5 Things You Didn’t Know About Happy Valley, Oregon

When Shakespeare pondered, “What’s in a name?” … he probably wasn’t thinking about neighborhood incorporation and real estate. But the origin of Happy Valley’s name brings a little intrigue to the table. Local lore claims that the name originates from neighborhood youths who got into some hard cider before church services. Their boisterous singing dubbed them the “happy boys from the hollow,” and the name followed. However, even the city’s website acknowledges that this is most likely a tale spun for marketing purposes.

Well, we can’t blame them, as the strategy has clearly worked. Happy Valley has been one of the fasted growing cities in Oregon for the past several years, and clinched the number one spot in 2020. PSU’s Population Research Center data puts their growth rate from 2019 to 2020 at over 3%, which is well above the average rate for the metro area.

If your impression of Happy Valley is simply a faceless suburb on the east side of the 205, the story of the “happy boys” might surprise you. But it’s precisely this quirky combination of local charm and business savvy that makes Happy Valley the city it is today. Keep reading to discover five more intriguing aspects of Happy Valley.

1. Happy Valley Is Growing, With Intent

When Happy Valley incorporated in 1965, it was specifically to prevent annexation by Portland. Since then, the importance of maintaining a unique identity has informed the politics and policies of local governance.

Accordingly, the once modest town’s growth in recent years is not an out of control product of the real estate market. The forces that be have big plans. When Damascus disincorporated in 2011 (or tried to), Happy Valley jumped at the chance to annex anyone who was willing. And since 2018, plans have been in the works to annex parts of the Pleasant Valley and North Carver neighborhoods. This would add over 1,700 households to the city.

While the pandemic has put the PV/NC Comp Plan on hold for now, the move is ambitious. In 2019, we named Pleasant Valley one of the most affordable Portland neighborhoods. Happy Valley is clearly looking to secure its status as one of the most desirable suburbs in the area.

2. Happy Valley Is Still a Bargain

The Portland real estate market continues to see rising prices, and Happy Valley is no different. However, homes there remain affordable considering the square footage, proximity to Portland city center, and access to the 205.

Right now the median price of a home in Happy Valley hovers around $700,000, slightly above the median price for Portland city proper. However, price per square foot is considerably less, coming in at about $230. This also beats out other suburbs such as Beaverton and Tigard. And keep in mind, many of these homes will come with spectacular views from the hills above the valley.

3. Happy Valley Is Family Friendly

While we can’t promise you your kids won’t get into mischief with the “happy boys of the hollow,” we’re pretty sure Happy Valley is a decent place to raise them. Highly rated schools, access to the outdoors, and high employment rates encourage parents to make a home for their families there. Niche lists Happy Valley as the #8 best suburb in which to raise a family in Oregon.

Among the many friendly amenities the town has to offer, one of the best is access to parks. Just within the neighborhood are no less than three excellent outdoor areas: Mount Talbert Nature Park, Scouters Mountain Nature Park, and Hidden Falls Nature Park. Powell Butte is also nearby, and easy access to major highways means a shorter drive out to Mt. Hood and the surrounding National Forest.

4. Happy Valley Values Public Transit

Once seen as worthy of little interest by diehard urbanites, life across the 82nd Street divide it seems will become more and more a part of Portland proper. And, just as they did in 1965, Happy Valley is getting ahead of the game.

In coordination with Gresham, Happy Valley has been working on the Clackamas to Columbia Corridor plan. C2C intends to improve the only north-south corridor east of the 205, connecting I-84 in Multnomah County all the way down to Highway 212 in Clackamas County. The project’s goals include easing traffic flow for drivers by making traffic signal improvements, for example. But it also prioritizes those who don’t drive. Safer sidewalks, buffered bike lanes, and improved bus service all aim to keep the area liveable for under-served communities east of the 205.

Now, there’s some question as to how this will all get funded. Metro’s big transportation measure failed to pass by a long shot last year, making it the first tax measure to fail since 2011. C2C was hoping to get a good chunk of that money, so their timelines will likely get pushed back. But it’s notable that Happy Valley is banking on even more growth, and trying to get ahead of it.

5. Happy Valley Has an Excellent Website

Okay, maybe it sounds silly to point out a city’s website quality. But in this case, it indicates a few things about the town’s culture and governance. Easy to find links to services and information are divided into logical categories. So whether you want to apply for a business license, obtain a dog tag, visit the library, or review the municipal code, Happy Valley puts the information on how to do so at your fingertips. The website’s front page also attractively headlines community services, such as the library, parks and recreation, and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force.

What this tells us is that Happy Valley is a city that is hungry for both growth and community. They want you to be able to start that business, or to raise kids in a vibrant community, and they’ll put in the work to make it happen. One of the best-educated cities in Oregon, they’re organized, capable, and ready to claim their spot as one of the best suburbs in the Portland area.

Interested in a home in Happy Valley? Contact us today and check out these top 1% Portland buyer’s agents. Want to see all the Happy Valley homes for sale right now? Just click here.

January 15, 2021

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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