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Portland Oregon
  • $750   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $972   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1565   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  northwest US)

90% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
unemployed younger might verbally harass you
public transit, bicycle friendly, pedestrian friendly, temperate climate, food carts 6
Paul Bunyan lives here, good places to trip acid, rich forest people, community fridges, slow-roll gentrification, parking hell, sketchy safeway, bicycle rights, man!, strippers, med students, college kids, terrible drivers, yuppies & retirees, sketchy greyhound station, felony flats, horrible drivers, shhh it's quiet, city of Nike, sketchy freddies, and stabby hobo forest are the largest hoodmap tags 7

SO, roomiematch.com's Portland (Oregon) roommate rundown:

The largest city in Oregon flows along the Willamette River downtown with many beautiful bridges spanning it. And it has become known as an oasis for leftist and eco-friendly political activism.

Portlanders enjoy an outdoor-centric lifestyle within a climate kept mild and green by the nearby Pacific Ocean. Despite the PNW latitude, precipitation is usually drizzle rather than storm and snow is rare.

Summers are warm, with Mounts Hood and Saint Helens overlooking the Douglas firs and native roses covering Portland's abundant parks and gardens. Year round.

All that gorgeous green and local green devotion inspired many athletic and outdoor gear companies to build here, including: Nike, Adidas, Columbia, LaCross Footwear, Dr. Martens, Keen, Merrell, Hi-Tec Sports, and Under Armour.

(Yes, your sportier out-of-state visitors will want to go on a shopping spree. Along with the rest of Oregon, you can get all the above with no sales tax.)

So what else has Portland's lefty environmental consciousness wrought? Limited urban sprawl!

Limited urban sprawl invites walking, biking, and public transit.

Meanwhile, driving is structurally discouraged.

Lack of sprawl makes everything more accessible via walking and biking, because everything is less spread out. Walking and biking are more tenable the more places you could hit in an hour. Along with sprawl = no, extensive bike paths = yes!

There are many bike lanes and some separated bike streets running alongside major arterials. Bike racks are frequent, including on public transit. Some transit stations even have bike lockers.

Portland also has a lot of public transport, including a lot of different transit companies. There are buses, light rail, commuter trains, and a Portland Streetcar. Also a few boat lines, some with tourist cruises.

All that adds up to a huge number of routes and lines and trips and trams along with various competing discounts offered via all the payment methods. And then you get a free transfer! Maybe!

Really, just walk or bike whenever possible. Otherwise, ask your roommates how they'd get from A to B on public transit. Once you've taken their route, ask longer-term locals already at your destination how they took transit to get there too. You likely now have several choices to get from A to B and then maybe C and even D, including info on speed and cost. Pick your favorite.

Driving is structurally discouraged . . . unless you're exiting the city limits ASAP in order to ferry fresh organic produce back from one of the many farms surrounding Portland. Downtown is usually congested, and parking is expensive. It might even be cheaper to take a ride share. It's always cheaper and sometimes even faster on a bike, especially if you have to search for car parking as well as pay for it.

All that walking and biking means more food carts than any other city in the world, definitely per capita, maybe overall. And locals wash it all down with the best beer and coffee. Along with sidewalk snacks, they might be winning on the per capita microbrewery and microroastery fronts as well.

Or would you like to drink either while enjoying retro revival films? "Brew and view" theaters are perpetually Portland too. They also host a dozen or more beer and brewing festivals throughout the year - surprise!

So can everyone live the "dream of the nineties" in Portland?

For a while it seemed the dream of Portlandia really was for everyone. And it still is for many . . . but the dream is facing an upper limit on how many more without income already in the bag it can onboard.

Locals frequently voice concern about Portland's large unhoused population, which has grown substantially since the pandemic. The increase is mostly younger who moved here recently. In addition, PDX's native twenty-somethings are still at home with their parents now a lot more often, for lack of employment lucrative enough to pay rent locally, coupled with refusal to move anywhere else.

With that as the backdrop, more folks in their twenties are still moving to Portland than there are jobs to support them, often for political reasons.

SO: Even though it's still cheaper than many other cities on the West Coast, it's probably not wise to move to Portland right now without your roommate rent secured. Freelance work you can dip in and out of to keep paying rent pretty easily even though your priorities are elsewhere is still available here. The kind of jobs your student friends in their twenties probably want? Portland's still got them.

But lately, you're also more likely to find folks in their twenties already occupying them.

Many younger still haven't found the sort of employment they'd hoped for, but refuse to leave. So now they're either unemployed periodically, or gigging freelance in ways they might not in other cities. This adds up to a higher percentage of younger people already in the freelance economy and in competition for fewer gigs.

Some analysts call this "chronic underemployment."

And some congregate downtown. If you walk downtown too, particularly through major intersections, you will likely be solicited or panhandled. If no is your answer, just say no. Many passersby are randomly subjected to unwanted political commentary, sometimes insultingly, but few are physically assaulted. Just stick with refusing unwanted personal engagement politely with merely "no" or "no thanks," while continuing to walk toward your destination.

Portland is in the eye of Portland's beholder. Meaning, whether the above reads as a dire warning or instruction manual is mostly up to you.

Feeling turned off by the City of Roses? You'd rather float down a lazier river with fewer youthful folks aggressively scarfing down all freelance gigs? That's good to know, preferably in advance of a big move, right?

Or will you gather that figuring out roommate rent in advance of moving to Portland is best? PDX'll be so much better for you, now that you know. Enjoy Stumptown!

The rest of the Portland OR roommate lowdown:

  • in northwest Oregon, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, near the Washington border
  • many bridges spanning the Willamette River along downtown
  • about 600,000 in the city, about 2.5 million greater metro
  • summers are mild and pleasant, winters are cool, cloudy, and rainy, sometimes sleeting
  • Portland's climate is ideal for growing roses, hence the official nickname, "City of Roses."
  • good public transit with one of the nation's best light-rail systems and intercity rail service
  • about a 3 hour drive or 4 on a train to Seattle
  • skiing is available nearby in the Oregon Cascades and Mount Hood, and watersports are popular on the Columbia River
  • cost of living is moderate for a West Coast city, and there's no sales tax
  • home to Western States Chiropractic College, Concordia College, Lewis and Clark College, Linfield College, Reed College, University of Portland, Warner Pacific College, George Fox College, Oregon Institute of Science & Technology, Oregon Health Science University, Pacific University, and Portland State University
  • hosts the Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), Portland Timbers (MLS) and Portland Thorns FC (NWSL)
  • Oregon has a lot of non-self-serve gas pumps. If you drive into a station with both self-serve and non-self-serve pumps, you have a choice to pump your own gas or pull up to a non-self-serve and wait in your car for an attendant.



After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Portland OR's:

  • Eastside Esplanade: You and your roommates should go on a scenic walk along the Willamette River. Parts of it are floating, so watch your step.
  • Portland Aerial Tramway: It's an aerial tramway that most cities do not get. Make the most of Portland's!
  • Powell's Bookstore: Legendary local independent bookstore, new, used, and hard-to-find. Three locations in Portland, but the flagship in the Pearl District has over a million books and a Rare Book Room.
  • Portland Rose Festival: Several parades for several weeks in summer, for over a hundred years now. Also a carnival, fleet week, a popular treasure hunt, and a Clown Prince.
  • Portland Art Museum: More art than anywhere else in the city. Special focus on Northwest and Native American art.
  • Portland Saturday Market: Largest continuously operating outdoor arts and crafts market in the country, since 1974. Everything is handmade and sold by artists, so you could meet them too. Items must be presubmitted for review for standards.
  • Portland Japanese Garden: 12 acres with 8 separate garden styles, including a tea house, stream, walkways, and a view of Mount Hood. Honor your connection to nature and find peace in the universe.
  • Portland World Naked Bike Ride (PDXWNBR): An annual bike ride that "highlights the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decries society’s dependence on pollution-based transport." These nudies want you to know they're into goofy fun but not the folly of oil dependency.

    The ride organizers want to encourage motorists to get out of their cars and onto a bike too, so they ask cyclists represent their cause well by never drunk-biking into anyone ever. (PDXWNBR wants you breezy but sober.)

    They also recommend a helmet for safety and big tube socks for warmth. If necessary, you could put the socks on your arms too, plus any other place a sock might fit.

    Also, nudity is legal, you won't get arrested unless you're also "lewd," so make sure you're not. You can be nude but never lewd in public in Portland. It's the law.


Here's the city of Portland's official .gov, including this helpful "Find a Park."





Notes

1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.


2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.


3.   From zumper.com.


4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.


5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.


6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.


7.   From hoodmaps.com: a collaborative map where residents use tags describing social situations you're likely to find. Other users can thumb up or down, so the largest tags have been thumbed up the most.