Portland vs. Seattle- Where Should You Live?

portland vs seattle

The “City of Roses” or the “Emerald City”, where should you live? It’s easy to get confused — whether to go for outright aesthetics, where the food is or to just stick with the friendly bunch.

There’s no need to fret. Here’s all the guidance you need! In this article, I’ll discuss the details of Portland vs Seattle. You’ll be able to make up your mind at the end of the article.


Life in the City of Roses

Roses, yes. But even more — great beer! Portland is one of the largest cities in Oregon. It also ranks the 25th largest city in the United States.

In our previous article, we discussed the Top Pros and Cons of Living in Portland. Information from that article will also be introduced in this article. Feel free to check it out!

Portland is famous for a lot of things. If you visit Portland, here are some important things to note and look out for

  • Their food truck scene
  • Portland Saturday market
  • Their arboretum
  • Their great taste in art
  • Their coffee
  • Their love for bicycle rides
  • Their awe-inspiring murals

You must have seen the most popular mural that speaks volumes — “Keep Portland Weird”. This mural shapes the entire Portland culture — weird and fun.

You can also check out our article on the Best Murals in Portland.

Life in the Emerald City

You can easily tell what Seattle is known for from its peculiar nicknames. First, Seattle is known for great coffee, but beyond that, Seattle’s nickname says a lot about its scenery.

Residents and visitors say a lot about its lush, green forests that are traced to large depths of water in Seattle.

Seattleites are also houseboat lovers. The city has the world’s largest population in its houseboats. As of 1920, the city had about 2,500 floating homes in different waterways. Thanks to Lake View water which seemed to improve its quality regularly.

In our previous article, we discussed 20 honest Pros and Cons of Living in Seattle in detail. Information from that article will also be introduced in this article. Feel free to check it out!

Summary of Pros of Living in Portland vs Seattle

Let’s take a look at the pros of living in Portland vs Seattle. First, a summary.

Pros of Living in PortlandPros of Living in Seattle
Friendly ResidentsEducation is Great
Great BeerGreat Food and Coffee
Large BookstoreNo Income Tax
Temperate WeatherSeattle is Animal-Friendly
Affordable Housing CostTemperate Weather

Pros of Living in Portland

1.   Friendly Residents

Portlanders are one of the friendliest people you’d ever meet. In 2016, Portland ranked 14th most hospitable city among southern cities.

2.   Portland is a Foodie’s Paradise

Now this is a good reason to live in Portland. Do you love food? You’re in for a ride with Portland cuisines.

In our previous article, we discussed the 16 Best Portland Brunch Spots You Must Try. You can’t miss this if you live in Portland!

Here are 7 most famous foods you’ll find Portlanders eating:

3.   Portland has the Biggest Bookstore Ever!

Are you a bibliophile? You’re sure to love Portland. Portland is home to the famous Powell’s Books — the largest bookstore in the world.

If anything, you’ll never run out of books to read in Portland. And you know what they say about books — you can travel anywhere in the world by just reading!

4.   Portland is Safe

I agree that Portland may not be the safest city in the United States, but it ranks very low for violent crime. According to Neighborhood Scout, the crime rate is 5.52 per 1000 citizens in Portland.

5.   Great Beer

Portland has some of the best breweries in the world. If you love beer, you don’t even have to look for a brewery. They’re scattered all over Portland. Some of the best Portland breweries are

6.   Affordable Housing Cost

Even though the cost of housing is said to have risen in Portland, it’s still nothing compared to bustling cities in the Pacific Northwest. In 2021, the cost of houses was said to have risen to about $500,000.

7.   No Sales Tax

There are 5 cities in the United States without sales tax — Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Delaware, and New Hampshire. If you live in Portland, this is one of the benefits you get to enjoy.

However, you’re not free from property tax or state wage tax. Portland makes up for its no sales tax provision by imposing heavy personal income taxes on its residents. Be sure to count the cost before deciding.

Pros of Living in Seattle

1.   Education is Great

A city with over 50% literates? Must be Seattle! Being one of the most educated cities in America, Seattle models greatness for students.

In Seattle, over 50% of residents above 25 years can boast of University degrees. That’s something in my opinion.

If we’re going to compare the number of the educated populace in other cities, Seattle beats them by far. This explains why Seattle boasts of having the highest cluster of brainpower.

2.   Great Food and Coffee

If you love good food and coffee, you can choose to live in Seattle because of the variety.

Seattle has over 2,300 restaurants, and all of them serve coffee! Every restaurant also offers a wide range of cuisines.

However, only your tastebuds will decide if you prefer Seattle delicacies to that of Portland.

3.   Seattle is Animal-Friendly

Seattle lives by the “A dog is man’s best friend” adage. You’ll first notice the attachment to cats and dogs in Seattle if you’re sensitive.

Couples can choose not to have children and decide to rear cats or dogs. Safe to say, pets are preferred to children in Seattle.

And don’t be discouraged. This is not a ban on having kids. It’s only a preference.

4.   No State Income Tax

Washington is one of the 9 states in the United States without state tax. And this is a big deal when you calculate it.

Let’s say you earn $50,000 monthly and have to pay a state income tax of 10%. This is asides from all other expenses you’ll have to handle for the month.

Remember, tax is progressive too. You earn more, and you pay more. However, states with no state income tax rely on sales tax. So you also have to watch out for your purchases.

Since there’s no state income tax, they make up for it through sales tax. But you can be smart about it. Instead of picking up things in bits, buy supplies in bulk to evade heavy sales taxes.

5.   Temperate Weather

Unlike in Portland, Seattle is never too hot or too cold. The weather is just perfect for all body types. Above all, Seattle is the best city for those with allergies.

Summary of Cons of Living in Portland vs. Seattle

Here’s a quick summary of the cons of living in Portland vs. Seattle

Cons of Living in PortlandCons of Living in Seattle
The Weather is UnpredictableIt’s not 100% Summer Weather in Seattle
Nonexistent NightlifeNightlife is Mildly Fun
Traffic is FrustratingTraffic is Horrendous
Homeless is a Thing in PortlandGrowing Homeless Population
Air Conditioners are ScarceHouse Cost is High

Cons of Living in Portland

1.   The Weather is Unpredictable

Talk about fluctuations! When it’s summer, the weather can be cool and admirable. But you can’t predict what’s next when the season is over. If you’re going to live in Portland, all you need to do is prepare. Whether it’s rainy or not, always make plans for warmth.

2.   Nonexistent Nightlife

Portlanders are more diurnal than nocturnal. Though it’s normal to find some cool bars, clubs, and restaurants. However, there aren’t enough to keep your excitement going.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife in Portland best since it’s only for a short while. You’ll want something new every day if you’re a dynamo, and Portland won’t give you that.

3.   Homelessness is a thing in Portland

Portland is, unfortunately, home to a lot of homeless people. The worst part is that a large number of these people are teenagers.

4.   Air Conditioners are Scarce

Most Portlanders live without air conditioners, and that’s because there are no pre-installed units. In the summer, they rely on portable air conditioners.

I don’t think this is a big deal since portable air conditioners are a thing. If you’re passionate about Portland, you may have to get yours.

5.   Traffic is Horrendous

Are you relocating from New York or Los Angeles? Well, it doesn’t get better in Portland. Commuting to places can take forever. Though nobody loves this experience, it’s unavoidable if you have to live in Portland. All you need to do is incline to effective ways to handle road rage.

Cons of Living in Seattle

1.   Unfriendly Residents

Unlike Portlanders, Seattleites don’t care much. They go about their businesses, not minding who lives next to them.

If you’re big on friendships and connections, you may be disappointed in getting to Seattle. But it’s no big deal.

If better things attract you to Seattle, the residents’ rudeness shouldn’t bother you.

2.   The Weather is not Entirely Wonderful in Seattle

Though the weather gets everyone comfortable in Seattle, it experiences a lot of annoying gray skies. Residents have complained that it can be frustrating, especially since you can’t even tell the time. They experience it mainly between October and early May.

3.   Cost of Housing is High

Unlike Portland, the cost of living in Seattle is far greater. As of March 2021, a house costs about $800,000. It could even go higher, depending on where you live. So if you’re a young person, your small budget of $300,000 may not even cut it.

It gets worse if you’re looking to live downtown (since it’s most interesting there). If you want to live in Seattle, go for houses farther away from downtown. It’s much cheaper there.

4. Traffic is Frustrating

Seattle is one of the cities with bad congestion in the United States. Its congestion history can be traced to Seattle’s rising population.

In 2022, Seattle boasts 3,489,000 residents, which is a 0.8% rise from its number in 2021. Since Seattle is a major Washington city, there’s an influx of commuters going into the city for daily work.

If you stay in the greater Seattle area, you’ll have to deal with the traffic daily.

5. Seattle is Mildly Fun

If fun means so much to you, Seattle may not give you the satisfaction you crave. Several residents are leaving Seattle in search of fun. Compared to bustling cities like California or Canada, Seattle doesn’t offer much fun. It’s up to you!

6. Growing Homeless Population

Just like in Portland, you’ll find homeless people all over the streets of Seattle. This is a pitiable sight, to be honest. If you live in either city, this is something you’ll have to cope with seeing.


Portland vs. Seattle, where should you really live? Well, I’d say you should aim to visit both Portland and Seattle. From this article, you can tell where the two cities meet.

On the good side, both cities have good food. On the contrary, both cities have horrendous traffic and a growing homeless population. Nonetheless, you’ll know where to live once your feet tread both cities.

In the main, savor the uniqueness of both places. It’s all a box of adventure!

Frequently Asked Questions About Portland vs. Seattle — Where Should You Live?

Is Portland cooler than Seattle?

In terms of weather? Seattle’s weather is cooler and milder. But from pleasantness, summers in Portland are more pleasing. Summer even feels longer in Portland.

Is Seattle more diverse than Portland?

As for diversity, Seattle has a much more diverse population. In the United States, Portland ranks as the whitest city. It also ranks as the least diverse city in the United States.

Where is the safest part of Seattle to live?

Based on feedback from residents, Lake City is the safest neighborhood in Seattle. But it’s not all there is. Some other safe places are:

  • Bryn Mawr-Skyway
  • 28th Avenue SW
  • Magnolia Boulevard
  • 3rd Avenue NW

Is Seattle a white city?

At some point, Seattle was tagged white because of its 66% of white population. However, in 2020, it came down to 59.5%. In 2021, Seattle ranked the fifth fastest diversifying city in the United States.

Why is homelessness a problem in Seattle?

Mainly because of the high cost of living. The cost of living in Seattle is 56.8% higher than the national average. Houses are unaffordable, and the basic wage is low. Because of the number of homeless people on the streets, the rate of property crimes seems to increase.