- August 29, 2014

The Five Biggest Reasons To Love Austin More Than Portland


If you type “Austin vs. Portland” into Google, you’ll come across article after article and forum after forum debating which of the two cities is the best. Given, we are similar enough to warrant the debate, but there are five big, glaring reasons why we think Austin is a better place to live than Portland.

5.) Austin has more outdoor bars to enjoy year-round

We’ve got to hand it to Portland, they’ve totally got us beat in the sheer number of locally owned coffee shops. But we think Austin has an edge on something even better: Our nearly countless outdoor bars. Sure, Portland has some too, but the beauty of Austin’s weather is that we get to enjoy a few brews on the patio with our friends any time of the year.

Plus, our bars get Weird, particularly during the big music festivals. Things like this happen:

And yes, the bar in that video, Shangri-La, has a huge patio.

4.) Austin has a better job market right now

Both cities attract educated workers. No one doubts that. But Austin’s economy has long has been on the up for a while, making us one of the fastest growing cities in America. Portland hasn’t been so lucky in recent years. Austin also has an unemployment rate of just 3.5 percent as of this writing (it’s 6 percent in Portland), and economists are forecasting an additional 4.1 percent job growth rate over the next three years.

One of the big reasons for that, and a key source of Austin’s weirdness, is an economic philosophy that’s taken root here known as “the multiplier effect” …

Keeping money in the community AND encouraging local creativity? Now that’s cool.

3.) Austin has WAY better music festivals

Ever hear of the little annual gatherings we’ve got in Austin, otherwise known as South by Southwest (SXSW), Fun Fun Fun Fest, and Austin City Limits? The economic impact of just those three events alone is in the hundreds of millions, and we’re barely scratching the surface of Austin’s numerous music festivals. Sure, Portlanders can go see the Oregon Music Festival or MusicFestNW, but do they really attract the same number of people or the nearly as many bands? Not quite.

Our biggest annual event, SXSW, has grown into much more than just music too. Ever hear of Twitter and Foursquare? Those sort of became a thing because of SXSW, which has helped the festival’s “Interactive” component really begin reaching critical mass, built upon the amazing success of the music side. So, we’ve got the festival where the best of music AND the Internet collide? As one keen observer says in the video below, “Austin is taking over the planet!”

Seriously, if you’ve never been to any of our big music festivals, you’re missing out.

2.) Austin has much nicer weather

Lovely as Portland’s geography may be, it’s cloudy there for most of the year, whereas Austin is sunny most of the year. Residents of both cities would probably agree Portland has milder summers — Austin can be very hot and humid — but you really can’t beat 229 sunny days a year. That means there’s a lot more space on the calendar for outdoor activities, and with all our amazing natural swimming holes, plenty of time each year for days like this:

Unless you prefer sipping coffee indoors on gray, cloudy days, Austin clearly has Portland beat here.

1.) Austin is just weirder than Portland

This will be much disputed, because our two fair cities pride themselves on being characteristically “Weird,” but let’s keep it real: We came up with the “Keep X Weird” slogan. It’s ours. Portland’s recent attempts to claim it for their own are amusing, but we did it first.

While both cities are wonderfully strange, being in the middle of Texas means Austin is just weirder than Portland’s whole arrangement in Oregon. Given how conservative most of the rest of the Texas is, Austin truly stands out.

Yes, we give credit where it’s due: Portland is weird. But Oregon is also known for being very liberal, hosting a large Shakespeare Festival, and selling delicious local cheeses at their neighborhood organic grocery stores — which is to say, Portland just doesn’t even come close to offering as strong a contrast with its state as Austin.

Granted, there’s a lot to love about Portland. It really is, in spirit, like a sister city to Austin. Both cities are truly great. In some ways, “Portlandia” could just as well be called “Austinlandia.” But in the end, we’re strongly biased toward Austin and we just can’t help explaining why.

Featured photo: Flickr user Andrew Norse, creative commons licensed.