Tuesday 10 September 2013

Does it Really Rain That Much? Myths About Living in Portland

Portland, Oregon classic moment
Maybe your friends watch too much of IFC’s Portlandia, or maybe Portland’s reputation is more widespread than you knew, but you’re bound to get a taste of the stereotypes that exist about Oregon’s largest city when you mention moving there. Number one on everybody’s radar: “Are you prepared for all that rain?” Indeed, you probably have an image of Portland as a city of granola-crunching, recycling hipsters who work at organic coffee shops and cycle home in downpours. And some of these images might not be far from the truth. But to really discover the truth about this weird, wonderful city, with its incredible natural beauty and rich arts and culture, you have to spend some time there.

Myth: It Rains Every Day

Sure, it rains a lot, but the idea most people have of Portland rainfall is largely false. The city averages about 37 inches per year, which is less than most of the major cities on the east coast – New York City averages 50 inches, for example. The difference is that the east gets hit with major storms, while in Portland you’re more likely to see a drizzling rainfall for days at a time. According to Oregon Live, October through December 2012 only saw 11 days without rain, so the rainy season is definitely wet. But downpours and thunderstorms are the exception. And because Portland is 70 miles from the coast, summers are often warm and dry, with temperatures up to 90 degrees and not a drop in sight.
good morning Portland

Myth: Going Green is Required

You’ll see a lot of evidence of the environmentally-friendly tone that Portland is famous for. It’s one of the best cities in the country for biking and public transportation – getting around without a car is a piece of cake. Due to a law passed in early 2012, it will cost you 15 cents or so to get a plastic bag at the grocery stores downtown. You’ll notice some of the public restrooms skip the paper towels and offer hand-dryers only, some of the frozen sections at grocery stores have motion-detector lights, and the option to throw your trash into recycle bins is everywhere. But mostly, these are all convenient and sometimes downright neat advantages. What you won’t find is constant water cooler talk about environmentalism or anybody breathing down your neck to recycle. And you’ll find plenty of people who prefer to stay behind the wheel.

Myth: People are Weird

Okay, Portlandia got its jokes from somewhere. You can meet some eccentric characters in Portland, especially riding the streetcar or shopping at one of its outdoor markets. And there is a distinct youth culture in the city that dresses a certain way and expresses itself freely. But you might be surprised by how genuinely nice people are. Portland is even famous for its friendly drivers – you’ll be hard-pressed to hear honking on the freeway, and most will be all too happy to let you merge. If you’re walking around downtown, don’t be taken aback if strangers say hello to you, especially if it’s a sunny day, because those tend to lift the general mood. If you consider people who dress a little differently and feel passionately about important causes weird, then it’s okay to consider Portland a weird place. But the girl in the oversized glasses and the guy with the rainbow Mohawk would probably love to shake your hand.

Next time somebody brings up the rain in Portland, you’ll be able to point out all the great things about living in the city. No sales tax, great coffee, amazing parks and nature right within the city, and the largest independent bookstore in the world, just for a start. The real interesting side of the city is not what people think they know, but what you can actually see and experience.

Do you have have any questions or suggestions? Fill free to write in comment section.

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