Portland, Oregon is well-known for its hipster culture, rainy weather, and great coffee. But living in Stumptown doesn’t have to break the bank. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll show you insider tips for enjoying Portland affordably.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Shop sales at grocery outlets like Grocery Outlet and WinCo, take advantage of free activities like Forest Park hikes, and stick to happy hours for dining out.

Below we dive deep into money-saving strategies for housing, groceries, entertainment, and more. Read on to learn how you can live large in Portland without going broke.

Find Cheap Housing Options

When it comes to finding affordable housing in Portland, there are several options to consider. By exploring different neighborhoods and housing arrangements, you can find a place that fits your budget without compromising on comfort.

Look for affordable neighborhoods

Portland has a variety of neighborhoods that offer cheaper housing options compared to the city center. Areas like St. Johns, Montavilla, and Lents are known for their affordability. These neighborhoods may not have the same level of amenities as more expensive areas, but they often provide a great sense of community and have easy access to public transportation.

One great resource to assist in finding affordable neighborhoods is the Portland Housing Bureau. Their website offers useful information on different neighborhoods, including median rent prices and income limits for affordable housing programs.

Search for rooms, shared houses

If you’re looking for an even more cost-effective option, consider renting a room or joining a shared house. Websites like Craigslist or Roommates.com can connect you with individuals who are looking to share their living space, reducing your monthly expenses.

Sharing a house or renting a room not only helps you save money but also allows you to meet new people and potentially build lasting friendships. It’s a great way to create a sense of community in a new city.

Consider public or income-based housing

If you meet certain income requirements, you may be eligible for public or income-based housing programs. The Portland Housing Bureau provides information on various affordable housing programs available in the city, including Section 8 vouchers and public housing options.

These programs aim to provide safe and affordable housing to individuals and families with limited financial resources. By participating in these programs, you can access housing options that fit your budget while ensuring a decent quality of life.

Remember, finding cheap housing in Portland may require some research and patience, but with the right approach, you can discover a place to call home without breaking the bank.

Get Groceries on the Cheap

Buy in bulk and freeze extras

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to buy in bulk and freeze any extras. Not only will this help you save money in the long run, but it will also ensure that you always have food on hand.

Buying in bulk can be especially beneficial for non-perishable items such as rice, pasta, and canned goods. By purchasing these items in larger quantities, you can often get a better price per unit, ultimately saving you money.

Remember to properly store and label your frozen items to avoid any confusion later on.

Shop discount grocery stores

Discount grocery stores are a great option for those looking to save money on their groceries. These stores often offer lower prices compared to traditional grocery stores, making it easier to stay within your budget.

While the selection may be more limited, discount grocery stores usually have all the essentials you need at a fraction of the cost. Some popular discount grocery stores in Portland include Grocery Outlet Bargain Market and WinCo Foods.

Be sure to check out their weekly specials and take advantage of any discounts or promotions.

Use apps to reduce food waste

Food waste is a major issue, both for the environment and for your wallet. Luckily, there are now apps available that can help you reduce food waste and save money at the same time. Apps like Too Good To Go and Olio connect users with local restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores that have surplus food.

These establishments sell their excess food at discounted prices through the app, allowing you to enjoy a delicious meal while also helping reduce food waste. Additionally, some apps offer discounts and coupons for grocery items that are close to their expiration date.

By using these apps, you can save money while also making a positive impact on the environment.

When it comes to getting groceries on the cheap in Portland, there are several strategies you can employ. Buying in bulk and freezing extras, shopping at discount grocery stores, and using apps to reduce food waste are all effective ways to save money without sacrificing quality or variety in your meals.

By being mindful of your spending and taking advantage of these money-saving tips, you can live on the cheap in Portland without compromising on the things that matter to you.

Enjoy Free and Low-Cost Entertainment

Living on a budget doesn’t mean missing out on all the fun that Portland has to offer. In fact, the city is filled with numerous free and low-cost entertainment options that are perfect for those looking to save some money while still enjoying everything this vibrant city has to offer.

From parks to festivals to volunteer opportunities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy without breaking the bank.

Take advantage of Portland’s parks

Portland is known for its beautiful parks and green spaces, and luckily, many of them are free to visit. Whether you’re looking to go for a scenic hike, have a picnic, or simply relax and enjoy nature, there are plenty of options available.

Some popular parks in Portland include Forest Park, Washington Park, and Laurelhurst Park. So, grab a blanket, pack a lunch, and spend a day exploring the natural beauty that Portland has to offer.

Attend free festivals and events

Portland is a city that loves to celebrate, and there are numerous free festivals and events held throughout the year. From the famous Rose Festival to the Portland Saturday Market, there’s always something happening in the city.

These events often feature live music, food vendors, local artisans, and much more. So, gather your friends and family, and head out to one of these free events for a day of fun and entertainment.

Volunteer to get free admission

Another great way to enjoy free or low-cost entertainment in Portland is by volunteering. Many organizations and events offer free admission or discounted tickets to those who are willing to volunteer their time.

This not only allows you to enjoy the event for free but also gives you an opportunity to give back to the community. Whether it’s helping out at a local food bank or assisting with a community clean-up event, volunteering can be a rewarding and budget-friendly way to enjoy the entertainment that Portland has to offer.

Save Money on Transportation

Living on the cheap in Portland doesn’t mean sacrificing your mobility. With a few smart choices, you can save money on transportation while still getting around the city efficiently. Here are some tips to help you cut down on transportation expenses:

Walk, bike or take public transit

Portland is known for its pedestrian and bike-friendly infrastructure, making walking or biking a great option for short distances. Not only does it save you money on gas and parking, but it also promotes a healthier lifestyle.

Plus, you get to enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh air while commuting.

For longer distances, Portland has an excellent public transit system, including buses, light rail, and streetcars. TriMet is the main public transportation provider in the area, offering affordable fares and convenient routes that cover the entire city.

By using public transit, you can significantly reduce your transportation costs and avoid the hassle of traffic congestion.

Use rideshare apps wisely

Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft have gained popularity in recent years, providing a convenient alternative to traditional taxis. While they offer a convenient way to get around, it’s important to use these services wisely to save money.

Consider using rideshare apps for short trips or when public transit is not available or convenient.

Additionally, take advantage of promotions, discounts, and shared rides offered by these apps to further reduce your transportation expenses. Carpooling with friends or colleagues can also be a cost-effective way to split the fare and make your commute more social.

Buy used vehicles

If you need to own a car in Portland, consider buying a used vehicle instead of a brand new one. Used cars are typically more affordable, and with careful research and inspection, you can find a reliable and well-maintained vehicle that meets your needs.

Websites like cars.com and autotrader.com provide a wide range of options to choose from, allowing you to compare prices and make an informed decision.

Remember to factor in the costs of insurance, maintenance, and fuel efficiency when purchasing a used car. Opting for a fuel-efficient model can save you money in the long run, as gas prices can fluctuate.

By implementing these money-saving tips, you can navigate Portland’s transportation system while keeping your budget intact. Whether you choose to walk, bike, take public transit, or buy a used vehicle, you’ll be able to explore the city without breaking the bank.

Find Deals on Dining Out

Portland is known for its vibrant food scene, but dining out can quickly add up and strain your budget. However, there are plenty of ways to enjoy delicious meals without breaking the bank. Here are some tips to find great deals on dining out in Portland.

Take advantage of happy hours

One of the best ways to save money on dining out in Portland is by taking advantage of happy hour specials. Many restaurants and bars offer discounted food and drink prices during certain times of the day.

Not only can you enjoy a delicious meal at a lower cost, but you can also discover new places to eat. It’s a win-win situation! Make sure to check out websites like PDX Pipeline for a comprehensive list of happy hour deals in the city.

Join rewards programs

Another great way to find deals on dining out in Portland is by joining rewards programs. Many restaurants offer loyalty programs that allow you to earn points or discounts every time you dine. By signing up for these programs, you can save money on future meals and even receive exclusive offers.

It’s a simple and effective way to stretch your dining budget. Check out local restaurant websites or ask your server about any available rewards programs.

Stick to cheaper neighborhoods

If you’re on a tight budget, consider dining out in the cheaper neighborhoods of Portland. While the city is known for its trendy and upscale dining options, there are also plenty of affordable and delicious eateries in less touristy areas.

Places like Southeast Portland or the Alberta Arts District offer a wide range of dining choices at more budget-friendly prices. Exploring these neighborhoods not only saves you money but also gives you a chance to experience the local culture and community.

By following these tips, you can enjoy dining out in Portland without breaking the bank. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, finding deals on dining is a great way to savor the city’s culinary delights without emptying your wallet.


Portland offers abundant opportunities for cheap eats, free activities, and affordable living. By using insider tips like shopping at grocery outlets, attending free events, and sticking to happy hours, you can enjoy the city’s vibrant culture on a budget.

Implement these saving strategies, and you’ll be living large in Portland without breaking the bank.

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