With its funky vibe, top-notch bars and restaurants, and easy drive to both the mountains and the coast, Portland, Oregon has become a major hotspot.
If you’re thinking of making the move to Portland, OR, or just looking to relocate to new digs, you can jumpstart your search with this guide to some of the best neighborhoods. With so many distinct communities to choose from, we asked three local realtors to tell us all about their favorite neighborhoods in the Rose City and the surrounding Metro area.
Whether you want walkability, affordability, character, or the best public schools, read on to find the Portland neighborhood that’s got what you’re looking for.
Quick facts on moving in Portland, Oregon
Portland’s fast growth, along with a shortage of homes on the market, has led to skyrocketing home prices. Other factors, such as the coronavirus pandemic, are also contributing to a very competitive housing market here.
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“Many homeowners have been able to defer mortgage payments, and others are wary of having strangers in their homes,” said real estate broker Marcus Lathan of Brantley Christianson Real Estate. “Most homes on the market are receiving 2-10+ offers in just a few days and are selling significantly over asking.”
However, Portland is still the cheapest city on the west coast when compared to living in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. People looking to move to Portland are attracted to the wealth of activities, restaurants and mild, albeit rainy, climate.
|Moving to Portland from Seattle? For moving cost estimates, jump to our Seattle to Portland section below.|
“The way the urban growth boundary was created here means a lot of rural, country-feeling places are just a short distance away from Portland,” said Andy Meeks with Living Room Realty. “There are wineries in the Willamette Valley just 40 minutes from town. Portland has a great balance in terms of livability and affordability compared to other places.”
How to Start Looking for Homes in Portland
Since it is a seller’s market, getting your hands on a home in one of Portland’s popular neighborhoods isn’t without its challenges.
Lathan suggests starting your search on Zillow or Craigslist. “Zillow will get you most of what you need to find in available homes to purchase as well as many rental options. Craigslist is great for apartment and home rental searches as well,” he said. However, the best choice for the highest level of service and expert insight on neighborhoods and pricing is usually to contact a local real estate agent who can help advise on your search and help you see the homes that interest you most.
Meeks said it’s important to get all your ducks in a row before you start shopping for a home. “Work with a local lender to get your finances in order first,” he said. “People who are serious about buying a home will know what their budget is, have their paperwork in order, and get preapproved for a loan.”
In terms of finding a realtor to help, Meeks suggests finding someone who shares your values.
“Buying a house in Portland can be an intense, emotional process so you want to have a realtor who has your back,” he said. “Assembling a good team between your lender and your realtor, and knowing your numbers are the best ways to be prepared.”
We hope this guide helps you choose the best Portland neighborhood for you and your family.
Where are the best Portland schools?
Schools, parks, and a family-friendly vibe are essential factors for most home shoppers with children. Instead of looking only in the city proper, you may want to consider a suburb in the metro area. Neighborhoods with good schools in Portland also tend to be the most expensive. While checking out GreatSchools.org will help guide your search, here are two family-friendly neighborhoods that stand out.
Laurelhurst is a gorgeous neighborhood with winding streets and upscale, vintage homes. Established in 1909, this stunning burb surrounds the expansive Laurelhurst Park, where kids will enjoy feeding ducks, riding bikes, and playing in the grass.
“Laurelhurst and its close surrounding neighborhoods have some of the highest-rated schools in Portland, but will cost you more to get into,” said Lathan.
Laurelhurst has a community vibe and is close to restaurants, movie theaters, and boutiques.
Considered a Portland suburb, West Linn is a sprawling town just 15 miles south of the city. An upscale area like West Linn offers more space for families. You’ll find large homes and yards, with plenty of dining and entertainment options.
“With top-rated schools such as Trillium Creek Primary, Cedaroak Park Primary, Rosemont Ridge Middle, and West Linn High School, West Linn offers families some of the highest rated schools in the Portland Metro area to enroll their children, in while being a family-friendly neighborhood,” said real estate agent Noah Homsley with HomsleyHomes.com, powered by John L. Scott.
If you don’t mind a little more driving to get downtown, West Linn might be that mix of urban and suburban you’re looking for.
Other neighborhoods with good schools to check out: Multnomah Village, Beaverton, Vancouver, WA
Which are the most affordable neighborhoods in Portland?
While people looking at Portland from a town like Boise might have sticker shock, the city still seems reasonable for folks moving from San Francisco, L.A., or New York. With the median home price hovering in the $420,000 range, you’ll be hard-pressed to find super cheap housing within the city limits. If you’re looking for cheaper options, the suburbs may be the key.
The old-school St. John’s neighborhood is located in North Portland on the other side of a soaring Gothic-style steel and concrete suspension bridge. This neighborhood is only 17 minutes by car to downtown and features a slow pace, access to nature, and a fun selection of gift, clothing, and antique shops.
“Prices are still rapidly rising in St. John’s, but the property taxes are some of the lowest in Portland,” said Lathan. “You can still find homes under $400,000.”
Lents is one of Portland’s up-and-coming neighborhoods with a burgeoning brewery and restaurant scene. It’s also really close to the MAX light-rail line, which can take you straight downtown or directly to the Portland Airport. Lents is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, with a revitalized main street.
“I try to balance affordability with liveability,” said Meeks. “What makes Portland desirable are the neighborhood clusters and places to walk without getting in a car. Lents is one of those neighborhoods.”
Located just a little over 6 miles south of downtown Portland, Milwaukie is exploding in popularity for people looking for affordable homes.
“Milwaukie presents a variety of different styles of homes ranging from condos/townhomes to ranch and split-level. Great for the first-time homebuyer with easy access to highways leading to Portland,” said Homsley.
You’ll also find excellent transit to downtown as the MAX line was recently extended into the suburb.
Other affordable neighborhoods to check out: Vancouver, WA; Rose City Park; outer Southeast
Which Portland neighborhoods have the best walkability and access to transit?
What better way to explore the beautiful City of Roses than by foot or on your bike? Portland is home to dozens of neighborhood pockets where you can stroll down tree-lined streets to coffee shops, breweries, and top-notch restaurants. If walkability and access to public transit are your absolutes, there are many neighborhoods to choose from.
The Pearl District
If you’re looking for a mix of trendy, walkable, and close to the downtown core, the revitalized Pearl District might be your best bet. Bars, restaurants, and boutiques are housed in revamped warehouses, giving the neighborhood an industrial-chic vibe.
“The Pearl District has easy access to mass transit along with residential opportunities in lofts, condominiums, and apartments. Everything is at your fingertips in the Pearl District, shopping, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries,” said Homsley.
Mississippi (Portland neighborhood)
The “hipster” vibe thrives in Mississippi the neighborhood, not the state. This quaint area went from low income and rough to popular starting in the late 90s, and it’s now one of the most trendy areas in the entire city.
“Mississippi has several music venues, bars, and highly rated restaurants,” said Lathan. “Mississippi’s centralized location also makes it easily walkable to adjacent neighborhoods such as Williams and Vancouver where you will find even more restaurants, bars, and grocery stores.”
There are also beautiful historic homes to rent or buy in the Mississippi district.
Other walkable/good transit neighborhoods to check out: The Hollywood District, Milwaukie, NW Portland
Which neighborhoods in Portland are best for renters?
Renting is a tough game here, with rents hovering around $1,550. There’s a lot of demand, so you’ll need to have patience to find just the right place in the Rose City. It may take you several months to get settled in the perfect rental.
“Renters are currently paying a premium in most neighborhoods in Portland and high prices are even pushing out as far as Vancouver and Beaverton,” said Lathan. “New apartment developments are going up very quickly all over, and they are charging premiums. Even older apartment communities are being rehabbed and rented at a high rate.”
If you don’t mind being outside the city proper, Beaverton is a great suburb in the SW Portland Metro area. It’s only 8 miles by car, or you can jump on the MAX train and be downtown as quick as 30 minutes. There are bars, restaurants, and food carts in Beaverton, making it a trendy up-and-coming scene.
“You have a lot of rental choices in Beaverton, everything from apartment complexes, to townhomes, and condos that are often available for rent and with varying price points,” said Homsley.
If you want to stay within the city limits, North Portland is your best bet for renting a house. This area is rapidly undergoing regentrification, and some older homes are being torn down in favor of new development. You will find some walkable streets, breweries, and restaurants here, and older craftsman and bungalow homes.
Which neighborhoods have the most character?
There’s no shortage of character when you’re browsing Portland neighborhoods. From beautiful old craftsman and Victorian homes to shiny industrial-chic high rises, there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for character in a city, you’ve come to the right place.
However, Meeks said some character is being demolished with new construction. “Many of the business districts have changed so dramatically it’s hard to recognize them. They are all modern and glass and have lost some of what made Portland so unique,” he said.
Nevertheless, there are still many neighborhoods that hold onto that old charm.
Beautiful public rose gardens, roundabouts, and a combination of mid-century homes and luxurious mansions line the streets of this iconic Portland neighborhood.
“Ladd’s Addition is Portland’s oldest planned development, built between 1905 and 1930, and known for its unique diagonal streets as opposed to the normal grid pattern of the rest of the city,” said Lathan.
You’ll stroll beneath towering Elm trees to walk to the local food truck plaza, New Seasons Market, or bars and restaurants on Hawthorne.
Alberta Arts District
You’ll find street art, galleries, and restaurants in the revamped Alberta Arts District. It’s also home to the quirky monthly street fair called “Last Thursday,” with live music, food trucks, and unique artwork.
“Alberta is a really nice mix of old and new Portland,” said Meeks. “It’s maintained the character of old Portland while having great restaurants, newer buildings, and modern amenities.”
Located just south of the city and a bike ride away from downtown, the Sellwood neighborhood has a lot to offer in terms of character. This neighborhood sits on the edge of the Willamette River, and has a laid-back vibe.
“This SE Portland neighborhood is full of charm and very unique,” said Homsley. “Sellwood is very walkable with a variety of food options that range from cafes and brewpubs to food carts. Sellwood is home to some great green spaces such as Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Sellwood Park, and Sellwood Community Garden. Sellwood is a nice mix of both old and new.”
Other neighborhoods with character: Multnomah Village, Beaumont-Wilshire
Making your move to Portland, OR
While you’re looking for your new place, it’s never too soon to start planning your move, whether you’re moving locally or from across the country. One of the most popular moving routes is from Seattle to Portland. Here’s a quick look at what to expect.
Moving from Seattle to Portland, OR?
If you’re looking to move from the Emerald City to the City of Roses, you’ll likely find many of the same characteristics that attracted you to Seattle — but with a slightly lower price tag. According to NerdWallet, Portland’s cost of living is 14% lower than in Seattle. As pointed out earlier, you’ll probably see that difference in somewhat more affordable homes and apartments.
Here’s a snapshot of moving costs, whether you’re moving by rental truck, full-service mover, or moving container.
How much does it cost to move from Seattle to Portland, OR?
Just 175 miles apart, it takes a little under 3 hours to drive from Seattle to Portland. Relocating a moderately furnished 2- to 3-bedroom household from Seattle to Portland will cost from $142* for a two-day truck rental to $3,100* for a traditional mover. Moving a moderately furnished 2- to 3-bedroom household from Seattle to Portland with PODS containers will cost from $700* to $1,249*, including one month of built-in storage, either in your driveway or at a secure Storage Center in either city.
Moving cost* estimates for Seattle to Portland, OR
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(includes 1-month storage)
(plus fuel costs)
For a detailed quote on local moves, visit PODS.com. For Seattle to Portland and other long-distance moves, call 877-350-7637.
We hope you find the perfect neighborhood for your move!
Portland is a unique mix of trendy and historic, with a neighborhood to suit any personality. Whether you want to live in a vintage craftsman home or a glass high-rise in the Pearl District, our best advice is to head there and explore.
Grab a few beers, eat out at the restaurants, wander the parks, and stroll the Portland riverwalk. Hopefully, with a little research and experimentation, you’ll find a wonderful neighborhood to call home.
Kristin Hanes is a West Coast based freelance writer. Her work has appeared in SF Gate, Marie Claire, and Realtor.com, among other publications.