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Portland vs. Austin Which city is better

Portland vs. Austin: Which city is better?

Portland and Austin have similar slogans – “Keep Portland Weird” & “Keep Austin Weird”. However, we can’t hide the fact that there are big differences as well between these two cities. 

If you’re looking to compare them, you’re on the right track. In this article, we’ll provide you with a series of comparisons that will help you if you intend to visit one of these cities or build a new home there with your family.

Cost of Living in Portland vs. Austin

Cost of Living in Portland vs. Austin

Knowing the cost of living in a place is a major factor in determining if it’s a truly livable area. We sourced the data below from Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide.

The latest data from the said site says that Portland scored at 77.74 out of 100 for its cost of living index. Meanwhile, Austin’s cost of living index was lower at 62.96 out of 100.

To further explain the details, we provide a comparison table of the basic expenses in Portland, OR vs. Austin, TX.

Portland, OR

  • Family of four estimated monthly costs: $4,027.67 (without rent)
  • A single person’s estimated monthly costs: $1,126.334 (without rent)

Austin, TX

  • Family of four estimated monthly costs: $3,444.19 (without rent)
  • A single person’s estimated monthly costs: $959.62 (without rent)
Cost RangePortlandAustin 
Restaurant$1.91 – $15$1.91 – $16
Market$0.90 – $16.58$1.04 – $15
Transportation$2.50 – $100 $1.25 – $42 
Utilities (monthly)$199.14  $146.50 
Sports and leisure$12.50 – $63.58$10.33 – $48.96
Childcare$1,400.00 – $16,163.00$1,013.62 – 16,857.14
Clothing and Shoes $41.00 – $123.86$38.57 – $122.62
Rent per month$1,773.38 (1 bedroom) in City Centre
$1,372.22 (1 bedroom) Outside of Center
$3,152.90 (3 bedrooms) in City Center
$2,418.84 (3 bedrooms) Outside of Center
$2,165.34 (1 bedroom) in City Center
$1,484.12 (1 bedroom) Outside of City Center
$4,189.47 (3 bedrooms) in City Center
$2,521.24 (3 bedrooms) Outside of Center
Salaries and financing$4,291.12 monthly$6,165.17 monthly

Our Verdict:

In terms of cost of living, living in Austin costs less than living in Portland if rent isn’t counted. If rent is considered, Portland is cheaper.  

However, it’s also worth noting that Austin’s average monthly income is greater than Portland’s.

Moreover, the basic expenses in Portland are not far from Austin, and whether it is livable still depends on how much your spending behavior, family size, and potential needs.

Safety and Security in Portland vs. Austin

Safety and Security in Portland vs. Austin

Below are the violent crime rates and property crime rates of Portland, OR, and Austin, TX, calculated by the U.S. News using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports for the year 2020.

Property Crime2623.42359.6
Violent Crime302.5313.1

Our Verdict:

There are generally more property crimes committed in Portland than in Austin. On the other hand, Austin scores higher than Portland in terms of the amount of violent crime in the area.

So, it appears that Portland is slightly safer in the sense that there are fewer threats like murder and assault. Austin is slightly safer if your concern has more to do with your possessions.

Social Services in Portland vs. Austin

To help meet the basic human needs of all people, the local government provides programs and projects under their social services. 

In this section, we will tackle Portland and Austin’s takes in this area, primarily on the most important facets of social services: Education, Healthcare, and the Job Market.

 Education in Portland vs. Austin

Education in Portland vs. Austin

Deciding where to relocate involves considering the education system too. This includes the wide range of educational options, campuses and universities available, and, of course, access to schools.

Education in Portland, OR

There is certainly no shortage of options for children, families, and young adults in the Portland area when it comes to receiving a quality education. 

In fact, according to an article by ‘Portland Relocation Guide’, the city has excellent public and private K-12 schools; alternative education options; and a variety of vocational two-year and four-year postsecondary options. Education here certainly is a very big deal.

Education in Austin, TX

According to the city’s current profile, Austin residents have access to a wide range of educational options. This includes 29 public school districts, 27 charter school districts, and over 100 private schools. 

With this great access to schools, we can say that the city can provide a huge quantity of educated workers to area employers.

Healthcare in Portland vs. Austin

Healthcare in Portland vs. Austin

In Portland, healthcare is a good-news story. The said sector is divided into four primary parts: hospitals, ambulatory health, nursing home care, dental clinics, and other businesses. 

And since they do “care” about providing health-care services, a news report by the Jobs Coalition in 2014 shows that compared to other large U.S. metro regions, the city has a population that is generally in good health.

But Austin isn’t that far behind compared to Portland in terms of healthcare. As stated in the Greater Austin Profile by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, their healthcare system has been growing in rivalry with many significant places in the metro area.

Job Market in Portland vs. Austin

Job Market in Portland vs. Austin

Both Portland and Austin’s job market is another aspect we are looking at to compare which city among these two is more suitable to live in. To provide more of this perspective, we have listed below the top industries for each city.

Portland’s Top Industries

  • Manufacturing – 11% of Portland metro’s workforce with 10,7000 jobs (2014).
  • High Tech – Expanded by approximately 50% in the last ten years alone.
  • Education – Academic programs annually produce close to 1,000 graduates. An estimated 69% of its graduates stay in the area to find employment following graduation, supporting Portland’s job market.
  • Athletic and Outdoor Apparel – The amount of talent in Portland is 45% larger than the national average for same-size metropolitan areas. These companies have a total estimated annual sales of $8,757,490,874 and employ an estimated 90,000 people.  

*The numbers are from ‘Portland on the Market’ by Marcus Brown Properties.

Austin’s Top Industries 

  • Leisure and hospitality Shed 62,200 jobs in March and April of 2020.* 
  • Professional and business services – Added 13.9% or 31,700 jobs in 2020
  • Information – Added 11.5% or 5,000 jobs in 2020
  • Wholesale trade – Added 11.0% or 5,100 jobs in 2020

*The numbers are from the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Overall Comparison of Social Services in Portland and Austin

The table below shows the overall comparison of the social services in Portland, OR and Austin, TX.

Education– Offers excellent public and private K-12 schools; alternative education options; and a variety of vocational two-year and four-year postsecondary options.– Wide range of access in schools such as 29 public school districts, 27 charter school districts, and over 100 private schools.
Healthcare– Divided into four primary parts: hospitals, ambulatory health, nursing home care, and other businesses
– The fastest growing sector in the city’s economy.
– Positive health care is a system with 50 local hospitals
Job Market– One of the growing cities on the West Coast.
– Top industries include manufacturing, software IT, education, and outdoor apparel.
– Shows significant growth in 2020, based on Austin Chambers.
– Top industries include leisure, business services, information and technology, and wholesale trade.

Our Verdict:

Portland, OR and Austin, TX have both been giving importance to the crucial aspects of social services. There is no significant difference between the two city’s takes on this sector. 

However, we do believe that this still varies with their demographics, as well as the increasing cost of living in each city. For instance, as you’ll find in the following sections, Austin has a bigger employed population, even if the median household income of both cities is similar. 

This means that Portland has more employment gaps to fill to meet the demands of its growing job market.

Diversity and Demographics in Portland vs. Austin

Diversity and Demographics in Portland vs. Austin

Population-wise, Austin is bigger than Portland. A demographic comparison provided by states that the current population of Portland is 600,000+, while that of Austin is 900,000+. 

Now, to better understand the difference in the demographics of the two cities, see the table below.

Population0.6 million0.96 million
Population Density 1690 people/km²3300 people/km²
Median age of population35.9 years32.3 years
Female Population50.5%50.5%
Male Population49.5%49.5%

Diversity, on the other hand, is defined as the differences between people and groups based on ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. It also reflects a wide range of interests, backgrounds, and experiences.

Here are some numbers that can help approximate diversity. The following stats are based on the 2019 Census of Data USA.

White (Non-Hispanic)461,000+478, 000+
Asian (Non-Hispanic)53, 000+79, 500+
White (Hispanic)44, 200+237, 000+
Foreign-Born Population87, 100+179, 000+

Also from the 2019 Census provided by Data USA, the table below shows the systematic Quality of Life in both of the cities.

Poverty Rate13.7%13.2%
Median Household Income$76,231$75,413
Employed Population 372,977577,370
Median Age37.533.9
Median Property Value$445,200$378,300

Overall Diversity and Demographic Comparison of Portland and Austin

Demographics– Smaller population compared to Austin’s population (600,000+)
– Has the same ratio of male to female members of the population as Austin
– Twice as big as Portland’s population (900,000+)
– Has the same ratio of male to female members of the population as Portland
Diversity– Has the same population of White (Non-Hispanic) people as Austin
– Has more Asian (Non-Hispanic) people than White (Hispanic) residents
– Has more Foreign-born people than White (Hispanic) people
– Has the same population of White (Non-Hispanic) people as Portland
– Has more White (Hispanic) people than Asian (Non-Hispanic) 
– Has fewer Foreign-born people than White (Hispanic) people
Quality of Life– Has a poverty rate similar to Austin’s
– Half of its population is employed
– Median household income and property value is higher than Austin’s
– Has a poverty rate similar to Portland’s
– More than half of its population is employed
– Lower median property value and household income than Portland

Our Verdict:

The numbers clearly state that Portland is a little over half the size of Austin, demographically speaking. However, there’s not much of a difference between their diversity figures.

But, if you ask us which among them may offer better quality of life (indicated by numbers like poverty rate and employment rate), Austin may be the better answer.

Culture and Lifestyle in Portland vs. Austin

Culture improves the quality of life and overall well-being of people and communities alike. It even contributes to the social and economic benefit of an individual. 

We believe that focusing on the comparison or even the similarities of Portland and Austin in this aspect, will bring insights into your perceptions of them.

Music, Arts, and Culture in Portland vs. Austin

Music, Arts, and Culture in Portland vs. Austin

Portland is a popular tourist destination because of its thriving culture – whether it’s for the cuisine and beer, arts, cultural communities, festivals, or nightlife. The city has easy access (buildings, shops, galleries, museums) to any kind of art which reflects their deep culture.

It’s the same thing for Austin, as the place is widely known as the epicenter of creativity (the live music capital of the world). 

If you have personally visited the city, you can easily say that they are active in supporting their creative community as there are a variety of cultural attractions and public art projects in the area.

Recreation and Leisure in Portland vs. Austin

Recreation and Leisure in Portland vs. Austin

Portland and Austin actually each have their own wide range of leisure and recreation activities (shopping areas, resorts, restaurants, and spas) for you to choose from.

But what really sets them apart from one another? 

Although they both have a rich cultural background, Portland is a much greener community than Austin. That’s why the former has more nature activities to offer which include the International Rose Test Garden, Washington Park, Hoyt Arboretum, Laurelhurst Park, and many more.

Austin, which has its own historic side, brings you great places to go to like the State Capitol, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, The Driskill, Austin Bats, etc.

Weather in Portland vs. Austin

Weather in Portland vs. Austin

Now, we believe that Portland and Austin do have significant differences when it comes to climate and weather.

Based on the tourism score provided by Weatherspark, early July through late August is the ideal time of year to visit Portland if you want to enjoy warm-weather activities while it is the mid of May to late September for Austin.

The winters in Portland are extremely cold, wet, and cloudy, whereas the summers are brief, warm, dry, and generally clear. 

As for Austin, people in the area experience oppressively hot summers but brief, chilly, and windy winters, and a generally gloomy year-round climate.

Overall Culture and Lifestyle Comparison of Portland and Austin

Music, Arts, and Culture– Popular tourist destination for the fun activities it offers.
– Home for the best cuisine and beers.
– Provides access to a lot of art galleries
– Live music capital of the world
– Variety of cultural attractions and public art projects
Recreation and Leisure– Wide range of leisure activities
– Offers nature activities since they are a greener community
– Wide range of leisure activities
– Does have more of historical places tourist attractions (the State of Capitol is among the popular one)
Weather – Winters are extremely cold.
– Shorter summers
– Perfect for warm weather activities from July to August
– Extremely hot summers
– Shorter winters
– Perfect for warm-weather activities from May to September

Our Verdict:

When it comes to everything related to recreation and leisure, both cities have their own signatures. 

Austin focuses more on bringing its historic side while you can enjoy a much greener environment with Portland. These cities are also perfect for your needed summer break, just be mindful of scheduling it on the right date.

Conclusion: Which city is better?

We cannot deny that there are some similarities between Portland and Austin. However, choosing between the two might be difficult because each provides a variety of appealing features for both locals and guests.

If you are choosing where to live between the two cities and want to use economics as your main deciding factor, you may likely choose Austin since it’s less expensive there than in Portland. 

However, the latter is also much safer and less crowded compared to Austin, based on the data we have mentioned above. And hazards to life and property, of course, have to be considered potential costs as well as risks to your wallet too.

But if you’re comparing the two cities for a vacation destination, while this depends on your taste and perspective, each has things to offer. After all, they both have the same odd and quirky slogan.

Our final thoughts?

Both cities are ideal vacation places. But for long-term dwellings, you may want to lean towards Portland more if you want more safety for your person and fewer people. On the other hand, you might lean towards Austin if you want a lower cost of living.

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