First off, I have to tell everyone that i live in Corvallis, Oregon so I do naturally have a bias opinon toward Portland even though I feel that Portland is either the first or second best place to live in the west. From reading many of the opinions here, I notice a bias towards their cities.
After traveling to many west coast cities, I feel that Portland if not San Fransico is the best place to live in the west. Both places have their downfalls but who is perfect. What these cities do have in common is the culture and "cozy feeling". San Fransico exubes the best of California and Portland posesses the best of the North West. Ive been to Seattle many times and the city is great, but like many cities the streets are way too wide, impersonal, and surrenderd to the all mighty car.
All in all, Portland is the most under rated city in the US due to its location and size(even though its larger than cities like Kansas CIty) People percive Portland as being just another city; which couldnt be further from the truth. Portlanders are EXTREAMLY obsessed about their city, and they believe they live in the best city in the US; although they may be wrong, it says something about the people.
As for the critics who bark at the urban growth boundrys effects on housing prices, you really have to question their motives and where they are comming from. Sure housing prices go up, but that was expected to begin with, so like everything in life, there are pros and cons. As for the critics who bark at MAX, they have the same motives and have obviously never been here. Seriously, if max is not working, it simply wouldnt be practical for Portland to extend it like they are doing now and into the future. As for motives: do a search on google for the negitive side effects of Portland planning and on some of those sites youll see endorsments by people who simply want sprawl. (ie-www.demographia.com)
If you were to do a little research on google, and type in portland like serches, you will find out why Portland is vastly underrated. From the MAX trains to Bill Porter to the coffee to the greatest beer in the US to the sights, smells, and "cozy feeling" you get from walking the streets, you must be there to experience what Portland is all about.