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Sacramento vs. Portland 🤷 | Comparison, Pros & Cons: Which City Is Better for You?

Last Updated on: 6th August 2023, 05:00 pm

Sacramento and Portland are two of the most livable mid-sized cities in the West, both offering a comfortable quality of life, great cultural attractions, and bustling downtowns. If you’re trying to decide between moving to Sacramento versus Portland, where do you start? This comprehensive guide to the pros and cons of Sacramento vs. Portland covers everything you want to know to compare living in the City of Trees versus the City of Roses.

Pros & Cons of Living in Sacramento vs. Portland

Which city is right for you: Portland with its unique character and culture or Sacramento with its affordability and ideal location? Here are some of the top Sacramento vs. Portland pros and cons to help you make your decision.

Living in Sacramento Pros

Sacramento’s Ideal Central Location

One of the best advantages of living in Sacramento is the city’s perfect location close to some of the best weekend destinations. You can drive to the ocean, wine country, and mountains in just a couple of hours. You’ll enjoy fun weekend getaways to destinations like:

  • Yosemite
  • Lake Tahoe
  • San Francisco
  • Napa Valley
  • Apple Hill
  • Santa Cruz


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Whenever you have a day or two free, you can just pack up the car and relax on the beaches of San Rafael or sip wine in the Sonoma Valley, both just over an hour away.

Affordable Housing in Sacramento

California is definitely notorious for its high cost of living and high home prices. While home prices in many California cities have pushed out potential buyers, this isn’t true in Sacramento. The average home price in Sacramento is $395,000 or $260 per square foot. When you compare Sacramento vs Portland housing prices, you’ll see Portland is more expensive with a median home price of $486,500. By comparison, San Francisco home prices have hit $1.4 million on average!

Sacramento’s Amazing Outdoor Recreation

One of many great reasons to live in Sacramento? The city’s natural beauty and outdoor recreation. Go swimming, rafting, boating, kayaking, and fishing at one of several rivers running through the Sacramento area. American River Parkway is the jewel of Sacramento with more than a dozen parks along the water, but you’ll also find opportunities for fun along Sacramento River. Don’t overlook Folsom Lake just 25 miles easy, the perfect spot for boating and water sports.


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Living in Sacramento Cons

The Sacramento Jobs Market Can Be Limited

Sacramento is the capital of California with an economy driven by government services. About 1 out of every 5 workers in Sacramento works for the federal, state, county, or city government. However, health care and education also play a big role in the economy of Sacramento. While this may be a drawback to living in Sacramento, it’s not a strength if you’re looking for a government, medical, or educational career with top employers like Sutter Health, UC Davis Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Dignity Health/Catholic Healthcare West.

Taxes Are High in Sacramento

Choosing between California and Oregon? Don’t overlook taxes, a big downside of living in Sacramento. California has one of the highest tax rates in the country with income taxes of up to 12.3%. You’ll also pay a combined sales tax rate of 7.5% living in Sacramento. If you look at taxes in Portland vs. Sacramento, you’ll see a huge upside of living in Portland: no sales tax! Oregon income tax is also very high, however, at 5% to 9.9%, but not as high as California.

Living in Portland Pros

Great Public Transportation in Portland

One of the perks of living in Portland? The city’s great public transit system. Portland offers 5 light rail lines, 3 streetcar lines, and one commuter line. When you compare Sacramento and Portland, you’ll see Sacramento only has two light rail lines with no commuter rails serving suburbs or streetcars. While there is a light rail line planned for Sacramento International Airport, it will only happen if funding materializes.

The Outdoors Is a Way of Life

In Portland, enjoying the outdoors is a way of life. You’ll meet tons of outdoorsy people who live for adventure on the weekend, whether it’s bonfires and camping or backpacking trips. You’ll find plenty to do outdoors within just a short drive, too. Within 30 minutes, you’ll find waterfalls, mountains, and rocky coasts.


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The Marquam Trail is just three miles from downtown, a huge plus side of living in Portland. Explore the forest and climb 650 feet in elevation to Council Crest Park which offers views of downtown and Mt. Rainier. The nearby Hoyt Arboretum features thousands of species of trees with spots for bird watching or you can try Springwater on the Willamette, a paved 3-mile path along the Willamette River.

Living in Portland Cons

Lots of Rain in Portland

Even if you like rain, the amount of rain you experience in Portland may be a bit much, it’s a disadvantage. The weather is definitely a minus of living in Portland for some people. You’ll have anywhere from 4 to 19 rainy days every month and up to 25 cloudy days every month.

Portland Has a Major Homeless Problem

Portland has arguably the worst homeless problem in the United States. Alleys in the city are covered with used needles and garbage. In 2015, 3,800 people were on the streets, temporary housing, and shelters with 12,000 doubled up. In 2016, a shantytown along Springwater Corridor, a popular hiking trail, stretched 2 miles with 200 tents and 500 homeless people, the largest homeless encampment in the U.S. In 2018, Portland had more than 14,000 chronically homeless people with no real solutions from officials on how to solve the problem. This is certainly a drawback to living in Portland you should consider.

Cost of Living in Sacramento vs. Portland

Which city is more expensive, Sacramento or Portland? When deciding where to move, cost of living plays a big role. You may be surprised to learn the cities are actually very close in terms of cost, but the cost of living in Portland is a bit higher than the Sacramento cost of living.

According to Numbeo, you would need $5,208 in Portland for the same quality of living you would get with $5,100 in Sacramento. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Consumer prices are 1.5% higher in Portland vs. Sacramento
  • Rent prices are 3.2% higher in Portland versus Sacramento
  • Restaurant prices are 3% lower in Sacramento vs. Portland
  • Groceries are 2% more expensive in Portland compared to Sacramento

As a renter, what can you expect? The average rent in Sacramento is $1,438. In Portland, average rent is $1,499. The difference in home prices is more apparent: the average home in Portland is $92,000 more expensive than a home in Sacramento!


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Additional Things to Consider Between Sacramento Versus Portland

Sacramento vs. Portland Population

Do you want to live in a densely populated urban environment or have more open space to explore? The population of Sacramento is 513,000 within the city limits with a metro population of 2.5 million. The population of Portland is 655,000 with a metro population that’s also about 2.5 million. Sacramento is more densely populated than Portland and has a larger footprint with suburbs that continue to grow. Sacramento is now California’s fastest-growing major city.

Sacramento vs. Portland Crime

Both Portland and Sacramento have fairly high crime rates. However, the crime rate in Portland vs. Sacramento is much higher. The Sacramento crime rate is 43% above the national average with 3,700 reported crimes per 100,000 people. In Portland, the crime rate is 132% higher than the national average with 5,980 crimes/100,000 people. Higher crime is one of the big downsides of living in Portland versus Sacramento.

Sports in Sacramento Versus Portland

Looking forward to rooting for the home team? Portland has three major league sports teams: the Portland Trail Blazers (MBA), Portland Timbers (MLS), and Portland Thorns FC (National Women’s Soccer League). Sacramento is home to just one major league team: the Sacramento Kings (NBA). Both cities have several amateur and minor league teams.

Sacramento vs. Portland Weather

When you compare and contrast Sacramento versus Portland, don’t forget to consider the climate! The Sacramento climate is hot-summer Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters with some rain. Portland has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate with cooler summers and winters with more rain.

Love fall and the changing seasons? A plus side of living in Sacramento is it’s one of the few areas in California where you can see the leaves change colors with beautiful ginkgo and maple trees in the area.

Sacramento Versus Portland: Where Are You Moving?

For decades, Portland has been known for its progressive values that have made it a center of counterculture. It’s also one of the greenest cities in the U.S. with one of the country’s most vibrant music scenes. Sacramento, on the other hand, offers a California lifestyle with affordable housing and an amazing location close to everything California has to offer. Which city is calling to you?

If you’ve decided on beautiful Sacramento, call the friendly Sacramento movers at Mother Lode Van & Storage to request your free moving estimate.


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