Top 10 Best Places To Live In Oregon, Best Cities And Best Places To Live

Best places to live in Oregon. Mount Hood above the Columbia river and house boats at sunrise.
Mount Hood over the Columbia River Gorge at sunrise. Photo by Stokes RX via Flickr, CC2.

There are a lot of reasons to love Oregon: from scenic coastlines along the Pacific, mountains that reach into the sky, gorgeous sunsets, thousands of miles of hiking and biking trails, and pristine lakes and rivers, it’s easy to see why people are looking for the best places to live in Oregon.  From Oregon’s high desert regions in the east full of hot springs and wildlife, to the lush forested areas along the coast, from big cities to small remote towns, there are a lot of choices for great spots to settle down in Oregon.  Here’s our list of top 10 best cities to live in, in Oregon.

The 10 Best Places To Live In Oregon

Sparks Lake, Oregon. Photo by Bill Devlin via Flickr CC2.

Everyone has their own opinion and criteria for the best place to live.  Some prefer the quiet solitude of a small community, others prefer to live in a big city with a lot of shopping.  Some may be looking to move to Oregon’s high desert where there’s 300 days of sunshine a year, while others want to live with an ocean view.  There are a few things many people want to compare when looking for a new place to live however, like cost of living, population, quality of educational institutions and things to do nearby.  You’ll be able to compare all of those things with our list of 10 best places to live in Oregon.

What are the best places to live in Oregon?

  1. Hillsboro
  2. Bend
  3. Sherwood
  4. West Linn
  5. Medford
  6. Wilsonville
  7. Lincoln City
  8. Scappoose
  9. Tualatin
  10. Milwaukie
Mountain biking Mt Hood
Mountain biking Mt Hood. Photo by Zach Dischner via Flickr CC2.

Read below to see how each of these cities compares to each other.  All of these cities are surrounded by other little communities that you may want to research in the future.

Please Note: Average and Median are two different things.

1. Hillsboro Oregon

Best places to live in Oregon Hillsboro Airport Aerial Shot
An aerial shot over Hillsboro Airport. Photo by Eric Prado via Flickr CC2.

Hillsboro in Washington County is ranked in the top 16% of best places to live in the world, and is ranked as the 3rd most livable city in Oregon.  This city, which is 20 miles from Portland (a 30 minute drive) is big enough to have a wide variety of shopping and things to do without being overcrowded.  Nearby attractions include the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve and Shute Park Aquatic Center.

Hillsboro Population

Hillsboro has a population of around 106,633 people.  Around 66% of the population is white, 24% is Hispanic or Latino, 12% is Asian, and 3% is Black or African American.

Best Places To Live In Oregon Jackson Bottom In Hillsboro
Jackson Bottom Wetlands when flooded from the Arbor Roses viewing area. Photo by Born1945 via Flickr CC2.

Hillsboro Education

90% of people in Hillsboro over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 40% of people in Hillsboro have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Hillsboro has four main high schools, each of which have an average or above rating from greatschools.org.  Glencoe High has a rating of 5/10, Hill High has a rating of 6/10, Liberty High has a rating of 6/10, and Century High has a rating of 7/10.  All four of these high schools has between 1,200 and 1,600 students.

The top grade schools in Hillsboro are Quatama (rated 8/10), Jackson (8/10, Paul L Patterson (7/10), W Verne Mckinney (7/10), and Ladd Acres (7/10).

Best Cities To Live In In Oregon, Buildings In Hillsboro
Photo by Joe Gavlas via Flickr CC2.
Colleges In Or Nearby Hillsboro Oregon

Hillsboro Cost Of Living

  • Median Home Price$613,344
  • Median Rent – $1,874
  • Energy Bill – $157.07
  • Median Household Income$83,000

2. Bend Oregon

A gorgeous evening along the Deschutes River in Bend Oregon. Photo by MTB Pat via Flickr CC2.

Considered by many to be one of the best places to live in Oregon, Bend is located in Oregon’s high desert just on the east side of the central Oregon Cascades.

Paulina Falls in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.  Photo by Matt Cook with permission. Copyright Matt Cook. https://www.instagram.com/mattcookoregon/

In recent years Bend has become a very popular place to move to due to the dozens of nearby lakes, hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails, hiking trails, many shopping options and high desert climate.

People enjoying the Bend Whitewater Park. Photo via the Bend Whitewater Park Facebook page.

Nearby attractions include the High Desert Museum, Shevlin Park, Bend Whitewater Park, Sparks Lake, and Newberry Volcanic National Monument.

Bend Population

Bend has a population of around 102,059 people.  Around 91% of the population is white, 8.9% is Hispanic or Latino, and 1.8% is Asian.

Hot air balloons lit up at night in Redmond Oregon
Night Glow. Photo via the Balloons Over Bend website.

Bend Education

95% of people in Bend over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 45% of people in Bend have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Bend has three main high schools, some of which have a below average rating from greatschools.org.  Bend Senior High has a rating of 6/10, Summit High rates 5/10, and Mountain View Senior High rates 4/10 (below average).  The four main high schools in Bend all have between 1,390 students to 1,740 students.

The top grade schools in Bend are Highland School At Kenwood Elementary (9/10), Pine Ridge (9/10), Lava Ridge (8/10), Tumalo Community School (8/10), and High Lakes (7/10).

A lazy Sunday in Bend Oregon. Photo by Rhiannon Boyle via Flickr CC2.
Colleges In Or Nearby Bend Oregon
Shevlin Park
Shevlin Park in Bend Oregon. Photo by SupportPDX via Flickr CC2.

Bend Cost Of Living

3. Sherwood Oregon

Sherwood is a little city with big charm, and is in a great spot because it’s only 35 minutes from Portland shopping, 17 minutes from Newberg and all of Newberg’s wineries, and 16 minutes from Wilsonville.  There’s so many options close by for shopping and activities.  Nearby attractions include multiple vineyards, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Langer’s Entertainment Center, Sleighbells Gift Shop (you can’t go wrong with a year round Christmas store), and the Sherwood Ice Arena.

Sherwood Population

Sherwood has a population of around 20,254 people.  Around 87% of the population is white, 5% is Hispanic or Latino, and 3% is Asian.

Sherwood Education

97% of people in Sherwood over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 51% of people in Sherwood have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Sherwood has one main high school which has an above average rating from greatschools.org.  Sherwood High has a rating of 9/10 and has around 1,684 students.

The top grade schools in Sherwood are Middleton Elementary (9/10), Sherwood Charter (8/10), Edy Ridge (8/10), Archer Glen (7/10) and J Clyde Hopkins (7/10).

Colleges In Or Nearby Sherwood Oregon

Sherwood Cost Of Living

  • Median Home Price$638,604
  • Median Rent – $1,951
  • Energy Bill – $154.07
  • Median Household Income$107,537

4. West Linn Oregon

West Linn Oregon, best cities to live in in Oregon
West Linn Oregon. Photo by David Burn via Flickr CC2.

West Linn is known as the city of hills, trees, and rivers.  Some of the best things you can do in West Linn are outdoors, and if you want to get to the big city to do some shopping, Portland is only 30 minutes away.  Nearby attractions include the Newell Creek Canyon Nature Park, Oregon City Golf Club, Canemah Bluff Nature Park, the Mary S. Young Park, and Camassia Nature Preserve.

West Linn Population

West Linn has a population of around 27,103 people.  Around 86% of the population is white, 6% is Hispanic or Latino, 5% is Asian, and 2% is Black or African American.

Mary S Young State Park West Linn, a trail and the river in fall with leaves on the ground
Mary S Young State Park West Linn. Photo by SoulRider.222 via Flickr CC2.

West Linn Education

97% of people in West Linn over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 62% of people in West Linn have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  West Linn has one main high school, which has an above average rating from greatschools.org.  West Linn High has a rating of 9/10 and has around 1,860 students.

The top elementary schools in West Linn are Stafford Primary (10/10), Three Rivers Charter (10/10), Cedaroak Park (9/10), Sunset Primary (7/10), and Trillium Creek (7/10).

Colleges In Or Nearby West Linn Oregon

There are dozens of other colleges in the nearby Portland Metro area to explore.

Mary S Young State Park In West Linn Best Places To Live In Oregon
Mary S Young State Park in West Linn. West Linn is one of the best places to live in Oregon. Photo by Robert B Richter via Flickr CC2.

West Linn Cost Of Living

  • Median Home Price$786,408
  • Median Rent – $2,402
  • Energy Bill – $154.07
  • Median Household Income$119,415

5. Medford Oregon

Medford is the ‘big city’ of Southern Oregon.  Medford has multiple shopping centers including indoor and outdoor shopping malls, a cinema, and many nearby parks and wineries to explore.

Table Rock Medford Oregon, best cities to live in Oregon
Table Rock Medford Oregon. Photo by BLM via Flickr CC2.

It’s cheaper to live in Medford than in nearby Ashland and Jacksonville, but just as beautiful.

Views of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Photo by the Bureau of Land Management via Flickr CC2.

Nearby attractions include visiting the old mining town of Jacksonville (a 12 minute drive), going to Britt Fest in Jacksonville all summer long, visiting Lithia Park in Ashland (a 21 minute drive), going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, hiking to gorgeous Pilot Rock in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, rafting the Rogue River, and hiking upper and lower Table Rock, which tower over Medford.

Medford Population

Medford has a population of around 86,367 people.  Around 87% of the population is white, 16% is Hispanic or Latino, 2% is Asian, 1% is Black or African American, and 2% is Native American.

Medford Education

89% of people in Medford over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 26% of people in Medford have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Medford has three main high schools, all of which have an average or above rating from greatschools.org.  North Medford High has a rating of 7/10, Logos Public Charter has a rating of 6/10, and South Medford High has a rating of 5/10.  These three high schools all have between 970 – 1,780 students.

The top elementary schools in Medford are Jefferson (8/10), Griffin Creek (7/10), Hoover (7/10), Oak Grove (7/10), and Roosevelt (7/10).

Table Rock in Medford Oregon
Table Rock Medford Oregon. Photo by BLM via Flickr CC2.
Colleges In Or Nearby Medford Oregon
Britt Fest in Jacksonville near Medford Oregon.  The Medford / Jacksonville / Ashland area is one of the best places to live in Southern Oregon.  Photo by Al Case, Ashland Daily Photo.

Medford Cost Of Living

6. Wilsonville Oregon

Wilsonville sits on the north bank of the Willamette River which means easy access if you have a boat or like to go kayaking.  Because Portland is only a 30 minute drive, many people live in Wilsonville and work in Portland.  Nearby attractions include Bullwinkle’s Fun Center, Memorial Park, multiple nearby vineyards, and Kohl Creek Golf Course.

Wilsonville Population

Wilsonville has a population of around 26,519 people.  Around 80% of the population is white, 13% is Hispanic or Latino, 4% is Asian, and 2% is Black or African American.

Wilsonville Education

96% of people in Wilsonville over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 45% of people in Wilsonville have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Wilsonville has one main high school, which has an above average rating from greatschools.org.  Wilsonville High has a rating of 7/10 and has around 1,220 students.

The top elementary schools in Wilsonville are Boeckman Creek Primary (7/10), and Boones Ferry Primary (5/10).

Colleges In Or Nearby Wilsonville Oregon

Wilsonville Cost Of Living

  • Median Home Price$673,200
  • Median Rent – $2,056
  • Energy Bill – $154.07
  • Median Household Income$72,541

7. Lincoln City Oregon

finders keepers
Image courtesy of Explore Lincoln City

Lincoln City was voted to have one of the best beaches in the United States.  This pretty little town sits right on the Pacific coast and has homes up and down the shoreline, as well as on the shores of Devil’s Lake, which is inside city limits.

Photo via the Lincoln City Facebook page.

Nearby attractions and things to do include the artisan glass float drops that happen year round called Finder’s Keepers, the annual Lincoln City Kite Festival, The Pines Dine Food Truck Village, axe throwing at Scout Northwest, hiking many nearby gorgeous trails such as the trail to God’s Thumb, shopping at cute coastal shops and buying fresh saltwater taffy, eating fresh caught local seafood, visiting Drift Creek Falls, and adventures at the aerial park at Salishan coastal lodge.

Lincoln City Population

Lincoln City has a population of around 9,979 people.  Around 87% of the population is white, 10% is Hispanic or Latino, 3% is Asian, and 3% is Native American.

Devil’s Lake In Lincoln City Oregon at sunset. Photo by Subsurface87 via Flickr CC2.

Lincoln City Education

90% of people in Lincoln City over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 26% of people in Lincoln City have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Lincoln City has one main high school which has a below average rating from greatschools.org.  Taft High has a rating of 3/10 and has around 477 students.

Colleges In Or Nearby Lincoln City Oregon
Lincoln City Oregon
Cascade Head as seen from D-River beach in Lincoln City Oregon. Photo by JATomlinson Photography.

Lincoln City Cost Of Living

8. Scappoose Oregon

Scappoose is a quiet little town 30 minutes northwest of Portland near Sauvie Island.  This little community is surrounded by forests and is near the Columbia River.  Nearby attractions include the Oak Island Nature trail, Warrior Rock Lighthouse Point trail, Wildwood Golf Course, and Wapato Access Greenway State Park.

Scappoose Population

Scappoose has a population of around 8,058 people.  Around 92% of the population is white, 7% is Hispanic or Latino, 1% is Asian, and 1% is Native American.

Scappoose Education

91% of people in Scappoose over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 24% of people in Scappoose have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Scappoose has one main high school which has an average rating from greatschools.org.  Scappoose High has a rating of 5/10 and has around 729 students.

The top grade school in Scappoose is Grant Watts (5/10).

Colleges In Or Nearby Scappoose Oregon

While there are no colleges in Scappoose, there are dozens of colleges around the Portland Metro area (approximately 35 minutes away) to explore.

Scappoose Cost Of Living

  • Median Home Price$468,336
  • Median Rent – $1,431
  • Energy Bill – $154.07
  • Median Household Income$79,375

9.  Tualatin Oregon

Best Oregon Cities Tualatin Oregon Barn at Browns Ferry Park
Barn at Browns Ferry Park. Photo by Jim Choate via Flickr CC2.

Tualatin is close to Sherwood, Wilsonville, Tigard and Beaverton, meaning that whatever you need you’ll find close by.  The entire area flooded frequently during the ice age, and the floods deposited massive rocks weighing thousands of pounds around the landscape.  Some of these rocks and other artifacts can be seen at the Tualatin Heritage Center.  Other nearby attractions are Escape Space Games, Tualatin Community Park, Tualatin River Greenway Trail, Browns Ferry Park, and The Circuit Bouldering Gym.

Tualatin Population

Tualatin has a population of around 27,537 people.  Around 77% of the population is white, 20% is Hispanic or Latino, 3% is Asian, and 2% is Black or African American.

Tualatin Education

95% of people in Tualatin over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 46% of people in Tualatin have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Tualatin has one main high school which has an above average rating from greatschools.org.  Tualatin High has a rating of 8/10 and has around 1,974 students.

The top grade schools in Tualatin are MITCH Charter (9/10), Edward Byrom (6/10), and Bridgeport (6/10).

Colleges In Or Nearby Tualatin Oregon

There are dozens of other colleges in the nearby Portland Metro area to explore.

Tualatin Cost Of Living

  • Median Home Price$633,293
  • Median Rent – $1,935
  • Energy Bill – $154.07
  • Median Household Income$92,454

10. Milwaukie Oregon

Milwaukie is a small city close to Portland with a small town feel.  This city is home to more than 1,500 companies like Bob’s Red Mill and Dave’s Killer Bread.  Nearby attractions include the North Clackamas Aquatic Park, the Statue Of Liberty Replica, tours of Bob’s Red Mill factory, Spring Park Natural Area, Oaks Amusement Park, Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, and Ledding Library.

Milwaukie Population

Milwaukie has a population of around 20,946 people.  Around 87% of the population is white, 9% is Hispanic or Latino, and 2% is Asian.

Milwaukie Education

95% of people in Milwaukie over the age of 25 are high school graduates or higher, and 38% of people in Milwaukie have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Milwaukie has three main high schools, one of which has an below average rating from greatschools.org.  Milwaukie Academy Of The Arts has a rating of 7/10, Putnam High has a rating of 5/10, and Milwaukie high has a rating of 3/10 (below average).  Each of these schools has between 300-1,173 students.

The top grade schools in Milwaukie are Sojourner (10/10), Ardenwald (7/10), Bilquist (7/10), and Milwaukie Elementary (6/10).

Colleges In Or Nearby Milwaukie Oregon

There are also dozens of colleges in the nearby Portland Metro area to explore.

Milwaukie Cost Of Living

  • Median Home Price$489,440
  • Median Rent – $1,495
  • Energy Bill – $154.07
  • Median Household Income$70,037

Which of these sounds like the best place to live in Oregon to you?  Let us know in a comment and share your favorite city in Oregon with us!