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Old 08-29-2014, 07:24 PM
3,751 posts, read 3,726,354 times
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I'm quite familiar with all three cities since I've lived in Portland and been to Seattle and Vancouver numerous times and explored them extensively. All three of these cities have become "golden children" since the '90s that everyone wants to move to. Many people perceive these cities as hippie utopias but the reality is a bit more complex.

The most important similarities between the three cities are: Reserved Scandinavian-based culture, poor economies (aside from Seattle), bad traffic, large homeless populations, high cost of living, liberal politics (compared to the rest of North America), and weather that's cold and damp year round except during the few months of summer that are surprisingly quite warm and dry.

Let's start with Portland. The smallest of the three cities, by a little bit in terms of actual population and by a lot in terms of "feel". Though the Portland metro has over two million people the city feels more like the size of a city with just one million. There are a lot of bars and comedy clubs but the city still has an essentially suburban feel to it. With that said the traffic and homeless population are comparable to a city twice its actual size. Downtown Portland is somewhat safe aside from the aggressive panhandlers though if you go there chances are you will be asked for money at least once and possibly cursed or threatened if you refuse. The weather is grey and chilly about 2/3 of the year and quite hot for the remainder. Portland summers are quite a bit hotter than Seattle and Vancouver summers. Temps of 86F+ are pretty common in the summer and despite popular belief it does get pretty muggy sometimes, with dewpoints as high as 67F on the worst days. Many apartments don't have air conditioning and don't allow you to use window units so sometimes you just have to deal with being hot. Places with A/C tend not to run it very high, exceptions being the buses which are nice and icy and grocery stores. Some years get virtually no snow while other years can contain a few weeks that are truly snowy and wintry, but mostly it just rains and stays 5 to 15 degrees above freezing. The economy is dismal and the housing market is not very great but roomshares aren't too difficult to come by. Considering the job market Portland is an expensive place to live. Typical one bedroom is $1000 and expect to pay even more if you want to live in most areas "close-in". People in Portland are pretty cold and unfriendly to my experience but generally not rude either; they just are indifferent to whatever you are doing for the most part which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Dating is extremely difficult in Portland and in general people who go to bars are already taken or just going to drink. The introverted and feminist culture makes people more shy generally speaking though newcowers are more likely to talk to you. The public transit is not what it's cracked up to be but it's decent for an American city and it's definitely possible to live without a car in many areas.

Seattle easily has the best economy but I have always found it an ugly and depressing city. If you want to make a lot of money it's easily the best of the three cities. Downtown is not that vibrant but the adjacent areas (Belltown, Capital Hill etc) are more so. The Waterfront kind of sucks but it's good that they have one. Rent is very expensive, moreso than Vancouver by some measures. Typical one bedroom is about $1500 a month and certainly even more if you want to live near downtown. Summers are great, not nearly as hot as Portland. The winters are slightly milder than Portland and quite a bit moreso than Vancouver. Seattle's skyline is impressive from a distance but once you're among it downtown it feels surprisingly sleepy. The Space Needle is not located where you would expect it to be. The city is very hilly and walking around can be good exercise. The public transit isn't very good.

Vancouver is definitely my favorite of the three. Unlike Portland and Seattle it's literally right next to the mountains. You can take public transit to the ski slopes and its shore by far feels more "oceanic" than Seattle's shore where the Puget Sound is only a few miles wide. The Seawall (more of a promenade than a "wall" per se) provides the city an intimate connection with the sea. The Asian food in Vancouver is amazing and affordable, and the city by far feels the most "global" of the three Cascadian cities. The cost of most things is similar to Seattle but the economy is much weaker. Essentially Vancouver is a "resort town" - an AMAZING place if you can make it work, but otherwise you will struggle and not be able to enjoy the great things about it. I've found the people there are a bit more friendly than people in Portland and Seattle, perhaps due to being Canadians. Typical one bedroom would be about $1300 though much more in downtown. West End can be surprisingly affordable relatively speaking and is where I'd live if I moved there. Public transit is pretty good. Winters on the Downtown Peninsula are very mild and rarely freeze but the metro area itself is generally quite a bit colder. Unlike Seattle and Portland the Lower Mainland gets fairly dependable freeze and snowfall, it's probably just a tad milder than Washington DC. Summers can get hot and moderately humid but are much cooler than Portland summers and can often feel "Juneuary"-like. The Downtown Eastside is gross; don't live there.
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Old 08-29-2014, 07:42 PM
Location: Schenectady, NY
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Yep I got no interest in any of these cities
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Old 08-29-2014, 08:10 PM
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I don't think of Vancouver as particularly Scandinavian.
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Old 08-30-2014, 05:40 PM
Location: Seattle
555 posts, read 663,054 times
Reputation: 495
None of the three are good places to live. Here's my impression of them generally:

1. Faux-progressive culture marked by Groupthink and Political Correctness;

2. A complete lack of a social scene or anything more than superficial culture;

3. All three are overrun with bums; high crime and drugs;

4. The cost of living is high compared to the low quality of life;

5. The people are cliquish and hostile to outsiders.

The best place on the west coast is California.
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