Every Portland Suburb in a Nutshell

Okay, so it’s official. A lot of people want to move to the Portland suburbs. (Not to mention the ever-increasing number of restaurants within city limits that are opening up suburban offshoots.) Home prices, walk scores, days on market—all of that is a good indication of what a place is like, but to really get to the heart of the matter, you need a quick vibe check. We’ve already summed up Portland’s many neighborhoods in 25 words or less; now it’s time to give the booming burbs the same treatment. (Want more detail? Check out our handy neighborhood guides.)

Beaverton 

Downsides: The traffic on 26, plus one of the most competitive real estate micro-markets in the region, but you get what you pay for, and in this case, that means worldly eatsNike’s world HQ, and the area’s best Trader Joe’s.

Camas

Saddled with that paper mill aroma and not ready for a Michelin starred chef’s food, but design-forward public schools, river breezes and views, and quick access to some of the best swimming holes in the metro area.

Canby

Best for those who need to commute to Salem but still want to live near Portland or those on the golf-and-retiree circuit; dahlias for days (at least in late summer and early fall, when they peak on Swan Island.)

Cornelius

If you want to live in wine country but can’t stomach the 99-E traffic; plus get first dibs on the crop at Unger Farms, among the state’s best berry farms. Bonus? Houses here are a little cheaper than the closer-in suburbs, and you’ll likely get more land to boot.

Estacada

You won’t find many fans of so-called Portland creep around these parts but look past the Greater Idaho bandwagon crew to find a hippie, vegan-friendly bakery and an essential local brewery or two.

Fairview

Low home prices make this one of the best places in the metro area to buy a starter home, but those sensitive to noise pollution should beware of the constant take-offs and landings at nearby Portland International Airport.

Forest Grove

The rural roots of this commuter town persist, even with the advent of Pacific University and a textbook “quirky downtown”; still, you’ve got easy access to Henry Hagg Lake and a slew of off-the-beaten path wineries via Route 47.  

Gladstone

Excellent Clackamas river access with a raucous—be careful!—party scene to match on hot summer weekends, plus less hoity and toity (and less expensive) than some of its cross-river neighbors (we’re getting to you, West Linn.)

Gresham

This quintessential Eastside suburb copes with some very big-city problems, but it’s also super-diverse and on the come-up, given the destination library that’s about to get built within its boundaries; median home prices have risen 58 percent here in the last five years, so get in while you can.

Happy Valley

Despite the name, mandatory cheer is not overtly enforced in this sprawling, somewhat anodyne Portland burb; houses out here are generally of the new/newer variety (the average home to sell there in 2021 was built in 2009, according to research compiled for Portland Monthly by Portland State University), and median home price sales have hovered around the $600,000 mark of late.

Hillsboro

The ’boro never quite lived up to the Silicon Forest hype, but its run-of-the-mill suburban presentation (it was once home to the world’s largest Costco), is pleasantly complicated by good transit access, some lovely parks, and lots of sleeper-hit food.

Lake Oswego

Affluent families flock to the burb that surrounds its titular man-made lake (sadly off-limits, unless you’ve shelled out for a coveted—and expensive—easement) for lauded public schools and a straight-from-Gilmore Girls downtown strip.

Maywood Park

A snug little city-within-the-city—there’s a mayor, but police and fire are outsourced—buyers are drawn to the stock of midcentury modern houses here (average year built of homes sold last year: 1947) and homes here get snapped up in about two weeks, give or take.

McMinnville

A bit of a stretch to call this a Portland ’burb, since the acknowledged capitol of Oregon wine country is at least an hour away in traffic, but in the new remote work era, you too can live near one of the state’s most hotly anticipated restaurants and among the vineyards and twisted politics of Yamhill County.

Milwaukie

Buyers who are priced out of Sellwood often land here, just over the Clackamas County border; the city boasts excellent transit connections, the twee-ly named Trolley Trail bike path, and a very fine weekend farmers’ market.

Oregon City

Welcome to the OC! No? OK, fine, at least we can tell you that though median sale prices have cooled off here recently, that’s only after climbing a torrid 49 percent since 2016, with buyers drawn to bigger lots in what’s almost but not quite an exurb.

Sauvie Island

The closest you’ll get to a Kinfolk magazine spread come to life is in this pastoral slice of land surrounded by water and populated by bucolic farms, though good luck trying to get on or off the island during pumpkin patch season, when the roads resemble LA rush hour.

Scappoose

The ancestral home of former State Sen. Betsy Johnson, now helming a quixotic gubernatorial campaign, but is this small town—which feels like it belongs more in Douglas or Coos County rather than 45 minutes from Portland—ready for a turn in the spotlight?

Sherwood

Also known as the last traffic lights before you hit the open road to wine country, Sherwood is horse country, home to a surprising number of stables and equestrian centers (plus, a lot of homes out this way have enough acreage that people can keep their own horses).

St. Helens

Everyone knows this quiet little burg comes alive in October when it capitalizes on the runoff fame from having been the location of Halloweentown, but it’s also where you will find some of the lowest entry-level housing prices in the entire metro area, without the traffic-y commutes of the bigger westside burbs.

Tigard

Twinsies with neighboring Tualatin, Tigard is best known as the home of the mammoth Washington Square Mall, where lurk soup dumplings via Oregon’s only outpost of Din Tai Fung; houses are on the larger end too, with the average square feet of homes sold in 2021 topping 2,000.

Troutdale

Last stop before you hit the Columbia Gorge’s waterfall corridor, Troutdale is a hot ticket for bargain seekers who hit its outlet malls and ski bums who want to cut the winter commute time up to Mount Hood.

Tualatin

See: Tigard. No, just kidding! Though this suburb has plenty of strip malls to its name, it also has one of the most peaceful stretches of river kayaking to be found in the metro area, and the market here is extremely competitive; in 2021, houses here were snapped up in an average of just 11 days, faster than almost anywhere else on this list.

Vancouver

’Couvites would just as soon not make this list, as they prefer not to be known as a Portland suburb, but a city in their own right, and fair enough—certainly, the shiny new development along the city’s Columbia River waterfront has enough bustle to rep a city coming into its own.

Washougal

More expensive than Vancouver but cheaper than Camas, Washougal is a sweet spot for families, who do their best to avoid the beer-and-tube scene on the Washougal River during the dog days of summer.

West Linn

A perennial second placer behind Lake Oswego for the title of Portland’s toniest (read: most expensive) suburb, placid West Linn is known for well-regarded public schools and powerhouse high school sports teams, as well as straightforward views of a distant Mount Hood.

Wilsonville

As Tigard: Tualatin, so is Wilsonville: West Linn; they are sister cities, though homes here are slightly less pricey, (they’re also more likely to be newer—the average home here was built in 1999, vs in 1974 for West Linn) and you’ll have to drive further to commute into Portland.

Wood Village

Yes, this is where you turn off of I-84 for the McMenamins Edgefield concerts, but it’s also one of the last affordable bastions of Eastern Multnomah County; the median sales price here in 2021 was $370,000, comfortably below the metro area’s level (though maybe not for long—homes here have appreciated 68 percent since 2016).

 

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