Both play an integral role in the economics and culture of each state.
Despite both being thriving cities, there are a few differences between them.
If you’re thinking of visiting or moving to one over the other, it’s important to know what the differences are.
Here are a few differences between Denver and Portland.
Denver Vs. Portland (What’s The Difference?)
1. Capital City
One of the biggest differences between the two cities is that Denver is the capital of Colorado while Portland isn’t the capital of Oregon.
Instead, Portland is Oregon’s largest city.
The actual capital of Oregon is Salem, although the capital has moved frequently in the state’s history.
Because Denver is Colorado’s capital, you can expect a lot of the services in the city to cater to government officials.
However, the city is also home to several other businesses and attractions.
Denver became Colorado’s capital during a gold rush that occurred within the area.
Although the land technically belonged to the Cheyenne and Arapaho people, settlers would slowly drive them out of the territory until it belonged to them instead.
A few wars and massacres would effectively displace the indigenous people and force them into new territory.
As miners scouted for gold, they’d find another rich vein a bit further from Denver.
However, the Denver territory became an ideal place to build services that the miners would need.
A saloon and a few housing projects were among the first structures built.
As time went on, Colorado became an official territory of the United States.
Denver City, as it was known then, shortened its name to Denver after the populace voted for it to become the seat of government for Colorado.
It was in 1881 that Denver became the official capital of Colorado.
Colorado would join the Union as an official state in 1876.
Portland also started due to a gold rush in California.
The land got its name after a coin toss between two investors.
One wanted to name it Boston and the other Portland.
The coin toss favored Portland.
With its access to two big rivers and the Pacific Ocean, Portland became a seedy port city filled with gambling houses, saloons, and bordellos.
In its early history, it became known as the most dangerous port city in the world.
Both Denver and Portland have very close populations, but Denver has a few more people living in it.
The estimated population in Denver is 760,049.
The estimated population in Portland is 666,453.
The demographics of both cities are also similar in some cases but different in others.
For example, Denver’s population has 72.2% White Americans living in it while Portland’s population has 75.32% White Americans living in it.
The next big demographic for Denver is Black Americans at 9.18%.
Portland’s next biggest demographic is Asian Americans at 8.65%.
While both cities have a largely white population, their next-biggest minorities are different.
3. Average Salaries
One of the most important aspects to consider when moving to a city is the average salary.
This can give you an idea of the average amount of money that people make.
Obviously, if the wages are higher, this indicates that the area likely has higher-paying jobs.
Both Denver and Portland have similar average salaries, but they are different.
The average salary in Denver is $74,000 a year.
The average salary in Portland is $73,000 a year.
One area that’s important to consider is whether the wages have increased, decreased, or remained stagnant with time.
Denver has had an increase of 1.7% in wages over the past few years.
Portland, on the other hand, has had a decrease of 0.7% in wages over the past few years.
This indicates that Denver had been increasing its workers’ salaries while Portland hasn’t.
It might suggest that Portland either hasn’t increased wages to match the cost of living or that there have been more lower-paying jobs created than higher-paying jobs in recent times.
Whatever the reason, Denver has a higher average salary with wages increasing.
4. Average Age Group
Knowing the average group of a city can help you determine the kind of lifestyle or energy that the city has.
For example, if the average age group of a city is retirement age, then you can expect the area to cater to that group of people.
There might be lots of services and entertainment venues that look to entice older Americans rather than younger ones.
If the average age group of a city is young, however, then you can expect activities, services, and entertainment to cater to a younger group of people.
This can also indicate the kind of jobs that are available in the area.
For an area with older folk, it might mean there are more medical jobs available.
For an area with younger folk, it might mean there are several different types of jobs available.
The average age group in Denver is 37 years old.
The average age group in Portland is 35 years old.
Both average age groups are very similar, but Denver has a slightly older age group living within it.
Both cities, however, likely have a young-focused lifestyle and economy since the average age groups are similar.
While there are likely retirement-aged residents as well, the bulk of those who live in these cities is young.
They’re out of college and starting to become established in their careers.
Since Denver has a slightly older age group, it may indicate that those who start to work in Denver also remain there and grow old there.
Since Portland has a slightly younger age group on average, it may indicate that as the population becomes older, they might decide to move out of the city.
Either way, both cities have a young average age group with Denver having a slightly older median age.
5. Average Temperatures And Climate
If you’re planning to visit or move to a new city, knowing its average temperature and climate is important.
If you’re used to temperate weather, for example, moving somewhere that frequently has hot or cold temperatures can be a shock.
You may find it difficult to adapt and regret moving there or even taking a vacation there.
The problem may be even worse if you’re used to one extreme and end up moving to another extreme.
Because of that, it’s important to know the average temperatures and climates of both Denver and Portland.
Denver experiences hot summers and very cold, snowy winters.
After all, there’s a reason many skiers and snowboarders come to Colorado for the winter season.
The city’s average temperatures range from 22 degrees Fahrenheit to 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
It rarely goes below 6 degrees Fahrenheit and rarely gets above 96 degrees Fahrenheit.
This makes Denver a bit more temperate than some of the other cities in the United States.
The area also sees a mostly cloudy sky for most of the year.
This means that you can expect some sunlight, but it won’t be constant.
Portland experiences very short and warm summers that are quite dry.
Its winters, on the other hand, are long, cold, and wet.
You can essentially expect to have pleasant summers but very snowy or at least sleety winters.
The average temperature range in Portland is 36 degrees Fahrenheit to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
It rarely drops below 26 degrees Fahrenheit and rarely gets above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Clearly, Portland is a bit warmer than Denver, even in winter.
While you can expect more snowfall in Denver, you’ll also experience longer winters in Portland.
Both also have low humidity levels throughout the year.
At most, Denver will have a humidity of 20% and Portland will have a humidity up to 40%.
While both cities feel pretty dry, Portland has a bit more humidity than Denver.
Another big concern that you might have when visiting a new city or moving there is safety.
Ideally, you’d probably like to visit or move to a city that is decently safe.
No one wants to visit or live somewhere where they have to constantly worry about home break-ins, car thefts, or violent crimes.
Denver has a crime index of two, which means it’s safer than 2% of other cities in the United States.
The average number of violent crimes committed each year is 6,336.
That means Denver has a crime rate of 8.86% per 1,000 residents.
The average number of property crimes committed each year is 34,482.
That means Denver has a crime rate of 48.19% per 1,000 residents.
That’s a pretty high crime rate.
Property crimes include things like theft and property damage.
While Denver may not have as high a number of violent crimes, there is a decent chance that a criminal might try to break into your home or car.
Portland has a crime index of three which means it’s safer than 3% of other cities in the United States.
The average number of violent crimes committed each year is 3,481.
That means Portland has a crime rate of 5.33% per 1,000 residents.
The average number of property crimes committed each year is 32,134.
That means Portland has a crime rate of 49.25% per 1,000 residents.
Portland is a bit safer when it comes to violent crimes than Denver.
However, Portland has a higher chance of property crime occurring than Denver.
Both cities aren’t that safe, but Denver has more violent crimes than Portland, and Portland has more property crimes than Denver.
7. Job Opportunities
Knowing a city’s job growth and where the growth is occurring is important for anyone who intends to move there.
For example, if you have a finance degree and intend to work in that field, you don’t want to move to a city where its financial sector is shrinking.
There are a few key differences between Denver and Portland when it comes to job opportunities and job growth.
Overall, both have had an increase in job growth.
In Denver, employment increased from 1,629 in December of 2021 to 1,664 in April of 2022 per 1,000 people.
Considering the economic hardships people are experiencing due to COVID-19, it’s remarkable that there’s been such an increase in employment.
This is also evidenced by the unemployment rate in Denver.
In 2021, the unemployment rate in Denver was 3.7%.
In 2022, the unemployment rate in Denver fell to 3.1%.
While the change may seem small, it’s still significant.
This indicates that Denver is either making more jobs or has jobs available for workers.
Portland has also seen an increase in employment.
In Portland, employment increased from 1,322 in December of 2021 to 1,335 in April of 2022 per 1,000 people.
However, their unemployment rate has increased slightly.
In 2021, the unemployment rate in Portland was 3.5%.
In 2022, the unemployment rate in Portland has remained at 3.5%.
It’s worth checking out the numbers behind that rate.
In 2021, there were 47.5 per 1,000 people unemployed in Portland.
In 2022, there were 48.1 per 1,000 people unemployed in Portland.
This indicates that while Portland is making more jobs for its people, it’s not doing so fast enough.
It might also indicate that the jobs the city is making aren’t ones that people want to work in.
The wages may be too low, there might not be enough benefits, or there may be any other number of issues that the workers have with the listed jobs.
Clearly, while both cities are showing growth, Portland is struggling more than Denver.
8. Biggest Job Markets
Another critical factor that people need to consider before moving to a new city is the job market.
While a city may be experiencing employment growth, this doesn’t always mean that it’s growing in the market that you need.
Denver has a few of the biggest job markets with its biggest being research institutions.
Both universities are big research institutions besides offering college courses to students.
Since these are both large schools, education is also a big employer in the area.
The universities need staff members of all kinds to stay operational.
Another big job market in Denver is hospitality.
Because of its reputation for being a winter destination, there are tons of hotels, resorts, ski lodges, and other assorted tourist services in the area.
You can usually find a job looking after celebrities, executives, and average families who come to the city looking for a winter retreat.
Colorado, and especially Denver, also has a successful marijuana industry that’s growing.
There are plenty of job opportunities to find within that growing market.
In Portland, the job market is a little different.
The primary job market in Portland is technology.
That’s because the Intel Corporation has its headquarters and several campuses in the city.
If you want to be a software engineer or work in technology, Portland has a great job market.
It also has a strong job market in healthcare thanks to the Oregon Health & Science University and Providence Health & Services being in the city.
Whether you’re interested in research, becoming a doctor, or serving in the medical field, Portland is a great choice.
Clearly, both cities have different job markets.
Denver tends to cater to research, hospitality, and marijuana while Portland caters to technology and health.
9. Housing Prices And Rental Prices
Whether you plan on renting an Airbnb, an apartment, or buying a home, you need to know the average prices in a city.
You may find that one is more affordable than the other.
Considering that how much you pay monthly for your home or apartment can impact the rest of your finances, it’s worth knowing which is more affordable.
The median home listing price in Denver is $575,000.
That’s an increase of over 15% over the past few years.
There are likely a few reasons behind the increase in housing prices.
For one, there’s been a lot of demand for homes over the past few years which has impacted their prices.
Secondly, Denver had a strong economy which has enticed more people to it.
Thirdly, due to its reputation for being a winter destination, and its proximity to Aspen, it’s attracted affluent people to it.
Clearly, Denver has expensive houses.
The average home value in Portland is $607,265.
This is even more expensive than Denver.
Portland is also likely experiencing some of the same reasons for its price growth as Denver.
However, Portland also faces a unique situation in being Oregon’s biggest city.
Since it’s so populated, there are fewer homes available and less space to build new homes on.
This also drives up the prices of their homes.
The average rent of an apartment in Denver is $1,879 for an 842-square-foot apartment.
The average rent for an apartment in Portland is $1,680 for a 744-square-foot apartment.
Portland is also a pretty expensive place to rent an apartment.
Both cities have high rental prices.
10. Cost Of Living
A final distinguishing mark between Portland and Denver is the cost of living.
In Denver, the average cost of living for a single person is $2,061 a month.
An individual should expect to spend that much money to live comfortably.
In Portland, the average cost of living for a single person is $1,133 without rent.
With rent, you can easily tack on another $1,000.
Clearly, both cities have an average cost of living of around $2,000.
Considering rent, it’s a bit more expensive to live in Portland than it is in Denver.
Both Denver and Portland have many similarities.
They both got their start as frontier towns looking to cash in on a gold rush.
However, their weather, job markets, and cost of living rates are different from one another with Portland being a bit more expensive than Denver overall.