Portland: A Whittie’s Guide to the City
Are you new to the Rose City or soon-to-be resident? Or maybe you're just here for a few sleeps and looking for a great place to get a bite to eat. Moving to or visiting a new area can be a tough transition so we've asked your fellow Whitties for the best places to eat, play, find housing and more to give you a leg-up in your new domain.
"Southeast Portland-especially the Buckman, Sunnyside, and Tabor neighborhoods-are great places to start. There are some affordable apartment buildings tucked into the residential, family-home areas, and they're often conveniently located along major bus lines. I had a solid experience renting from Capital Property Management, which has a lot of nice but affordable apartments throughout Portland and was open to renting to recent grads."
"Craigslist is still probably the best bet." Dan Shaw '08
"North Portland or Saint John's." Erin MacGillivray '17
"Housing is most affordable far from Downtown, like South Portland (near Milwaukie) or the outer East Side."
"NE Portland tends to have more affordable prices and access to the Max (train). Just a few blocks south of Portland is Milwaukie, also more affordable and access to the orange line of the MAX."
"It's useful to have a car, especially if you need transportation late at night. Living close to the MAX line is always a great idea!" Erin MacGillivray '17
"Bike, bus or car."
"Bike or TriMet"
"Streetcar, MAX, Uber, driving."
"Living on a MAX line is super helpful. Car2Go is also a very efficient way to move and can help fill in the gaps of public transit."
"Public transit is ubiquitous and affordable, but may not be convenient for commuting depending on how far you live from your work-there are often delays."
"Car, then biking/bus."
"Biking and walking, depending on where you live in relation public transit."
"Car is easiest, but public transportation is cheap (just takes a long time). Lyft is great if you're sharing a ride. Many people like to bike and there are bike-heavy streets but note that a good lock is necessary as bike crime is on the rise."
"The best part is being able to get out of the city and adventure in the mountains or on the coast. It is becoming increasingly difficult to park in some neighborhoods so having a car can be a bit of a chore. The public transit system isn't excellent, but if you are close to the light rail it's great." Dan Shaw '08
"The pros are you don't have to rely on the sometimes infrequent bus service. Cons are parking in downtown, and price of gas/maintenance. If you live in the suburbs, a car is necessary." Erin MacGillivray '17
"Pros: Easy to get around, it rains a lot here. Cons: Parking is a drag and expensive if you're going downtown. Sometimes it's just as fast to get somewhere by bike." Spense Meeks '10
"Lots of pros-like getting to hiking trails and diagonal across the city. If you don't already have a car though, can definitely make it work without."
"It's super helpful to have a car in general, both for everyday errands and weekend adventures. The main downside is that if you work downtown parking is super expensive. Most folks who work downtown end up taking transit anyway which makes it hard to justify the cost of the car."
"It makes getting to work much less time-consuming and more feasible than using public transit if you live in a suburb and work in the city or vice versa. Parking is tight in many areas, though, and depending on where you live, you may have to pay for parking."
"Pros: Can get around quickly if you're not dealing with rush hour or if you're sticking in the same area.
Cons: If you live Downtown or in an old neighborhood where nobody has a garage, you have to deal with street parking, which is VERY competitive. Traffic is also horrible during rush hour."
"Traffic tends to be bad during rush hour but there tends to be plenty of parking. Portland has a lot of beautiful nature just 30 minutes outside of the city, if you have a car I recommend keeping it. Portland is bike friendly if you live and work in the inner part of the city."
"Pros: Ability to do trips/vacation outside PDX, able to hide stuff in your car you may need for work, personal freedom to get places faster (sometimes). Cons: People might break into your car if they see anything hidden, traffic is terrible in the city at rush hours, and hydroplaning is very common in rainy season."
"Run. Bike. Play frisbee." Dan Shaw '08
"See live theatre!" Erin MacGillivray '17
"Hiking is key." Spense Meeks '10
"Go to theatre, walks, visit parks, and hang out in new neighborhoods."
"I play roller derby. The local league (Rose City Rollers) has a thriving recreational program that accepts and trains people with no skating experience. It's a great way for women and non-binary people to try the sport out and see if they like it. And I'm not the only Whitman alum skating here!"
"Run, walk with friends, sit in coffee shops, etc."
"See live music, eat good food with friends, go to literary readings, hike/camp, and rock climb."
"Hike in Forest Park, Cycle around the city's greenways and along the Esplanade, go to concerts, go shopping in the Pearl and walk along NW 23rd, try the monthly flavors at Salt and Straw, swim on Sauvie Island beach, pick fruits and veggies at Sauvie Island, go to Timbers games."
"Hike in the Columbia River Gorge, walk around Oaks Bottom, wander around SE Hawthorne and SE Division streets."
"Hike. The gorge is only 30 minutes away and has dozens of amazing hikes. Mt. Hood is 1 hour away and has great camping, backpacking, and hiking destinations."
"All activities: Biking, running, going out for food/drinks, museums, Rose Garden (Free!)."
"The Columbia River Gorge has incredible hiking and biking." Dan Shaw '08
"Shaking The Tree Theatre." Erin MacGillivray '17
"Check out trails around Hood River to the east or Gifford Pincho up North." Spense Meeks '10
"The coast is my go to."
"Laurelhurst Park, Eastbank Esplanade/Waterfront Park."
"Readings: Powell's Books and Mother Foucault's Bookshop. Hiking: the Gorge, Forest Park. Climbing: Portland Rock Gym, The Circuit."
"The Gorge or Mt. Hood. The Sandy River is really fun to float during the summer."
"Canard. They have excellent options across the board and feels fancy without being particularly costly." Dan Shaw '08
"Pollo Norte for really good Mexican rotisserie chicken and handmade tortillas." Erin MacGillivray '17
"Bollywood Theater or ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria. Killer Indian and Mexican food with counter service. Everything on the menu is great and relatively reasonably priced and you can bring whatever size of group with you." Spense Meeks '10
"Very difficult question to answer-but my favorite quick and cheap Mexican place is Pepinos on NW 23rd, favorite higher end place is Can Font or Andina, favorite hip PDX place is Ned Ludd, and you can never go wrong with Ava Gene's."
"So hard to pick just one! But I'd say Teote in Southeast Portland-delicious Venezuelan food (arepas etc.) and drinks, fun vibe indoors and out (there's a fire pit and picnic tables on the back patio), not pricey. "
"There are too many great places in Portland to recommend just one! There's something delicious at every price point and in each neighborhood. One of my favorites is ¿Por Qué No? Taqueria. They have a relaxed atmosphere, great tacos, house made salsas, and margaritas. The owner pays his staff a living wage and health benefits, and they donate much of their proceeds to local social justice nonprofits."
"Sweet Hereafter. It's a bar, vegan, and has a rad covered outside dining area."
"It's not hard to find good food. Food carts are getting pushed out of the city but finding a great pod means a choice for everyone."
"The Sweet Hereafter-a bar with an all-vegan menu and great back patio." Erin MacGillivray '17
"The Good Foot in SE is a great spot, especially on Friday nights. Good music, good beer, a chill bar upstairs if you're tired of dancing and you get to avoid all of the drama from the sketchier clubs and people in China Town." Spense Meeks '10
"Go to a Rose City Rollers roller derby bout!"
"Crystal Ballroom! Lots of concerts, plus weekly 80s night and 90s night."
"The PSU Market is on Saturday's-it's huge and has tons of stellar vendors! The smaller markets in each neighborhood vary throughout the week and generally all have solid vendors." Dan Shaw '08
"Beaverton Farmers' Market-Downtown Beaverton." Erin MacGillivray '17
"The PSU Farmers' Market goes for most of the year and has the greatest selection of produce and lunch items. It's every Saturday and Sunday in the middle of PSU near Downtown." Spense Meeks '10
"PSU Farmers Market is the place to go on Saturday mornings for delicious produce, but also food carts and pastries."
"Beaverton Farmers' Market-year round."
"King farmers market-NE 7th and Wygant, Sundays late spring through mid-fall.
"Portland Farmers Market at PSU on Saturdays, Hollywood Market on Saturdays, Hillsdale on Sundays, Montavilla on Sundays."
"Explore. There are a ton of amazing little streets that have shops and restaurants nestled right in residential areas. Belmont, Killingsworth, and St. Johns have a ton of cool spots that are still funky and accessible. Spend some time running around and checking out what other people recommend." Spense Meeks '10
"Commuting into Portland from Hillsboro is an exhausting experience! Hillsboro is a wonderful community to live in if you work nearby, but Highway 26 gets completely packed at rush hour." Erin MacGillivray '17
"Traffic is real, leave yourself time if you need to go somewhere during rush hour. Also, make sure to be intentional about eating out. While going to restaurants and bars is kind of the main activity here, it can be important to budget and think about health too!"
"Make sure your landlord has good reviews."
"I thought I would be able to afford my own apartment sooner. I lived with four roommates until I finished my Master's and started earning $60,000/yr., five years after I left Whitman. Be prepared for housing to be expensive and find some cool housemates."
"If you're not going to have a car, make sure you live along a couple bus lines ... and that those bus lines can get you to work without a bunch of transfers."
"Rent is really increasing here. When I first moved here, it was tough to find a place because housing was so competitive. Luckily, I had a partner to split the rent with. Things have slowed down a bit, but I recommend being flexible, be ready to put your deposit down to secure your apartment/house or consider living in a shared housing arrangement."
"I technically do not live in Portland, but have a lot of friends in medical school who do. They learned the hard way about being robbed, cars broken into, etc. about city life. Keep your valuables close, don't trust new people immediately (the real world is a bit harsher than Whitman) and trust your gut instincts about all situations (work, life, etc.)."
"Compared to the other big West Coast cities, Portland has a much smaller, more accessible vibe. It's super quick to get anywhere in the city and getting around exclusively by bike is completely reasonable." Dan Shaw '08
"It has all the excitement and activities of a city but easy proximity to outdoor adventures, the literary and arts scene is really rich and it's full of interesting, passionate people (including many Whitties!)."
"I grew up in Portland, so it feels like home to me. I love how close we are to the forest, farmland, and the coast." Erin MacGillivray '17
"The food, the rain, the progressive attitude, the embracing your ‘weirdness' and reveling in it." Spense Meeks '10
"Awesome nightscape, good access to the coast and forest and mountains, really nice people, innovation hub."
"Endless restaurants/bars, close to the coast/mountains/wine country and it's easy to get around."
"Portland has a wealth of things to get involved in and it's a relatively safe place to be gay."
"The people are mostly very kind and happy, the landscape is gorgeous, the library system is great, people share similar values and my best friend lives here."
"Portland is so beautiful. I love the contrast of the urban setting flanked by lush forests. The play of the sunrise and sunset on the Willamette River is never the same and is continually fascinating-whether it's foggy and brooding or glittering pink. I really enjoy the walkability-pretty much any neighborhood has an assortment of nearby cafes, shops, bars, grocery stores and parks. There is so much art everywhere and so much to do. I am in love with this city and want to stay here forever."
"It's beautiful, it has amazing food, the people are generally genuinely friendly and trying their best."
"Portland is awesome - so many opportunities for new alumni to meet and network. (But living outside the city in other areas of Oregon is awesome, too!)"