Moving to Portland? Top Things You Need to Know
- Let them pump the gas: It's actually a law. Let the gas station person pump your gas. Do not touch the pumps. In Oregon there is no such thing as self-serve. If you try to pump your own gas people will think you are from Vancouver, WA and you don't want that. Or worse - California.
- All carbonated beverage containers are worth $.05 including soda, beer, and fizzy water. If it has bubbles, it's worth money! Now for 'flat' water bottles also. Save them and take them back to the grocery store and get your money back. If you throw them in the garbage people will think you are from Washington State and you don't want that.
If you don't want to deal with your can or bottle, many people would love to deal with it for you. Either set it on top or beside a garbage container (for instance downtown or at a park) or leave it in a separate bag out on the curb with your recycling. Honest - you will make someone's day if you make it easier for them to scavenge your cans and bottles.
- People on the streets - yes you will notice many people experiencing homelessness on the streets downtown and other parts of Portland. Yes they will ask you for money, and usually are very polite. It's OK to say no. If you're one of those folks who feels bad, it's okay. From what I understand, folks like to be acknowledged at least. Saying "Sorry not today" at least lets them know they were heard. If you'd like to know more, talk with a friendly Street Roots vendor and drop a dollar on a paper. It's a very good read.
- Umbrellas are for tourists 90% of the time people with umbrellas are tourists or realtors. To survive Portland Drizzle invest in a nice thick hoody (hoodie). A Hoody is a sweatshirt with a hood attached. You will never regret your investment in a hoody. They can be worn under other warmer jackets. The hoody hood keeps the rain from squirming down the back of your neck. Do not wear an umbrella hat. People will think you are from Indiana or worse - San Francisco.
Extra hoody bonus: keep one in the back seat or trunk of your car for impromptu trips to the Oregon coast. It can be 90F with blazing sun in Portland and 50F and cloudy on the coast. You will need your hoody.
- Sales Tax Ain't no sales tax here in Oregon. So the price on the shelf is the price you pay - flat out! No sneaky 5% - 7% tacked on at the end like OTHER states. This may vary for hotels - there may be a 'tourist tax' on lodging, I'm not 100% sure. If you miss sales tax, hie up north to Washington State and you'll see it on your sales receipt.
However, if you have an Oregon driver's license, tell the cashier and they will take the sales tax off. That way you can buy large ticket items like cars and refrigerators, or have car repair done in Vancouver and not pay sales tax.
- Breaking into cars/car theft You really haven't arrived until someone breaks into your car and steals something. Or just breaks out a window, can't find anything to steal, and just leaves. Especially if you car isn't locked. Ha ha. I love that one. I believe it is the #1 crime in the Portland Metro area, and at parks and the coast as well. They'll take what ever isn't bolted down. So hide the CD's, take your stereo out if you have one, don't leave ANYTHING in view, not even a bag of bottles. Your stuff will wind up at the pawn shop.
Please please please invest in one of those 'Club' thingys for your steering wheel. Getting your car stolen is a huge hassle and will cost you hundreds to get it back. And usually an unpleasant bus ride to a nasty part of town to the impound lot *if* your car is even recovered.
- The Oregon Coast is beautiful and usually FREEZING COLD even in the middle of summer. Swimming in the Pacific Ocean is for strong children and crazy people with wetsuits. As mentioned above, keep a blanket, a hoody, long pants and socks in your trunk. It really is only about 1.5 hrs or less to the Coast.
- Why is Portland so weird? Because the Willamette River flows north. That's just weird. I can deal with all the other freakiness of Oregon but a river flowing north seems unnatural. Then you know what it does? Meets up with the Columbia river and flows out to the ocean. If that wasn't enough, we've got a mountain range to the west that creates a 'rain curtain' for the Willamette Valley and 1-5 corridor. Then to the east is live volcano and ski paradise called Mount Hood. We're surrounded by volcanoes and water currents! That's all I can figure :) Plus we can't count - we have 5 quadrants in Portland, and this list has grown to 8 Things to Know!
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