Why You Should Think Twice Before Moving to Portland

Ah, Portland, Oregon. The climate is mild, the streets are clean and the marijuana is legal. All of these factors and more make the “Rose City” a popular relocation destination. In recent years, Portland has welcomed about 41,000 people per year. The burgeoning metro area now has around 2.5 million people.

However, it’s not all picturesque bridges and green spaces. Here are a few things to consider before you decide to relocate to Portland.

Housing prices

With just a 3% vacancy rate on rental properties, rent prices have risen 63% in the last ten years and incomes have not kept up, rising by just 39%. If you’re looking to buy a home, the picture is not much better. Inventory is low and prices rose nearly 20% from April 2015 to April 2016.

That said, if you’re moving from a more expensive market like Los Angeles or San Francisco, housing prices will seem like a bargain to you. A medium-sized house in a good area, like the Sellwood neighborhood in Southeast Portland, will run you about $500,000.

Gentrification and lack of diversity

Portland is one of the whitest major cities in the United States. If you’re looking to move to a melting pot, Portland is not going to impress you. Adding to the issue is gentrification, where historically diverse neighborhoods are being “renewed,” thus pushing up housing prices and pushing out long-term residents.

However, there is some awareness about this issue. Portland politics are some of the most liberal in the country. Many people are aware that the lack of diversity is a problem and are vocal in trying to encourage policies that increase diversity and eliminate discrimination.


Portlanders have been a bit spoiled when it comes to traffic; commute times have always reasonable by big city standards. Until the last few years, that is. Sadly, Portland now comes in 9th on the list of TomTom’s list of the most congested American cities.

The flip side to this is Portland’s amazing public transportation infrastructure and bike culture. It feels pretty terrific to sit on the MAX train and speed by creeping traffic or don your bike helmet to avoid gridlock on one of many dedicated bike and pedestrian trails.

Seasonal depression

Yup. It rains in Portland. That’s not a myth. You’ll be facing seriously gray skies from approximately October through May. Sometimes June. If you’re the kind of person who needs sunshine to maintain your mental health, cross Portland off your list.

But, if you’re not daunted by a bit of rain, get yourself a gigantic bottle of vitamin D and a full spectrum lamp and you’ll probably do just fine.

The big one

As you may have heard, there’s a big old earthquake due any minute. Portland is nestled in the Pacific Northwest, which is between the Cascade mountain range and the Cascadia subduction zone, a fault line that runs for 700 miles off the Pacific coast from Northern California all the way up to British Columbia, Canada. The chance of a big quake in the next 50 years is roughly one in three.

Of course, every place on earth has some risk, be it tornado, blizzard, hurricane, what-have-you. Scientists and the media have done a great job of delivering a big fat wake up call. Folks in Portland are getting their act together when it comes to emergency preparedness, at both a community and personal level. Plan on joining the effort if you decide Portland is still the place you want to hang your hat.

Sue Campbell