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Austin vs. Portland: Which City Is More Hipster?

Austin and Portland: two cities that have become synonymous with hipster culture. But which is actually the most hipster? We decided to find out.

Randy Nelson

Content Manager

116 articles, 53 comments

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It’s time to pack up your Pabst Blue Ribbon and skinny jeans, hipsters—it looks like you’ve finally worn out your welcome. That is if a new poll is to be believed. According to a recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a mere 16 percent of Americans still think hipsters are cool. The rest are so over them. But before you start sobbing softly into your thrift store scarf and burning your Bon Iver albums, you might want to consider relocating to Portland, OR or Austin, TX, two of the last bastions of hipster-kind. (You certainly don’t want to move anywhere on this list.)

To help aid you in your move, your pals here at the Movoto real estate blog have put together a handy look at which of these two hipster enclaves is most likely to cater to your every need. Since we know you’re so over the act of reading, we’ll give you a hint: it begins with a “P” and ends in “ortland.”

For the rest of you, consider this a warning: If you’re among the 42 percent of people who can’t stand hipsters, you should know that both cities are absolutely overflowing with our waxed-mustache-sporting, fixie-riding friends and everything they hold dear. Perhaps we could interest you in someplace more exciting?

With that said, let’s get down to business. You know our conclusion—it was Portland, BTW—and up next we’ll go into detail about how we reached it.

Head-to-Head Hipsters

Hipster Hoodie

Source: Flickr user El Rio

You’ve probably noticed by now that this is a little bit different from our normal Kind of a Big Deal Lists. After all, we’re only looking at two cities, and not a full slate of 100. Still, we’ve applied the same methodology to how we’ve picked a winner as in our larger national surveys. Before we did that, though, we needed some criteria. If you’ve read our expose on America’s least hipster cities, you’ll probably recognize a few of these. But, like with everything we do here at the blog, we’ve tried to go the extra mile this time around.

To determine which city offers the most hipster-friendly environment, we needed to know:

  • The number of hipster-aged people (20-34)
  • The percentage of residents employed in “artsy” jobs
  • The city’s walkability
  • The city’s bikeability
  • The number of vinyl record stores in each city
  • The number of vintage clothing stores in each city
  • The number of coffee shops in each city
  • The number of vegetarian restaurants in each city
  • The number of raw food restaurants in each city
  • The number of dive bars in each city
  • The number of farmers’ markets in each city
  • The number of Whole Foods Markets in each city

Yeah, there’s a lot of criteria up there, but it’s all for the sake of thoroughness. We know that finding the ideal sanctuary is of utmost importance to hipsters now that they’re on the endangered species list, so the it’s crucial that we cover all our bases here.

To rank our two cities, we first determined how each one placed in our individual criteria, then averaged all the categories together to produce an overall score. We should note that we only looked at data on the cities themselves, not the surrounding metro areas, and our retail data (from Yelp) has been used to generate per capita results against the cities’ number of hipster-aged residents, not total residents.

Want to know more about why we picked each criterion and what we found when we looked into it? Keep on reading.

Hipster, Not Hip Surgery

Hipster-Aged Residents

If we’re going to be making a recommendation for an entire subculture, we figured it was important to know some basic things about them. As we covered in our earlier hipster piece, we pegged this group at between 20 and 34 years old—the most realistic age range for them that’s measured by the U.S. Census. (Plus, we have to imagine that most hipsters grow out of it at they near 40.)

So, we first considered the percentage of each city’s population that falls within that range. For Austin, that was 31.8 percent, or 260,954 of its 820,611 residents as of 2011. In Portland, on the other hand, 26.8 percent of its 593,820 residents—159,144—are within that age range.

Advantage: Austin

Artsy Jobs

Since having people that roll in similar employment circles is also important, we took a look at how many residents in both cities work in traditionally hipster-y fields, such as the arts and the service industry (read: bars, coffee shops, and restaurants). This one was close, percentage-wise. In Austin’s case, 11.4 percent of residents work in the arts or food service, compared to 11 percent in Portland, according to the U.S. Census.

Advantage: Austin

Do You Want Your Veggies Cooked or Raw?

Vegetarian Restaurants

Vegan Bake Sale

Source: Flickr user VeggiesHaveAHeart

Speaking of food, we looked at a few different criteria related to it to determine which city will best appeal to the hipster’s propensities towards vegetarianism (or, in more extreme cases, veganism and raw-food-only diets) and foods no one has ever heard of. They’re also the first to tell you everything that’s wrong with most chain supermarkets, except for places like Whole Foods for some reason, so we’ve got those covered, too.

For starters, we looked at the number of vegetarian and raw food restaurants each city has per capita. Austin has one of the former for every 8,418 residents and one of the latter for every 86,985 residents. Portland has one vegetarian restaurant for every 2,411 people and one raw food restaurant for every 31,829 people.

Advantage: Portland

Whole Foods and Farmers’ Markets

Then we checked out how many Whole Foods stores and farmers’ markets both have per capita. For the former, Portland has one for every 39,786 residents while Austin has one for every 86,985. For the latter, Austin has one for every 3,782 folks there while Portland has one for every 2,947 people.

Advantage: Portland

Two Types of Watering Holes (in the Wall)

Dive Bars

Hipsters love them some PBR (or Pabst Blue Ribbon for the uncool), and there’s no place more likely to have this vaguely beer-like liquid on tap than a dive bar. So, we check into how many of these favorite hipster hangouts there are in each city per capita. Austin has one for every 4,832 residents while Portland has one for every 1,768.

Advantage: Portland

Coffee Shops

In terms of places that serve liquid refreshment and also happen to attract hipsters in droves—either as customers or employees—nothing tops coffee shop (aka cafe, bistro, or whatever fancy label one tries to place on them). Austin has one of them for every 959 people, while Portland has a mind boggling one for every 259 residents of prime hipster age.

Advantage: Portland

Does This Scarf Go With My Tank Top?

Vintage Clothing Stores

When getting dressed up to hit the dive bar or coffee shop, it’s important to ensure the authenticity of the hipster ensemble. That’s why a city’s availability of vintage clothing stores—purveyors of cheap and/or ironic threads—is so crucial. Portland has one of them for every 26,524 residents, while Austin has one for every 86,985.

Advantage: Portland

Record Shops

Record Store

Source: Flickr user liz.g

The hipster obsession with all things old—and thereby more authentic—also extends to other areas, such as home furnishings and even media. That’s why we looked at the per capita number of antique stores and shops still selling vinyl records (which any hipster will tell you are way better than CDs or downloaded music).

We found that Austin has one antique store per 2,747 residents, while Portland has one for every 942. Record shops may be getting a little scarce, but you’ll still find one for every 86,985 hipster-aged people in Austin, and one for every 26,524 in Portland.

Advantage: Portland

Automobiles? Sounds Like a Band You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

WalkScore and Biking Rank

Finally, we figured it was important to determine which city best caters to the hipster’s natural state of not having a car. That meant the ideal city would be both easily navigable on foot and by bicycle—traditionally a fixed-gear—and have plenty of shops that cater to owners of the latter.

According to Walkscore.com, Austin has a WalkScore of 46.7 and Portland’s is 66.3, with higher being better. We turned to Bicycling.com’s ranking of the best cities for bicyclists, where Austin placed 11th and Portland placed 2nd. Finally, we found that Austin has one for every 4,578 people, while Portland has one for every 1,693 residents.

Advantage: Portland

Summing It Up

When we started putting this head-to-head look at Austin and Portland from the hipster perspective together, we honestly figured the two cities would end up being on a lot more level fitting than they did. As it turned out, Portland was far and away the more hipster-friendly of the two, despite having a population of nearly 100,000 fewer residents in the age group we looked at.

So, hipsters, the choice is clear: If the people of your town are starting to turn on you, pitchforks and torches raised, Portland is where you’ll want to flee. Based on what we’ve found, it’s likely that its residents will welcome you with open arms, a few vinyl records, and a fixie bike.

Tile image source: Flickr user Todd Dwyer

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posted on: July 16, 2013
15,727 views, 15 comments

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15 Comments

  1. sara young

    Lived in Portland and have spent extensive time in Austin. Portland is WAY more hipster. Austin is not even close.

  2. Erica

    How can you give the win to Portland in the Whole Foods category when the Whole Foods corporate headquarters is IN Austin??

    • Randy Nelson in response to Erica

      That’s true, but in terms of actual Whole Foods *stores* Portland still has Austin beat. :)

  3. Seecrit

    Bravo Portland! You’re officially more useless than Austin…you’re mother must be proud!

  4. Terry

    Quite frankly I wish you had put us (Austin) dead last. But then again, we just got the Summer X Games so I guess you could say that while we don’t have an NBA team or an MLS team, we do have SXSW, ACL and currently the ONLY Formula 1 and Moto GP races in the country currently as well as LeMans and V8. Congratulations to Portland as they are a deserving winner. But few in Austin actually care about your blog and only know about you because you made a headline on the local news yesterday.

  5. Portlander

    See that guy in the photo up top?
    That’s what nearly EVERY dude in his twenties looks like in Portland (beards may be longer or shorter). They’re like clones of each other. I can’t tell some of my friends apart. Very confusing.

    It’s freaking 85 degrees man…shave. You’ll feel better. You’ll still look “hip,” I swear. I mean, the tattoo-sleaved girls may not like you, but at least I can recognize you.

    • Randy Nelson in response to Portlander

      I could be wrong, but I’m pretty such that’s actually Jack Passion from the show “Whisker Wars”, not that I look at it some more.

    • missmichelann in response to Portlander

      Yeah, well, so’s your mom! Oops, I meant, the hipster dudes in Austin have progressed from ironic mustaches to hipster beards, and it’s fricking 105 here. Win?

  6. Yvonne Jaramillo Ahearn

    I lived in Portland almost 15 years ago, in my late 20s and early 30s. The reason Portland has less in the younger age category, but is still the hipster-est place, is because a lot of the hipsters in Portland are over age 34. Portland had hipsters before it was cool and before many of today’s hipsters were even born. Hipsters in Portland go to age 50+. ~Aloha

    • Randy Nelson in response to Yvonne Jaramillo Ahearn

      Isn’t the fact that Portland had hipsters before hipsters were cool the most hipster thing possible? ;)

      • StarZZ in response to Randy Nelson

        Funniest thing ever! lol.. but seriously, how on EARTH is ANYTHING Texas considered “hipster” at all?! I don’t think this information should surprise anyone.

  7. lynne

    been in Austin 35 years. Way too many people, way too many opinions, don’t come down , way too crowded. You’d hate it !!!

  8. hungarian

    I think Austin hipsters (or the equivalent of them) are simply different (more hippie?) from those in the North: nobody would go to the bars missed by the author, people sit outside somewhere in E 6th street; people would rather sew their clothes (remember, here it is easier) than buying strictly vintage and lastly, an important difference is that Austinites drink Shiner (many people do not even know “pbr”) – this was so weird for me, moving from Chicago…

    But it is true that Austin is not really good at organic grocery stores – but here people use their cars a lot too, so you do not need so many stores. Mainly because we are in Texas, and because of the bad state of public transportation. Moreover, there is Central Market, and now, Trader Joe’s.

    I miss cafes and bakeries a lot (affordable ones I mean), here you eat tacos and breakfast burritos and people drink much earlier alcohol :P same for record stores: true, much fewer of them. but there is live music almost very corner of dt every day…

  9. Colin

    I don’t get the Pabst Blue Ribbon thing; I’m wondering if that might be more associated with East Coast hipsters. Portland is all about local craft brews.

  10. ryan

    What’s the portland music scene like?

 

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