Portland lifestyle

Yesterday evening I opened my window and was greeted by the unmistakable smell of winter in Portland. Like clockwork, winter’s arrival is marked by shorter days, colder temperatures and other challenges.

But thankfully, after 20+ years of living in Portland, I’ve learned a trick or two about surviving winter in Portland.

Because let’s get real — grey weather, constant rain, leafless trees and the finger-numbing chill are a lot to handle sometimes! Read on for my personal tips and tricks.

Winter in Portland

Portland’s winter weather typically makes a grand entrance around mid-November and lingers until mid-March (sometimes early April). The temperatures tend to range between 40 – 60 degrees, chilly enough for a cozy fall sweater and good insulated jacket.

Does it snow in Portland? Yes, but not every year — average snowfall is 4.3″ per year. In fact, snow happens so infrequently, I never put my money on it. (The exception being February 2021 — here’s some photos!)

Does it rain in Portland? Oh yes – no need to sugarcoat. Portland averages 154.5 days of rainfall per year and 36″ of rainfall.

The winter season in Portland is no joke. So many transplants move here and don’t last more than a year because winter is hard to deal with. I hope you’ll find the tips below helpful.

After living in Portland for more than 20 years, I’ve found ways around the gloomy and gray winter seasons. My secret? This life-changing lamp that doesn’t leave my side for 8+ months of the year.

Seriously, during the winter months I turn it on first thing in the morning (even before coffee – which tells you everything you need to know) and keep it on until I go to bed.

It was recommended by my therapist who enlightened me that Portland has the third most depressing winters in America.

She told me to pick up a Happy Lamp in a way that seemed non-negotiable and now I can’t remember what I did before it. It’s a lifesaver while living in Portland and I’ve been using mine for the past 10 years.

Since the grey weather reigns supreme during Portland winters, I can assure you that we have the gray color-scheme covered. And yet, most Portlanders seem to dress in dark colors during the winter season.

I say go against the grain and dress yourself in colorful (dare I say bright) attire!

I purposely buy winter staple items in bold colors because nothing boosts my mood like a colorful insulated jacket or my favorite colorful wool coat – believe me, it makes a difference!

From November to January the sky starts to turn dark around 4:30pm which is absolutely brutal.

Luckily, I’ve learned a great Danish trick – light candles, and lots of them, every evening.

The Danes call candles “living light” and consider them a superior alternative to harsh artificial light. Our home is filled with tons of unscented candles, classic tea light candles and (my personal favorite) grapefruit candles.

Friends always comment on how lovely our home smells and how cozy it feels. It’s the adult-equivalent of a gold star sticker, if you ask me.

Good boots

I own 4 pairs of these classic rain boots, so it goes without saying that I’m committed. These boots typically last 3-4 years even with constant wear, plus the fun colors add a nice pop to my winter wardrobe. I can’t recommend them enough!

Here’s another fun pair for cheaper.

Wool socks & a wool beanie

The best wool socks on the market are easily Smartwool socks (there’s a reason they have a cult-like following). Likewise, a wool beanie keeps your head nice and warm (and your thoughts coherent) during winter months — never underestimate a warm wool cap.

Is there a better time than the rainy winter season in Portland to finally tackle the stack of books you’ve been meaning to get to?

Imagine this, you’re in the comfort of your warm home, covered in an abundance of cozy blankets and your favorite warm sweater while it pours outside. You have a great book in hand and not a care in the world. What a simple joy – the epitome of freedom!