To the untrained eye, it seems as if every town in the state would be a great place to live. What with Oregon being home to Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, and miles of Pacific Coast awesomeness.
But here at HomeSnacks, we don’t trust the untrained eye and instead look to data to understand the best place to live in Oregon.
After analyzing over 350 places in Oregon, we came up with this list as the best places in the Beaver State:
Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best 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 Portland with a population of 585,888 against Wamic 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 10,000
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 10,000
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This left us with 53 cities, 155 towns, and 154 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best places have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 10,000 people to truly be “the best”.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
How We Calculated The Best Place To Live
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place across a number of criteria from one to 53, 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:
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- Housing Vacancy Rate
- Education (Expenditures per student and Student Teacher Ratio)
- Commute Time
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.
1. Oak Hills
Oak Hills’ win as the best place to live in Oregon is just another notch on this historic town’s belt.
And we mean that in the literal sense given that the National Register of Historic Places added Oak Hills to its list in 2013.
As a planned community with an HOA, Oak Hills maintains impeccable standards with a very strong sense of community.
It ranked as the densest city in Oregon according to census data and was in the top 10 for it’s low unemployment rate, high median income adjusted for cost of living, and low housing vacancy rate.
Keizer takes 2nd place on our list of best places to live in Oregon thanks to a community that prides itself on volunteerism and education.
Keizer is the only city in the top ten to rank highly for our education category (It tied for 7th). It ranked highly due to its low student per teacher ratio of 17.4, which beats the median of 19.6.
There’s also plenty to do in this densely populated city where you can take in a game at Volcanoes Stadium or watch the local high school english teacher break some pretty insane weightlifting records.
The Oatfield family would be proud to hear that the city bearing their name is one of the best places to live in Oregon.
Not to mention the fact that everyone wants to live here — Oatfield’s vacancy rate of 1.95%(!) is the tops of any city in our ranking.
The city also ranks highly for its lack of crime (6th overall) and adjusted median income (8th).
A safe place that’s still affordable even with the lowest vacancy rate in the state? Sign me up any day of the week.
Sherwood is a city that is a hop skip and a jump away from Portland.
It combines a low vacancy rate (2nd overall) with low unemployment (7th), high adjusted incomes (4th), and low crime (4th) to make it a heck of a place to live.
You can take a stroll down to Old Town for a business meeting and then over to one of the many parks around town.
As an aside, while putting together the research for this report, we were pretty sure we would see Sherwood in the top ten, and we were right. 😉
5. West Linn
For a town that’s only 7.39 sq miles, West Linn boasts an impressive 600 acres of park land. That must have something to do with why it continuously shows up on lists for best places to live around the country.
That and the fact, according to our data, West Linn ranked as the 3rd safest city in Oregon with the 4th best unemployment.
Mix a ton of parks and walking trails without fear of getting your bike stolen and you’ve got a great place to live.
Bethany comes in 6th our list and adds to its list of recent headlines.
It ranked as the city with the highest adjusted median income ($72,548), turning Happy Valley into Sad Valley by beating it by a little over $2,000.
Bethany’s unadjusted median income of over $100,000 also places it as one of the highest earning cities in the country.
It takes a lot of hard work and determination to achieve that level of success as a community.
Mark us down as impressed.
7. Lake Oswego
Lake Oswego — where everyone has a job.
Well, I guess technically only 95.2% of Lake Oswego residents who want to have a job are currently employed, so it’s not everyone, but it’s the closest of any city in Oregon.
You can tell they take business seriously as they have by far the coolest Chamber of Commerce website we came across in our research.
In addition to its incredibly low unemployment rate, Lake Oswego also ranked well for crime (7th) and adjusted median income (10th).
Aloha came in at number 8 on our list due to it’s high density (2nd overall) and low unemployment (7th).
It also scored as one of the highest in our weather category among the cities in the top ten.
I guess the weather has to be pretty nice since the town’s name conjures ideas of Hawaii.
So aloha, Aloha.
(We’re sorry for making this pun Aloha. We know you’re probably feel like the kid named Mercedes who everyone calls “Benz”, but it’s the first time we got to make the pun, so we had to go for it.)
Canby maintained solid rankings across the board for the categories we researched and excelled in the housing vacancy department (3rd overall) with a rate of only 2.52%.
One of Canby’s main attractions is the Clackamas County Fairgrounds, where Clackamas County hosts its annual Fair and Rodeo (Seems fitting to me that Clackamas County has an annual rodeo).
10. Cedar Mill
Just cracking our top ten best places to live in Oregon is Cedar Mill.
Taking a similar route to the top ten as many others on this list, the city ranked highly for adjusted median income (5th), crime (8th), and unemployment (7th).
With a population of just over 15,000 it was one of the smaller in the top ten and its government website actually goes to pains to say that it’s a “community though not a city”.
But don’t listen to what they say people of Cedar Mill, you can be anything you want.
That’s A Wrap
There you have our set of the best places to live in Oregon. Oak Hills made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot.
We were kind of surprised not to see Portland in the top ten, but then again with that many hipsters, it takes a certain kind of person to brave its bearded walls.
Best Towns To Live In Oregon
- Maywood Park
- Bull Mountain
- Island City
- Cedar Hills (tie)
- Philomath (tie)
Best Small Towns To Live In Oregon
- Jeffers Gardens
- St. Paul
Best Places To Live In Oregon, Detailed
|City||Population||Best Place To Live Score||Rank|