Portland vs San Francisco | Travel & Living Comparison

Portland and San Francisco are two major American cities known for their own individual peculiarities.

Are you thinking of travelling or moving to either one of Portland or San Francisco and you are having a hard time deciding on which to choose? Or maybe you are just curious about how both cities compare and contrast with each other?

Well, look no further, as in this article, we’ll be looking at Portland vs San Francisco and how both cities weigh up against each other.

Travel & Living Comparison

Culture and Behaviour

Portlanders are some of the friendliest people you could come across in the United States. Portland locals are known for being uniquely chatty and quite helpful with recommendations and advice for newcomers.

Portland is a city, but its slower-paced lifestyle alongside pedestrian-friendly streets, boutiques, and coffee shops help give Portland a town feel.

San Francisco is not much different. While San Francisco has a rich and diverse culture, the people are friendly and accommodating.

Almost everyone in Portland and San Francisco has a natural love for the outdoors, and it is quite understandable. There are so many beautiful landmarks in both cities. The mountains, parks, lakes, rivers, and the woods? Why would you wanna stay indoors?

Population and Demographics

In terms of population, the difference between Portland and San Francisco is around 0.2 million. San Francisco’s population is around 0.8 million compared to Portland’s 0.6 million.

Measuring population density, San Francisco is crowder than Portland, with more than 6,600 people/sq. Km. Compared to less than 1700 people/sq. Km. in Portland.

This is mostly due to the arrival of immigrants to San Francisco, which is brought about by the rapidly booming tech industry. San Francisco has a much more racially diverse population than Portland, where whites make up a huge percentage of the population.

It is worth noting that both cities have relatively young populations. The average age in Portland is 38.5 years, while in San Francisco, it is 35.9 years.


San Francisco is a sunny city. While there might be cultural and political similarities, In terms of weather, SF is your typical West Coast city.

San Francisco gets a lot more sunshine throughout the year than Portland and about half the number of rainy days Portland sees.

While it doesn’t snow in San Francisco, Portland occasionally gets some ice storms.

Cost of Living

Talking of the cost of living, San Francisco is way more expensive than Portland across all areas.

The average cost of a home in San Francisco is a whopping 1,378,300 compared to only $419,600 in Portland.

It is worth noting that both of these are significantly higher than the US average home cost of $231,200.

Food is cheaper in Portland. Lunch at a restaurant should cost about $13.40 in Portland, while the same meal would cost around $16.20 or more in San Francisco.

A meal at McDonald’s is almost $2 costlier in San Francisco than in Portland.

Groceries are also cheaper in Portland. The price of a quart of milk is only $0.88 as compared to $1.24 in San Francisco. Bread goes for $2.75 compared to $3.88, and a kilo of potatoes is around $1.67 in Portland compared to $3.24 in San Francisco.

It is worth noting that there are areas where you need to spend more in Portland than in San Francisco. Private school tuition fees, doctor’s visits, and utilities like electricity, heating, and water are expenses that cost more in Portland.

Portland vs. San Francisco – Transportation 

The best way to move around San Francisco is through the public transit system. Moving around Portland takes less time compared to San Francisco.

This can be attributed to the lower population density of the city of Roses and partly because of the city’s smaller area.

A single transport ticket in Portland costs $2.50 compared to the $3 cost in San Francisco.

Ironically, the monthly public transport ticket in Portland is $100, while in San Francisco, it goes for $82.

Average Salary

According to available data, the average income in Portland is around $78,439, which is higher than the national average of $68,703.

Still, it does pale compared to the $114,696 that the average person in San Francisco earns in a year.

This isn’t surprising, as most people in San Francisco are in the lucrative tech industry. It is not uncommon for small talks at parties to revolve around where one works in San Francisco.

For a bit of perspective, one out of every 11,600 residents of the city of San Francisco is now a billionaire. Portland has only one billionaire.


According to data, the crime rates in Portland and San Francisco are significantly higher than the national average.

This is a definite cause for concern, especially when you consider the fact that recently, the numbers seem to be increasing.

San Francisco has very worrying crime data. According to the latest reports from the FBI, for every 1,000 residents in San Francisco, there were 64.64 crimes committed.

And 6.91 were violent crimes, while the rest were property crimes. What this means is that if you live in San Francisco, you have a 1 in 145 chance of being a victim of a violent crime, which includes rape, murder, robbery, and assault.

There is an even 1 in 18 chance of becoming a victim of property crime

Unfortunately, Portland doesn’t register far behind as data indicate that for every 1,000 residents, there had been 5.52 violent crimes and 53.48 property crimes committed. The chances of being a victim in Portland are 1 in 181 for violent crime and 1 in 19 for property crime.


Portland and San Francisco are wonderful cities with their pros and cons.

While the cost of living is much lower in Portland, that should be a plus for someone looking to operate within their means and budget.

If weather and entertainment are priorities, then San Francisco presents a stronger option, albeit more expensive for those earning under six figures.

All things considered, moving to either city is a personal choice.

I hope this piece was helpful. Kindly share and drop a comment if you found this helpful.

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