Top 5 Safest Portland Suburbs 2020

safest areas of portland suburbs

Despite Portland’s recent notoriety for localized conflicts, most people who live here can tell you that it’s overall a safe place to live. 

Crime statistics can tell us some things about the safety of a given city or suburb, but there are other aspects of safety to consider: What’s the natural disaster risk? How prepared is the community to shelter in place in the wake of, say, an earthquake? Then there’s pedestrian and traffic safety, which is a special concern to home buyers with regular commutes or kids who walk to school. 

Overall, the Portland suburbs have a reputation for increased safety, and many perform better than the city in terms of fewer crimes reported. However, when it comes to walking and cycling safety, or being prepared for disasters, it’s a mixed bag. 

To find the Top 5 Safest Suburbs of Portland, we drew on crime statistics compiled in a report by Portland Monthly Magazine. Their sources included the FBI, local sheriffs’ offices and police departments, and the Oregon Annual Uniform Crime Report. 

We ranked suburbs using the “crimes per 1,000 residents” figure in the Portland Monthly report, but also provided the Crime Indexes from Sperling’s Best Places. The two crime indexes, one for violent crime and one for property crime, do not include other types of non-violent crimes, such as drug crime, white-collar crime or cybercrime. 

Keep in mind that crime statistics aren’t perfect. They can be thrown off by low population density and high traffic, for example. Everyone will have their own experience in a neighborhood, and crimes can happen anywhere. 

In order to compare overall safety in these Portland suurbs, we also included information on how prepared each city is for a disaster, and how they’re addressing walkability and street safety. For example, Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national program that promotes street and sidewalk improvements, traffic enforcement and safety education, but not all Portland suburbs have implemented it.

Safest Portland Suburbs: Less Crime, More Prepared and Street Smart

All crime data reflects 2018 activity, the most recent data available in 2020. For comparison, here are the numbers for Portland:

Portland Crime Rates

Crimes per 1,000 residents: 73

Crime index, violent crime (ranked on a scale of 1-100, with 1 being low crime and 100 being high crime): 21.7

Crime index, property crime (ranked on a scale of 1-100, with 1 being low crime and 100 being high crime): 72.3

#1 Safest Portland Suburb: West Linn 

Crimes per 1,000 residents: 10

Crime index, violent crime: 6.8

Crime index, property crime: 20

A low crime rate is just one one of the reasons West Linn is one of the most desirable suburbs of Portland. It’s home to 26,800 people, has a great school district and strong home values, and it’s right on the Willamette River. To keep its residents safe from all eventualities, the city has adopted a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan, and offers a Map Your Neighborhood program for anyone who wants to participate in planning for emergencies. And while West Linn scores just “average” for overall walkability, safe walking and biking routes to most schools in the area can be found on the school district’s website. To learn more about why West Linn is great, read our blog post on 10 Things You Didn’t Know About West Linn, OR.

#2 Safest Portland Suburb: Scappoose

Crimes per 1,000 residents: 11

Crime index, violent crime: 12.3

Crime index, property crime: 21.5

For the ease of small-town living in a beautiful part of the Pacific Northwest, check out Scappoose. It’s 30 minutes northwest of Portland along the Columbia River, has a population of just 7,500, making it the smallest suburb on our list. In addition to having low crime, Scappoose is also a great place to find a home if you’re on a budget — it’s the current (2020) Most Affordable Suburb of Portland. However, it has some improvements to make when it comes to street safety, and although the city does support a Community Emergency Response program, it is notorious for having flooding issues. Before you shop for real estate here, check out our blog post on how to read Flood Hazard and FEMA Maps.

#3 Safest Portland Suburb: Sherwood

Crimes per 1,000 residents: 12

Crime index, violent crime: 7.5

Crime index, property crime: 22.2

Sherwood is a lovely city in the agriculturally centered Tualatin Valley. It’s known for wine, recreation, top-rated schools and its historic Old Town. Sherwood is centrally located between the I5 and the coast, with a new Max light-rail line coming to the nearby city of Tigard to quickly take you into downtown Portland without a car. Sherwood is also focusing on connectivity and walkability within the city, covered under their Downtown Streetscapes Master Plan, which prioritizes pedestrian safety. However, the city does not participate in SRTS, and has not yet initiated a community-based emergency response program. 

#4 Safest Portland Suburb: Lake Oswego

Crimes per 1,000 residents: 14

Crime index, violent crime: 8.4

Crime index, property crime: 22

For safety, community, convenience and overall livability, it’s hard to beat Lake Oswego. This city is locally famous for its beautiful lake, excellent school system and high number of parks. With a relatively high population of 38,800, it also has a higher population density than many other Portland suburbs, making its low crime rate all the more impressive. Maybe the secret is their highly active neighborhood organizations, which advocate for smart planning, obtain grant funds for street improvements, perform emergency-preparedness training, and keep an eye out for crime. And, like all of Clackamas County, it has Safe Routes to School. 

#5 Safest Portland Suburb: Milwaukie

Crimes per 1,000 residents: 17

Crime index, violent crime: 12.7

Crime index, property crime: 35.3

Milwaukie lies southeast of Portland and is close enough to the big city to be served by a Max light rail line. Milwaukie is very walkable compared to most other suburbs in the area, has a robust SRTS network, and is now in the process of implementing a city-wide SAFE program, which promises to bring Safe Access for Everyone by upgrading sidewalks, ramps and crossings to help cyclists and pedestrians get to where they need to go. Access is important to Milwaukians: In 2008-09 they were badly impacted by winter snow and ice, and out of that event the Community Emergency Response Team was born. In addition to being a quiet and easy place to live, Milwaukie real estate is relatively affordable. 

Ready to move to a suburb that offers more safety, affordability, or both? Our buyers’ agent team has even more suggestions for you. Let’s talk!

August 17, 2020
AUTHOR

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales in the Portland Metro area. Call him direct: 503-714-1111.

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