Portland Transplants vs. Natives: 10 “Portlandisms” Exposed


According to the U.S. Census Bureau only about 40% of Portland’s population was born in Oregon, making it the highest transplant city on the west coast. As a Portland native, born and bred here, I start to roll my eyes every time I hear things like “only REAL Portlanders do…” Please. Is there really anything firm to show distinguishing characteristics between a Portland native and a transplant? That debate aside, here are ten annoyingly-touted “True Portlandisms” that I would like to shine an accurate light on:Portland

1. A Firm Stance on Rain Jackets vs. Umbrellas

This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Since when does choosing to stay dry by any means necessary dictate whether or not you’re a native? If someone swears that “true Portlanders” don’t use umbrellas in the rain because all you need is a good waterproof jacket, they are probably a transplant. Natives use one, both or neither as it suits them.

2. Pronunciation

The proper pronunciation of Couch Street, Clackamas, Willamette and even Oregon in general has always been a contentious case-in-point of natives vs transplants. Sure, these names are tough to pronounce, and yes, those of us raised here have been speaking them since childhood, but thankfully Portlandia has done a nice job of helping people all over the world improve their stumptown vocabulary.

3. Those (expletive) Californians

All my life I’ve heard other natives blame everything on Californians moving up here. Housing shortages, inflation, unemployment rates, even natural disasters; it’s all the Californians’ fault. But according to the US Census Bureau, the highest slice of that 60% transplant rate in Oregon actually from comes Washington, and the rest is spread between other states, and even other countries. So, sorry native Portlanders, statistics show that Californians are not to blame.

portlandia4. The TV Show That Put Us on the Map

As Drew Tyson from The Thrillist so perfectly puts it, “Transplants quote Portlandia. Natives pretend not to watch it.” Guilty as charged. Although, everyone knows their jokes and insinuations are grossly exaggerated.

5. Portland is SO Close to the Beach, Mountains, etc.

If you ask a stranger on the street why they moved here, and their answer has something to do with how close it is to the mountains, the beaches, or how lush and green it is year-round, they’re most likely a transplant. If they say it’s because they were born here, they’re probably native.

6. Driving Skills, Rain, Hail, Sleet and Snow

It’s a pretty over-used joke that Portlanders can’t drive, and the people who make these jokes are transplants. Yes, my Californian husband, I’m talking about YOU! However, I have to admit that many natives are weather spazzes. This is sadly multiplied by local news stupidity: “Snow-pocalypse,” “Snow-mageddon” and the infamous “No Show Snow Day” of 2014. So when inclement weather strikes, the only people on the roads are usually transplants.

7. No Sales Tax, and Not Pumping Our Own Gas

We might not be the only state where this is the case, but it does seem to be a popular thing to talk about around here. And yes, I do hate paying sales tax and pumping gas when I’m in California or Washington. C’mon, it makes my hands smell like gasoline all day!

8. Craft Brew Mecca

There are nearly 3,500 craft breweries nationwide. In Oregon, you’ll find approximately 194 in 72 cities, but the Portland area alone has 91, making it the metro area with the most breweries in the entire country. So, yes, Portland truly is the heartland for craft brew!

9. Rain, Rain Go Away

Okay, it does rain a lot, but not as much as people say. In fact mid-June through late September are pretty precipitationless, and HOT. Plus we always have weeks of frozen winter weather, a good snow every few years (the aforementioned weather spazzes aside), and sometimes nice stretches of sun in February and March! So there.

10. Referencing “Oregon” When They Really Mean PORTLAND

There is nothing that irritates me more than hearing people discuss Portlandisms using phrases like, “well, that’s Oregon,” or “In Oregon we…” The state of Oregon is almost 100,000 square miles, with Portland being only 145. Plus, the rest of the state’s weather, terrain, culture, etc. is vastly different from the tiny section that makes up the Willamette Valley. So, people, please stop inserting “Oregon” where “Portland” belongs!

In summary, I’m still not convinced that there are absolutes distinguishing natives from transplants. There is no Portland cookie cutter. We all live here, and are very different and unique. The most important thing to remember is that whether we’ve been here 45 years or 45 minutes, we all love our home!

What are your favorite Portlandisms? How do you tell a native from a transplant?

portlandisms, Portland native vs transplant

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