Northwest Face Off: Portland vs. Seattle

The Pacific Northwest is a true paradise. Mild climates, jaw dropping scenery, infinite hiking possibilities, an endless supply of hip businesses, and a thriving economy, the Northwest has it all. The two big cities vying for attention in the Northwest are Seattle and Portland. Both are bursting with flannel and coffee, but each have their own unique charms. Read on for our breakdown of these two cool cities.

Portland vs Seattle

The Cost of Living

First things first, Portland is substantially cheaper than Seattle. As of September 2017, the average rent in Portland, Oregon is $1646 per month. One bedrooms in Portland average $1521 per month on average, and two bedrooms cost around $1873 per month. In contrast, rental prices in Seattle are almost $500 more expensive. The average rent for an apartment in Seattle, WA is $2181, with one bedrooms clocking in at $2048 per month on average, and two bedrooms averaging $2805 per month.

The higher rental prices in Seattle are due to both the larger population of the northern city, and its geographical layout. Seattle is wedged between two large bodies of water, Puget Sound to the west, and Lake Washington to the east. These beautiful water features limit the amount the city can expand outwards, resulting in an increase of both population density and rental prices as more and more people move to Seattle.

Rent trends show that this price difference is only going to grow. Though rents have stayed relatively stable in both cities, in the past year, the average rent in Portland has actually decreased by 1.15%. In comparison, rents in Seattle are rising. Average rent has gone up 1.24% in the past year, and rents for one-bedroom apartments in Seattle have increased by 3.96% since 2016.

Thriving Northwest Economies

Though rent may be higher in Seattle, wages are also higher there. According to the 2015 US Census, the average income in Seattle is $75,331 per year, in comparison to Portland's average household income, which was $63,850 per year. Earnings in both cities are growing at a rate rapidly outpacing the national average. Nationwide, incomes have increased by 3.83% in the past year, but earnings in Seattle and Portland have increased by 5.57% and 5.86%, respectively.

This booming economy is due in part to the thriving tech sector taking root in the northwest. After San Francisco, Seattle has long been one of the biggest tech hubs in the United States. With well established companies such as Microsoft and Boeing, as well as new major players such as Amazon, nearly 90% of the 250,000 tech jobs in Washington state are in Seattle. Besides tech companies, Seattle also hosts the headquarters of many other major corporations including Costco, Starbucks and Nordstrom.

Technology is also a major sector of Portland's economy, which boasts more than 1,200 tech companies. The countless startups and growing tech industry in this northwest city are creating tons of high paying jobs in Portland. Besides technology, Portland is home to many major athletic apparel brands. Nike, Adidas, and Columbia Sportswear all have US headquarters in the Oregon city.

The Nature Factor

Both Portland and Seattle have easy access to top notch outdoor recreation. Seattleites can drive less than an hour east for epic hiking in the Cascade Mountains, or take the ferry across Puget Sound to explore Olympic National Park, which is home to the only temperate rain forest in the country. In terms of water, Puget Sound and Lake Washington give Seattle residents plenty of opportunities for boating, kayaking and swimming.

Portland also has plenty of stunning scenery. Locals love driving out to Mt. Hood for both winter and summer recreation, and there are plenty of hiking options in the Columbia Gorge. And the Oregon Coast is unparalleled. Cannon Beach is only a ninety minute drive outside of the city and offers Portlanders amazing tide pools and breathtaking sea stacks.

Local Culture

Portlandia may be a parody, but the hip factor of Portland cannot be overstated. Chock full of independent coffee shops, donut stores, and trendy restaurants, Portland is a foodie's dream. Portland also is home to Powell's Books, the largest independent bookstore in America.

The birthplace of grunge music and the artisan coffee movement, Seattle is also a pretty cool city, though it can't quite compete with Portland's concentration of hipsters. Seattle has a killer local music scene with awesome local venues like The Neptune, The Triple Door, and the Showbox. And locals go wild for Molly Moon's, a Seattle based ice cream chain, and Dick's, a burger chain with a cult following. However, all of the new tech money has cleaned up some of Seattle's grungy history; long time residents decry the loss of Seattle's cultural scene as big tech has taken root in the city.

With thriving economies, stunning nature, and hip cultural scenes, both Seattle and Portland have a lot to offer. Browse our rental options today to decide which cool northwest city is best for you.

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