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The basics
THE USA: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Northwest USA

The Northwest of the USA might not be the first place you consider visiting in the country. We're here to tell you why it should be.

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The USA is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, especially the Northwest region of the country.  


It’s made up of five states: 

  • Oregon 

  • Washington 

  • Idaho 

  • Montana 

  • Wyoming 


Each one having its own unique offerings for tourists and international students alike.  

You might not have thought of this part of the United States initially, but it’s certainly worth considering. 


What is the Northwest USA like? 




Culture and history 

This part of the US was settled on far later than other parts of the country, but it had been home to Native Americans (or Indigenous Americans) for thousands of years. Many tribes found themselves in this part of the land due to its natural resources and relatively safe landscape, unlike other parts of North America that are more prone to natural disasters.  


The indigenous people lost their land, their homes, communities and language with the arrival of the Europeans. This continued over many centuries and today these communities continue to experience hardship and discrimination. 


Today the US is a very diverse place, and while the states in the Northwest might not be as multicultural as others, you will still find people from all parts of the world and all walks of life. 


English is the most spoken language in this part of the country but it’s not uncommon to hear other languages such as Mandarin and Vietnamese as well as German, the most spoken European language in this part of the US. 


When it comes to English speakers, you might be interested to know that the Northwest is famous for having almost no regional accent. Most northwesteners have a standard American accent, meaning it might be the perfect place to improve your English skills as they may be easier to understand than others across the country. 


Locations and demographic 

The Northwest of the USA is one of the most naturally beautiful regions in the whole country. With states like Oregon and Washington being some of the greenest. 


Seattle in the state of Washington, has a population of 762,687, and Portland, Oregon with a population of 666,249 are the largest cities in the Northwest.   


The region is very close to Canada and crossing the border is relatively easy. This means that those living or staying in this part of the country can see more of North America if they wish. 


What cities are in North West USA? 

As mentioned above, Seattle and Portland are two of the biggest and most popular cities in this part of the country. Their universities, University of Portland and City University of Seattle, both have a wide array of courses available and are home to hundreds of international students. 


Other large cities in the different states are: 

  • Tacoma, Washington – explore art, glass and culture in this city situated on the banks of the Puget Sound. 

  • Salem, Oregon is known as the garden capital of the state. 

  • Billings, Montana is situated on the Yellowstone River and along the Rimrocks. 

  • Boise, Idaho - a hub for jazz, theatre and indie music.  

  • Cheyenne , Wyoming – explore the 60kms of the Greater Cheyenne Greenway system which connects parks and neighbourhoods. 


How much does it cost to live in North West USA? 

The Northwest is comparably a lot cheaper than other regions such as the Southwest and Northeast. 


Those looking to live somewhere like Portland will find it much cheaper than the majority of places in Los Angeles or New York City. Portland State University recommends budgeting for USD 1,349 per month to cover living expenses.   


Find out more about student living costs in the USA. 


What services are there? 

Services around the United States vary depending on where you live, and the Northwest is no exception to this. 


Many towns and suburbs will have access to buses and most cities are walkable. However, the US is very much a driving culture and access to some things may be limited if you don’t drive. Though this may be something to look out for, it shouldn’t impact day-to-day life as an international student.  


US universities are often situated in great locations that are easily accessible for students via a number of different methods of travel. A great part about studying in the US is being able to see more of it when you get the chance. If you’re studying in the Northwest, you will have access to a number of different train routes that can take you all over the country and even into Canada. 


What are the post study options? 

In order to stay in the US post-graduation it’s important to follow the strict visa rules. There are exceptions but generally international students have just over a year to find a relevant role or continue their studies. 


There are a wide range of opportunities for graduates in the region with employers such as Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) recruit for various STEM roles. Examples or multinational companies in the region are: Nike, U.S Bank, Boeing, Tektronix and Intel. 


Find out how to apply for a post-study visa in the USA.  


What universities are in Northwest USA? 

There are a number of great universities in this part of the country, here are just a few: 

  • University of Washington – In the heart of the very green state of Washington, this university specialises in many science courses and attracts students from all over. One in six students here are international. 

  • City University of Seattle - In exciting Seattle, students here can get a great education while being in a bustling city with mountain views. 

  • University of Portland - Portland is the main city in Oregon and is the perfect blend of an urban jungle in a very rural state. Students here can study a range of subjects from Biology to business and finance. 


What are the main attractions in North West USA? 

This part of the US is full of natural beauty, much of which has been left alone. It’s for this reason that the attractions in these states are often outdoors. Some of them are: 


  • North Cascades National Park - See what this part of North America was like when only Native Americans called it home. This national park is almost untouched by the modern world. 

  • Oregon Coast - While beach lovers might initially consider going further south, Oregon shouldn’t be counted out when it comes to coastal spots. The Oregon Coast has miles of beautiful beaches that are often a lot less crowded than those in California or other states. 

  • Mount Hood - Just a short trip from Portland, Mount Hood is one of the tallest peaks in the Northwest. Stephen King (US author) fans will be interested to know that it’s right next to the hotel where The Shining was filmed. 


Though this part of the US might not have as many international students or tourists as others, it’s certainly worth consideration when looking at what it has to offer. Find the perfect course for you in a Northwest US state with our course matcher tool


Study in the USA


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