The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Portland

If you’re thinking of moving to Portland, you’ll have to take the bustling creative scene in stride with the high cost of living. Learn more here.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Aug 12, 2022
If you love the outdoors, walkable neighborhoods, and surrounding yourself with fellow innovators and creatives,
is definitely a city worth considering. But, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the high living costs and congested traffic.
Portland’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean and being fed by the Willamette and Columbia Rivers helped it establish itself as a port city early on, which provided a major boost to its growth. These days, Portland’s become a booming tech hub with a thriving arts scene—with plenty of ample access to breweries and artisan coffee shops.
More people are calling Portland home, but how do you know whether this city’s the right one for you? To help make that decision a little easier,
, the
licensed broker
and insurance super app helping you find
, and
home insurance
in record time, has compiled all you need to know about moving to Portland.

What you need to know about Portland before you move

At more than 145 square miles, Portland has a population of 650,000+ people. If you zoom out to consider the Portland metro area as a whole, that expands to 6,684 square miles and more than 2.5 million people!
In recent years, Portland’s become an especially popular destination for young professionals to put down roots. Could one of its new residents soon be you? As you weigh your options, here are some aspects about living in Portland that you’ll definitely want to know.
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1. Prepare for high living expenses

Oregon is one of the country’s most expensive states to live in. While living expenses might not be as steep as in cities like San Francisco and New York City, the cost of living in Portland is significantly higher than the national average. The Cost of Living Index (COLI) score for Portland from the Council for Community and Economic Research is 134.0, which makes Portland 34% more expensive than the national average.
Arguably the most expensive aspect of living in Portland is housing. Average rent prices for a one-bedroom apartment in Portland are anywhere from $1,600 to $2,100 per month.
Average grocery costs are closer to the national average, but they’re still slightly more expensive. You could generally expect to spend about $3.80 for a gallon of milk or about $3 for a loaf of bread.
When you’re out and about, expect to spend about $15 on a cheaper restaurant meal, $5 for a pint of beer, and $3 to $5 for a cup of coffee.
One plus to living in Portland is that Oregon doesn’t charge sales tax, which could help you save a little more on your daily living expenses.
The minimum wage in Portland is $14.75 per hour, and data from the 2020 U.S. Census placed the annual median household income at $73,159

2. There are plenty of jobs—especially in tech and healthcare

The job market in Portland has been experiencing a steady growth rate, especially in the tech and healthcare sectors. 
You’ll also find a good number of athletic and outdoor apparel employers in the area, including Nike and Adidas, and there’s a wide array of manufacturing jobs throughout the city.

3. The environment is a priority 

After spending a little time in Portland, you’ll quickly realize that eco-friendliness is an important priority among the city’s locals. The city’s biking and public transportation options, along with its recycling and composting programs, can make it a lot easier to reduce your carbon footprint.
And there’s plenty of environment to enjoy in the
Portland area
, including hiking trails in and around the metro area with varying levels of accessibility and hundreds of public parks. There are also wildlife refuges, including
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
Portland Audubon
Beyond Portland, it’s about an hour and a half to drive to the coast. 

4. You’ll need to worry about car theft more than assault

crime data
over the last year shows that reported property crimes far outnumber crimes against persons.
Theft and vandalism are the most common property crimes, with 11,934 reported car thefts, 28,898 larceny offenses, 11,836 instances of vandalism, and 5,889 burglaries. That makes it essential to ensure your home and
car insurance cover theft
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5. You can walk and bike if you’d like

Here’s some good news if you don’t own a car: Portland is considered one of the country’s most pedestrian-friendly cities. There are plenty of
walking and biking trails
throughout the city. 
That said, Portland does cover an area of about 145 square miles, so getting around on foot might not always be the easiest option. When that’s the case, you have three
public transportation
options, the
MAX light rail
, the
Portland streetcars
, and the
bus system.
For regional travel, you’ll have access to
Greyhound and FlixBus
stops, plus
Amtrak at Union Station
. When you’re looking to get away even farther, you can catch a ride to the
Portland International Airport
When it comes to driving your own car, you’ll, unfortunately, have to brace yourself for congested traffic. Considering that over half of the metro area’s workforce drives to work, that’s not exactly surprising, but it does mean getting from point A to point B—and
finding a parking spot
—might take a little extra planning. 

6. If you prefer cloudy, rainy days, you’ll like winter in Portland

If you live in Portland, what can you expect from the weather? 
Generally, Portland has pleasant warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. Summer high temperatures can reach about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while the lowest temperatures in winter hover anywhere from just above freezing to the low 40s.
Portland does get occasional snow, but it doesn’t necessarily happen every year. When it does snow, the above-freezing temperatures usually mean it will melt away by the next day. Portland gets an average rainfall of about 36 inches year-round, compared to Seattle’s 37 inches.

7. There’s more than enough coffee and beer for everyone

Portland has a reputation for its sheer number of artisan cafes and microbreweries, and there’s a reason for that. The city has hundreds of coffee shops and one of the highest numbers of breweries per capita in the country. 

Does Portland live up to the hype?

Like any city, Portland is always changing, but it’s still considered a city of innovators and tinkerers with a high hipster presence. If you move to Portland, you’re sure to find a good selection of coffee shops and microbreweries, plus plenty more artisan shops and restaurants owned by folks perfecting their crafts. You can also expect to enjoy a lively music and arts scene.
If you work in the tech or healthcare sectors, you’ll likely have a fair number of job prospects to consider. If you care about the environment, enjoy outdoor recreation, and prefer to bike to work, you’ll likely find yourself surrounded by plenty of like-minded individuals.
If you can take all this in stride with the high cost of living and congested traffic, Portland’s definitely a city worth considering for you.

Finding a place to live in Portland

As we’ve already mentioned, one of the most essential parts of moving to Portland—finding the right place to live—will also be one of the most expensive things about it.
Looking to buy a home in Portland? You’ll probably want to save up. According to data from
, the average median home sales price in Portland during June of 2022 was about $575,000. It’s not impossible to find homes for sale in the $100,000 to $200,000 range, but many of them will likely be on the lower end in terms of square footage.
If you’re looking to rent an apartment in Portland, generally expect a one-bedroom apartment to cost somewhere between $1,600 and $2,100 per month, depending on things like the neighborhood you choose. The cost of a three-bedroom apartment in Portland could easily cost upwards of $2,400 per month, but you could end up cutting down on your living expenses if you’re open to living with roommates.
So, when you’re narrowing down your options on where to live, how do you choose among Portland’s 90-plus neighborhoods
The first thing you’ll want to consider is your budget, and then you can continue filtering out options based on amenities and lifestyle. Granted, sometimes those last two items don’t always align with your budget, so you might have to prioritize what’s most important.
As you’re searching for the right Portland neighborhood for you, here are a handful to look into:
  • Most iconic neighborhoods: Pearl District, Southeast, Lake Oswego
  • Best neighborhoods if you’ve got kids: Healy Heights, Northwest Heights, Marshall Park, Arlington Heights
  • Best neighborhoods for foodies: Pearl District, Downtown, Southeast
  • Best neighborhoods to buy a house: Healy Heights, Marshall Park, Northwest Heights
  • Most affordable neighborhoods: Hayden Island, Argay, Sumner
If you can, it’s a good idea to visit the neighborhoods you’re considering in person ahead of your move. That way, you can get a better sense of the general atmosphere, what amenities are nearby, and whether they’re a good fit for you.
Pro Tip Finding a roommate or two could help make an apartment in Portland a little more affordable.
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Moving to Portland checklist 

Okay, it’s official now—you’ve decided you’re really going to move to Portland, and you’ve even picked out the next place to call home when you get there. Whether you’re moving from a nearby city or the opposite coast, moves of all kinds can be stressful. To help make your transition that much easier, here are some items worth adding to your Portland moving to-do list. 

Before you go

Before packing up all your belongings, here are some things you’ll want to arrange ahead of your move to Portland: 
  • Reserve a moving date with a
    reputable moving company
    . If you’re not sure where to start, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers
    helpful tips
    for picking the right moving company and how to avoid falling victim to scams.
  • Or, book and
    drive a U-Haul
    instead if you’ll be moving your things yourself.
  • If you’re gearing up for a long-distance move, consider whether you want to
    ship your car
  • Tell important contacts you're moving
    , like your landlord, employer, utility provider(s), and insurance provider(s). 
  • Make sure your new
    homeowners insurance policy
    will be active and ready to go once you’ve moved in.
  • Update your address and set up mail forwarding with the USPS.

After you get there

After you’ve unpacked that last box at your new Portland place, there are still  couple more things you’ll want to take care of: 
  • If you’ve moved to Portland from out of state, you’ll need to
    register your car
    in Oregon and
    update your car insurance
    if you haven’t already.
  • Get to know Portland! Now that you’ve finally made it here, get to know your neighborhood’s best parks, shops, and restaurants, and start enjoying the city like a true local.

How to save on car, renters, and home insurance in Portland

Moving to Portland will come with plenty of costs, so make sure you’re not overpaying for the insurance coverage you need.
If you’re planning a move, we know you have plenty more things to spend time on in addition to insurance shopping. That’s why the
app makes it easier than ever to find the
, or
home insurance
you need at the best available rate. 
It only takes about 45 seconds to answer a few quick questions in the app, then you can start comparing customized quotes from some of the country’s top insurance providers, like Nationwide and Progressive. We can even help you
bundle multiple policies
for additional savings on each one!
Once you’ve found the right coverage for you, Jerry’s friendly and experienced agents can help make switching to your new policy and canceling your old one.
Later, Jerry can help you keep your Portland living expenses in check by sending you a fresh set of quotes before every renewal—making it that much easier to make sure you’re getting a good deal without wasting your time.
When it comes to car insurance alone, the average driver who makes a switch with Jerry saves $800+ per year on car insurance. Savings like that really add up when you’re living in Portland!
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