Photo credits: Erin Hervey

Seattle vs. Portland: Cost of Living, Crime & Safety and More Compared

When considering a move to the Pacific Northwest, the “Seattle vs. Portland” debate often arises.

Both cities offer unique lifestyles, opportunities, and attractions.

But how do they compare in essential areas like cost of living, crime and safety, career and employment, education, and weather and climate?

Whether you’re a working professional, a student, or a family looking to relocate, understanding the differences and similarities between Seattle and Portland can guide your choice.

Snapshot of Seattle vs. Portland

Cost of Living
1-Bedroom Rent$1,995/month$1,495/monthPortland offers more affordable rent.
Income TaxNo state income tax9.9%Seattle’s lack of state income tax is a significant advantage.
Crime & Safety
Overall Crime Rate63.5 per 1,000 people66.39 per 1,000 peopleSimilar crime rates, with Portland slightly higher.
Career & Employment
Average Annual Salary$75,569/year$69,792/yearSeattle offers higher salaries.
University Rankings#29 in US#187 in USSeattle’s University of Washington ranks higher.
Weather and Climate
Average Temperature45°F – 75°F (Fall-Summer)35°F – 83°F (Fall-Summer)Portland has a broader temperature range.

🤓 See the 20 pros and cons of living in Seattle

1. Cost of Living

Understanding the cost of living is essential for anyone considering a move, as it directly impacts your budget and lifestyle choices.

Avg. Cost of 1 Bed Room Rent


Seattle’s average 1-bedroom rent of $1,995/month is significantly higher than Portland’s $1,495/month.

If you’re a single individual or a couple, this difference might make Portland a more attractive option for affordable living.

Consider your housing needs and budget constraints when evaluating this cost difference.

Avg. Cost 2 Bed Room Rent


For families or those needing more space, Seattle’s 2-bedroom rent of $2,768/month is also higher compared to Portland’s $1,895/month.

This difference could translate into substantial annual savings if you choose Portland.

Think about your space requirements and how this cost difference aligns with your financial goals.

Avg. Cost of A House


Homebuyers will find a considerable price difference, with Seattle’s average house cost at $823,900 compared to Portland’s $595,700.

This may reflect differences in housing availability, neighborhood desirability, or property sizes.

Consider your long-term housing plans, preferences for location and amenities, and how these factors align with your budget.

Income Tax

No state income tax9.9%

Seattle’s lack of state income tax contrasts with Portland’s 9.9% income tax.

This difference can lead to significant annual savings for Seattle residents, especially for higher earners.

Evaluate your income level and potential tax liabilities to understand how this difference might impact your take-home pay.

Property Tax


Property taxes are nearly identical, with Seattle at 1.025% and Portland at 1.04%. This similarity might not significantly impact annual housing costs.

However, consider the overall property value, as the actual tax amount may vary based on the home’s price.

Sales Tax

10.25%No Sales Tax

Seattle’s sales tax of 10.25% contrasts with Portland’s lack of sales tax. In a way it offsets Seattle’s lack of income tax.

This difference may influence shopping habits and overall spending, especially for big-ticket items.

Consider your spending patterns and how sales tax might affect your overall cost of living.

Minimum Grocery Bill per Month

$399.69/month recommended minimum$452.92/month recommended minimum

The recommended minimum spend on grocery bill in Seattle is $399.69/month, slightly higher than Portland’s $452.92/month.

This difference may reflect variations in food availability, preferences, or shopping habits.

Think about your dietary needs, shopping preferences, and how this cost difference aligns with your monthly budget.

Average Healthcare Costs

$5,040/year for a single adult$3,908/year for a single adult

Healthcare costs for a single adult are $5,040/year in Seattle and $3,908/year in Portland.

This difference may be a consideration for those prioritizing healthcare expenses.

Consider your healthcare needs, insurance coverage, and how these costs fit into your overall financial planning.

🏙️ Thinking of heading to Seattle? Check out these guided city tours!

2. Crime & Safety

Safety is a paramount concern for everyone. No one want to feel unsafe in their community.

Understanding crime rates and response times can influence perceptions of security and overall well-being.

Overall Crime Rate

63.5 per 1,000 people66.39 per 1,000 people

Seattle’s overall crime rate of 63.5 per 1,000 people is slightly lower than Portland’s 66.39 per 1,000 people. This difference may influence neighborhood choices and safety precautions.

If safety is a top priority for you, consider researching specific neighborhoods and local crime trends to find an area that aligns with your comfort level.

Violent Crime Rate

8.02 per 1,000 people7.49 per 1,000 people

The violent crime rate in Seattle is 8.02 per 1,000 people, while Portland’s rate is 7.49 per 1,000 people.

When comparing violent crime rate, Portland has one of the highest in the nation.

Portland’s higher violent crime rate may be a concern for some residents, especially those with young families or those who are particularly safety-conscious.

Property Crime Rate

55.47 per 1,000 people58.90 per 1,000 people

Property crime rates are similar, with Seattle at 55.47 per 1,000 people and Portland at 58.90 per 1,000 people. This similarity may indicate a comparable risk for theft or vandalism.

It is not recommended to leave valuables in plain sight as there’s a 1 in 17 chance of being a victim of a property crime in Portland.

Consider taking appropriate security measures when living at either city.

Police Response Time

10 Minutes10 Minutes

Both cities have comparable police response times, with 10 minutes for priority calls.

This similarity suggests a similar level of police efficiency and readiness.

If you value a strong police presence and quick response, this similarity may provide reassurance.

Ambulance Response Time

11 Minutes8 Minutes

Ambulance response times are slightly faster in Portland at 8 minutes compared to Seattle’s 11 minutes.

This difference may reflect variations in emergency medical services, traffic conditions, or healthcare infrastructure.

If access to prompt medical care is a priority for you, consider researching local hospitals, emergency care facilities, and medical transportation options in both cities.

3. Career & Employment

Career opportunities and employment conditions are vital factors for working professionals, students entering the workforce, and those seeking new opportunities.

Understanding the differences between Seattle and Portland in terms of average salary, minimum wage, and unemployment rate, and comparing them to the national average, can provide a comprehensive view of the job market in each city.

Average Annual Salary


Seattle’s average annual salary of $75,569 is higher than Portland’s $69,792, and both are above the national average of $56,310.

Professionals in certain industries, such as tech and healthcare, may find Seattle’s higher average salary appealing. The city’s robust job market and presence of major companies contribute to this higher average.

While slightly lower than Seattle, Portland’s average salary is still above the national average, offering competitive compensation in various fields.

Minimum Wage


Minimum wage is an essential consideration for entry-level or lower-wage workers: Seattle’s $18.69/hr and Portland’s $15.45/hr are well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr.

Both cities demonstrate a commitment to supporting lower-wage workers, with Seattle’s minimum wage being one of the highest in the country.

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate in Portland, Oregon is slightly higher than the national average


The unemployment rate reflects the overall health of the job market:

Seattle’s 3.4% unemployment rate is lower than both Portland’s rate and the national average of 3.8% (as of early 2023).

These rates may indicate:

  • Seattle: A more robust job market, with more opportunities across various industries. This lower unemployment rate may make Seattle more attractive to job seekers.
  • Portland: A slightly higher unemployment rate may reflect variations in local economies, industries, and job availability. However, it’s still relatively close to the national average, indicating a healthy job market.

4. Education

Education is a key consideration for families and students, as it often influences long-term success and personal development.

Whether you’re planning for higher education or seeking quality schooling for your children, understanding the educational landscape can guide your decision-making.

University Rankings

University of WashingtonPortland
#29 in US#187 in US

Seattle’s University of Washington ranks #29 in the US, a prestigious position that may attract students seeking top-tier educational opportunities.

In contrast, the University of Portland’s ranking at #187, while still respectable, may not carry the same level of prestige.

If you or a family member are considering higher education, this difference in rankings might influence your choice of city.

Consider factors such as academic programs, faculty credentials, research opportunities, and campus culture to determine which university aligns with your educational goals and aspirations.

Graduation Rates


Seattle’s public school graduation rate of 86% is slightly higher than Portland’s 85.7%.

While the difference is minimal, it may reflect variations in educational quality, resources, teacher-student ratios, and community engagement.

For families with school-aged children, this difference might prompt further investigation into specific school districts, curricula, extracurricular opportunities, and support services.

5. Weather and Climate

Weather and climate considerations can significantly impact daily life, outdoor activities, and even your overall well-being.

From choosing appropriate clothing to planning outdoor events, understanding the weather patterns and climate characteristics of Seattle and Portland can help you make informed decisions.

Average Temperature

Fall45°F – 58°F35°F – 80°F
Winter40°F – 50°F35°F – 52°F
Spring53°F – 69°F40°F – 68°F
Summer69°F – 75°F57°F – 83°F

Seattle offers a more temperate climate, with milder winters and cooler summers. The average temperature range in Seattle is 40°F – 75°F, providing a comfortable environment for various activities throughout the year.

In contrast, Portland experiences a broader temperature range, from 35°F in winter to 83°F in summer.

This difference might influence your choice of outdoor activities, gardening options, and even energy consumption for heating and cooling.

Weather Characteristics

mild temperatures, considerable cloudiness, and a pronounced rainy seasonmoderate climate with dry, warm summers and cool, wet winters

Seattle is known for its mild temperatures, considerable cloudiness, and pronounced rainy season.

This climate may appeal to those who enjoy lush landscapes, cozy indoor activities, and don’t mind carrying an umbrella.

On the other hand, Portland’s moderate climate features dry, warm summers and cool, wet winters.

This variation allows for a diverse range of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking in the summer to enjoying the beautiful fall foliage.

The “Seattle vs. Portland” comparison reveals distinct differences and surprising similarities between these two vibrant cities.

From Seattle’s higher salaries and no state income tax to Portland’s more affordable housing and lack of sales tax, each city offers unique advantages and challenges. Safety, education, and weather also play vital roles in shaping the daily life and opportunities in both locations.

We hope this detailed comparison has provided valuable insights to help you make the best choice for your future!

Regardless which city you opt for, you’ll want to know about the best Seattle restaurant and best Portland restaurants to eat at!


Cost of living: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]
Crime & Safety:[1], [2], [3], [4], [5]
Career & Employment: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]
Education: [1], [2], [3]