In 2014, an assessment by US Consulting firm, Mercer, ranked Portland as the 23rd city in the world in terms of quality of living. They came to this conclusion by reviewing political stability, personal freedom, crime, housing, the environment, recreation, banking, consumerism, education, and public services such as sanitation and transport. The assessment was undertaken specifically to help major organization and governments to place employees on international assignments, so expats moving to Portland can rest assured that they are in the right place. On top of this accolade, CBS MoneyWatch named Portland as being among the ten best places in the United States to retire to.
Portland lies towards the north of Oregon’s most populated region, the Willamette Valley. Downtown straddles the banks of the Willamette River, which separates the east and west of the city and joins the Columbia River about 10 miles northwest of downtown. The Columbia River actually separates the states of Oregon and Washington, with the populous suburb of Vancouver found across state lines.
To the west of the city are the Tualatin Mountains and to the east is the actively volcanic Cascade Range including Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. Portland actually lies on top of the extinct Boring Lava Field, the center of which is in southeast Portland.
Portland is divided into five sections: Northwest, North, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast. The Willamette River divides the east and west, and Burnside Street divides the north from the south. The population growth in the Portland metropolitan area continues to outpace the national average and with such an attractive culture, this is expected to continue.
There are a number of distinct neighborhoods to consider when looking for a place to live in Portland. The Pearl District is a transformed industrial area which offers restaurants and brewpubs along its cobbled streets, as well as plenty of shopping, including the famous ‘Powell’s City of Books’, a bookstore covering an entire block.
Northwest Portland, also known as Nob Hill, has a Victorian feel to it and boasts Pittock Mansion and Forest Park, which has over 70 miles of trails. For any expatriate looking to live in the suburbs, the Lloyd District is easily accessible via light rail and streetcar and is a mecca for people attending sports and music events. Belmont has a more indie vibe, with street food, vintage boutiques, and coffee houses that attract tourists and Portlanders alike.
Dominating the southeast Portland area is Sellwood-Moreland and anyone who thrives in the outdoors will be comfortable here. With natural areas ranging from riverfront woodlands to forests, with nature retreats and wildlife parks thrown in, this is a perfect spot for any expat seeking tranquility. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Central Eastside district. Popular with young, creative types, this area is alive with eateries, late night bars, breweries, galleries, and boutiques, making it a bit of a fashion hub.
Unsurprisingly for such a green city, many of the city’s rental properties rely on walk-by traffic to advertise vacancies. As such, a great way to look for an apartment in the city is simply to choose the neighborhood you most want to live in, and spend an afternoon walking or cycling around the area to spot any signs outside. Failing that, most people turn online to find accommodation. Websites such as Craigslist hold national ads, and local resources, e.g. OregonLive, have section dedicated to rentals and other accommodation listings.
Portland’s climate is a temperate oceanic one and the city experiences warm, dry summers and wet, cool winters. The weather is perfect for growing roses, hence why the city is named the ‘City of Roses’. The climate also lends itself well to outdoor life, meaning Portlanders tend to spend time skating, running, cycling, or hiking, and enjoying other al fresco pursuits, such as festivals and sporting events.