Is Portland, OR a Good Place to Live? 10 Pros and Cons of Living in Portland

Portland, OR is a dynamic and diverse city that has won the hearts of many with its stunning natural scenery and eclectic food scene. But is Portland a good place to live? While the city offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures, career growth, and a thriving urban lifestyle, it also comes with its fair share of challenges like traffic and gloomy winter weather. In this Redfin article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of living in Portland to help you decide if it’s the right place for you.

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St Johns Bridge over the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon with Mt St Helens and Mt Adams in the background.

Quick Facts about Portland

Median home sale price $505,000
Average monthly rent $1,622
Walk Score 67/100
Transit Score 49/100
Bike Score 83/100

1. Pro: Access to nature

Portland is renowned for its proximity to stunning natural landscapes whether it be the ocean or the mountains. The city is just a short drive away from the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, and the Oregon Coast, making it an ideal location for outdoor recreation. Residents can enjoy hiking, skiing, and beach trips without having to travel far. You’ll also find nature right in the city, such as Forest Park, one of the largest urban forests in the U.S.

2. Con: Rainy weather

One of the most significant drawbacks of living in Portland is the frequent rain. In fact, Portland is ranked as one of the rainiest cities in the nation. The city experiences an average of 153 rainy days per year, which can be a downer for those who prefer sunny weather. The constant drizzle can make outdoor activities less enjoyable and can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for some residents. The gray skies can be particularly challenging during the long winter months.

3. Pro: Great food options

Portland boasts a diverse and innovative food scene that attracts foodies from all over the country. The city is famous for its food trucks, offering a wide range of cuisines from around the world. Portland is also known for its local gems including Voodoo Doughnut and Salt & Straw ice cream, which have become a well-known on the west coast.

4. Con: High cost of living

While Portland offers many amenities, the cost of living can be quite high. Housing prices have surged in recent years, with a median home sale price of $505,000 which makes it difficult for newcomers to find affordable homes. Rent prices are also on the rise, with the average median rent standing at $1,622. The housing costs and the cost of everyday goods and services can be slightly higher than the national average in Portland.

5. Pro: Eco-friendly culture

Portland is frequently celebrated as one of the greenest cities in the nation, and for good reason. The city’s unwavering commitment to sustainability shines through its extensive recycling programs and ambitious focus on renewable energy. Portland’s public transportation system is not only efficient but also immensely popular, significantly reducing the city’s carbon footprint. Residents wholeheartedly embrace an eco-conscious lifestyle, often opting for biking over driving, diligently composting, and passionately supporting local, eco-friendly businesses.

6. Con: Traffic congestion

Despite its excellent public transportation system, Portland suffers from significant traffic congestion. The city’s growing population has led to increased traffic on major highways and streets, especially during rush hours. Commuters often find themselves stuck in long lines of cars, especially downtown, which can be frustrating and time-consuming.

blue house with white trim in affordable portland suburbs

7. Pro: Lively neighborhoods

Portland’s neighborhoods are a mix of diverse cultures and communities, each with its own unique flair. Stroll through the historic Pearl District, where former warehouses now house chic art galleries, trendy boutiques, and bustling cafes. Hawthorne offers a bohemian vibe with its vintage shops, indie bookstores, and laid-back coffeehouses, while Mississippi brims with music venues, craft breweries, and an array of food trucks serving up culinary delights, making Portland a great place to live.

8. Con: Smoky summers

Portland often endures smoky summers as wildfires rage in the surrounding forests, casting a thick haze over the city. This seasonal smoke can significantly diminish air quality, making outdoor activities challenging and unhealthy for residents. The persistent haze also underscores the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires, reflecting broader climate change impacts on the region.

9. Pro: No sales tax

One of the major perks of living in Portland is the absence of sales tax, making every shopping trip more affordable. This tax-free advantage allows residents and visitors to enjoy significant savings on goods and services, from everyday essentials to big-ticket items.

10. Con: Poor road conditions

Portland is notorious for its roads, often pockmarked with potholes and riddled with cracks, turning daily commutes into an obstacle course. The city’s wet climate only adds to the problem, as the constant rain accelerates the deterioration of the asphalt, leading to frequent and often temporary patchwork repairs. Drivers in Portland must navigate these bumpy, uneven streets with caution, making every trip an adventure in urban off-roading.


Methodology: The median home sale price and average monthly rental data is from the Redfin Data Center. The Walk Score, Transit Score and Bike Score data is from Walk Score.

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