Portland’s notoriety as a hipster enclave has defined the city over the last several years, but the largest city in Oregon has a lot more to offer transplants than handlebar mustaches and gluten-free dining. Quality of life is a high priority for the more than 600,000 residents of this mid-sized city. The proximity to both the Pacific Ocean and the peaks of the Cascade Range has long enticed nature-lovers, and the coffee and food cultures live up to their reputations, as do the art and music scenes. It’s an ideal home for those who like their food and entertainment locally sourced.
The population of Portland is mostly young and middle-class. Low housing costs have created a haven for artists, as well as Californians and Washingtonians looking for cheaper rents. Though Seattle and Silicon Valley have become synonymous with the technology boom, Portland has also shared in the rise of tech jobs. The area’s low cost of business, job growth and educational rates earned it the number three spot on Forbes’ 2015 list of Best Places for Business and Careers.
The bridges that cross the Willamette River—which flows through the middle of the city—are highlights of the skyline and have given it the moniker, “Bridgetown.” The river also helps outline the five quadrants of the city: North Portland, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast. The west side of the river boasts many of the upscale art galleries, boutiques and housing areas, though the eastside has many of the “old Portland” style homes and bungalows, and has experienced a growth in development. The regions are further segmented into nearly 100 neighborhoods, all with their own distinctions and selling points. Portland has consistently been ranked as one of the most walkable metropolitan areas in the country due to ambitious public transportation planning before the Great Recession. The numerous bike lanes, combined with 63 bus lines, eight light rail lines and two streetcar routes make it easy to navigate.
The calendar of events is permanently full in Portland, from food and beverage festivals like the Great American Distillers Festival to the Portland Marathon in the fall, Portland Beer Week and the three-week long Portland Rose Festival that spans the end of May into June. There is always something for everyone. Day trips to Oregon City (the fabled end of the Oregon Trail), the quiet bays of St. Helens and the bike trails of Mt. Hood National Forest make exploring the neighboring areas of Portland as much fun as the city itself.