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What’s the Cost of Living in Portland?

portland oregon city willamette river front

There’s no escaping the fact that the cost of living has risen in the past few years. In fact, the cost of all items on average has risen 8.5% in the past year alone.

Many people are deciding to relocate during this time, as well. Better job opportunities, work-life balance, and fleeing hyper-expensive metro areas such as New York and San Francisco all appeal to people looking to move.

Portland, Oregon remains a very attractive place to live. But is it affordable? We’ve put together a handy guide on the cost of living in Portland to help you decide on your future move. Read on to learn more!

Is Portland Expensive?

Overall, yes. Portland is about thirty percent higher than the U.S. national average. This is due to several factors:

Portland is Desirable

Lots of people are drawn to Portland for its mild climate and laid-back West Coast attitude. There’s a lot to do, including great food and outdoor activities.

Plus, it is close enough to commute to tech hubs such as San Francisco and Seattle, while being cheaper than both of those cities. It’s a much smaller city, and that appeals to many people.

Portland is Growth-Limited

Portland proper has an urban growth boundary. This means that the city limits are not allowed to expand outside of a certain geographic bound.

Developing sprawling suburbs and adding more housing becomes difficult, which keeps housing costs a bit on the high side. However, some people see the lack of urban sprawl as a huge upside to Portland.

Is Portland Worth the Cost?

It might be, for you! There’s a lot more to factor into where you live besides the upfront cost of living. For example, you could save on transportation by living in a walkable or bikeable city.

Healthcare and food costs could be lower due to more outdoor activity and places such as farmer’s markets. There could also be higher-paying job opportunities, better schools, and better cultural life.

These are all factors you will have to consider. So let’s dive into more on the different costs of living in Portland.

Home Costs in Portland

Housing is Portland’s most expensive cost of living, by far. If you are looking into buying a home in Portland, be aware that the median home cost is about $600,000. The median home price in the US is $347,000.

This is mainly due to the urban growth boundary keeping the supply of available housing low compared to demand.

Buying a home in Portland may also be a challenge. The market is fairly competitive due to the low supply, so expect to make lots of offers and potentially get into a bidding war.

Rent is also fairly high compared to the rest of the US, with an average 1-bedroom apartment renting for about $1500/month. However, compared to other major West Coast cities, this is downright affordable.

Certain neighborhoods in Portland are also more affordable than others. Nob Hill, The Pearl, and Old Town are much higher than areas like Cully and Parkrose.

If you factor in utility costs, Portland comes in about average for electricity, water, and other services compared to the national average. So this is not a major cost of living factor, in comparison.

Transportation Costs

One of the biggest upsides to Portland is that it is extremely easy to get by without a car. Portland has a very strong mass transit system with both light rail and busses.

Portland is also very walkable. It is #13 in the nation for walkable cities. Certain neighborhoods are more compact and closer to desirable work or cultural centers than others, so if you plan on hoofing it, be sure to research your area.

The best part about Portland is how easy it is to navigate on a bike. Bike lanes, bike bridges, and closed trails make getting around safely a breeze. Portland is extremely bike-friendly, consistently ranking at #1 in the nation.

Between mass transit, bicycling, and walking, you could save a lot of money in Portland and keep the car parked in the driveway.

Portland Food Costs

Compared to the national average, Portland’s food costs are very close at only 3% higher. Your grocery bill is likely to not look much different shopping in Portland.

One of the big upsides of living in Portland is the sheer variety of food available, especially if you like to dine out. Craft breweries and hundreds of local restaurants give you lots of options and bang for your buck.

Health Care Costs in Portland

Portland comes in below the national average in healthcare costs. It is about 15% cheaper for healthcare in Portland. This is partially due to the healthcare system, which generally charges less for procedures and medications.

Lifestyle also plays a huge factor in keeping healthcare costs down; with plenty of access to outdoor activities, easy pedestrian transportation, and a culture that values healthy living, your overall health will likely be higher.

Taxes in Portland

Oregon has one of the highest individual state income taxes in the nation, topping out at a whopping 9.9%. This is a large factor to consider when calculating your overall cost of living when moving to Portland.

However, this rate is on a sliding scale. You only hit the 9.9% tax bracket if you make over $125,000 a year. Most people pay an 8.75% tax rate.

There are also a few Portland-specific taxes, such as taxes that fund public transit. However, if you use this public transit regularly compared to filling up a car with gas, this might end up being a bargain, in comparison.

The plus side to taxes in Portland is that there is no sales tax. This is partially why the individual income taxes are so high. You might see this as an added perk when shopping for consumer items.

Finally, Portland property taxes are fairly average. The US average rate is 1.07%, while Portland’s rate is 1.04%.

Working in Portland

One major thing to note about Portland is that average incomes are higher. This not only accounts for the cost of living but also factors in that Portland is a highly skilled and educated city that offers many job opportunities.

Portland is experiencing average job growth of 2.04% per year. This means that salaries and cost-of-living adjustments generally follow suit in order to retain and attract workers.

Even if you don’t get a job in Portland properly, it is very easy to do a hybrid job and commute to cities such as Seattle or San Francisco, especially if you are in a technology or related field.

Portland has thriving industries in healthcare, technology, environmental fields, and manufacturing. There are also ample opportunities in other fields, as Portland is a desirable satellite city for many large companies.

Other Things to Consider

As we mentioned earlier, there is a lot more to consider when moving to Portland besides the dollars and cents. You should evaluate things that you value in life, and whether Portland offers those things.

Schools in Portland

If you have children, a good school system is a must-have. Whether you go private or public, Portland is a very attractive city for raising children due to the high performance of their schools.

The public school system in Portland is generally regarded as “very good,” with certain suburban districts ranking even higher than the city proper. However, Oregon state overall tends to rank fairly low in education.

Portland also offers quite a few private schools including several Montessori and Waldorf schools. There are more than a dozen parochial schools, as well as a handful of specialty schools such as special needs and schools that cater to international students.

If you are looking for higher education in Portland, there are 24 colleges and universities in the metro area. This includes public schools such as the University of Portland and Portland State, as well as private schools such as Reed College.

Overall, there are eighteen private colleges, three public colleges, and three community colleges. Your options for higher education are tremendous in Portland!

Recreation

Portland is well-known for its outdoor recreational activities. It is situated in a temperate rainforest on the coast. Hiking, boating, fishing, and spending time on the pebbly beaches are popular outdoor activities.

There are plentiful cycling trails throughout the city and surrounding woods. If skateparks are more of your speed, Portland is home to the infamous Burnside park (the one under the overpass), which is the first modern concrete skatepark in the US.

Additionally, there are numerous recreational activities to be found throughout the city. Any diverse interest is sure to find something to do in Portland.

The Cost of Living in Portland

If you are considering the cost of living in Portland, there are many different factors to consider. While Portland has high housing costs, it more than makes up for it in transportation, healthcare, and overall quality of life.

Think Portland is where you’d like to call home? We’d love to help with your move. We offer a full range of moving services including packing and antique handling. Contact us today at (971) 226-6687 to make the best of your move to Portland!

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