Moving to a new city is always challenging. And a large part of that challenge is looking for a place to live. There are so many things to consider when weighing your options-house styles, neighborhood safety, quality of schools, the convenience of location-it all can be quite overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve done the research for you, so you don’t have to. You’ve no doubt seen our Portland City Guide, which includes a short section on a few of Portland’s most popular neighborhoods.
This list and our “Best Places to Live in Portland,” “Best Suburbs of Portland,” and our “Best Neighborhoods for Families in Portland” lists are more in-depth neighborhood guides meant to examine what it’s like living in each of these highlighted areas, with links to popular destinations, as well as available houses for sale and apartments for rent (and by the way of introduction, we’re Bellhops—movers in Portland and beyond).
This once-misfit city of self-proclaimed weirdos is the current hot-spot in the mainstream spotlight. And honestly, we don’t know why it took so long for Portland to transform from ugly duckling to swan in the general public’s eyes. With amazing restaurants, breweries, distilleries, coffee shops, events, music venues, art, and outdoor destinations, Portland is one of the best cities to live in, and each year its drawing thousands of new residents.
When analyzing the neighborhoods of Portland, it’s easiest to split the city into four quadrants. These four quadrants of Portland’s Metro Area are divided by Interstate 5, Highway 26, and Interstate 84. And many locals refer to the Westside and Eastside of the city.
Westside holds most of the suburban or residential neighborhoods in the city with more new construction homes and condos. This area of the city has some of the best schools, the residents are diverse and more affluent, and transportation to downtown is relatively easy.
The Eastside of Portland has become more densely populated, and development has started to overtake some of Eastside’s long-standing buildings and character-rich neighborhood hubs to make more room for new construction and apartments.
This side of Portland holds some of the cities older neighborhoods. Many houses on the Eastside were built between 1910 and 1950, and the area is rich in character and charm. Eastside emits that quirky and delightful Portland local feel with small neighborhood shops, eclectic restaurants, and walkable streets.
So, whether you’re looking for a newly developed residential space or quirky and quintessential Portland neighborhood, we’ve found the pockets outside of the city. Look below for our list of the five best suburbs of Portland.
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If you ask a local which is the nicest Portland suburb, you’ll probably get one answer: Lake Oswego. This affluent residential community was once a vacation region for Portland’s wealthy families. Now it’s built with beautiful, large homes set on lush green lawns and amidst quiet streets. Some of these impressive multi-million dollar homes line the private lake, and members can take boats out or enjoy the surrounding parks and docks.
Though many of Lake Oswego’s streets don’t have sidewalks, there serene and quiet enough that many locals can walk or bike along them. Tall fir trees and cedars add to the picturesque atmosphere of this neighborhood and grow from many lots and street corners. Residents of Lake Oswego are very involved in community issues and events. They’re friendly and look for ways to volunteer their time or attend local gatherings.
Downtown Lake Oswego has a number of shops, boutiques, and great restaurants. In the warmer months, locals gather for farmers’ markets on Saturdays and peruse the 80 vendors set up. Or they come together for local community events like their Festival of the Arts. Located just 8 miles south of Portland, Lake Oswego is also around the corner to many of the immense entertainment options in the city.
For homes with some of the best views of Mt. Hood and the Willamette River, check out West Linn. This suburb is home to many upper-middle-class families and is filled with beautiful, large suburban homes. The community is very friendly with stroller-pushers, joggers, and walkers enjoying the beautiful streets at most hours of the day. West Linn also offers hiking, biking, and boating in its 600 acres of well-maintained parks.
West Linn is teaming with natural beauty. Visit Willamette Park, Maddax Woods Park or the Camassia Nature Preserve. For food and drinks, grab a coffee at Willamette Coffee House, Longbottom Coffee, or Lark Café. Or sample a thoughtful dish from Five-0-Three, which sources their ingredients from agriculture communities in Oregon.
Sherwood offers everything locals need from department stores like Home Depot to Target to an intricate collection of local shops, beautiful parks, and great schools. This city is a bit of a drive from downtown Portland – about 45 minutes. But the area is quickly growing and has beautiful new construction and planned communities which host regular community events like the popular Robin Hood Festival.
This city’s parks and trails offer locals plenty of avenues to explore the Pacific Northwest’s beautiful scenery. Check out Snyder Park and Stella Olsen Memorial Park for some fresh air in the midst of the city. For tasty local food, sample Crazy Sushi or Fat Milo’s Family Kitchen. Or sip a brew bought at the local Growler House.
Happy Valley was made up mostly of farmland only ten years ago. But now the area is booming. And new roads and highways are soon to be completed to make room for the influx of new residents. This suburb has a place for first-time homebuyers as well as more established, long-term buyers. Happy Valley draws a large number of young families due to the area’s lower crime rates, and some of the best schools in the state are right around the corner from this suburb’s residential streets.
While this suburb is a bit of commute into downtown Portland, it is close to some great shopping centers as well as the airport. Check out Clackamas Town Center and explore one of Oregon’s largest indoor malls. Happy Valley also offers some great outdoorsy destinations like Mount Talbert Nature Park and the Clackamas River. Locals of all ages gather at scenic city parks, go for long hikes or bike along the trails.
Located just south of Portland’s well-to-do neighborhood, Eastmoreland, Milwaukie has been overlooked until recently. This suburban region is one of the most affordable cities in the Metro area. And it has recently become a popular spot for first-time home buyers who can’t afford the inflated prices in Portland or its wealthier suburbs.
For a time, Milwaukie had an eclectic, somewhat disheveled look due to a variety of planned neighborhoods built over the past 70 years. But in 2015, the MAX Orange Line opened and provided light rail from downtown Portland into downtown Milwaukie.
With easy public transportation and inexpensive housing to offer, Milwaukie saw a population increase, especially among young professionals and families. But Milwaukie offers more than just practical perks. The city has its own boutiques, restaurants, farmers’ markets, bars, and cafes. Plus, its surrounded by the gorgeous lush Oregon greenery.
Many Milwaukie houses sit on large treed lots, and several streets curve along the Willamette River. The housing styles vary and include restored farmhouses, Tudors, Queen Annes, even a few mansions. With the recent growth in this area, investors are beginning new construction. Here are the current houses for sale and homes for rent in the area.
We hope this was helpful, and if you decide to take the plunge, don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends here at Bellhops. As we said, we coordinate local and long distance moving services in Portland, and we would love to help.
We've done the research and made our selections for the best neighborhoods in Portland for 2019.
Portland has so many suburbs it can be really difficult picking the best one (they're all awesome). We're here to make that choice a little bit easier with our 2019 guide to the best suburbs in Portland.