Thinking of Moving to Portland? Read This!

No, I’m not going to rehash why I’ve chosen to leave Portland and not return; I’ve done that enough already, and most of the reasons for doing so are personal and thus not necessarily applicable to most others.

And no, I’m not going to try and talk anyone out of it. Portland is indeed by many measures a great place to live.

What I am going to do is warn anyone against moving there without a job in the hopes of finding one once there. Unless you have a lot of money squirreled away, and are prepared to weather a significant period (read: a year or more) of unemployment, don’t do this!

Portland has the most depressed economy of any major West Coast city. Expecting a job — any job, but especially a good job — to materialize just because The Great You just moved there is the epitome of self-centered magical thinking. I’m still subscribed to a Portland-area mailing list, and I’ve lost count of how many “Help! I moved here and a job did not materialize for me!” type messages I have seen.

To reiterate: it is not easy to find work in Portland. Even for what are entry-level service positions in most other major metro areas, in Portland employers will expect experience, often significant experience. If you don’t have that, they will throw your résumé out and move on. And odds are they will find someone with the desired experience.

Also, don’t assume because that because you do meet the minimum requirements for a job, even a menial one, you can easily score one. You might end up competing with (and losing to) other applicants who well exceed those requirements.

I am not being negative here; I am merely being realistic. There are many great things about Portland, but the local economy is definitely not one of them. It stinks.

If you’re itching to try living in Portland, find the job first, then move. Or be successfully self-employed. Or save up a lot of money and gird yourself. Or fly out and couch-surf with friends and be prepared to fly back if you don’t find anything.

Just don’t pull up stakes and expect something to materialize because you need it. Or I will just say I told you so.

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