Hi. Welcome to Portland! We have a love/hate relationship with you newcomers. Many of us are also re-locators, but once here, we start to believe we are and have always been a central fixture in Portlandia. So if we sometimes seem standoffish, it’s not that we don’t like the influx of new people, new ideas, and new perspectives, it’s just that we’ve become pretty protective of our fair city. And why wouldn’t we be?
After all, Portland is a truly amazing place to live, right? The city’s close to some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes you’ll ever see. It’s got a strong economy, a wonderful culture, and food that’s so good, it just might make you cry. But for those who have been here for a little while, the latest influx of new residents is changing our town, and pretty quickly.
Some locals are scared that all the newcomers moving in from Calizona or Washaho or even Nevalorado are going to change things here in lovely Portland. To a certain extent, change is inevitable when you live in such a desirable place, but you can’t blame us for wanting this wonderful little city to stay exactly like it is.
Don’t take us personally. You want the same thing. You love it here. You want to be a part of everything that makes the Rose City so rosy. That’s why you moved here, right?
So, we’re going to give you newcomers a few tips about blending in with us locals. Follow them or don’t – it’s up to you, but you know what they say: when in Portland . . .
Lay Off the Horn
As the new kid in town, you might make some serious faux pas when operating a motor vehicle. It’s only natural – you’re in an unfamiliar place. When you do make those errors, pay attention to what you hear. That’s right: nothing. Portlanders don’t honk, or at least, not usually. If a local is honking at you, then you probably shouldn’t be on the road.
For your part, resist the urge to honk when someone takes too long at a green light, forgets to use their turn signal, or waits at a four-way stop for an inordinate amount of time as each driver generously gestures the other drivers to go ahead. So take a deep breath, practice your mindfulness exercises and enjoy the view from where you sit of a cozy little neighborhood with wee ones and families who are peacefully enjoying their little castles. You might even find yourself starting to relax.
Share Until It Hurts, and Always Smile
Few cities of its size manage to engender so much good will. It’s one of the truly amazing things that newcomers to the city often notice right away, and it can take some getting used to. We’re talking about strangers making eye contact and smiling at you while you’re walking down one of the many quaint walk and shop streets in every neighborhood enclave around town!
That being said, it’s much easier to get acquainted if you can just play along until that smile comes naturally for you, too. In no time at all, you’ll shed whatever big city edge you brought with you, and opt for a kinder, gentler version of you instead, where smiles have you feeling like Willy Wonka doling out free chocolate.
In Portland, we share. It’s a feeling that goes all the way down to our marrow, so be sure to get on board as quickly as you can. Didn’t use up all your parking fees downtown? Share your stub with the next person you see pulling into a parking space near you. Having some trouble getting out of your driveway and into the flow of traffic? Make it easy on someone else, and go out of your way to stop and share the road. Do whatever it takes to keep our city as friendly as we all want it to be!
Dress and Act Like a Local
To sample wares from Bridgetown’s latest crop of clothiers, seek out Folly, Bonnet, Knacka, Bowyer and Fletcher, Black Star Bags, Queen Bee Creations, Cipriano designs, or any number of other Portland-based haberdashers, vintage curators, and next-gen seamstresses. The look? Stylish, but ready for anything. And don’t be afraid to put on a flannel. It’s like the PDX uniform.
Speaking of staying warm with sweaters and flannels, here’s a little tip for you. Next time you’re dining out at a bar or local restaurant, make sure you return the front door to the exact same state that you found it in. That means, if the door to your favorite bar stays closed to allow for maximum heat inside for the patrons, then upon making your exit, close the door again! Just like your mom and dad taught you, don’t let the cold air inside!
And most importantly, never, ever, use an umbrella. True Portlanders ruggedly brave the elements including our oft-present rain. Hoodies can help or a pork pie hat, but ultimately suck it up and learn to enjoy the fine art of getting wet. This is what separates true Portlanders from the tourists. Umbrellas are a clear sign that you just don’t quite belong.
No, we don’t ride horses in Portland, though that would be really cool. We’re talking about pedal power. Portland is a very bike-friendly city, and it’s getting more so all the time. No matter where you work, you can probably find a pretty safe bike route from home. Give it a try. If you find you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, you can always…
Catch a Ride
Portland’s public transit system is, in a word, awesome. Between the biodiesel-powered buses, the MAX, the Portland Streetcar, and WES commuter rail, you can get just about anywhere you want to go with ease. It’s only a few bucks to ride, and if you’re accustomed to the transit options in certain other cities whose names we won’t mention, you’ll be impressed with Trimet’s speed, efficiency and cleanliness. Oh, and bikes are welcome, too.
Coffee Fix, Portland-Style
When it comes to coffee, Portland does not mess around. We have to have something to keep us bright-eyed and bushy-tailed during the six months of gray skies known locally as “winter,” so it should come as no surprise that our coffee game is on point.
You’ve probably heard of Stumptown, that venerated Portland coffee institution. You may have also heard that it’s no longer locally owned. That’s true, but don’t let that dissuade you from giving it a try. It’s definitely some of the best coffee you’ll ever have. For a more indie flavor, make your way to prized local haunts such as Heart, Barista, Ristretto, Oblique, Bipartisan Cafe, Case Study, and Happy Cup.
Cheers to You!
We didn’t even talk about the local craft brew scene, but let’s raise a glass of delicious local beer (or kombucha) to you, newly minted Portlander! We’re sure you’ll fit right in!