When comparing Portland vs Seattle, which city should you visit?
You may be in the extremely fortunate position of choosing between Seattle or Portland, whether visiting or moving permanently.
For reaching this point in your life, it’s definitely worth patting yourself on the back. These are two of the best progressive cities in the western hemisphere, and iconic cultural hubs for America’s north west.
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Portland vs Seattle
It’s a big step moving into these big cities and they are famous for being two of the coolest places on Earth.
Coffee shops, book stores, record stores and art galleries galore.
But fear not!
For we can guide you through the noise and give you the straight facts about which of these cities is better, or could be the best suited for you.
Portland, Oregon’s largest city, sits on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, in the midst of the snow-capped Mount Hood.
As a smart city it is known for its nature parks, bridges, and cycle paths, as well as for its eco-friendliness and its microbreweries and cafés.
Is Portland Safe?
Portland is a safe city for most, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Common sense dictates you shouldn’t leave your phone in plain view in a locked car and expect it to remain there, etc.
Even busy areas of the city have smash-and-grab thefts, so lock your car doors and don’t leave visible temptation.
The first thing we would say to anyone who decides to use a bike, is that bike theft is a big deal in Portland.
If you rent a bike make sure the rental company outfits you with adequate locks (and that you follow their locking instructions).
Travel Portland says:
Yes, Portland remains a safe city for visitors. We recommend that visitors to Portland exercise the same caution, concern and common sense as when traveling to any metropolitan destination. Given isolated incidents of violence at public demonstrations,
Travel Portland recommends visitors avoid demonstration areas, which are typically removed from many businesses and attractions popular with visitors to our area.”
Is Portland Expensive?
There are many sites online that give you their interpretation, and many forums sharing opinions, but we found the needle in the haystack: data!
According to pdxmovers.com, living in Portland is 34% more expensive than the national average.
Housing in Portland is 84.3% more expensive than the national average, and the only thing below the national average is Portland’s utilities, which are 12.8% cheaper than the average.
This would make it one of the more expensive places to live in the whole country, and we aren’t surprised.
Forget about the high cost of living in New York for a second, actually, you’ll find many of the wealthy progressives live in Portland or Seattle.
Los Angeles is known for showbiz, Texas is for oil, and the northwest is for Jeff Bezos. It really is that simple.
Places To Visit In Portland
Portland is very limited in choices for staying compared to the likes of Seattle. Most visitors decide that Downtown is the only option.
Some things you can expect to find include:
- Street markets
- Coffee Shops
- Bumbershoot (September)
- Earshot Jazz Festival (October-November)
- Seattle Restaurant Week (October-November)
The top tourist attractions in Portland include the Japanese Gardens, the Portland Art Museum and Oregon Zoo. It’s easy to make a trip from Portland into Washington too, as the drive to Seattle is only 3 hours.
If underground donut tours don’t tickle your fancy, any other trip would be a lengthy journey, such as the California/Oregon border being 300 miles away.
Best Time To Visit Portland?
We went to our trusted source on all things meteorological, Travel US News:
“The best time to visit Portland is from June to August when consistently warm weather allows the city’s outdoorsy culture to thrive. Plus, summer is when the city’s roses (especially at the International Rose Test Garden) are in full bloom. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so you’ll have to book at least a couple of months in advance to ensure availability and the best room rates.”
Check out some of the best hotels in Portland so you can arrange your stay and get the best deal ahead of time.
Portland isn’t the most tourist-centric city in the country, but it still has its fair share of visitors. We would suggest giving a trip here a try first before making any long-term commitments to living here.
Portland is very politically-minded and has ingratiated itself into progressive culture. If that’s your thing, we’re all for it.
Cost Of Living In Portland
We consulted numbeo.com on the user-submitted statistics, and we’re quite shocked at just how much cheaper Portland is to Seattle:
“Consumer Prices in Portland, OR are 10.67% lower than in Seattle, WA (without rent)
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Portland, OR are 16.76% lower than in Seattle, WA
Rent Prices in Portland, OR are 25.67% lower than in Seattle, WA
Restaurant Prices in Portland, OR are 12.73% lower than in Seattle, WA”
With the bourgeoise style of Portland, we would have guessed the other way round.
The Emerald city on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest is surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests.
As Washington State’s largest city, it’s home to the big tech giants, with Microsoft and Amazon headquartered in its metropolitan area.
Is Seattle Safe?
Whereas many cities in America have a consistent crime rate, Seattle is currently a very special case.
Even as recent as 4 or 5 years ago, we would’ve called Seattle one of the safest cities in the western hemisphere.
However, due to the political situation in America today, there’s no telling when the next protest will be and how bad it will get.
Seattle is known as the “Emerald City” and is the most populous city in Washington state. It is said that there is a 1 in 152 chance of being a victim of violent crime in Seattle. So is Seattle safe? (in a word): yes!
Is Seattle Expensive?
Gene Balk from the Seattle Times wrote an article about the perception of Seattle as being expensive due to the housing market.
“Seattle is the sixth most expensive city in the report, tied with Boston. The cost of living is about 52% higher than average. That much isn’t new.”
But when they deep-dived the statistics, they found that Seattle was one of the top three most expensive cities in the west.
The most expensive parts of Seattle are pretty much the neighborhoods to the east as well as Bainbridge Island.
Places To Visit in Seattle
Below you’ll find a shorlist of place you can visit in Seattle:
There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a recommendation. In addition to being an iconic feature along Seattle’s skyline, the Needle’s recent “Space Lift” freshens the look of the 55-year-old landmark.
With a first-of-its-kind rotating glass floor for a peek at the ground below as well as floor-to-ceiling glass windows for 360-degree views of the Puget Sound, the Space Needle still offers the classic views you’ve grown to love, but a million times better.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Situated directly underneath the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass showcase awe-inspiring glass sculptures created by the world-renowned Seattle artist Dale Chihuly.
The centrepiece is the 40-foot tall Glasshouse, which is home to an expansive 100-foot long sculpture.
If you’ll be traveling to the city soon, why not get your entry ticket ahead of time for admission to both Chihuly Garden and Glass?
Pacific Science Center
Spend a whole day at the Pacific Science Center!
With a tropical butterfly house (there are more than 800 of the beautiful winged insects inside!), a planetarium and hundreds of hands-on science exhibits, there is plenty to keep the whole family entertained.
Come nightfall, two IMAX theatres and one of the world’s largest Laser Dome theatres illuminate the Center.
Best Time To Visit Seattle
We went to our trusted source on all things meteorological, Travel US News:
“The best time to visit Seattle is from September to October. Summer marks the city’s high season, meaning room rates rise and availability drops, while cold winter weather can deter even the most avid sightseers.
Early fall, however, is a sweet spot for tourism: Summer weather lingers as the crowds disperse, leaving plenty of hotel rooms (and lower rates) up for grabs.
Meanwhile, spring offers lower lodging rates as well as warmer temps, but you’ll likely encounter some rain and cooler breezes.
Just remember to pack the appropriate attire to battle chilly winds and yes, the seemingly ever-present drizzle.”
Events you can expect to find include:
Food lovers can even take part in the walking food tour down at Pike Place Market to get a taste of Seattle’s most vibrant and historic market.
Cost Of Living In Seattle
Point2homes puts it best when they say:
Not only is Seattle the largest city in Washington state, but it’s also the biggest one in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. However, it’s also among the priciest places in the nation, with rents and house prices here typically around twice as expensive as the state average. Nevertheless, Seattle is regularly listed among the fastest-growing major American cities — due, in no small part, to the thriving tech industry and plentiful, high-paying job opportunities.”
So, if you’re one of the many people considering a move to Seattle, it’s well worth crunching the numbers to see how feasible it really is.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything regarding the cost of living in Seattle, from housing to shopping to healthcare and more.
Portland Vs Seattle: Conclusion
The Pacific Northwest offers a lot to its visitors and incoming citizens.
The best advice we would give people looking to move here is to go for Portland if you’re on a budget.
In the most simple terms, go for Seattle only if you have the money for it.
Neither of these locations made it onto our list of sustainable travel destinations but both cities have sustainable projects in motion.
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