Portland vs Austin – living or travel

If the slogan “Keep Portland Weird” rings a bell, that is because these phrases originated in Austin. The “Keep Austin Weird” slogan materialized in Austin in 2000 to promote local and small businesses. In 2003, Portland’s icon Terry Currier brought the slogan to Portland to promote local art, individuality, atypical lifestyle choices, and leisure activities.

These two cities indeed have similar slogans. However, they also share differences and other similarities. If you plan to either take a city break or move to one of these cities, there are significant differences between Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas…

Portland vs Austin: Friendliness and Culture

Keep Portland Weird Sign

Austin Culture

Portland and Austin both exude a laid-back atmosphere with a welcoming and friendly attitude towards people and their visitors.

Quirky, creative, and yummy. All these are apt Portland descriptions that one can vividly experience when in the City. Portland is a city that shows a culture of innovation and edginess which typically appeals to whoever has an entrepreneurial bent.

The city’s sense of community is seen in small and local businesses, specifically those focused on craft beer, speciality coffee, and other locally-made products. The welcoming attitude that encourages a sense of creativity is very evident in the city’s products and people.

Austin on the other hand is one of the most important cities in the United States for entrepreneurship and a known hub for startups. People from Austin are inspiring, creative, and generous. It could be the southern hospitality or all the sunshine they get, Texans are well-known for their friendliness and commitment to their respective communities.

The city prides itself on excellent parks, bike and hike trails, river access, great food, good music, and collaborative tech culture. 

Demographics and Diversity

People at Portland Saturday Market

Austin Demographics

A study in 2020 revealed that among the 501 cities in the US, Austin sits at 73rd overall and 6th in Texas, in terms of diversity. The ranking was done using three various indicators including language, race and ethnicity, and birthplace.

More than seventy percent of the city’s population are white, African and Black Americans, Asians, and other races accumulate for the remaining thirty percent. Austin has a large Hispanic population.

Portland is no exception as well. Historically, ethnic and racial diversity have not been the city’s strong suit. The city’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) sits at the 44th spot in diversity out of the fifty most populous metropolitan areas in the United States. Non-Hispanic white Portland residents make up 77% of the city’s population.

Austin is much more populous with more than a million people compared to only over 600,000 residents of Portland. In terms of population density, Portland has about 4,995 people per square mile while Austin’s density sits at about 3,214 per square mile.

Portland vs Austin: Weather

Weather and Climate in Portland - what to expect

Austin Weather

Austin generally has a subtropical humid climate. Hot temperatures averaging from 90°F are experienced during the summer months. However, summer nights temperatures can drop into the 50s depending on the cloud winds and other weather conditions.

The winter season in Austin is relatively mild, with temperatures dropping below freezing on 25 days every year. Heavy rainfall can sometimes be experienced in the city, especially from May to September. Ultimately, several areas in Austin are suitable for growing flowers and vegetables.

Closely similar to Austin, Portland is best known for being rainy. However, the showers are relatively short-lived and gentle, allowing locals to still enjoy the city. Generally, Portland experiences a moderate climate with warm, dry summers and wet, cool winters with rains and a little snow.

Portland vs Austin: Budget and Living Costs

The famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters in downtown Portland

Austin cost of living

Choosing to live in either Portland or Austin can be expensive. Almost half of the residents in Portland rent their homes. Data in January revealed that the average rent for apartments was approximately $1,495, which is a little bit higher than the national average of $1,465. The same goes for rents in Austin which generally pay around $1,431 and can go up to $2,500 in high-rise apartment buildings.

Portland’s general utilities cost about $188 for heat, basic electricity, garbage services, and gas. This figure is $24 higher than the national average. Contrary to Austin’s which sits at an average of $146 per month. This is 15% less than the national average cost.

The average salary in Portland is around $69,000 per year, which explains the city’s higher cost of living. Meanwhile, Austin residents get an average annual salary of about $55, 182, which is much lesser than that of Portland’s. However, these figures are generally above the national average.

Portland vs Austin: Lifestyle

Portland lifestyle

Austin Lifestyle

Portland, Austin, and the outdoors go hand-in-hand. Several of the exciting things residents in Portland do involve the great outdoors. The city boasts about 200 parks for people to hike and stop for picnics.

The same goes for Austin which has miles of biking and hiking trails, kayaking, swimming, and canoeing. With great outdoor exposure, the residents here tend to be more conscious and concerned about the environment.

Portland was once referred to as America’s best food city. With its fresh local produce and high-quality ingredients, you can enjoy various cuisines in restaurants and farm-to-table dining experiences. The city comes alive at night with themed bars making up a large part of the city’s nightlife. The people of Portland love all things fermented including ciders, craft beers, and kombucha.

Meanwhile, Austin’s cultural and music scene indeed lives up to the hype as people won’t see any shortage of excellent venues to explore. The city is also called the Live Music Capital of the World, having more live music stages than any other city in the US.

Portland vs Austin: Transportation and Traffic

Portland Streetcar Oregon

Austin Traffic

Portland residents commute an average of 26.1 minutes while those living in Austin commute longer at 40 minutes. Only 6.5% of the residents in Portland and neighboring areas commute using public transit. Many of them own cars to commute from home to offices or school.

However, one can reduce gas and other private transportation costs by using Portland’s public transport. The city is known for its easy and tourist-friendly public transportation systems with extensive routes from light rail trains and TriMet.

Austin traffic is known to be one of the worst in the country. Which is probably the reason behind the longer commute time. An average of 72% of commuters drive to work or school alone gathering up all the cars on the roads which causes too much traffic and uses up more gas. As with the public transport system,

Capital Metro Transit has bus routes covering the city and MetroRapid buses serving the downtown. There’s also a 32-mile light rail spanning from downtown going to the northwest of Leander.

Portland vs Austin: Crime

Crime statistics in Portland Oregon

Austin Crime

Despite the increase in crime in the past year, Portland has remained a safe city for people to stay in. Austin for its part has been known remarkably to be a safe city to visit. The city’s violent crime rate is 313 per 100,000 residents which is lower than the national average of 366.

Portland vs Austin: Things to do and other attractions

Voodoo Doughnut Portland

Attractions in Austin

When in Portland, you do not want to miss visiting one of over seventy breweries in the city. It houses more grass-root beer than any other place on earth. Several Portland breweries sport open and large patios, and beer gardens get busy on winter nights. The Bridgeport Brew Hub serves draught straight from the city’s oldest microbrewery.

Also, make a stop at the Portland Saturday Market that runs on Saturdays and Sundays starting from March through Christmas Eve. Shop everything you want from vegan soaps, pet clothes, coveted food carts, and unique local artifacts. Treat your sweet tooth with doughnut creations from Voodoo Doughnuts, read some good books from Powell’s City of Books, and feed your curiosity through the Portland Art Museum the Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Austin also boasts diverse attractions – from its barbecue joints to decade-old dive bars, thousands of boots displays and cowboy hats, and music clubs. Experience art and history in the city through the Moody Theater, Harry Ransom Center, Blanton Museum of Art, the Texas Capitol, and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.

Nature Attractions and Outdoors

Barton Creek Greenbelt

Portland Japanese Garden

Besides the country vibe Austin gives, the city also boasts some of the most exciting outdoor adventures. People can go mountain biking at the Barton Creek Greenbelt which prides itself with wooded hiking areas and limestone cliffs.

It spans over 11km from Sickler Park to the Woods of Westlake village. Enjoy the scenic nature view and make stops on natural swimming pools along the four-hour mountain bike course. Make a trip to Mount Bonnell to get the best panoramic view of the sunset and the city.

Portland also does not lack natural attractions allowing more people to appreciate the outdoors. Hike the Forest Park, see the International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden, and take a guided tour to the Columbia River Gorge which is home to scenic vistas, waterfalls, and various hiking trails.

Portland vs Austin: Music, Arts, and Neighborhoods

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall - Portland

Austin arts scene

Portland is truly an exciting and interesting city with craft beer-loving people, and unicycle-riding, among others. The city boasts a vast range of festivals, fresh music ensembles, presenters, and hosts to young and old artists who aim to find new audiences for their music. Also one of Portland’s known attractions is Powell’s City of Books.

The bookstore speaks so much of the creative scene and culture of the city. It houses over one million books, taking up a whole block in the city.

If National Geographic mentioned Portland as one of the top ten best literary cities in the world, Austin, has also been known as the Live Capital Music of the World. Besides the various museums, arts, and cultural events that happen throughout the city, several of them are free to the community.

Notable Neighborhoods in Portland

Nob Hill Portland Oregon

Downtown Portland exudes a vibrant community with excellent restaurants, great local shopping options, and is home to the Pioneer Courthouse Square. The neighborhood is compact so it is easy to explore. Swing by the waterfront during the cherry blossom season to witness a delightful showcase of spring colors.

The Hawthorne District is one of the most loved areas. Belmont Street houses a high concentration of great shops, quaint cafes, phenomenal restaurants, vintage clothing stores, and bars. The street is also easy to walk to.

Notable Neighborhoods in Austin

Downtown neighborhood Austin

The heart and soul of Austin lie in the Downtown neighborhood. It is home to historic theaters, music venues, trendy boutiques, and museums. Meanwhile, Market District, North Austin, and Clarksville houses busy cars and pedestrians heading to large natural food markets and various iconic stores. The neighborhood has world-class restaurants and breweries, mixed with family-friendly entertainment and shopping developments.

Portland vs Austin: Social Issues

Portland Social Issues

Austin Social Problems

One of the prevalent social issues these two cities face is homelessness. Portland on its part has an enormous homeless population of around 4,015 homeless people and the number of unsheltered individuals hit a record-high 2,037. While there may be several underlying concerns that led to them being homeless, one of them is the increasing cost of living in the city.

Austin is not an exception to this concern as the city also lacks adequate housing spaces for an estimated 3,000 homeless residents. These homeless’ fear of getting arrested or ticketed has forced them out of sight or flee to the wood to pitch tents.

Final Thoughts

Portland White Stag Sign

Austin cool

Portland and Austin have similar characteristics in some aspects. However, it can still be challenging to choose from either of the two as they also have varied and interesting things to offer to residents and visitors.

If you wish to explore larger cities but on a tight budget, go to Austin. For compact and short-distance explorations, you can opt for Portland. Remember that Portland is relatively expensive, but the city has a greater salary than Austin.

When it comes to attractions, vibe, art, cuisine, and other creative scenes, these two have quite a few similarities. After all, they both share the same quirky and ‘weird’ slogan. 


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