Top 5 Most Affordable Portland Suburbs – 2019 Update
Affordability is a hot topic in Portland, a city with limited area and seemingly unlimited population growth. While the city struggles to keep up by building apartments, condos, and accessory dwelling units (read our article on the state of construction in Portland here), the suburbs are booming.
Why move to a Portland suburb?
The tradition of moving to the suburbs from inner Portland dates back to the 1890s. Portland residents in need of more space flocked to early suburbs like Hawthorne, Irvington, and Mount Tabor (yes those were suburbs at one time) conveniently connected to the city via streetcar. Today, Portland suburbs extend south into the Willamette Valley approaching Salem, far west into Yamhill County, and far east to Corbett, Oregon. All are fairly well-connected along the I5, I205 and I84 corridors, although two of the suburbs featured in this article are off Highway 99W.
Suburbs everywhere are maligned for being “cookie-cutter” and “sprawling”, but anyone who holds those beliefs about Portland suburbs hasn’t taken a drive into the beautiful countryside surrounding the city. Here, you’ll find historic towns and forward-thinking developments that attempt to reduce their environmental impact while maximizing quality of life for people who live in those communities.
Portland’s suburbs are not only more affordable to the average working family, they’re also more accessible to the great outdoors — whether you enjoy wine tasting, hiking or windsurfing. Then there are the traditional suburban advantages to consider: higher rated schools, more space to pursue hobbies, bigger yards, and strong communities with a sense of pride in where they live.
How We Found Portland’s Most Affordable Suburbs
Quantifying affordability in the ‘burbs is a bit tricky because many homes are in “unincorporated” areas of Oregon’s Multnomah and Washington counties. An analysis of 2018 data from the Regional Multiple Listing Service and Portland State University’s department of Geography came up with 30 distinct Portland suburbs. We combed this analysis for the median home price and the average cost per square foot of homes in these cities.
Keep in mind that price is just one factor of affordability; results may vary! For example, if you work in downtown Portland, the commuting time and cost may negate the savings of moving an hour away. The size and type of home you choose to buy can also impact affordability. To learn more, talk to our top 1% Portland buyer’s agent!
Before we get into the list of top five affordable Portland suburbs, let’s look at the numbers for Portland as a basis for comparison.
- Median home sale price: $425,000
- Average cost per square foot: $297 (2019 numbers per Zillow).
In the city of Roses, home prices have gone up a lot in recent years. While we still some highly rated schools in Portland, and city leaders keep promising affordable housing, the fact is it’s become unaffordable for many families to afford a single-family home. In fact, Portland ranks in the bottom third for cities across the U.S. for housing affordability.
The good news is, Portland’s suburbs offer many of the same amenities as the big city, at a more affordable price.
The Top Five Most Affordable Suburbs Near Portland
1. Wood Village
- Median home sale price: $276,000
- Average cost per square foot: $180
Love the Columbia Gorge? This suburb is the place to be. At just over 4,000 residents, it’s not huge, but it’s the ideal hub for both outdoor recreation and getting to downtown Portland in 30 minutes. With the lowest home prices for any Portland metro area region last year, Wood Village is hard to beat on affordability, but buyers had better move quickly. Wood Village has also seen the highest recent gains in home prices out of all Portland suburbs, a whopping 72% in the last five years and 19% in 2018.
- Median home sale price: $323,000
- Average cost per square foot: $203
McMinnville is a destination unto its own, which is good because it’s pretty far out for a Portland suburb. If getting to the city on a daily basis is not a priority, we highly recommend McMinnville, county seat of Yamhill County. Located in rolling wine country, this city of 32,000 is home to Linfield College and highly rated schools for K-12 kids, too. It has a historic downtown and the highest percentage of parks out of all Portland suburbs located in the state of Oregon! Fittingly, McMinnville has the third-fastest growth rate in home prices out of all Portland suburbs — 60% in the last five years.
- Median home sale price: $325,000
- Average cost per square foot: $225
“Urban feel, small town” is how Cornelius homeowners describe their community. Located Southwest of Portland between Forest Grove and Hillsboro, this city of just under 12,000 has plenty to do. Nature lovers can get out to the Fernhill Wetlands, take a drive to the Oregon coast, or visit the many city parks. Cornelius is one of the most diverse suburbs in Oregon, and it’s served by the highly rated Hillsboro and Forest Grove school districts. It has a brand new library and a master plan is in the works to build a new Town Center — a “thriving, walkable, and family-friendly downtown core.”
- Median home sale price: $337,000
- Average cost per square foot: $202
For those not seeking a “small town feel” in the suburbs, there’s Gresham. This working-class city at the eastern edge of Portland is one of the most diverse in Oregon, according to niche.com. It’s also one of the largest cities in Oregon — in fact, with a population of 106,000, it’s number four in the state! As a result, there are plenty of schools to choose from, as well as restaurants, shops, and services to suit all lifestyles. Gresham is served by the MAX for quick public transit to anywhere in the Portland metro area. Also check out Gresham’s neighbor, Centennial, as one of the top growing Portland neighborhoods in 2019.
- Median home price: $360,000
- Average cost per square foot: $228
Just a few miles from McMinnville, but closer to Portland, is the small town of Newberg. Steeped in history, Newborg also has its own private university: George Fox. Residents praise the safety and friendliness of this suburb, as well as the mix of new and old that makes it a pleasant place to shop and walk. Nearby Champoeg State Park offers camping and hiking on the Willamette River.
Remember, your ideal home may not be in any of these suburbs — enlist one of our top 1% buyers’ agents to help you with your search!May 13, 2019