Portland took on the nickname Stumptown in the mid-1800s because it was growing so fast that tree stumps pixeled the landscape. Today, it’s a popular, trendy city, home to over 600,000 people – more than 2 million including the metro area. It’s a Forbes pick for Best Places for Business and Careers and fourth in Top 20 Healthiest Cities. 

With Vancouver – and Canada – just across the Columbia River, and the Willamette River dividing the city, Portland is a town for those who thrive by water and live to go outside. Biking and hiking are part of the culture. The city provides online maps to help plan routes, and a bike share program is slated for 2016. With a mild coastal climate where temperatures rarely reach freezing or top 90, the area is full of scenic beauty, from Washington Park and its International Rose Test Garden, zoo and museums to a full range of gardens and arboretums. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area on the Oregon-Washington border has waterfalls, hiking trails and locks, and Mount Hood, offering hiking and skiing, is nearby. The city also has a children’s museum, Waterfront Park, Powell’s City of Books, the Portland Saturday Market, and numerous plazas and landmarks. Too, don’t forget its amazing food, gourmet coffee, and craft breweries and distilleries.

Portland is high-tech. It’s top employer is Intel Corporation and its multiple campuses, and the metro area has at least 1,200 other technology companies. Health care – medical research and development and treatment – accounts for four of the other top-10 employers: Providence Health System, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Legacy Health System and the Kaiser Foundation. OHSU is one of the top 25 biomedical research institutions in the U.S., with grants exceeding $350 million and a $2.2 billion annual budget. Commercial shipping is also a significant industry. Bridgetown’s port is a Foreign Trade Zone; it handles the most export tonnage on the West Coast, is the nation’s primary wheat exporter and ranks fourth in auto imports. With connections to interstate highways, two railroads and Portland International Airport, the port also boasts the third largest floating dry dock facility in the world and the largest on the West Coast. 

If the City of Roses has taken any criticism, it’s been on cost of living. Utilities run about 10 percent less than the national average, but housing is a whopping 40 percent above national norms and steadily climbs. A one-bedroom apartment runs at least $1,200 a month while a double will cost you $1,400. Average home cost is nearly $300,000. Most things cost a little more here, putting the overall cost of living at about 22 percent or so above average. Still, Portland is a diverse, healthy, active city intent on green advances for the greater good.


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