5 Things You Didn’t Know About Hillsboro, Oregon

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Name a town that’s growth-forward but also community-minded. Where you can take the light rail to Portland in the same amount of time it takes to get to the beach. A place that offers the best of Oregon but isn’t afraid to be a little different.

If you said Hillsboro, it’s probably because we gave it away in the title to this blog post, but you’re right. With limited inventory in the Portland real estate market, it’s a great time to turn to this neighboring city, well within reach of Portland. You might be surprised at what you discover.

1. A Connectivity Pioneer

With a population of 100,000, Hillsboro is known as the biggest little high-tech city in the state. In fact, it’s one of only a handful in the nation that has a publicly owned fiber-optic network. Unlike in other municipalities that struggle along with the services of privately held internet service providers, Hillsboro’s public network is able to provide high-speed internet to homes and businesses at an affordable cost.

Although the network is still in its infancy, the City of Hillsboro announced this year that it will begin allocating funds to build the system out to reach all homes in the city over the next decade. It’s a bold project, one that no Oregon city of its size has attempted to undertake, but Hillsboro is confident. As a tech leader and advanced manufacturing hub for the Silicon Forest, it makes sense. This industry employs thousands of people from across the region and shows no signs of slowing down.

2. Ripe for Investment

With Beaverton only 10 miles away and Portland not far beyond, Hillsboro benefits from the larger cities’ booming real estate markets without sacrificing affordability. The median sale price for a single-family Hillsboro home in April 2018 was $369,000 (this figure also includes home sales in nearby Forest Grove). In the same month, according to the RMLS, the Portland metro area’s median was $405,000.
According to the US Census, about 52% of Hillsboro residents own the home they live in, compared to the national average of 64%. Hillsboro has a tight rental market, with vacancy rates between 2-3% for the past two years. In Portland, the rental vacancy rate is around 4%.

3. Location, location, location.

Hillsboro is known for its prime location and careful attention to urban planning. In fact, the Hillsboro neighborhood of Orenco Station is a model New Urbanist development, with walkability in its DNA. It incorporates a variety of housing types and mixes commercial and residential development so people can live close to where they work, shop and recreate. 
For those who work outside of Hillsboro, there’s the MAX Blue line. It travels from Orenco Station to Beaverton in thirty minutes; to Portland in under an hour. But think twice before you sell your car and buy a home in Hillsboro — you’ll want those wheels to get to the coast! The quaint village of Tillamook is a great place to bring the family to relax, sample some cheese, and run on the white sandy beaches.

Speaking of education and lifestyle, Hillsboro School District is highly rated, serving over 20,000 students in grades K-12. The city is also home to campuses of Portland Community College and Pacific University. Beautiful parks dot the city, including the 635-acre Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve featuring 4.5 miles of trails. For those who prefer organized sports, there are three sports complexes within the city limits!

4. Diverse and Proud

According to niche.com, Hillsboro is the second most diverse suburb in Oregon. The website measures diversity both in terms of economic status and ethnicity, but locals measure diversity with their stomachs. Hillsboro is a town where you can start your day at a French bakery, visit an authentic Indian buffet for lunch, grab a beer at a local brewery in the afternoon, and close things out with great sushi, Thai food or barbecue.

What attracts the wide range of people who buy real estate in Hillsboro and settle down? A lot of it has to do with the area’s economic base — both in agriculture and high tech, attracting workers from across the globe. In addition, Hillsboro boasts a younger average age than surrounding Portland communities, and higher rates of college graduates who call the city home.

5. Growing Fast

Hillsboro today weighs in as the fifth-largest city in Oregon, but it’s possible that no other city in the state is as poised for growth as this former farming town. The population has already tripled since 1980, and by 2040, planners predict that Hillsboro’s population will swell to 130,000 or more. And while Portland is at the stage in its development where it can no longer add large tracts of single family homes, Hillsboro has some real estate to work with.

In particular, developers have staked out South Hillsboro, a 1,400-acre portion of the city south of Tualatin Valley Highway. When completed in 2036, the South Hillsboro development will have 8,000 homes with 20,000 residents, complete with village centers and recreation areas to keep with the tradition of decentralized, walkable neighborhoods, according to Metro. In fact, it will be the largest master-planned community in all of Oregon, and with the planned fiber network as well as built-in public transit, it will be truly state of the art.

But home buyers and sellers of existing Hillsboro homes need not fear a sudden influx of real estate bringing down market values. Although infrastructure construction has already begun on the first development in South Hillsboro — the 500+ acre Reeds Crossing — it will be years before the first homes come on the market.
Even when they do, city housing forecasters predict that there will be a deficit in single-family homes over the next 20 years, and that 1,300 additional new homes will be needed to close the gap. Whether or not those homes get built, real estate experts expect that no home will be overlooked in the city’s coming residential influx.

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