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Oregon is best known for its forests, mountains, farms, and beaches.
The Beaver State also has some of the best cities to call home.
The love the residents have for their state is evident on every license plate. "We love Dreamers," "Things Look Different Here," and "Pacific Wonderland," are just a few of the bold statements Oregonians boast about their state on a daily basis. Who wouldn't be in love in with a state where you can ski and surf both n the same day.
Oregon has every type of city for every type of person. Hip millennial cities like Portland, hippie tree huggin' cities like Bend, and coastal cities like Coos Bay are great places to find work, raise families, and just plain enjoy life.
Whether you are an Oregon State Beaver fan, or an Oregon Ducks fan, or just a fan of Oregon's 0% sales tax, there is a city in Oregon for you. How did we determine the best places to live in Oregon? Grab a chunk of Tillamook cheese and a Kriek from Cascade Brewing and read on.
The 10 Best Places To Live In Oregon For 2020
- Lake Oswego (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- West Linn (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Sherwood (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Milwaukie (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Tualatin (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Scappoose (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Tigard (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Bend (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Canby (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Hillsboro (Photos | Homes For Sale)
Oregon cities are known for their quirky, avant-garde culture, iconic coffee shops, local flare, and farm to table restaurants. And, don't get us started on their gold star recycling programs and cutting edge transportation.
Needless to say, it was very difficult to narrow down 72 of Oregon's best places to live to just ten.
What city is the best place to live in Oregon for 2020? Well according to the US Census and FBI data we crunched, Lake Oswego is the best place to live in Oregon if you care about home values, low crime, and a high quality of life.
We also looked at facts like low unemployment rates, education, and available housing to individually analyze the cities. Below are the top ten best places to live in Oregon based on our calculations.
For more Oregon reading, check out:
- Best Counties To Live In Oregon
- Cheapest Places To Live In Oregon
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Oregon
The 10 Best Places To Live In Oregon For 2020
If Oregon had a best city 'Walk of Fame," Lake Oswego would already have a spot front and center as this place in Clackamas County continues to be the #1 best place to live in Oregon year after year.
Lake Oswego's multiple intriguing features such as a lake in the middle of the town (hence the name), its cost of living, and low crime rate, have made this place the envy of anyone who doesn't currently live here--at least this is what the city's 38,705 residents are saying.....
So, when we crunched the city's SnackAbility numbers, we were not surprised to find that the people who live here make a combined household income of $100,461/year. And, folks, you will need this type of cash if you want to be able to afford the #1 highest median home price in the state. However, with the 4th lowest unemployment rate at 3.2% should put your mind and your wallet at ease. You will also sleep well at night knowing that Lake Oswego is one of the safest places in the state.
Go ahead, check out the rest of Oregon, but the 2nd best place to live in the state, West Linn, knows that when you're done traveling The Beaver State's concrete rivers you will choose to settle down inside its city limits. How does West Linn know? Well, it has consistently been putting up some of the best numbers in the state for safety and education. In fact, it scored a perfect 10/10 on our Snackbility Scale.
West Linn is definitely not one of the cheapest places in the state, but economic trends tell us that if you want a place with a low crime rate (we're talking 63% below the national average safe) and great schools (Bolton Middle School and West Linn High School are both National Blue Ribbon Schools) your cost of living is going to be quite a bit more. Like, the 3rd highest median home price in the state at $465,000 more. And, if keeping up with the "West Linn Joneses" is your shtick, just know that you're going to have to make at least $104,061/year.
This Sherwood might not be protected by Robin Hood, but it does have one of the lowest crime rates in Oregon: and this, folks, is one of the reasons it's the 3rd best place to live in The Beaver State. This, and so much more.
Sherwood scored low in only two categories on our SnackAbility scale--diversity and commute times. On the flipside, Sherwood's high marks in jobs, housing, education, and amenities definitely make up for slightly longer commute times from one of the most beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest to anywhere in the United States. We're pretty sure when you strip down the numbers and realize that the median home price in Sherwood is only $388,800 and that the combined household income here is upwards of $103,592/year, an extra couple of minutes to PortlandPortland will feel like a walk in the park.
Speaking of parks, did we mention that this is one of the best places in Oregon for families? Yes, not only is Sherwood a short distance from the Pacific Coast, it has 15 parks inside its city limits--picture yourself biking Pioneer Park or taking the family dog to play at the Sherwood Dog Park. In terms of education, Sherwood has one of the highest graduation rates and one of the greatest percentages of students in the state who go to college.
Another Portland-burb, Milwaukie is the 4th best place to live in Oregon.
Located along the banks of the Willamette River, The Dogwood City of the West keeps cranking out the numbers in the right direction. Milwaukie is not only one of the safest places on our list with its low crime rate (there were only 345 crimes reported this past year and a large majority of them were property related), it meets and exceeds expectations for its overall cost of living. When we looked at the city's median cost for things like health services, groceries, housing, and utilities, we found that Milwaukie's numbers are right in line with the rest of the state. In fact, if you want to buy a home in Milwaukie you can get one for $291,300--it is the 17th best place to buy a home in Oregon. The 20,955 residents here also make a lot of money--we're talking a median household income of $63,421/year.
Milwaukie also scored a 9/10 for amenities on our SnackAbility scale. Top attractions here include--but, are definitely NOT limited to-- the year-round fun that can be found at the Kronberg Multi-Use Park. Just think of all the money you'll save on gas by biking to work!
Your ticket to Oregon's 5th best place to live, Tualatin, is right here. This small town in The Beaver State consistently ranks high on many lists and this is why: one, the crime rate here is 10% below the state average. Simply put, there were only 789 crimes recorded at the time of this report. And, two, the cost of living in Tualatin also has a new look--the city's main services like groceries and utilities are comparable to Oregon's overall numbers. However, if you are looking to buy a home out of the gate, you will pay the 6th highest price in the state at $397,300.
Like many of the places that made our top ten list, Tualatin is also one of Oregon's best places to raise a family. The city's school district spends more money per student than most districts and it seems to be paying off as their Byrom Elementary School is a National Blue Ribbon School and their high school graduation rate is one of the highest in the state.
Scappoose, your 6th best place to live in Oregon ranking is well deserved based on the numbers. In fact, the current crime rate is 60% less than the national average making the city one of the safest places in the state as well. The overall cost of living in Scappoose, however, is slightly higher than the state's average, but the housing cost managed to slip under the national average. Surprisingly, it has the 23rd best median home price in the state and the 7,125 residents make a decent median income at $79,401/year.
And all that money its residents are saving on housing costs, in turn, frees up money to invest into the economy as well as more money to experience the fun stuff that Scappoose has to offer. Like, hiking, biking, or kayaking the Scappoosse Bay River Trail or a weekend trying out new camping equipment along the Columbia River.
Hey Scappoose, keep your eye on the prize--you keep moving up the ranks like you are and maybe next year you'll be number one.
If it's time to uproot your family with a little spring cleaning, start with a move to Oregon's 7th best place to live, Tigard. To be honest, we wouldn't be at all surprised to see CNN call Tigard one of the best places to live in the United States with the consistent numbers it puts up year after year.
Why Tigard, you ask? Well, here's the latest scoop. For one, it's pretty safe in here. In fact, if it weren't for a couple of larceny and property crimes Tigard's crime rate would be one of the lowest on our list. In terms of Tigard's cost of living, all major services--including health, groceries, and utilities are in line with the state average except for housing. Yes, Tigard has the 9th highest median home price in the state at $375,100 and the median income here is $75,795/year.
Tigard's walkable downtown has unique shopping and an extensive list of things to keep you and your family safely entertained for days. So, explore Tigard's downtown for some daytime fun and hit its nightlife circuit when you're not busy padding your bank account.
Bend's bold startup culture and unbeatable Oregon energy has made it the 8th best place to live in The Beaver State. Some are even going as far to call Bend "A Commuter Town for Silicon Valley" as it's much cheaper to live here than San Francisco. Incidentally, this influx of people has made Bend one of the fastest growing cities in the state.
Besides strong job opportunities and the state's 20th best unemployment rate at 4.8%, why are people flocking to Bend? Point blank, Bend has outstanding numbers. The crime rate here is below the state average and below the national average. Basically, Bend is super safe.
And what was once a logging town is now identified as a gateway for many sports, including biking, hiking, and white-water rafting the Deschutes River is also relatively affordable. Homes go for $363,200 here and the Bend's cost of living is manageable if you make the city's median income of $63,468/year. Folks, Bend is truly "Living at its best".
It's Oregon's hospitality that draws people to this Pacific Northwest state and it's places like the 9th best place to live in the state, Canby, that makes them stay. And, folks, you don't have to look for the silver lining in here because Canby's median home price is the 15th best in the state. Yes, if you play your cards right, Canby "can-be" your forever home for the median home price of $298,000.
And if you are worried about Canby's cost of living, don't be. Matter of fact, there must be something in the soil here because this Canby is known as "Oregon's Garden Spot" and their motto is "Home of the Good Earth," so if you have a green thumb, you can cut your grocery cost in half. Other headliners under Canby's cost of living are health services and utilities.
Jobs and amenities were the other SnackAbility indicators that stood out. We do, however, recommend that you have a plan in place before you uproot your life to Canby as the city's unemployment rate is the 12th best in the state at 4.0% and the poverty rate is 10.3%.
We don't know about you, but every Hillsboro in every state is super great, so we were not surprised to find that Hillsboro, Oregon is the 10th best place to live in The Beaver State for 2020. And, folks, this is not all that Hillsboro has going for it and the youngsters seem to agree. Yes, Hillsboro not only has the youngest population in the state (34), but it's one of the best cities for singles. Makes sense, right? We tend to think so.
The cost of living in Hillsboro is not too shabby, either. Things like groceries, health services, transportation costs, and utilities are in line with the state average; the housing here, however, is quite a bit more than the state and national average. If you want to buy a home in Hillsboro, be prepared to pay the 13th highest median home price in the state at $315,100. But, don't let that rain on your parade, the combined household income here is $78,144/year.
Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Oregon
The Pressing Question: Size
Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Salem with a population of 166,756 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn't fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:
- Cities -- Populations over 5,000
- Towns -- Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
- Small Towns -- Populations below 1,000
This left us with 72 cities, 107 towns, and 123 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Oregon have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be 'the best'.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Oregon
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in Oregon across a number of criteria from one to 72, with one being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best Place To Live In Oregon".
The criteria we looked at were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Oregon? That would be Lake Oswego.
If your city or town isn't among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Oregon.
Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Lake Oswego at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Oregon
If you're looking at areas in Oregon with the best economic situations, where there's lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Lake Oswego made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Oregon for 2020.
Best Towns To Live In Oregon
- Banks (Pop. 1,688)
- Jacksonville (Pop. 2,845)
- King City (Pop. 3,599)
- Eagle Crest (Pop. 1,630)
- Stafford (Pop. 1,945)
- Sublimity (Pop. 2,845)
- North Plains (Pop. 2,072)
- Yamhill (Pop. 1,174)
- Durham (Pop. 1,417)
- Dundee (Pop. 3,203)
Best Small Towns To Live In Oregon
- Rivergrove (Pop. 438)
- Cloverdale (Pop. 297)
- Tetherow (Pop. 349)
- Tumalo (Pop. 602)
- St. Paul (Pop. 389)
- Black Butte Ranch (Pop. 343)
- Neskowin (Pop. 177)
- Riverside (Pop. 152)
- Bayside Gardens (Pop. 662)
- Adair Village (Pop. 933)
If you're curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Oregon according to the data:
- Madras (Pop. 6,674)
- Prineville (Pop. 9,748)
- Ontario (Pop. 10,997)
For more Oregon reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Oregon
- Richest Cities In Oregon
- Safest Places In Oregon
- Worst Places To Live In Oregon