcomers to Portland will be able to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Those in search of major brands in Downtown need  look no further than Pioneer Place, while Union Way houses a number of small local shops. Boutique shopping can be done in both the Pearl District and Nob Hill, but those looking for a mall should head over to Lloyd Center. Being the largest mall in the state, with more than 150 stores, Lloyd Center is sure to have something for everyone. 811 Building is an indie mall of sorts, housing local apparel, accessory designers and vintage threads and is perfect for those with a more eclectic taste.

Nightlife in Portland

Portland has a thriving nightlife that is sure to get both the young and old out on the town. From speakeasies to classy rooftop bars, and from dance to karaoke and comedy clubs, the city has something for everybody.

Those in more of a gaming mood will discover Portland’s casinos and arcades are a lot of fun. Bowling, live music, late night snacks, Portland has it all. With many eateries staying open into the early hours of the morning, or even all night, those finding themselves craving a greasy meal or even a doughnut at 2am need not worry.

Eating out in Portland

As Portland is known for its food trucks, newcomers to the city should not hesitate to head down to the food truck pods on Third or Fifth Avenue for a bite to eat. These hipster style, portable kitchens serve delicious, hearty food and can be found just about anywhere in the city. There’s no need to worry about the struggle of eating on your feet, as the food truck pods all have tables for their customers to stretch out at and enjoy their meal.

Those wanting to dine indoors have a wide range of restaurants to choose from in the city, from luxurious first-class meals at the city’s finest spots, to scrumptious budget friendly dinners that satisfy the cravings. Portland’s city centre has got something for every taste, as well as every wallet.

Sports and outdoor activities in Portland

Getting outdoors is never a problem in Portland. The city is littered with beautiful gardens, parks and forests where people can get out into nature and enjoy the peace and quiet or get in some exercise.

With bike lanes on every street, as well as mountain biking trails all around the city, newcomers will find that cycling is a part of Portland’s very make up. The city also hosts both the World Naked Bike Ride and Pedalpallooza each year, showing its support for cycling being both fun and a useful mode of transport.

From Roller Derby’s to soccer matches, there is plenty of sport to spectate in the city. Those wanting to take part themselves, however, will find many little league teams or clubs to join. This energetic city has plenty to offer for those wanting to get involved in the sport scene.

Kids and family in Portland

Newcomers to Portland will discover that the city and its surrounding areas are littered with entertainment options for children. Although the city’s numerous parks and gardens are perfect for an afternoon outdoors, parents will also find things to do in the city on the wettest of days.

Entertainment for kids in Portland

Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo is home to over 2,600 animals from more than 215 species. A visit to this zoo will provide an opportunity for children and their parents to see creatures from all over the world up close. The Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation also hosts talks and workshops that teach ways to get involved with their restoration and conservation projects. The Oregon Zoo is a place where whole family can spend a day learning about animals and the environment in a space that is dedicated to their protection.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a museum aimed at educating children and young adults about science and technology in a fun, interactive and memorable way. With three auditoriums, including a large-screen theatre, planetarium, retired navy submarine and many exhibition halls, children will have a hands-on experience intended to inspire curious minds about science, technology and industry.

World Forestry Centre Discovery Museum

Tree and forest lovers of all ages will find the exhibits and educational tours at this museum fascinating. Aimed at teaching its visitors about the importance of forests and sustainability, this beautiful museum provides educational talks and tours, trips to a demonstration forest and even a thrilling raft ride on the Clackamas River.

Entertainment for kids just outside the city

Evergreen Wings and Waves Waterpark

The Evergreen waterpark, located in the Willamette Valley, is an extension on the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. With a gigantic wave pool, an H2O Museum and 10 different waterslides, children of all ages are sure to have a fun packed day exploring the park and its facilities.

Mount Hood Adventure Park at Skibowl

While winter finds Mount Hood coated in snow and ready for the ski season, summer sees the Skibowl transform in an adventure park with more than 20 attractions for the family to enjoy. Those looking for some adrenaline pumping activities won’t have to look further than the reverse bungee cord, zip line and lift-access mountain bike trails, while ranger-led nature walks are also available for those who’d prefer to meander along the mountainside.

See and do in Portland

Portland is truly a city like no other. Nature lovers, avid readers, starving students and those looking for some cultural enlightenment are sure to find plenty to do in the city that's right up their ally.

While the city hosts an endless array of festivals and events each year, it is also home to hundreds of must-see attractions that are sure to tickle everyone’s fancy. Newcomers to Portland looking for something to do on their next day off will not have to look further than the list below for some of the most popular attractions in the city.

Attractions in Portland

Powell’s City of Books

The largest new and used bookstore in the world, Powell’s City of Books covers an entire city block and houses approximately one million books. Book lovers from all over the world travel to Portland to read in the Basil Hallward Gallery, located in the store, or to browse through its one-of-a-kind Rare Book Room. As its just too large to fully explore on one visit, Powell’s City of Books will definitely have book worms coming back for more.  

Portland Saturday Market

Running every weekend from March through to December, Portland’s beloved Saturday Market is the largest continually operating arts and crafts fair in the US. Against a backdrop of live music, visitors to the market will have an array of yummy treats to taste and homemade wares to buy.

Pittock Mansion

This French Renaissance style chateau, situated in the west hills of the city, was originally built in 1914 as a private home for the Pittock family. The mansion and its surrounding grounds are now open to the public as a historic house museum. With permanent and rotating exhibits, and a museum shop to visit, one can step back in time with a tour through the estate and the rooms of this magnificent house.

City Gardens

Although Portland is home to many beautiful gardens, the three most popular are the Lan Su Chinese Garden, the Portland International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden. These three spots offer a peaceful escape from the city; a tranquil haven where locals and newcomers to Portland can relax while surrounded by nature.

Portland Art Museum

Founded the 1892, the Portland Art Museum houses a wide range of art, including large Native American and Northwest collections that honour the Indigenous people whose land the museum now stands on. Anyone looking to experience some culture are sure to find it at the Art Museum. The exhibits are curated to enrich and engage with diverse communities, providing its visitors with a unique cultural experience.

Forest Park

This enormous urban wilderness is a haven for animals and nature lovers alike. With 70 miles (113km) of trails, Forest Park is a popular escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Runners, hikers, horse riders, as well as leashed dogs, can explore the reserve alongside its native bird and animal life.

Food Truck Pods

One of the many things that makes Portland what it is, is the frequency of food trucks. These trucks are grouped in pods throughout the city, providing locals and visitors alike with delicious snacks and meals to enjoy while exploring the city streets. Some of the most popular of these food truck pods are Cartopia and Cartlandia, as well as those situated on Portland State University campus, Third Avenue and Fifth Avenue.

What's on in Portland

With its weird and wonderful traditions, Portland residents never find themselves with a lack of something to do or attend in the city. With literally hundreds of festivals and events every year, Portland always has something going on.

We’ve put together a list of some of the most popular events in the city that newcomers should be sure not to miss.

Annual Events in Portland

Portland Jazz Festival (February)

Celebrating both jazz and Black History Month, this two-week festival features more than 150 concerts by international and local artists in multiple venues across the city. Alongside the live music performances, the festival also hosts a number of educational events.

Rose festival (May/June)

The Portland Rose Festival, a tradition since 1907, features three weeks of family fun in celebration of the City of Roses. The festivities include a Grand Floral Parade, a Starlight Parade, a Junior Parade, a carnival in Waterfront Park, dragon boat races, concerts and fireworks.

World Naked Bike Ride (June)

Portland hosts the world’s largest naked bike ride each year in protest of the dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians on the roads, as well as the consequences of vehicle emissions on the environment. This protest takes place in the form of a clothing-optional night-time cycle through the city.

Waterfront Blues Festival (July)

This summertime Blues Festival takes place on the riverbank in Waterfront Park, and on the river itself. Besides a spectacular firework display on July 4th, the festival hosts live performances from the country’s top blues acts.

Portland Marathon (October)

Drawing thousands of spectators and participants from all over the world, the Portland Marathon has been voted as the 'most walker-friendly marathon' and is one of the top races in the US. In true Portland style, live entertainment features all along the route, providing the runners with pump-up background music to get them to the finish line.

Wordstock (November)

Wordstock, also known as the Portland Book Festival, is the largest celebration of literature and literacy in the Pacific Northwest. Held at the Portland Art Museum, this festival features an extensive book fair, on-stage conversations and readings, small panels, pop-up events and writing classes. With more than 100 authors on display, this is the perfect event for avid readers of all ages.

Christmas Lights Display (December)

The beautiful lights display that leads up to Christmas each year is truly a sight for sore eyes. The spectacle of lights at the Oregon Zoo, The Grotto and the Christmas Ship Parade leaves Portland aglow with brilliant colours. Christmas spirit is never lacking in Portland!

Getting around in Portland

Newcomers to Portland do not have much to worry about when it comes to getting around the city. Besides being one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US, it is also ranked among the top cities for public transport.

Public transport in Portland

While it may be easy to navigate the city centre on a bicycle, or even on foot, those travelling longer distances from neighbourhoods a little further afield should consider the city’s world-class public transport system. The city’s rather wet weather may be yet another reason for newcomers to choose to hop on a bus or train to get around.


The TriMet bus system has 84 lines, covering the city and its neighbourhoods thoroughly. The buses are all wheelchair accessible and are also equipped with bike racks for the tired or rain-soaked cyclists in the city.

TriMet no longer uses a paper-ticket system, but fares can be paid using a Hop Fastpass, or Hop card. These can be bought at the TriMet Information Centre, as well as at local retailers and grocery stores, and can be used on buses, and light-rail and streetcar networks. Topping up the card can easily be done on the TriMet mobile app, or at local stores.


Also run by TriMet, Portland’s MAX light-rail network has five lines, 90 stations and 60 miles (96.5km) of track. While services are less frequent in the early morning, midday and evening, MAX trains run on average every 15 minutes, starting around 4am and finishing before midnight.

Travelling to most areas of the city, MAX trains are the easiest way to move around Portland and, as Hop cards are also used on the network, paying fares is just as simple.


The Portland streetcar, built in 2001, was the first modern one of its kind in the US. Although it originally started with only one line, two more have been added since. All three lines operate daily and cover 16 miles (26km) of track around Portland’s city centre. The streetcars run frequently and, as they are also operated by TriMet, fares can be paid using Hop cards.

Taxis in Portland

There are many different private taxi services in Portland. Fares are metered, and taxis can be called for immediate pickup or booked in advance. Alternatively, taxis could be hailed on the street, although it may be difficult to find an empty cab. Most taxi services have contactless payment methods and newcomers will therefore not have to worry about having cash on hand, although cash payment is also an option.

Ride-share apps, such as Uber and Lyft, also operate in Portland and can be cheaper than traditional taxis. They also have the added benefit of knowing the fare beforehand.

Driving in Portland

For intercity travel, owning a car in Portland is extremely unnecessary. Newcomers to the city will easily be able to get around using public transport as the TriMet buses and MAX light rail also cover the cities surrounding neighbourhoods.

That said, a car is necessary for those wanting to explore Portland’s surrounding areas. With plenty of options for day trips available, from the Columbia Gorge National scenic area, to the wine country, Mount Hood, or Oregon’s coast, newcomers wanting to get out into nature on their off days will need to either own or rent a car. With numerous car rental companies to choose from in Portland, this may be the more feasible option. The costs involved in buying and owning a car in a city that is so well connected by efficient and budget-friendly public transport may well outweigh the benefits.

If choosing to drive in Portland, newcomers to the city should watch out for the copious number of cyclists on the road. There are also areas of the city where one-way streets are extremely common.

E-scooters in Portland

A recent addition to the cities transport system are the electric scooters (e-scooters) that now line the streets of Portland. This energy efficient alternative to driving a car around Portland’s streets is as simple as downloading an app to unlock a scooter and taking it for a spin. The scooters can go up to 15 miles (24km) per hour and can be rented for one-way trips via the app. While it is essential to wear a helmet, ride in the bicycle lanes and yield for pedestrians, these environmentally-friendly e-scooters are easy to use and are a popular choice among locals and tourists in Portland.

Cycling in Portland

As one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US, Portland has wide bike lanes and road rules that favour cyclists. Bike Town, Portland’s bike renting service, is popular among the city’s population. Portland is also surrounded by beautiful scenic areas that one can explore by bike, as well as popular mountain biking trails.