Living in Portland right now is pretty amazing. Sometimes cities just hit a stride and its citizens ride the gravy wave to mashed potato town.  First thing to be said is the city is skewed toward the age demographic between 18-65. The 18-65 demographic generally makes up the greatest concentration of the labor force. Portland is also flooded with the overeducated and underemployed. Thus the meme that Portland is the place where young people go to retire.

City 18-65 Demographic Bachelor’s Degree’s
New York City 64.0% 32.8%
Los Angeles 64.9% 29.5%
San Francisco 72.4% 52.0%
Seattle 73.8% 56.5%
Portland  70.5% 43.1%

*Information taken from:  http://www.census.gov/

Portland offers a social sphere younger than both New York City and Los Angeles while also being more affordable than Seattle and San Francisco. The home ownership rates in Portland are far higher than in San Francisco and Seattle despite the increased property taxes.  In Seattle and San Francisco there are less children, less seniors, more competition for jobs, and a higher entry level for those positions.

The median income for Portlanders is far less than the aforementioned cities. The percentage of people living below the poverty line is also higher. So why are people moving here without job prospects, without a plan, and without money?

Because Portland is amazing. No amount of money is going to lure us away from here. We are Portland. This is our home. However, because we live here we are also young, we are cheap, and we are hungry.

I’ve compiled a list of 10 reasons why living in Portland is so hot right now:

10-Affordable Food

The best thing about Portland’s food is the cost vs that dish is delicious ratio. Every big city has its Restaurant Le Meurice or Masa.  We have El Gaucho and Beast . What makes Portland’s food special are the restaurants that cater to its seemingly biggest demographic, the aforementioned overeducated and underemployed.

The plethora of good restaurants that lie within the 10-15 dollar per meal options create a culture of eating.  Places like Porque No, Pok Pok, and Grain and Gristle make incredibly delicious food at affordable prices. This makes it easy for an average income earner to make a habit of getting together with friends and family on a regular basis to discuss the weeks events over the dinner table.

9- Doughnut Wars

I was in an airport in Los Angeles recently. The security checker asked me about Voodoo Doughnuts. I parroted the typical Portlander line of, “There are better places. You should try Blue Star or Pips.”  She said that she has heard that too.

People around the world know about Voodoo Doughnuts but they are also starting to get to know our local favorites too. Sure Voodoo Doughnuts is a tourist trap and their doughnuts are just generic doughnuts but if people around the world are talking about your second and third tier doughnut options,  something is going right.

8- Brunch

I consider brunch to be a weekly holiday. Mostly because there are too many places to try and to enjoy. Mothers, Screen Door and Gravy are the big hitters but places like Bumblekiss and Swedeedeedee are also amazing.

7- Biking

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.

-H. G. Wells

Portland has been successful at creating an environment that sustains biking as an everyday activity. The Portland Bicycle Plan has announced a goal of a quarter of all trips be made by bicycling by 2030.  There are three factors that make Portland a bike friendly city. The first is the numerous bicycling advocacy groups that push awareness for bike friendly policies. The second is the local government is committed to progress in terms of making bike commuting easier, safer and more efficient. The third group are those stubborn and embattled army of riders who are committed to biking every day despite harsh weather conditions. Forgetting my rain pants has ruined my day on more than one occasion.

I couldn’t move on without mentioning that Portland had no biking fatalities last year!


The coffee in Portland has ruined me. When I’m out of town and I find a local roaster I’m nearly always disappointed. Luckily when I’m home I have numerous choices for coffee including: Portland Roasters, Coava Coffee Roasters, Heart Coffee Roasters, Extracto, Water Avenue and Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Everyone has a favorite but they are all great.

5- Beer

Craft beer has become a staple in most Portlander’s lives.  The place known as “Brewvana” houses more than 50 breweries. Nearly a quarter of the hops grown in the world are grown right in our own backyard. The choice at every bar is overwhelming.  Even the bars that do not appeal to the craft beer drinkers have at least one option that is passable.  Portlanders are passionate about their beer. Sometimes probably more than they are about drinking it.

4- Sports

There is something special about a Portland sports fan. The combination between Portland’s need to keep it weird and the renegade nature of sports fanaticism creates some sort of magic. This was chronicled in the The Battered Bastards of Baseball, a documentary about Portland Baseball.

The Blazers are the top ticket in the city. They have a long history of success on the court but it’s the atmosphere created by the fans that really stands the test of time. Visiting players often remark about the consistent and on-going noise level at the Moda Center. The crowd never lets up. Why is it amazing to be a Blazer’s fan right now?

Damian Lillard.

The team has good to great players but Lillard is special. He showed that last year with his now infamous buzzer beater against the high powered Houston Rockets.

The other professional team in town is the Portland Timbers. Another storied franchise who debuted in MLS in 2011.  The most unique thing about the Portland Timbers is the Timbers Army. The Timbers Army are a supporters group who support the club on the field, behind the scenes and in the community. The community building power of the Timbers Army will one day be the organizing model for entire MLS fan base. It’s easy to play, it’s easy to score, and it’s easy to win when you have an Army behind you.

3- Public Transportation

Commuting is changing. The appreciation of your commute is no longer determined solely by the mode of transportation. The value is in how many modes of transportation that are available to you. In Portland we have many options and use them depending on the need.  Need a one way trip? Use Car2go. Want to drink but don’t want to drive? Take a bus. Need to make a trip out to the suburbs? Use the Max. Perhaps at some point in the near future Portlanders will be able to use Uber, lyft, and sidecar.

A new Max line in addition to a pedestrian only bridge will bring more options for daily commuters.

2- Nature

The summer in Portland begins in July and ends in September. For about a 90 day period the Pacific Northwest blooms and you will be hard pressed to find a more beautiful place on earth. For most Portlanders the summer becomes a kind of sport. How do I find time to be outside in the Gorge, Forest Park, and other surrounding natural sights, as much as humanly possible.

What I find unique about the natural sights is that the new spots seem endless. Part of the sport is to find a new spot with more beauty than the one previous.  Finding a new spot with a gorgeous waterfall, or a hidden lake with a private raft, or a hardly known swimming hole, makes the experience interactive and unforgettable.

1- Hope

A man who doesn’t love where he lives is an unhappy man. -Unknown

Every city has virtues. What makes a superstar city is love. Portlanders are in love with their city. It makes all the difference in the world. We aren’t perfect and we aren’t always as weird or special as we’d like to think. We care, we hope and we dream and that makes living in Portland right now a beautiful experience.

Until what lies beneath no longer sleeps in its dormancy and the place between sleep and dreams pops like an overfilled balloon, we will dream on!

Check out more cool Gresham, Oregon photos here.

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