The lighter side of real estate

10 Best Places To Live In Oregon

We ranked 10 best places, small towns and largest cities to live in Oregon based on cost of living in Oregon state of US.

Natalie Grigson

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The 10 Best Cities in Oregon

Oregon is easily one of the most naturally beautiful, unique, diverse, and livable states in our country. It spurred the show “Portlandia”; it is the namesake of the best computer game ever, “Oregon Trail”; and the state motto is even beautiful: Alis volat propriis (she flies with her own wings).

So as a part of Movoto Real Estate’s ongoing series exploring some of the best places to live in America, state by state, we turned our analytical eyes toward Oregon. Here is our list of the 10 best cities in Oregon, ordered from amazing to simply excellent.

  1. Bend
  2. Sherwood
  3. Beaverton
  4. Milwaukie
  5. Oregon City
  6. Tigard
  7. Portland
  8. West Linn
  9. Lake Oswego
  10. Happy Valley

Where exactly is Bend and why is it sitting atop our list? What is Portland doing at No. 7? And how happy is Happy Valley? Keep reading, because we Sherwood like to tell you. The following paragraphs will explain how we got our list and will focus on the best parts of each city and just what makes them so special.

What Makes an Awesome City?

A lot of things make a city awesome, but in order to find these best cities in Oregon, we needed a list of measurable criteria across the board. So we came up with these eight:

  • Amenities
  • Cost of living (percent above or below state’s average)
  • Crime rate
  • Education
  • Median household income
  • Home value
  • Distance to closest 5-star rated hiking
  • Distance to closest ski resort

We started with a list of the 50 most populous cities in Oregon and ranked them from one to 50 in each of the criteria above, with one being the best. Then, we averaged the numbers for each city, gave them an overall Big Deal Score—the lower the number, the higher the city ranked.

Now that you know how we did it. Read on to find out just why each of our top 10 cities are so special and where they excelled.

1. Bend

Bend - Best Cities in Oregon

Source: Visit Bend Oregon

This city certainly didn’t have to bend over backward to make it to the top of our list—it won outright. Bend is not only just a few miles away from some of the best hiking trails and ski resorts in Oregon, but it also has a stellar education system, with a high school graduation rate 10 percent higher than the state average, and some of the highest home values in the state as well.

Over the past five years, Bend’s population has been booming. Outdoor enthusiasts flock from far and wide for parks like Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint, skiers to Mount Bachelor, and runners to the Haulin’ Aspen Trail Marathon. It truly is a wonderful place to raise a family—or at least, raise your heart rate.

2. Sherwood

Sherwood - Best Cities in Oregon

Soruce: Flickr user brookscl

Just southwest of Portland lies the little gem that is Sherwood. Sherwood may be a few miles further away from the closest five-star hiking trails and ski resorts, but it more than makes up for it with its other features. It is one of the safest cities in Oregon, with a crime rate 67 percent lower than the state average, it is one of the best paid cities in the state with an average household income of $83,000, and their kids are smart! High school graduation rates in Sherwood are 15 percent higher than the Oregon average.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, just stop by Crazy Sushi. The food is so good, you might not need another reason to move to Sherwood.

3. Beaverton

Beaverton - Best Cities in Oregon

Flickr user Beaverton Historical Society

Beaverton’s sheer level of awesomeness is no secret; in fact, it has been hailed for years as one of the best cities in the U.S., let alone in Oregon. Over the past few years, Forbes has named it not only one of the best places to retire, but one of the 100 best places to live in general.

It’s no wonder. Beaverton has plenty of local amenities, it has a crime rate 31 percent lower than the state’s average, and it is only a few miles away from the highly rated trails at Washington Park. And if going for a hike isn’t your thing, don’t worry—Beaverton was ranked of the most walking-friendly cities by Prevention Magazine.

4. Milwaukie

Milwaukie - Best Cities in Oregon

Source: Flickr user Misserion

Milwaukie comes in at No. 4 for its top rankings, not just in outdoor activities like Mount Talbert’s trails or Mount Hood’s slopes, but also for its absolutely awesome annual income and safety. Milwaukie residents make six percent more, on average, than the rest of the state, and with a crime rate eight percent lower than average, residents won’t even need to worry about guarding their purses.

They also rank high when it comes to amenities, with delightfully idyllic and delicious places like the Painted Lady for some hot cocoa, Bob’s Red Mill for some potato soup, and the North Clackamas Aquatic Park– in the summer of course.

5. Oregon City

Oregon City - Best Cities in Oregon

Source: Oregon City

Imagine a land where you’re just five miles from some of the best hiking in the state at Mount Talbert Nature Park; where you get paid—21 percent higher than the rest of the state, at that—to live amongst some of the most breathtaking nature in the country. Well, for residents of Oregon City, this is a reality.

Of course if you’d rather hike your clubs over your shoulder and head to a golf course, Oregon City offers one of the state’s finest, the Stone Creek Golf Club, and if you’d rather just leave hiking out of it, you can simply take the elevator—the Oregon City Municipal Elevator, that is. It’s a wonderful piece of Oregon history—plus, the view is incredible.

6. Tigard

Tigard - Best Cities in Oregon


Tigard, home of Cook Park and land of the well paid. But let’s start with the latter. The median household income here is a healthy $62,000—34 percent higher than the state’s average. What can residents do with all that extra cash? Well, they can go to the city’s largest park, Cook Park, for starters. But there are also little gems like the Tigard Farmers Market and Tigard Bowl.

For a day to appreciate beauty indoors, residents can hop over to Live Laugh Love Glass, and for a day of natural beauty, they’re just a short drive away from some of the best trails in the state at Mount Talbert Nature Park.

7. Portland

Portland - Best Cities in Oregon

Source: Flickr user GregDawson

In recent years, Portland has become everybody’s favorite hipster city, due to shows like “Portlandia” and, well, all the hipsters there. But there is so much more to Portland. For one—did you know that the cost of living in Portland is actually pretty low compared to a lot of other cities in Oregon? And that their home values are 35 percent higher than the Oregon average?

Portland is breathtaking. St. Johns Bridge, the Lan Su Chinese Gardens, the Portland Japanese Gardens, and Pittock Mansion are just a handful of the man-made attractions in the city. And as far as natural beauty goes, there is Forest Park, the Aspen Trailhead trail, Mount Hood for skiing, the Hoyt Arboretum… And the list goes on and on. In fact, the only reason Portland didn’t come in closer to the top seems to be its crime rate– 79 percent higher than the state’s average. But hey, it’s a big city. No hard feelings, Portland.

8. West Linn

West Linn - Best Cities in Oregon

Source: Flickr user PhotoAtelier

What West Linn lacks in big city livin’, it more than makes up for with its low crime rate (64 percent lower than the state average!), its stellar education system (a high school graduation rate 16 percent higher than Oregon’s average!), and its median household income (an average of $84,000).

This is a town of holiday parades, fairs, and music at Tanner Creek Park. It is a great place to raise a family and a quiet town to come home to.

8. Lake Oswego

Lake Oswego - Best Cities in Oregon

Source: Flickr user pdxjeff

Lake Oswego might be a suburb of Portland—but this town stands on its own just fine, thank you. It is a cultural hub, home to the Lakewood Center for the Fine Arts and the Art Council of Lake Oswego; it is a family’s fantasyland with its farmers’ markets, Players game/entertainment center, the best high school graduation rate, and the best home values in Oregon.

So if you’re looking for a nice, quaint, and picturesque vacation spot, visit Lake Oswego. If you want a great place to raise your family—move there.

10. Happy Valley

Happy Valley - Best Cities in Oregon

Source: Happy Valley

Rounding out our list is the happiest-sounding place in Oregon. And it turns out, residents have a reason to smile here. Happy Valley is rated the safest city on our list, with a crime rate 74 percent lower than the state average. Their high school graduation rate comes in second only to Lake Oswego’s, and their median household income is a whopping 124 percent higher than the state’s average. That’s a median household income of over $100,000 per year.

And if Happy Valley’s high income, virtual absence of crime, and excellent schools don’t quite do it for you, don’t you worry—there is more. Happy Valley is home to great shopping at the Clackamas Town Center, and if you happen to prefer a golf bag to a shopping bag, head over to Eagle Landing Golf Course—surely one of the happiest in the state.

The Best Cities in the State OR in the Country

There you have it, Oregonians and future Oregonians alike. After doing the research, averaging the numbers, and, yes, ogling over some photos of your parks, these 10 cities turned out to be the greatest cities within your great state. No ifs, ands, or Bends about it.

Best Cities in Oregon Ranking

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posted on: October 30, 2013
735,780 views, 25 comments


  1. Greg

    Bend, Oregon is fabulous. OK, admittedly, I live there, but this town is unbeatable for lifestyle and recreation. The town is safe, offers an excellent selection of breweries, nice neighborhoods, newer schools, beautiful parks, and quick, easy access to the Deschutes river and High lakes. Bend Rocks! Remember to book your hotel early, Bend is now a year round tourism stop, and hotel rooms are frequently in short supply, and the restaurants are full. Enjoy Bend!

  2. Laura

    Hillsboro is awesome and I don’t care how far away it is from skiing. Astoria rocks too!

  3. Deborah Hagner

    There is so much beauty here in Oregon and most people are thrilled to live here. BUT, when recommending Oregon to others people need to be very upfront about the weather! Particularly Portland and surrounding areas. It is quite a shock to folks to learn how much and for how long it rains. Worse is the low light and gray, dark days that can start in October and go through July! It is not for everyone.

  4. Drew

    Anyone who would rank Milwaukie anywhere in the TOP 100 best cities in Oregon has never been to Methwaukie.

  5. Shane

    Would love to know how skiing is ranked. Portland and Eugene tied at #1? There are other cities ranked lower that happen to be closer than these two towns when it comes to proximity of skiing facilities.

  6. Lei

    Hood River did not even make the list!?

  7. W

    Milwaukie? Really? There are pockets of nice neighborhoods but as a whol e it is a pretty crappy place to drive through let alone live. Love me some Acrop steak bites though.

  8. Heather

    Can anyone recommend a town that would suit a single/divorced women (40 with a 20 year old brain!)? A lot of the reviews above talk about the towns being great for raising a family. I’d love something a little more mature with access to hiking trails.

  9. Jane radcliffe

    I learned more from these brief postings than superlatives in article. I want to move from a polar region, Michigan, so any place without a minus degree looks balmy besides you don’t have to shovel rain. Single, active (bike, hike,run,walk) female and want someplace safe, reasonable apartment rent, around 1,500 monthly with easy access to doctors/stores/eateries. Like small town lifestyle. Left college teaching to pursue stress free lifestyle. Any comments/suggestions greatly appreciated.

  10. jeremy

    I was doing some research on this state and stumbled across this article. It appears that more than half of the cities in the top ten are suburbs w/in 30 mins of Portland. Not much diversity in cities across the state. Probably should have just made one notch for Portland and (outlying suburbs) since they are all so close to each other they are likely to have similiar amenitites, education, income, crime statistics etc. If this was an article about best suburbs to live in outside of Portland it would make sense, but what if you are relocating to an area far away from portland. This article pretty much says the best place to live is Portland and its suburbs. You do know that Oregon has a coast line….right? Just sayin.

  11. Lem Truman

    Retired teachers looking to love and live somewhere on Oregon coast. Suggestions? The kind of people you WANT in Oregon.

  12. Tom Dinkins

    Lem, We lived in Grants Pass, the closest town in Oregon on the coast is Brookings. The weather in Brookings is affected by the Chetco River and usually results in much clearer conditions and warmer temps, sometimes as much as 20 degrees warmer than fifteen miles away. Grants Pass is extremely beautiful, warm and dry in the summer, cold and VERY foggy in the winter… sometimes without lifting for days and days. There are no large hospitals on the coast and this can be a problem for older retirees. Oregon’s cost of living is higher than many parts of the country, but so is the pay. Oregon is the most beautiful place I have ever been, and I’ve been around. It is where I call home.

  13. Arl

    I’m living in Vegas. I would like to move to Portland with my 11 years daughter please tell me about it thanks.

  14. Joe

    I question why you did not include property taxes, sales tax (Ashland), cost of living, weather?

  15. Travis

    Because it’s a topical article.

  16. Heidi

    I grew up in Southern Oregon, Grants Pass to be exact. I never went anywhere else until my twenties… I thought I hated it there, until I lived in many other cities in the U.S. I lived in North Carolina, San Diego,CA, Oceanside, CA, Studio City, CA, Burbank, CA, Lake Havasu City, AZ, and in LAS Vegas/Henderson, NV where I have been now for the past 10+ years. I will tell you that I am dying to get back home to Southern Oregon!!! I have a child and Las Vegas is no place for children. Also it is so HOT that they can’t even play outside unless they are around water 24/7. I have lived in California and it is beautiful and nice weather, but the cost of living is very high. Southern Oregon you get temperate weather (not as bad as cities up north) and its close to everything… California and the Medford airport has cheap flights to Vegas all the time!! You have Mt. Ashland for skiing, the Rogue river for water sports, mountains for hiking, beautiful rural areas for having nature in your doorstep. Also the community involvement is great with so many things for families year round. I feel like I had a great upbringing in Grants Pass and I highly recommend researching Southern Oregon, its highly underestimated. I am planning to move back now.

  17. Anali

    My husband and I are planning to move to Oregon because his job will be relocate in boardman city. Any recommendations in regards of that city and which city would be best to live, I have 3 children and I’m really concern since they are going to start school soon, I will need to work ad well and I would like to feel welcome and not frighten..

  18. Ryan

    I lived in Oregon for almost my entire life. I moved to an area a bit north of Seattle a couple of years ago, and while it’s nice, I miss Oregon so much. I grew up on the southern coast on the border of cali, in a small town called Brookings.

    For those who are looking for a small, nice, absolutely beautiful area in Oregon, there is no better place. It has something called the “chetco river effect” which gives Brookings its own little micro climate. It does rain, but you also get random 80 degree days in the winter time. It virtually never snows (unless you go up river and up the mountain), the summer averages around 80 degrees, the rivers are crystal clear, the ocean is breathtaking, and everyone is super nice.

    I would move back in a heartbeat, but I’m currently trying to move to Colorado to see how it compares.

  19. Sharon

    I you are looking for an upbeat town for you I would look to Ashland since you are single. Lots to do. I live in Medford and love it. I would call Ashland a hippie/yuppie town. Its always busy and they are cause driven crowd but very nice. I like Medford 15 min. drive quieter and not so competitive. 68 wineries right in the county!

  20. Christina

    Since the Portland area has been the # 1 moving destination across the nation for a few years now, when I read this article I feel compelled I to tell you a few things. This area has become REALLY crowded. Rush hour traffic all day long, well into the night. With frantic, rude drivers littering our highways. Rents and housing prices have skyrocketed, so many locals forced to leave the area. It’s feeling a lot different here these days. Wish people would hang back and try to appreciate what makes an area unique and learn something before barging through trying to change the equilibrium. So please remember these words if you must move here :-)

  21. JOY




  22. TnrT

    Beaverton, West Linn, Lake Oswego, Sherwood and Oregon City are all suburbs of Portland and are listed but not Hood River or Ashland or Astoria? Has this person ever even been outside the Portland Metro area?

  23. Joyce

    Is there any rural area outside of the suburbs? I want quiet and animals, lots of dogs. I don’t care about skying or schools. I am single and retired..and art-z…so I spend a lot of my time at home. I hate traffic but I want to be close to some conveniences…not have to drive too far to get butter. I want a hospital CLOSE by. I want a small yard but lots of land, like on a farm or backed up to a forest. I am on an acre now but I have 5 yards, planted banks, flower beds and it all has to be maintained, even in my semi-rural setting. I don’t mind rain but I don’t want too much of it. i like cool weather in the 70*s and not hot summers.

  24. Donny

    Yep. Move to Bend!!


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