I was born and raised in Portland, and though I currently live in Austin (and love it!), Portland will always be my favorite place.
If you're like me, then you might have heard that Austin is the "Portland of the South," that they are very similar, and they are both highly sought-after places to live. Though I was born and raised in Portland, I currently live in Austin, so I have had first-hand experience with both cities. Before we get started on how these two great cities are similar, I would like to specify that because I am from there, I think Portland is better. I will always think that, and there is nothing that can change my mind. I will also say that not all of my points are positive. Every city has something that is not so desirable about it, so I will be pointing out a couple of those things in this article. That being said, let's get started!
1) They're Both Weird Places
It's no surprise that this is on the list. Both Portland and Austin are known for being very open-minded, liberal, "weird" places. They both have the same saying: "Keep Austin/Portland Weird" for a reason. Each city is open and respectful to people of all shapes, sizes, colors, or orientation, and the people in each place are just weird! But in the best possible way. For example, in Portland, there is a man who dresses as Darth Vader, rides a unicycle, and plays the bagpipes. Oh, and there's also fire coming out of the bagpipes! If that's not weird, then I don't know what is. In Austin, I saw someone running the Austin Marathon just a couple of months ago dressed in a T-Rex costume. That's definitely not something I would consider normal. These are just two examples as to how these cities are weird, but in everyday life, there are countless more.
2) Voodoo Doughnuts Is a Local Institution
Oh, voodoo doughnuts. It's a Portland tourist staple, and now there's a location in Austin too. Everyone who visits has to stand in a ridiculously long line, yell at the cashier because it's so loud, and fight with the ATM just to get a pink box. Because, in case you didn't know, good things come in pink boxes, or so they say. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of voodoo doughnuts, there are definitely better options, but it is a fun gimmick for tourists, and even for natives once in a while. When we first moved to Austin and my husband told me there was a Voodoo Doughnuts, I didn't believe him, but sure enough, there is, right down to the same pink boxes And I knew that Voodoo had started opening stores other than in Portland, but it was just funny that there was one here, halfway across the country. Anyhow, both Austin and Portland have a Voodoo Doughnuts, and they are just at generic in each city.
3) Bodies of Water
One of my favorite similarities between Portland and Austin is that there is a body of water running right through both cities. For Portland it is the Willamette River, and for Austin it is Lady Bird Lake. Both places bring an array of activities, which are perfect for a Saturday afternoon, or for playing hookie from work.
Read More from WanderWisdom
4) Dog Friendly
There are dogs everywhere. Enough said.
5) Homeless Population
As I stated before, not all of the similarities are sunshine and butterflies. Unfortunately, both cities have a large homeless population, as do all larger cities in the US. I don't want to spend a lot of time discussing the homeless population, that is a separate blog post for a different time.
6) Rising Housing Costs
I haven't been in Austin for long, however, in my short time here I have noticed that the price for housing is incredibly expensive! And it's the same in Portland. Years ago I was able to rent a two bedroom apartment for $850 in North Portland near St. Johns. I know that its not the best neighborhood, but it definitely could have been worse. Fast forward to now, and you can barely get a studio for less than $1,000. Due to the massive amounts of people moving to both cities, the price for housing keeps rising. It's something I use to complain about a lot while living in Portland, and now I'm part of the problem in Austin!
7) Hiking is Very Popular
People love to go hiking! While the hiking seen looks very different from Portland to Austin, it is very prominent nonetheless. Portland has a large amount of waterfalls within driving distance that are a joy to explore, where as Austin has multiple metro parks and greenbelts right inside the city. The Barton Creek Greenbelt in particular is spectacular when there is water flowing through the creek. It did take some getting use to not seeing waterfalls all the time, but hiking is still an enjoyable pass time in both places.
While I will always love Portland, and I fully intend on moving back there within a few years, Austin is still an awesome place. Having these similarities definitely made the transition from Oregon to Texas a little easier, and I keep finding more and more similarities every day!