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37 Things to Consider Before Moving to Portland

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From the logging towns of Oregon to the hipster bars of Brooklyn, people dream of moving to Portland, Oregon. Drawn like moths to the flame of craft beer and environmental sustainability, these aspiring transplants dream of a utopia of low home prices and artistic opportunity. However, only a select few of those will actually make the trek, and even fewer will find work, grow handlebar mustaches, and start their own food cart. Is Portland for everyone? Hardly, but the Portland myth, perpetuated by the New York Times and others, does sound incredibly tempting. So before you pack your bags, here are 37 things to consider before moving to Portland.

Can You Tolerate Nudity?

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For a city largely populated by pasty, pale people, Portland (points for alliteration) sure likes to get naked. Thanks to a 1985 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling, local nudity laws don’t apply in cases of protest. Thus, Naked City USA has seen an area man strip naked at in an airport security line to protest the TSA and an annual naked bike ride that features 10,000 nudists pedaling around town. In Portland, it’s actually legal to ride a bike naked, but illegal to not wear a helmet. Apparently, the government will not protect its citizens from road rash. There’s also a nudist club that hosts a bare bowling event, a thriving burlesque scene, and don’t forget Portland has over 50 strip clubs, which is a lot for a city its size.

Gluten Shortage?


A cursory glance of area menus and you’ll discover there’s a serious gluten shortage affecting Portland. The city is so lacking in gluten that it’s created gluten-free food fairsgluten-free vodka, and entire restaurants and food carts completely devoid of gluten. Of course if you have an actual gluten allergy—or simply aspire to have one—then Portland is your gluten-free heaven.

Whitest Major City In America


If Portland were a Baskin Robbins, 24 of the 31 flavors would be vanilla.

Least Religious City In America


Only 32% of Portlanders identify as being religious adherent, the least in America. While the locals aren’t often found at church, synagogue or mosque, the city does congregate in other ways, including at the 24 Hour Church of Elvis. Portland hosts a variety of public spectacles, including an Urban Iditarod where costumed groups race shopping carts for miles through Portland, stopping only to rehydrate at various bars and pubs. There’s also an adult soap box derby, numerous beer festivals, nude bike rides, Star Wars-themed bar crawls, zombie walks, a pirate festival and plenty more.

Can You Grow Facial Hair?


So much has been made of Portland residents propensity to don a beard or mustache that many feel painfully out of place without one. The steampunks, hippies, hipsters, and those who fetishize loggers all appear devoted to the cause of growing facial hair. The city is even home to to the Portland Mustache & Beard Club, the Stumptown Stash & Beard Collective, and the Beautiful Bearded Lady Competition.

Little Farms In The City

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Residents are within their legal right to to keep and bear farm animals. The limit is three or fewer chickens, ducks, doves, pigeons, pygmy goats, or rabbits on their property. Those who want pigs, can only keep one Vietnamese Miniature Pot-Bellied Pig with maximum shoulder height of 18 inches, and weighing no more than 95 lbs, so no fatties bacon fans. Absolutely no roosters. Cows or llamas require a special permit. Same for bees. Read all the rules here.

You’ll Never Pump Your Own Gas


You may never be able to hire a trusted man servant named Stanley, but imagine the luxury of never having to pump your own gas? In Oregon, only the station’s attendant may legally operate the pump thanks to a state law forbidding the driver from doing it on supposed safety grounds, Do it yourself and you’ll get slapped with a $500 fine.

Rain, Rain, Rain…


You know how a long shower is invigorating? Nine months of near constant rain is nothing like that. Amongst major American cities, Portland has the third highest number of rainy days per year. Clouds routinely hide the sun for months and unleash a steady drizzle that keeps the city green, but the sky so very gray. So gray. Some people kind of like it, but they keep it to themselves.

Live Music


You know that band people are talking about that you’ve never heard of? Well they’re from Portland. And so is Blitzen Trapper, Carrie Brownstein, The Shins, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Laura Veirs, Pink Martini, Stars of Track and Field, The Dandy Warhols, The Thermals, and a whole lot more. The city has a thriving music scene and if you’d like to join a local band Craigslist lists thousands of openings.

Buying A Home

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The median home price in Portland is $242,000, a significant bargain compared to Seattle—$400,000 or San Francisco—$1,000,000. Also, the locals are both handy and creative so you might wind up with a house a cool feature like a nightclub in the basement. Go ahead and take a look at available homes for sale on Estately. That’s E-S-T-A-T-E-L-Y. Awesome site for finding a home in Portland, not that we’re biased or anything.

Progressive Politics

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The two-party system is alive and well in Portland, but the two parties consist of the Democratic Party and the Green Party. President George H. W. Bush’s staffers called the city “Little Beirut” because of the protesters they encountered, something the locals take pride in. Well, everyone except Jeff in Richmond, who’s a republican.

Mountains Sometimes Go Boom

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Would you accept living 50 miles from an 11,000-foot-tall volcano that occasionally erupts in exchange for a stunning mountain view and year-round skiing? Everything comes at a price. On the upside, the volcano that exists under the city is extinct.



Portland comes alive in the summer when the skies clear and temperatures average 80 degrees. Locals hang out in city parks, hike in nearby forests, windsurf on the Columbia River, and forage for berries in woods. Nine months of complaining about the rain gives way to basking in the sunshine, except for those whiny imbeciles who choose to complain it’s too hot. They know who they are.

Very Little Snow

Are you a Midwesterner experienced in snow driving? Congrats! If you move to Portland you’ll be one of the best snow drivers in town! The locals are admittedly terrible at it, mostly due to a lack of experience because it only snows a few days per year. Be sure to brag about your driving skills because everyone will be really impressed that some dude from Ohio can drive in the snow.



Portland isn’t home to an NFL or MLB franchise, or even a college sports power, but it does have the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers and MLS’ Portland Timbers. The Trailblazers have made great strides in recent years in improving their public image after years of being called The Jailblazers (frequent player arrests), but it’s a far cry from the Clyde Drexler days. The Timbers have a strong following made up of aspiring hooligans, Europhiles, people who like to wear scarves, but also thousands of actual soccer fans who really know the game. If that doesn’t do it for you, the city is also home to roller derby, lacrosse, a Triple-A baseball team, Single A baseball team, a major-junior ice hockey team, a touch rugby team, and one heck of an Ultimate Frisbee team in the Portland Stags.

Food Carts


Portland is known far and wide for having over 400 food carts and mobile eateries. Unlike New York, which features the same hot dog cart on seemingly every corner, Portland boasts incredible variety. The city is even home to Kargi Gogo, a food cart serving up traditional cuisine from the country of Georgia (Sakartvelo). Located between Turkey and Russia, Georgia is the kind of a hip, indie country most people have never even heard of, but obviously Portland has.

Share The City With Wildlife


Portland is a modern city, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never encounter wildlife. Bats live under bridges, owls sometimes swipe at hikers, coyotes stalk cats, deer eat your roses, and raccoons sometimes poke their heads inside the doggie door in search of a snack. However, there are no sharks, poisonous snakes, or alligators.

No Sales Tax

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It’s a shopper’s paradise, and not just because it’s home to the world’s absolute greatest bookstore—Powell’s Books. There is no sales tax in Oregon, so you’ll save a ton of cash when you shop in Portland, particularly if you don’t have a job because Oregon is home to an income tax instead.

Mass Transit


Portland routinely pops up on lists of the top cities for mass transit in the country with a comprehensive transportation system that includes commuter rail and buses, light rail and streetcar lines, and also bike and pedestrian paths. While the city is facing budget shortfalls, Portland is still out ahead while other cities are playing from behind. Portland was one of the first American cities to reintroduce streetcars when it unveiled modern ones in 2001.

Get Outdoors


Portland is a great city for runners and cyclists, but there are even more outdoor recreation opportunities just outside the city. Nearby forests are great for hiking and foraging, and the surrounding rivers are popular for fishing, kayaking and windsurfing. Nearby Mt. Hood has four ski resorts and the Oregon Coast is less than 90 minutes away in case you want to dip your toe in the Pacific Ocean.

Razor Clamming


You’re not truly a local until you’ve cut your hand hunting the coast’s most elusive of shoreline bivalves—the mighty Pacific razor clam.

Potential for Alcoholism

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Portland is home to some of world’s best breweries and brew pubs, and it routinely shows up on lists of best beer cities from the likes of CNNEsquire, GQ, Men’s Journal, and others. On top of being the Craft Beer Capital of America, the city is also leading a craft spirits movement from its own Distillery Row. Combine that with the exceptional wines from the Willamette Valley and double the bars of neighboring Seattle, and it’s no wonder Portland hosts over 500 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week.

It’s Very Green

Forest Park trail

Portland was ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainable urban planning and wins various awards for its general environmental awesomeness. Locals pride themselves on raising chickens and growing vegetables in their backyards, purchasing locally-sourced everything, and doing a little free ranging of their own in some of the city’s 90,000 acres of green space. Add all that to an urban growth boundary the keeps the urban side urban and the nature side natural and you got yourself some serious green cred. And also a little controversy regarding land use.

Talented Chefs

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There’s a lot of buzz about Portland’s culinary scene thanks to nationally-recognized chefs like Andy Ricker (Pok Pok and Whiskey Soda Lounge), Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon), Scott Dolich (Park Kitchen), Cathy Whims (Nostrana) and Naomi Pomeroy (Beast). Portland is perfectly located to take advantage of coastal seafood, area farms and orchards, and forests filled wild mushrooms and other edibles. The city is quickly becoming one of the premier food cities in America.

Drawbridge Syndrome


Once you move to Portland, you’ll immediately want to stop others from moving there because they’ll ruin it. Don’t feel bad for being a hypocrite, it’s called “drawbridge syndrome,” and it’s been going on for generations. It’s the real reason some people call Portland “Bridgetown.”

Nobody Uses Their Car Horn

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Car horns are not outlawed, but residents generally don’t use their horns much in traffic. Newcomers assume this is because Portlanders are polite, law-abiding people, a perception quickly discarded thanks to the high rate of car prowls and thefts. It’s surprising how badly some people want that old CD collection under the front seat.

Tooth Decay


Unlike practically every other city in America, Portland does not fluoridate its drinking water. The majority of scientific research shows fluoride is helpful for dental health and has no side effects, but voters are still skeptical. Is this just a natural distrust of chemical additives or are the city’s anti-fluoride activists simply in the pockets of Big Cavity? The debate will continue and you’ll be asked to pick a side.

You’ll Have To Buy A Bike


Bicycling Magazine rated Portland the #1 Bike-Friendly City in America in 2012 and for good reason. Twelve times more commuters travel by bike in Portland than the national average, and there are 319 miles of area bikeways. The downside is many people feel it’s necessary to ride unicycles.

#1 Dog City in America


With 33 dog parks, plenty of dog friendly restaurants, and its own social network for dogs, it’s no wonder Portland was named the #1 U.S. City for Dogs by Estately. The city also loves its cats, and the city’s professional soccer team even shares its stadium with a feral cat colony. There are a lot of ferrets as well, which is unfortunate.



Most of Portland is happy to laugh along with the portrayal of the city on the popular show Portlandia. Some residents loathe it, but nearly all have been inspired to stop putting birds on things.

The Importance of Breakfast


Aside from Happy Hour, breakfast is the most important meal of the day in Portland, which is why people will wait in line for hours for it. However, the city is home to an incredible number of delicious breakfast spots, as well as some of the best biscuits outside of the south. And yes, you can still get a donut covered in bacon or Fruit Loops at Voodoo Donuts, provided you can handle long lines.

Not A Fast Food City


Fast-food loving newcomers are often crushed to learn Portland has no Sonic (Tigard has one), Chick-fil-A, or In-N-Out Burger, but you’ll probably be able to console yourself at one of Portland’s many food carts. However, it’s not that the city doesn’t have any fast food love. Oregon is home to the inventors of the corn dog—George and Versa Boyington, who originally called it a Pronto Pup.

Portland Is Hipper Than Seattle

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Sure, Portland’s neighbor to the north has a better economy an iconic Space Needle, but even the New York Times knows that Portland is the coolest city in the Northwest (apologies to La Grande). You can judge for yourself here:  Northwest Hipster Battle—Seattle vs. Portland in Epic Showdown. Eventually, you’ll probably have to move to Seattle to get a job, but you’ll always have those awesome tattoos to remember your Portland days (5th most tattooed city in America).

Portland’s Nuclear Option

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Portland’s Reed College is home to the only nuclear reactor operated primarily by undergraduates… so… good luck.

Portland’s Nicknames


Portland got its name from a very uncreative beginning. Two settlers, one from Portland, Maine and one from Boston, Massachusetts flipped a coin to determine which one they’d name the new city after. Since then, the city’s residents have tried to make up for this lack of imagination by creating a variety of nicknames:  Stumptown, PDX, Rose City, Bridgetown, Beervana, Little Beirut, Potland, Munich on the Willamette, Rip City, Hipster Hollow, South Vancouver. Did we forget any?

Umbrellas Are For Tourists


It used to be that only the tourists used umbrellas, but then the Californians moved up and everything changed. Sidewalks grew congested with parasoled pedestrians and the city even put up a statue of a man with an umbrella. You call this progress?

Cinemas Have More Than Popcorn


The good people of Portland are largely responsible for the growing trend of movie theaters serving beer and food. Movie goers can pass on the overpriced sodas and popcorn tubs and instead get a great burger and local microbrew at more than a dozen area theaters.

What else should people consider before moving to Portland? Leave a comment to add to this list.

Click HERE If You Want To Buy A Home In Portland


Other articles by Estately

11 Best States for Bigfoot to Live

17 Best U.S. Cities for Dogs

Northwest Hipster Battle:  Seattle vs. Portland in Epic Hipster Showdown

  • Brian

    I live in the midwest. First, we have actual infrastructure to deal with the snow and ice that Portland just doesn’t have. It doesn’t make much sense to invest in an army of plows and salt trucks when you only get snow once or twice a year. Secondly, the hills in Portland are bigger and steeper than any I’ve seen out here in flatland. ;-)

  • Cateyes

    Ok get this .. you are right but you have this idea that Midwest is.just flat! I live here I lived there, go to northern Minnesota than lets talk about driving and hills.
    It’s bad either way, but the 1 inch of snown, everything is closed. .. is hysterical.

  • Brian

    I have lived and driven quite a lot in the northwest and in the midwest (NW Wisconsin is where I live now, previously lived in both Seattle and Portland), and I can say from personal experience that 1″ of snow in the PNW is much more dangerous than 1″ out here. The infrastructure is one part, but there are other hidden factors too. One is that winter is *wet* in the PNW, and it very rarely drops below freezing. So when it does, you get a sheet of ice over EVERYTHING. That is very rare in the midwest (winter = dry). That 1″ of snow in Portland is much more slippery than 1″ out here.

    Also, the hill I lived on in Seattle had a 23% grade. Nobody’s getting up that in any amount of snow without tank treads.

  • Brian

    You do not want to move to Portland! This is a weird town full of weirdo people amd lots of California transplant jerks who think they are better then everyone else. Most importantly, the job market here is the worst!

  • Sandra

    I’m from CA an drive better then most in CA Va and NC yes I’ve lived in all of them states too. What I don’t get is don’t kids seen all the people with out clothes an if they are drinking all the time what happens with the kids?

  • FuckYOu

    Fuck everything on this page.

  • Drazi

    What kind of sneakers were you wearing?

  • Andrew

    Flouride is bad wtff

  • townie

    This blog is insulting.

  • James Southington

    low minority population is not a bad thing….you’ve been brainwashed into thinking it is…its part of the reason why there is such low crime there…where i live there are robberies every single day…100% of them are by young black males…im sure you will assume im racist for this statement but its pure fact…stop being resentful of your own race…a large white population is NOT a bad thing.

  • Matthew O’brien

    That is a very very small part of California. 90% of Californians do not know how to drive in any extreme weather. I know. I am a Portland native living in the bay area for a combined 7 years now. Any time you see heavy rain accidents riddle the free ways.

  • carledgar

    Tesla’s Elon Musk recently raced something challenging on an ice-covered lake in Norway?recently – the reference was on marketwatch dot com

    Ice is hard to walk or drive on when it’s close to 32F but the colder it gets the stickier the ice gets. I walk on it in rubber boots for a couple months/year and drive on it (respectfully) from time to time

  • CD Makeup

    Change of subject: I am a makeup artist thinking about moving to Portland. I specialize is makeup lessons for crossdressers. Is there much of a crossdressing population in Portland?

  • Kelly Burns

    Oregon is for people who hate Civilization and I mean that kindly but honestly. Everybody here is outside year round, bc there are no great museums, art institutes, history, incredible architecture, rich city life, or other forms of culture and history. There is hiking, water and trees, mountains. Love it or leave it. You’re really NEED to be a straight up Nature Person if you intend to live here or you will be bored out of your mind and quickly become miserable. If you’ve never been camping in your life, and you’re fine with that, I’ll go out on a limb and say Oregon is probably not the ideal place for you.

    It’s true that Portland has the worst drivers on earth which all Portlanders will also tell you. It’s like driving with terrorists, honestly. And thus is 24/7 in sun in rain in everything. They scare the shit out of me.

    The rain is nice IMO but It’s green all year long to the point you want to throw up if you see One. More. Green. Thing. And on the weekend you go to the woods and walk around a lot more Green. It’s like you can never get away from green. You start to feel there are no other colors on earth but green. It’s weird and unnerving.

    The climate is fantastic tho and the food and coffee are the best on earth in all truth. The people are sweet and laid back and seem really baked as if they are sleep walking thru life but ok with that. Then the sweetest ppl on earth get into their cars and become the worst most passive aggressive, most unskilled drivers on earth.

    It’s a very mixed bag. I need frequent trips back to Civilization to keep my sanity here but overall, it’s a beautiful place as lng as you know what you’re getting into. I’m a former Chicagoan.