28 Things About Portland That Seem True

1. Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer. Beer; beer, beer.

2. Funemployment.

3. Everything is so cheap that you will compulsively overtip. (You’re doing it wrong).

4. Never look a kombucha mother in the eye. This is so serious.

5. There’s actually a skyline, sort of! It’s pretty!

6. Why does anyone not live here?

7. Oh yeah, rain.

8. Sometimes at a 4-way stop everyone just sits there politely and looks at each other.

9. People keep saying ominous, cryptic things about the rain.WINTER IS COMING.

10. How many people meant to move to Seattle and just didn’t quite make it?

11. Go by train, y’all.

12. Every day is Portlandia brought to life, but don’t say that because it’s probably not cool.

13. No one over 40 lives here…which translates into a terrible cougar deficit.

14. If you see Carrie Brownstein at a coffee shop around the corner, you’ll really wish you’d sprung for a bike with cooler handlebars. Then you will hyperventilate for 30 seconds and need your inhaler.

15. There are more coffee shops than human people to occupy them.

16. This exists.

17. Kinds of guilt you will accumulate: Guilt of leeching off of the local economy while making an out-of-state salary, Lack of cultural diversity guilt, Guilt of incorrectly composting, Guilt of wanting an automatic drip coffee maker, Paper towel guilt, Symmetrical haircut guilt.

18. Why is there no one living in these basements?

19. When someone offers to “take you to the river,” say yes; never ask which river.

20. Maybe there are no gay bars because every structure with humans inside of it is a theoretical gay bar.

21. There is no sales tax. REPEAT: THERE IS NO SALES TAX.

22. Never let anyone see you use your inhaler, esp. while biking. See: #14.

23. Sometimes a guy at the bar next to you just went to sleep sitting up, and the bartender nudges him awake gently and suggests he close out instead of tipping him out of his chair like in most cities.

24. Holistic everything.

25. Post-PoMo, Post-Irony, Post-Everything except brunch. Brunch is fucking serious, so stay in the moment, okay?

26. No one ever tries to steal your bike, which is sort of boring.

27. You can eat biscuits and veg. gravy every single day, which is to say that you will never leave.

28. This: “One of Portlandia’s catchphrases is that Portland is “where young people go to retire,” but that doesn’t fully capture it. Rather, think back to the moment when you realized you were grown up enough to buy candy whenever you wanted. Then imagine extending that phase indefinitely, for years.”

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Taylor has written 136 articles for us.


  1. Oh my god I love Portland. I lived there for three months and it was wonderful–now I just fantasize about moving back.
    I mean, Portland is home to the world’s greatest bookstore: Powell’s!
    Also, great food.

    • There’s an amazing candy store named Powell’s where I live… They have candy bacon, bacon lip balm, bacon gum, bacon EVERYTHING. #irrelevant

  2. I think I would love Portland for three weeks, and then it would seriously get on my nerves. For some reason I need my cities to be unnecessarily difficult, which is why I live in Boston.

  3. This makes me want to move there. But I don’t want to be the kind of person who moves to Portland. Does that make sense? Is that pretentious? I’m trying to work through my Portland-related feelings here.

      • I’ve been thinking about it while vacuuming (best time to think, really). Portland sounds amazing: gay girls, cool people, delicious vegan food, positive energy, good politics. But I don’t necessarily want to move from my homeland to somewhere I already know is going to be awesome; I kind of want to work on making my place (in this case, semi-rural Georgia) better and more vegan, more queer-positive, more aware of gender politics. Maybe my feelings are coming from the same place as @bookbound‘s.

        Also, I’m getting better about the winter (Ohio will do that to you), I’ve got a sunlamp etc etc, but being that far north would make me nervous. I’m already gloom-and-doom WINTER IS COMING when it’s like sixty out.

    • Try Eugene instead. It’s nearby and has a lot of the same benefits, but doesn’t quite have the same kind of hipster baggage Portland seems to.

      • This. Portland is nice, but I get exhausted by the funemployed hipster vibe. It brings out my curmudgeonly side. Damn kids with their damn music…

  4. “Symmetrical haircut guilt.” is a great statement.
    As an uneducated Canadian, what’s so snazzy about Portland?
    Should I want to go there?

  5. I’ve lived here for almost 3 years now and Portland is actually really nice (rain and all) most of the time.
    However, a quick FYI, everyone is vaguely ominous about winter because of the ‘snowmageddon’ that happened four winters ago (no one knows how to drive in two inches of snow and the city shut down).
    There are also a few dedicated gays bars around town, check out the gay yellow pages :)

        • Dude, there are a lot of gay bars! Just no lesbian bars. CC Slaughter’s has the cleanest bathrooms in the whole Old Town club area, I recommend it. Crush and Red Cap both have their fair share of fun stuff, and while not a gay bar, Holocene has a badass queer night (Gaycation) the 3rd Saturday of each month that is totally fucking super fun. Oh, and Blowpony. Go to Blowpony.

    • We used to have a lesbian bar, but their financial structure collapsed when The L Word went off the air.

  6. I’ve been here off/on for the last 7 years and it feels more and more like home, though it does feel like Never-never-land. My own Peter Pan complex aside, this is a beautiful city full of awesome playgrounds to let your inner weird shine.

    @taylor : I’ll show you another coffee shop and tell you some stories about moving here as a baby-dyke :) enjoy Portland!

  7. I grew up in Portland and moved back 3 years ago, and I think most of these things are true on the inner east-side…remember that Portland is a lot bigger than that though!

  8. Being a native I feel spoiled. Growing up here has kept my wanderlust in check. I do have a hard time understanding the full “OMFG PORTLAND!!! *drool*” that accompanies those just moving here (80% of the midwest), because it’s just home. A super fantastic awesome home, but home.

  9. Also, @SaylaMarz lives there. That’s 29 reasons to want to visit. Although with number 30 (one of my best friends will very likely move there to be with her transatlantic fiancé), it could just as well shape up as wanting to move there. Errrr.

  10. godddddd i have so many frustrated/angry/sad/lonely feelings about portland, because if only college wasn’t so damn expensive, i could be going to school there RIGHT NOW.

  11. Sometimes I think I will probably live in Portland in the next five years. This list makes me excited by the prospect.

  12. Pingback: 28 Things About Portland | Purple Roofs Travel Blog

  13. One of my best friends lives in SE Portland, I visited her for a week and a half this summer and had way too much fun. Now I want to move to Portland and eat out of food stalls and ride the bus and see tons of beautiful girls every day. Or at least visit it all the time and do that.

  14. 8. Sometimes at a 4-way stop everyone just sits there politely and looks at each other.


    After you!
    No – after you!
    Ohpleasegoddamnit, after you.

      • Oh god. I know.

        I had an intermission from PDX to live in Australia, where in a lot of places roundabouts outnumber stoplights. I can’t figure out what is so hard for people here. It’s like they pull into the circle and just. stop.

        Quietly, the cars wait, and quietly the world ends.

  15. I bet there are no smokers in Portland either.

    I dunno, not many people over 40? Who would I date? No sales tax is good, NH doesn’t have one or an income tax.

  16. this sounds like a really good runaway place. you know? like if, totally hypothetically, i was thinking about dropping out of my life and disappearing for a while on very little money, portland seems like the way to go. thoughts?

  17. I grew up in Portland, then I moved an hour away,so at least its close enough to visit. I’m moving back after college, and hopefully living there forever. I can think of anywhere else like it. It’s big enough to always have things to do, but small enough that its not overwhelming. I miss portland.

  18. I go to high school here, and have lived her all my life. It’s awesome.
    Portland ProTip: Don’t use an umbrella. People hate that shit.

        • Word. Umbrellas are for amateurs.

          You’ll know you belong in the PNW when you have at least one piece of clothing in your wardrobe made out of Gore-tex.

          • Whoa, this is exciting. I’d nearly decided to move to Seattle, because the umbrella situation in the Bay area is just out of control. Good to know it’s not the only option.

  19. I moved to Portland 4 years ago, and just moved to Eugene last month to go to school. My heart is kind of broken, because I love Portland to death, but at least I’m close enough to visit sometimes still. :(:(:(:(

    Also, anyone in Portland: GO TO THE WAFFLE WINDOW. Right now.

  20. Portland is to the 20-tweens as Seattle was to the 1990’s.
    I predict a couple more years of uber-trendiness before somewhere else becomes the It-city. I think it’s going to be Eugene, OR.

    Also, a friend of mine who used to stay there called it “the whitest city in the US”. Ugh.

    • I’ve lived in Eugene for the past 3 years and as much as I enjoy it, if it ever became the next “it-city” I might die a little. We are not worthy of such a status.

  21. #13 is false because I know at least two 50+ people who live in Portland. But they could be mistaken for 40-ish.

  22. THIS is why I believe in Cascadia. You could easily be describing Vancouver Island here, or Vancouver (less so, but still), or Seattle.

  23. Damn, I want to live in Portland so badly! Unfortunately, my brother already lives there and it never goes well when we live in the same state. Boo.

  24. My girlfriend and I went to Portland during Spring Break, and then again in September for the Dragon Boat Races. I’m totally in love with it as a city. In particular, I love how pedestrian friendly it is, and the free public transit downtown, the cute/cool boutique stores that aren’t scary expensive, Powell’s of course, the public art and very well conceived green spaces, how gay-friendly it is, how it has preserved the older buildings, etc., etc. I LOVE Portland. If only I could get a good job and health insurance (I’m Canadian, thanks!), I’d move there in a heartbeat.

  25. Oh Cascadia, I miss you so. I’m from a little town in the Cascade Mountains and grew up in Seattle back in the day when it was so much like everything you’re describing here.

    Re: #10, I think that one might be backwards. There’s been kind of a slow but steady mini-exodus of artists and musicians from Seattle to PDX over the past 5-10 years, because they can’t afford it anymore. Some of them are my ex-bandmates, and definitely of the late 30’s homogay persuasion – so if you wait a few minutes, they might help make #13 a little more false.

  26. Damn I tried making a list about columbus Ohio and got thoroughly depressed. All we have is comfort food and bad fashion.

  27. I’m Australian but my gf is American and I’m getting my first Portland experience in a few weeks. I honestly thought she was talking it up way too much but clearly I was mistaken. I’m alot more excited now, actually very excited! Thanks!

  28. Damn good food :) Foodies paradise. Restaurants from every region in the world (eg. Peruvian, Basque, Southern, Thai, etc…..) and they are delicious beyond belief! And that’s saying something, because I grew up on an island which has the best food in the world.

    I also love their public art. Bus stops have beautiful etchings on their glass!

    And I almost wept when I visited Powell’s City of Books…

  29. portland is my home and it makes me so, so, so happy. i just wish my family wasn’t being systematically pushed out of the boundaries of town due to a growing youthful college educated population, property values, and higher property taxes. gentrification and urban planning/re-districting is a BITCH!

    but ah, it’s home! and powell’s makes it all better. and if you’re ever in N Portland visiting the Historic Mississippi District, eat at Miss Delta’s and get drinks at Bar Bar. Good stuff.

  30. Was in Portland this summer. Blue skies, perfect temperatures, beautiful everything everywhere, best beer I’ve ever had (and I live in CO so that means something). I almost just cancelled my flight out and made a life there.

    And then I realized that it was ALL LIES—the rain was just lying in wait for me all winter long. I returned to CO where we have a lot of the hip, way awesomer mountains, superb (if not the best) beer, and LOTS of sunshine. :)

    And, yes, it is legit Portlandia in real life. Put a bird on it!

  31. BUT IS IT REALLY THAT WHITE?! My lesbro and I (she goes to BMC and I live in Philly) are planning on moving there but I AM A SHADE OF BROWN and henceforth need OTHER BROWN PEOPLE. Please tell me that I can walk around and peep SOME brown people!

  32. I’ve been looking at apartments for rent in Portland for over 4 months now. I’ve had the itch, I wanna move there soooooo bad!! I think I’m just gonna run away…

  33. I miss the shiny golden Joan of Arc in the middle of that rotary.
    Also just about everything!

  34. Seriously. You have lived in Portland a month. you clearly know nothing about Portland except it’s stereotypes. Great. one more rediculous hippie. Just what Portland needs.

  35. Portland…gah, there’s no other place like it, I literally cried on the plane as I left to go back home. I’m afraid to move there and fall out of love with it by being exposed to it’s bad sides (I only visited for a week) but, I keep asking myself “ok, are you ready to go back yet?” lol

  36. METH. Hawthorne used to be nice, but all the gamey junkies from California ruined it. The air used to be OK, but the poison from Umatilla Proving Ground compounded by the ongoing Fukushima disaster ruined that. So everyone’s getting cancer, that’s why no one’s over 40. Except for the old crazy methheads. The radioactivity is killing the wildlife too. Meth. All the sleazy 24 hr lingerie modeling places are gross. Pervs abound. Meth. All the good Chinese & Thai eateries are gone. Meth. You hear meth cookers blowing up all over town, but the cops don’t care cuz they’re tweakin’ too. Most dykes I met have two speeds, condescending, or rapey. The mtfs are aggressive. EXTREMELY aggressive. If you reject their come-ons they try to hurt you. It’s a very tragic place. Portlanders hate outsiders, even Seattlers, have you noticed? METH. Google Faces of Meth. If you are conservative they want you dead. FACT. Seriously, whoooole lotta meth. See for yourself.

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