Portland Neighborhoods Guide

Portland Neighborhoods Guide: Finding an Apartment or Rental in Portland

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Navigating Portland
Portland Public Transit: Trains, Buses, Streetcars
Living in Portland Without A Car
Finding an Apartment or Rental in Portland
Where in Portland should I live?
Random Facts and Portland Trivia
Portland Frequently Asked Questions
Portland Grocery Stores
Top 5 Things To Do Before Renting a Place in Portland

Area Descriptions


Goose Hollow and King's Hill
Northwest Portland
South Waterfront
The Pearl District

Northeast/North Portland

Hollywood District
Lloyd District
St. Johns
University Park

Southeast Portland

Hawthorne District
Ladd's Addition

Southwest Portland

Johns Landing
Multnomah Village

Suburbs/Outlying Areas

Beaverton - West Suburbs
Lake Oswego - South of Portland
Orenco Station - Hillsboro
Tanasbourne - Hillsboro/Beaverton
Tualatin Town Center - Southwest of Portland
Vancouver, WA


Portland Scenic Photographs by Andrew Hall

Craigslist - Great for rentals

OregonLive.com - the Oregonian Online

Willamette Week - Alternative Weekly, Online

alt.portland guide - everything cool about Portland

If you don't yet live in Portland, it can be quite a struggle trying to rent a place remotely. Keep in mind that first of all, many vacancies are based on 30-day move-out notices from the current tenants. Also, many Portland apartments in the popular neighborhoods rely on walk-by traffic and "For Rent" signs. Many apartment buildings in the neighborhoods have a permanent "Apartment available" sign with a phone number hanging out front for people walking or biking by. You, from far away, don't have the advantage of seeing those. Searching online may be the best you can do.

Online Rental Resources

Your best online source for rentals is Craigslist . There are separate sections for apartments/homes for rent and roommates. You can also post your own free "rental wanted" ad there and post what you are looking for; perhaps an agent or landlord will see it and offer up something. Beyond that, there's the classic route of newspaper classifieds. Try Oregonlive (The Oregonian - Portland's daily newspaper) classifieds or Willamette Week, Portland's most popular free/alternative weekly paper.

If you are looking for an apartment complex or high rise building, many of them are served by the national For Rent magazine service which also has online listings. This can be your best bet particularly for the suburbs and for the nicer downtown, Pearl, and South Waterfront high rise buildings, not so much for Portland's urban neighborhoods that tend to have older, smaller apartment buildings. Keep in mind when browsing For Rent that there are hundreds of apartment buildings in Portland that do not advertise in it! They are perhaps too small or not upscale enough for it.

One benefit of these bigger apartment complexes and buidings is that you can often reserve a place over the phone or via email, sight unseen, because they often have several vacancies coming up. However, note that these tend to be corporate-owned and are almost always going to require a 6 month to one year lease. Note that it's quite common in Portland for smaller landlords to do only month-to-month leases even at the outset.

You can also try some of the property management websites (some smaller apartment buildings, condos, and houses):

There's a national search service called Rent.com (owned by eBay) that may have good listings as well.

Do your research about where you want to live, how much you want to pay, etc ahead of time. Do your homework! Here are possible strategies for renting a place before you move to Portland:

  1. Find a place before you arrive. Kind of scary to rent a place sight unseen! Try to get some pictures at least. Again, keep the 30 day notice thing in mind (and often notices are given around the 1st of the month), and consider the type of neighborhood you want to live in. Use For Rent for suburbs or downtown and Pearl District high rises; use the other online sources for Portland's urban neighborhoods.

    Can you start looking more than 30 days before you want to move in? Yes, but don't expect a lot of specific availability. However, you can try answering ads on Craigslist for vacancies that would work IF the timing were right - and see if that landlord owns any other properties. If so, ask them to contact you if they have a vacancy in your time frame. Just prepare concise information on what you want and where, what price, etc. and save them time.

    You can also post a free ad in the Craigslist Housing Wanted section. Nothing to lose in doing that!

  2. Fly to Portland first, find a place before you actually move. Perhaps coming within 20-30 days out is the best strategy. You might be surprised how cheaply you can fly to Portland - check Southwest Airlines and others. Use Priceline.com or Hotwire.com for hotels. (Use BetterBidding.com for a guide on HOW to use Priceline and Hotwire! People post their successful Priceline and Hotwire results there, so you aren't totally blind using these services!)

    Although this strategy may cost you more, you get the benefit of being able to walk around Portland neighborhoods and SEE the places you can't find online, plus you don't have to rent them sight unseen! And if you add up the cost of a round-trip ticket and a few nights hotel or youth hostel, it might not cost as much as you fear.

  3. Move here first, stay at a hotel or hostel while you find a place. You might get lucky and find an immediate vacancy or you may have to wait a while. Do some research. Find a storage place where you could temporarily store your stuff (from a moving truck?) until you can move in. Portland has some excellent youth hostels in Northwest and in Hawthorne that can be a cheap way to stay temporarily instead of a hotel. And if you want to live in either of these neighborhoods, the hostels are perfectly located!

    Instead of moving with a truck, you could use a moving service like PODS or U-Pack Moving which will move your stuff in a container (or two), potentially store it for you for a month while you look for a place, then deliver it to your new apartment once you find it.

Have a question about Portland that isn't answered here?