Nov 14, 2023 - News

How Portland's cost of living stacks up along the West coast

Cost-of-living index in Portland, Q3 2023
Data: The Council for Community and Economic Research; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Goods and services in Portland are expensive relative to other large cities, but nothing like California and cheaper than Seattle, a new survey finds.

Driving the news: Each quarter, The Council for Community and Economic Research assembles a cost-of-living index designed to measure "regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services."

  • The group's proverbial bucket includes housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services, and is based on spending by "professional and managerial households in the top income quintile" — meaning the top 20% of earners.
  • Portland's cost-of-living index value in the third quarter of 2023 was 119.3 — putting us nearly 20 points over the average.

How it works: 100 represents the average cost of living nationally across 269 cities.

  • If a city has a value over 100, its cost of living is higher than average. Under 100 means it's lower.
  • The higher the value, the more expensive the city relative to the average.

By the numbers: Portland's most expensive category was housing — earning a 143.3 on the index.

  • The least expensive was utilities — with a 98 index value it was the only measured category where Portland came in below average.

Details: Categories are weighted differently across the index, which influences the final ranking.

  • Housing got a substantial weighing — 28% — while health care was weighted at less than 5% of living costs.

Of note: Taxes weren't included.

Zoom in: Eugene, the only other Oregon city in the index, also ranked higher than average in all costs but utilities, with an overall index value of 110.

Cost-of-living index, Q3 2023
Data: The Council for Community and Economic Research; Note: Map only shows urban areas with more than 100,000 people; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Zoom out: Compared to California cities of more than 100,000 residents, Portland came in as less expensive than San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland.

  • Compared to cities in Washington, Portland ranked cheaper than Seattle and surrounding areas, including Kent and Everett.

Between the lines: Because the list of participating cities changes each quarter, the cost-of-living index can't be used to measure inflation — but other indicators suggest that higher prices are certainly sticking around.

The big picture: You could make a Portland salary stretch further if you work remotely from Augusta, Georgia, or Fort Wayne, Indiana.


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