10 Things You Didn’t Know About West Linn, Oregon

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Among Portland, Oregon suburbs, West Linn is not the flashiest. It’s not known for its shopping malls or tech companies. Well south of the Portland hubbub along the Willamette River, it features quiet neighborhoods, plenty of parks and great schools (not to forget a few excellent shops and restaurants). Here are ten other things you might not know about West Linn:

  1. It’s one of the oldest American settlements in Oregon. Settlers first occupied the area beginning in the 1840s, finding the ease of access to the waterfalls on the river irresistible for industry. They built lumber and flour mills and ran a ferry across the water to Oregon City. The Willamette Locks were built in 1868 to provide commercial shipping passage over the falls. The City of West Linn was incorporated in 1913.
  2. People who live here own here. Nearly 80% of housing units in West Linn are owned by the people who live in them. That figure definitely sets West Linn apart from the pack — typical owner-occupancy rates in Portland suburbs range between 60-70%, and Portland is at 54% (according to US Census data). That means renting a home in West Linn is difficult, but high owner-occupancy is correlated with better neighborhood stability, higher property values, and lower crime — when people own their homes, they tend to take better care of them.
  3. It’s the #2 Best Suburb to Buy a Home, according to niche.com. Factors contributing to this rating included West Linn’s stable population, great schools, and availability of homes in (nearly) every price range. The #1 Best Suburb in this ranking was Bethany. The two suburbs are similar in population (around 25,000), but the key difference is that West Linn is incorporated as a city, and Bethany is not (also Bethany happens to be in the opposite corner of Portland, near Forest Park).
  4. It’s surprisingly central. From West Linn, you can get to Salem in just under one hour. To the coast it’s under two. And with easy access to the I5 and 205, it’s easy to get just about anywhere in Portland from West Linn.
  5. Who wouldn’t want to live in a town with a giant waterfall? The Willamette Falls are formed by a horseshoe-shaped block of basalt 42 feet high and 1500 feet across. By water volume, it’s the largest in the Pacific Northwest! It’s also the site of the oldest continually operating multi-lift lock and canal system in the United States, which allows boats to travel up this major waterway. To learn about the locks, visitors can check out the museum and get a site tour. Prefer waterfall spray in your face? Take a sternwheeler up the river!
  6. There’s stuff to do nearby, too. West Linn is a great place to eat out or go shopping, with a variety of locally owned stores, coffee shops, and restaurants. Want to go wine tasting? You’re less than ten minutes away. Prefer the great outdoors? Check out Camassia Natural Area, a 26-acre preserve with well maintained trails within city limits. This preserve is known for its variety of landscapes and geological formations, as well as spring vernal pools and wildflowers. Discover wetlands, forest, volcanic outcroppings, and some great views of the valley.
  7. The schools are highly rated — no, really highly rated. SAT scores in the West Linn school district are among the highest in Oregon. Approximately 90 percent of all West Linn-Wilsonville graduates go on to two- and four-year colleges. Maybe it’s because West Linn already is home to one of the highest percentages of college graduates in the area. Or, maybe it’s just the schools: Out of the 10 West Linn schools rated on greatschools.com, all receive an “above average” score (7/10 or better). Administrators emphasize building community among students, integrating technology into the curriculum, and assessing students based on performance, not just test scores. 
  8. It’s clean. According to the AARP’s Livability Index, West Linn scores better than Portland for environmental quality — in fact the score is nearly double. West Linn is a Tree City, USA, and it has a citywide sustainability plan which aims to set aside 35% of land within city limits for parks, open spaces, and wetlands by 2040. Other goals include curbing energy consumption, eliminating the city’s use of toxic materials, capping water consumption at 2002 levels, and requiring bicycle and pedestrian amenities in new developments.
  9. There’s very little crime. Crime-free streets and public areas are a basic building block of a great place to live, and West Linn knocks it out of the park on this one with 86 crimes per 10,000 people. The median for a US neighborhood is 261, but urban areas like Portland see more like 600 crimes per 10,000 people. Why is crime so low? Residents credit a responsive police force, higher-than-average median income, and high employment rate.
  10. It’s the end of the Oregon Trail. Okay, the end is in nearby in Oregon City, but still, for pioneers with big dreams, this part of the country was the big destination throughout the mid-19th century. Today, you don’t have to get here in a covered wagon, but you can go to the interpretive center and see what buying real estate was like before Oregon was a state!

Are you ready to begin your West Linn home search? Contact our Top 1% Portland buyer’s agents today!

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