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16 Things to Know Before You Move to Portland

There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding Portland, Ore., and as more and more people move to the “greatest little city on earth,” they usually discover that the rumors are true. Portland is a mecca for tons of things that people love– food, drinks, books, recreation, and common courtesy. So it’s no wonder why it’s become America’s number one relocation destination. If you’re getting ready to move to Portland, prepare to love it for at least one of the following reasons.

1. Everybody recycles.

Portland is one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world, so don’t be surprised when someone gives you the stink eye if they catch you tossing recyclables in the trash. The city actually installed solar powered trash compactors and recycling kiosks on the sidewalks. Everything from plastics to paint gets recycled, reused and repurposed around here. And, if you live within the city limits, you’ll be expected to dispose of biodegradables in special pails that contribute to the city’s composting program.

2. You won’t pump your own gas.

Oregon is one of the few states that allows the employ of gas station attendants. You’ll really appreciate this on those days when it’s raining cats and dogs. But, don’t get impatient when a station is busy and you have to wait, because trying to pump your own gas in Portland could get you a $500 fine.

3. It rains sometimes, get over it.

For most people, moving to Portland means getting used to a different climate. If you come from a place that’s sunny and drought stricken (hello, Californians), you might get a bit dragged down by the grey skies and rain, but there are much wetter places you could go. In fact, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, and even some states on the East coast get more rain than we do. In addition, the rain in Portland is typically more like a fine misting than a total downpour most of the time, which is why you won’t see any native Portlanders carrying an umbrella.

4. Coffee is religion

Portlanders can be a little snobby about their coffee (don’t even think about comparing it to Seattle’s). Local purveyors are die-hard purists and passionate about serving a particularly perfect cup of joe. According to research, there were 876 coffee shops in town in 2011, and we can only imagine how many more have popped up in the last four years. So, rest assured you’ll never go un-caffeinated, and you’ll never want for pretty foam art. There’s also no shame in being a barista.

5. Craft beer is kind of a big deal

The drinking culture in Portland is daring, unique, and almost shockingly enthusiastic. There are 56 breweries within city limits and 20 more in the metro area (and counting). That’s more than anywhere else on the planet. And every July, Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park hosts the largest craft beer festival in North America. Oregon and Washington farm some of the world’s most sought after hops, so obviously IPAs reign supreme. But local brewers are also known to experiment with other ingredients and brewing styles, making for a broad menagerie of flavors.

Another beverage market is breaking loose in Portland as well. Craft hard cider is just beginning to emerge as the next national craze, and there are already 13 cideries in town.

6. You’ll be a foodie in no time.

Portlanders are serious about good food. The city has quickly become the hottest spot to open a restaurant, and people will line up for hours to sample the offerings of some of the world’s leading chefs and restaurateurs. Thus, when asking a local “where should I go for dinner?” prepare for an hour long conversation about pork belly, chard, and locally sourced everything. An influx of restaurants serving breakfast into the afternoon has also brought about a brunch craze. If you ever see a bunch of hipsters crowded outside a restaurant on a Sunday, you know they’re waiting for their veggie eggs benny and stumptown coffee. And, if you’re vegetarian, vegan or gluten intolerant, rejoice. Portland caters to the dietarily restricted like you would not believe.

7. Home team fans are one-of-a-kind.

The Trail Blazers have had their ups and downs, but even in the “Jail Blazer” era Portlanders packed the Rose Garden for every game. Rip City will never die. In fact, The Moda Center (although most still call it the Rose Garden) has the most consecutive sold out games of any major professional team in sports.

Add to that the mania that ignited when the Timbers joined the MLS in 2009. With the stadium nestled right downtown, Portland has quickly become ‘Soccer City’ USA, with some of the league’s most rowdy fans. If you want to be a member of The Timbers Army, all you have to do is get decked out in green and gold and prepare to jump, clap, and sing all game long

8. Biking is a way of life.

If you commute across town in a car, one of the first things you notice is the number of bikers with which you’re sharing the road. With more than 180 miles of bike lanes, numerous protective traffic laws, and a number of programs promoting safety and awareness, it’s no surprise that Portland was recently named America’s most bike-friendly city. Once you bike you’ll never go back.

9. You’re gonna wanna get out of town.

Portland is completely surrounded by geographical wonders offering an endless supply of recreational possibilities. To the West there’s the coast with surprisingly good surfing and understandably amazing seafood. Then to the East there’s Mt. Hood, a dormant, 11,000-ft volcano with year-round powder. In between, there are marvelous waterfalls, thousands of hiking trails, and four different rivers for sailing and sporting (or just floating). There seriously aren’t enough weekends in a lifetime.

10. It’s hipster heaven.

It’s true. Portland has it’s fair share of hipsters. They look like urban lumberjacks, sport better facial hair than anyone you know, and they can often be seen eating brunch or flying past you on a fixie. Just don’t call them hipsters, because they were like that before hipsters were a thing.

11. You might get lost in Powell’s City of Books.

Covering an entire city block and holding more than a million volumes, Powell’s is likely the largest new/used bookstore in the world. As you wind your way through the aisles from mystery to poetry it’s easier than you think to lose yourself, or at least a couple of hours.

12. Bridges and Roses are Portland’s things.

Often referred to a the Rose City or Bridge City, these two things are at the core of what makes Portland unique. There are 11 bridges that span the Willamette River that divides the city, many of which date back more than 100 years. They make for breathtaking city scapes from any vantage point. Then, resting high above Portland is the International Rose Test Garden, with more than 500 different varieties that have been growing here since 1917. Portland went naming just about everything after these roses, including the annual, month-long city-wide festival, the Trail Blazers arena, and the women’s pro soccer team. Subsequently, you literally can’t buy Portland paraphernalia without a bridge or a rose on it.

13. You will buy food from a sweaty man in a truck.

The food cart trend has absolutely exploded in Portland, meaning you will find multiple locations where whole city blocks are lined with converted trailers. They’re slinging everything from Korean-BBQ fusion to lebanese cuisine to gourmet hot dogs. There are so many food carts in Portland that you could eat from one every night for two years before you were forced to visit the same place twice, no joke.

14. People like to get naked… for a cause.

Portland is pretty lenient in regards to some laws— one of them being nudity. Being naked in public is tolerated as long as it’s done as a form of protest. If you have nothing to protest and you just want to feel that unclothed freedom, you can join more than 13,000 cyclists in the annual World Naked Bike Ride, which takes an undisclosed route through the city and claims to bring awareness to “the vulnerability of cyclists and decry society’s dependence on pollution-based transport.”

15. It’s a festival frenzy.

First, there’s the Portland Saturday Market. Every weekend from March to December, street vendors set up, creating the largest continuously operating weekly open-air market in the United States. All the handcrafted art, clothing, jewelry, music and food attracts more than a million people to Portland’s waterfront district every year (the people watching is fantastic). Then there’s the Last Thursday arts festival on NE Alberta Street every month, the Waterfront Blues Festival every fourth of July weekend, and the Portland Film Festival in September, and that’s just to name a few.

16. Portland drivers will make you crazy.

One thing we cannot boast is a fast-moving freeway system. People are incredibly cautious behind the wheel in this town, and that over-defensive driving can really jam things up. As long as you’re not running late, you may be able to avoid the rage. Thankfully, there’s a really good public transit system.

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