I just re-read my answers below and realized I should preface my answers with the fact that I live in the central city, ie very dense and urban. So if you’re looking for info on suburban communities, please take this with a grain of salt! 🙂
1. The cost of living here is a bit higher than the national average. Compared to NYC, Chicago, or San Fran, it is cheaper. However a 2 bed/2 bath apartment will cost a pretty penny if you want to live close-ish to city center. I’d say the cheapest you could expect to find a 2 bedroom apartment within the City is around $800-900/month but could easily be over $1,000/month if you want two baths.
2. There are normal amounts of crime for a city- So yah, there’s crime. You absolutely could not leave your car running in the grocery store parking lot. That said, however- I generally feel very safe here. I avoid certain neighborhoods if I’m walking around solo when its dark, but overall its safe. It’s a city, you know? Crime is also very neighborhood dependent. Some outter-neighborhoods are known for meth-related problems, and thus there is a sh*t-ton of auto theft and break-ins.
3. This entirely depends on what youre interested in! There is a good diversity of neighborhoods and housing types within the City. The Willamette River cuts the city into the westside and eastside. Generally the westside is denser, more expensive, and has “classic” 3-4 story historic aparmtent buildings alongside taller buildings of condos. On the eastside, neighborhoods are not quite as dense. There are plenty of neighborhoods in North, Northeast, and Southeast where you could rent a small pre-war bunglow house and essentially have the best of both suburban and urban life. Admittedly I’m an urban snob- I don’t know much about the suburbs. I live 1/4 mile to downtown and LOVE it. Great transit everywhere, lots of bike-friendly streets and bridges which is important to me, and desnse enough that I can walk to everything I need (bank, grocery store, coffee shop, drug store, library).
Feel free to PM me if you want! Portland has a lot to offer, so its entirely dependent on what kind of lifestyle to enjoy. 🙂
And DITTO to the response above- Definitely take the time to come out, visit, and get a feel for all the urban neighborhoods and surrounding cities.