The Cost of Three Days in Portland


As many of our regular readers know, earlier this month I booked an Airbnb in Portland for a week to see if I wanted to move there. Cost of a week’s stay in a north Portland bungalow? $842, including taxes and fees.

When I was pretty sure I was going to stay in Seattle, I cut the Airbnb down to three days, and Airbnb put $471 back in my bank account.

I knew that dropping $842 on a week’s stay in Portland just to see if I liked the place was one of my weirder financial leaps, so it was a good thing that I didn’t end up spending anything near $842 on the actual trip.

Here’s how the costs broke down:

Transportation to Portland: $0. I was going to take the commuter bus to Mukilteo and then the ferry to Whidbey Island to spend Labor Day weekend hiking with friends, but I got sick. So my friends, who live in Portland, came down through Seattle on their way back and gave me a ride.

Lunch en route to Portland: $46.51. I picked up the tab for lunch, they picked it up for dinner.

Antiquing en route to Portland: $20. We found this kitschy antique store in Centralia that included several booths of pop culture detritus. I bought a Christmas gift for my sister and I am already so excited to give it to her. (I also bought some dishes for my mom, but she’s going to pay me back so I’m not including it in the tally.)

Airbnb: $195. I ended up sharing the bungalow with a (different) friend, and we each paid half. (If you’re doing the math, the extra $20 is the “second person surcharge.”)

Groceries: $21.01. We thought we would be frugal people who ate our meals inside this home we had rented.

Restaurant and cafe food: $24.65. It turned out that the Airbnb Wi-Fi was super slow, so we decided to eat at places where we could get work done.

Pizza for eight people: $54. We threw a party in the bungalow for our friends, and bought Papa Murphy’s because we couldn’t find any local pizza places selling large pizzas for under $20 per. (We were very good party people and kept the house scrupulously clean.)

Transportation back to Seattle: $0. I was planning on taking the Bolt Bus back, but my friend had a car.

Total cost: $361.17.

The trip did do its job, by the way. I was pretty sure I was going to stay in Seattle as soon as I started seriously looking for apartments here, but spending a few days in Portland pretty much solidified that decision. As you can tell from this short summary, I do have a lot of friends in Portland, which was pretty much the city’s biggest draw—but I finished the trip feeling like I had made the right choice.

(I also finished the trip with the beginnings of a plan to visit Portland for a few days in October. Sometimes the best way to see people is to make plans a month in advance and only be available for a limited time. I am like the McRib of friends.)

And then, within two hours of getting back in town, I signed a lease on that one-bedroom apartment in Ballard. Move-in date is September 29. I am so excited.



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