Review of Portland, Oregon

There is no One way to see any large city
Star Rating - 3/20/2023
I lived in Portland for 19 years (I've also lived in Boise, ID, the Bay Area, Austin, TX and now Nampa, ID). It drives me nuts when people try to give a large city a single identity. It's a large city with all sorts of people, neighborhoods, problems and perks. I did not live in Portland through the covid/BLM meltdown and from my friends perspectives, it was scary and sad. That being said, it was a country wide problem/movement that affected every large city and lots of smaller ones. The press coverage of the rioting in a city that I love was sad to watch, and the damage will take years to recover from but it did not define Portland in anyway except to show that lots of people care about social justice and a small percentage of those people think that violence is justified (their belief, not mine) and they got the media's attention. I have faith that Portland will continue to move forward (in the slow way that city governments move) towards addressing its issues in the same way that other large cities are scrambling to find ways to address these very difficult and hard to solve problems (there's not a country in the world that doesn't have homelessness). In the mean time, ragging on the city because it's white and hipster doesn't make sense. Like attracts like and that is what has happened for almost 200 years (it takes a long time to overcome the lack of diversity caused by Oregon's 1844 black exclusion laws). Lack of diversity doesn't make the people of Portland racist, but it does deprive them of things that cultural diversity brings to a city. Hopefully as it eventually becomes more diverse it will become more interesting. I didn't notice the lack of diversity as much because I lived on the East side which is far more diverse then the west (until you get further out in the burbs near the big tech companies). I rarely felt unsafe in Portland unless I had to park in an area known for drug dealing (every cities' problem). The unhoused population (in general) doesn't make you feel unsafe, they make you feel uncomfortable and those are very different feelings, not to be confused with each other. It is uncomfortable to know that you have what you need and these people do not. We should not fear them for in different circumstances, we could be them. Being unhoused does not make you a criminal. Portland is moving far too slowly to implement solutions for this population, that is true but again, this isn't a Portland problem, it's a large city problem and frankly, a national problem with housing costs and poor access to medical and addiction treatment.
Portland is full of interesting people, beautiful landscapes, beautiful views of mountains and rivers, fantastic food and lots of cool small businesses. The weather is mild. The risks are earthquakes (there's a big one coming), flooding in low areas and wildfires (though luckily, not to the level of Northern California, yet). The walking/hiking is great, in town and everywhere around it. There is a lot of rain and it is hard to get used to (really hard if you are susceptible to seasonal affective disorder) but it makes it green and colorful and that's very easy to get used to. I miss it terribly. Aesthetically it has year round beauty which I really miss living in a high desert area now. I miss the food! OMG I miss the food!
If you are conservative politically, and want to be surrounded by people of like mind, you will need to be strategic. It's a liberal city to the point that some taxes that pass, are not well thought through but pass anyway because they sound good to liberal minded people. As a liberal who grew up in a very conservative place, Portland was eye opening for me. But as with everything in the past 7 years, politics tend to teeter towards the extremes and I have to remind my liberal friends in Portland that not everyone sees things the way they do and a friendly conversation with a neighbor should probably not include politics. I now live where I grew up and BOY, is it a different political attitude around here!
Is Portland for everyone? NO. Is Portland unsafe (a question I am asked a lot)? NO. As someone else suggested, look up the violent crime statistics. Will someone steal your bike if you leave it leaning against your garage door? Probably. Petty theft was a frustrating problem in my close-in NE, high cost neighborhood. Would I move back? YEP! (Good airport, 2 hours to the ocean, 1-1 1/2 hours to good skiing, great fishing, water skiing in the Columbia, 3 hours to Seattle, 3 1/2 hours to Bend, Symphony, Ballet, Broadway traveling shows, great concerts, lots of cool small venues and on and on)
Amy | Austin, TX
Reply to this Comment

2 Replies

I've been in Portland for over 15 years and also lived in Boise for a bit and I have to say your comment is pretty spot on. We try to label what a city is like but all big cities have the same problems and lot of the same great stuff with it's perks. I actually would agree Portland is generally safe and mostly like you said just uncomfortable when you see schizophrenic homeless people who self-medicate with drugs like meth. It's more sad to see than feeling unsafe and the crime is petty crime mostly. With legalizing drugs and focusing on treatment even though it's rough now I think ultimately this can help our fellow humans on the streets. One thing I will mention that you somewhat alluded to that yes it rains a lot and it's actually very pretty, BUT lack of sunlight is a major issue. Yes you can still find it in winter and most times it's dark here it's bright on the coast, but still sun only three months out of the year is very tough. - What do you think about Austin btw? Especially compared to Portland? Cheers
Blake | Portland, OR | Report Abuse

If it helps any, the riots were wildly exaggerated on the news and by politicians, including our then president. "Rioting" was limited to small areas at night, mainly the block right across the street from the one federal building where the DHS was trying to get it going. The two federal buildings on either side of it were completely untouched. During the day, the sidewalk where most of the "rioting" happened was mainly filled with tourists taking selfies in front of the fence DHS put up around the building and life went on for Portland, as it will. Downtown is still a bit empty, there are empty storefronts as just like everywhere else in the world, small businesses went under during the covid years and property owners are still trying to get pre-covid rents out of people and businesses that aren't ready to pay that much. Just like everywhere else after covid, there are a lot of homeless people and we all need to adjust to help each other get back up on our feet, both as people and small businesses. Eventually, this will all change.
Geebers | Portland, OR | Report Abuse
- 11/8/2022
Great Place, Too Many Cars.
One of the best cities in America. Food scene is the best in the world. Weather is prefera...
Shane | West Haven-Sylvan, OR | No Replies

- 10/10/2022
Houston Transplant, 2022 Portland Review
I moved from Houston to Portland about a year ago. I remember reading the reviews on here ...
Josh | Houston, TX | 4 Replies

- 8/2/2022
Beautiful recreation, hypocritical people
Portland is a super unique place. It is both one of the greatest and one of the crappiest ...
Tyler | Murrieta, CA | 1 Reply

- 4/9/2022
depressing please go somewhere else maybe
ive lived half of my life in seattle and half now in portland, i loved these cities growin...
nesha | Bethany, OR | No Replies

- 11/11/2021
Portland. A Critically broken & ill City.
I've lived in Portland for over 20 years (split with a 10 year move to Los Angeles) and it...
Alexander | Portland, OR | 2 Replies

The premier source for comprehensive city data for over 30 years.

© Best Places. All rights reserved.