Downtown Portland is a beacon for renters looking to stroll or bike out their front door and explore what the city has to offer. The neighborhood is just one square mile but splinters off into trendsetting areas like the Pearl District.
This urban neighborhood offers a high concentration of urban apartment buildings, drawing young professionals looking for the ultimate city living convenience. You’re also just a short distance from almost anywhere in town from Downtown Portland, including the waterfront.
Where is Downtown Portland?
Some people lump nearby areas like the Pearl District into Downtown Portland, but this compact little neighborhood has its own boundaries. Situated on the west bank of the Willamette River along the southwest section of the city, the area is also where you’ll find high-rises and the pulse of the city.
Portland was once a sleepy lumber town that morphed into a revitalized city. During the 1970s, more efforts were made to breathe new life into the area, including a downtown transit mall and waterfront park. By the 1990s, developments like Pioneer Place mall welcomed customers as surrounding neighborhoods started rapidly evolving.
What to Do
Downtown Portland attracts young professionals and urban dwellers looking to live in proximity to all of the action. The surrounding area offers a mix of nearby shopping, dining and cultural opportunities. Keller Auditorium features Broadway tours, ballet and opera and the Winningstad Theatre offers flexible performing space.
Retail therapy is easy to find around Downtown Portland with shops in the nearby West End like Woonwinkle, Union Way and big-box retailers, including Nordstrom. Powell’s Book is a short walk or bike ride away and features rare, used, new and out-of-print books.
Portland has plenty of urban amenities but still embraces the great outdoors. Despite being known as a rainy, chilly city, Downtown Portland offers green lawns and former highway access turned Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Locals spend their weekends walking their dogs and cycling along with 36-acres of waterfront park grounds.
Where to Eat & Drink
Locals start their weekend at the Portland Farmers Market to pick up fresh produce and snacks for a picnic along the waterfront. Brunch lovers flock to Mother’s Bistro & Bar for comfort food classics, including biscuits and decadent dishes.
Food carts and trucks are wildly popular around Portland, and locals gather at the Alder food cart pod sprawling nearly a block long. One of Portland’s most famous food carts, Lardo, is now a restaurant made famous for its pork sandwiches and flourishes.
For oysters and snacks, Pepe Le Moko or Kure Kitchen serves up vegan delights. Over at Jake’s Famous Crawfish, locals stop in for dinner inside the iconic 1800s Portland landmark.
Drinks are always on the menu when you live in Downtown Portland. The best views in town belong to the Nines hotels, where you can gather on the rooftop for cocktails and Asian cuisine. For a drink at “Portland’s oldest restaurant,” residents sip on the cocktails at Huber’s Café or for a Spanish coffee to pair with their dessert.
Moving to Downtown Portland
Real Estate Snapshot
Portland was once known as an inexpensive place to live, but rents are climbing. However, the city is still cheaper than what you would expect to pay in Downtown Seattle or San Francisco. Expect to pay an average of $1,493 on apartments for rent in Downtown Portland, which is higher than the average $1,556 rent around the rest of the city.
If you’ve spent any time around Portland, you’ll know it’s full of quaint bungalow-style houses where locals sip on craft brews and bespoke cocktails. Downtown Portland is the place to live for upscale apartment buildings and on-site amenities.
New development is on the horizon around Downtown Portland. The city announced Block 216 Between SW Ninth and 10th Avenue and Alder and Washington Streets would house a $600 million, 35-story mixed-use tower slated to open in 2023.
Portland is all about ditching the car whenever possible and is enthusiastic about its biking culture. It’s not uncommon to see people in suits biking past, although the city’s vibe is creative and laid-back, making dress codes mostly irrelevant. It’s true traffic is more of a problem in Downtown Portland than other areas. But if you’re not up for the walk, Downtown Portland’s TriMet connects Downtown Portland to nearby neighborhoods and the PDX airport.
You can skip the car altogether in Portland with a few Uber and Lyft rides to sprinkle into your budget. You can own a vehicle, but navigating through Downtown Portland can turn into a tangle with so many one-way streets. There’s also been a push to reduce traffic in Downtown Portland and focus on safe, quiet spaces concentrated on walking and biking.
Schools & Employment
Downtown Portland is welcoming and friendly but is primarily sought after by young professionals and students. Families in the area send their kids to local public schools or choose private options. Higher education isn’t far, with Portland Community College Downtown Center, Oregon State University and Portland State University a short bike ride or walk away.
Oregon is sales-tax-free but makes up for it with higher personal income and corporate excise taxes. The lack of sales tax makes shopping in the city enticing, with over 600 retail and restaurants in the Downtown area. Hotels are also big businesses with options to work at 5-star and luxury properties among the neighborhood’s 30 hotels. Residents also choose to live and play in Downtown Portland while tapping into the city’s job market in high tech, manufacturing, athletic, healthcare and wholesale trade.
Ready to live in Central City and soak up the best of Downtown Portland? Enjoy a shopper’s paradise, bike rides, strolls and restaurants with waterfront views in a community known for its creative, independent spirit. Check out all the available listings on RENTCafé.